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to rely on the physician for the recovery of his health, confidently imagine himself well, or in the way to be cured, though he never had consulted him; he would be thought insane or delirious, Should another apply, and yet refuse to follow the prescriptions and directions given him; he would be deemed insincere, or trifling with his own health and life: and, if he seriously expected a cure in this way, he too must be deemed a madShould a third contend, that he ought not apply to the physician, till he had made himself better, and a more proper and deserving object of his attention; every one would perceive the absurdity of his conduct. Finally, should any one imagine that he was recovered; while his languor, want of appetite, inability for work, and other symptoms, proved him to be as diseased as ever; it must be concluded, either that he had not applied to the physician, or not taken his medicines; or that the physician could not or would not do any thing effectual in his case. The reader requires no help, in accommodating the circum. stances of this illustration: in natural things men exercise common sense; while too many speculate on religious subjects, in a manner which contradicts its most obvious suggestions.
The same things are implied in a general invita; tion to a feast; which is the illustration repeatedly employed by the Holy Spirit. Without an appetite, a relish for the provisions, and some con
fidence in him who gives us the invitation, men will make light of it: yet they, who go their way, have the same warrant to come to the feast, as those who actually partake of it.
The sincere beggar feels his poverty, desires relief, submits to the humiliating circumstances of his condition, and supplicates his more affluent neighbour in the best manner he can: yet these are not his warrant for applying and expecting help; but he takes his encouragement from the wealth or bounty of him, of whom he solicits relief; and if he has bidden him come, and promised in that case to help him, this constitutes his wars rant for coming.
All the Jews had the same warrant to return and rebuild Jerusalem, after Cyrus had issued his proclamation: but their settlements at Babylon, or in other places, with the perils and hardships of the attempt, would have overcome their almost expiring attachment to the holy city; if the Lord had not" stirred up the spirit" of some among them. The rest had the same warrant but not the same willingness, to return and this illustra tion is peculiarly apposite; because the reluctancy of the Jews arose from unbelief, and the carnal state of their hearts; and their disregard to this typical redemption aptly represents the sin and folly of those, who neglect the great salvation of the gospel.
? Ezra i. 1-5.
A willingness to be saved from eternal misery, and to be made eternally happy, according to men's several notions of happiness, is natural to all: but a desire of that holy felicity proposed in Scripture, and of that humbling salvation from merited wrath and from all sin which the gospel proclaims, is widely different. Yet no willingness to be saved, which leaves a man wholly unwilling to be saved in the way, and with the salvation, of the gospel, can be of any use or value. The want of this willingness is the sole reason of the sinner's unbelief and destruction. They, who perish from under the means of grace, have the same warrant to believe in Christ, as they who are saved: but the gospel is to most men "a price put into the " hands of a fool to get wisdom, while he has no "heart to it."
The brazen serpent, lifted up in the centre of Israel's camp, with the publick declaration of its use, was a sufficient warrant to every man, when bitten by a fiery serpent, to look unto it. But if any were so deprived of sensation as not to feel the fatal bite, or so stupid as not to fear approaching death; if any foolishly preferred other methods of seeking a cure, or were so proud, rebellious, and unbelieving, as to shut their eyes, or look another way; or if any looked without at all expecting a cure according to the word of the Lord, they must have perished; not for want of a warrant to believe; but because they did not submit to the
wisdom and authority of God, or rely on his faithfulness and mercy, in this appointed way of preservation. Every man of reflection will see, how these things apply to the case before us and it is obvious thence to infer, that all sinners, to whom the gospel is sent, have an equal warrant to believe in Christ, and to expect salvation from him, according to the holy Scriptures; and that men perish for want of a disposition of heart to comply with the invitations of mercy, and to submit to the authority and commandment of God our Saviour.
Some reasons for insisting on this position,― That the Word of God is the sinner's only and suffici ent warrant for believing in Christ."
As s a disposition to believe is equally necessary to salvation, with a warrant to believe; it may perhaps be thought, by some readers, that it is not very important to insist, so fully and strenuously upon this point: for after all, the warrant will be of no use to those, who have no heart to avail themselves of it. In considering this part of our subject, it may be observed:
I. That it is extremely futile to suppose the case of a man believing without a disposition to believe; and then gravely to make provision for it!Whatever warrant or encouragement may be given unless we leave matters unexplained or mis-stated, so that men think they believe when they do not, the indisposed will utterly disregard our words. To lay the blame therefore on the want of a disposition to believe, can discourage none but such as are consciously unwilling; and these certainly are not entitled to encouragement: but if the sin