The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
by John Flavel
File 10
(... continued from file 9)

Sermon 9. 
Containing the first general Use of Exhortation, inviting all Men to 
apply Jesus Christ. 
Matth. 11:28. 
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will 
give you rest. 
    The impetration of our redemption by Jesus Christ, being 
finished in the first part, and the way and means by which Christ is 
applied to sinners in the foregoing part of this treatise; I am now 
orderly come to the general use of the whole; which in the first 
place shall be by way of exhortation, to invite and persuade all men 
to come to Christ; who, in all the former sermons, had been 
represented in his garments of salvations, and in his apparel, 
prepared and offered to sinners as their all-sufficient and only 
remedy: and in the following sermons, will be represented in his 
perfumed garments coming out of his ivory palaces, Psalm 45: 8, to 
allure and draw all men unto him. 
    For a general head to this use, which will be large, I have 
chosen this scripture, "Come unto me all ye that labour, and are 
heavy laden, and I will give you rest." 
    These words are the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ himself, in 
which there is a vital, ravishing sound: It is your mercy to have 
such a joyful sound in your ears this day. And in them I will 
consider their dependence, parts, and scope. 
    As to their dependence, it is manifest they have an immediate 
relation to the foregoing verse, wherein Christ opens his 
commission, and declares the fulness of this authority and saving 
power, and the impossibility of comings to God any other way. "All 
things are delivered to me of my Father, and no man knoweth the Son 
but the Father: neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and 
he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him," ver. 27. 
    The 28th verse is brought in proleptically to obviate the 
discouragements of any poor, convinced, and humbled soul, who might 
thus object: Lord, I am fully satisfied of the fulness of thy saving 
power, but greatly doubt whether ever I shall have the benefit 
thereof; for I see so much sin and guilt in myself, so great 
vileness and utter unworthiness, that I am over weighed, and even 
sink under the burden of it: My soul is discouraged because of sin. 
This objection is prevented in the words of my text, "Come unto me, 
all ye that labour, and are heavy laden", q. d. Let not the sense of 
your sin and misery drive you from your only remedy: Be your sins 
never so many, and the sense and burden of them never so heavy, yet, 
for all that, Come unto me: You are the persons whom I invite and 
call. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. 
    In the words, three things are especially remarkable. 
    1. The soul's spiritual distress and burthen: Weary and heavy 
    2. Its invitations to Christ under that burthen: Come unto me. 
    3. Its encouragement to that great duty: I will give you rest. 
    First, The soul's spiritual distress and burthen expressed in 
two very emphatical words, "hoi kopiontes kai pefortismenoi", "You 
that labour and are heavy laden." The word which we translate 
labour, signifies a labouring even to faintness and tiring, to the 
consumption and waste of the spirits; and the other word signifies 
such a pressure by a burthen that is too heavy to be borne, that we 
do even sink down under it. 
    There is some difference among expositors about the quality of 
this burthen. Chrysostom, and some others after him, expound it of 
the burthen of the legal rites and ceremonies, which was a heavy 
burthen indeed, such as neither they, nor their fathers could bear. 
Under the task and burthen of these legal observances, they did 
sweat and toil to obtain a righteousness to justify them before God, 
and all in vain: and this is a pious sense: But others expound it of 
the burthen of sin in general; the corruption of nature, and evils 
of practice, which souls convinced have brought them under the 
curse, anti will bring them to hell, and therefore labour and 
strive, all that in them lies, by repentance and reformation, to 
clear themselves from it; but all in vain, whilst they strive in 
their own strength. Such are they that are here called to come to 
Christ, which is the second thing; namely, 
    Secondly, The invitation of burthened souls to Christ: "Come 
unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden: Come unto me," i.e. 
believe in me, lean and rest your burthened souls upon me. I am able 
to ease all your burthens; in me are that righteousness and peace - 
which you seek in vain in all the legal rites and ceremonies; or in 
your repentance, reformations, and duties; but it will give you no 
ease, it will be no benefit to you, except you come unto me. Faith 
is often expressed under this notion, see John 6: 37. and John 7: 
37. and it is to be further noted, that all burthened souls are 
invited to come, "All ye that labour. What ever your sin or guilt 
have been, whatever your fears or discouragements are, yet come, 
i.e. believe in me. 
