THE GIVING LOVE OF CHRIST, AND THE RECEIVING PROPERTY
[The Second Sermon on the Text]
“The life which I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God,
who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.
The second thing in the text is, “He gave himself for me.” And indeed, what comfort is it to hear, that he loved us, and not to understand, wherein? Why, here it is, “He gave himself for me:” where again every word amplifies his exceeding love: here is a marvelous act, it is a giving, intimating, the freeness of the undertaking; a marvelous Giver, the Son of God; a marvelous gift, he gave himself; he could give no greater, no better thing: a marvelous object I for whom? for me.
1. We may observe the Giver, or the glorious person giving. As, I said, the quality of the Lover magnifies the love, so the quality of the giver magnifies the gift. And the worthiness and excellency of the person will appear, if you consider him, as a man; “He took on our nature,” and here even in its lowest degree. It is a wonder, that man should give himself for man; “for, scarcely for a righteous man will one die,” (Rom. 5:7). But this man gave himself for the unrighteous. Consider him again as a good man, an innocent man. Pilate was obliged to own what his wife said, that he was a just man, and God the Father owns him to be his righteous Servant. It was this righteous One that gave himself. Consider him again, as a great man, royally descended from the ancient patriarchs, and kings of Judah, the true born King of the Jews, as Pilate styles him, and could not, would not alter it. The least part of his disgrace had been too much for one of meaner descent: yet this man, this good man, this great man, gave himself to the greatest calumnies and cruelties for us. Yea but further, consider him as more than a man; not only the greatest of men, but greater than the greatest, fairer than the fairest; “Fairer than the children of men;” for he was the Son of God, as the centurion acknowledges him, even when hanging upon the cross; “Truly this was the Son of God;” this man was the great God our Saviour, (Titus 2:13); the great God who gave himself for us, &c. It is true, it is said, the Father gave him; “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, (John 3:16), &c.; and he spared him not, but delivered him up for us all,” (Rom. 8:32). But we see what Christ says, “Whatsoever the Father doth, the same things doth the Son,” (John 5:18). The love, then, of the Father, in giving his Son, Both not extenuate, but amplify the riches of Christ’s mercy, who also gave himself for us, and, according to the Father’s will, “Became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” (Gal. 1:4): Here then is a depth beyond sounding, that such a great one gave himself. Here all tongues may be dumb, and admiration may seal up our lips.
2. Observe the action of giving; He gave, he was not compelled to die; but “He gave himself; I lay down my life for my sheep,” (John 10:18). He that alone gives life to us gave up his life for us. This giving imports the voluntariness and freeness of the action; He gave himself freely; for, what is freer than a gift? He did not sell himself, nor set himself, nor let himself, nor lend himself, but gave himself: it shows his kind disposition. He gave himself willingly, not constrainedly, but voluntarily. No hand could cut that stone from the quarry of heaven: no violence could pull him from the bosom of the Father; nay, “But he came leaping upon the mountains,” (Song 2:8). He came singing and saying, “Lo, I come! I delight to do thy will, O my God,” (Ps. 11:8; Heb. 10:5-7). There was no necessity lying upon him, but the necessity of love; and of a loving passion with his Father: and when it came to the push, “Peter,” says he, “put up thy sword; I will let none fight for me, otherwise I could command legions of angels to appear this moment on my side; but I came to give my life a ransom for many, and I am resolved to go on with my work; therefore, I will not suffer an angel from heaven to move from his post on my behalf; nor shall any man on earth hinder me from this work.” Oh, what a free giver was here! But a single word from him foundered the forces that were sent against him; when he but said, I am he, they retired and fell backward; and by a single word he could have shot them dead, as with an arrow of omnipotence, but O he was a free agent.
3. What gave he? or, whom gave he? even himself. What did he give? not corruptible things, such as silver and gold: no; all the treasures of the world cannot deliver one soul: Not the blood of bulls and of goats, (Heb. 9:12). All these legal sacrifices were but dumb signs of this tragedy; the mere figure of this donation. Not the merit or mediation of men or saints: no; saints on earth are sinners, and have no more oil than will serve their own lamps; but none to spare. Saints in heaven receive a palm in their hand for themselves, but they have none to give again. What gave he? Not any glorious angel: behold he puts no trust in these servants of his; he charges them with comparative and possible folly: “The heavens are not clear in his sight.” The blessed angels are not fit to mediate between finite offenders and an infinite Judge, nor can they be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, as he that assumed our nature, and was in all points tempted, as we are, yet without sin, (Heb. 4:15). Well, when no gift in earth or heaven could be available, He gave himself; and that in respect of his person and his passion.
