The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
by John Flavel
File 24
(... continued from file 23)

Sermon 22. 
The Teachings of God opened, in their Nature and Necessity. 
John 6: 45. 
It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. 
    Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the 
    Father, cometh unto me. 
    How necessary to our union with Jesus Christ, the application 
of the law, or coming home of the commandment to the heart of a 
sinner is, we have heard in the last discourse; and how impossible 
it is, either for the commandment to come to us, or for us to come 
to Christ without illumination and instruction from above, you shall 
hear in this. 
    This scripture has much of the mind of God in it; and he that 
is to open it, had need himself to be taught of God. In the 
foregoing verses, Christ offers himself as the bread of life unto 
the souls of men: against this doctrine they oppose their carnal 
reason, ver. 41, 42. Christ strikes at the root of all their cavils 
and objections in his reply, ver. 43, 44. "Murmur not among 
yourselves: no man can come to me, except the Father which has sent 
me draw him;" q. d. you slight me because you do not know me; you do 
not know me because you are not taught of God; of these divine 
teachings, the prophets of old have spoken, and what they foretold 
is at this day fulfilled in our sight; so many as are taught of God, 
and no more, come unto me in the way of faith: it is impossible to 
come without the teachings of God, ver. 44. It is as impossible not 
to come, or to miscarry in their coming unto me, under the influence 
of these divine teachings, ver. 45. 
    The words read, consist of two parts, viz. 
    1. An allegation out of the prophets. 
    2. The application thereof made by Christ. 
    First, An allegation out af the prophets: "It is written in the 
prophets, And they shall be all taught of God." The places in the 
prophets to which Christ seems here to refer, are, Isa. 54: 13. "And 
all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;" and, Jer. 31: 34. 
"And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man 
his brother, saying, know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from 
the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord." These 
promises contain the great blessings of the new covenant, viz. 
Divine instruction and heavenly illumination, without which no man 
can obtain an interest in the new covenant. 
    Secondly, We have here the application of these testimonies out 
of the prophets, made by Christ himself; "Every man therefore that 
has heard, and learned of the Father, come unto me. 
    In which words we have both the necessity and the efficacy of 
these divine teachings; without them no man can come, and under them 
no man can miscarry. The words being fitly rendered, and the sense 
                           The notes are, 
    Doct. 1. That the teachings of God are absolutely necessary to 
         every man that cometh unto Christ, in the way of faith. 
    Doct. 2. No man can miss of Christ, or miscarry in the way of 
         faith, that is under the special instructions and teachings 
         of the Father. 
    Doct. 1. That the teachings of God are absolutely necessary to 
         every man that cometh unto Christ, in the way of faith. 
    Of the necessity of divine teaching, in order to believing, the 
apostle speaks, in Eph. 4: 20, 21. "But ye have not so learned 
Christ; if so be that you have heard him, and been taught by him, as 
the truth is in Jesus;" i.e. Your faith must needs be effectual, 
both to the reformation of your lives, and your perseverance in the 
ways of holiness, if it be such a faith as is begotten and 
introduced into your hearts by divine teaching. Now, in the 
explication of this point, I shall speak distinctly to the following 
    1. How does God teach men, or what is imported in our being 
taught of God? 
    2. What those special lessons are, which all believers do hear, 
and are taught of God? 
    3. In what manner does God teach these things to men in the day 
of their conversion to Christ? 
    4. What influence God's teaching has upon our believing? 
    5. Why it is impossible for any man to believe, or come to 
Christ without the Father's teachings 
    First, How does God teach men, or what is imported in our being 
taught of God? To this I will speak both negatively and positively, 
for your clearer apprehension of the sense and meaning of the Spirit 
of God in this phrase. 
    First, The teaching of God, and our hearing and learning of 
him, is not to be understood of any extraordinary visional 
appearances, or oraculous and immediate voice of God to men: God 
indeed has so appeared unto some, Numb. 12: 8. Such voices have been 
heard from heaven, but now these extraordinary ways are ceased, Heb. 