    Thirdly, Here is the encouragement Christ gives to this duty, 
And I will give you rest: "anapauso mas". I will refresh you, I will 
give you rest from your labour, your consciences shall be pacified, 
your hearts at rest and quiet in that pardon, peace and favour of - 
God which I will procure for you by my death. But here it must be 
heedfully noted, that this promise of rest in Christ is not made to 
men simply as they are sinners, nor yet as they are burthened and 
heavy laden sinners, but as they come to Christ, i.e. as they are 
believers. For let a man break his heart for sin, let him weep out 
his eyes, let him mourn as a dove, and shed as many tears for sin 
(if it were possible) as ever there fell drops of rain upon the 
ground, yet if he come not to Christ by faith, his repentance shall 
not save him, nor all his sorrows bring him to true rest. Hence 
    Doct. 1. That some souls are heavy laden with the burthensome 
         sense of sin. 
    Doct. 2. That all burthened souls are solemnly invited to cone 
         to Christ. 
    Doct. 3. That there is rest in Christ for all that come to him 
         under the heavy burthen of sin. 
    Doct. 1. Some souls are heavy laden with the burthensome sense 
         of sin. 
    I do not say all are so, for "fools make a mock at sin," Pro. 
14: 9. It is so far from being burthensome to some, that it is a 
sport to them, Prov. 10: 23. But when a man's eyes are opened to see 
the evil that is in sin, and the eternal misery that follows it, 
(sin and hell being linked together with such strong chains as 
nothing but the blood of Christ can loose) then no burden is like 
that of sin. "A wounded conscience who can bear?" Prov. 18: 14. For 
let us but consider the efficacy that the law of God has upon the 
consciences of men, when it comes in the spirituality and power of 
it, to convince and humble the soul of a sinner. For then, 
    First, The memory of sin long since committed, is refreshed and 
revived, as if it had been but yesterday: There are fresh 
recognitions of sin long since acted and forgotten, as if they had 
never been: What was done in our youth is fetched back again, and by 
a new impression of fear and horror set home upon the trembling 
conscience, Job 13. 26. "Thou writest bitter things against me, and 
makest me to possess the sins of my youth." Conscience can call back 
the days that are past, and draw up a new charge upon the score of 
old sins, Gen. 42: 21. All that ever we did is recorded and entered 
into the book of conscience, and now is the time to open that book, 
when the Lord will convince and awaken sinners. We read in Job 14: 
17 of sealing up iniquities in a bag, which is an allusion to the 
Clerk of the assizes, that takes all the indictments that are made 
against persons at the assizes and seals them up in a bag, in order 
to a trial. This is the first office and work of conscience; upon 
    The second, namely, its accusations, do depend. These 
accusations of conscience are terrible things; who can stand before 
them? They are full, they are clear, and all of them referring to 
the approaching judgement of the great and terrible God. 
    Conscience dives into all sins, secret as well as open, and 
into all the circumstances and aggravations of sin, as being 
committed against light, against mercy, against the strivings, 
warnings, and regrets of conscience. So that we may say of the 
efficacy of conscience, as it is said, Psal. 19: 6. of the influence 
of the sun, "nothing is hid from the heat and power thereof." "Come 
(saith the woman of Samaria) see a man that has told me all that 
ever I did," John 4: 29. Christ convinced her but of one sin by his 
discourse, but conscience, by that one, fetched in, and charged all 
the rest upon her. And as the accusations of conscience are full, so 
they are clear and undeniable. A man becomes self convinced, and 
there remains no shift, excuse, or plea, to defend himself. A 
thousand witnesses cannot prove any point more clearly than one 
testimony of conscience does. Mat. 22: 12. "The man was speechless, 
a mute; muzzled (as the word signifies) by the clear testimony of 
his own conscience. These accusations are the second work of 
conscience, and they make way for the third, namely, 
    Thirdly, The sentence and condemnation of conscience: And truly 
this is an insupportable burthen: The condemnation of conscience is 
nothing else but its application of the condemning sentence of the 
law to a man's person: The law curseth every one that transgresseth 
it, Gal. 3: 10. Conscience applies this curse to the guilty sinner. 
