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1. As a tie upon our gratitude
[The redemption of Israel from Egypt, though great, was not to be compared
with that which is wrought for us by the blood of Christ-The obligations which we lie under exceed all computation Well therefore may this stupendous mercy be urged as an inducement to return to God-Indeed, this motive, duly considered, could not fail of producing the desired effect-Suppose a prodigal, having left his father's house, and squandered away his substance, had been seized by his creditors and sold for a slave : suppose his father, full of compassion, had gone, at the risk of his own life, and given all that he possessed as the price of his son's redemption: suppose the son returning to his evils ways, and actually going to sell himself again to his former master: if his father should follow him, with the invitation in the text, could he fail of success? Must not his son have an heart of adamant, if he could with, stand such a solicitation?—The application of this to our own case is easy: 0 that we may realize the idea for our good!-] 2. As an encouragement under our fears
[Notwithstanding the numberless proofs which God has given us of his readiness to forgive sin, we are apt to think him hard and inexorable-But the argument here used may well dissipate our unbelieving fears --Let us conceive the Saviour, at the very instant of his resurrection, meeting one of his murderers, and importuning him, by the very wounds which he had made, to accept of mercy, and assuring him that, if he would believe, the blood that he had shed, should cleanse him from the guilt of shedding it: could that man entertain a doubt of the Saviour's willingness to shew mercy? -This very thing is done to us, whose sins were the real occasion of Jesus' death: he mests us in the word, and, with his wounds yet exhibited before our eyes, addresses us in the words of the text-Let all unworthy conceptions of him then be put away, and every soul return to him as able and willing to save us to the uttermost-] APPLICATION
(Careless sinners overlook, alas! all these considerations -But if they would consider the Saviour as addressing them, and as following them with these words into all their retirements, yea, into all their resorts of gaiety and dissipation, what a damp would such a reflection cast on all their vicious appetites and unshallowed enjoyments!—Methinks it would not be possible for them long to withstand the influence of such a thought-To backsliding professors these words must be applied with tenfold emphasis-How pungent must such an invitation be to those, who, having once experienced the efficacy of the blood of Christ, have relapsed into a luke. warm Laodicean state!-How shocking must their ingratitude appear, and how great their folly-Let all such, if such there be amongst us, attend to this gracious call, and return, without delay, to their dụties, their privileges, their enjoy: ments
CCCCXXVII. EXHORTATION TO RECEIVE
BLESSINGS OF THE GOSPEL.
Isaiah lv. 1-3. Ho! every one that thirsteth, come to the
waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eut; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall-live: and I will muke an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercie: of David.
WE can never sufficiently admire the condescension and grace of God in noticing such insignificant and worthless creatures as we are.
That he should provide for our returning wants, and permit us to ask of him the things we stand in need of, may well excite our deepest astonishment. Bụt that he should be as much interested in our welfare, as if his own happiness and glory depended on it,' seems utterly incredible: yet, that this is really the case, is manifest from the earnest invitations and entreaties, which he uses to prevail upon us to accept of mercy. In confirmation of this, we need only notice the passage before us, in which God, with inexpressible affection, labours to awaken the at: tention of sinners to their own truest happiness, and to bring them to the enjoyment of everlasting salvation,
In his words we may observe 1. An invitation
No words could be devised that should more forcibly declare God's desire for our welfare
[The blessings of the gospel are here set forth under the most patural and expressive image.
What can be more re
freshing than water? more reviving than wine? more nutritious than milk? yet do these but faintly represent the operations of the gospel on the soul of man. Nor can water or milk be by any means dispensed with; they are altogether ne. cessary for human subsistence; so that on this account also are they fit emblems of spiritual blessings. What would be the state of man if there were no Saviour to atone for him, no Spirit to renew him, no God and Father to preserve and bless him? On the contrary, how revived and animated is he by the promises of pardon and peace, of holiness and glory! Such then are the blessings which God offers to mankind. He invites every one that thirsteth: every person, whatever have been his character or conduct, is called: if only he thirst, nothing shall be a bar to his acceptance. Yet no man need to decline the invitation, under the idea that he is not wel. come, because he does not thirst enough: if he be willing, that is sufficient. Nor need any one be discouraged at the thought that he has nothing wherewith to purchase these benefits: for though they are to be bought, it is “ without money and without price;" and therefore they, “who have
7" are particularly specified in the invitation. Indeed, if any man bring a price in his hand, he shall surely go empty away: Christ has paid the price; nor can we obtain any thing, unless we be willing to receive it as the free gift of God through Christ,
The earnestness, with which God intreats us to accept these blessings, is well worthy of our notice. He personates an herald standing in the place of public concourse, and, in the accustomed manner, calling the attention of all around him. We then expatiates on the blessings which he is ready to com, municate, and the terms on which he will bestow them: he describes the persons to whose necessities the blessings are suited, and to whose indigence the terms are more especially adapted: and then, as though he were determined to take no refusal, he cries, “ Come," "come,” “ come."] And shall we despise such a gracious invitation?
