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You need not be at all the more fearful of coming because of your sins, let them be ever so black. If you had as much guilt lying on each of your souls as all the wicked men in the world, and all the damned souls in hell ; yet if you come to God for mercy, sensible of your own vileness, and seeking pardon only through the free mercy of God in Christ, you would not need to be afraid ; the greatness of your sins would be no impediment to your pardon. Therefore if your souls be burdened, and you are distressed for fear of hell, you need not bear that burden and distress any longer. If you are but willing, you may freely come and unload yourselves, and cast all your burdens on Christ, and rest in him.
But here I shall speak to some OBJECTIONS which some awakened sinners may be ready to make against what I now exhort them to.
1. Some may be ready to object, I have spent my youth and all the best of my life in sin, and I am afraid God will not accept of me when I offer him only mine old age. To this I would answer,-1. Hath God said any where, that he will not accept of old sinners who come to him? God hath often made offers and promises in universal terms; and is there any such exception put in? Doth Christ say, all that thirst, let them come to me and drink, except old sinners ? Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, except old sinners, and I will give you rest? Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out, if he be not an old sinner? Did you ever read any such exception any where in the Bible? And why should you give way to exceptions which you make out of your own heads, or rather which the devil puts into your heads, and which have no foundation in the word of God ? - Indeed it is more rare that old sinners are willing to come, than others; but if they do come, they are as readily accepted as any whatever.
2. When God accepts of young persons, it is not for the sake of the service which they are like to do him afterwards, or because youth is better worth accepting than old age. You seem entirely to mistake the matter, in thinking that God will not accept of you because you are old ; as though he readily accepted of persuns in their youth, because their youth is better worth his acceptance; whereas it is only for the sake of Jesus Cbrist, that God is willing to accept of any.
You say your life is almost spent, and you are afraid that the best time for serving God is past; and that therefore God will not now accept of you ; as if it were for the sake of the service which persons are like to do him, after they are converted, that he accepts of them. But a self-righteous spirit is at the bottom of such objections. Men cannot get off from the notion, that it is for some goodness or service of their own,
either done or expected to be done, that God accepts of persons, and receives them into favour.-Indeed they who deny God their youth, the best part of their lives, and spend it in the service of Satan, dreadfully sin, and provoke God; and he very
1 often leaves them to hardness of heart, when they are growu old. But if they are willing to accept of Christ when old, he is as ready to receive them as any others; for in that matter God hath respect only to Christ and his worthiness.
II. But I am afraid that I have committed sins that are peculiar to reprobates. I have sinned against light, and strong convictions of conscience ; I have sinned presumptuously; and have so resisted the strivings of the Spirit of God, that I am afraid I have committed such sins as none of God's elect ever commit. I cannot think that God will ever leave one whom he intends to save, to go on and commit sins against so much light and conviction, and with such horrid presumption.-Others may say, I have had risings of heart against God; blasphemous thoughts, a spiteful and malicious spirit; and have abused mercy and the strivings of the Spirit, trampled upon the Saviour, and my sins are such as are peculiar to those who are reprobated to eternal damnation. To all this I would answer,
1. There is no sin peculiar to reprobates, but the sin against the Holy Ghost. Do you read of any other in the word of God ? And if you do not read of any there, what ground have you to think any such thing? What other rule have we, by which to judge of such matters, but the divine word ? If we venture to go beyond that, we shall be miserably in he dark. When we pretend to go farther in our determinations than the word of God, Satan takes us up, and leads us. It seems to you that such sins are peculiar to the reprobate, and such as God never forgives. But what reason can you give for it,
have no word of God to reveal it ? is it because you cannot see how the mercy of God is sufficient to pardon, or the blood of Christ to cleanse from such presumptuous sins? If so, it is because you never yet saw how great the mercy of God is ; you never saw the sufficiency of the blood of Christ, and you know not how far the virtue of it extends. Some elect persons have been guilty of all manner of sins, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; and unless you have been guilty of this, you have not been guilty of any that are peculiar to reprobates.