So that it sentences the sinner in God's name and authority, from 
whence there is no appeal: The voice of conscience is the voice of 
God, and what it pronounces in God's name and authority, he will 
confirm and ratify, 1 John 3: 20. "If our hearts, (i. e.) our 
consciences condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and knoweth 
all things. This is that torment which no man cam endure. See the 
effects of it in Cain, in Judas, and in Spira; it is a real 
foretaste of hell-torments: This is that worm that never dies, Mark 
9: 44. For look, as a worm in the body is bred of the corruption 
that is there, so the accusations and condemnations of conscience 
are bred in the soul by the corruption and guilt that are there. As 
the worm in the body preys and bites upon the tender, sensible, 
inward parts, so does conscience touch the very quick. This is the 
third enact, or work, to sentence and condemn; and this also makes 
way for a fourth, namely, 
    Fourthly, To upbraid and reproach the sinner under his misery: 
and this makes a man a very terror to himself: To be pitied in 
misery is some relief, but to be upbraided and reproached, doubles 
our affliction. You know it was one of the aggravations of Christ's 
sufferings to be reproached by the tongues of his enemies, whilst he 
hanged in torments upon the cursed tree; but all the scoffs and 
reproaches, the bitter jeers and sarcasms in the world, are nothing 
to those of a man's own conscience, which will cut to the very bone. 
    O! when a man's conscience shall say to him in a day of 
trouble, as Reuben to his afflicted brethren, (Gen. 43:22. "Spake I 
not unto you, saying, do not sin against the child, and ye would not 
hear; therefore behold also his blood is required." So conscience, 
did I not warn you, threaten you, persuade you in time against these 
evils, but you would not hearken to me, therefore behold now you 
must suffer to all eternity for it. The wrath of God is kindled 
against thy soul for it: This is the fruit of thy own wilful madness 
and obstinacy. Now thou shalt know the price of sinning against God, 
against light and conscience. O, this is terrible! Every bite of 
conscience makes a poor soul to startle, and in a terrible fright to 
cry, O the worm! O. the bitter foretaste of hell! A wounded spirit 
who can bear? 
    This is a fourth wound of conscience, and it makes way for a 
fifth; for here it is as the pouring out of the vials, and the 
sounding of those woe-trumpets in Revelations; one woe is past, and 
another cometh. After all these deadly blows of conscience upon the 
very heart of a sinner, comes another as dreadful as any that is yet 
named; and that is, 
    Fifthly, The fearful expectation of wrath to come, which it 
begets in the soul of a guilty sinner: Of this you read, Heb. 10: 
27. "A fearful looking for of Judgement, and fiery indignation." And 
this makes the stoutest sinner faint and sink under the burthen of 
sin. For the tongue of man cannot declare what it is to lie down and 
rise with those fearful expectations. The case of such sinners is 
somewhat like that which is described in Deut. 28: 65, 66, 67. "The 
Lord shall give thee a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and 
sorrow of mind. And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and 
thou shalt fear day and night, and shall have no assurance of thy 
life. In the morning thou shalt say, would to God it were even: And 
at even thou shalt say, would to God it were morning: For the fear 
of thine heart, wherewith thou shalt fear,- &c. Only in this it 
differs, in this scripture you have the terror of those described, 
whose temporal life hangs in doubtful suspense, but in the persons I 
am speaking of, it is a trembling under the apprehensions and 
expectations of the vengeance of eternal fire. 
    Believe it, friends, words cannot express what those poor 
creatures feel, that lie down, and rise up under these fears, and 
frights of conscience. Lord, what will become of me! I am free among 
the dead, yea, among the damned. I hang by the frail thread of a 
momentary life, which will, and must, break shortly, and may break 
the next moment, over the everlasting burnings: No pleasant bread is 
to be eaten in these days, but what is like the bread of condemned 
    And thus you see what the burden of sin is, when God makes it 
to bear upon the consciences of men, no burden of affliction is like 
it: losses of dearest relations, sorrows for an only son, are not so 
pungent and penetrating as these: For, 
    First, to creature-enjoyment is pleasant under these inward 
troubles: In other troubles they may signify something to a man's 
relief; but here they are nothing; the wound is too deep to be 
healed by any thing but the blood of Jesus Christ; conscience 
requires as much to satisfy it, as God requires to satisfy him. When 
God is at peace with thee, (saith conscience) then will I be at 
peace with thee too; but, till then, expect no rest nor peace from 
me. All the pleasures and diversions in the world shall never stop 
my mouth: go where thou wilt, I will follow thee like thy shadow: be 
thy portion in the world as sweet as it will, I will drop in gall 
and wormwood into thy cup, that thou shalt taste no sweetness in any 
thing, till thou hast got thy pardon. 
