The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
by John Flavel
File 11
(... continued from file 10)

    First, We will enquire what it is to come to Christ, and how 
many things are included in it. 
    In general, to come to Christ, is a phrase equipollent, or of 
tile same amount with believing in Christ. It is an expression that 
carries the nature and necessity of faith in it, and is reciprocated 
with believing. John 6: 35. "He that cometh to me shall never 
hunger; and he that believeth in me shall never thirst." Coming to 
Christ, is believing in Christ; and believing in Christ, is coming 
to Christ; they are synonyma's, and import the self same thing. Only 
in this notion of faith, there are many rich and excellent things 
hinted to us, which no other word can so aptly convey to our minds. 
    First, It hints this to us, That the souls of convinced and 
burdened sinners do not only discern the reality of Christ, or that 
he is, but also the necessity of applying Christ, and that their 
eternal life is in their union with him: for this is most certain, 
that the object of faith must be determinate and fixed; the soul 
must believe that Christ is, or else there can be no emotions of the 
soul after him: all coming pre-supposes a fixed term to which we 
come, Heb. 11: 6. "He that cometh to God, must believe that God is." 
Take away this, and all motions after Christ presently stop. No 
wonder then that souls, in their first motions to Christ, find 
themselves clogged with so many atheistical temptations, shaking 
their assent to the truth of the gospel at the very root and 
foundation of it; but they that come to Christ, do see that he is, 
and that their life and happiness lie in their union with him, else 
they would never come to him upon such terms as they do. 
    Secondly, Coming to Christ implies the soul's despair of 
salvation any other way. The way of faith is a supernatural way, and 
souls will not attempt it until they have tried all natural ways to 
help and save themselves, and find it all in vain; therefore the 
text describes these comers to Christ as weary persons, that have 
been labouring and striving all other ways for rest, but can find 
none; and so are forced to relinquish all their fond expectations of 
salvation in any other way, and come to Christ as their last and 
only remedy. 
    Thirdly, Coming to Christ notes a supernatural and almighty 
power, acting the soul quite above its own natural abilities in this 
motion. John 6: 44. "No man can come unto me, except my Father which 
has sent me draw him." It is as possible for the ponderous mountains 
to start from their bases and centres, mount themselves aloft into 
the air, and there fly like wandering atoms hither and thither, as 
it is for any man, of himself, i.e. by a pure natural power of his 
own, to come to Christ. It was not a stranger thing for Peter to 
come to Christ, walking upon the waves of the sea, than for his, or 
any man's soul, to come to Christ in the way of faith. 
    Fourthly, Coming to Christ notes the voluntariness of the soul 
in its motion to Christ. It is true, there is no coming without the 
Father's drawing; but that drawing has nothing of coaction in it; it 
does not destroy, but powerfully, and with an overcoming sweetness, 
persuade the will. It is not forced or driven, but it comes; being 
made "willing in the day of God's power," Psal. 110: 3. Ask a poor 
distressed sinner in that season, Are you willing to come to Christ? 
O rather than live! life is not so necessary as Christ is! O! with 
all my heart, ten thousand worlds for Jesus Christ, if he could be 
purchased, were nothing answerable to his value in mine eyes! The 
soul's motion to Christ is free and voluntary, it is coming. 
    Fifthly, It implies this in it, That no duties, or ordinances, 
(which are but the ways and means by which we come to Christ), are, 
or ought to be central and terminative to the soul: i.e. the soul of 
a believer is not to sit down, and rest in them, but to come by them 
or through them to Jesus Christ, and take up his rent in him only. 
No duties, no reformations, no ordinances of God, how excellent 
soever these things are in themselves, and how necessary soever they 
are in their proper place and use, can give rest to the weary and 
heavy laden soul: it cannot centre in any of them, and you may see 
it cannot, because it still gravitates, and inclines to another 
thing, even Christ, and cannot terminate its motion till it be come 
to him. Christ is the term to which a believer moves; and therefore 
he cannot sit down by the way, or be as well satisfied as if he were 
at his journey's end. Ordinances and duties have the nature and use 
of means to bring us to Christ, but not to be to any man instead of 
    Sixthly, Coming to Christ, implies an hope or expectation from 
Christ in the coming soul. If he has no hope, why does it move 
forward? As good sit still, and resolve to perish where it is, as to 
come to Christ, if there is no ground to expect salvation by him. 
Hope is the spring of motion and industry; if you cut off hope, you 
hinder faith: it cannot move to Christ, except it be satisfied, at 
least, of the possibility of mercy and salvation by him. Hence it 
is, that when comers to Christ are struggling with the doubts and 
fears of the issue, the Lord is pleased to enliven their faint 
hopes, by setting home such scriptures as these, John 6: 87. "He 
that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." And Heb. 7: 25. "He 
is able to save to the uttermost, all that come unto God by him." 
This puts life into hope, and hope puts life into industry and 
    Seventhly, Coming to Christ for rest implies, that believers 
have, and lawfully may have an eye to their own happiness, in 
closing with the Lord Jesus Christ. The poor soul comes for rest; it 
comes for salvation; its eye and aim are upon it; and this aim of 
the soul at its own good, is legitimated, and allowed by that 
expression of Christ, John 5: 40. "Ye will not come unto me, that ye 
may have life." If Christ blame them for not coming to him, that 
they might have life, sure he would not blame them, had they come to 
him for life. 
