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more necessary to any, to work out their falvation in, than to these ; and yet, none can be in greater danger of coming to the end of time, before their work is done.
[4.] As satan has got faster hold of them. When he returns to his house which for a time he hath left, it is said, he brings with him seven spirits worse than himself, and so returns with a fierceness and resolution, always to dwell there. They who have, escaped, in profession, the fervitude of fatan, and have seemed to cleave to a new and better Master, Christ; upon their revolt from Christ, they are again seized by that cruel tyrant, who will do all he can to prevent all future escape from him, and to make them captives for ever. Thus at present, their case is worse than if they had never made a profession of Christ.
(2.) As their case is now worse than it was in the beginning ; fo, by forsaking of Christ they judge themselves unworthy of eternal life, and out of the way to heaven. When there is but one only name under heaven given among men whereby they must be saved, how fearful is their state who turn their backs upon it; as there is a day a coming when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, toking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Yesus Chrijl? Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, 2 Thes. i. 7.
Let us view the case of apoftates (in) and (after) that day.
(1.) In (1.) In it. Under what shame and contempt will apoftates fall! as convicted,
[1.] Of vile hypocrisy. Their revolting from from Christ is proof sufficient that they never were his disciples indeed, but in their hearts preferred something else before him, all the while they pretended devotedness to him: And so their profession was no other than a folemn lie, a saying, they were christians, when they were not, but of the synagogue of satan.
[2.] Of base ingratitude; in that they turned their backs on one that never deserved it, but deserved the contrary, as their great benefactor and best friend, doing them good and not evil all their days: One who shewed so tender a concern for their preservation in this world, and so earneit a desire of their blessedness in another; and all to win them to him, and engage them to abide with him, but they would not.
[3.] Of the greatest treachery and unfaithfulness;
in that after they had entered themselves among the disciples of Christ, and engaged to follow and cleave to him, living and dying, they break the most solemn bonds they have brought their souls under, and against all that they have said, vowed, and sworn to the contrary, they totally and finally forsake him and go away. Now what shame must be the attendant of such complicated wickedness when brought to light?
[4.] Of the most unaccountable folly; in that they forsake Christ and his ways, which were
peace, and would have led to heaven ; and turn to the ways of sin, though plainly told
that they were all deceit in the beginning, and death in the end. When become fad witnefles themselves of the truth of this, they cannot hear or think of their undoing choice, but with tormentful shame. And how will their confusion be increased, as at the same time they will fall under the contempt of Christ! This is his just and awful threatning, Mark viii. 38. Whosoever therefore Mall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and finful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of bis Father, with the holy angels. When seated on his high tribunal to render unto every man according to his works, how terrible must it be to fall under his frowns and displeased eye! Their case will be fad in that day.
(2.) How will it be after it?
They cannot expect an injured Saviour should take them with him to heaven, who were weary of him upon earth; and there remaineth no other place but hell : And the hottest place there, is prepared for apoftates, as it is deserved by them. These are trees that are twice dead : and when they are plucked up by the roots, and cait into the fire, no wonder if their punishment be proportionable to their guilt. Wilful forsakers of Christ, after they have received the knowledge of the truth, are plainly told, There remaineth no more facrifice for fin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries, Heb. x. 26, 27,
The wrath that awaits all such is inexpreflibly dreadful, and yet most just; and that it is
so, appeal is made to all that duly consider the crying provocation that leads it on, Heb. x. 28, 29. He that despised Moses's law died without mercy,
&c. Of how much forer punishment, suppose ye, jhall he be thought worthy, who bath trodden under foot the Son of God, &c? Thus, if any man draws back, he does it to his own perdition.
So much for the first observation, viz. Their case is fad who after a fair profession of their being the followers of Christ, at length forsake him and go away?
I now go on to the IId Thing observed, viz. That Christ is tenderly concerned for the safety of his real disciples in their abiding with him.
When many nominal disciples revolt and walk no more with him, with what compassion and regard doth he bespeak these, Will ye also go away? He is solicitous for their safety, and hath their happiness at heart. Here it will be necessary to shew,
1. How Christ's concern for his real followers appears.
2. From whence it proceeds.
1. How our bleffed Lord discovers his concern for the safety of his real followers.
The Apostle supposes all christians acquainted with this, as what is, and ought to be their delightful meditation, For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, &c. 2 Cor. viii. 9. He pitied us in our fallen state, and came from heaven to earth, to seek and to fave such as were loft: He freely assumed our nature to become
a suitable and all-sufficient Saviour : He takes such as the Father hath given him into a fpecial union and relation to him ; and then is not ashamed to call them brethren, but loves, and cares, and provides for them as such. Whilt he was on earth, how many kind expressions do we meet with of his affection for them, which continued to the death ? And his love is not abated now since he is gone to heaven. As the time drew nigh that he was to depart from hence, how much soever he had to mind, it is recorded for their comfort, John xiii. 1. Having loved his own, which were in the world
, be loved them unto the end, and had his thoughts taken
up about the safety and comfort of their state below, more than about the glory he was going to. Indeed, having finished the work that was given him to do, he takes a view of the glory that was to be his reward, and puts in his claim to it, And
now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine oyunself, with the glory which I bad before the world was: But yet does not make so much haste to remove, as to be unmindful of them whom he should leave behind ;. John xvii. 11. "And row I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father
, keep through thine own Name, those whom thou bajf given me. i. e. Though I am about to remove, and shall not be any more in the world as before ; yet whilst they are in the world, I cannot but pity and pray for them, and with compassion commit them into thy hand.