(1.) He gave himself in respect of his person. He gave himself wholly his whole person, while, as God, he satisfied, and, as man, he suffered; and as God-man he saved: and hence, God is said to redeem his church by his own blood, (Acts 20:28). And men are said to have crucified the Lord of glory, (1 Cor. 2:8). He gave himself alone, without a partner or coadjutor; for, “Of the people there was none with him,” (Isa.63:3). “He trode the wine-press alone.” None bore any part of the burden with him.
(2.) He gave himself in respect of his passion and suffering. “He gave himself as a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, (Eph. 5:2). He gave himself a ransom, (1 Tim. 2:6). And a ransom for many, (Matt. 20:28). He gave himself an offering; his soul an offering for sin, (Isa. 53:10; 1 Pet. 3:10; Heb. 9:15). He gave himself a propitiation,” (Rom. 3:25), not only that justice might be satisfied in punishment, but glorified in pardoning sin. He gave himself an atonement, that he might joy in God through Christ, by whom we receive the atonement, (Rom. 5:11). All these are different expressions of his sufferings, pointing out the main end and design of his death, to be sin, to be a curse for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God through him. And he that thus gives himself for us, he in due time gives himself to us, with all his purchase, all his riches, all his fullness of grace and glory; and for this end he gave himself: O wonderful gift He gave himself! Greater is the work of redemption, than that of creation: there he was a giver; but here he is the Gift.
4. For whom did he give himself? For me, says Paul, in his own name; and for us, says Paul, in our name, (Gal. 1:4); and for us, (Titus 2:14). “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity. He gave himself to the death;” for whom? not for himself; “The Messiah was cut off, but not for himself,” (Dan. 9:26). And as it was not for himself, so not for angels; “Verily he took not on him the nature of angels,” (Heb. 2:16): For whom then? Even for me, says faith; and for us mankind sinners, says the gospel; “To us a child is born, to us a Son is given, (Isa. 9:6) &c. He was made sin for us, (2 Cor. 5:21). He was made a curse for us,” (Gal. 3:13).
Now, this being a matter of great concern to us, there is a threefold view we are to take of this part of the text; For me; or, as it is in other texts, For us.
(1.) We may view it with reference to the divine ordination from eternity: and thus for me, and for us, respects all the elect, of whom Christ says, “I lay down my life for my sheep,” (John 10:15). These are chosen “in him before the foundation of the world,” (Eph. 1:4).
(2.) You may view it with reference to the saving application of this redemption in time. Where this application is already made, then the persons that are the subjects thereof are believers, and their faith is the fruit of that electing and redeeming love; for, says Christ, “All that the Father hath given shall come to me,” (John 6:37). And, “as many as were ordained to eternal life shall believe,” (Acts 13:48). In this sense, for me, respects all actual believers.
(3.) Another view of it is with reference to the general definite dispensation of the gospel, wherein it is said, He gave himself for us; and so it respects sinners of all sorts, to whom the gospel comes. This is the medium between the two former, and
the mean whereby God brings about his eternal purpose of love toward his elect, and makes them believe in him, namely, by this general dispensation of his grace unto all: by which means he catches his elect, and leaves the rest inexcusable in their willful enmity.
The general dispensation of the gospel concerning Christ giving himself for us, respects all sinners that hear the gospel. Hence the gospel you hear, is, “That Christ died for our sins, according to the scripture,” (1 Cor. 15:1, 3); that he died for the ungodly, (Rom. 5:16); that he suffered, the just for the unjust, (1 Pet. 3:18); that he came to seek and save that which was lost, (Matt. 17:11; Luke 19:10); that he came to save sinners, (1 Tim. 1:15); yea, and rebels and enemies, (Ps. 68:18). And hence in the gospel, he brings near his righteousness to them that are stout
hearted, and far from righteousness, (Isa. 66:18). And this is the gospel we are commanded to preach to every creature, (Mark 16:15).
