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Who We find his salones desires him salvation in grace.
and everlasting importance. He assents to it as true. He delights in it as good, and rests his eternal all on this foundation, expecting that God, who is faithful to his promise, will not suffer him to perish, but give him eternal life. Or, as the renowned Witsius expresses it; “ As faith is an assent given to the divine truth, it includes in it the acceptance of the benefit offered by the covenant of grace. Here is my Son, says God, and salvation in him : I offer him to whoever desires him, and believes that he shall find his salvation in him. Who desires him ? Who believes this? I do, says the believer: I greatly long for him : I believe my salvation to be laid up in him. I take him as thus offered to me. Be it so, saith the Lord.”
Perhaps you will now ask me, But why is this called labour? Is there any difficulty in all this? Yes; much every way: for,
1. Believing in him alone for salvation is quite foreign to the notions of men by nature, and quite contrary to the terms of the covenant of works which all natural men are under, and to which even awakened sinners are much inclined. St. Paul laments the state of the Jews, who, 6 being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, would not submit themselves to the righteousness of God.” Rom. x. 3. They sought righteousness by their works ; “they stumbled at that stumbling stone.” Rom. ix. 32. Now it is one of the hardest things in the world to bring off a moral devout man from dependence on his good works, to trust his salvation on Christ alone: therefore is believing called a labour.
2. There are many other people who think that believing in Christ for salvation is too easy, cheap, and common a thing; they would rather do some hard and difficult task: something that looks great and meritorious; such as building a church or an hospital ; giving a great deal to the poor, or wearing sackcloth, or living in a monastery, or going a pilgrimage. There have been people that have walked with spikes in their shoes, and others who have burnt their children in the fire to appease their gods. But only to believe in Christ seems too simple and easy a thing, and on that very account it is hard to them. Thus we read in the Old Testament of a Syrian general who had the leprosy, and went a long journey to be cured by Elisha the prophet. When this great man came to the door, the prophet sent out a messenger, desiring him to wash in the river Jordan, and he should be healed. This you will say was an easy thing. So it was; but that very circumstance made it hard, for it put the great man in a rage. “I thought,” said he, “ that he would surely come out to me, and stand, and call upon his God, and strike his hand over the place ;" so he went away in a passion. But one of his servants wisely said, “ If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash and be clean.” He took the hint, and was perfectly healed. 1 Kings v.
3. Another thing makes believing a labour. Many think that if such stress is laid upon faith, it will make people neglect good works, and so be hurtful to the interests of virtue and morality. Some think it is not amiss to talk of Christ and his merits to dying people, because they cannot live to abuse the doctrine; but that little should be preached about free grace and the blood of Christ, lest it should lead to licentiousness. Alas, for such persons ! It is evident they are “ the whole, who need not the physician.” If ever they had been convinced of sin, and led to fear the wrath of a just and holy God, they would gladly fly to the only refuge for a sinner; and they would know by experience that the Gospel is as good a doctrine to live by, as it is to die by And indeed it is an abominable reproach upon the Holy Gospel to charge it with so bad a tendency. In fact, we know, from the word of God, from experience, and from observation, that faith purifies the heart, works by love, and produces all the fruits of righteousness and goodness.
4. But the great thing that makes believing in Christ so laborious is, the awful view that a convinced sinner often has of his guilt. He sees he has broken the law of God, and is exposed to its dreadful curse. He knows the corruption of his nature, and the plague of his heart. He feels that his heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. He ranks himself among the chief of sinners—thinks there is not another sinner in the world so bad as himself;, he fears there is something singular in his case-perhaps he is ready to fear that he has committed the unpardonable sin; he complains that he is beset with blasphemous thoughts, and on all these, and perhaps on many other accounts, is afraid that there is no help for him in God.
Besides, the devil is very busy with a convinced sinner. He is afraid of losing a subject; and as it was of old with a young man who was coming to Christ for bodily cure, “while he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down and tare him;" so Satan tries all his skill, and employs all his agents, to keep the soul from Christ; he will oppose nothing so much as his fleeing to Christ by faith.
Add to these difficulties one more. The convinced and enlightened soul, who is fully persuaded there is no salvation but in Christ, is apt to think it would be presumption in him to go to Christ, as he is so guilty, so filthy, so unworthy. He thinks when he is more reformed, more deeply humbled, and has obtained more knowledge and sanctity, then he may venture to hope in Christ. But this is a great mistake, a hurtful error: it is turning the Gospel upside down. The sinner's first business is to fly to Christ; to believe the record of God concerning him; to believe that his blood cleanseth from all sin; that every coming sinner will be welcome-Christ casting out none that come to him.
These considerations fully show how properly our blessed Lord speaks in the text, LABOUR for the meat which endureth to eternal life. And yet, blessed be God, who is “ the Author and Finisher of faith,” he can render this easy to the soul by the power of his Holy Spirit; 6 for he worketh in us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure.” “Our sufficiency,” in this respect, “is of God;" and, hard as it may seem at first, it becomes easier as we continue in the school of Christ, and there 6 grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Jesus.”
1. The subject reproves us. So our Lord intended it; so let us receive it. How many among us labour hard! But for what? A morsel of bread. Six long days in a week are spent in toil, to procure a few shillings. All this is right. This is no more than what God requires. 66 Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work.” But is this all? Is there no concern for the soul ? Do not think, my dear friends, that labouring for the body will excuse you from “ the one thing needful,” which is 6 the care of the soul.” You must mind both worlds; and both will be best minded when they are minded together. “ Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things (food and raiment) shall be added to you.”
Think, things. Cureth fore.
Think of the vanity of this world. Remember that earthly things perish in the using; but Christ the bread of life endureth for ever : and he that eateth of this bread shall never die.
2. Do you ask, How shall I get faith? I answer, It is the gift of God, and is to be sought for by earnest prayer, and daily attention to the Gospel, the word of faith. 6 Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Attend, therefore, where Christ is preached. Christ's sheep know his voice; they know it from a stranger's voice. May you learn to distinguish ; and, while you listen to the truth, pray earnestly that the Holy Spirit of truth may enlighten your minds, and enable you to mix faith with it; so shall it profit your souls.
3. We may also learn from this text that many labour in vain even in religion. They follow after righteousness; they want to be good, and hope to be saved; but they attain not their desires. What is the reason? “ They seek it not by faith, but, as it were, by the works of the law.” Rom. ix. 31. Avoid this rock, on which so many split; and remember that the first business in religion is to believe in Jesus. Begin with Christ, and every thing else will follow in its due order.
4. To conclude. Have any of you, by precious faith, received Christ? Do you take him as the bread of life, the food of your souls ? Rejoice, then, in the assurance which God gives you of eternal life. Those who ate the manna in the wilderness all died; but, saith Christ, ver. 51, I am the living bread which came down from heaven ; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life ; and I will raise him up at the last day. Believe this, and be happy.
And now, what doth the Lord require of thee, happy believer in Jesus? He requireth thee to walk in