    These inward troubles for sin alienate the mind from all former 
pleasures and delights; there is no more taste or savour in them, 
than in the white of an egg. Music is out of tune; all instruments 
jar and groan. Ornaments have no beauty; what heart has a poor 
creature to deck that body, in which dwells such a miserable soul! 
to feed and pamper that carcase that has been the soul's inducement 
to, and instrument in sin, and must be its companion in everlasting 
    Secondly, These inward troubles for sin put a dread into death, 
beyond whatever the soul saw in it before. Now it looks like the 
King of terrors indeed. You read in Heb. 2: 15. of some that through 
fear of death are all their life long subject to bondage. O what a 
lively comment is a soul in this case able to make upon such a text! 
They would not scare at the pale horse, nor at him that sits on him, 
though his name be called Death, if it were not for what follows 
him, Rev. 6: 8. but when they consider that hell follows, they 
tremble at the very name or thoughts of death. 
    Thirdly, Such is the nature of these inward troubles of spirit, 
that they swallow up the sense of all outward troubles. Alas! these 
are all lost in the deeps of soul sorrows, as the little rivulets 
are in the vast sea; he that is wounded at the heart will not cry 
Oh, at the bite of the smallest insect. And surely no greater is the 
proportion betwixt outward and inward sorrows. A small matter 
formerly would discompose a man, and put him into a fret; now ten 
thousand outward troubles are lighter than a feather: For, saith he, 
"why doth the living man complain?" Am I yet on this side of eternal 
burnings! O let me not complain then whatever my condition be. Have 
I losses in the world, or pains upon my body? Alas! these are not to 
be named with the loss of God, and the feeling of his wrath and 
indignation for evermore. Thus you see what troubles, inward 
troubles for sin be. 
    Secondly, If you ask, in the second place, how it comes to pass 
that any soul is supported under such strong troubles of spirit, 
that all that feel them do not sink under them; that all that go 
down into these deep waters of sorrow, are not drowned in them? The 
answer is, 
    First, Though this be a very sad time with the soul (much like 
that of Adam, betwixt the breach of the first covenant, and the 
first promise of Christ made to him) yet the souls that are thus 
heavy laden, do not sink, because God has a most tender care over 
them, and regard to them; underneath them are the everlasting arms, 
and thence it is they sink not: were they left to grapple with these 
troubles in their own strength, they could never stand. But God 
takes care of these mourners, that their spirits do not fail before 
him, and the souls that he has made; I mean those of his elect, whom 
he is this way preparing for, and bringing unto Christ. 
    Secondly, The Lord is pleased to nourish still some hope in the 
soul under the greatest fears and troubles of spirit. Though it have 
no comfort or joy, yet it has some hope, and that keeps up the 
heart. The afflicted soul does, in this case, as the afflicted 
church, Lam. 3: 29. "He putteth his mouth in the dust, if yet there 
may be hope:" He saith, "It is good for a man to hope, and quietly 
to wait for the salvation of God." There are usually some 
glimmerings or downings of mercy through Christ, in the midnight 
darkness of inward troubles; non dantur purae, tenabrae. In hell, 
indeed, there is no hope to enlighten the darkness, but it is not so 
upon earth. 
    Thirdly, The experiences of others, who have been in the same 
deeps of trouble, are also of great use to keep up the soul above 
water. The experience of another is of great use to prop up a 
desponding mind, whilst as yet it has none of its own; and, in deed, 
for the support of souls in such cases, they were recorded. 1 Tim. 
1: 16. "For this cause I obtained mercy that in me first Jesus 
Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern "to them 
which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." For an 
encouraging Pattern, an eminent precedent to all poor sinners that 
were to come after him, that none might absolutely despair of 
finding mercy through Christ. You know if a man be taken sick, and 
none can tell what the disease is, none can say that ever they heard 
of such a disease before, it is exceeding frightful; but if one and 
another, it may be twenty, come to the sick man's bed side, and tell 
him, sir, be not afraid, I have been in the very same case that you 
now are in, and so have many more, and all did well at last; why 
this is half a cure to the sick man. So it is here a great support 
to hear the experiences of other saints. 
    Fourthly, As the experiences of others support the soul under 
these burdens, so the riches of free grace through Jesus Christ 
uphold it. It is rich and abundant, Psal. 130: 7, 8. plenteous 
redemption; and it is free, and to the worst of sinners, Isa. 1: 18. 
And under these troubles it finds itself in the way and proper 
method of mercy, for so my text (a text that has upheld many 
thousand drooping hearts) states it. All this gives hope and 
encouragement under trouble. 
