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CHAPTER IV.

THAT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY MEANS OF REDEMPTION AND DELIVERANCE OUT OF THIS ESTATE.

"In whom we have redemption through his blood," (Eph. i. 7), which plainly demonstrates that

"Jesus Christ is the only means of man's redemption and deliverance out of his bondage and miserable estate."

And this is the doctrine I shall now insist upon.

"When the Israelites were in bondage and misery, he sends Moses to deliver them. When they were in Babylon, he stirred up Cyrus to open the prison gates to them; but when all man kind is under spiritual misery, he sends the Lord Jesus, God and man, to redeem him. (Acts iv. 12.)

Question. How doth Christ redeem men out of this misery?

Answer. By paying a price for them. (1 Cor. vi. ult.) God's mercy will be manifested in saving some, and his justice must be satisfied by having satisfaction or price made and paid for man's sin. Hence Christ satisfieth God's justice,--

First. By standing in the room of all them whom mercy decreeth to save. A surety standeth in the room of a debtor. (Heb. vii. 22.) As the first Adam stood in the room of all mankind fallen, so Christ standeth in the room of all men rising, or to be restored again.

Secondly. By taking from them in whose room he stood the eternal guilt of all their sins, and by assuming the guilt of all those sins unto himself. (2 Cor. v. 22.) Hence Luther said Christ was the greatest sinner by imputation.

Thirdly. By bearing the curse and wrath of God kindled against sin. God is holy, and when he seeth sin sticking only by imputation to his own Son, he will not spare him, but his wrath and curse must he bear. (Gal. iii. 13.) Christ drinks up the cup of all the elect at one draught, which they should have been sipping and drinking, and tormented with, millions of years.

Fourthly. By bringing into the presence of God perfect righteousness, (Rom. v. 21); for this also God's justice required perfection, conformity to the law, as well as (perfect satisfaction) suffering for the wrong offered to the Lawgiver. Justice thus 229 requiring these four things, Christ satisfies justice by performing them, and so pays the price.

     1.Christ is a Redeemer by strong hand. The first redemption by price is finished in Christ's person, at his resurrection; the second is begun by the Spirit in man's vocation, and ended at the day of judgment; as money is first paid for a captive in Turkey, and then because he can not come to his own prince himself, he is fetched away by strong hand.

Here is encouragement to the vilest sinner, and comfort to the self-succorless and lost sinner, who have spent all their money, their time, and endeavors upon those duties and strivings that have been but poor physicians to them. O, look up here to the Lord Jesus, who can do that cure for thee in a moment which all creatures can not do in many years. What bolts, what strong fetters, what unruly lusts, temptations, and miseries art thou locked into? Behold, the Deliverer is come out of Sion, having satisfied justice, and paid a price to ransom poor captives, (Luke iv. 18;) with the keys of heaven, hell, and thy unruly heart in his hand, to fetch thee out with great mercy and strong hand. Who knows but thou poor prisoner of hell, thou poor captive of the devil, thou poor shackled sinner, mayest be one whom he is come for? O, look up to him, sigh to heaven for deliverance from him, and be glad and rejoice at his coming!