    Eighthly, but Lastly, and which is the principal thing in this 
expression; Coming to Christ, notes the all-sufficiency of Christ, 
to answer all the needs and wants of distressed souls, and their 
betaking themselves accordingly to him only for relief, being 
content to come to Christ for whatever they need, and live upon that 
fulness that is in him. If there were not an all-sufficiency in 
Christ, no soul would come to him; for this is the very ground upon 
which men come. Heb. 7: 25. "He is able to save to the uttermost, 
all that come to God by him:" "Eis to panteles", to the uttermost: 
In the greatest plunges, difficulties, and dangers. He has a fulness 
of saving power in him, and this encourages souls to come unto him. 
One beggar uses not to wait at the door of another, but all at the 
doors of them they conceive able to relieve them. And as this notes 
the fulness of Christ as our Saviour, so it must needs note the 
emptiness and humility of the soul as a comer to him. This is called 
submission, in Rom. 10: 8. Proud nature must be deeply distressed, 
humbled, and moulded into another temper, before it will be 
persuaded to live upon those terms, to come to Christ for every 
thing it wants, to live upon Christ's fulness in the way of grace 
and favour, and have no stock of its own to live upon. O! this is 
hard, but it is the way of faith. 
    Secondly, In the next place, let us see how Christ invites men 
to come to him, and you shall find the means employed in this work, 
are either internal, and principal, namely, the Spirit of God, who 
is Christ's vicegerent, and comes to us in his name and room, to 
persuade us to believe, John 15: 26; or external, namely, the 
preaching of the gospel by commissioned ambassadors, who, in 
Christ's stead, beseech men to be reconciled to God, i.e. to come to 
Christ by faith, in order to their reconciliation and peace with 
God. But an means and instruments employed in this work of bringing 
men to Christ, entirely depend upon the blessing and concurrence of 
the Spirit of God, without whom they signify nothing. How long may 
ministers preach, before one soul comes to Christ, except the Spirit 
co-operate in that work! Now as to the manner in which men are 
persuaded, and their wills wrought upon to come to Christ, I will 
briefly note several acts of the Spirit, in order there unto. 
    First, There is an illustrating work of the Spirit upon the 
minds of sinners, opening their eyes to see their danger and misery; 
till these be discovered, no man stirs from his place: It is sense 
of danger that rouses the secure sinner, that distresses him, and 
makes him look about for deliverance, crying, What shall I do to be 
saved? And it is the discovery of Christ's ability to save, which is 
the ground and reason, (as was observed above,) of its motion to 
Christ. Hence, seeing the Son, is joined with believing, or coming 
to him, in John 6: 40. 
    Secondly, There is the authoritative call, or commanding voice 
of the Spirit in the word; a voice that is full of awful majesty and 
power. 1 John 3: 23. "This is his commandment, that we should 
believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ". This call of the 
Spirit to come to Christ, removes one great obstruction, namely, the 
fear of presumption out of the soul's way to Christ, and, instead of 
presumption in coming, makes it rebellion, and inexcusable 
obstinacy, to refuse to come. This answers all pleas against coming 
to Christ from our unworthiness and deep guilt; and mightily 
encourages the soul to come to Christ, what ever it has been, or 
    Thirdly, There are soul-encouraging, conditional promises, to 
all that do come to Christ in obedience to the command. Such is that 
in my text, I mill give you rest: And that in John 6: 37. "Him that 
cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out". And these breathe life 
and encouragement into poor souls that fear, and are daunted through 
their own unworthiness. 
    Fourthly, There are dreadful threatenings denounced by the 
Spirit in the word, against all that refuse or neglect to come to 
Christ, which are of great use to engage and quicken souls in their 
way to Christ. Mark 16: 16. "He that believes not shall be damned: 
Die in his sins," John 8: 14. "The wrath of God shall remain on 
him," John 3: ult. Which is as if the Lord had said, Sinners, do not 
dally with Christ, do not be always treating, and never concluding, 
or resolving: for if there be justice in heaven, or fire in hell, 
every soul that comes not to Christ, must, and shall perish to all 
eternity. Upon your own heads let the blood and destruction of your 
own souls be for ever, if you will not come unto him. 
    Fifthly, There are moving examples set before souls in the 
word, to prevail with them to come, alluring and encouraging 
examples of such as have come to Christ, under the deepest guilt and 
discouragement, and yet found mercy. 1 Tim. 1: 15, 16. "This is a 
faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ 
came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief: howbeit, 
(or nevertheless) for this cause I have obtained mercy, that in me 
first Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a 
pattern to them which should hereafter believe in him to life 
everlasting." Who would not come to Christ after such an example as 
this? And if this will not prevail, there are dreadful examples 
recorded in the word, setting before us the miserable condition of 
all such as refuse the calls of the word to come to Christ. 1 Pet. 