    Fifthly, and lastly, Though the state of the soul be sad and 
sinking, yet Jesus Christ usually makes haste in the extremity of 
trouble to relieve it by sweet and seasonable discoveries of his 
grace; cum duplicantur lateris, venit Moses, in the mount of the 
Lord it shall be seen. It is with Christ as it was with Joseph, 
whose bowels yearned towards his brethren, and he was in pain till 
he had told them, "I am Joseph your brother." This is sweetly 
exhibited to us in that excellent parable of the prodigal, Luke 15, 
when his father saw him, being yet a great way off, he ran and fell 
upon his neck, and kissed him. Mercy runs nimbly to help, when souls 
are ready to fall under the pressure of sin. And thus you see both 
how they are burdened, and how upheld under the burden. 
    Thirdly, If it be enquired, in the last place, why God makes 
the burden of sin press so heavy upon the hearts of poor sinners? It 
is answered, 
    First, He does it to divorce their hearts from sin, by giving 
them an experimental taste of the bitterness and evil that is in 
sin. Men's hearts are naturally glued with delight to their sinful 
courses; all the persuasions and arguments in the world are too weak 
to separate them from their beloved lusts. The morsels of sin go 
down smoothly and sweetly, they roll them with much delectation 
under their tongues, and it is but need that such bitter potions as 
these should be administered "to make their stomachs rise against 
sin", as that word used by the apostle in 2 Cor. 7: 11. signifies, 
in that ye sorrowed after a Godly sort, what indignation it wrought? 
It notes the rising of the stomach with rage, a being angry even 
unto sickness; and this is the way, the best and most effectual way 
to separate the soul of a sinner from his lusts; for, in these 
troubles, conscience saith, as it is in Jer. 4: 18. "Thy way and thy 
doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy wickedness, 
because it is great, because it reacheth unto thy heart." 
    Secondly, The Lord does this to make Jesus Christ most welcome 
and desirable to the soul. Christ is not sweet till sin be made 
bitter to us. Matth. 9: 12. "They that be whole need not a 
physician, but they that are sick." If once God wounds the heart of 
a sinner, with the stinging sense of sin, then nothing in the world 
is so precious, so necessary, so vehemently desired and panted for 
as Jesus Christ! O that I had Christ, if I did go in rags, if I did 
feed upon no other food all my days, but the bread and water of 
affliction! This is the language of a soul filled with the sense of 
the evil of sin. 
    Thirdly, The Lord does this to advance the riches of his free 
grace in the eyes of sinners. Grace never appears grace till sin 
appear to be sin. The deeper our sense of the evil of sin is, the 
deeper our apprehensions of the free grace of God in Christ will be. 
The louder our groan have been under the burden of sin, the louder 
will our acclamations and praises be for our salvation from it by 
Jesus Christ. "To me (saith Paul) the chiefest of sinners, was this 
grace given," 1 Tim. 1: 15. Never does the grace of a prince so melt 
the heart of a traitor, as when trial, sentence, and all 
preparations for his execution have passed, before his unexpected 
pardon comes. 
    Fourthly, The Lord does this to prevent relapses into sin: "In 
that you sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought!" 
2 Cor. 2:7. The burnt child dreads the fire, the bird that is de of 
the talons of the hawk, trembles afterwards at the noise of his 
bells. "After such a deliverance as this, should we again break thy 
commandments?" Ezra 9: 13, 14. Ask poor penitent soul, that has been 
in the deeps of sorrow for sin, Will you return to your former 
course of sin again? And it sounds in his ears, as if you should ask 
him, Will you run into the fire? Will you go to the rack again? O 
no, it has cost him dear already. 
    Fifthly, Lastly, This the Lord does, to make them both skilful 
and compassionate in relieving others that are under like inward 
troubles. None can speak so judiciously, so pertinently, so 
feelingly to another's case, as he that has been in the same case 
himself; this furnishes them with the tongue of the learned, to 
speak a word in season to the weary soul; by this means they are 
able to "comfort others with the same comforts wherewith they 
themselves have been comforted of God," 2 Cor. 1: 4. 
    Thus you have had a brief account, what the burden of sin is, 
how souls are supported under that burden, and why the Lord causes 
sin to lie so heavy upon the souls of some sinners. The improvement 
of all will be in a double use, viz. 
                    Of information and direction. 
                     First use for information. 
    Inference 1. Is there such a load and burden in sin? What then 
was the burden that our Lord Jesus Christ felt and bare for us, upon 
whom the whole weight of all the sins of all God's elect lay! Isa. 
53: 6. "He has made the iniquities of us all to meet on him." Our 
burden is heavy, but nothing to Christ's. O there is a vast 
difference betwixt that which Christ bare, and that which we bear. 