This strikes terror to them, that though there is a means of deliverance, yet they lie in their misery, never groan, never sigh to the Lord Jesus for deliverance; nay, that rejoice in their bond! age, and dance to hell in their bolts; nay, that are weary of deliverance; that sit in the stocks when they are at prayers; that come out of the church, when the tedious sermon runs somewhat beyond the hour, like prisoners out of a jail, that despise the Lord Jesus, when he offers to open the doors, and so let them out of that miserable estate. O, poor creatures! is there a means of deliverance, and dost thou neglect, nay, despise it? Know it, that this will cut thine heart one day, when thou art hanging in thy gibbets in hell, to see others standing at God's right hand, redeemed by Christ: thou mightest have had share in their honor; for there was a Deliverer come to save thee, but thou wouldest have none of him. O, thou wilt lie yelling in those everlasting burnings, and tear thy hair, and curse thyself: From hence might I have been delivered, but I would not. Hath Christ delivered thee from hell, and hath he not delivered thee from thine alehouse? Hath Christ delivered thee from Satan's society, when he hath not delivered thee from thy loose company yet? Hath Christ delivered thee from burning, when thy fagots, thy sins, grow in thee? Is Christ's blood thine, that makest no more account of it, nor 230 feelest no more virtue from it, than in the blood of a chicken? Art thou redeemed? Dost thou hope by Christ to be saved, that didst never see, nor feel, nor sigh under thy bondage? O, the devils will keep holiday (as it were) in hell, in respect of thee, who shalt mourn under God's wrath, and lament. O, there was a means to deliver us out of it, but thou shalt mourn forever for thy misery. And this will be a bodkin at thine heart one day, to think there was a Deliverer, but I, wretch, would none of him. Here, likewise, is matter of reproof to such as seek to come out of this misery from and by themselves. If they be ignorant, they hope to be saved by their good meaning and prayers. If civil, by paying all they owe, and doing as they would be done by, and by doing nobody any harm. If they be troubled about their estates, then they lick themselves whole by their mourning, repenting, and reforming. O, poor stubble, canst thou stand before this consuming fire without sin? Canst thou make thyself a Christ for thyself? Canst thou bear and come from under an infinite wrath? Canst thou bring in perfect righteousness into the presence of God? This Christ must do, else he could not satisfy and redeem. And if thou canst not do thus, and hast no Christ, desire and pray that heaven and earth shake till thou hast worn thy tongue to the stumps; endeavor as much as thou canst, and others commend thee for a diligent Christian; mourn in some wilderness till doomsday; dig thy grave there with thy nails; weep buckets full of hourly tears, till thou canst weep no more; fast and pray till thy skin and bones cleave together; promise and purpose with full resolution to be better; nay, reform thy head, heart, life, and tongue, and some, nay, all sins; live like an angel; shine like a sun; walk up and down the world like a distressed pilgrim going to another country, so that all Christians commend and admire thee; die ten thousand deaths; lie at the fireback in hell so many millions of years as there be piles of grass on the earth, or sands upon the sea shore, or stars in heaven, or motes in the sun; I tell thee, not one spark of God's wrath against thy sin shall be, can be, quenched by all these duties, nor by any of these sorrows, or tears; for these are not the blood of Christ. Nay, if all the angels and saints in heaven and earth should pray for thee, these can not deliver thee, for they are not the blood of Christ. Nay, God, as a Creator, having made a law, will not forgive one sin without the blood of Christ; nay, Christ's blood will not do it neither, if thou dost join never so little that thou hast or dost unto Jesus Christ, and makest thyself or any of thy duties copartners with Christ in that great work of saving thee. Cry out, therefore, as that blessed martyr did, None but Christ, none but Christ.

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Take heed of neglecting or rejecting so great salvation by Jesus Christ. Take heed of spilling this potion, that only can cure thee.

But thou wilt say, This means of redemption is only appointed for some: it is not intended for all, therefore not for me; therefore how can I reject Christ?

It is true, Christ spent not his breath to pray for all; (John xvii. 9), "I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine;" much less his blood for all; therefore he was never intended as a Redeemer of all; but that he is not intended as a Deliverer of thee, how doth this follow? How dost thou know this?

But secondly, I say, though Christ be not intended for all, yet he is offered unto all, and therefore unto thee; and the ground is this chiefly:--

The universal offer of Christ ariseth not from Christ's priestly office immediately, but from his kingly office, whereby the Father having given him all power and dominion in heaven and earth, he hereupon commands all men to stoop unto him, and likewise bids all his disciples, and all their successors, to go and preach the gospel to every creature under heaven. (Matt. xxviii. 18, 19.) For Christ doth not immediately offer himself to all men as a Saviour, whereby they may be encouraged to serve him as a king; but first as a king commanding them to cast away their weapons, and stoop unto his scepter, and depend upon his free mercy, acknowledging, if ever he save me, I will bless him; if he damn me, his name is righteous in so dealing with me.

