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bear till the Lord removes it. The help of men, books, and ordinances is sought and tendered in vain, till his appointed hour of deliverance draws near.
These, therefore, convinced, striving, and tempted souls, are the persons to whom Jesus says, “Come to
me, and I will give you rest. The purport of this gracious invitation we are to consider hereafter. In the mean time rejoice in this, Jesus has foreseen your cases, and provided accordingly. He says, Come; that is, believe, as he himself expounds it : “He that cometh
unto me shall 'never hunger; and he that believeth “ on me shall never thirst *.' See how his promises suit the state you are in.
1. Are you heavy laden with guilt? The Gospel message is, “ The blood of Jesus Christ his Son " cleanseth us from all sin t."
2. Are you groaning under the power of indwelling sin? Hear his gracious words: “I am the resurrec* tion and the life: he that believeth in me, though he
were dead, yet shall he live .” And to the same purpose his prophet: “ He giveth power to the faint, " and to them that have no might he increaseth " strength ."
3. Are you striving in the fire to keep the law? " Wherefore will you spend your money for that which " is not bread, and your labour for that which satis“ fieth not?" Forego the vain attempt. Is it not written, “ Christ is the end of the law for righteous“ ness to every one that believeth ||?” 4. Are you in temptation? He that says,
" Come " unto me,” has been tempted himself **, and knows
# John, xi. 25.
* John, vi. 35.
+ 1 John, i. 7.
** Heb, ii. 18.
how to pity you. He has power over your enemy, and can deliver you with a word *. Did he not thus dispossess Satan in the days of his humiliation ? and if then, surely he is no less able now; for since that time he has gloriously triumphed over the powers of darkness t. And as his arm is not shortened, neither is his ear heavy; he has said, without exception,“ Whoso
ever cometh unto me, I will in nowise cast out $;" and thousands who have been in your distress, have successively found that promise fulfilled, “The God of peace . shall bruise Satan under
OF COMING TO CHRIST.
MATTH. xi. 28. Come unto me, all ye that labaur, and are heavy laden, and I
will give you rest. THE dispensation of the Gospel may be compared ta the cities of refuge in Israel. It was a privilege, an honour to the nation in general, that they had such sanctuaries of divine appointment; but the real value of them was known to few. Those only. who found themselves in that case for which they were provided, could rightly prize them. In like manner, the Gospel of Christ is the highest privilege and honour of which a professing nation can boast; but it can be truly esteemed and understood by none but weary and heavy laden
* Mark, i. 27. + Col. ii. 15. § Rom. xvi, 20.; Zech. iii. 2.
# John, vi. 37
souls, who have felt their misery by nature, are tired of' the drudgery of sin, and have seen the curse of the broken law pursuing them, like the avenger of blood of old. This is the only consideration that keeps them from despair, that God has provided a remedy by the Gospel; and Jesus has said, “ Come unto me, and I “ will give you rest.” If they could receive the full comfort of these words, and heartily obey the call, their complaints would be at an end; but remaining ignorance, unbelief, and Satan, combine in various keep them back. Some will say, “O that I could “ come! but, alas! I cannot.” Others, “ I fear I do “ not come aright.”—Having, therefore, endeavoured to show you the persons chiefly intended here, under the character of those who labour and are heavy laden, I proceed to consider,
II. What it is to come to Christ. I have observed in general, that it appears to have the same signification with believing in him. But, that we may understand it the more clearly, let us inquire,
1. How those to whom he personally spoke these words, in all probability, understood them?
2. How far their apprehensions of them are applicable and suitable to our circumstances?
3. Whether, as we have the same necessity, we have not likewise equal encouragement to come to him with those who were conversant with him upon earth.
1. It does not appear that those to whom our Lord spoke in person were so much perplexed as many are now, to know what coming or believing should mean; he seems to have been understood * both by friends and enemies. Many questioned his authority and right
* John, vi. 30. and xix, 36.
to exact a dependence on himself; but they seemed to be at no difficulty about his meaning. It certainly implied more than a mere bodily coming into his presence. He was surrounded, and even followed, by multitudes, who never came to him in the sense of his invitation. To such, while standing about him, he complained, “ Ye will not come unto me, that ye may have life *.” Therefore, if we consult what is written of those who came to Jesus for relief, and obtained it, we may conclude, that coming to him implies,
1st, A persuasion of his power, and of their own need of his help. They knew that they wanted relief, and conceived of him as an extraordinary person empowered and able to succour them. This persuasion of Christ's sufficiency and willingness was then, as it is now, afforded in different degrees. The centurion spoke with full assurance: “ Speak the word only, and my “ servant shall be healed 7:" The leper more dubiously: “ Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me “ clean I.” Another, in still fainter language: “ If thou “ canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help “ us g.” The faith of this last was, as the man himself acknowledged, mixed with much unbelief and fear; yet Jesus did not despise the day of small things : he pardoned his suspicions, confirmed his fluctuating mind, granted him his request; and his case is recorded as an instance how graciously he accepts and cherishes the feeblest effects of true faith : “ He will not break “ the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax.”
Secondly, An actual application. This evidenced their faith to be right. They did not sit content with
* John, v. 40.
+ Matth. viii. 8.
having heard of him, but improved it: they went to him, told him their cases, and implored his compassion, Their faithe
against all discouragements. In vain the multitude charged them to hold their peace*; knowing that he only was able to relieve them, they cried so much the more a great deal. Even when he seemed to discover a great reserves, they still waited, and knew not how to depart without an answer. . Nor could a sense of unworthiness, fear, or shame, keep them back I, when once they had a strong persuasion of his power to save.
Thirdly, When he was sought to as a soul-physician, as was the case with many whose bodily diseases he healed, and with others who were not sick, those who came to him continued with him, and became his fol, lowers. They depended on him for salvation, received him as their Lord and Master, professed an obedience to his precepts, accepted a share in his reproạch, and renounced every thing that was inconsistent with his will s. Some had a more express and open call to this, as Matthew, who was sitting at the receipt of custom, regardless of Jesus, till he passed by him, and said, “ Fol“ low mell." That word, accompanied with the power of his love, won his heart, and diverted him from worldly pursuits in an instant. Others were more secretly drawn by his Spirit and providence, as Nathaniel, and the weeping penitent** whọ silently washed his feet with her tears; and this was the design and effect of many of their bodily and family afflictions. The man who was brought to be healed of the palsytt, received the forgiveness of
* Mark, x. 48.
* Matth. xv. 27. I Mark, v. 37. Luke, ix, 23-61.
|| Matth. ix. 9. ** John, i. 46.; Luke, vii. 38. # Mark, ii. 5.