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law, that thou art a dead man, and everlastingly must perish, the law then works wrath, that is, it manifests unto us the wrath of God. When it is thus, there follows a shaking and trembling, and it is impossible but with Moses thou shouldest "exceedingly quake and tremble."
2. For all this, there is a throne of grace erected; God hath not forgotten to be merciful, though thy sins be never so great: this is the next preparative for faith, namely, the discovery and acknowledgment of the Gospel of Christ Jesus. We see in Ezra: "Wem have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the ple of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing; we have trespassed;" what then? must we be the subjects of God's wrath? No: yet notwithstanding though we have committed this great offence, "there is hope in Israel concerning this thing." What, though we have provoked God to indignation, must we be the matter of his wrath to work on? No: there is balm in Gilead. "Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" What though then we are sick to death? yet there is an help in time of need. And this knowledge of the people, that there is a throne of grace, is the first comfort comes to a miserable and sinful soul. A man that hath a deadly disease, though the physician do him no good which he hath made use of, yet this he comforts himself in, when he sees a physician that hath cured the same disease, he sees then there is some hope. Thus it is with a sinful soul. When the welcome news of the Gospel comes, after the law hath discovered his disease, and says, Be not discouraged, there is a throne of grace prepared for thee: God hath a seat of justice to deal with rebels and open traitors; but if thou art weary of thy estate, if thou wilt submit to God, take Christ for thy King, and cast down all thy weapons, if thou wilt live like a subject, he hath pre
m Ezra, chap. 10. ver. 2.
Jer. chap. 8. ver. 22.
pared a throne of grace for thee. Christ is thy attorney in the court to plead for thee; he is not as the papists made him, so stout, and one that takes such state on him, as that a man may not come near him. This is the highest injury that can be offered to Christ, to think that any creature hath more mercy and pity than he hath: it is to rob Christ of the fairest flower in his garden, when we rob him of his mercy and pity. Mark that place, that we may not think him austere: "We have not an higli priest that cannot be touched with our infirmities, witr the feeling of our infirmities."
Christ is no hard hearted man: when you were his enemies he loved you, insomuch that he humbled himself, and suffered death, even the death of the cross for you. And he hath the self same bowels in heaven that he had on earth; he wept over Jerusalem, and the self same weeping heart carried he to heaven with him, the self same weeping eyes: believe not then the papists, that he is so hard hearted, or so stately, and that his mother is more ready to speak for us; fie on it. This is to pervert the Gospel, and make Christ no Christ. "We have not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. In all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest." Alas, poor soul, saith Christ, what the malice of the Devil is, I know by mine own experience in the flesh; for "Christ was tempted in all things according to us, sin only excepted." I know what the temptations of the world are; but whereas we have three enemies, the Devil, the world, and the flesh, only the two former were his. Christ had the temptations of the world and the Devil, not of the corrupt flesh; for he had no corrupt flesh: a man that hath been himself in terrible tempests on the sea, when he sees a storm, out of his own experience he pities those that are in it; whereas others are not a jot moved: for he hath seen that consternation of mind, which on every side appeared; that plurima mortis imago: whereas others, having not been there, lay not their P Heb. chap. 2. ver. 17.
Heb. chap. 4. ver. 15.
miseries to heart. Christ having fostered himself, and being tempted as it were, is sensible of our miseries; and therefore never count it boldness to come boldly to him, that gives thee this encouragement; "Come boldly to the throne of grace." We must understand that all this is before faith, we must
1. Know that we have a need.
2. That there is a throne of grace, when God enlightens my conscience, and encourages me to come. And thus having spoken of the preparatives, I come to the work, the main thing itself. Now this is, 2. The act, coming; this coming is believing; as the feet which carry a man to the place he would be in; his feet carry him nearer and nearer. If a man cannot be cured but by the bath, his feet must carry him thither. Now faith is the legs of the soul, the feet that carry us unto Christ: whereas we are afar off, and draw back as all unbelievers; now by believing we draw near. Now as unbelievers draw back, so believers draw forward; and therefore, to come to Christ and to believe in him are the self-same thing: "Hep that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." Coming is there made an act of faith, and the same thing with it: the one is the explication of the other; thy coming to Christ is thy believing in him, When thou hearest of a throne of grace, and seest the Lord of glory stretching out his golden sceptre, come and touch it, take the benefit of the king's pardon. If a man know there is such a throne of grace, he must come unto it; and now begins faith to work.
