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his life, and expects him to live upon it while he lives in this world. He has made plentiful provision for your souls, when he has given them faith, and furnished such a variety of precious promises for it to feed upon. Abraham, Moses, David, and all the saints, lived on no other provision but what faith brought in; and at what an excellent rate did they live. Here man eateth angels' food. It is a storehouse of provision, it is a shop of cordials: “I had fainted unless I had believed.” Psa. 27: 13. A believer lives the highest life of all men on earth ; and as his soul is daily fed by faith, so all his other graces are maintained and daily supported by the provision faith brings them in. The other graces, like the young birds in the nest, live upon the provision this grace of faith gathers for them. Take away faith, and you starve the soul of a Christian. Will not all this engage your desire after faith?
(9.) Consider also, that this is the grace whereby we die safely as well as live comfortably: as you cannot live comfortably without faith in this world, so neither can you die safely or comfortably without it, when you go out of the world. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises ; but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them.” Heb. 11:13. These excellent persons all died embracing the promises in the arms of their faith. An allusion to two dear friends embracing each other at their parting. O precious promises, says the dying believer ; of what unspeakable benefit have you been to me all the days of my pilgrimage. To you I was wont to turn in all my troubles and distresses ; but I am now going into the life of immediate vision : farewell blessed promises, scriptures, ordinances, and communion of saints on earth; I shall walk no more by faith, but by sight.
(10.) In a word, this is the grace that saves you : “By grace are ye saved, through faith.” Eph. 2:8. Your salvation is the fruit of free-grace; but grace itself will not save you in any other method but that of believing. The grace of God runs through the channel of faith ; faith is the grace that espouses your soul to Christ here, and accompanies you every step of the way until you come to its full enjoyment in heaven, and then it is lost in vision. It embarks you with Christ, and pilots you through the dangerous seas, till you drop anchor in the haven of everlasting rest and safety ; where you receive the “end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” O then, in consideration of the incomparable worth and absolute necessity of this grace, make it your great study, make it your constant cry to heaven, night and day, Lord, give me a believing heart, a heart opening to Jesus Christ. If you fail of this, you come short of the great design of the whole gospel, which is to bring you to faith, and by faith to heaven.
CHRIST BRINGS GREAT BLESSINGS TO THE
SOUL THAT OPENS TO HIM.
"IF ANY MAN HEAR MY VOICE AND OPEN THE DOOR, I WILL
COME IN TO HIM, AND WILL SUP WITH HIM, AND HE WITH ME.” Rev. 3:20.
In the former chapters we have considered Christ's suit for a sinner's heart: we now come to the powerful arguments and motives used by him to obtain his suit, which are two : first, union, “I will come in to him, and sup with him ;” and second, communion, “and he with me.”
These are strong and mighty arguments and encouragements, able, one would think, to open any heart in the world to Christ: and yet considering how the hearts of men are attached to their lusts and riveted in their sins, until the Spirit come upon them with powerful convictions; and when under conviction, what discouragements they labor under from their former sinfulness and present unworthiness, all is little enough to bring them to faith, nay, utterly insufficient, without the almighty power set them home with effect on the heart; for it is not mere moral suasion will do the work. It is true, Christ will not make a forcible entrance into the soul, he will come in by consent of the will; but the will consents not, until it feels the power of God upou, it. Psalm 110:3. Almighty power opens the heart and determines the will, but in a way congruous to the nature of the will. “I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love.” Hos. 11:4. When, under the influence of this power, the soul opens to Christ, he will come in, take that soul for his everlasting habitation, refresh and feast it with the sweetest consolations and privileges purchased by his blood; whence the tenth doctrine is,
Christ will certainly come in to the soul that opens to him; and will bring rich entertainment with him. “I will come in to him, and sup with him.”
When the prodigal, the emblem of a convert, returned to his father, Luke 15:22, his father not only received, but adorned and feasted him. In opening this point, I shall show what Christ's coming into the soul implies; how it appears that Christ will come in to the opening soul; what entertainment he brings with him; and why he thus entertains the soul that opens to him.
I. WHAT CHRIST'S COMING IN TO THE SOUL IMPLIES; and in general I must say this is a great mystery, which will not be fully understood till we come to heaven: “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” John 14:20. Then the essential union of Christ and his Father, and the mystical union between believers and Christ, will be more clearly understood than we are capable of understanding them in this imperfect state; yet for the present so much is discovered, as may justly astonish poor sinners at the marvellous condescension of the Lord Jesus to them. More particularly, the expression, “I will come in to him," imports no less than his uniting such a soul to himself; for he comes in with a design to dwell in that soul by faith, Eph. 3:17—to make such a man a mystical member of his body, flesh, and bones, Eph. 5:30, which is the highest honor the soul of man is capable of. This coming of Christ into the soul of a sinner does not indeed make him one person with Christ; that is the singular honor to which our nature was advanced by Christ in his uniting the divine nature with it. But this makes a person mystically one with Christ, and is more than a mere federal union. Christ's coming into the soul signifies more than his entering into covenant with it; for it is taking such a person into a mystical union with himself, by imparting his Spirit unto him. As the vital sap of the stock coming into the
graft, makes it one with the stock, John 15:4, so the coming of Christ's Spirit into the soul makes it a member of his mystical body; and this is a glorious supernatural work of God, 1 Cor. 1:30, most honorable, most comfortable, and for ever sure and indissoluble ; as I have more fully showed in THE METHOD OF GRACE.*
II. I shall show THE CERTAINTY that Christ will come in with refreshments and comforts to every soul that opens to him. No former rebellions or present unworthiness shall bar out Christ, or obstruct his entrance into such a soul. Whatever thou hast been or done, Christ will come in to thee and dwell with thee, and make thy soul a habitation for himself through the Spirit. Eph. 2:22. Let thy heart be open to him, and he will both fill and feast thee, notwithstanding all thy former sins.
I know it is a common discouragement that multitudes of convinced sinners lie under, that seeing so much vileness in their nature and practice, they cannot be persuaded that the Lord Jesus will cast an eye of favor on them, much less take up his abode in them. What, dwell in such a heart as mine, which has been a habitation of devils, a sink of sin from my beginning? this is hard to be believed. But, sinner, thou hast the word of a King from heaven for it, a word whose credit has never failed from the first moment it was spoken, that whatever thy former or present unworthiness has been, of is, he will not withhold himself from such a soul as thou art, if thou be but willing to open to him. Thy great unworthiness shall be no bar to his union with thee. “ If any man open, I will come in to him.” For,
1. If personal unworthiness were sufficient to bar Christ out of thy soul, it would equally bar him out of all other souls, for all are unworthy as well as thyself. Wherever Christ finds sinfulness, he finds unworthiness; and to be sure he finds this wherever he comes. Christ never expect* Published by the American Tract Society.