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take on Christ's burden, and is sorry he cannot bear it better. The ears that were shut before are now opened. "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." Holiness is now the desire of his soul. Now,
There must be a power here, what else could break the iron sinews in their necks, and tame the bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. The wild ass could never be tamed till now, surely then the month is come. Hence it is evident the willing soul sees a beauty in holiness, a righteousness in the commandments of God, and a loathsomeness in sin. He considers all God's precepts concerning all things to be right; and he hates every false way. If sin be as sweet as before, if they see no beauty in holiness, surely they are not the willing people; and it is needless to them to pretend to the feeling of a power, unless they would make it appear that God makes men willing without reason.
5. The soul is willing to bear Christ's cross, to cleave to him and his ways, and to follow him through fire and water, Luke xiv. 25— 33. All that he hath is at Christ's service, houses and lands, relations and life also. The smiles of the world cannot bribe him, nor the frowns of it drive him away. He is content to own Christ, when despised and rejected of men. Now there must needs be a power here to make a man thus willing, not only to suffer, but to suffer for him, for his glory, and to keep up his standard in the world; rather to suffer for him, than to sin against him. "Thus it is given to them in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him but also to suffer for his sake." Hence sin is more bitter to the willing soul than death, and all the sufferings to which they can be exposed, Eccles. vii. 26. Certainly both are bitter. Now, when both are laid before them, and they choose sufferings, this says, that sin to them is most bitter. Here is the ruin of many professors in a time of trial, sin was never the most bitter thing to them, though it hath been bitter; and therefore the Lord fits his people for suffering, by letting them experience the bitterness of sin.
Again, Christ is sweeter to the willing soul, than all the pleasures and profits of a world, else they could never be willing to forego these for Christ, Phil. iii. 8, 9. Alas! many never felt so much sweetness in Christ as in a lust, hence they let him go, and return to their lusts again. Some get half a view of Christ's preciousness, hence a half-willingness, a hankering after him. But still the world and their lusts are sweeter, and therefore like Orpha, they depart from him weeping.
Lastly, The willing soul is willing to go away with Christ, for altogether, home to his Father's house. I am not saying they are all absolutely willing to die. They perhaps want assurance of a safe
lodging place. But this I say, if Christ would carry them away to his Father's house, they would be content to bid farewell to all below, and go with him.
Now there must be power here, that reconciles a man to heaven, to everlasting communion with God. "Giving thanks unto the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Hence it is evident, the willing soul is one that hath a transcendant love to Christ, and a desire of communion with him; even of such a communion as may never be overclouded nor interrupted. They are unwilling to want it, and their souls long for it. We shall now,
III. Touch a little at the day of power.
1. Though the gospel may be long preached unto a people, yet there are some special seasons that may be looked on as days of power. The same power doth not always accompany the word. Days when the gospel is new to a people, days of persecution, days when there is a spirit of prayer poured out, and times of sealing ordinances, these are more likely than others to be days of power.
2. There is an appointed time for the inbringing of all the elect of God, and that is the particular day of power to them. As it was to the Israelites, when at the end of the appointed time, "even the self-same day, it came to pass that all the host of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt." He that appointed the time of their natural birth, appoints also the time of their spiritual or new birth. There is a day and hour, in which everlasting love will
dawn on the soul.
3. A dark night usually goes before this day of power. The soul is led to the place of execution before the pardon be given out; they are cast down before they be lifted up; conscience is awakened, the heart pained, before peace and health be diffused through the soul.
4. Whenever this day of power comes, the soul is made willing, the fort of the heart is taken, and the King of glory enters in state, turns out the old inhabitants, and puts in new. And there are three things done in that day. 1. Christ gives the conquering stroke, and by an Almighty power opens the prison door, and so it is the day of the captives' deliverance. 2. The spirit of Christ is at work travailing to bring them forth, and so it is their birth-day. 3. Christ gains the bride's consent, and so it is their marriage day.
INFERENCE 1. Pray earnestly for a day of power. There are three things we much need, and which a day of power would do for us. 1. It would revive the graces of the spirit in the Lord's people among us, that are decayed and languishing. A marriage day is a feast day for the bridegroom's friends, in which the bridegroom
bestows gifts upon them. The Lord's people have need to be made more willing, to have the backwardness to duty taken off their spirits. 2. It would bring in many new friends to Christ, would bring many out of the devil's kingdom, into the kingdom of God's dear Son. 3. It would make enemies, that are none of Christ's purchase, to feign submission, and put a stop to the open profanity abounding in our day. Ps. lxxxi, 15.