The first view of the words, “He gave himself for me,” shows who they are that will certainly claim the benefit of Christ’s death, and shall have the possession of it, namely, the elect. The second shows who they are that do actually claim it, and so have the possession, namely, believers. The third shows who they are that may warrantably take possession, namely, all sinners of mankind that see their need of Christ, and hear that he gave himself for us sinners. Upon the warrant of the gospel-offer, saying, “Whosoever will, let him come,” everyone may come by faith, and put in with the apostle here, saying, “He loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Question: In which of these views is Christ the object of a sinner’s faith, so as he may say for me; “He gave himself for me.”
Answer: In the first view of it, as it respects the divine preordination, and concerns the elect, this doctrine of Christ’s giving himself for us, is not the first object of any man’s faith; for who are elect is a secret, and secret things belong to God and not to us. The second view of this doctrine of Christ’s giving himself for me, or for us, as it respects the powerful application of Christ’s death, and concerns believers; neither is this the object or ground of every man’s faith, nay, nor of any man’s faith, but rather the object of the believer’s sense and feeling, after he hath believed. But the third view of this doctrine of Christ’s giving himself for us, as it respects the general dispensation of the gospel, that Christ gave himself for, and came to save sinners, this is the ground and object of their faith; for, “Faith comes by hearing this gospel doctrine, as it is generally proposed.”
Faith comes not by hearing that Christ came to save the elect; for, particular election cannot be the ground of a general invitation. There is here no visible ground for the sinner to fix upon: nor does the sinner’s faith come by hearing that Christ came to save believers, to complete their begun salvation; for, as he came not to find them believers, but to make them believers; so this limited particular doctrine cannot be the foundation of an unlimited general call: but faith comes by hearing this gospel doctrine, that Christ came to save sinners, and gave himself for them. This encourages them to venture their salvation upon him that he speaks to them as guilty sinners.
Let no sinner here then exclude himself from the benefit of this gospel, and from making that particular application here, “He loved me, and gave himself for me,” by saying either, I know not if I be an elect; or, I know not if I be a believer; and so, I know not if Christ died for me, and gave himself for me in particular: this is to mistake the ground and object of faith: for, as salvation, in God’s purpose, to the elect, is not the ground of faith: and salvation in possession, by the believer, is not the ground of faith, but salvation in the word of grace and gospel offer; so, Christ’s death, as designed in God’s purpose, is not the first object of any man’s faith; nor his death, as applied to believers in particular; but his death, as declared in the word, in its relation to sinners in general, is the gospel-revelation, and the glad news that comes to the ears of sinners; and this, joined with the particular command to everyone to believe in this Jesus, as dead and crucified for him, to build his faith and hope of salvation upon.
The question then here is not, Are you an elect, or not? Nor is it, Are you a believer or not? But the question is, Are you a sinner that needs a Saviour? And is he manifesting his love and grace, and giving himself in the gospel-offer to you? Then, upon the warrant of this word of salvation sent to you, you may say, with particular application to yourself, “He loved me, and gave himself for me.”
It is not Christ in the decree that you are to look to, while you know that you are elected; this is to go too far back: nor is it Christ in the heart, or in possession, you are to look to, while you know not that you are a believer; this is to go too far forward: but it is Christ in the word, because you know you are a sinner, and Christ a Saviour held forth to you there, saying, “Look to me, and be saved, all ye ends of the earth: for I am God, and besides me there is none else.” This is the way between the two former; yea, and the way to secure them both; the only safe way.
Having thus explained the text, I come to make application. And we may improve it first by way of information.
1. Hence we may see the marvelous love of Christ, and of God in Christ towards sinners, and his marvelous kindness in discovering this love so effectually to some, as to make them see and say, He loved me. When God would manifest his power, he makes a world; when he would manifest his justice, he makes a hell: but when he would manifest his love, he makes the Son of his love appear in our flesh, that the Word being made flesh, we may behold his glory, as the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, full of love and mercy to miserable sinners.