But that I may fasten this exhortation, I will show these four things:--

I. The Lord Jesus is offered to every particular person; which I shall show thus: What hast thou to say against it, that thou dost doubt of it? It may be thou wilt plead,--

O, I am so ignorant of myself, God, Christ, or his will, that surely the Lord offers no Christ to me.

Yes, but he doth, though thou liest in utter darkness. Our blessed Saviour glorified his Father for revealing the mystery of the gospel to simple men, neglecting those that carried the chief reputation of wisdom in the world. The parts of none are so low as that they are beneath the gracious regard of Christ. God bestoweth the best fruits of his love upon mean and weak persons here, that he might confound the pride of flesh the more. Where it pleaseth him to make his choice, and to exalt his mercy, he passeth by no degree of wit, though never so uncapable.

But thou wilt say, I am an enemy to God, and have a heart 232 so stubborn and loth to yield, I have vexed him to the very heart by my transgressions.

Yet he beseecheth thee to be reconciled. Put case, thou hast been a sinner, and rebellious against God; yet so long as thou art not found amongst malicious opposers, and underminers of his truth, never give way to despairing thoughts; thou hast a merciful Saviour.

But I have despised the means of reconciliation, and rejected mercy.

Yet God calls thee to return: "thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet turn again to me, saith the Lord." (Jer. iii. 1). Cast thyself into the arms of Christ, and if thou perish, perish there; if thou dost not, thou art sure to perish. If mercy be to be had any where, it is by seeking to Christ, not by turning from him. Herein appears Christ's love to thee, that he hath given thee a heart in some degree sensible; he might have given thee up to hardness, security, and profaneness--of all spiritual judgments the greatest. But he that died for his enemies will in no wise refuse those the desire of whose soul is toward him. "When the prodigal set himself to return to his father, his father stays not for him, but meets him in the way. If our sins displease us, they shall never hurt us; but we shall be esteemed of God to be that which we desire and labor to be. (Ps. cxlv. 19.)

But can the Lord offer Christ to me, so poor, that have no strength, no faith, no grace, nor sense of my poverty?

Yes, even to thee; why should we except ourselves, when Christ doth not except us? "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden." We are therefore poor, because we know not our riches. We can never be in such a condition wherein there will be just cause of utter despair. He that sits in darkness, and seeth no light, no light of comfort, no light of God's countenance, yet let him trust in the name of the Lord. Weaknesses do not debar us from mercy; nay, they incline God the more. The husband is bound to bear with the wife, as being the weaker vessel; and shall we think God will exempt himself from his own rule, and not bear with his weak spouse?

But is this offer made to me, that can not love, prize, nor desire the Lord Jesus?

Yes; to thee. Christ knows how to pity us in this case. We are weak, but we are his. A father looks not so much at the blemishes of his child as at his own nature in him; so Christ finds matter of love from any thing of his own in us. A Christian's carriage toward Christ may in many things be very offensive, and cause much strangeness; yet, so long as he 233 resolves not upon any known evil, Christ will own him, and he Christ.

O, but I have fallen from God oft, since he hath enlightened me; and doth he tender Christ to me?

Thou must know that Christ hath married every believing soul to himself, and that, where the work of grace is begun, sin loses strength by every new fall. If there be a spring of sin in thee, there is a spring of mercy in God, and a fountain daily opened to wash thy uncleanness in. Adam (indeed) lost all by once sinning; but we are under a better covenant,--a covenant of mercy,--and are encouraged by the Son to go to the Father every day for the sins of that day.

If I was willing to receive Christ, I might have Christ offered to me; but will the Lord offer him to such a one as desires not to have Christ?

Yes; saith our Saviour, "I would have gathered you as the hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and you would not." We must know a creating power can not only bring something out of nothing, but contrary out of contrary; of unwilling, God can make us a willing people. There is a promise of pouring clean water upon us, and Christ hath taken upon him to purge his spouse, and make her fit for himself.

What hast thou now to plead against this strange kindness of the Lord in offering Christ to thee? Thou wilt say, it may be,--

O, I fear time is past! O, time is past! I might once have had Christ, but now mine heart is sealed down with hardness, blindness, unbelief. O, time is now gone!

