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come boldly to the throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy, and find grace to help you in time of need.
Heb, iv, 15, 16,
THE SUBJECT APPLIED FOR THE CONVICTION OF
THERE is reason for lamentation over poor graceless, Christless souls, who derive no saving benefit from Christ's intercession. Woe, ten thousand woes to that soul for which our Lord will not speak one good word; though the eternal God comes against unbelievers as a roaring lion, and the wrath of this great King, the King of kings, is as messengers of death, yet our Lord Jesus will leave them to the smarting stroke of divine justice. That I may awake the poor sinner, consider,
1. Thou wast a transgressor from the womb, tranged from God, going astray as soon as born, before thou couldst go, speaking lies, † before thou couldst speak, having a corrupt principle inclining to sin, and an imbecility to perform any good work, without strength ; ț yea thy carnal mind is enmity against God, || thy heart secretly rising against any thing that is truly good, and the better it is the more thou dislikest it, dead in trespasses and sins, without Christ : $ this is thy case by nature, and dost thou expect Christ will intercede for thee?
* Isa. xlviii. 8. * Rom. v. 6.
Eph. ii. 2, 12.
+ Psalm lviii. 3. || Rom. viii. 7.
2. Thou hast added thousands of actual sins to this thy original stock, and art daily increasing thy guilt, provoking God to wrath, so that innumerable evils do compass thee about, * stop the current of mercy, and may stop thy mouth in pleading for good. Any one of those sins is enough to ruin thy soul ; but thou art one of those that provoke God to anger continually, yea, it is to be feared thou art provoking to anger the Angel of the covenant, † by thy unbelief and impenitency; how then canst thou think he will plead for thee ?
3. Thou knowest that a real change doth always attend a relative change; thou canst not be in Christ except thou be a new creature: $ thy old frame and new state can never accord : you must be created in Christ Jesus to good works. || How can dead men perform acts of life? and how can dead works please the living God? No matter what thy professions or privileges are, all signify nothing without being a new creature ; § and do you think Christ will patronize the devil's slaves ?
4. Canst thou hide thy depraved heart under the colour of a flattering tongue? Cannot the heartsearching God quickly find out thy hypocrisy ? Suppose thy conscience accuse thee on the approach of death, and thou begin to cry, Lord, Lord, have we not been so and so good ? Have I not some oil in my lamp? Do I not sit among thy guests? When the King said, “ Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having on a wedding garment? The man was speechless :" so wilt thou be.
5. Hast thou not reason to fear that our Lord Jesus will plead against thee, rather than for thee? and the
* Psalm xl. 12.
+ Isa. lxv. 3. Exod. xxiii. 21. # 2 Cor. v. 17.
|| Eph. i. 10. § Gal. vi. 15. I Matt. vii. 22. Luke xiii. 26. Matt. xxv. ll. xxii. 11, 12.
wrath of the Lamb is a scorching wrath. A woe out of Christ's mouth is heavier than the woe of the law : it is the Mediator's vengeance, and this, as one saith, is double vengeance. When Christ himself, who pleads for his own, shall say, These sinners have pretended friendship, but have trampled my blood under their feet; and shall say, bring these men out and slay them before me: how terrible the result ! *
6. Will not thy own conscience plead against thee? Will not thy language be, Alas I was told of this day, ministers warned me, necessity urged, conscience sounded an alarm, I was summoned to worship the Father in spirit and in truth ; † I, however, took no notice but neglected duty or carelessly performed it; I am convicted in mine own conscience, and cannot answer it; and I am sure the judgment of God is according to truth, which accuseth me, and I am not able to answer it; I cannot plead not guilty, there is a witness against me in mine own bosom f-what shall I say?
7. Will you at last fly to the throne of grace erected in the gospel ? This indeed would now relieve, if you have recourse to it in due time and in due order ; but if you make a mockery of it, and come but by halves, and not in gospel sincerity or universality, this will not help you, or if you put it off till death summon you, it will be too late : make sure work here-think not to put it off till death. He that now offers life upon easy terms, and swears he wills not the death of a sinner, || will then swear in his wrath, that you shall not enter into his rest : 9 and men's fawning or howling can never reverse the sentence; you must endure the torment.
* Heb. x. 29. Luke xix. 27.
+ John iv. 24.
You will say, God forbid, I hope better things, I hope Christ will make intercession for me as well as other sinners, alas, I am a sinner as all others are ; I know I cannot answer for myself, but I hope Christ will answer for me, I will believe right.
I answer, Thou mayest presume without any ground, and lull thyself asleep in that gospel cradle that was made for the ease of troubled consciences.
But let me ask thee,
(1.) What hath it cost thee to get possession of this hope? What despair hath preceded? Hast thou been kept prisoner under the law, shut up to this faith ? * Hast thou ever seen thyself lost and condemned, without other relief except casting thyself into the arms of Christ, after much struggling ? But if it be an easy indifferent faith, it is but a conceit of thine own head. Most men are not willing to take any pains to find out the state of their souls, but are content with a general notion that Christ is theirs, they are willing to believe it, and persuade themselves to believe it, without trial : this is a false faith and will deceive them.
(2.) It is true all men are sinners, but all are not unconverted sinners; sin hath not dominion over real saints, † they love it not, live not in it, hate it, fight against it. But alas, a carnal heart gathers encouragement to continue in sin, because grace abounds. £ At least this sort of reasoning serves to excuse some while sinning: because all are sinners, I am but like others, I cannot help it, let him that is without sin cast the first stone, I hope God will not be severe to mark it, because it is natural. But to a good heart these are rather aggravations of sin.
(3.) What haste do you make to get this matter well dispatched off your hands? The wise man gives good Gal. iii. 23. + Rom. vi. 14.
# Rom. vi. 1.
counsel, Prov. vi. 1–5, “ Deliver thyself when thou art come into the hand of thy friend, go humble thyself, and make sure thy friend-give not sleep to thine eyes,” Oh, but how many nights do sinners sleep at uncertainties, and put off this great work of securing their interest in Christ, till it be too late ; they put off convictions, follow the world, find something else to do, and so lose their opportunity and their souls.
(4.) Most know not what a believing prayer means: " Lord, have inercy upon me,” or “ God, forgive me my sins,” or some such short compliment must serve their turn; they know nothing of wrestling with God, by secret groans, sighs, and tears, and exercising faith upon our blessed advocate that he may intercede for them. Most are too proud to humble themselves at God's footstool; the wicked, through the pride of his heart, will not seek after God. * Others slight it, and think it more ado than needs; and say, “ What profit should we have if we pray unto him.” † They that come off with less, fare as well as those that make so much ado puling and whining.
Well, sirs, if this be your frame, you put Christ out of office; as to yourselves, you think you need him not to stand your friend, you can shift well enough without him, else you would take more pains, and be more thoughtful to engage him to be on your side.
Ah poor graceless, Christless sinners, what will you do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation that shall come from far ? “ To whom will ye go for help, and where will ye leave your glory? Without me, saith God, they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain.”—Isa. x. 3, 4. O, sirs, that will be an astonishing day, when the world shall be all in a flame, when the Judge shall descend • Psalm x. 4.
+ Job xxi. 15.