Imatges de pÓgina
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yet this would not support them, without renewed supplies of strength.

On the other hand, consider if the loss of his bodily presence is not more than made up to us.

1st. By the fuller manifestation of the Holy Spirit than was afforded before his ascension. The Holy Ghost was not then given in that clear and abundant measure as afterwards*, because Jesus was not yet glorified. While he was with them, he was their Comforter and Teacher; but he told them, When I depart, I will send you another Comforter t," whose office and abode with you will be in many respects so much more advantageous, that on this account it is expedient for you that I go away.

2dly, By the greater number and variety of promises which we enjoy. We have not only the Scriptures of the Old Testament in common with them, but to us the ancient revelations of the will and love of God are enlarged, explained, applied, and confirmed by the super-addition of the new‡.

3dly, By the experience of multitudes of all ages, people, and languages, who have gone before us, since their time: the cloud of witnesses to the truth and grace of God, the reality of eternal things, and the victorious power of faith, is now increased by the concurrent evidence of thousands and millions, who have overcome all opposition by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of his testimony.

4thly, By the proofs and living witnesses of his power and grace amongst ourselves. Are there not many, with whom you worship and converse from day to day, who can tell you they were even dead in trespasses and sins, but he has

* John vii. 39. ↑ John xiv. 16. and xvi. 7.

‡ Eph. iii. 5.

quickened them. They were once, as you are, labouring and heavy laden, they waited for him. long, had a share in such temptations and conflicts as you now feel, were often at a stand, and upon the point of concluding their case to be desperate, as you may think yours at present; but at length they were enabled to come unto him, and they have found rest. Every such instance should encourage you to gird up the loins of your minds, to be patient and hope to the end. As they have known your troubles, so shall you partake of their consolations in due time. What is it then should hinder you from coming to Jesus that you may find rest? What exceptions can your unbelief devise against the invitations, motives, and examples, which the Lord sets before you by his preached Gospel?

(1.) Is it a sense of your load which makes you say, you are not able? But consider that this is not a work, but a rest. Would a man plead, I am so heavy laden, that I cannot consent to part with my burden; so weary, that I am not able either to stand still or lie down, but must force myself farther? The greatness of your burden, so far from being an objection, is the very reason why you should instantly come to Christ, for he alone is able to release you.

(2.) But perhaps you think you do not come aright. I ask, how would you come? If you can come as a helpless unworthy sinner, without strength, without righteousness, without any hope but what arises from the worth, work, and word of Christ, this is to come aright. There is no other way of being accepted. Would you refresh and strengthen yourself, wash away your own sins, free yourself from your burden, and then come to him to do these things for you?

May the Lord help you to see the folly and unreasonableness of your unbelief.

I have observed already, that coming to Christ signified more at first than merely to come into his presence: so likewise it means more now than to be found among his worshippers. Let none of you be deceived with a form of godliness. Examine your religious profession by this test. Have you laboured under a sense of your misery? Have you known the burden of sin? Has Jesus given you rest? Or are you earnestly seeking to him for it? If you understand not the meaning of these questions, you are not yet in that state to which the promises are made. And why are you not labouring and heavy laden? Are you not sinners? Has not the righteous God revealed a law? Has he not guarded this law with the sanction of a dreadful curse? Have you not transgressed this holy law in thought, word, and deed, times without number? If you have not, why do you join in the public confession, and call for mercy when the commandments are repeated? If you have, how will you escape the penalty? How indeed, if you dare to neglect this great salvation? The law condemns you already;

if

you receive not the Gospel, you must perish without remedy: for other name or means whereby men can be saved there is none under heaven. Once more you are warned of danger; once more the refuge is set before you. We preach Jesus, who came to seek and to save those who were lost; Jesus who was wounded with whips, and thorns, and nails, that his enemies might be healed. Does not this thought affect you ? Will you slight his love, despise his blood, and crucify him afresh? God forbid! Is there not some heart now relenting, beginning to feel impressions of

fear, shame, and grief? Happy beginning! Obey the voice of God now opening in your conscience! Now is the time to pray; before, you knew not what to pray for: but now you see you want the blood of Christ, and the teaching of his Spirit. "Ask, and you shall receive; and seek, and you shall find." Take your warrant from my text; Jesus has said, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest." Let Let your hearts answer, Take away our iniquity, and receive us graciously: Behold, we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God; and in thee the fatherless, the helpless, the comfortless, find mercy."

SERMON XI.

THE PRESENT AND FUTURE REST OF BELIEVERS IN CHRIST.

MATTH. xi. 28.

Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

THE learned have a variety of arguments whereby to prove the Scripture to be the word of God. But though that kind of proof, which may be brought in a way of reasoning and external evidence, is doubtless useful upon proper occasions; yet, I apprehend, the chief and most satisfactory argument to those who are capable of receiving it, arises from the correspondence between the subject matter of the Scripture, and the state of an awakened mind. When the eyes of the understanding are opened, we begin to see every thing around us, to be just so as the Scripture has described them. Then, and not till then, we per

*

ceive, that what we read in the Bible concerning the horrid evil of sin, the vileness of our fallen nature, the darkness and ignorance of those who know not God, our own emptiness, and the impossibility of finding relief and comfort from creatures, is exactly true. We cannot but apply the words of the woman, and say, Come and see a book that has told me all that ever I did, the ground of all my complaints, the true cause and nature of all the evil I either see, hear, or feel, from day to day. And as we find our disease precisely described, so we perceive a suitableness in the proposed remedy. We need a Saviour, and he must be a mighty one; but though our wants and sins, our fears and enemies, are great and numerous, we are convinced that the character of Christ is sufficient to answer them all. We need a rest, a rest which the world cannot give. Inquire where we will among the creatures, experience brings in the same answer from all, It is not in me. This again confirms the word of God, which has forewarned us that we shall meet nothing but disappointment in such pursuits. But there is a spiritual rest spoken of which we know to be the very thing we want, and all our remaining solicitude is how to attain it. From hence, as I said, we may assuredly conclude, that the book which gives us such just views of every thing that passes, must be given by inspiration from Him who is the searcher of hearts. This proof is equally plain and conclusive to all capacities that are spiritually enlightened, and such only are able to understand it. We are now to speak,

III. Of this promised rest. promised rest. And here two things offer to our consideration.

* John iv. 29.

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