We feel but the single weight of our own sins; Christ felt the whole 
weight of all our sins. You do not feel the whole weight that is in 
any one sin; alas, it would sink you, if God should let it bear in 
all its aggravations and effects upon you. Psal. 130: 2, 3. "If 
thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall stand!" You 
would sink presently, you can no more stand under it, than under the 
weight of a mighty mountain. But Christ bare all the burden upon 
himself; his understanding was deep and large; he knew the extent of 
its evil, which we do not: we have many reliefs and helps under our 
burden, he had none; we have friends to counsel, comfort, and pity 
us; all his friends and familiars forsook him, and fled in the day 
of his trouble: we have comforts from heaven, he had frowns from 
heaven: "My God, my God, (saith he in that doleful day) why hast 
thou forsaken me?" There is no comparison betwixt our load and 
    Inf. 2. If there be such a burden in sin, then certainly 
sinners will pay dear for all the pleasure they find in sin in the 
days of their vanity. "What one saith of crafty counsels, we may say 
of all sins; though they seem pleasant in their first appearance, 
they would be found sad in the event:" they are honey in the mouth, 
but the gall of asps in the belly; they tickle the fancy, but rend 
the conscience. O sinner, thy mirth will certainly be turned into 
mourning, as sure as thou livest; that vain and frothy breast of 
thine shall be wounded; thou shalt feel the sting and pain, as well 
as relish the sweet and pleasure of sin. O that thou wouldst but 
give thyself the leisure seriously to ponder those scriptures in the 
margin; methinks they should have the same effect that the 
handwriting upon the plaister of the wall had upon that jovial king 
in the height of a frolic, Daniel 5: 5. Reason thus with thine own 
heart, and thou wilt find the conclusion unavoidable; either I shall 
repent for sin, or I shall not: If I shall not, then must I howl 
under the wrath of God for sin, in the lowest hell for evermore. If 
I shall, then by what I have now read of the throbs and wounds of 
conscience, I see what this heart of mine, this vain heart of mine, 
must feel in this world. O how much wiser was the choice that Moses 
made, Heb. 11: 25. the worst of sufferings rather than the best of 
sin, the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season! 
    Inf. 3. Is there such a burden in sin, then the most tender 
compassion is a debt due to souls addicted and heavy laden with sin. 
Their condition cries for pity, whatever their tongues do; they seem 
to call upon you, as Job upon his friends; "Have pity, have pity 
upon me, O ye my friends, for the hand of God has touched me", Job 
19: 21. And O let all that have felt the wounds and anguish of an 
afflicted conscience themselves, learn from their own experience 
tenderly to pity and help others. Gal. 6: 1. "You that are 
spiritual, restore (it or set him in joint again) in the spirit of 
meekness, considering thyself." 
    Israel was commanded to be kind to strangers, for, saith God, 
you know the heart of a stranger. And surely if any case in the 
world require help, pity, and all compassionate tenderness, this 
does; and yet how do some slight spiritual troubles upon others? 
Parents slight them in their own children, masters in their 
servants; the more brutish and wicked they! O had you but felt 
yourselves what they feel, you would never treat them as you do. But 
let this comfort such poor creatures, Christ has felt them, and will 
pity and help them; yea, he therefore would feel them himself, that 
he might have compassion upon you. If men will not, God will pity 
you; if men be so cruel to persecute him whom God has smitten, God 
will be so kind to pour balm into the grounds that sin has made: if 
they pull away the shoulder from you, and will not be concerned 
about your troubles, except it be to aggravate them, God will not 
serve you so: but certainly you that have passed through the same 
difficulties, you cannot be without compassion to them that are now 
grappling with them. 
    Inf. 4. How inexpressible dreadful is the state of the damned, 
who must bear the burden of all their sins upon themselves, without 
relief, or hope of deliverance! Mark 9: 49. "where their worm dies 
not, and the fire is not quenched." 
    O! If sin upon the soul that is coming to Christ for 
deliverance, be so burdensome, what is it upon the soul that is shut 
out from Christ, and all hopes of deliverance for ever! For, do but 
ponder these differences betwixt these two burdens. 
    First, No soul is so capacious now, to take in the fulness of 
the evil and misery of sin, as they are who are gone down to the 
place of torments. Even as the joys of God's face above are as much 
unknown to them that have the fore-tastes and first fruits of them 
here by faith, so the misery of the damned is much unknown, even to 
them that have in their consciences now, the bitterest taste and 
sense of sin in this world: as we have the visions of heaven, so we 
have the visions of hell also, but darkly through a glass. 
