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myself, that the combined force of earth and hell shall never be able to dissolve the union, or to separate my soul from his unchangeable love.
Lift up thy head, then, 0 labouring and heavy laden sinner! ponder, with due attention, those grounds of encouragement I have briefly suggested. Doth the Father command you to believe on his son? doth the Lord Jesus invite, nay intreat, you to come to him, and at the same time assure you that “ he will in nowise cast you out ?" and shall not this multiplied security remove all your doubts, and bring you to him with a humble, but steadfast, hope of obtaining that rest which he offers unto you ? Say not henceforth, My burden is so heavy, and my guilt so great, that I dare not go to him; but rather say, My burden is so heavy, that I must go to him; for no other arm can remove it but his own. He offers you his help, because you are miserable; he invites you to come to him, not because you deserve, but because you need his aid. Arise, then, O sinners! and obey his call: cast your burden upon him who is mighty to save;
: yield yourselves, without reserve, to this faithful Redeemer, to be justified by his blood, and sanctified by bis Spirit; “ take his yoke upon you, and learn of him," and then you shall find rest to your souls.
But what shall I say to those who have never as yet felt the burden of sin? who, amidst the deepest poverty and wretchedness, imagine themselves to be “ rich, and increased with goods, and to stand in need of nothing?" Alas! my friends, what can we do for such ?—shall I denounce the curses of a broken covenant to alarm their fears?—shall I publish the terrors of the Lord, and by these persuade them to flee from the wrath to come ? Indeed, considerations of this kind seem proper and necessary to rouse them from that deadly sleep into which they are cast. And believe it, 0 sinners ! that no repre. sentations of this sort, however awful they might appear,
could exceed, or even equal, the dreadful reality; “ for · who knoweth the power of God's anger?”
But as my text breathes nothing but love and clemency,
I shall rather, upon this occasion, “beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ,” and fetch my arguments from the endearing condescensions of his mer. cy and grace.
Know then, O sinners! that, after all the contempt you have thrown upon him, he is still willing to become your Saviour. Ungrateful as you have been, he once more opens bis arms, and invites you to come unto him. He sends us forth this day to call after you in his name, and to intreat you in his stead to be reconciled to God. Behold, in the gospel-offer, he lays, as it were, his cracified body in your way, to stop you in your self-destroying course!--And will you still press onward, “ and trample under foot the Son of God!" Behold his blood, like a mighty river, flows between you and the place of torment !-And will you force your passage to
!-the everlasting burnings through this immense ocean of redeeming love! O sinners, think of this! all who perish under the gospel, must carry this dreadful aggravation along with them, That mercy was in their offer, and they would not accept it; nay, that they insulted and abused the mercy that would have saved them. And “ can your hearts endure, or can your hands be strong, in the day that God shall deal with you” for this contempt? For the Lord's sake open your eyes in time; look upon him whom you have pierced by your sins, and mourn. I address you as the angels did Lot, when they brought him forth from Sodom; “ Escape for thy
life; look not bebind thee, neither stay thou in all the plaio :” “ Flee to the Saviour, lest thou be consumed.”
As for you who have already got within the walls of the city of refuge, I have one request to make to you, with which I shall conclude.-Come now and receive the new Testament in Christ's blood : For confirming your faith, and increasing your joy, he bath instituted this visible pledge of his love, this external seal of his gracious covenant; that, by the elements of bread and wine, the appointed symbols, of his broken body and shed blood, he might invest his people with a full and unalterable right to all the blessed fruits of his sufferings and death. And, therefore, as you have come to Christ himself, you may lawfully consider the invitation in my text as your warrant and call to come to his holy table; and may hope to find, in this holy sacrament, something of that rest, or spiritual relief, which he is always ready to dispense to those who feel their need of it, and who know its worth. Amen.
ZECHARIAH ix. 12.
Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoner of hope; even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto thee.
In the 9th verse of this chapter proclamation is made that the Messiah is at hand; and the church is called upon to go forth and to meet him with joy. “ Rejoice
greatly, 0 daughter of Zion; shout, o daughter of Je. rusalem; behold, thy King cometh unto thee.” And that the awe of his majesty might be no bar to their joy, they are told, for their encouragement, that he comes in such a form of condescension and grace, as serves rather to invite than forbid their approach to him: For “ He is just, and having salvation ; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.” They are further assured, in the 10th verse, that as the ensigns of his royalty differ so widely from those which earthly monarchs use, so he shall govern his subjects, and subdue his enemies, not by external force, but by inward persuasion; not by “the chariot, the horse, and the battle-bow,” for all these shall be “cut off;" but by the preaching of the gospel, accompanied with the powerful operation of his Spirit, which is emphatically called “ speaking peace unto the heathen;" in consequence whereof, “his dominion shall extend from sea to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth." And to finish the description of this King of Zion, it is added, in the 11th verse, that the gracious aim of his government is to set men at liberty from the vilest slavery, and to release them from the most ignominious confinement, by opening their prison doors, and “sending them forth out of the pit wherein is no water.” This too he is to perform in a way peculiarly endearing: he is to purchase their frecdom with the price of his own blood; which, with great propriety, is styled “the blood of the covenant," as it ratifies and confirms that covenant of grace, whereby sinners are reinstated in the favour of God, and rescued from the power of all their spiritual enemies.
The like representation is given of the Messiah, (Isaiah xlii. 6, 7.) “I the Lord have called thee in righteous
ness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prison
, ers from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house." And the Messiah himself is intro. duced, (Isaiah lxi. at the beginning) speaking to the same purpose, saying, “ The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto 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.”
In all these passages, he is plainly pointed out to us in the character of a Redeemer; and as such, he issues forth the proclamation in my text: Turn ye
to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope ; even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto thee.
In which words we have three things that deserve our notice.
First. A description of the persons whom he comes to redeem: They are prisoners of hope.
Second. The advice or command addressed to them: Turn ye to the strong hold. And,
Third. A gracious and encouraging promise; Even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto thee.
I propose, God willing, to make a few remarks upon each of these particulars, and to conclude with an improvement suited to the occasion of our present meeting.
First. The persons to whom the command is address. ed are called prisoners of hope.
The description, you see, is of a mixed nature; it represents a state in the main bad, yet not so wholly bad as to be past recovery. We are all by nature in a state
a of bondage, condemned by the righteous sentence of the law, and slaves to Satan and our own corruptions. By