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played off its artillery against them? The reason is, the weapons of our warfare are not made mighty through God. God does not give edge and force to these arms by the all conquering power of his Spirit. But when he begins to work, then the hardest sinner begins to tremble, the rocky heart breaks to pieces, and his strong holds are demolished.
All his objections are silenced ; he is convinced that he is indeed a rebel against his rightful Sovereign ; that his rebellion is most unnatural, ungrateful, unreasonable, and the height of wickedness ; and that it is a most astonishing instance of condescending grace, that his provoked Sovereign should stoop to treat with him and deign to propose him articles of reconciliation. He sees that he might justly cut him off, without one offer of mercy. He is struck with horror to think that ever he, a poor dependent worm, should engage in a war against the Lord of armies, who has universal nature at his command, and especially that he has dared to stand out so long against him. He is sensible of the danger of delays, sensible that he has been ungrateful and rebellious too long already, and that, if he delay his submission, his almighty enemy may take his strong holds by storm, and put him to the sword. He is now sensible that the slavery of sin is intolerable ; that his lusts are tyrannical masters, and will give him no other wages but death ; and therefore he pants and struggles for liberty. The artillery of the divine law demolishes the promising intrenchment which he had formed of his own good works, and leaves him nak. ed and defenceless to its vindictive fire. Conscience also calls to the sinner to surrender, to surrender in time, while terms of peace may be obtained, and warns him of the dreadful consequences of continuing the war. The trumpet of the gospel is still publishing peace, and summoning him to submit. The gospel assures him of pardon and acceptance, if he will but sur. render. Now also if I may so boldly accommodate the military style to this subject) now his provisions and ammunition begin to fail ; he finds he can subsist no longer ; and, like the prodigal, is just perishing with hunger. He finds he can defend himself no longer, but must submit or die. If he continues in arms, he is sure to die ; but if he submits, he has some hopes of pardon ; for O! he has heard that the King of Israel is a merciful King. He must however make the trial. All this time the Spirit of God is at work within, sweetly inclining the stubborn heart to yield, VOL. II.
casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God. He gives the rebel favourable thoughts of the government of the Conqueror, and the infinite advantages of living under it. In short, he enforces upon the heart all the applications made from without by the ministry of the gospel.
And now the sinner begins to think in earnest of surrendering : now he eagerly listens to the terms of peace ; and at length he lays down his arms, submits to the Conqueror, falls at his feet, casts himself upon his mercy, and welcomes him into the citadel of his heart. This is the most happy and important hour the sinner. ever saw: the transactions of this hour extend their blessed consequences through all his future life, and to the re. motest periods of eternity. It may be necessary for me to inform you more particularly of the manner of this surrender.
(1.) The sinner surrenders himself as an obnoxious rebel, lying entirely at the mercy of the Conqueror. He has no plea to excuse his rebellion, no merit to ingratiate himself, or procure a pardon. He pleads guilty, and surrenders himself to the will of the Conqueror, conscious that he may do with him as he pleases. His high imaginations of himself are all demolished, his confidence in his own righteousness is entirely mortified, and he has nothing to plead but mercy, free unmerited mercy, On this he casts himself as his only ground of hope.
(2.) He surrenders himself entirely upon the terms prescribed by the Conqueror. He is conscious that he has no right to dictate, or to stand upon terms. His province is to submit. The way of reconciliation revealed in the gospel, appears to him infinitely reasonable, and to stand in need of no amendment.-Par. cicularly, he is willing to lay down his arms; that is, to forsake his sins, and to walk for the future in the ways of holiness ; or to make the pleasure of his Sovereign the rule of his conduct. Above all it must be noticed, that he is willing to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. The mediation of Jesus Christ, the glorious peculiarity of the christian religion, is the only medium through which he would approach to God, and expect reconciliation with him. It is only in the righteousness of Christ he trusts to make atonement for his guilt, and procure the divine favour. In short, he is willing the Conqueror should make his own terms, and he submits, if he may but have his life for a prey. He puts a blank into his hands, desirous he should fill it up with what articles he pleases, and he will cheerfully subscribe to them: His language is like that of Paul, when struck down prostrate at the feet of the persecuted Jesus, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ? Acts ix. 6. Lord, do thou command, and I will obey. Now the rebel is all submission, all obedience.
(3.) He submits voluntarily and cheerfully. The power of divine grace has rooted out the enmity of his carnal mind, and implanted the principle of love in his heart. He breaks off from sin and Satan, as from the most cruel usurpers and destroyers ; and he submits to Christ, not merely as to an irresistible Con. queror, but as to a Deliverer. He enters upon a religious life, not as a state of slavery and unwilling captivity, but as a state of the most glorious liberty. He submits to the terms of reconcili. ation, not as the arbitrary impositions of an imperious usurper, but as the gentle and reasonable prescriptions of a wise and good ruler. He esteems all his laws holy, and just, and good ; and with all his heart he acquiesces and rejoices in the blessed gos. pel of peace. In short, the rebel's heart is now entirely changed and rendered well-affected to the divine government : and consequently, he cordially and freely submits to it. Once indeed he hated it, and then he did at best but feign submission to it; but now, his enmity being subdued, he surrenders himself with all his heart. It is one of the freest acts of his whole life.