1: 1, 2. and we are no more to expect them; we may sooner meet with 
satanical delusions than divine illuminations in this way. I 
remember, the learned Gerson tells us that the devil once appeared 
to an holy man in prayer, personating Christ, and saying, I am come 
in person to visit thee, for thou art worthy. But he with both hands 
shut his eyes, saying, Nolo hic Christum videre, satis est ipsum in 
gloria videre; i.e. I will not see Christ here; it is enough for me 
to see him in glory. We are now to attend only to the voice of the 
Spirit in the scriptures: this is a more sure word than any voice 
from heaven, 2 Pet. 1: 19. 
    Secondly, The teachings of God are not to be understood as 
opposite unto, or exclusive of the teachings of men. Divine 
teachings do not render ministerial teachings in vain or useless. 
Paul was taught of God, Gal. 1: 12. and his conversion had something 
extraordinary in it, yet the ministry of Ananias was used and 
honoured in that work, Acts 9: 4, 17. compared. Divine teachings do 
indeed excel, but not exclude human teachings. I know that 
scripture, Jer. 31: 24. to which Christ here refers, is objected 
against the necessity of a standing ministry in the church, "They 
shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his 
brother," &c. But if those words should be understood absolutely, 
they would not only overthrow all public ordinances of God's own 
institution, 1 Cor. 12: 28. and deprive us of a principal fruit of 
Christ's ascension, Eph. 4: 11. 12. but, for the same reason, would 
destroy all private instructions and fraternal admonitions also. 
Such a sense would make the prophet to contradict the apostle, and 
spoil the consent and harmony of the scriptures: the sense thereof 
cannot be negative, but comparative; it shews the excellency of 
divine, but does not destroy the usefulness of human teachings; 
Subordinata non pugnant. The teachings of men are made effectual by 
the teachings of the Spirit; and the Spirit in his teachings will 
use and honour the ministry of man. 
    Thirdly, But to speak positively, the teachings of God are 
nothing else but that spiritual and heavenly light, by which the 
Spirit of God shineth into the hearts of men, to give them "the 
light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus 
Christ," as the apostle speaks, 2 Cor. 4: 6. And though this be the 
proper work of the Spirit, yet it is called the teachings of the 
Father, because the Spirit who enlightens us is commissioned and 
sent by the Father so to do, John 14: 26. Now these teachings of the 
Spirit of God, consist in two things, viz. in his, 
    1. Sanctifying impressions. 
    2. Gracious assistances. 
    First, In his sanctifying impressions or regenerating work upon 
the soul, by virtue whereof it receives marvellous light and insight 
into spiritual things; and that not only as illumination is the 
first act of the Spirit in our conversion, Col. 3: 10. but as his 
whole work of sanctification is illuminative and instructive to the 
converted soul, 1 John 2: 27. "The anointing which you have received 
of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you, but 
as the same anointing teacheth you." The meaning is that 
sanctification gives the soul experience of those mysterious things 
which are contained in the scriptures, and that experience is the 
most excellent key to unlock and open those deep scripture 
mysteries; no knowledge is so distinct, so clear, so sweet, as that 
which the heart communicates to the head, John 7: 17. "If any man do 
his will, he shall know of the doctrine." A man that never read the 
nature of love in books of philosophy, nor the transports and 
ecstasies thereof in history, may yet truly describe and express it 
by the sensible motions of that passion in his own soul; yea, he 
that has felt, much better understands, than he that has only read 
or heard. O what a light does spiritual sense and experience cast 
upon a great part of the scriptures! for indeed sanctification is 
the very copy or transcript of the word of God upon the heart of 
man; Jer. 31: 83. "I will write my law in their hearts:" so that the 
scriptures and the experiences of believers, by this means answer to 
each other, as the lines and letters in the press answer to the 
impressions made upon the paper; or the figures in the wax, to the 
engravings in the seal. When a sanctified man reads David's psalms, 
or Paul's epistles, how is he surprised with wonder to find the very 
workings of his own heart so exactly deciphered and fully expressed 
there! O, saith he, this is my very case, these holy men speak what 
my heart has felt. 
