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souls, who have felt their misery by nature, are tired of the drudgery of sin, and have seen the curse of the broken law pursuing them, like the avenger of blood of old. This is the only consideration that keeps them from despair, that God has provided a remedy by the Gospel; and Jesus has said, "Come unto me, and I "will give you rest." If they could receive the full comfort of these words, and heartily obey the call, their complaints would be at an end; but remaining ignorance, unbelief, and Satan, combine in various ways to keep them back. Some will say, "O that I could "come! but, alas! I cannot." Others, "I fear I do "not come aright."-Having, therefore, endeavoured to show you the persons chiefly intended here, under the character of those who labour and are heavy laden, I proceed to consider,
II. What it is to come to Christ. I have observed in general, that it appears to have the same signification with believing in him. But, that we may understand it the more clearly, let us inquire,
1. How those to whom he personally spoke these words, in all probability understood them?
2. How far their apprehensions of them are applicable and suitable to our circumstances?
3. Whether, as we have the same necessity, we have not likewise equal encouragement to come to him with those who were conversant with him upon earth.
1. It does not appear that those to whom our Lord spoke in person were so much perplexed as many are now, to know what coming or believing should mean; he seems to have been understood both by friends and enemies. Many questioned his authority and right
*John ri. 30. and xix. 36.
to exact a dependence on himself; but they seemed to be at no difficulty about his meaning. It certainly implied more than a mere bodily coming into his presence. He was surrounded, and even followed by multitudes, who never came to him in the sense of his invitation. To such, while standing about him, he complained, "Ye will not come unto me, that ye may have life *." Therefore, if we consult what is written of those who came to Jesus for relief, and obtained it, we may conclude, that coming to him implies,
1st, A persuasion of his power, and of their own need of his help. They knew that they wanted relief, and conceived of him as an extraordinary person empowered and able to succour them. This persuasion of Christ's sufficiency and willingness was then, as it is now, afforded in different degrees. The centurion spoke with full assurance: "Speak the word only, and my
servant shall be healed t." The leper more dubiously: "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." Another, in still fainter language: "If thou "canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us§." The faith of this last was, as the man himself acknowledged, mixed with much unbelief and fear; yet Jesus did not despise the day of small things: he pardoned his suspicions, confirmed his fluctuating mind, granted him his request; and his case is recorded as an instance how graciously he accepts and cherishes the feeblest effects of true faith: "He will not break "the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax." Secondly, An actual application. This evidenced their faith to be right. They did not sit content with
having heard of him, but improved it: they went to him, told him their cases, and implored his compassion. Their faith prevailed against all discouragements. In vain the multitude charged them to hold their peace*; knowing that he only was able to relieve them, they cried so much the more a great deal. Even when he seemed to discover a great reservef, they still waited, and knew not how to depart without an answer. could a sense of unworthiness, fear, or shame, keep them backt, when once they had a strong persuasion of his power to save.
Thirdly, When he was sought to as a soul-physician, as was the case with many whose bodily diseases he healed, and with others who were not sick, those who came to him continued with him, and became his followers. They depended on him for salvation, received him as their Lord and Master, professed an obedience to his precepts, accepted a share in his reproach, and renounced every thing that was inconsistent with his will§. Some had a more express and open call to this, as Matthew, who was sitting at the receipt of custom, regardless of Jesus, till he passed by him, and said, "Fol"low me." That word, accompanied with the power of his love, won his heart, and diverted him from worldly pursuits in an instant. Others were more secretly drawn by his Spirit and providence, as Nathaniel, and the weeping penitent**who silently washed his feet with her tears; and this was the design and effect of many of their bodily and family afflictions. The man who was brought to be healed of the palsytt, received the forgiveness of
* Mark x. 48. ↑ Matth. xv. 27.
§ Luke ix. 23-61.
* John i. 46.; Luke vii. 38.
+ Mark v. 37.
Matth. ix. 9.
+ Mark ii, 5.
his sins; and the ruler, who first came to Jesus with no other view than to obtain the life of his son*, obtained much more than he asked or expected. The Lord afforded such an affecting sense of his power and goodness upon that occasion, that he from thenceforth believed, with all his house.
2. These things are applicable to us. Jesus is no longer visible upon earth; but he has promised his spiritual presence to abide with his word, ordinances, and people, to the end of time. Weary and heavey laden souls have now no need to take a long journey to seek him; for he is always near them, and in a spiritual manner, where his Gospel is preached. Poor and inconsiderable as we are in the judgment of the world, I trust we have a right to claim his promise†, and to believe that he is even now in the midst of us. Therefore come
unto him; that is,
First, Raise your hearts, and breathe forth your complaints to him. Do you see your need of him? Be persuaded, and pray to him to assure you more strongly of his power and goodness. He is just such a Saviour as your circumstances require, as you yourself could wish for, and he is able to convince you in a moment that he is so. If he is pleased to cause a ray of his glory to break in upon your mind, your fears, and doubts, and griefs, would instantly give place.
Secondly, Persevere in this application to him. Set a high value upon these his public ordinances, and be constant in attending them. His eye is fixed upon us; his arm is revealed amongst us. I trust it is a time of his grace, and that every day we meet, he does something for one or another in the assembly. He has a fixed
* John iv. 53.
Matth. xviii. 20.
time for every one whom he relieves. He knew how long the poor man had waited at the pool side*; and when his hour came, he spake and relieved him. So do you endeavour to be found in his way; and not here only, but in whatever he has made your duty. Read his word; be frequent in secret prayer. You will find many things arising from within and without to discourage and weary you in this course; but persist in sit, and in good time you shall find rest for your souls. These are the means which the Lord has appointed you. * Converse likewise at proper opportunities with his people; perhaps he may unexpectedly join you, as he did the two disciples when walking to Emmaus†, and cause tru your hearts to burn within you. Further,
Thirdly, You are to follow him, to take up his cross, to make a profession of his name and Gospel, to bear contentedly a share in the reproach and scorn which is the usual lot of those who will live godly in Christ Jesus, in the midst of an unbelieving and perverse generation. You are not only to trust in him as a priest to atone for your sins, but to receive and obey him as your teacher and and your Lord. If you are truly weary and heavy laden, I you will be glad to do this, and are crying to him to enable you: and you are likewise willing to forsake every thing that is inconsistent with his will and service. If you are desirous to come to Christ, it is not grievous to you to think of parting with your sinful pleasures and vain companions. Rather these are a part of the burden from which you long to be freed.
Come in this way, and you shall find rest for your souls. Are any of you thinking,-O that I could!— surely if I had seen him and heard him, I should have