2. Hence see the marvelous proof and demonstration that Christ hath given of his love, He gave himself for me. Here is love indeed, in his giving himself into the hands of justice to suffer for us, as I might show, in his body, in his soul, in his natures, names, states and offices, and from all hands; from the unkindly hand of disciples, while one betrayed, and another denied, and all forsook him; from the wicked hands of Jews and Romans, that slew him: from the malicious hand of the devil, the old serpent, that bruised and bit at his heel; but especially from the just hand of God the lawgiver, exacting the debt he engaged to pay in the eternal transaction; “It pleased the Lord to bruise him.” And thus he suffered all the hell that a finite being, supported by the infinite Godhead could bear, and all to fulfill scripture types and prophecies, to satisfy justice, to endure the threatening, to secure the promise, to destroy death, and to take away sin. O! the glorious design, and the vast dimension of Christ’s sufferings how the vast dimensions of his love, how he loved and how he continues still to love; for, though his sufferings be at an end, yet his sympathy continues: his passion lasts but for a while, but his compassion is everlasting.
3. Hence see the infinite evil of sin, which nothing could expiate but Christ’s giving himself a sacrifice for us. We may see the greatness of the sore by the greatness of the plaster. Alas the evil of sin is not seen. We are ready to think it no worse than as a knife to cut our fingers; but see it as the sword all over red with the blood of Christ. To think light of sin is to think light of Christ and his blood.
4. See the infinite justice of God and his severity against sin; for Christ gave himself for our sins, and justice would accept of no less sacrifice. Christ prays the cup might pass from him, if possible; but justice was inexorable: (and what a mercy was it, that Christ also was unalterable in his love?) yet he was in such a situation, that it was not possible he could be spared; though he was the eternal Son of God, his blood must go; but Christ was voluntary. Though the cup was bitter, and made him tremble to look at it; yet, says he, “If I drink it not, they must; and oh! it will poison and kill them forever: but though it kill me, I can quicken myself again: therefore come with it, Father.”
5. Hence see the dreadful state of unbelieving, impenitent sinners that live and die trampling under foot this blood of Christ, and neglecting this great salvation. Woe will be to them who have not the blood of Christ pleading for them but, woe upon woe will be to them who have this blood of Christ pleading, against them. If God would not hearken to the prayer of his Son, when he said, “If it be possible, let this cup pass,” how will he hearken to the voice of Christ rejecting sinners? Is it possible that the cup of wrath can pass from them? No; they must drink of it forever themselves.
6. Hence see the excellency and appropriating quality of faith. It takes hold of Christ in his love, and the proof of this love, as manifested in the word, and says “O! here is a love-letter from heaven, the gospel of Christ, bearing an account of his love, and the greatest proof of his love; and I see the letter is backed, and indorsed for me a guilty sinner, in the chief of sinners: and the letter bears a command to me to receive this lover to myself, and that I believe his love and the proof of his love with application to myself: and therefore, even so I take him, and trust upon his word, that he loved me, and gave himself for me.” This faith is the gift of God, and the work of God, by the power of the eternal Spirit, mixing with the hearing of his word of grace and love. This faith comes not by feeling of his love, that may be the fruit of faith; but it comes by the hearing of his love. The Spirit, in the day of power, makes impressions on the heart by the word: but the ground of faith is not these impressions on the heart; for, the object of faith is not Christ working on the heart, but Christ speaking in the word: therefore, hear what he is saying of his love to you, O sinner, and thence draw the conclusion, He loved you, and gave himself for you.
The Second Use is for Examination. Try then, whether you be true believers of this love, and so have a right to the love feast. Try if you have believed this gospel with application. The gospel-declaration is, He loved us sinners, and gave himself for us; faith’s application is here, “He loved me, and gave himself for me.” I shall not say, that every true believer is privileged to say this expressly, and that they are not true believers that cannot say it confidently and expressly; but I am sure every true believer can say it upon the matter, when faith is in exercise; and faith hath something of this language in the bosom of it. And for trying if ever you believed this, with particular application, you may examine by these following questions.
1. Have you got a view of your lost state and condition by nature, and so of your absolute need of Christ, because of this sad state you were in? Have you seen that it was a destitute state, being without God, without Christ, without hope, without righteousness, without pardon, peace, and life? A guilty state, wherein you lay open to God’s everlasting wrath; a filthy, polluted state, wherein you found your heart a sink of sin and wickedness; a wretched state, wherein you was out of all capacity to help yourself, and had no ability to come to Christ for help? Have you got a particular afflictive view of this? If not, then you have not yet believed this gospel with application, That Christ loved you, and gave himself for you: but, if you have, then the way is so far paved.
