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have overcome, they shall sit down with him in his Throne. Rev. iii. 21. “To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with
my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."
5. Hence burdened and distressed sinners, if any such are here present, may have abundant ground of encouragement to come to Christ for salvation. Here is great encouragement to sinners to come to this high priest that offered up such strong crying and tears with his blood, for the success of his sufferings in the salvation of sinners. For,
1st. Here is great ground of assurance that Christ stands ready to accept of sinners, and bestow salvation upon them, for those strong cries of his that he offered up in the capacity of our high priest, show how earnestly desirous he was of it. If he was not willing that sinners should be saved, be they ever so unworthy of it, then why would he so wrestle with God for it in such a bloody sweat? Would any one so earnestly cry to God with such costly cries, in such great labour and travail of soul for that, that he did not desire that God should bestow ? No, surely! but this shows how greatly his heart was set on the success of his redemption, and therefore since he has by such earnest prayers, and by such a bloody sweat obtained salvation of the Father to bestow on sinners, he will surely be ready to bestow it upon them, if they comc to him for it; otherwise he will frustrate his own design; and he that so earnestly cried to God that his design might not be frustrated, will not, after all, frustrate it himself.
2. Here is the strongest ground of assurance that God stands ready to accept of all those that come to him for mercy through Christ, for this is what Christ prayed for in those earnest prayers, whose prayers were always heard, as Christ says, John xi. 42. “And I knew that thou bearest me always.” And especially may they conclude, that heard their high priest in those strong cries that be offered up with his blood, and that especially on the following account.
(1.) They were the most earnest prayers that ever were made. Jacob was very earnest when he wrestled with God; and many others have wrestled with God with many tears; yea, doubtless many of the saints have wrestled with God with such inward labour and strife as to produce powerful effects on the body. But so earnest was Christ, so strong was the labour and fervency of his heart, that he cried to God in a sweat of blood; so that if any earnestness and importunity in prayer ever prevailed with God, we may conclude that that prevailed.
(2.) He who then prayed was the most worthy person that ever put up a prayer.
He had more worthiness than ever men
or angels had in the sight of God, according as by inheritance he has obtained a more excellent name than they ; for he was the only begotten Son of God, infinitely lovely in his sight, the Son in whom he declared once and again he was well pleased. He was infinitely near and dear to God, and had more worthiness in his eyes ten thousand times than all men and angels put together. And can we suppose any other than that such a person was heard when he cried to God with such earnestness ? Did Jacob, a poor sinful man, when he had wrestled with God, obtain of God the name of ISRAEL, and that encomium that as a prince he had power with God, and prevailed ? and did Elijah, who was a man of like passions, and of like corruptions with us when he prayed, earnestly prevail on God to work such great wonders ? and shall not the only begotten Son of God, when wrestling with God in tears and blood, prevail, and have his request granted him?
Surely there is no room to suppose any such thing; and therefore, there is no room to doubt whether God will bestow salvation on those that believe in him, at his request.
(3.) Christ offered up these earnest prayers with the best plea for an answer that ever was offered to God, viz. his own blood; which was an equivalent for the thing that he asked. He not only offered up strong cries, but he offered them up with a price fully sufficient to purchase the benefit he asked.
(4.) Christ offered this price, and those strong cries both together; for at the same time that he was pouring out these earnest requests for the success of his redemption in the salvation of sinners, he also shed his blood. His blood fell down to the ground at the same instant that his cries went up to heaven. Let burdened and distressed sinners that are ready to doubt of the efficacy of Christ's intercession for such unworthy creatures as they, and to call in question God's readiness to accept them for Christ's sake, consider these things. Go to the garden where the Son of God was in an agony, and where he cried to God so earnestly, and where his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood, and then see what a conclusion you will draw up from such a wonderful sight.
6. The godly may take great comfort in this that Christ has as their high priest offered up such strong cries to God. You that have good evidence of your being believers in Christ and his true followers, and servants, may comfort yourselves in this, that Christ Jesus is your high priest, that that blood, which Christ shed in his agony, fell down to the ground for you, and that those carnest cries were sent up to God for you, for the success of his labours and sufferings in all that good you stood in need of in this world, and in your everlasting happiness in the world to come. This may be a comfort to you in all losses, and under all difficulties that you may encourage your faith and strengthen your hope, and cause you greatly to rejoice. If you were under any remarkable difficulties it would be a great comfort to you to have the prayers of some man that you looked upon to be a man of eminent piety, and one that had a great interest at the throne of grace, and especially if you knew that he was very earnest and greatly engaged in prayer for you. But how much more may you be comforted in it that you have an interest in the prayers and cries of the only begotten and infinitely worthy Son of God, and that he was so earnest in his prayers for you, as you have heard !
