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should come down in person and propose your yielding to him, would you refuse? But our Master is a king and courts his bride by proxy. Matt. xxii. 4. " Now then we are ambassadors for Christ as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead be reconciled to God."
5. He is not seeking your yielding yourselves for nothing. Yield yourselves to him and he will give himself to you. Hosea iii. 3. "He will take your wants upon him, and give you of his fulness." 6. You must yield or die, bow or break. "Those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me."
7. Yield, and all your former rebellions shall be forgiven, and you shall be restored to the Lord's favour. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Thus pardoned you shall enjoy all the privileges of his subjects.
Lastly, Yield, or the Lord will have war with you for ever. And how will you be able to make head against him? How will you bear his coming. 2 Thess. i. 7, 9.
What prevents you that you will not yield? Some will not, because if they yield to the Lord, they must forego their lusts, which they know not how to live without. And hence their love to these fixes an enmity to God, and an aversion to his yoke in them.-The spring of this is unacquaintedness with Christ and never seeing sin in its own colours. Assure yourselves the Lord bids you part with nothing for him, without offering you far better in its stead. And a discovery of Christ in his glory would determine the matter, Matt. xiii. 45, 46.
Some think it is too soon for them to yield, for they are yet but young, they may yield time enough long after this. I shall yield to you, if there is none in the kirk-yard as young as you. Does death ask any person's age? Are you sure you shall live to be old? The longer you live without yielding, the more Satan's interest will be strengthened in you, and is it not strong enough already. And must the bloom and vigour be for sin and Satan, and only the withering age for God. Some fear that they will not be able to keep with God, but Satan will have them back again. But yield, throwing yourselves into God's covenant of free grace; it will keep you. "He will put his fear in your hearts and you shall not depart from him." Wherefore, I summon you to yield; and yield now presently and freely; it is dangerous to delay: "Behold, now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." Amen.
Ettrick, September 3, 1710.
AMIABLE PROFESSORS FALLING SHORT OF HEAVEN.
MARK X. 21.
Then Jesus beholding him, loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest.
WHEN Satan had taken man prisoner, he put him in chains, Isaiah lxi. 1. Chains of several links, even divers lusts and pleasures. With these he attempts to hold them, till he get them in chains of darkness in hell. Jesus Christ hath broken the chains of some of these prisoners of Satan: but very many of them are yet as Adam left them. Some the devil hath in the chain of irreligion and profanity, even a chain so short, as they have no power to set a foot on God's way. Some are in the long chain of formality, as this man; and as for them, you may see, that they are as sure in the devil's grasp as those whose heads he holds in greater restraint. One thing thou lackest. They get so much scope in the ways of God, that they can scarcely think that the devil hath them in his chain. All these, said this man, have I observed from my youth. But when a convenient time comes, the devil can draw them to himself, quite out of God's way. Ver. 22. He was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
In the 20th verse this man had made an ample profession of a good life, and in the text we have Christ's return. In which we have, 1. Christ's gesture towards him, he beheld him, he cast his eyes anew upon him, on that word, looking on him so as to express his inward affection to him. 2. The Saviour's affection to him. He loved him. 3. His answer to him. One thing thou lackest.
1. We have our Lord's gesture and carriage to him. He beheld him wishfully. The eyes are the windows through which the soul looks out, and they admirably discover the affection of the mind; either love or hatred. It was love here, particularly compassion and pity, which is a kind of love especially discovered by the eyes. Christ had a human compassion towards so civil a person.
But why did Christ thus look upon him? Because he was true man, and so capable of true human passions and affections, and particularly of pity towards objects of compassion, which this man in a special manner was. And so we find him affected even to the shed
ding of tears, over the case of those, on whom as God he was about to bring wrath to the uttermost. When Jesus beheld Jerusalem, he wept over it. And there was much in this man's case to move a generous spirit to compassion.
1. He was a civil discreet man, but possessed of no religion, an absolute stranger to true godliness. There are some people who have neither grace nor manners; they are abominable to the godly, because they have no religion; and to civil men, because they have not so much as common civility. But this man was civil and discreet, yet being without true religion, he was a pitiful sight to move compassion.
Such persons excite compassion because they are dutiful to all but God and their own souls. They feed others but starve themselves. They make themselves lovely to men, but remain hateful to God. Besides if they had religion, it would be much better for them. Civility and discretion go far to recommend religion to the world, that knows it not, and cannot value it for its intrinsic beauty. Hence we are commanded to be all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous, Religion with an unpolished conversation is like gold in the ore; but accompanied with this discretion shines as a piece of gold new struck.