3: 19, 20. "By which also he went and preached to the spirits which 
are in prison, which sometime were disobedient, when once the 
longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah." The meaning is, 
the sinners that lived before the flood, but now are in hell, clapt 
up in that prison, had the offers of grace made them, but despised 
them, and now lie for their disobedience in prison, under the wrath 
of God for it, in the lowest hell. 
    Sixthly, and lastly, There is an effectual persuading, 
overcoming and victorious work of the Spirit upon the hearts and 
wills of sinners, under which they come to Jesus Christ. Of this I 
have spoken at large before, in the fourth sermon and therefore 
shall not add any thing more here. This is the way and manner in 
which souls are prevailed with to come to Jesus Christ. 
    Thirdly, In the last place, if you enquire why Christ makes his 
invitations to weary and heavy laden souls and to no other, the 
answer is briefly this: 
    First, Because in so doing, he follows the commission which he 
received from his Father: so you will find it runs, in Isa. 61: 1. 
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me 
to preach good tidings to the meek, he has sent me to bind up the 
broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening 
of the prison to them that are bound. You see here how Christ's 
commission directs him: his Father sent him to poor broken hearted 
sinners, and he will keep close to his commission. "He came not to 
call the righteous, but sinners, (i. e. sensible burdened sinners) 
to repentance." Matth. 9: 13. "I am not sent (saith he,) but unto 
the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Thus his instructions and 
commission from the Father limit him only to sensible and burdened 
souls, and he will be faithful to his commission. 
    Secondly, The very order of the Spirit's work in bringing men 
to Christ, shows us to whom the invitation and offers of grace in 
Christ are to be made. For none are convinced of righteousness, i.e. 
of complete and perfect righteousness, which is in Christ for their 
justification, until first they be convinced of sin; and, 
consequently, no man will, or can come to Christ by faith, till 
convictions of sin have awakened and distressed him, John 16: 8, 9. 
This being the due order of the Spirit's operation, the same order 
must be observed in gospel-offers and invitations. 
    Thirdly, It behoves that Christ should provide for his own 
glory, as well as for our safety; and not to expose one to secure 
the other; but save us in that way which will bring him most honour 
and praise. And certainly such a way as this, by first convincing, 
humbling, and burdening the souls of men, and then bringing them 
home to rest in himself. 
    Alas! let those that never saw, or felt the evil of sin, be 
told of rest, peace, and pardon in Christ, they will but despise it 
as a thing of no value, Luke 5: 31. "The whole need not a physician, 
but those that are sick." Bid a man that thinks himself sound and 
whole go to a physician and he will but laugh at the motion; if you 
offer him the richest composition, he will refuse it, slight it, and 
it may be, spill it upon the ground. Ay, but if the same man did 
once feel an acute disease, and were made to sweat and groan under 
strong pains, if ever he come to know what sick days and restless 
nights are, and to apprehend his life to be in imminent hazard; then 
messengers are sent, one after another, in post-haste to the 
physician; then he begs him with tears to do what in him lies for 
his relief: he thankfully takes the bitterest potions, and praises 
the care and skill of his physician with tears of joy. And so the 
patient's safety and the physician's honour are both secured. So is 
it in this method of grace. The uses follow. 
    Infer. 1. If sin-burdened souls are solemnly invited to come to 
Christ, Then it follows, that whatever guilt lies upon the 
conscience of a poor humbled sinner, it is no presumption, but his 
duty to come to Christ, notwithstanding his own apprehended vileness 
and great unworthiness. 
    Let it be carefully observed, how happily that universal 
particle "all", is inserted in Christ's invitation, for the 
encouragement of sinners; "Come unto me, [all] ye that labour;" q.d. 
Let no broken hearted sinner exclude himself, when he is not by me 
excluded from mercy: my grace is my own, I may bestow it where I 
will, and upon whom I will. It is not I, but Satan that impales and 
incloses my mercy from humbled souls that are made willing to come 
unto me; he calls that your presumption, which invitation makes your 
    Objec. 1. But I doubt my case is excepted by Christ himself, in 
Mat. 12: 31. where blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is exempted from 
pardon, and I have had many horrid blasphemous thoughts injected 
into my soul. 
    Sol. Art thou a burdened and heavy laden soul? If so, thy case 
is not in that, or any other scripture exempted from mercy; for the 
unpardonable sin is always found in an impenitent heart: as that sin 
finds no pardon with God, so neither is it followed with contrition 
and sorrow in the soul that commits it. 
    Objec. 2. But if I am not guilty of that sin, I am certainly 
guiltier of many great and heinous abominations of another kind, too 
great for me to expect mercy for; and therefore I dare not go to 
    Sol. The greater your sins have been, the more need you have to 
go to Jesus Christ. Let not a motive to go to Christ be made an 
obstacle in your way to him. Great sinners are expressly called, 
Isa. 1: 18. Great sinners have come to Christ and found mercy, 1 
Cor. 6: 7. and to conclude, it is an high reproach and dishonour to 
the blood of Christ, and mercy of God, which flows so freely through 
him, to object the greatness of sin to either of them. Certainly you 
have not sinned beyond the extent of mercy, or beyond the efficacy 
of the blood of Christ: but pardon and peace may be had, if you will 
thus come to Christ for it. 