    Secondly, The Spirit of God teacheth us, as by his sanctifying 
impressions, so by his gracious assistances, which he gives us pro 
re nata, as our need requires, Mat. 10: 19. "It shall be given you 
in that same hour what ye shall speak;" John 14: 26. "He shall bring 
all things to your remembrance: he assisteth both the understanding 
in due apprehensions of truth, and the heart in the spiritual 
improvements of truth. And so much briefly of the first particular. 
    Secondly, In the next place we are to enquire what those 
special truths are which believers hear and learn of the Father, 
when they come to Christ. 
    And there are divers great and necessary truths, wherein the 
Spirit enlightens men in that day. I cannot say they are all taught 
every believer in the same degree and order; but it is certain they 
are taught of God such lessons as these are, which they never so 
understood before. 
    Lesson 1. First, They are taught of God that there is 
abundantly more evil in their sinful natures and actions, than ever 
they discerned or understood before: "the Spirit when he cometh 
shall convince the world of sin," John 16: 8, 9. Men had a general 
notion of sin before; so had Paul, when a Pharisee: but how vastly 
different were his apprehensions of sin, from all that ever he had 
in his natural state, when God brought home the commandment to his 
very heart? There is a threefold knowledge of sin, viz. traditional, 
discursive, and intuitive. The first is the more rude and illiterate 
multitude. The second is more rational and knowing men. The third is 
only found in those that are enlightened and taught of God. And 
there is as great a difference betwixt this intuitive knowledge of 
sin, whereby God makes a soul to discern the nature and evil of it 
in a spiritual light, and the two former, as there is betwixt the 
sight of a painted lion upon the wall, and the sight of a living 
lion that meets us roaring in the way. The intuitive sight of sin is 
another thing than men imagine it to be: it is such a sight as 
wounds a man to the very heart, Acts 2: 37. for God does not only 
shew a man this or that particular sin, but in the day of 
conviction, he sets all his sins in order before him, Psal. 50: 21. 
yea, the Lord shews him the sinfulness of his nature as well as 
practice. Conviction digs to the root, shews and lays open that 
original corruption, from whence the innumerable evils of the life 
do spring, James 1: 14, 15. and which is yet more, the Lord shews 
the man whom he is bringing to Christ the sinful and miserable 
estate which he is in by reason of both, John 16: 9. And now all 
excuses, pleas and defences of sin are gone, he shews him "how their 
iniquities have exceeded," Job 36: 8, 9. exceeded in number, and in 
aggravations of sinfulness; exceeding many, and exceeding vile; no 
such sinner in the world as I; can such sins as mine be pardoned? 
The greatness of God greatens my sin; the holiness of God makes it 
beyond measure vile; the goodness of God puts inconceivable weight 
into my guilt. O, can there be mercy for such a wretch as I! If 
there be, then there will not be a greater example of the riches of 
free grace in all the world than I am. Thus God teacheth the evil of 
    Lesson 2. Secondly, God teacheth the soul whom he is bringing 
to Christ, what that wrath and misery are which hang over it in the 
threatenings because of sin. Scripture-threatenings were formerly 
slighted, now the soul trembles at them: They once apprehended 
themselves safe enough, Isa. 28: 15. Psal. 50: 21. They thought, 
because they heard no more of their sins after the commission of 
them, that therefore they should never hear more; that the effect 
had been as transient a thing as the act of sin was; or if trouble 
must follow sin, they should speed no worse than others, the 
generality of the world being in the same case; and besides, they 
hoped to find God more merciful than sour and precise preachers 
represented him. But when a light from God enters into the soul, to 
discover the nature of God, and of sin, then it sees that whatever 
wrath is treasured up for sinners in the dreadful threatenings of 
the law, is but the just demerit of sin, the recompence that is 
meet: "The wages of sin is death," Rom. 6: 23. The penal evil of 
damnation is but equal to the moral evil of sin: So that in the 
whole ocean of God's eternal wrath, there is not one drop of 
injustice; yea, the soul does not only see the justice of God in its 
eternal damnation, but the wonderful mercy of God in the suspension 
thereof so long. O, what is it that has withheld God from damning me 
all this while! How is it that I am not in hell! Now do the fears 
and awful apprehensions of eternity seize the soul, and the worst of 
sensitive creatures is supposed to be in a better condition than 
such a soul. Never do men tremble at the threatenings of God, nor 
rightly apprehend the danger of their condition, until sin, and 
wrath, and the wages of sin be discovered to them by a light from 
    Lesson 3. Thirdly, God teaches the soul whom he brings to 
Christ that deliverance from sin, and wrath to come, is the greatest 
and most important business it has to do in this world. Acts 16: 30. 
