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attainable by such unworthy indigent creatures. If it was to be bought, we have nothing to offer for it; if it was proposed as a reward of merit, we can do nothing to deserve it. But Jesus has said, I will give you rest. Our title to it cost him dear; he purchased it for us with his own blood; but to us it comes freely. Faith in his name puts us in immediate possession of the first-fruits, the earnest of this inheritance; and faith will lead us powerfully and safely, through all hindrances and enemies, to the full enjoyment of the whole. Faith unites us to Christ; gives us an immediate interest in all the benefits of his life, death, and intercession; opens the way of communication for all needful supplies of grace here, and insures to us the accomplishment of all the Lord has spoken to us of, in a state of glory. "He that believeth, shall be saved;" saved in defiance of all the opposition of earth and hell; saved, notwithstanding he is in himself unstable as water, weak as a bruised reed, and helpless as infancy. What Jesus will give, none can take away. Only remember that it is a free gift. Receive it thankfully, and rejoice in the giver. Let him have all the glory of his own undertaking. Renounce every hope and every plea, but his promise and mediation. Commit your souls to him, and then fear nothing. "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." He will fight your battles, heal your wounds, refresh your fainting spirits, guide you by his counsel while here, and at last receive you to himself.
May we not therefore say, Happy are the people that are in such a case! Happy they, who have been enabled to accept this gracious invitation, who have already entered upon the rest + Deut. xxxiii. 27.
* Mark xvi. 16.
of grace, and have a well-grounded expectation that they shall rest in glory! Believers, what should you fear, or why complain? Look back to where the Lord found you sleeping in sin, helpless and hopeless, yet insensible of your danger look forward to what he has provided for you, an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away; a crown of life, a kingdom that cannot be shaken; think of the love, the sufferings, the glory of him to whom you owe these blessings; and let these considerations animate you to run with patience and athankfulness the race that is set before you.
Happy likewise are you whose hearts are fixed upon this rest, and this Saviour, though as yet you are in heaviness through manifold temptations. The Lord will give you rest. Doubt it not, he cannot deny himself; wait his hour; though he seem to tarry long, yet maintain your confidence in his promise. Redouble your prayers, cry mightily to him, he will not (as perhaps many around you do) rebuke your importunity, and charge you to hold your peace. Look at the generations of old, and see, did ever any trust in the Lord and was confounded? or did any abide in his fear and was forsaken? or whom did he ever despise that called upon him? And you who are yet strangers to rest, are thus far happy, that you are still spared, and have the Gospel continued to you. The Lord is still waiting to be gracious; he says to all, Come unto me, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Do you. not see this rest desirable? What rest, either here or hereafter, can you expect, if you remain in the service of sin? Why may not you obtain your liberty? You are no worse than others, either by nature or practice. Though * Heb. xii. 1.
you have been transgressors from the womb, you are not excluded, if you do not exclude yourselves: though your sinful habits and inclinations are exceeding strong, he is able to subdue them. There is a power in his blood, and in that Spirit which he is exalted to bestow, sufficient to make the Ethiopian change his skin, and the leopard his spots,* to soften the hardest heart, and to pardon the most aggravated guilt, and to enable those to do good, who have been accustomed to do evil. Arise, he calleth you. O may he accompany the outward call of his word, with the efficacious power of his grace, that you may this instant obey his voice, and flee to him for refuge! Whither can you flee else? Who, but Jesus, can save you from the wrath to come? Be wise, and delay no longer. "But, if you will not hear, mine eye shall weep for you in secret places." If you will not come to Jesus for life, you must die. If you are out of Christ, God is angry with you every day. The curse of his broken law lies heavy upon you, whether you are asleep or awake, abroad or at home, at the market, or in the church. The wrath of God is revealed against you; if you turn not, he will whet his sword ;+ he hath bent his bow, and made it ready; he hath prepared the instruments of death to smite you; he hath ordained the arrows of his vengeance against you: and can you, dare you, go on in your sins, and say, I shall have peace? O may you be wise in time! "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."§ "Consider this, ye that forget him, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver."
Jer. xiii. 23. + Jer. xiii. 17. § Heb. x. 31.
Ps, vii. 12.
SERM ON XII
Of the Yoke of Christ.
MATTH. xi. 29.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for 1 am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
HOSE who are enabled to come unto Christ, not only experience a change of state, but of character, disposition, and practice. They are not only freed from condemnation, but they are made partakers of a divine nature. They are delivered from the slavery and yoke of Satan, and made willing in the day of the Lord's power, to accept and embrace his yoke, which is commended to us in the following verse, as easy and pleasant. Our Lord speaks of his service as a yoke or burden, because it is so esteemed by all who know him not. They account him a hard master, and think his service wearisome; but those who have made the experiment, find it otherwise; though, it must be confessed, it exposes to some difficulties, calls for the daily exercise of self-denial, and will not admit either of competition or composition with the world, nor can be pleasing to the unrenewed part of our nature. But the knowledge of his love, the hope of glory, and those seasonable refreshments with which he is pleased to favour those who come unto him, sweeten every bitter thing, and make them willing to bear his yoke, and to prefer it to all that the world accounts freedom.
Let us inquire,
1. What is meant by the yoke of Christ ? 2. The proper means by which we are enabled to take it upon us; that is, the believing consideration of him as our effectual teacher, and perfect pattern.
3. The happy effect of bearing his yoke: we shall find rest to our souls.
I. The yoke of Christ, taken at large, includes all that dependence, obedience, and submission, which we owe him as our rightful Lord, and gracious Redeemer. He has a double right to us, "he made us."* We are the creatures of his power; he gave us our being, with all our capacities and enjoyments. And farther, "he bought us;" he pitied us in our low and fallen state, and gave his own life, his precious blood, to ransom us from that ruin and misery which was the just desert of our sins. There is good reason, therefore, that we should be his, and live and cleave to him in love alone; that we should no longer live to ourselves, but to him who died for us, and rose again. In particular we may consider,
1. The yoke of his profession. This is very pleasing to a gracious soul, so far as faith is in exercise. Far from being ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, he is ready and willing to tell to all who will hear, what God has done for his soul. Many young converts, in the first warmth of their affection, have more need of a bridle than of a spur in this concern. For want of prudence to time things rightly, and perhaps for want of more tenderness mixed with their zeal, they are apt to increase their own troubles, and sometimes, by pushing things too far, to ob
* Ps. c. 3.
+ Acts, xx. 28.