Page images
PDF
EPUB

natural and legal endeavours, " Come down, Zaccheus," you must descend from your own natural heights and legal altitudes, to the gospel valley, and the low path where Christ walks.“ If Zaccheus had been where he ought to have been, Christ would not have called him to come down: it is true, it was a lawful and laudable shift for him, considering the great press and his low stature, to climb up to the tree that he might get a sight of Christ; but if he should sit still and rest upon the sycamore-tree, when Christ the tree of life was come so near, to be the only resting place of his soul, all bis pains and labours would have been lost. There may be very lawful, laudable, and commendable means and endeavours, that people may betake themselves to, and they may climb very high therein, that they may get a sight of Christ; but if they sit down and rest upon the tree of their own duties and endeavours, whatever external, common and passing views of Christ they may get, yet there is no saving sight, or special acquaintance with Christ they can have, unless they come down from all dependence upon means, down to Christ himself. The call here is directive; and the order and direction he gets is, Zaccheus, come down.” Whom Christ calls, he directs to proper duty; and it is the first duty of souls that would have communion with Christ, to come down, that they may meet with him.

(3.) It was a hastening call, “ Zaccheus, make HASTE, and come down.” As you ran before the rest, and made haste to get up; so you must make haste to be down. The call of Christ requires a present answer, without delay : “ Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation ; to-day if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” The outward external call by his word is such a hastening call, that no man' ought to delay a moment to come to Christ, at his call; for a delay is dangerous: why, if the next moment should cut bis breath, and so cut the thread of his life, before he come to Christ, he is eternally and irrecoverably lost. The internal and effectual call is such a hastening call, that whosoever are the subjects thereof cannot find in their hearts to delay a moment. No sooner did Christ speak the word, than Zaccheus made haste, and came down.

(4.) It was a kindly and a loving call, as appears from the reason of it: • For, to-day I must abide at' thy house: Come down, for I must be your guest: I will sup with you, and you with me to-day. Here is a blessed guest inviting himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is a place of entertainment, • 'Thy house. Here is the-fulness of the visit, it was not passingly and transiently; but he was to abide at his house. Here is the necessity of it, “ I must abide at thy house;" a sweet necessity of love and kindness: 1 must do it. And here is the time when this was to be done, " To DAY I must abide at thy house:” the time to favour thee with a merciful visit is come. Here is surpassing and preventing love and mercy, Christ kindly calls upon Zaccheus, when Zaccheus was ashamed and afraid to call upon him: Christ invites himself to his home, when Zaccheus was thinking of nothing but a passing view of him by the way. And here it is remarkable, Zaccheus not only gets what he desired, but much more; he gets Christ to be his guest. When Christ calls, he shows his kindness far beyond all our desires and hopes; and whom he calls effectúally, he draws with the cords of love ; having loved with an everlasting love, he draws with loving kindness. So much shall suffice for the explication. I now confine myself to this one doctrinal proposition. OBSERV. That there are certain heights people are

apt to ascend, from which the Lord Jesus, in the day of effectual calling, causes them to come down, in order to their having communion with him

“ Zaccheus, make haste, and come down." Christ, in the day wherein he manifests himself, speaks to his people, as Joseph did to his brethren, Gen. xlv. 9, “ God has made me lord of all Egypt, come down unto me, and tarry not.” So, says Christ, “ The Father hath put all things into my hands;" yea, “ All power in heaven and in earth is given unto me:” come down unto me, and tarry not; make haste and come down in a way of subjection and submission to me and my righteousness, renouscing all dependence upon other means. When they would help themselves, and add

Y

VOL. IX.

some cubits to their own little stature, by climbing up to sit on a tree, he calls them to come down and sit in the dust; as the expression is, Isa. xlvii, 1.; and to see that in Christ only is their help; and that by no means or endeavcurs of their own can they add one cubit to their spiritual stature, nor advance their own spiritual welfare, but in a way of coming down from all confidence in the flesh. There is no communion with God in Christ, but in a way of believing, or by faith ; and what is faith, but a down-coming grace? It is a quitting grip of all boughs and branches of creature-helps, that we are ready to climb up unto, and rest upon; and of taking hold of the man whose name is the Branch, the tree of life, under whose shadow alone we can be safe. Our safety lies not in climbing up to any other tree, but in coming down below the shadow and covert of the blood and righteousness of Christ. Here alone communion with God is to be had : hence, says the church, Song ii. 3. “ I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

The method we propose for the further opening up this subject, as the Lord shall be pleased to countenance, is the following 1. To speak of some of these heights from which

people must come down, that would answer the gospel-call

. II. Shew in what respects they come down. III. Offer some remarks on the day of effèctual call

ing. IV. Assign the reasons why the Lord calls them to

come down, and that with haste. V. Deduce some inferences for the application.