"What must I do to be saved?" q. d. O direct me to some effectual 
way (if there be any) to secure my poor wretched soul from the wrath 
of God. Sin, and the wrath that follows it, are things that swallow 
up the souls, and drink up the very spirits of men: Their thoughts 
never conversed with things of more confessed truth and awful 
solemnity: These things float not upon their fancies as matters of 
mere speculation, but settle upon their hearts day and night, as the 
deepest concernment in all the world: They now know much better than 
any mere scholar, the deep sense of that text, Matth. 16: 26. "What 
is a man profited, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his 
own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" 
    Five things shew how weighty the thoughts and cares of 
salvation are upon their hearts. 
    First, Their continual thoughtfulness and solicitude about 
these things: if earthly affairs divert them for a while, yet they 
are still returning again to this solemn business. 
    Secondly, Their careful redeeming of time, and saving the very 
moments thereof to employ about this work: Those that were prodigal 
of hours and days before, look upon every moment of time as a 
precious and valuable thing now. 
    Thirdly, Their fears and tremblings lest they should miscarry, 
and come short at last, shew how much their hearts are set upon this 
    Fourthly, Their inquisitiveness and readiness to embrace all 
the help and assistance that they can act from others, evidently 
discover this to be their great design. 
    Fifthly, and lastly, The little notice they take of all other 
troubles and afflictions, tells you their hearts are taken up about 
greater things. This is the third lesson they are taught of God. 
    Lesson 4. Fourthly, The Lord teaches the soul that is coming to 
Christ, that though it be their duty to strive to the uttermost for 
salvation; yet all strivings, in their own strength, are 
insufficient to obtain it. This work is quite above the power of 
nature: "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but 
of God that sheweth mercy." The soul is brought to a full conviction 
of this, by the discovery of the heinous nature of sin, and of the 
rigour and severity of the law of God. No repentance nor reformation 
can possibly amount unto a just satisfaction, nor are they within 
the compass and power of our will. It was a saying that Dr. Hill 
often used to his friends, speaking about the power of man's will; 
he would lay his hand upon his breast, and say, "Every man has 
something here to confute the Arminian doctrine." This fully takes 
off the soul from all expectations of deliverance that way; it 
cannot but strive, that is its duty; but to expect deliverance, as 
the purchase of its own strivings, that would be its sin. 
    Lesson 5. Fifthly, The soul that is coming to Christ by faith, 
is taught of God, that though the case it is in be sad, yet it is 
not desperate and remediless: There is a door of hope, a way of 
escape for poor sinners, how black and fearful soever their own 
thoughts and apprehensions are; there is usually at this time a 
dawning light of hope in the soul that is under the Father's 
teachings; and this commonly arises from the general and indefinite 
encouragements and promises of the gospel, which, though they do not 
presently secure the soul from danger, yet they prop and mightily 
support it against despair: For though they be not certain that 
deliverance shall be the event of their trouble; yet the 
possibilities, and much more the probabilities of deliverance are a 
great stay to a sinning soul. The troubled soul cannot but 
acknowledge itself to be in a far better case than the damned are, 
whose hopes are perished from the Lord, and a death pang of despair 
has seized their consciences. And herein the merciful and 
compassionate nature of God is eminently discovered, in hasting to 
open the door of hope, almost as soon as the evil of sin is opened. 