    Objec. 3. Oh! but it is now too late; I have had many thousand 
calls by the gospel, and refused them; many purposes in my heart to 
go to Christ, and quenched them; my time therefore is past, and now 
it is to no purpose. 
    Sol. If the time of grace be past, and God intends no mercy for 
thee, how comes it to pass thy soul is now filled with trouble and 
distress for sin? Is this the frame of a man's heart that is past 
hope. Do such signs as these appear in men that are hopeless? 
Beside, the time of grace is a secret hid in the breast of God; but 
coming to Christ is a duty plainly revealed in the text: And why 
will you object a thing that is secret and uncertain, against a duty 
that is so plain and evident? Nor do you yourselves believe what you 
object; for at the same time that you say your seasons are over, it 
is too late, you are, notwithstanding, found repenting, mourning, 
praying, and striving to come to Christ. Certainly, if you knew it 
were too late, you would not be found labouring in the use of means. 
Go on, therefore, and the Lord be with you. It is not presumption, 
but obedience, to come when Christ calls, as he here does, "Come 
unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden." 
    Infer. A. Hence it follows, That none have cause to be 
troubled, when God makes the souls of their friends or relation sick 
with the sense of sin. It was the saying (as I remember) of Hieron 
to Sabinian, Nothing (said he) makes my heart sadder, than that 
nothing can make my heart sad. It is matter of joy to all that 
rightly understand the matter, when God smites the heart of any man 
with the painful sense of sin; of such sickness it may be said, 
"This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God." Yet how 
do many carnal relations lament and bewail this as a misery, as an 
undoing to their friends and acquaintances; as if then they must be 
reckoned lost, and never till then, that Christ is finding and 
saving them. O! if your hearts were spiritual and wise, their groans 
for sin would be as music in your ears. When they go alone to bewail 
their sin, you would go alone also to bless God for such a mercy, 
that ever you should live to such a happy day: You would say, Now is 
my friend in the blessed pangs of the new birth; now is he in the 
very way of mercy; never in so hopeful a condition as now. I had 
rather he should groan now at the feet of Christ, than groan 
hereafter under the wrath of God for ever. O! parents, beware, as 
you love the souls of your children, that you do not damp and 
discourage them, tempt or threaten them, divert or hinder them in 
such cases as this, lest you bring the blood of their souls upon 
your own heads. 
    Inf. 3. It also follows from hence, That those to whom sin was 
never any burthen, are not yet come to Christ, nor have any interest 
in him. We may as well suppose a child to be born without any pangs, 
as a soul to be born again, and united to Christ, without any sense 
or sorrow for sin. I know many have great frights of conscience, 
that never were made duly sensible of the evil of sin; many are 
afraid of burning, that never were afraid of sinning. Slight and 
transient troubles some have had, but they vanished like au early 
cloud, or morning dew. Few men are without checks and throbs of 
conscience at one time or other; but instead of going to the closet, 
they run to the alehouse or tavern for cure. If their sorrow for sin 
had been right, nothing but the sprinkling of the blood of Christ 
could have appeased their consciences, Heb. 10: 22. How cold should 
the consideration of this thing strike to the hearts of such 
persons! Methinks, reader, if this be thy case, it should send thee 
away with an aking heart; thou hast not yet tasted the bitterness of 
sin, and if thou do not, thou shalt never taste the sweetness of 
Christ, his pardons and peace. 
    Inf. 4. How great a mercy is it for sin-burthened souls to be 
within the sound and call of Christ in the gospel! 
    There be many thousands in the Pagan and Popish parts of the 
world, that labour under distresses of conscience as well as we, but 
have no such reliefs, no such means of peace and comfort as we have 
that live within the joyful sound of the gospel. If the conscience 
of a Papist be burdened with guilt, all the relief he has, is to 
afflict his body to quiet his soul; a penance, or pilgrimage, is all 
the relief they have. If a Pagan be in trouble for sin, he has no 
knowledge of Christ, nor notion of a satisfaction made by him; the 
voice of nature is, Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, 
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? The damned endure the 
terrible blows and wounds of conscience for sin, they roar under 
that terrible lash, but no voice of peace or pardon is heard among 
them. It is not, "Come unto me, ye that labour, and are heavy 
laden,", but "depart from me, ye cursed." 
    Blessed are your ears, for you hear the voice of peace; you are 
come to Jesus the Mediator, and to the blood of sprinkling. O. you 
can never set a due value upon this privilege. 
    Inf. 5. How sweet and unspeakably relieving is the closing of a 
burthened soul with Jesus Christ, by faith! It is rest to the weary 
    Soul-troubles are spending, wasting troubles; the pains of a 
distressed conscience are the most acute pains. A poor soul would 
fain be at rest, but knows not where; he tries this duty and that, 
but finds none. At last, in a way of believing, he casts himself, 
with his burthen of guilt and fear, upon Christ, and there is the 
rest his soul desires. Christ and rest come together; till faith 
brings you to the bosom of Jesus, you can find no true rest: The 
soul is rolling and tossing, sick and weary, upon the billows of its 
own guilt and fears. Now the soul is come like a ship tossed with 
storms and tempests, out of a raging ocean into the quiet harbour! 
or like a lost sheep that has been wandering in weariness, hunger, 
and danger, into the fold. Is a soft bed in a quiet chamber sweet to 
one that is spent and tired with travel? Is the sight of a shore 
sweet to the shipwrecked mariner, who looked for nothing but death? 