I. We would speak of some of these heights and altitudes, from which all must come down, that would answer the gospel-call. And,

1. The sinner must come down from bis high thoughts, and towering imaginations; his high and lofty reasonings that exalt themselves against the knowledge of Christ : for, this is one of the

great ends of the gospel, to level these heights : " The weapons of our

[ocr errors]

warfare are not carnal, but mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strong holds,” 2 Cor. x. 4,5. Proud reason in man is so far out of reason, that many reason themselves out of all religion, and set up reason against faith, mustering up millions of thoughts and imaginations, and carnal objections against believing in God, and against believing also in Christ.

2. The sinner must come down from the height of his natural efforts to save himself, by the strength of his own free-will, or natural power and ability ; for, as by nature we are without strength, Rom. v. 6. for any spiritual work, not being sufficient of ourselves, to think any thing as of ourselves; so, by strength shall no man prevail; and, “ It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."-Hence,

3. Sinners must come down from the height of their own legal endeavours, in going about to establish their own righteousness, Ronj. x. 3. This is a tree that all men naturally attempt to ascend, whenever awakened to a thought of heaven and hell; but in vain do men set their duties against their sin, as if these could take them away; for it is only the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world, John i. 29. In vain do they set their works against the wrath of God; that fire will devour them as stubble; it is Jesus that delivereth from the wrath to come. Yea, in vain do men set the strength of Christ against the righteousness of Christ, which they do, when they get strength and enlargement from him to pray, and perform this or the other duty, then they make that a ground of their being justified. From this legal spirit it is that men confound assistance with acceptance, and think themselves accepted because assisted; but men may be assisted to do miracles in Christ's name, and yet never be accepted, Mat. vii. 22. The ground of acceptance is only in the Beloved, Eph. i. 6. From this legal spirit it is also, that men confound the marks of faith with the grounds of faith ; and so think they have no ground of believing wbile they want the evidences of faith. 4. Men must come down from the height of their

false maxims concerning God, as if he were such an one as themselves, and did approve of their sin, Psalm 1. 21. ; false maxims concerning Christ, as if he were a Saviour to save them in their sin, while they want not to be saved from their sin; falsé maxims concerning themselves, as if they had good hearts toward God, not knowing their hearts to be deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, Jer. xvii. 9.; false maxims concerning religion, as if they could be religious without being regenerate and born again ; whereas Christ says,

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” John iii. 3.

5. Men must come down from their heights of false hopes, that are withering branches ; for, “ The hope of the hypocrite shall perish,” Job viii. 13. Many hope they will mend afterwards, though they give themselves a latitude for the present; they will get grace between and the grave, Thus multitudes ruin themselves.. Many presumptuously hope in the mercy of God, as the devil would have Christ casting himself down from the pinnacle of the temple; for why, “ The angels will hold you up." No, says Christ. “ Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God,” Mat. iv. 5, 6, 7. So it is, when Satan, or the flesh, say, Plunge yourselves into sin, mercy will help you out: but the mercy of God should lead to repentance, not to rebellion.

6. Men must come down from the height of worldly props and carnal confidence in arms of flesh; “ For the Lord hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them," Jer. ii. 37. These are refuges of lies, as Israel found when they were brought to say, “ Ashur shall not save us, neither will we ride upon horses,” Hos. xiv. 3. As if they had said, We have formerly trusted that the Assyrian would save us; that our borses and cavalry would help us, but we find them all to be vain confidences : Lord, it is in thee the fatherless find mercy; in thee the helpless find relief, and in no worldly props.

7. Those that would answer the gospel-call must

« PreviousContinue »