2. Have you got a view and apprehension of the Saviour and of his love and grace in doing and dying? For, it is he who sees the Son that believeth on him. Have you got a clear view of him, as it were, with open face? (2 Cor. 3:18), in the reality and glory of his person, natures, and offices, and commission to save sinners; and of his readiness and ability to save you! Have you got a particular view of him to your own soul? Hath he been revealed not only to you, as a Saviour for sinners, but in you as a Saviour for you? (Gal. 1:16). I speak now, not properly of the grounds of faith, but of the marks and evidences of faith. Have you got a powerful view of him, such as hath drawn your heart to him? This is the true teaching of God, that causes the soul [to] come to Christ, (John 6:44).
3. Have you, under the influence of this divine teaching and drawing, been made to receive Christ Jesus the Lord, as held forth in the gospel, so as to lay your own particular salvation from sin and wrath over upon him? Have you been made to do this upon the warrant of the general declaration, that he gave himself for, and came to save sinners; together with the particular invitation, “Come to me whosoever will?” Have you, upon this warrant, been determined powerfully and pleasantly to cast yourself over upon him, as a blind sinner, for wisdom to thee; as a guilty sinner, for righteousness to thee; as a filthy sinner, for sanctification to thee; as a miserable sinner, for redemption to thee? Then thou hast, in effect, believed that he loved thee, and gave himself for thee; for this is imported in your applying him thus to yourself,
4. If you have truly believed that he loved you, and gave himself for you, then the faith of this love will work love, and purify the heart, (Acts 15:9). Hence, this faith melts down the heart sometimes into godly sorrow for sin; “They shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and mourn,” (Zech. 12:10). And it influences the mortification of sin, (Gal. 5:24). Hence, the soul reckons itself wretched, on account of the remains of sin; “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24). Does this faith constrain you to a holy gospel-obedience, insomuch, that having received him, you walk in him, (Col. 2:6): and live daily by the faith of this Son of God, and in the faith of his love; as in the text? Does this faith make you desire and endeavor to live to him that died for you? (2 Cor. 5:15).
These four put together, are infallible marks of faith, and of this faith particularly, that he loved you, and gave himself for you. Where these are wholly wanting, there is no true faith.
The third use shall be for exhortation. Did Christ love, and give himself for the like[s] of us?
1. Then, O! let us love him, and give ourselves to him: can we bestow ourselves better than upon him? We have but two mites to give, our soul and body; and shall we withhold them from him, that infinitely great and glorious him, that gave himself for us? It was sweetly said of one, “I owe to God all that I am, for my creation; what shall I give further for my redemption? In my creation, he gave me to myself, and in my redemption, he gave himself to me, and restored me to myself.” We are bought with a price; therefore we ought to glorify him in our souls and bodies, which are his. O may we give him our hearts that loved us, and gave himself for us, and may we give him all our heart-lusts to be killed by him, and revenge the blood of our dearest Lord upon our dearest lusts, by killing them for killing the Lord of glory.
2. Did Christ love and give himself for us? Then let us willingly give ourselves for him, as well as to him: to lay down our life for him, if he calls us to it. Do you believe that he gave himself for you? Here is a hard question: Are you willing to die for him that died for you? We ought to be martyrs in purpose; and if called, to seal his truth with our blood, to be martyrs in deed as well as in resolution. We have not yet resisted unto blood; but bloody days may be a-coming, wherein Christ will call for our blood, and our life for him; and ought we not to be willing to suffer for him, that loved us, and gave himself for us? O! how will we venture our life, when we will hardly venture a living, for him and his cause? How will we venture our blood, when we will hardly venture a word for him? How will we face a scaffold, to confess with our death, if we dare not face a court or a council, to confess him with our mouth?
