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so great a wonder that the Babylonish captivity came to a period, that the captives of the mighty should be taken away, and the prey of the terrible should be deli. vered, Isa. xlvi. 24, 25. as to see the bands of security and discouragement broken off, and to see the weak hand strengthened, and the feeble knee confirmed, Isa. xxxv. 3.0 how should it be looked on as a matchless mercy, when as the Lord plucked Lot out of Sodom, he plucks any poor soul out of the bands of security, out of the pit, the horrible pit of darkness and discouragement, and out of the miry clay of corruption, wherein they are sunk, and that he shews such good will to this work, “ Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away."
7. Hence see, if Christ thus follows his people with call upon call, till he get their consent; as we would beware of abusing this, by laying by (without stirring up ourselves to take hold of him, as the word is, Isa. lxiv. 7. by neglecting the means, the word, sacrament, and prayer) till he prevail with us, whether we will'or not; for, this is to abuse his goodness, that should lead us to lay hold upon him ; so it may teach the Lord's people the folly of their wandering: for, seeing he will reclaim them from their wandering, it is surely great folly to sit his summons that he is giving them, to rise and come away; because by sitting his summons, they lay a foundation for more sorrow than has yet be fallen them, before he bring them back again; for, “ Their sorrow shall be multiplied, while they follow after other gods,” and multiplied more and more, till they be willingly disposed to return to their first Husband: yea, they may come to see, what an evil and bitter thing their apostasy was, when he recovers them. And, indeed, we may say, O how great is the mercy showed to them in whose hands apostasy thrives not ! O what a proof of love is in that, when, though they walk on frowardly in the ways of their own heart, notwithstanding his being wroth, and smiting, and hiding himself; yet, “ He sees their ways and heals them !" 0! is there not here some encouraging ground of hope of recovery out of a case that is hopeless in itself; that when you are laid by, he has not done with you ; and that, like “ Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, because they'were not, she shall come again from the land of her captivity; and there is hope in her end," Jerem. xxxi. 15, 16, 17. O what encouragement is in this, that irrecoverable conditions may be recovered, and helpless cases helped by him! O how should it endear Christ to us, and how should his kindness be magnified that bears thus with the untowardness of his people, and will not leave off dealing with them, till he get their consent, but will help selfdestroyers, saying, “In me is thy help!" Though thou hast been doing all thou canst to undo thyself, yet I will not suffer thee thus to ruin thyself: Come, come then; “ Rise, my love, my fair one, and come away."
8. Hence see, (omitting many other inferences) that our Lord Jesus allows no objections to be made against his calls and invitations, and will admit no excuse, nor will accept of any refusal at the hands either of sinners or saints whom he courts this day: he will be so far from allowing any objection, admitting any excuse, or accepting of any refusals of his repeated calls and renewed invitation, that the final refuser and rejecter thereof shall perish ; for, “ He that believes not, shall be damned;" he that now calls, saying,
« Come to me, and be blessed;" shall say to the refusers, “ Depart from me, ye cursed;" and will frown them down to the pit of perdition, and frown upon them for ever! But the day of judgment is not yet, it is to come; the day of grace is present, wherein the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; and that voice is saying, Come, come;
Rise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”
Let me, therefore, before I close, urge this exhortation upon sinners and saints,
1st, Upon sinners, who never yet came to our Beloved, to be joined in marriage with this wonderful match, but have sitten all the numerous calls and of., fers of his love and grace to this day, and remain at a total distance from Christ, and never rose up to come at bis call, To you I would say, what God says, Eph. v. 15. “ Awake, thou that sleepest: arise from the
dead, and Christ shall give thee light;" For motives to excite your compliance, know and consider,
1. You are certainly sleeping in the arms of some idol or other; “ Your liearts are going out after your lovers, and you forget me, saith the Lord,” Hos. ii. 13. You are surely married to something else : either to the world, to sin, or Satan. And alas ! it is a black bargain, to be married to the devil, the god of this world, that is bewitching you with the lusts of the world! He is a black husband for you. You cannot live in this world, without being wedded to some thing or other. But,
2. Consider, a King from heaven makes suit for your love; a great King, who has upon his vesture and thigh a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords;" even the King of glory, the Lord of glory, Psal. xxiv, 10. He is pleading with you to rise up, and come away, and match with him who is the Lord of life.