No; not so. See Isaiah lxv. 1-3: "All the day long God holdeth out his hands to a backsliding and rebellious people." Thy day of grace, thy day of means, thy day of life, thy day of God's striving with thee and stirring of thee, still lasts.

But if God be so willing to save, and so prodigal of his Christ, why doth he not give me Christ, or draw me to Christ?

I answer, What command dost thou look for to draw thee to Christ but this word. Come? O, come, thou poor, forlorn, lost, blind, cursed nothing; I will save thee; I will enrich thee; I will forgive thee; I will enlighten thee; I will bless thee; I will be all things unto thee, do all things for thee. May not this win and melt the heart of a devil?

II. Upon what condition may Christ be had?

Make an exchange of what thou art or hast with Christ for what Christ is or hath; and so taking him, (like the wise merchant the pearl,) thou shalt have salvation with him.

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Now, this exchange lieth in these four things chiefly:--

First. Give away thyself to him, head, heart, tongue, body, soul, and he will give away himself unto thee, (Cant. vi. 3); yea, he will stand in thy room in heaven, that thou mayest triumph and say, I am already in heaven, glorified in him; I see God's blessed face in Christ; I have conquered death, hell, and the devil in him.

Secondly. Give away all thy sins to Christ, confess them, leave them, cast them upon the Lord Jesus, so as to receive power from him to forsake them, and he will be made sin for thee to take them away from thee. (1 John i. 9.)

Thirdly. Give away thine honor, pleasure, profit, life, for him; he will give away his crown and honor, life and all, to thee. (Luke xviii.) Let nothing be sweet unto thee but him, and nothing shall be sweet unto him but thee.

Fourthly. Give away thy rags, forsake thine own righteousness, for him; he will give away all his robes and righteousness to thee. (Phil. iii. 8, 9.) Thou shalt stand as glorious in the sight of God, howsoever thou art a poor snake in thyself, as an angel, nay, as all the angels, because clothed with his Son Christ Jesus his righteousness.

Now, tell me, will you have Christ? He is offered to you. Yes, you will all say; yea, with all mine heart. But will you have him upon these terms, upon these four conditions?

Now, because men will flatter themselves, and say. Yes,--

III. I will show you four sorts of people that reject Christ thus offered.

First. The slighting unbeliever, that, when he hears of an offer of Christ, and should wonder at the love of the Lord in doing this, he makes nothing of it, but goes from the church, and says, We must give ministers the wall in the pulpit, and, poor men, they must have somewhat to say and preach for their living; there was a good plain sermon to-day; the man seems to mean well, but I think he be no great scholar and so makes no more of the offer of Christ than of the offer of a straw at their feet. If a good bargain be offered them, they will forget all their business to accomplish that; yet they make light of this offer. (Matt. xxii. 5.)

Secondly. The desperate unbeliever, that, seeing his sins to be so great, and feeling his heart so hard, and finding but little good from God, since he sought for help, like Cain fleeth from the presence of the Lord; like a mad lion he breaks his chains of restraining grace, and runneth roaring after his prey, after his cups, queans, lusts, etc., and so will not honor Christ with 235 such a great cure of such great sins, that he shall never have the credit of it, nor will be beholding to him for such a kindness.

Thirdly. The presumptuous unbeliever, that, seeing what sins he hath committed, and, it may be, having a little touch and some sorrow for his sins, catcheth at Christ, hoping to be saved by him before ever he come to be loaden with sin as the greatest evil, or God's wrath kindled against him as his greatest curse, and so, catching at Christ, hopes he hath Christ, and, hoping he hath Christ already, shuts out Christ for the future, and so rejects him. (Micah iii. 11.) You shall have these men and women complain never of the want, but only of the weakness, of their faith, and they will not be beaten off from thence; let them hear never so much of their misery, nor see never so much of their sin, yet they will not be beaten off from trusting to Christ.