7. Hence we may learn how earnest Christians ought to be in their prayers and endeavours for the salvation of others. Christians are the followers of Christ, and they should follow him in this. We see from what we have heard, how great the labour and travail of Christ's soul was for others' salvation, and what earnest and strong cries to God accompanied his labours. Here he hath set us an example. Herein he hath set an example for ministers who should as co-workers with Christ travail in birth with them till Christ be found in them. Gal. iv. 19.
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you.” They should be willing to spend and be spent for them. They should not only labour for them, and pray earnestly for them, but should, if occasion required, be ready to suffer for them, and to spend not only their strength, but their blood for them. 2 Cor. xii. 15. “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” Here is an example for parents, showing how they ought to labour and cry to God for the spiritual good of their children. You see how Christ laboured and strove and cried to God for the salvation of his spiritual children; and will not you earnestly seek and cry to God for your natural children?
Here is an example for neighbours one towards another how they should seek and cry for the good of one another's souls, for this is the command of Christ that they should love one another as Christ loved them. John xv. 12. Here is an example for us, showing how we should earnestly seek and pray for the spiritual and eternal good of our enemies, for Christ did all this for his enemies, and when some of those enemies were at that very instant plotting his death, and busily contriving to satiate their malice and cruelty, in his most extreme torments, and most ignominious destruction.
ROMANS ii. 8, 9.
But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but
obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.
It is the drift of the apostle in the three first chapters of this epistle to show, that both Jews and Gentiles are under sin, and therefore cannot be justified by works of law, but only by faith in Christ. In the first chapter he had shown that the Gentiles were under sin: in this he shows that the Jews also are under sin, and that however severe they were in their censures upon the Gentiles, yet they themselves did the same things; for which the apostle very much blames them: “Therefore, thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest, for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest, doest the same things.” And he warns them not to go on in such a way, by forewarning them of the misery to wbich they will expose themselves by it, and by giving them to understand that instead of their misery being less than that of the Gentiles, it would be the greater, for God's distinguishing goodness to them above the Gentiles. The Jews thought that they should be exempted from future wrath, because God had chosen them to be his peculiar people. But the apostle informs them that there should be indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, to every soul of man; not only to the Gentiles, but to every soul; and to the Jews first and chiefly, when they did evil, because their sins were more aggravated.
In the text we find,
1. A description of wicked men; in which may be observed those qualifications of wicked men which have the nature of a cause, and those which have the nature of an effect.
Those qualifications of wicked men here mentioned that have the nature of a cause, are their being contentious, and not obeying the truth, but obeying unrighteousness. By their being contentious, is meant their being contentious against the truth, their quarrelling with the gospel, their finding fault with its declarations and offers. Unbelievers find many things in the ways of God at which they stumble, and by which they are offended. They are always quarrelling and finding fault with one thing or another, whereby they are kept from believing the truth and yielding to it. Christ is to them a stone of stumbling, and rock of offence. They do not obey the truth, that is, they do not yield to it, they do not receive it with faith. That yielding to the truth and embracing it, which there is in saving faith, is called obeying, in scripture. Rom. vi. 17. “But God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin; but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” Heb. v. 9. “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." Rom. i. 5. “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations for his name:" But they obey unrighteousness instead of yielding to the gospel, they are under the power and dominion of sin, and are slaves to their lusts and corruptions.
It is in those qualifications of wicked men that their wickedness radically consists; their unbelief and opposition to the truth, and their slavish subjection to lust, are the foundation of all wickedness.
Those qualifications of wicked men, which have the nature of an effect, are their doing evil. This is the least of their opposition against the gospel, and of their slavish subjection to their lasts; that they do evil. Those wicked principles are the foundation, and their wicked practice is the superstructure; those were the root, and this is the fruit.
2. The punishment of wicked men, in which may be also noticed the cause and the effect.
Those things mentioned in their punishment that have the nature of a cause are indignation and wrath ; i. e. the indignation and wrath of God. It is the anger of God that will render wicked men miserable; they will be the subjects of divine wrath, and hence will arise their whole punishment.
Those things in their punishment that have the nature of an effect, are tribulation and anguish. Indignation and wrath in God, will work extreme sorrow, trouble, and anguish of heart, in them.
Doctrine. Indignation, wrath, misery, and anguish of soul, are the portion that God has allotted to wicked men.
Every one of mankind must have the portion that belongs to him. God allots to each one his portion; and the portion of the wicked is nothing but wrath, and distress, and anguish of soul. Though they may enjoy a few empty and vain pleasures and delights, for a few days while they stay in this world, yet that which