INFERENCE 2. Show yourselves Christ's people, by submitting to him. This day he is erecting his standard in this place, and we invite you in his name, to stand out no longer against him, but come to him and receive him, and give up yourselves to him. Motives,
1. Consider what you are, while you submit not to Christ. You are under strange lords. If you be not Christ's subjects, you are the devil's slaves; you are the servants of sin. And what is it you are so fond of, that you prefer it to Christ: is it pleasure or profit? "What is a man profited, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul."
2. Consider Christ is an exalted king. He is placed at the Father's right hand, on his throne. Will you deny him a lodging in your heart? The rejecting of Christ, in his humiliation, was grievously punished upon the Jews, what then shall become of the neglectors of an exalted Christ?
3. He is a priest as well as a king. It is only by virtue of his sacrifice and intercession, that you can get mercy. Finally, you must stoop to him sooner or later. "We must all stand before the jundgment seat of Christ. To him every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess." If you submit not willingly, he will make you his footstool. He is a merciful king.
USE 3. Try whether you be really such as submit honestly to Christ. Especially you that are to sit down at the Lord's table, see if you be a willing people. Try your willingness.
1. Your willingness if right, will be a supernatural willingness, made by a day of power. Wild oats grow without labour, but bread corn requires labour and pains. Willingness lightly gained, lightly goes. So it was with the stoney ground hearers, and those who received the seed among thorns. The child that never found any bitter thing on the breast, easily returns to it; and the soul that is willing to take Christ, but never felt the bitterness of sin, it is like it will not long stay with him.
2. It is accompanied with understanding. The willing soul makes an understanding choice. An error in the person, (in marriage),
makes it null. Many in their pretended choice of Christ, make a blind choice, not knowing him, hence they run away from him again. Mal. iii. 1, 2.
3. It is deliberate. The soul sits down and counts the cost, but a rash consent will be retracted.
4. It is an absolute willingness. Philip said to the eunuch, "if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest be baptized. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." That is to believe with the whole heart, when the soul makes choice of Christ and his ways, because of their inward beauty, which they would do, were there no hell. But alas! many are willing to take Christ just to be a bridge, to carry them over the water of God's wrath.
Lastly, It is for the present. Real willingness will admit of no delay. Matth. viii. 21, 22.
OBJECTION 1. I fear I am none of Christ's people. ANSWER, If thou be one of the willing people, surely thou art one of his.
2. I fear Christ is not willing. ANSWER, That is a dreadful reflection on his veracity. Do you think that he mocks you while he invites you, and promises you a welcome reception. Nay, know if Christ had not been willing, thou hadst not been willing, we love him, because he first loved us." It is he who hath made you willing. 3. But I cannot get my heart made willing. O how backward is it, and averse to stoop. ANSWER, Is that thy exercise and burden? It is a good sign. Art thou willing to be made willing? that is some degree of willingness. Dost thou see that beauty in Christ, that hatefulness in sin, that thou art grieved that thy soul cleaves so fast to it, thou art of that willing people. Amen.
First Sabbath after the Sacrament, Simprin, Feb. 9, 1707.
THE SOUL'S ESPOUSAL TO CHRIST.
2 CORINTHIANS, Xi. 2,
For I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
Ir was a matter of great importance we were about last Sabbath, espousing poor sinners to the Son of God. But the bride is apt to forget, till she be brought home, and therefore we would put you in mind of it.
In this verse, the apostle shows how he stood affected to them. "He was jealous over them with a godly jealousy." The cause of this jealousy was the danger in which they were, notwithstanding the great length he had brought them. Their danger is specified, verse 3. The length he had brought them is in the text, in which we have his success, "he had espoused them to one husband," and the design of it, "that he might present them as a chaste virgin to Christ." These words I explained, and insisted on the first clause of the verse, at another occasion of this nature.
DOCTRINE I. Sometimes ministers get the treaty of marriage betwixt their Master and their people brought such a length, that they can say they have got the espousals made, and that with a design that they may get the bride, as a chaste virgin, to present to the bridegroom, when the great marriage day shall come. In treating this subject, I shall,
I. Explain a little, this match betwixt Christ and his people.
1. The first degree of it was the design and purpose of that match, in the heart of God, from all eternity. It is no new thing. It is older than heaven and earth. God hath had an eternity to think upon it, and never saw reason to alter his purpose. Concerning this, we may notice three things. 1. God seeing all mankind in a lost state, was pleased from eternity to have mercy upon, and to love those freely, who in time are brought to Christ. "According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world. God who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ." He loved them, when there was nothing appearing in