Much more sweet is Christ to a soul that comes to him pressed in 
conscience, and broken in spirit under the sinking weight of sin. 
    How did the Italians rejoice, after a long and dangerous 
voyage, to see Italy again! crying, with loud and united voices 
which made the very heavens ring again, Italy! Italy! But no shore 
is so sweet to the weather beaten passenger, as Christ is to a 
broken-hearted sinner: This brings the soul to a sweet repose. Heb. 
4: 3. "We, which have believed, to enter into rest." And this 
endears the way of faith to their souls ever after. 
    Inf. 6. Learn hence the usefulness of the law to bring souls to 
Jesus Christ. It is utterly useless, as a covenant, to justify us; 
but exceeding useful to convince and humble us; it cannot relieve 
nor ease us, but it can and does awaken and rouse us. It is a fair 
glass to shew us the face of sin, and till we have seen that we 
cannot see the face of Jesus Christ. 
    The law, like the fiery serpent, smites, stings, and torments 
the conscience; this drives us to the Lord Jesus, lifted up in the 
gospel, like the brazen serpent in the wilderness, to heal us. The 
use of the law is to make us feel our sickness; this makes us look 
out for a Physician: "I was alive once, without the law, (saith 
Paul) but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died," Rom. 
7: 9. The hard, vain, proud hearts of men require such an hammer to 
break them to pieces. 
    Inf. 7. It is the immediate duty of weary and heavy laden 
sinners to come to Christ by faith, and not stand off from Christ, 
or delay to accept him upon any terms whatsoever. 
    Christ invites and commands such to come unto him; it is 
therefore your sin to neglect, draw back, or defer whatever seeming 
reasons and pretences there may be to the contrary. When the gaoler 
was brought (where I suppose thee now to be) to a pinching distress, 
that made him cry, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" The very next 
counsel the apostles gave him was, "Believe on the Lord Jesus 
Christ, and thou shalt be saved," Acts 16: 30, 31. And, for your 
encouragement, know, that he who calleth you to come, knows your 
burden, what your sins have been and troubles are, yet he calls you: 
if your sin hinder not Christ from calling, neither should it hinder 
you from coming. He that calls you, is able to ease you, "to save to 
the uttermost, all that cone to God by him," Heb. 7: 25. Whatever 
fulness of sin be in you, there is a greater fulness of saving power 
in Christ. Moreover, he that calls you to come, never yet rejected 
any poor burdened soul that came to him; and has said he never will. 
John 6: 37. "Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." 
Fear not, therefore, he will not begin with thee, or make thee the 
first instance and example of the feared rejection. 
    And, Lastly, Bethink thyself, what wilt thou do, and whither 
wilt thou go, in this case, If not to Jesus Christ? Nothing shall 
ease or relieve thee till thou dost come to him. Thou art under an 
happy necessity to go to him; with him only is found rest for the 
weary soul; which brings us to the third and last observation, 
    Doct. 3. That there is rest in Christ, for all that come unto 
him under the heavy burden of sin. 
    Rest is a sweet word to a weary soul; all seek it, but none but 
believers find it. We which have believed, (saith the apostle) do 
enter into rest, Heb. 4: 3. "He does not say, they shall, but they 
do enter into rest; noting their spiritual rest to be already begun 
by faith on earth in the tranquillity of conscience, and shall be 
consummated in heaven, in the full enjoyment of God." There is a 
sweet calm upon the troubled soul after believing, an ease, or rest 
of the mind, which is an unspeakable mercy to a poor weary soul. 
Christ is to it as the ark was to the dove, when she wandered over 
the watery world, and found no place to rest the sole of her foot. 
Faith centres the unquiet spirit of man in Christ, brings it to 
repose itself and its burden on him. It is the soul's dropping 
anchor in a storm, which stays and settles it. 
    The great debate which cost so many anxious thoughts is now 
issued into this resolution; I will venture my all upon Christ, let 
him do with me as seemeth him good. It was impossible for the soul 
to find rest, whilst it knew not where to bestow itself, or how to 
be secured from the wrath to come; but when all is embarked in 
Christ for eternity, and the soul fully resolved to lean upon him, 
and to trust to him, now it feels the very initials of eternal rest 
in itself: it finds an heavy burden unloaded from its shoulders; it 
is come, as it were, into a new world; the case is strangely 
altered. The word rest, in this place, notes, (and is so rendered by 
some) a recreation; it is restored, renewed, and recreated, as it 
were, by that sweet repose it has upon Christ. Believers, know that 
faith is the sweetest recreation you can take. Others seek to divert 
and lose their troubles, by sinful recreations, vain company, and 
the like; but they little know what the recreation and sweet 
restoring rest that faith gives the soul is. You find, in Christ, 
what they seek in vain among the creatures. Believing is the highest 
recreation known in this world. But to prevent mistakes, three 
cautions need to be premised, lest we do, in ipso limine impingere, 
stumble at the threshold, and so lose our way all along afterward. 
