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Oh! be not deceived. Nay, for aught I know, thou mayest find, upon a narrow search, that thou puttest thy tears in the room of Christ's blood, and givest the confidence and dependence of thy soul to them; and if so, they shall never do thee any good. Therefore search thy heart, cherish not, upon such poor weak grounds as these, a soul-undoing confidence. Always remember the wheat and tares resemble each other in their first springing up; that an egg is not more like an egg, than hypocrisy, in some shapes and forms into which it can cast itself, is like a genuine work of grace.
There be first, that shall be last; and last, that shall be first. Matt. 19 : 30. Great is the deceitfulness of our hearts. Jer. 17 : 9. And many are the subtleties and devices of Satan. 2 Cor. 11 : 3. Many also are the astonishing examples of self-deceiving souls recorded in the word. Remember what you have read of Judas. Great also will be the strictness of the last judgment. And how confident soever you be that you shall stand in that day, still remember that trial is not yet past. Your final sentence is not yet come from the mouth of your Judge. This I speak not to affright and trouble, but to excite and warn you. The loss of the soul is no small loss.
We proceed to the supposition, that the sorrow of these women was the fruit of their faith, and hence observe, The believing meditation of what Christ suffered for
us, is of great force and efficacy to melt and break the heart.
It is promised, that "they shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son; and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.” Zech. 12 : 10. Ponder seriously, here, the spring and motive, " They
shall look upon me;" it is the eye of faith that melts and breaks the heart. Mark also the effect of such a sight of Christ, " They shall look and mourn;" be in bitterness and sorrow. True repentance is a drop out of the eye
of faith ; and the measure or degree of sorrow caused by a believing view of Christ is here expressed by two of the fullest instances of grief; that of a tender father mourning over a dear and only son; and that of the people of Israel mourning over Josiah, that peerless prince, in the valley of Megiddo.
Now to show how the believing meditation of Christ, and his sufferings, come kindly and savingly to break and melt down the gracious heart, I shall mention four considerations of the heart-breaking efficacy of faith, eyeing a crucified Jesus.
I. The viewing of Christ and his sufferings by faith, is in itself most affecting and melting. Faith is a true glass, that represents all his sufferings and agonies to the life. It presents them not as a fiction, or idle tale, but as a true and faithful narrative. This, says faith, is a true and faithful saying, that Christ was not only clothed in our flesh-even he that is over all, God blessed for ever, the only Lord, the Prince of the kings of the earth, became a man—but in this body of his flesh he bore the infinite wrath of God, which filled his soul with horror and amazement; that the Lord of life hung dead upon the cross; that he went as a lamb to the slaughter, and was as a sheep dumb before the shearer; that he endured all this, and more than any finite understanding can comprehend, in my room and stead; for my sake he there groaned and bled; for my pride, earthliness, lust, unbelief, hardness of heart, he endured all this. I say, to realize the sufferings of Christ thus, is of great power to affect the coldest, dullest heart. You cannot imagine the difference there is in presenting things as realities, with convincing and satisfying evi
dence, or looking on them as a fiction or uncertainty.
II. But faith can apply as well as realize; and if it do 80, it must needs overcome the heart. Ah! christian, canst thou look upon Jesus as standing in thy room, to bear the wrath of God for thee; canst thou think on it, and not melt? That when thou, like Isaac, wast bound to the altar, to be offered up to justice, Christ, like the ram caught in the thicket, was offered in thy room. That when thy sins had raised a fearful tempest, threatening every moment to bury thee in a sea of wrath, Jesus Christ was thrown over to appease that storm! Say, reader, can thy heart dwell one hour upon such a subject as this? Canst thou, with faith, present Christ to thyself, as he was taken down from the
drenched in his own blood, and say, These were the wounds that he received for me; this is he that loved me, and gave himself for me; out of these wounds comes that balm that heals my soul; out of these stripes my peace? Oh you cannot hold up your heart long to the piercing thoughts of this, but your soul will be pained, and, like Joseph, you will seek a place to vent your tears.
III. Faith can also draw such things from the death of Christ as will fill the soul with affection to him, and break the heart in his presence.
When it views Christ as dead, it infers, Is Christ dead for me? then was I dead in law, sentenced and condemned to die eternally ; " If one died for all, then were all dead.” 2 Cor. 5: 14. How woful was my case when the law had passed sentence on me! I could not be sure when I lay down, but it might be executed before I rose ; there was but a breath between my soul and hell.
Again, Is Christ dead for me ? then I shall never die. If he be condemned, I am acquitted. "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth, it is Christ that died.” Rom. 8:34. My soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowler; I
was condemned, but am now cleared ; I was dead, but am now alive. Oh the unsearchable riches of Christ ! Oh love past finding out !
Again, Did God give up Christ to such miseries and sufferings for me? how shall he withhold any thing from me ? He that spared not his own Son, will doubtless with him freely give me all things. Rom. 8:32. Now I may rest upon him for pardon, peace, acceptance, and glory for my soul. Now I may rely upon him for provision, protection, and all supplies for the body. Christ is the root of these mercies; he is more than all these, he is nearer and dearer to God than any other gift. Oh what a blessed, happy, comfortable state hath he now brought my soul into!
Once more, Did Christ endure all these things for me ? then he will never leave nor forsake me: it cannot be that after he has endured all this, he will cast off the soul for whom he endured it.
IV. Faith can also compare the love of Christ in all this, both with his dealings with others, and with the soul's dealing with Christ, who loved it. To compare Christ's dealings with others, is most affecting : he hath not dealt with every one as with me; nay, few there are that can speak of such mercies as I have from him. How many are there that have no part nor portion in his blood; who must bear that wrath in their own persons, that he bare himself for me! He found me and singled me forth to be the object of his love, leaving thousands and millions still unreconciled; not that I was better than they, for I was the greatest of sinners, far from righteousness, as unlikely as any to be the object of such grace and love: my companions in sin are left, and I am taken. Now the soul is full, too full to contain itself.
Yea, faith helps the soul to compare the love of Christ to it, with the returns it has made to him. And what,
my soul, have been thy returns to Christ since this grace appeared to thee? Hast thou returned love for love, love suitable to such love ? Hast thou prized, valued, and esteemed him according to his own worth in himself, or his kindness to thee? Ah no, I have grieved, pierced, wounded his heart a thousand times by my ingratitude ; I have suffered every trifle to take his place in my heart. I have neglected him a thousand times, and made him say, Is this thy kindness to thy friend ? Is this the reward I receive for all I have done and suffered for thee? Wretch that I am, how have I requited the Lord! This shames, humbles, and breaks the heart. And when from such sights of faith, and considerations as these, the heart is thus affected, it affords a good argument indeed, that thou art gone beyond all the attainments of temporary believers; flesh and blood hath not revealed this.
INFERENCE 1. Have the believing meditations of Christ, and his sufferings, such heart-melting influence? Then surely there is but little faith among men. and hard hearts are evidence against us that we are strangers to the sights of faith. And,
2. Then surely the proper way of raising the affections, is to begin with the exercise of faith. It grieves me to see how many poor christians strive with their own dead hearts, endeavoring in vain to raise and affect them : they complain and strive, strive and complain, but can discover no love to the Lord, no brokenness of heart: they go to this ordinance and that, to one duty and another, hoping that now the Lord will fill the sails ; but come back disappointed and ashamed. Poor christian, hear me one word ; possibly it may
do thee more service than all the methods thou hast yet used. If thou wouldst indeed get a heart melted for sin, and broken with the sense of the grace and love of Christ, thy way is not to force thy affections, nor to vex thyself, and go
Our dry eyes