2. Men may be less likely to believe, for sins which they have committed, and not the less readily pardoned when they do believe. It must be acknowledged that some sinners are in more danger of hell than others. Though all are in great danger, some are less likely to be saved. · Some are less likely ever to be converted and to come to Christ ; but all who do come to
him are alike readily accepted; and there is as much encourage
; ment for one man to come to Christ as another.-Such sins as you mention are indeed exceeding heinous a d provoking to God, and do in an especial manner bring the soul into danger of damnation, and into danger of being given to final hardness of heart; and God more commonly gives men up to the judg. ment of fival hardness for such sins, than for others. Yet they are not peculiar to reprobates; there is but one sin that is so, viz. that ayat'ıst the Holy Ghost. And notwithstanding the sins which you have committed, if you can find it in your hearts to come to Christ, and close with him, you will be accepted not at all the less readily because you have committed such sins.Though God doth more rarely cause some sorts of sinners to come to Christ than others; it is not because his mercy or the redemption of Christ is not as sufficient for them as others, but because in wisdom he sees fit so to dispense his grace for a restraint upon the wickedness of men ; and because it is his will to give converting grace in the use of means, among which this is one, viz. to lead a moral and religious life, and agreeable to our light, and the convictions of our consciences. But when once any sinner is willing to come to Christ, mercy is as ready for him as
There is no consideration at all had of his sins ; let him have been ever so sinful, his sins are not remembered ; God doth not upbraid him with them.
III. But had I not better stay till I shall have made myself better, before I presume to come to Christ. I have been, and see myself to be very wicked now : but am in hopes of mending myself
, and rendering myself at least not so wicked: then I shali have more courage to come to God for mercy. In answer to this,
1. Consider how unreasonably you act. You are striving to set up yourselves for your own saviours ; you are striving to get something of your own, on the account of which you may the more readily be accepted. So that by this it appears that you do not seek to be accepted only on Christ's account. And is not this to rob Christ of the glory of being your only Saviour? Yet this is the way in which you are hoping to make Christ willing to save you.
2. You can never come to Christ at all, unless you first see that he will not accept of you the more readily for any thing that you can do. You must first see that it is utterly in vain for you to try to make yourselves better op any such account. You must see that you can never make yourselves any more worthy, or less unworthy, by any thing which you can perform.
3. If ever you truly come to Christ, you must see that there is enough in him for your pardon, though you be no better than you are. If you see not the sufficiency of Christ to pardon you, without any righteousness of your own to recommend you, you never will come so as to be accepted of him. The way to be accepted is to come- not on any such encouragement, that now you have made yourselves better, and more worthy, or not so unworthy, but--on the mere encouragement of Christ's worthiness, and God's mercy.
4. If ever you truly come to Christ, you must come to him to make you better. You must come as a patient comes to his physician, with his diseases or wounds to be cured. Spread all your wickedness before him, and do not plead your goodness; but plead your badness, and your necessity on that account; and say, as the psalmist in the text, not pardon mine iniquity, for it is not so great as it was ; but, “Pardon mine ini
, quity, for it is great."
THE MOST HIGH A PRAYER-HEARING GOD.
PSALM XLV. 2.
O thou that hearest Prayer.
Tais psalm seems to be written, either as a psalm of praise to God for some remarkable answer of prayer, in the bestowment of some public mercy; or else, on occasion of some special faith and confidence which David had that his prayer would be answered. It is probable that this mercy bestowed, or expected to be bestowed, was some great public mercy, for which David had been very earnest and importunate, and had annexed a vow to his prayer; and that he had vowed to God, that if he would grant him his request, he would render bim praise and glory. This seems to be the reason why he expresses himself as he does in the first verse of the psalm : “ Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion; and unto thee shall the vow be performed;" i. e. that praise which I have vowed to give thee, on the answer of my prayer, waiteth for thee, to be given thee as soon as thou shalt have answered my prayer; and the vow which I made to thee shall be performed.
In the verse of the text, there is a prophecy of the glorious times of the gospel, when "all flesh shall come" to the true God, as to the God who heareth prayer; which is here mentioned as what distinguishes the true God from the gods to whom the nations prayed and sought, those gods who cannot hear, and cannot answer their prayer. The time was coming when all
* Dated January 8, 1735–6. Preached on a fast appointed on the account ni an epidemical sickness, at the eastward (of Boston )