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 laden. 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 note, 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 which 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 men. 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 misery! 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 Christ's. 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, 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 .