                             Caution 1. 
    You are not to conceive, that all the soul's fears, troubles 
and sorrows are presently over end at an end, as soon an it is come 
to Christ by faith. They will have many troubles in the world after 
that, it may be, more than ever they had in their lives: "Our flesh 
(saith Paul) had no rest," 2 Cor. 7: 5. They will be infested with 
many temptations after that; that, it may be, the assaults of Satan 
may be more violent upon their souls than ever. Horribilia de Deo, 
terribilia de fide: injections that make the very bones to quake, 
and the belly to tremble. They will not be wholly freed from sin; 
that rest remains for the people of God; nor from inward trouble and 
grief of soul about sin. These things are not to be expected 
                             Caution 2. 
    We may not think all believers do immediately enter into the 
full, actual sense of rest and comport, but they presently enter 
into the state of rest. "Being justified by faith, we have peace 
with God," Rom. 5: 1. i.e. we enter into the state of peace 
immediately. "Peace is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the 
upright in heart," Psal. 117: 1l. And he is a rich man that has a 
thousand acres of corn in the ground, as well as he that has so much 
in his barn, or the money in his purse. They have rest and peace in 
the seed of it, when they have it not in the fruit; they have rest 
in the promise, when they have it not in possession; and he is a 
rich man that has good bonds and bills for a great sum of money, if 
he have not twelve-pence in his pocket. All believers have the 
promise, have rest and peace granted them under God's own hand, in 
many promises which faith brings them under; and we know that the 
truth and faithfulness of God stands engaged to make good every line 
and word of the promise to them. So that though they have not a full 
and clear actual sense and feeling of rest, they are, nevertheless 
by faith come into the state of rest. 
                             Caution 3. 
    We may not conceive that faith itself is the soul's rest, but 
the means and instruments of it only. We cannot find rest in any 
work or duty of our own, but we may find it in Christ, whom faith 
apprehends for justification and salvation. 
    Waving thus guarded the point against misapprehensions, by 
these needful cautions, I shall next show you how our coming to 
Christ by faith brings us to rest in him. And here let it be 
considered what those things are that burden, grieve and disquiet 
the soul before its coming to Christ; and how it is relieved and 
eased in all those respects, by its coming to die Lord Jesus; and 
you shall find, 
    First, That one principal ground of trouble is the guilt of sin 
upon the conscience, of which I spoke in the former point. The curse 
of the law lies heavy upon the soul, so heavy that nothing is found 
in all the world able to relieve it under that burden; as you see in 
a condemned man, spread a table in prison with the greatest 
dainties, and send for the rarest musicians, all will not charm his 
sorrow: but if you can produce an authentic pardon, you ease him 
presently. Just so it is here, faith plucks the thorn out of the 
conscience, which so grieved it, unites the soul with Christ, and 
then that ground of trouble is removed: for "there is no 
condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," Rom. 8: 1. The same 
moment the soul comes to Christ, it has passed from death to life, 
is no more under the law, but grace. If a man's debt be paid by his 
surety, he need not fear to show his face boldly abroad; he may 
freely meet the sergeant at the prison-door. 
    Secondly, The soul of a convinced sinner is exceedingly 
burdened with the uncleanness and filthiness wherewith sin has 
defiled and polluted it. Conviction discovers the universal 
pollution of heart and life, so that a man loathes and abhors 
himself by reason thereof: if he do not look into his own 
corruptions, he cannot be safe; and if he do, he cannot bear the 
sight of them; he has no quiet; nothing can give rest, but what 
gives relief against this evil; and this only is done by faith 
uniting the soul with Jesus Christ. For though it be true that the 
pollution of sin be not presently and perfectly taken away by coming 
to Christ, yet the burden thereof is exceedingly eased; {or, upon 
our believing, there is an heart purifying principle planted in the 
soul, which does, by degrees, cleanse that fountain of corruption, 
and will at last perfectly free the soul from it. Acts 15: 9. 
"Purifying their hearts by faith;" and being once in Christ, he is 
concerned for the soul as a member now of his own mystical body, to 
purify and cleanse it, that at last he may present it perfect to the 
Father, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, Eph. 5: 26. The 
reigning power of it is gone immediately upon believing, and the 
very existence and being of it shall at last be destroyed. 0, what 
rest must this give under those troubles for sin: 
    Thirdly, It was an intolerable burden to the soul to be under 
the continual fears, alarms, and frights of death and damnation; its 
life has been a life of bondage, upon this account, ever since the 
Lord opened his eyes to see his condition. Poor souls lie down with 
tremblings, for fear what a night may bring forth. It is a sad life 
indeed to live in continual bondage of such fears; but faith sweetly 
relieves the trembling conscience, by removing the guilt which 
breeds its fears. The sting of death is sin. When guilt is removed, 
fears vanquish. "Smite, Lord, smite, said Luther, for my sins are 
forgiven." Now, if sickness come, it is another thing than it was 
wont to be. Isa. 33: 24. "The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick, 
the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquities" A 
man scarce feels his sickness, in comparison to what lie did, whilst 
he was without Christ and hope of pardon. 