It was not long after Adam's eyes were opened to see his misery, 
that God opened Christ, his remedy, in that first promise, Gen. 3: 
15. And the same method of grace is still continued to his elect 
offspring, Gal. 3: 21, 22. Rom. 3: 21, 22. These supporting hopes 
the Lord sees necessary to encourage industry in the use of means; 
it is hope that sets all the world a work; if all hope were cut off, 
every soul would sit down in a sullen despair, yielding itself for 
    Lesson 6. Sixthly, The Lord teaches those that come to Christ, 
that there is a fulness of saving power in him, whereby any soul 
that duly receives him, may be perfectly delivered from all its sin 
and misery, Heb. 7: 25. Col. 1: 19. Matth. 28: 18. This is a great 
and necessary point for every believer to learn and hear from the 
Father; for unless the soul be satisfied of the fulness of Christ's 
saving, power, it will never move forward towards him; and herein 
also the goodness of God is most sweetly and seasonably manifested; 
for, at this time, it is the great design of Satan to fill the soul 
with despairing thoughts of a pardon; but all those black and heart 
sinking thoughts vanish before the discovery of Christ's all 
sufficiency. Now the sin-sick soul saith with that woman, Matth. 9: 
21. "If I may but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be healed." 
How deep soever the guilt and stain of sin be, yet the soul which 
acknowledges the infinite dignity of the blood of Christ, the 
offering it up to God in our room, and God's declared satisfaction 
in it, must needs be satisfied that Christ is "able to save, to the 
uttermost, all that come unto God by him;" which is the sixth lesson 
believers are taught of God. 
    Lesson 7. Seventhly, Every man that comes to Christ is taught 
of God, that he can never reap any benefit by the blood of Christ, 
except he have union with the person of Christ, 1 John 5: 12. Eph. 
4: 16. Time was when men fondly thought nothing was necessary to 
their salvation but the death of Christ; but now the Lord shows them 
that their union with Christ by faith is as necessary, in the place 
of an applying cause, as the death of Christ is, in the place of a 
meritorious cause: The purchase of salvation is an act of Christ 
without us, whilst we are yet sinners; the application thereof is by 
a work wrought within us, when we are believers, Col. 1: 27. In the 
purchase all the elect are redeemed together by way of price; in the 
application they are actually redeemed, each person, by way of 
power. Look, as the sin of the first Adam could never hurt us, 
unless he had been our head by way of generation; so the 
righteousness of Christ can never benefit us, unless he be our head 
by way of regeneration. In teaching this lesson, the Lord, in mercy, 
unteaches and blots out that dangerous principle, by which the 
greatest part of the christianised world do perish, viz. that the 
death of Christ is, in itself, effectual to salvation, though a man 
be never regenerated or united to him by saving faith 
    Lesson 8. Eighthly, God teaches the soul, whom he is bringing 
to Christ, that whatever is necessary to be wrought in us, or done 
by us, in order to our union with Christ, is to be obtained from him 
in the way of prayer, Ezek. 36: 37. And it is observable, that the 
soul no sooner comes under the effectual teachings of God, but the 
Spirit of prayer begins to breathe in it, Acts 9: 8. "Behold, he 
prayeth." Those that were taught to pray by men before, are now 
taught of the Lord to pray: To pray did I say? yea, and to pray 
fervently too, as men concerned for their eternal happiness; to pray 
not only with others, but to pour out our souls before the Lord in 
secret; for their hearts are as bottles full of new wine, which must 
vent or break. Now the soul returns upon its God often in the same 
day; now it can express its burdens and wants, in words and groans 
which the Spirit teacheth. They pray, and will not give over 
praying, till Christ come with complete salvation. 
