Imatges de pàgina

1. That the law on which it is founded was the eternal agreement of the glorious Trinity for man's redemption. The eternal law of love and good-will to poor sinners, by which it was provided, that upon the Son of God's laying down his life a randsom for an elect world, they should be delivered from the captivity of sin and Satan, and be made God's freemen; which the eternal Son engaged to do. Accordingly, in the fulness of time he did it, and thereby purchased their liberty. We observe,

2. That the proclamation was drawn up, and is recorded in the Bible, by the Holy Spirit ; Isa. Iv. 1, "Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price." And what is the whole Bible but a declaration of this liberty, with promises to those who accept of, and threatenings to those who fuse it. The truth and reality of this declaration is sealed by the blood of Christ; “ This,” said he, " is the New Testament in my blood.” So that there is not the least ground to doubt its truth. We observe,

3. That this proclamation is issued out by our Lord Jesus Christ, with the consent of his father and the Spirit. The Father has sent him to proclaim liberty to the captives. The Spirit says, Come. A whole Trinity invites Satan's captives to liberty. They have no will that the captive exile should die in the pit; Ezek. xviii. 23, “ Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die ? saith the Lord God; and not that he should return from his ways, and live ?" We observe,

4. That this proclamation is directed to men, to the sons of men ; Prov. viii. 4,“ Unto you, 0 men, do I call, and my voice is to the sons of men.” Not to fallen angels, they are excluded from the benefit of the purchased liberty. But the captives in the land of the living, these prisoners of hope, to them is the proclamation directed, without exception of great, yea, even the greatest of sinners; Rev. xxii. 17, “ Whosoever will, may take of the water of life freely." Isa. i. 18, “ Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Such are invited, though they have often refused their liberty, and though they have gone back iặto their captivity. We observe,

5. That the first crier of this proclamation was the Son of God in his own person. He made this proclamation first in paradise ; Gen. iii. 15, “ The seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent." Afterwards he took on him man's nature, then came and proclaimed it; Heb. ii. 3, “ The Gospel at the first began to be spoken unto us by the Lord.” And he sealed it with his most

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precious blood, though there were but few who came away upon
the proclamation made by him; “Who hath believed our report,
and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed ?" is the
complaint of the prophet Isaiah. We observe,

6. That, being ascended into heaven, he has appointed criers in
his name the ministers of the Gospel, to publish this proclamation,
and to invite sinners to accept of this liberty ; 2 Cor. v. 20, “ Now
then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech
you by us; we pray yon, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled unto
God.” This is our work, to proclaim it unto you, to make you
sensible that liberty is purchased, and offered unto you. We are
the voice of the great crier; Christ cries to you by us. We observe,

Lastly, that the place where the proclamation is ordered to be made is in this world; Mark xvi. 15, “Go ye,” said Jesus to his disciples, “into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” As for those who are gone into the other world, the proclamation can reach them no more; the prisoners there are without hope. But while you are in this world, the proclamation is to you, and particularly when in those public assembles where the Lord's people are gathered together to hear it; Prov. i. 20, 21, " Wisdom crieth without, she uttereth her voice in the streets ; she crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates, in the city she uttereth her words.” It only remains,

IV. That we make some improvement of the subject. This shall be confined to an use of exhortation.

We would exhort you, O captives of Satan! to comply with the design of this proclamation of liberty; we beseech you, receive not this grace of God in vain. To be more particular, we exhort you,

1. To be convinced of your state of captivity ; deceive not yourselves with thoughts of liberty, while you are really serving divers lusts. Till you see your captive state, what hope can there be of good to be obtained by the proclamation of liberty? We ex

hort you,

2. To be willing to come away and forsake your old master and his service. Ah! may not the time past suffice to have done the will of the flesh ? 1 Pet. iv. 3. You have been long under this captivity; had the youngest of you been as long a slave to any man as you have be to Satan, you would have been weary of your situation long ere now. 0! strive that your spirits may be raised towards your being tree, and walk no more contentedly in your chains of divers lusts. You will say, you are not able to como away; but if you were willing, you would not be allowed to remain in your captivo state. We exhort you,

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3. To be affected at the heart with the news of the proclamation of liberty. Do not hear it unconcernedly, bat hear as those who are nearly concerned in the matter. Take a view of the wretched state you are in, and wonder that there is yet hope. How glad were the Israelites in Egypt and Babylon of the notice they had of their liberty! Thy captivity is a thousand times worse, and thy heart should leap within thee at the voice of the deliverer. Wo exhort you,

Lastly, To accept of the proclaimed liberty, and come away with the deliverer. Give up with your old master, lay by his work, bid farewell to his kingdom, as never to remain more in it. Shake off your fetters resolutely, and embrace cordially the offered liberty of the sons of God. To prevail with you in doing this, we present you with the following motives :

MOTIVE 1. Consider that the captivity you are in is a most miserable bondage and slavery; Egyptian, Babylonish, and Turkish slavery. and captivity, all in one, are not sufficient to represent it. And this will appear, if you consider,

(1.) That the master is the devil. While thou art in thy natural state, thou art the devil's captive and bond servant, 2 Tim. ii. 26, and that by a threefold title—as taken in war, 2 Pet. ii. 19-as bought by him at a low rate, “ye sold yourselves for nought,"

a Isa. lii. 3, and—as born in his house, Matth. xxiii. 15. Therefore ye are called to forget that house, Psalm xlv. 10, and to come out of his family, and touch not the unclean thing, 2 Cor. vi. 17. How wretched must that bondage be where the devil is master! Sure he is a cruel and merciless master, who will take pleasure in thy miseries. Do we esteem the case of those wretches so horrible, who, by express compact, are become his ? and will we yet contentedly continue in bondage to the same master ? Consider,