    Fourthly, A convinced sinner, out of Christ, sees every thing 
against him; nothing yields any comfort, yea, every thing increases 
and aggravates his burden, when he looks to things past, present, or 
to come. If he reflect upon things past, his soul is filled with 
anguish, to remember the sins committed and the seasons neglected, 
and the precious mercies that have been abused; if he look upon 
things present, the case is doleful end miserable; nothing but 
trouble and danger, Christless and comfortless; and if he looks 
forward to things to come, that gives him a deeper cut to the heart 
than any thing else; for though it be sad and miserable for the 
present, yet he fears it will be much worse hereafter; all these are 
but the beginning of sorrows. And thus the poor, awakened sinner 
becomes a Magor Missabib; fear round about. 
    But, upon his coming to Christ, all things are marvellously 
altered; a quite contrary face of things appears to him; every thing 
gives him hope and comfort, which way soever he looks. So speaks the 
apostle, 1 Cor. 3: 22, 23. "All things are yours, (saith he) whether 
life or death, or things present, or things to come; all is yours, 
and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's:" They are ours, i.e. for 
our advantage, benefit, and comfort. More particularly upon our 
coming to Christ, 
    First, Things past are ours, they conduce to our advantage and 
comfort. Now the soul can begin to read the gracious end and design 
of God, in all its preservations and deliverances; whereby it has 
been reserved for such a day as this. O! it melts his heart to 
consider his companions in sin and vanity are cut off, and he 
spared; and that for a day of such mercy, as the day of his 
espousals with Christ is. Now all his past sorrows, and deep 
troubles of spirit, which God has exercised him with, begin to 
appear the greatest mercies that ever he received; being all 
necessary and introductive to this blessed union with Christ. 
    Secondly, Things present are ours, though it be not yet with us 
as we would have it; Christ is not sure enough, the heart is not 
pure enough; sin is too strong, and grace is too weak; many things 
are yet out of order; yet can the soul bless God for this, with 
tears of joy and praise, being full of admiration and holy 
astonishment, that it is as it is; and that be is where he is, 
though he be not yet where he would be. O! it is a blessed life to 
Live as a poor recumbent, by acts of trust and affiance, though, as 
yet, he have but little evidence; that he is resolved to trust all 
with Christ, though he be not yet certain of the issue. O this it a 
comfortable station, a sweet condition to what it was, either when 
the soul wallowed in sin, in the days before conviction, or was 
swallowed up in fears and troubles for sin after conviction; now it 
has hope, though it want assurance; and hope is sweet to a soul 
coming out of such deep distresses. Now it sees the remedy, and is 
applying it; whereas before the wound seemed desperate. Now all 
hesitations and debates are at an end in the soul; it is no longer 
unresolved what to do; all things have been deeply considered, and 
after consideration, issued into this resolve, or decree of the 
will: I will go to Christ; I will venture all upon his command and 
call; I will embark my eternal interests in that bottom; here I fix, 
and here I resolve to live and die. O! how much better is this than 
that floating life it lived before, rolling upon the billows of 
inward fears and troubles, not able to drop anchor anywhere, nor 
knowing where to find an harbour? 
    Thirdly, Things to come are ours; and this is the best and 
sweetest of all: Man is a prospecting creature, his eye is much upon 
things to come, and it will not satisfy him that it is well at 
present, except he have a prospect that it shall be so hereafter. 
But now the soul has committed itself and all its concernments to 
Christ for eternity, and this being done, it is greatly relieved 
against evils to come. 
    I cannot (saith the believer) think all my troubles over, and 
that I shall never meet any more afflictions; It were a fond vanity 
to dream of that: but I leave all these things where I have left my 
soul: he that has supported me under inward, will carry me through 
outward troubles also. I cannot think all my temptations to sin 
past; O! I may yet meet with sore assaults from Satan, yet it is 
infinitely better to be watching, praying, and striving against sin, 
than it was when I was obeying it in the lusts of it. God, that has 
delivered me from the love of sin, will, I trust, preserve me from 
ruin by sin. I know also death is to come; I must feel the pangs and 
agonies of it: but yet the aspect of death is much more pleasant 
than it was. I come, Lord Jesus to thee, who art the death of death, 
whose death has disowned death of its sting: for I fear not its dart 
if I feel not its sting. And thus you see briefly, how by faith 
believers enter into rest; how Christ gives rest, even at present, 
to them that come to him, and all this but as a beginning of their 
everlasting rest. 
    Inference 1. Is there rest in Christ for weary souls that come 
unto him? Then, certainty it is a design of Satan against the peace 
and welfare of men's souls, to discourage them from coming to Christ 
in the way of faith. 
    He is a restless spirit himself, and would make us so too; it 
is an excellent note of Minutius Felix, "Those desperate and 
restless spirits (saith he) have no other peace but in bringing us 
to the same misery themselves are in:" He goes about as a roaring 
lion, seeking whom he may devour. It frets and grates his proud and 
envious mind, to see others find rest when he can find none; an 
effectual plaister applied to heal our wound, when his own must 
bleed to eternity: And he obtains his end fully, if he can but keep 
off souls from Christ. Look therefore, upon all those objections and 
discouragements raised in your hearts against coming to Christ, as 
so many artifices and cunning devices of the devil, to destroy and 
ruin your souls. It is true they have a very specious and colourable 
appearance; they are gilded over with pretences of the justice of 
God, the heinous nature of sin, the want of due and befitting 
qualifications for so holy and pure a God, the lapsing of the season 
of mercy, and an hundred others of like nature: but I beseech you, 
lay down this as a sure conclusion, and hold it fast; that whatever 
it be that discourages and hinders you from coming to Christ, is 
directly against the interest of your souls, and the hand of the 
devil is certainly in it. 