    Lesson 9. Ninthly, All that come to Christ are taught of God to 
abandon their former ways and companions in sin, as ever they expect 
to be received unto mercy, Isa. 55: 7. 2 Cor. 5: 17. Sins that were 
profitable and pleasant, that were as the right hand, and right eye, 
must now be cut off. Companions in sin, who were once the delight of 
their lives, must now be cast off. Christ saith to the soul 
concerning these, as he said in another case, John 18: 8. "If 
therefore ye seek me, let these go their way." And the soul saith 
unto Christ, as it is, Psal. 119: 115. "Depart from me, ye evil- 
doers, for I will keep the commandments of my God." And now pleasant 
sins and companions in sin, become the very burden and shame of a 
man's soul. Objects of delight are become objects of pity and 
compassion: No endearments, no union of blood, no earthly interests 
whatsoever, are found strong enough to hold the soul any longer from 
Christ: Nothing but the effectual teachings of God are found 
sufficient to dissolve such bonds of iniquity as these. 
    Lesson 10. Tenthly, All that come unto Christ are taught of 
God, that there is such a beauty and excellency in the ways and 
people of God, as is not to be equalled in the whole world, Psa. 16: 
3. When the eyes of strangers to Christ begin to be opened, and 
enlightened in his knowledge, you may see what a change of judgement 
is wrought in them, with respect to the people of God: and towards 
them especially, whom God has any way made instrumental for the good 
of their souls, Cant. 5: 9. they then call the spouse of Christ, the 
fairest among women. The convincing holiness of the bride then began 
to enamour and affect them, with a desire of nearer conjunction and 
communion: We will seek him with thee; with thee that hast so 
charged us, that hast taken so much pains for the good of our souls; 
now, and never before, the righteous appeareth more excellent than 
his neighbour. Change of heart is always accompanied with change of 
judgement, with respect to the people of God: thus the gaoler, Acts 
16: 33. washed the apostle's stripes, to whom he had been so cruel 
before. The godly now seem to be the glory of the places where they 
live; and the glory of any place seems to be darkened by their 
removal; as one said of holy Mr. Barrington, "Methinks the town is 
not at home when Mr. Barrington is out of town." They esteem it a 
choice mercy to be in their company and acquaintance; Zech. 8: 23. 
"We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." No 
people like the people of God now; as one said, when he heard of two 
faithful friends, Utinam tertius essem! O that I might make the 
third! Whatever vile or low thoughts they had of the people of God 
before, to be sure now they are the excellent of the earth, in whom 
is all their delight: The holiness of the saints might have some 
interest in their consciences before, but they never had such an 
interest in their estimation and affections, till this lesson was 
taught them by the Father. 
    Lesson 11. Eleventhly, An that come to Christ are taught of 
God, that whatever difficulties they apprehend in religion, yet they 
must not, upon pain of damnation, be discouraged thereby, or return 
again to sin, Luke 9: 62. "No man having put his hand to the plough, 
and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Ploughing work is 
hard work; a strong and steady hand is required for it: he that 
ploughs must keep on, and make no balks of the hardest and toughest 
ground he meets with. Religion also is the running of a race. 1 Cor. 
9: 24. there is no standing still, much less turning back, if ever 
we hope to win the prize. 
    The devil, indeed, labours every way to discourage and daunt 
the soul, by representing the insuperable difficulties of religion 
to it; and young beginners are but too apt to be discouraged, and 
fall under despondency; but the teachings of the Father are 
encouraging teachings; they are carried on from strength to strength 
against all the oppositions they meet with from without them, and 
the many discouragements they find within them. To this conclusion 
they are brought by the teaching of God, We must have Christ, we 
must get a pardon, we must strive for salvation, let the 
difficulties, troubles, and sufferings in the way be never so great 
or many. As he said, Necesse est ut eam, non ut vivam; it is 
necessary that I go on, it is not necessary that I live: So saith 
the soul that is taught of God; it is easier for me to dispense with 
ease, honour, relations, yea, with life itself, than to part with 
Christ, and the hopes of eternal life. 
    Lesson 12. Twelfthly, They that come to Christ, are taught of 
God, that whatever guilt and unworthiness they discover in 
themselves, and whatever fears and doubts are upon their hearts, as 
to pardon and acceptance; yet as the case stands, it is their wisdom 
and great interest to venture themselves in the way of faith, upon 
Jesus Christ, whatever the issue thereof be. 