Fourthly. The tottering, doubtful unbeliever; one that is in a question whether he had best have Christ or no. He sees some good in Christ that he would gladly have him for, as, Then I shall have heaven, and pardon, and grace, and peace; and yet he sees many things he dislikes with Christ, as, namely. Then farewell merry meetings, pastimes, cards and dice, pleasure and sinful games; and hence they totter this way and that way, not knowing whether they had best have Christ or no. (James i. 6, 7.) These people reject Jesus Christ.

IV. And now come and see the greatness of this sin.

(1). It is a most bloody sin; it is a trampling under foot the blood of the Son of God. (Heb. x. 21.)

(2). It is a most dishonoring sin; for as by the first act of faith a man glorifieth God by obeying all the law at an instant in Christ, so by rejecting him thou dost break all those laws of God in an instant, and so dost dishonor him.

(3). It is a most ungrateful sin; it is despising God's greatest love, which the Lord takes most heavily.

(4). It is a most inexcusable sin; for what have you to cast against Jesus Christ? O, my sins are so great, thou wilt say. But take Christ, his blood will wash thee from all thy sins.

O, but my heart is hard, and my mind blind.

Yea, but take me, and I will break thine heart, open thine eyes. A new heart is God's gift, and he hath promised to create it in us.

O, but then I must forsake all my pleasures.

Thou shalt have them fully, continually, infinitely in Christ.

O, but I can not take Christ.

O, but Christ can give thee a hand to receive him, as well as give away himself.

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(5). It is a most heavy sin. What sin will gripe so in hell as this? (John iii. 19.) God the Father shall strike the devils for breaking the law of the creation; but God the Son shall strike thee, and the Comforter himself shall set himself against thee, for despising the means and offers of redemption. The devils might never have had mercy, but thou shalt think with anguish, and vexation, and madness of heart, I might have had a Christ; he was offered unto me. Mercy wooed this stubborn, proud heart to yield. But, O, rock of adamant that I was! it did not affect me. O, fly speedily to this city of refuge, lest the pursuer of blood overtake thee.

Away, then, out of yourselves, to the Lord Jesus. Heaven and earth leave thee, and have forsaken thee: now, there is but one more that can do thee good, and deliver thy soul from endless sorrow: go to him, and take hold on him, not with the hand of presumption and love to thyself, to save thyself, but with the hand of faith, and love to him, to honor him. I am well enough already: what tell you me of Christ?

This is the damning sin of these times: when men have Christ offered unto them, foretelling them else of wrath to come, they say they are well; hence, feeling no judgment here, they fear no wrath hereafter; hence, being well, they feel no need of Christ; hence, till they die, they never seek out for a Saviour. Men will not come into the ark already made for them before the flood arise. The world makes so much of those it nurseth up, that they are unwilling to come to heaven, when they are called to come home.

But it may be Christ hath not redeemed me, nor shed his blood for me; therefore why should I go to him?

It may be, it is true; may be not; yet do thou venture, as those, (Joel ii.), "Who knows but the Lord may return?" It is true, God hath elected but few, and so the Son hath shed his blood, and died but for a few; yet this is no excuse for thee to lie down and say, What should I seek out of myself for succor? Thou must in this case venture and try, as many men amongst us do now, who, hearing of one good living fallen, twenty of them will go and seek for it, although they know only one shall have it. Therefore say as those lepers in Samaria, If I stay here in my sins, I die; if I go out to the camp of the Syrians, we may live; we can but die, however: if I go out to Christ, I may get mercy; however, I can but die, and it is better to die at Christ's feet than in thine own puddle. Content not yourselves therefore with your bare reformation, and amending your lives; this is but to cross the debt in thine own book; it remaineth uncancelled in the creditor's book still: but go, take, offer up this eternal sacrifice 237 before the eyes of God the Father, and cry guilty at his bar, and look for mercy from him; sigh under thy bondage, that as Moses was sent unto the Israelites, so may Christ be sent into thy soul. Rest not therefore in the sight or sense of a helpless condition, saying, I can not help myself, unless Christ doth: sigh unto the Lord Jesus in heaven for succor, and admire the Lord forever, that when there was no help, and when he might have raised out of the stones children to praise him, yet he should send his Son out of his bosom to save thee. So much for this particular.

The fifth divine principle follows to be handled.

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