2. He was a man concerned to be at heaven, but likely never to see it; and such an one is a spectacle of commiseration indeed. Some persons are posting so fast to the pit, that they never look over their shoulder to heaven: if they go to hell, they can scarcely say that they are disappointed, for they were not minding heaven. They have found a broad easy way, and they have a mind to hold by it end where it will. But Oh! what shall we say, or what tears of blood may not their case draw forth, whose eyes are still fixed on heaven, while the devil is driving them in an invisible chariot to destruction? They are running to obtain the crown of glory, but have mistaken the way, and will land in eternal reproach. The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them; because he knoweth not how to go to the city. Strive, says our Lord, to enter in at the strait gate; for many I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be able. They are courting their own damnation in a mask, and grasp at a weight of wrath, instead of the weight of glory, which must needs make a fearful surprise when they are undeceived.
3. He was a man of a good natural temper, but no grace. All these, says he, have I kept from my youth. He was none of the devil's lions, filling the place where he lived with the noise of his re
vellings and extravagancies; but he was one of the devil's lambs, going to hell without letting the world hear the sound of his feet. And such surely is a pitiful sight.
Some persons have grace, but a rugged natural temper like Jonah, who was seldom but out of humour. They have the jewel, but an ill case to keep it in.-Some have good nature, but no grace, they have the cabinet, but they want the jewel to put into it. Ah! what pity is it to see such a fair building empty, or rather made a habitation of devils.
4. He was a man that had done many things in the way of a good life, but marred all he had done with the want of one thing. If . you saw an artificer at great pains to make a curious piece of work, and when he had done break all in pieces with a rash touch of his hand, you could not observe it without regret. Or if you saw one make such a piece, but when he comes to one thing necessary to make it useful, he stops there and with all his art cannot master it, would not that be a pitiful sight? So here. Oh! it is sad to think how with some that do many things in religion, there is still something that stands between heaven and them.-Though they are not far from the kingdom of heaven, yet they never enter into it. We have,
II. Christ's affection to him. He loved him. There is a special love which God bears to his own, which cannot be understood of this man, as appears from the sequel, where he shewed he loved the world better than Christ. But there are two things in it.
1. There was a real affection of passion and love in Christ's human soul towards this man, upon the account of the many good qualifications which appeared in him, all the good gifts of God. 2. Forasmuch as in God there are no affections or passions properly so called, (such prove one a man, not God) the love of Christ, as God, is to be understood in respect of the effect, not of the affection; and such love God hath to all his creatures in so far as he wills and does them good, seeing every thing God made was good and is in itself good. Besides there is a love to men of which the scripture speaks, Titus iii. 4. By which God loves his own work and his own good gifts in them more or less according to their measure. Thus he loved him, spoke friendly to him, approving what was good in him, so far as it was good.
Out of this a popish commentator offers to hammer two things. 1. That the man spoke truth, verse 20th otherwise Christ had loved a liar, or a lie. Answer, He might as well have inferred Christ's commending deceit and injustice from his commending the unjust Steward, Luke xvi. 8. But his keeping of the commandments, so
far as he had really done it, was good in itself: his moral seriousness was good in itself and so lovely, and thus he might in that view love him with a general love, as well as the godly with a special love, notwithstanding of defects. 2. The congruous merit of good works before faith, because Christ loved him for these. Answer, What God loves and approves is not therefore meritorious : but if so it was incongruous to set him away without faith, which yet was done and that is to blaspheme.
Here I shall first shew out of the context why Christ loved him. Now to draw from this lovely picture, which yet wanted one stroke to make it complete for salvation, the want of which marred all the rest; I remark,
1. That he was a zealous man; he came running to Christ. Though he had little light he had much heat; much affection for heaven, though little judgment about the way. His zeal carried him to wait on, and not to let slip an opportunity of conversing with Christ, and he would rather marr his gravity by running than lose it. This was good in itself, besides there was something good in his zeal, for it was in a good thing, and herein he condemned many.
Many who run away from Christ, turn their backs on him and his way after they had made a profession of it, 2 Pet. ii. 22.
He condemned also those who have no heart for conversing with Christ, but are dragged to duties as the malefactor to the execution; whose heart that way is gone, and they are without all life and vigour in the way of God. Those also whose zeal carries them off the way where Christ walks, and excites them to separate themselves, and to entice others to withdraw from the means of knowledge, how they may inherit eternal life.
2. He was a civil discreet man, and respectful to Christ as a teacher, though he took him not for the Messiah. Rudeness was no part of religion to him, and this was good in itself, though it made him no better Christian, than he who answered discreetly, Mark xii. 34. By this he condemned many whose religion makes them rude, and leaves them not within the bounds of common discretion, especially setting themselves to trample under foot the stars that Christ holds in his own right hand.
3. He was willing to learn and asks a religious question; that was good, though not enough. Hereby he condemned many who neither have knowledge nor are willing to be instructed, and those that are puffed up with their knowledge, so as they are above teaching, and who are so far from beginning religious discourse, that they will not hold it up when it is begun to their hand.