(4.) He makes an universal surrender of himself and all that he is and has to Jesus Christ. He makes no reserve of one fa. vourite lust; but gives them all up to be slain. He makes no secret exceptions to any of the articles of reconciliation, but heartily consents to them all. He devotes his whole soul and all its faculties to God, in and through Jesus Christ ; his understanding to know him ; his heart to love him ; and his will to be governo ed by him. This is implied in my text ; Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Every thought, every passion, every motion of the soul must submit to Christ, and every insurrection of sin in his heart alarms him, as an intestine enemy. He also yields his body to God, and his members as instruments of righteousness unto holiness. He also devotes all his accomplishments, his genius, learning, influence, and popularity, his riches, and in short all his possessions of every kind; willing to employ them all in the service of his new Master, or to resign them all, if their preservation should be inconsistent with his duty to him.' o! how different a temper is this from that which is natural to the sinner !
Thus the treaty of peace is happily concluded ; and he that was once a rebel against Heaven, and an enemy to the cross of Christ, is now become a friend and a loyal subject. The past difference is entirely forgotten and buried, and he is received into favour, as though he had never offended. Once God was angry with him every day, but now he accepts him in the Beloved. Now the prince of hell has lost a captive ; and Jesus has the satisfaction of seeing one more of his spiritual seed born unto his family. Now there is joy in heaven, among the angels of God, upon this addition to the number of loyal subjects. O! the bappy, the glorious peace ! O! the blessed change in the circumstance of the poor condemned criminal !
What now remains ?
V. We take a view of the true convert's state and conduct in consequence of this reconciliation.
This you may be sure is very different froin what it was before. He is now delivered from his sordid slavery to sin, as well as from guilt, and the sentence of condemnation. He is justified and accepted before God, through Jesus Christ, and entitled to an heavenly crown and kingdom. Sin, indeed, is not entirely subdued; it forms frequent and violent insurrections, and struggles hard to recover its former power over him. The old man with his affections and lusts was immediately crucified, upon the sin. ner's surrender to Christ; but crucifixion is a lingering death, and hence sin is never entirely dead while he continues in this imperfect state : it is every day plotting against him, and labouring to ensnare him. And hence his life is a constant warfare, an incessant conflict. He lives the life of a sentinel, perpetually upon the watch ; or of a soldier, night and day under arms. If he is off his guard but for an hour, he is liable to be surprised, and sometimes, alas ! he is overcome. But he rises again, and renews the combat, and will rather dic than submit: he would resist even unto blood, striving against sin. In short, whatever inadvertences he may fall into, he is habitually on God's side : he espouses the cause of God in this rebellious world, whatever it costs him. He is an enemy to the kingdom of darkness, and all its interests ; and it is the great business of his life to oppose it in himself and others. The longer he lives under the government of King Jesus, the more he is attached to him, and in love
with his administration ; and it is his habitual endeavour to lead a life of universal obedience.
And now, my brethren, there is an inquiry I would set you upon, and that is, whether you have ever been captivated into a willing obedience to Jesus Christ ? I am afraid this matter is not so plainly and unquestionably in your favour, as to render all inquiry into it needless. I am afraid it is dismally dark and doubtful, with regard to some of you, whether you are the servants of Christ or the slaves of sin and Satan. Nay, I am afraid, there are plain evidences against some of you. However, put the matter to trial, that you may see how it will turn out ; for I assure you it is a matter of too much importance to be slightly passed over.
Now it is evident, in the first place, that you are still the enemies of Jesus Christ, unless you have been deeply convinced of your enmity. It is impossible you should be reconciled to him, till you have seen your need of reconciliation ; and it is impossible you should see your need of reconciliation till you are convinced that you are at variance with him. Such of you therefore are und oubtedly his enemies, who imagine you have always been his friends.
In the next place, turn the substance of what has been said into so many queries to yourselves, and by these means, you may discover the truth of your case. Has ever the dreadful artillery of the law discharged its terrors upon you ? Have you ever been driven out of all your carnal confidences, and particularly your own righteousness? Have you ever surrendered yourselves to the Conqueror ? Has he overcome you by the sweet constraints of his love? And upon what terms did you surrender? Did you surrender as a rebel, lying at mercy ? Did you submit to his terms without pretending to dictate any of your own ? Did you submit voluntarily and cheerfully? Did you surrender yourselves universally, without any reserve ? Do you since endeavour to behave as dutiful subjects? And do you find his service to be perfect freedom ?
And now, in consequence of this trial, Who is upon the Lord's side ? Who? What is your real character? Are you to be ranked among the subjects of Christ, or among the enemies of his crown and dignity?
Could I now collect the rebels together into one company, I would tell them some very alarming things from that God to whom they refuse to submit. Yes, sinner, as Ehud said to