(2.) That the work is sin, called the works of darkness, Rom. xiii. 12. None of his captives are suffered to be idle, he puts a task in their hands, which they must fulfil. One of two things they are always doing while out of Christ; either weaving the spider's web, working that which will not profit at the latter end, more than such a web will be a garment; or, hatching the cockatrice egg, doing mischief and wickedness that will recoil upon you, to your own destruction. This dung-hill work Satan employs his captives in, is most unbecoming the heaven-born soul. Consider,

(3.) That the provision and entertainment is bad and unsatisfying, Isa. lv. 2, " Wherefore do you spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for tbat which satisfieth not?” The best of this sort, which the natural man has, is to eat dust with the serpont, to suck the breast of filthy lusts, which, though it may feast

one's corruptions, poisons the soul; or to eat husks with the swine, Luke xv. 16, to feed on the empty things of the world, which can afford no nourishment. Thus, while you ask from him bread, he gives you a stone; while you ask a fish, he gives you a scorpion. Consider,

(4.) That the wages of sin is death : Rom. vi. 23, “For the wages of sin is death.” Present death, spiritual, in the separation of their souls from God, for from every natural man God is departed, whether he kuows it or not. Death temporal, to come, armed with its sting, and provided with the envenomed arrows of the curse. And death eternal in hell, where they shall be ever dying, but never shall die. O! shall not the consideration of these things move you to accept of liberty, and come away from such a master, such work, such provisions, and such wages ?

MOTIVE 2. The liberty proclaimed is most excellent and glorious liberty, Rom. viii. 21; the glorious liberty of the sons of God; which may create the most surpassing joy in the world. The glory and excellency of it will appear, if we consider,

(1.) The purchaser of it is Christ the King of glory. He it is by whom we have the gospel-jubilee proclaimed in the text. He is the victorious Monarch, who has overcome Satan, and gives liberty to his captives. He is our near kinsman, who has redeemed us by payment of a price, a costly price, even his own precious blood. It was the honour of the Jews that they had their liberty by Cyrus; but how much more honourable is it, to have liberty by Christ! And when such an one has purchased for us liberty, will not you accept it? Consider,

(2.) The ransom paid for it; 1 Pet. i. 18, 19, “ Forasmuch as yo know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blenish, and without spot.” Never was such a ransom paid for the greatest captive king among men, as for us wretched sinners; even the blood of God. He compassionated the case of the poor captives, laid by the robes of his glory, put his neck under the yoke of the law, endured the wrath of God, the sting of death, and the rage of hell, and all to purchase this liberty for us. Consider,

(3.) The party to whom it was paid, to God, even his own Father ; Eph. v. 2, “lle gave himself an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savour.” Satan is but the jailor and executioner, into whose hands men fell, being condemned by the Judge, to whom alone the ransom was due. Hence, in respect of Satan, his captives are said to be redeemed without money, Isa. lii. 3. They are to be VOL. IX.

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set at liberty by main force, being violently wrested out of his hand, Isa. xlix. 25.-Consider,

(4.) The glorious privileges attending this liberty. It is not a naked freedom, which yet would be valuable, but pregnant with many precious privileges. I have told you already, that it is a liberty from the power of Satan, from the law as a covenant, &c. But besides these, many positive blessings and privileges attend it; such as, the freed captives are made free men of the New Jerusalem, they are made citizens of heaven on earth, and are burgesses there; Eph. ii. 19, “ They are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God." They are incorporated with the society of saints and angels, of whom Christ is the head. They who had their lot before in the kingdom of darkness, have now their lot in these pleasant places. The freed captives are made children of the family of heaven; 2 Cor. vi. 18, And I will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” So it is the liberty of the sons of God, for God makes all the freed slaves sons of his house; and whatever children may expect from a father, able and willing to do for them, this they may expect from God. The freed captives are all made first-born : Heb. xii. 23, “ The general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven.” This excellence of dignity and power is put upon them, they are thus highly advanced. As it was with Joseph, he not only got his liberty but was made lord over Egypt, where he had been a slave; so the freed captive is made king : Rev. i. 6, “ And bath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father.” This is accomplished in them all, Isa. xiv. 2, " They shall rule over their oppressors." They get mastery over their lusts, and shall at last triumph over Satan, Rom. xvi. 20. They shall sit and judge him, 1 Cor. vi. 3. They are made priests also, to offer up sacrifices of praise to God, Rom. xii. 1. O what a change of their work! They are all heirs of God, and receive the double portion. There is not anything which such an one gets, but it is twice as much and good as that which a captive of Satan has. The blessing is the best half; this the captives of Satan want. Lastly, When their minority is over, they shall have a perfect liberty, with the affluence of all things, to an entire completing of their happiness, Rom. viii. 21. 0 the glorious day abiding Christ's freemen! Now they have got the word, Roll away the stone, Lazarus come forth; but then this will be added, Loose him and let him go. The great day will begin their eternal jubilee; when death the last enemy shall be destroyed, then shall soul and body return to the full possession of the mortgaged inheritance, and the perfect freedom from their captivity. Consider,

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