    Infer. 2. Hence also it follows that unbelief is the true 
reason of all that disquietness and trouble, by which the minds of 
poor dinners are so racked and tortured. 
    If you will not believe, you cannot be established; till you 
come to Christ, peace cannot cone to you: Christ and peace are 
undivided. Good souls, consider this; you have tried all other ways, 
you have tried duties, and no rest comes; you have tried 
reformation, restitution, and a stricter course of life; yet your 
wounds are still open, and fresh bleeding: these things, I grant, 
are in their places both good and necessary; but, of themselves, 
without Christ, utterly insufficient to give what you expect from 
them: why will you not try the way of faith? Why will you not carry 
your burthen to Christ? O! that you would be persuaded to it, how 
soon would you find what so long you have been seeking in vain! How 
long will you thus oppose your own good? How long will you keep 
yourselves upon the rack of conscience? Is it easy to go under the 
throbs and wounds of an accusing and condemning conscience? You know 
it is not: you look for peace, but no good comes; for a time of 
healing, and behold trouble. Alas! it must and will be so still, 
until you are in the way of faith, which is the true and only method 
to obtain rest. 
    Inf. 3. What cause have we all to admire the goodness of God, 
in providing for us a Christ, in whom we may find rest to our souls! 
    How has the Lord filled and furnished Jesus Christ with all 
that is suitable to a believer's wants! Does the guilt of sin 
terrify his conscience? Lo, in him is perfect righteousness to 
remove that guilt, so that it shall neither be imputed to his 
person, nor reflected by his conscience, in the way of condemnation 
as it was before. In him also is a fountain opened, for washing and 
for cleansing the filth of sin from our souls; in him is the 
fullness both of merit, and of spirit, two sweet springs of peace to 
the souls of men: well might the apostle say, "Christ the wisdom of 
God," 1 Cor. 1: 30. and well might the Church say, "He is altogether 
lovely," Cant. 5: 16. Had not God provided Jesus Christ for us, we 
had never known one hour's rest to all eternity. 
    Inf. 4. How unreasonable, and wholly inexcusable, in believers, 
is the sin of backsliding from Christ! Have you found rest in him, 
when you could not find it in any other! Did he receive, and ease 
your souls, when all other persons and things were physicians of no 
value? And will you, after this, backslide from him again? O what 
madness is this! "Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon, which cometh 
from the rock of the field? Or shall the cold, flowing waters, that 
come from another place, be forsaken?" No man that is in his wits 
would leave the pure, cold, refreshing stream off a crystal 
fountain, to go to a filthy puddle, lake, or an empty cistern; such 
the best enjoyments of this world are, in comparison with Jesus 
    That was a melting expostulation of Christ's with the 
disciples, John 6: 67, 68. when some had forsaken him, "Will ye also 
go away?" And it was a very suitable return they made, Lord, whither 
away from thee should we go! q. d. From thee, Lord! No, where can we 
mend ourselves? be sure of it, whenever you go from Christ, you go 
from rest to trouble. Had Judas rest? Had Spira rest? and do you 
think you shall have rest? No, no, "The backslider in heart shall be 
filled with his own ways," Prov. 14: 14. "Cursed be the man that 
departeth from him, he shall be as the heath in the desert, that 
sees not when good cometh, and shall inhabit the parched places of 
the wilderness," Jer. 17: 5. If fear of sufferings, and worldly 
temptations, ever draw you off from Christ, you may come to those 
straits and terrors of conscience that will make you wish yourselves 
back again with Christ in a prison, with Christ at a stake. 
    Infer. 5. Let all that come to Christ learn to improve him to 
the rest and peace of their own souls, in the midst of all the 
troubles and outward distresses they meet with in the world. 
    Surely rest may be found in Christ in any condition; he is able 
to give you peace in the midst of all your troubles here. So he 
tells you in John 16: 33. "These things have I spoken to you, that 
in me you might have peace; in the world ye shall have tribulation." 
By peace he means not a deliverance from troubles, by taking off 
affliction from them, or taking them away by death from all 
afflictions; but it is something they enjoy from Christ in the very 
midst of troubles, and amidst all their addictions, that quiets and 
gives them rest, so that troubles cannot hurt them. Certainly, 
believers, you have peace in Christ, when there is little in your 
own hearts; and your hearts might be filled with peace too, if you 
would exercise faith upon Christ for that end. It is your own fault 
if you be without rest in any condition in this world. Set 
yourselves to study the fulness of Christ, and to clear your 
interest in him; believe what the scriptures reveal of him, and live 
as you believe, and you will quickly find the peace of God filling 
your hearts and minds.

The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
(continued in file 12...)

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