[Let us but contemplate the blessings we are invited to partake of: how rich, how sustable, how necessary!-Let us reflect on the terms on which they are offered: can any thing be more encouraging?---Let us recollect who it is that calls us; Is he used to mock his people? or is he incapable of supplying all their wants?---Let us consider his descriptions of the persons invited: can any thing be more encouraging and shall we not be inexcusable if we turn a deaf ear to such intreaties!--)
* So St. John expour is the passage Rev. xxii. 17.
But God, knowing our extreme backwardness to go to him, urges us yet further by II. An expostulation Our infatuation justly calls for a severe reproof
[The contemners of God's invitations may be comprised under two classes, the worldly-minded, and the self-righteous. Both of these despise the offers of the gospel; the one, because they have no relish for spiritual things; the other, because they think they already possess them: the one find their happiness in the pursuit or enjoyment of earthly things; the other in self-applauding reflections on their own goodness. But we may appeal to both, whether they have ever attained any abiding satisfaction in their respective courses? Have pleasures, riches, or honours ever proved a source of solid peace? Are they “bread” proper for the soul? Does not the comfort, derived from such things, fail us in the hour that me most need it? And will any satisfaction arise from the remembrance of them, when we stand at the bar of judgment? Nor however laudable the conduct of the self-righteous may be in the sight of men, can it yield them the comfort they aspire after: it cannot satisfy either God or their own consciences; not God, because it does not fulfil the demands of his law; not themselves, because they never can know that they have done enough to procure them acceptance with God: in the midst of all their boasted confidence, they have many misgiving fears lest they should have laboured for nought, and
spent their money for that which is not bread.”
To impress this thought on our minds, God contrasts the blessings he offers, with those which we foolishly prefer. He calls them “ good," and declares that they will delight the soul with fatness." And they are not good? What so worthy of this character, as a free and full pardon, to the guilty; a peace that passeth all understanding, to the troubled; renewed strength, to the weak; and everlasting glory, to the lost? Can these be received into the soul, and not comfort it? or can they be promised to us by a faithful God, and not satisfy the mind? Surely they are “meat indeed, and drink indeed;” nor can they fail of filling us with “joy unspeakable and glorified.”]
Let us then call ourselves to an account for our conduct
[Who amongst us has not had abundant experience of the insufficiency of every thing, except the gospel, to make us happy? And shall we yet persist in our error? shall we never cease to "hew out to ourselves broken cisterns," when we might have access to the fountain of living waters?" shall we still grasp at a shadow, while we lose the substance?
What reason can we assign to ourselves for such obstinacy? and what shall we assign to God, when he shall interrogate us respecting it in the day of judgment shall we plead a want of information? God has informed us. Shall we say that the blessings of salvation were out of our reach? God has freely offered them to us: nor is it any thing but a deliberate rejection of his mercy, that can finally destroy us---]
Lest any thing should be wanting to affect our hearts, God confirms his invitation with III. A promise
There is not any thing which God will not do for those who obey his call
(Whatever a carnal man may enjoy, he has no right or title to eternal life. On the contrary, whatever a spiritual man may want, this privilege he shall assuredly possess,“ his soul shall live. Nor shall this life be terminated like the life of the body; for God will make a covenant with him, an everlasting covenant,” a “covenant ordered in all things and sure;" so that every thing necessary for the maintaining and perfecting of this life shall be secured to himn. And as the Father gave unto his Son “the sure mercies of David” by raising him from the dead, and setting him at his own right hand in heaven, so will he bestow on his believing people every thing that he ever promised unto his church. Notwithstanding he may suffer for a time their state to appear forlorn and desperate, his mercies shall be “sure" to all his seed.
Lest we should still remain unmoved; God calls our attention to this promise, repeating his intreaties with all the energy and affection that words can express: Hearken,” says he, as to a distant sound which you are solicitous to hear: hearken "diligently,” not suffering any thing to divert your attention for one moment: "incline your ear” as one that is afraid of losing one word that is spoken to him: “ hear,” determining to judge with candour, and to follow the dictates of sound wisdom. Do this, says God, and the promise shall be yours: I pledge myself by covenant and by oath that your soul shall live, and that nothing that is good shall be wanting to you either in time or in eternity:]
How incurably obstinate then must we be, if such accumulated means be used in vain!
[Is the life of the soul a matter of such indifference, that A promise of it shall have no effect on our minds? Shall God engage self to us by covenant and by oath to supply all our need both of body and soul, and shall we account his word
Acte xiii. 31.