    Three great discouragements are usually found upon the hearts 
of those that come to Christ in the way of faith. 
    First, The sensible greatness of guilt and sin. How can I go to 
Christ that am in such a case, that have been so vile a wretch? And 
here measuring the grace and mercy of Christ, by what it finds in 
itself, or in other creatures, 1 Sam. 24: 19. the soul is ready to 
sink under the weight of its own discouraging and mist giving 
    Secondly, The sense they have of their own weakness and 
inability to do what God requires, and must of necessity be done, if 
ever they be saved. My heart is harder than adamant, how can I break 
it? My will is stubborn, and exceeding obstinate, I am no way able 
to bow it; the frame and temper of my spirit is altogether carnal, 
and earthly; and it is not in the power of my hand to alter and 
change it; alas! I cannot subdue any one corruption, nor perform one 
spiritual duty, nor bear one of those sufferings and burdens which 
religion lays upon all that follow Christ: this also proves a great 
discouragement in the way of faith. 
    Thirdly, And, which is more than all, the soul that is coming 
to Jesus Christ, has no assurance of acceptance with him, if it 
should adventure itself upon him: it is a great hazard, a great 
adventure; it is much more probable, if I look to myself, that 
Christ will shut the door of mercy against me. 
    But under all these discouragements the soul learns this lesson 
from God, That, as ungodly as it is, nevertheless it is every way 
its great duty and concernment to go on in the way of faith, and 
make that great adventure of itself upon Jesus Christ: and of this 
the Lord convinceth the soul by two things, viz. 
    1. From the absolute necessity of coming. 
    2. From the encouraging probabilities of speeding 
    First, The soul seeth an absolute necessity of coming: 
necessity is laid upon it, there is no other way, Acts 4: 12. God 
has shut it up by a blessed necessity to this only door of escape, 
Gal. 3: 23. Damnation lies in the neglect of Christ, Heb. 2:3. The 
soul has no choice in this case; angels, ministers, duties, 
repentance, reformation cannot save me; Christ, and none but Christ 
can deliver me from present guilt, and the wrath to come. Why do I 
dispute, demur, delay, when certain ruin must inevitably follow the 
neglect or refusal of gospel offers? 
    Secondly, The Lord sheweth those that are under his teaching, 
the probabilities of mercy, for their encouragement in the way of 
believing. And these probabilities the soul is enabled to gather 
from the general and free invitations of the gospel, Isa. 55: 1, 7. 
Rev. 22: 17. from the conditional promises of the gospel, John 6: 
37. Mat. 11: 28. Isa. 1: 18. from the vast extent of grace, beyond 
all the thoughts and hopes of the creatures, Isa 55: 8, 9. Heb. 7:. 
25. from the encouraging examples of other sinners, who have found 
mercy in as bad a condition as they, 1 Tim. 1: 13. 2 Chron. 23:3. 2 
Cor. 6: 10, 11. from the command of God, which warrants the action, 
and answers all the objections of unworthiness and presumption in 
them that come to Christ, 1 John 3: 23. and lastly, from the 
sensible changes already made upon the temper and frame of the 
heart. Time was, when I had no sense of sin, nor sorrow for sin; no 
desire after Christ, no heart to duties. But it is not so with me 
now; I now see the evil of sin, so as I never saw it before; my 
heart is now broken in the sense of that evil; my desires begin to 
be enflamed after Jesus Christ; I am not at rest, nor where I would 
be, till I am in secret mourning after the Lord Jesus; surely these 
are the dawnings of the day of mercy; let me go on in this way. It 
saith, as the lepers at the siege of Samaria, 2 Kings 7: 8, 4. "If I 
stay here, I perish:" If I go to Christ I can but perish. Hence 
believers bear up against all objected discouragements, certum 
exitium commutemus incerto; it is the dictate of wisdom, the vote of 
reason, to exchange a certain for an uncertain ruin. And thus you 
have here what those excellent lessons are, which all that come to 
Christ are taught by the Father. 

The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
(continued in file 25...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: flamt-24.txt