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too) what he might have exacted from you, 2 Cor. v. 19. He declares himself to have received a ransom, Job xxxiii. 24. 1 Tim. ii. 6, and that he expects nothing but that you should accept his Son, and he shall be righteousness and redemption to you, John i. 12. 1 Cor. i. 30. And for the future obedi. ence, here he is content to yield to your weakness, and omit the rigour. He doth not stand upon perfection, (as a condition of life, though he still insists upon it as due) but is content to accept of sincerity, Gen. xvi. 1. Prov. xi. 20. 'Though you cannot pay the full debt, he will accept you according to that which you kave, and take willing for doing, and the purpose for the performance, 2 Cor. viii. 12. 2 Chron. vi. 17. And if you come in his Christ, and set your hearts to please him, and make it the chief of your cares, he will approve and reward you, though. the vessel bé marred in your hands. O
Oh, consider your Maker's condescension. Let me say to you, as Naaman's servant to bim, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing; wouldst thou not have done it? how much rather when he saith unto thee, Wash and be clean? 2 Kings v. 13: If God had demanded some terrible, some se. vere and rigorous thing of you, to escape eter- : nal damnation, would you not have done it ? Suppose it had been to spend all your days in sorrow in some howling wilderness, or pine yourselves with famine, or to offer the fruit of your bodies for the sin of your souls, would you not have thankfully accepted eternal redemption, though these had been the conditions? Yea, further, if God should have told you, you should have fried in the fire for millions of ages, or been so long tormented in hell, would you not have gladly accepted it? Alas! all these are not so much as one sand in the glass of eternity. If your offended Creator should have held you but one year upon the rack, and then bid you come and forsake your sins, accept of Christ, and serye him a few years in self-denial, or lie in this case for ever and ever; do you think you should have stuck at the offer, and disputed the terms, and have been unresolved whether you were best to accept of the motion ? O sin. ner, return and live; why wouldst thou die, when life is to be had for the taking, and mercy should be beholden to thee (as it were) to be saved ? Couldst thou say indeed, Lord, I knew thou wast an hard man, Matt. XXV. 24, thou hadst some little excuse : but when the God of heaven hath stooped so low, and bated so far, if now thou shouldst stand off, who shall plead for thee ?
Obj. Notwithstanding all these abatements, I am no more able to perform those conditions in themselves so easy) of faith and repentance, and sincere obedience, than to satisfy and fulfil the law.
Ans. These you may perform by God's grace enabling; whereas the others are naturally impossible in this state, even to believ. ers themselves. But let the next consideration serve for a fuller answer.
b. Wherein you are impotent, God doth offer grace to enable you. I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded, Prov. i. 24. What though you are plunged into the ditch of that misery, from which you can neyer get out ? Christ offereth to help you out; he stretchieth his hand to you: and if you perish, it is for refusing his help. Behold I stand at the door and knock : if any man open to me, I will come in, Rev. iii. 20. What though you are poor, and wretched, and blind, and naked ? Christ offereth a cure for your blindness, a cover for your nakedness, a remedy for your poverty, he tenderetb you his righteousness, his graces : I counsel thee to buy of
, me, gold, that thou mayst be rich, and white raiment, that thou mayst be clothed ; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thon mayst see, Rev. ii. 17, 18. Do you say, the condition is impossible, for I have not wherewith to buy? You must know that this buy. ing is without money and without price, Isa. Iv. 1. This buying is by begging, and seeking with diligence and constancy in the use of God's means, Prov. ii. 3, 4. God commandeth thee to know him, and to fear him. Dost thou say, yea, but my mind is blinded, and my heart is hardened from this fear? I answer, God doth offer to enlighten thy mind, and to teach thee his fear, that is presented to thy choice, Prov. i. 29. For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord. So that now, if men live in ignorance and estrangement from the Lord, it is because they will not understand, and desire not the
knowledge of his ways, Job xxi. 14. If thou criest after knowledge, if thou seekest her as silver, &c. then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God, Prov. ii. 3, 4, 5. Is not here a fair offer? Turn you at my reproof : behold, I will pour
น out my spirit unto you, Prov. i. 23. Though of yourselves you can do nothing, yet you may do all through his spirit enabling you ; ånd he doth offer assistance to you. God bids you wash, and mcke you clean, Isa. i. 16.– You say, you are unable, as much as the leopard, to wash out his spots, Jér. xiii. 23 Yea, but the Lord doth offer to purge you'; so that if you be filthy still, it is through your own wilfulness, Ezek. xxiv. 13. I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged. Jer. xiii. 27. 0 Jerusalem, wilt thou not be made clean.? when shall it once be? God doth wait when you will be made clean, when you will yield to his motions, and accept of his offers, and let him do for and in you what you can. not do for yourselves. You do not know how much God will do upon your importunity, if you will but be restless and instant with him, Luke xi. 8, and xviii. 5.
If God hath not bound himself by express promise to wicked men, to give them grace in the diligent use of the means, yet he hath giv: en them abundant encouragement to expect it from him, if they seek it earnestly in his way. His most gracious nature is abundant encouragement. If a rich and most bountiful man should see thee in misery, and bid thee come to bis door, wouldst thou not, with con.
fidence, expect, at thy coming, to find some relief? Thou art not able to believe nor repent: God appointed thee to use such and such means, in order to thy obtaining faith and repentance: doth not this argue that God will bestow these upon thee, if thou dost ply bim diligently in prayer, meditation, reading, hearing, self-examination, and the rest of his means? otherwisc God should but mock his poor creatures, to put them upon these selfdenying endeavors, and then, when they have put hard to it, and continued waiting upon him for grace, deny them at last. Surely, if a sweet natured man would not deal thus, much less will the most merciful and gracious God.
I intended to have added many other argu. ments, but these have swollen under my hand; and I hope the judicious reader will rather look upon the weight than number,
THE CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE,
AND now, my brethren, let me know your minds : what do you intend to do? Will you go on and die ? Or will you set upon a thor. ough and speedy conversion, and lay hold on eternal life? How long will you linger in Sodom? How long will you halt between two opinions ? 1 Kings xviii. 21. Are you not yet resolved whether Christ or Barabbas, whether bliss or torment, whether the land of Cabul, 1 Kings ix. 13, or the paradise of God, be the better choice? Is it a disputable