    Secondly, No burden of sin presseth so continually upon the 
soul here as it does there. Afflicted souls, on earth, have 
intermissions, and breathing times; but in hell there are no lucid 
intervals, the wrath of God there is still flowing; it is in fluxu 
continuo, Isa. 30: 33. a stream of brimstone. 
    Thirdly, No burden of sin lies upon any of God's elect so long 
as on the damned, who do, and must bear it: our troubles about sin 
are but short, though they should run parallel with the line of 
life; but the troubles of the damned are parallel with the endless 
line of eternity. 
    Fourthly, Under these troubles, the soul has hope, but there, 
all hope is cut off: all the gospel is full of hope, it breathes 
nothing but hope to sinners that are moving Christ-ward under their 
troubles; but in hell the pangs of desperation rend their 
consciences for ever. So that, upon all accounts, the state of the 
damned is inexpressibly dreadful. 
    Inf. 5. If the burden of sin be so heavy, how sweet then must 
the pardon of sin be to a sin burdened soul! Is it a refreshment to 
a prisoner to have his chains knocked off? A comfort to a debtor to 
have his debts paid, and obligations cancelled? What joy must it 
then be to a sin-burthened soul, to hear the voice of pardon and 
peace in his trembling conscience! Is the light of the morning 
pleasant to a man after a weary, tiresome night? the spring of the 
year pleasant after a hard and tedious winter? They are so indeed; 
but nothing so sweet as the favour, peace, and pardon of God, to a 
soul that has been long restless, and anxious, under the terrors and 
fears of conscience. For, though after pardon and peace a man 
remembers sin still, yet it is as one that remembers the dangerous 
pits, and deep waters, from which he has been wonderfully delivered, 
and had a narrow escape. O the inconceivable sweetness of a pardon! 
Who can read it without tears of joy? Are we glad when the grinding 
pain of the stone, or racking fits of the cholic are over? And shall 
we not be transported, when the accusations and condemnations of 
conscience are over? Tongue cannot express what these things are; 
his joy is something that no words can convey to the understanding 
of another, that never felt the anguish of sin. 
    Inf. 6. Lastly, In how sad a case are those that never felt any 
burden in sin, that never were kept waking and restless one night 
for sin? 
    There is a burdened conscience, and there is a benumbed 
conscience. The first is more painful, but the last more dangerous. 
O it is a fearful blow of God upon a man's soul, to strike it 
senseless and stupid, so that though mountains of guilt lie upon it, 
it feels no pain or pressure: and this is so much more sad, because 
it incapacitates the soul for Christ, and is a presage and fore 
runner of hell. It would grieve the heart of a man, to see a 
delirious person in the rage and height of a fever, to laugh at 
those that are weeping for him, call them fools, and telling them he 
is as well as any of them: much so is the case of many thousand 
souls; the God of mercy pity them. 
                       Second use for counsel. 
    The only further use I shall make of this point here, shall be 
to direct and counsel souls that are weary and heavy laden with the 
burden of sin, in order to their obtaining true rest and peace. And 
                           First counsel. 
    Satisfy not yourselves in fruitless complaints to men. Many do 
so, but they are never the nearer. I grant it is lawful in spiritual 
distresses to complain to men, yea, and it is a great mercy if we 
have any near us in times of trouble that are judicious, tender and 
faithful, into whose bosoms we may pour out our troubles; but to 
rest in this, short of Christ, is no better than a snare of the 
devil to destroy us. Is there not a god to go to in trouble? The 
best of men, in the neglect of Christ, are but physicians of no 
value. Be wise and wary in your choice of Christian friends, to whom 
you open your complaints; some are not clear themselves in the 
doctrine of Christ and faith, others are of a dark and troubled 
spirit, as you are, and will but entangle you more. "As for me 
(saith Job) is my complaint to mans and if it were so, why should 
not my spirit be troubled?" Job 21: 4. One hour betwixt Christ and 
thy soul in secret, will do more to thy true relief than all other 
counsellors and comforters in the world can do. 
                           Second counsel. 
    Beware of a false peace, which is more dangerous than your 
trouble for sin can be. Many men are afraid of their troubles, but I 
think they have more cause to fear their peace a great deal. There 
is a twofold peace that ruins most men, peace in sin, and peace with 
sin: O how glad are some persons when their troubles are gone; but I 
dare not rejoice with them. It is like him that rejoices his ague is 
gone, that it has left him in a deep consumption. You are got rid of 
your troubles, but God knows how you have left them; your wounds are 
skinned over, better they were kept open. Surely they have much to 
answer for, that help on these delusions, healing the hurt of souls 
slightly, by crying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. The false 
peace you beget in them, will be a real trouble to yourselves in the 
issue, Jer. 6: 14. 