3. Did he love us, and give himself for us? Then may we not be encouraged to expect much at the hand of this glorious Lover, this glorious Giver? May not faith and hope look that he will in love and mercy give us all that we need? Since he gives himself, what will he not give? “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all; how shall he not, with him, also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). So may we say, He that spared not himself, but freely gave himself up for us all: how will he not, with himself freely give us all things? We need not fear the putting him to too much trouble in anything we want; what will he deny, that denied not himself? Nay, he is exalted to give as what grace and blessings we need, (Acts 5:31). We may be hopeful seekers of great things from him, who is such a hearty giver of great things; “He loved me, and gave himself for me.” You may seek great things, believer, especially at his table; for you ought surely to go there, and commemorate this love of his to you in giving himself for you; and there feed upon his love, and feed upon his gift; that is, upon himself, who is both the gift and giver. “Do this in remembrance of him;” and there let your faith and hope be more and more encouraged and strengthened. But these advices, say you, belong to such as can say, “He loved me, and gave himself for me:” but, I cannot win to speak this language of faith. Therefore,
4. Did Christ love and give himself for sinners? Then, sinners, put in for a share of this grace, and of the benefits of Christ’s death; and, by faith, accept of this loving and dying Jesus, as held forth to you in this word.
Question: Where shall I see this love of his to me? Where shall I see the love of God in Christ to me in particular?
Indeed, sinner, I need not speak to you of the love of God, if you have no conviction of sin, or apprehension of the wrath of God as your due; to speak of his grace and love to you, will be lost labor; to speak of reconciliation to them that never thought they were enemies; of healing, to them that are not sick; of liberty, to them that are not prisoners, is but lost labor; or to speak of salvation, to them that are not lost, or were never brought to that question, “What shall I do to be saved?” And, therefore, before I call you to believe the love of God manifested in the gospel, I would call you to believe the wrath of God manifested in the law. This wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. And, O that the Spirit of God would convince you of sin; and let you see, that you are lying at the very mouth of hell, ready to tumble into the pit of eternal torment; for, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law, to do them.”
But, if you be convinced of this cursed state you are in by the sentence of God’s law, and be inquiring, O! where is the love and mercy of God to be seen? Why, let me ask you, Where do you see the wrath of God, but in the law, which is a word of wrath, and of wrath to you in particular, saying, “Cursed is every one, that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law, to do them?” Even so, Where may you see the love and mercy of God, but in the gospel, which is a word of grace and love to you, and to you in particular, saying, “Jesus Christ came to save sinners; Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us?” Now, as the word of a threatening God in the law warrants your believing his wrath against you, and you in particular; even so, the word of a promising God in the gospel, accompanied with a particular command to believe in Jesus, warrants your believing his grace, love, and mercy to you, and to you in particular; and upon this ground, you may say with Paul, “He loved me, and gave himself for me.”
The object of the sinner’s faith, as was already said, is not Christ in the decree, giving himself for the elect; nor Christ in possession, given already to believers; but Christ in the word and gospel dispensation, giving himself for sinners; and sinners are to seek after him in this word. You need not say, Who will ascend to heaven, and bring Christ down, and tell me whether I be elected or not? Or, Who will descend to the deep, to bring Christ up out of my heart and tell me, whether I be a believer, already or not? The marks of faith that I have offered, may tell you whether you be a believer or not; but confound not the marks and evidences of faith with the grounds of faith; thinking, because you want the marks, you have no ground to believe. Nay, though you were destitute of all the marks of faith, and had all the marks of unbelief; yea, all the evidences of reprobation to your view, about you yet you have a standing ground of faith to build upon; the evidences of faith a believer may find within him; but the grounds are to be found without you in the word; and the best believer in the world cannot find a ground of faith within him, but he is forced to go out of himself to the word for them. You may try and seek the marks of faith within you, if they be to be had; such as repentance, love, humility, holiness, &c. But if you were to ground your faith upon these, your faith would soon want a bottom and foundation; you are to seek the ground and warrant for faith in the word only; or, Christ as held out in the word.
