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leads to destruction : but by alarming your fears, he plainly intends to prevent your ruin; and the present taste he hath given you of the bitterness of sin, is graciously meant to divorce your hearts from the love of it, and to render the remedy which he offers, more welcome and precious in your esteem.-For, let it be observed, as a further ground of encouragement, that the gospelcall is particularly addressed to persons of this character: “ Come unto me,” says the blessed Jesus, "all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And herein he exactly fulfils the appointment of bis Father, and acts in the most perfect conformity to the commission he received from him; of which we have a fair copy, (Isaiah Ixi. at the beginning:) “ The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” From this passage it plainly appears, that humble, convinced souls are his peculiar charge: he is the physician, not of the whole, but of the sick; not of those that justify themselves, but of those who are perishing in their own apprehension, who feel their need of him, and know something of the worth of that salvation which he brings.
Let every humble sinner, then, take comfort from these considerations. God knoweth the penitent relentings of your hearts: Behold, he stands, like the father in the parable, stretching forth his arms to every prodi. gal son! he registers all your groans, “ he putteth your tears into his bottle," and, ere long, “ he will give you the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for your present spirit of beayiness." In the mean time,
let me recommend to you the following directions, with which I shall conclude.
Beware of smothering or quenching your convictions. I admit they are bitter, but they are also medicinal; and, by the blessing of God, shall issue in that repentance unto salvation, which is not to be repented of: whereas, if you stifle them at present, your hearts may contract a hardness and insensibility, which, if ever it be cured at all, shall cost you more pain and anguish than you presently feel, or indeed easily imagine.
At the same time, beware of drawing desperate conclusions against yourselves from the discoveries you have got of your guilt and danger. I may justly say to you, what the apostle said in another case,-“ Mourn not like those who have no hope.” Your case, bad as it may seem, is certainly better than once it was. Formerly you were out of the way of mercy, now you have got into that very path where mercy meets the elect of God: It was then your sin to presume beyond any promise; beware now of despairing against many commands; but amidst all your fears and anxieties, still endeavour to keep hope alive in your hearts. .
Especially hasten to the Saviour, who alone can give you rest. This is the great errand upon which convictions are sent; for, as I have already observed, “ the law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ--who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” – Doth the Lord Jesus appear precious to your souls? do you see your absolute need of him, and his perfect suitableness to your circumstances? O, then, speedily have recourse to him, and receive him thankfully as the “unspeakable gift of God to men!" Enbrace him cordially in all the important characters he sustains, as the Prophet, the Priest, and the King, of his Church; and then shall you find, to your present comfort, and your everlasting joy, that he is both “ able ,
, and willing to save to the uttermost, all who come unto God by him." Amen.
This, and the four Sermons that immediately follow, were preach
ed at the celebration of our Lord's Supper.
MATTHEW xi. 28.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
It was prophesied of our Lord, long before his manifestation in the flesh, that he should " proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound :" And lo! here he doth it in the kindest and most endearing manner, offering rest, or spiritual relief, to every labouring and heavy laden sinner. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I
, will give you rest. In discoursing from which words, I propose, in de
I pendance upon divine aid,
First. To open the character of those to whom the invitation is addressed:
Secondly. To explain the invitation itself, and show · what is included in coming to Christ: After which, I shall endeayour, in the
Third place, To illustrate the gracious condescending promise with which our Lord enforces the call: I will give you rest.
I begin with the character of those to whom the invitation is addressed. They are such, you see, as labour and are heavy laden ; that is, who feel the unsupportable load of guilt, and the galling fetters of corrupt af
. fections, and earnestly long to be delivered from both; for these were the persons whom our Saviour always regar:led as the peculiar objects of his attention and care. By our fatal apostacy, we forfeited at once our innocence and happiness; we became doubly miserable, liable to the justice of God, and slaves to Satan and our own corruptions. But few, comparatively speaking, are sensible of this misery! The bulk of mankind are so hot in the pursuit of perishing trifles, that they can find no leisure seriously to examine their spiritual condition. These in. deed have a load upon them, of weight more than sufficient to sink them into perdition; but they are not heavy laden in the sense of my text. Our Saviour plainly speaks to those who feel their burden, and are groaning under it; otherwise the promise of rest, or deliverance, could be no inducement to bring them to bim. And the call is particularly addressed to such, for two obvious reasons :
First. Because our Lord knew well that none else would comply with it. “ The full soul loathes the honey-comb.” Such is the pride of our hearts, that each of us would wish to be a saviour to himself, and to purchase heaven by his own personal merit. This was the 6 rock of offence” upon which the Jews stumbled and fell: they could not bear the thought of being indebted to the righteousness of another for pardon and acceptance with God; for so the apostle testifies concerning
them, (Rom. x. 3.) “ Being ignorant of God's righteousness, they went about to establish their own righteousness, and did not submit themselves unto the righteousness of God.” And still this method of justifying sinners is opposed and rejected by every “natural man." He feels not bis disease, and therefore treats the pbysician with contempt and scorn: whereas the soul that is enlightened by the Spirit of God, and awakened to a sense of its guilt and pollution, lies prostrate before the mercy-seat, crying out with Paul when struck to the ground, “Lord, what wilt thou have me do?” It was therefore with peculiar significancy, that our Lord introduced his sermon upon the mount, by adjudging the kingdom of heaven to the poor in spirit," placing bumility in the front of all the other graces, as being the entrance into a religious temper, the beginning of the divine life, the first step of the soul in its return to God.
Adly. The labouring and heavy laden are particularly distinguished; because otherwise, persons in that situation, hopeless of relief, might be in danger of excluding themselves from the offer of mercy. If there was only a general call to come to the Saviour, the humble conviuced soul, pressed down with a sense of its guilt and depravity, might be ready to object, Surely it cannot be such a worthless and wicked creature as I am, to whom the Lord directs his invitation. And therefore, he “ who will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax," doth kindly encourage them, by this special address, that the very thing which to themselves would appear the greatest obstacle in the way of mercy, might become the means of assuring them, that they are the very persons for whom mrercy is prepared.
Let this then encourage every weary, self-condemn. ing sinner: The greater your guilt appears in