                           Third counsel. 
    Let all that are under inward troubles for sin, take heed of 
drawing desperate conclusions against themselves, and the final 
state of their own souls. Though your case be sad, it is not 
desperate; though the night be troublesome and tedious, keep on in 
the way to Christ, and light will spring up. To mourn for sin is 
your duty; to conclude there is no hope for you in Christ, is your 
sin. You have wronged God enough already, do not add a further and 
greater abuse to all the rest, by an absolute despair of mercy. It 
was your sin formerly to presume beyond any granite, it is your sin 
now to despair against many commands. I would say as the apostle in 
another case, I would not have you mourn as men that have no hope: 
your condition is sad as it is, but yet it is much better than once 
it was. You were once full of sin and void of sense, now you have 
the sense of sin, which is no small mercy. You were once quite out 
of the way and method of mercy, now you are in that very path 
wherein mercy meets the elect of God. Keep hope, therefore, at the 
bottom of all your troubles. 
                           Fourth counsel. 
    Observe whether your troubles for sin produce ouch fruits and 
effects in your souls as theirs do, which end at last in Christ and 
everlasting peace. 
    First, One that is truly burdened with sin, will not allow 
himself to live in the secret practice of sin; either your trouble 
will put an end to your course of sinning, or your sinning will put 
an end to your troubles. Consult 2 Cor. 7: 11. 
    Secondly, True sorrow for sin, will give you very low and vile 
thoughts of yourselves; as you were covered with pride before, so 
you will be covered with shame after God has convinced and humbled 
you, Rom. 6: 21. 
    Thirdly, A soul really burdened with sin will never stand in 
his own justification before God, nor extenuate and mince it in his 
confessions to him, Psal. 2: 8, 4. 
    Fourthly, The burdens of sin will make a man set light by all 
other burdens of affliction, Lam. 3: 22. Micah 7: 9. The more you 
feel sin, the less you feel affliction. 
    Fifthly, A soul truly burdened for sin will take no hearty joy 
or comfort in any outward enjoyment of this world, till Christ come 
and seek peace to the soul, Lam. 3: 28. Just so the soul sits alone 
and keepeth silence; merry company is a burden, and music is but 
howling to him. 
                           Fifth counsel. 
    Beware of those things that make your troubles longer than they 
ought to be. There be several errors and mistakes that hold poor 
souls much longer in their fears and terrors than else they might 
be; and such are, 
    First, Ignorance of the nature of saving faith, and the 
necessity of it. Till you come to believe, you cannot have peace; 
and while you mistake the nature, or apprehend not the necessity of 
faith, you are not like to find that path at peace. 
    Secondly, Labouring to heal the wounds that the law has made 
upon your consciences, by a more strict obedience to it for the 
future, in the neglect of Christ and his righteousness. 
    Thirdly, In observance of what God has already done for you, in 
these preparatory works of the law, in order to your salvation by 
Jesus Christ. O! if you would but compare what you now are, with 
what you lately were, it would give some relief. But the last and 
principal thing is this: 
                           Sixth counsel. 
    Hasten to Christ in the way of faith, and you shall find rest; 
and till then all the world cannot give you rest. The sooner you 
transact with Christ, in the way of faith, the sooner you shall be 
at peace and enter into his rest; for those that believe do now 
enter into rest. You may labour and strive, look this way and that, 
but all in vain; Christ and peace come together. No sooner do you 
come to him, and roll your burden on him, receive him as he offers 
himself; but the soul feels itself eased on a sudden; "being 
justified by faith, we have peace with God", Rom. 5: 1. And thus in 
finishing the first, we are brought home to the second observation. 
    Doct. 2. That sin-burdened souls are solemnly invited to come 
         to Christ. 
    This point sounds sweetly in the ear of a distressed sinner; it 
is the most joyful voice that ever the soul heard: the voice of 
blessing from mount Gerizim, the ravishing voice from mount Zion, 
"Ye are come to Jesus the Mediator." In opening of it I will shew, 
    1. What it is to come to Christ. 
    2. How Christ invites men to come to him. 
    3. Why his invitation is directed to burdened souls.  

The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
(continued in file 11...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: flamt-10.txt