Now, as a great gift does not enrich a beggar, unless he receive it into his hand; so this general declaration, That Christ gave himself for sinners, will not enrich you, but by a particular application; all that is needful is that through grace, you receive in your heart what is revealed in the word. O Sirs, look for the Spirit to concur with the call and offer of the word; for, as “Faith comes by hearing,” so, “The Spirit works by faith,” by opening up the ground and warrant of faith; therefore, as Christ applies himself to you by his word; so seek he may apply himself to you by his Spirit, that you may be quickened and revived, as Elisha revived the Shunamite’s child; “He lay upon him, put his mouth to his mouth, his eyes to his eyes, his hands to his hands, and stretched himself upon him, till the flesh of the child waxed warm, and he revived:” (2 Kings 4:34), so you are dead in sins and trespasses; dead spiritually and lifeless: but that you may recover, O entreat the Lord of life, the true Elias, who only can raise from death to life, to apply his person and passion to you, even his body stretched on a cross to your body, his head to your head, his eyes to your eyes, his hands to your hands, his heart to your heart, that you may receive warmth from his blood, health from his wounds, and spirit from his Spirit, and grace from his grace, that you may live before him; receiving out of his fullness grace for grace, and life for life.
What shall I say? O! if the Spirit of Christ would speak into your heart. Here is a glorious Lover, courting your love, O vile sinner! declaring in his word, that though you hated him, yet he loved you, and urging you to love him, because he first loved you. Here is a glorious Giver, declaring in his word, that he died for your sins according to the scripture, and gave himself for you on the cross, and evidencing this love by giving himself to you in this gospel-offer, as the great gift of God, and the great giver of it himself: oh! is there no heart here to embrace such a glorious Lover? Is there no hand here, to receive such a glorious and gracious Giver? It is the person of Christ, as presented in this gospel, that now you are called to receive and embrace; and it is pardoning love and mercy in his blood, that you, guilty sinner, are called here to believe and accept of from him, that justifieth the ungodly, (Rom. 4:5).
“But, say you, believers are godly, they are holy, but I am black like hell.” Well, but were they not as black as you before they believed? Yea, when they were in their blood, the Lord made up the match, and said to them, Live; and then afterwards he washed them: even so, you must marry Christ first, believing that he makes love to you, and then he will do that for you. Take no thought, how such an Ethiopian shall be made clean, how such a naked soul shall be adorned; only welcome this glorious Lover into your heart, and he will take all the thought of that himself; for, he is not come here to find you beautiful, but to make you so; not to find you holy and godly, but to make you so. Alas is there any filthy bride here, ready to receive him on these terms.
“Alas say you, but I cannot win to think, that he is thus making love to me, to me in particular?” Why, is not this general equivalent, “Go, preach the gospel to every creature?” Surely, you are in that number: and this word was confirmed with a miracle; though it was wrought long ago, yet the word and the miracle went together: therefore, it is the same for confirming faith, as if it were wrought before your eyes. And when, together with the word, you have the call, “Whosoever will, let him come;” and together with the call, the promise, “Him that cometh, I will in no wise cast out.”
Say not, your sins are great and numerous; you cannot believe his love and pardoning mercy toward you: for, as God’s great mercies are greater than your great sins, and his multitude of mercies greater than your multitude of sins; so this sin of putting away his mercy, grace, and love from you, through unbelief, and rejecting his love-offers, and the blessings of his blood, is a greater sin than all the rest; for thus you will bring not only your own blood, but the guilt of the blood of God upon your head.
As the danger is great, if you refuse this glorious match offered to you, so necessity hath no law: you must come to him, or perish, There is a necessity of love on his part toward these whom he courts, and will not want: he hath said, “These I must bring; and they shall hear my voice:” and now he is come here, saying, Man, woman, I must have your heart; I must have your consent; though you should not be a suitor to me, yet behold I am in suit of you, and I must have you. There is a necessity of want and absolute need on your part. You need wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; and I am made of God all these for you; and without me, you have none to teach you, none to justify you, none to sanctify you, none to redeem you. And there is no time to lose; yet a little while, and time is gone, and you change the place of your dwelling forever. But, how will you go anywhere without him? How will you go to a communion-table without him? How will you go to death without him? How will you go to the judgment seat without him? How will you face infinite justice and holiness without him? No, no; there is a necessity; you must have him: and, if any heart here be saying, Oh I must have him; I will tell you good tidings, it is a sign, he is saying, I must have you, for I loved you, and gave myself for you. And, O! if his love be so kind, that it points you out with a you, you; I loved you, and gave myself for you; then your faith may be so bold, as to come out with a me, me; “He loved me, and gave himself for me.”