And that thou mayest understand it the better, know that faith then begins first to work, when thou settest the first step towards the throne of grace. And this is the hour in which salvation is come unto thy house. "None" can come to me," saith Christ, "except my Father draw him." If thou seest a virtue to come from Christ,
P John, chap. 1. ver. 12. and chap. 6. ver. 35.
Philipp. chap. 2. ver. 13.
and to draw thee as an adamant, and thou feelest that loadstone working on thee, then begins faith: it makes thee draw near to Christ, whereas before thou wert a stranger till then thou art like thy grandfather Adam, thou runnest away, and thinkest thyself most secure, when thou wast farthest from God; but now thou seest no comfort, unless thou draw nigh unto him; as the apostle saith: "It is he that worketh in us the will and the deed;" this must be wrought in us by God.
First, a will, then the deed; and then it is not only, I would do such a thing, but I do it: God works not only the will of coming, but the deed of coming; and all his acts are acts of faith, and have a promise; God makes no promise, till we be in Christ; till we have faith, we are no heirs of the promise; when a man sets his face towards Jerusalem, and begins to set himself to go to Christ, all he doth then hath the promise; not a tear now that he sheds but is precious, God puts it into his bottle; not a cup of cold water, that now he gives, but shall have a great reward; this is a blessed thing, when every thing we do hath a promise annexed to it, when every step we step hath a promise made to it. Now when the will is the first thing that is wrought in us; this is that which makes the act of faith, that is, I have a will, a resolution to do this: and the apostle makes it more than the very deed itself, as I may so say: "Fors this is expedient for you, who have begun before not only to do, but to be forward." So we translate it, but look in the margin, and it is rendered to be willing, rò 0λe, as the Greek hath it; as if the will were more than the deed itself; for a man to come unwillingly, it is nothing worth; the ground work is the will, which is a greater matter than the deed. Nothing more separates a man from Christ, than to say, "It will not have this man to reign over me." But if thou canst frame thy will that it shall go perpendicularly on the object, and accept Christ on the terms offered, that is faith; and that hath the promise. And therefore the Scripture compares
2 Cor. chap. 8. ver. 10.
it to conjunction with Christ. And as in the sacrament, we spiritually eat his flesh and drink his blood; the conjunction is between Christ and his Church. And therefore the Scripture compares our conjunction by faith to the mystery of wedlock. What makes a marriage? it is consent. Wilt thou have this man to be thy husband? she answers, I will; that expression makes the marriage. The knot is knit by this mutual pledging of troth, all other things are but subsequents of it. So God saith, Wilt thou have my Son? Thou shalt have with him all his wealth, though for a time thou must go bare, and fare hard; yet thou shalt have a kingdom: when a man considers deliberately, here is the loss, I must deny myself, and obey him, but I shall have a kingdom, God's blessing, and peace of conscience; all things considered, casting the best with the worst, then the resolution is, "this is a true saying, worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." I will take him on any terms, be they never so hard, for I shall be a saver in the end when we take Christ, as it were, with all his faults; such his cross, and the afflictions of the Gospel seem to our carnal apprehensions: though to St. Paul these were the chief, indeed the only matter of his boasting: "God" forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
When, I say, we can thus take Christ, this is the will which God requires. There is another comparison in Scripture, it is compared to hunger and thirst. Believing was expressed by coming. Believing is expressed by hungering and thirsting. So when I see such a will and desire after Christ, that I hunger and thirst after him, that a hungry man longeth not more for bread, nor the hart thirsteth more for the water-brooks, than my soul doth for Christ; why then there is a promise. made unto us; and a promise is never made unto us, till we be in Christy. We find promises in them all; "Blessed
u Galat. chap. 6. ver. 14.
* John, chap. 6. ver. 35.
y Matt. chap. 5. ver. 6. Rev. chap. 22. ver. 17. Isaiah, chap. 55. ver. 1. z Matt. chap. 5. ver. 6.