3. Consider, that if you keep at a distance from him, you shall die in your sins; for, you are not only dead in law, but dying sinners, ready to die the second death; your damnation is every day nearer and nearer ! the sentence of death is already passed by the law; " He that believeth not, is condemned already."
4. Consider, that there is life to be had in Christ; the life of grace here, and of glory hereafter : it is all in him to be communicated to dead sinners; and even dead sinners are called to rise out of their graves, as Lazarus, and come away to Christ. It is no absurdity to tell you, that the God who quickens the dead, calls you to rise out of that dead state, and come to him, that complains on sinners, saying, “ Ye will not come
that ye might have life.” He that calls you, can make the call effectual; and we order you to come at his call, and rise at his command. It is necesrary you believe that it is God who calls you, saying, “ Look unto me, and be saved, for I am God :" and that it is Christ who invites you, saying, I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Some have been quickened with such a word as that, “ The Master is come, and
calls for you;" the Master calls you, the Lord of life
5. Consider, that though this may be the last call you shall get, yet it is not the first you have got; he has called you again and again : and to shew his good-will to men on the earth, and his good-will to the worst of sínners in this company, the repetition of the text is another call to you; he is renewing his calls, that you may believe. I allude to that word, Exodus iv. 8. where it is said, “ If they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign; they will believe the voice of the latter sign.” Well, if you have not come at the voice of the first: then will you come at the voice of the latter call? He is renewing his call to backsliding sinners; “ Return, O backsliding children; for I am married unto you," Jer. iii. 12. To the straying .sinner, that has played the harlot with many lovers, ver. 1. To the most polluted sinner, whose sins are of a deep dye, as
dye, as scarlet and crimson, Isa. i. 18. To the oldest sinner here, to whom he
Fort with you in this generation :" yet now, “ To-day, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." God has dealt with some here, it may be, twenty, thirty, forty, and it may be sixty years ; and you have one offer more, and then it may be, the door of mercy may be shut. Therefore, take this caution, because Christ continues to call, take heed you do not continue to refuse; renewed calls are doubled mercies, but renewed refusals are tripled sins. It is dangerous, if Christ should pass by you, without giving you a call; but it is more dangerous if you pass by him, and refuse his call, when he comes to give and renew it. Take heed also of this, that because you have enjoyed many offers, be ware of presuming you shall have more. Christ has said to some, “ How often would I have gathered you, to share of my bounties, and you would not; but now they are hid from your eyes."
6. Consider, that Christ's call to you, admits of no excuse, drawn either from your present circumstances, or the present times.
[1.] As to your present circumstances. If any sinhers here, that ever came to Christ before, understand the present circumstances that they are in, namely, That they are without God, and without Christ; undone and unconverted : it is possible they may think this call cannot be to them, because the tenor of it is,
6 Rise my love, my fair one, and come away :” and how can these titles be given to such as cannot be named, either his love, or his fair one? and therefore the call cannot be to me. To this it might be replied, Though this call be properly, to believers, and converted ones, that are married to Christ, 'to return to their Husband, Christ Jesus; yet, consider,
(1.) That as Christ may be called, and is really the Head and Husband of the visible church, that are by profession and fæderally married unto him, which relation Christ frequently owns, as Jer. iii. 14. speaks of their departure from him, to other lovers, as a real adultery, which declares a real marriage between him and them, even though most of them were never sav. ingly united to Christ; so, when God is pleased to own the relation, and not to put a bill of divorce into their hands, he may speak to them lovingly, in the terms suitable to that relation : for, though these terms, “ My love, my fair one,” are unsuitable to them, as they are vile harlots, committing adultery with other lovers ; yet, they may be suitably applied to them, as they are his bride; especially when he is courting them back to him, saying, “ Return, for I am married to you, though you have scattered your ways to strangers, under every green tree, and have not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord. Return, O backsliding children, for I am married unto you," Jer. iii. 13, 14. It is one thing what a visible church may be called, as to their moral characters, namely, backsliders and harlots, as in the scripture here cited, and it is another thing what they may be called, as to their married relation, or as the bride of Christ, that in this respect is his love, and his fair and spotless one: hence he is said to behold no iniquity in Jacob, nor peryerșeness in Israel, Numb. xxii. 21.; and yet it was their character, “ A stiff-necked and rebelli. ous'people,” as their fathers had been. God, as a loving