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thieves, murderers, and all other kinds and degrees of sinners whomsoever. If any doubt of the truth of this, let them turn to the following texts : Isa. i. 18. Matt. xii. 31. Matt. xxi. 31. Mark xvi. 15, 16. Acts xiii. 39. Only let them come, they shall be received ; no difficulties made; no objections started: whatever they have been, whatever they have done, they shall not be cast out. Nay, more, Jesus says, “I will in no wise cast him out." I will not by any means, or on any account whatsoever, cast him out; though he may deserve it; though he may dread it; let him take my word for it, I will receive and embrace him ; I will show him all the mercy he needs, for pardon, peace, and holiness : I will save him for ever. Such is the import of these most gracious words. And this might be enough, were it not that sinners who are coming to Christ are commonly fruitful in fears and objections, and can scarcely be persuaded of this truth: it seems too great and too good to be true, at least as applied to them, who see their unworthiness and feel their guilt. For the greater satisfaction, then, of such trembling souls, let us attend to a few considerations, from which it will appear that Jesus Christ will heartily welcome every coming sinner.
1. Consider the gracious nature, the kind disposition of Christ towards sinners. “God is love." Jesus is love incarnate. He is the love of God in human nature. “ His heart is made of tenderness, his bowels melt with love." We are to remember that he is the brother of our nature. Because we are flesh and blood, he became such, that he might be a merciful High Priest, and through death abolish death. Heb. ii. 14, 17. “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich.” 2 Cor. viii. 9. Had he not loved sinners, he had never forsaken the throne of glory; condescended to be born of a poor virgin; to be laid in a manger; to be always a man of sorrows, labours, and sufferings; to endure the contradiction of sinners against himself, and, after all, to be betrayed, falsely accused, scourged, smitten, spit upon, crowned with thorns, and nailed to a cross. Who, that considers this, can doubt whether Jesus loves sinners ? as easy to him as to say to a leper, “ Be thou clean.” Come but to him, fellow-sinner, and he will directly say, “ Be thou saved.”
The names of Christ, both in the Old and New Testament, point out his gracious nature. Simeon waited for the Consolation of Israel. Now if Jesus had not a gracious heart, his appearance in the world would have been no consolation to sinful men. The prophet Isaiah says, “ He shall feed his flock like a Shepherd : he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” Jesus is the good and gracious • Shepherd, who even laid down his life for the sheep; who feeds them in his pleasant pastures, and guards them with his almighty hand. He is the tender and skilful Physician, who heals the sick, disordered, and dying soul; who never refuses a patient, nor fails in the most desperate case. He is the Good Samaritan, who pities and helps the wounded and dying traveller, neglected and forsaken of men. He is the Husband of his church, a name that implies tender care and kind affection; and whose love is the pattern for mortals to imitate. In short he is, as his enemies reproachfully said, the Friend of Sinner's ; not of sin, as they pretended, but that best of friends, who “delivers us from our sins.”
2. Consider the office of Christ, as another argument to prove his readiness to receive a coming sinner. Jesus Christ, as touching his Godhead, is equal with the Father; but he condescended to become a servant for our salvation. As such he often speaks of being “sent;' and of doing “ not his own will, but the will of his father.” And what is the will
of the Father, think you ? « This,' saith Jesus, " is the Father's will, which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing ; but that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life.” John vi. 39, 40. Jesus Christ is “the Apostle and High Priest of our profession.” The high priest was an officer of the Jewish church, whose business it was to offer gifts and sacrifices; it was necessary for him to be tender-hearted to the ignorant and those who were out of the way, and to be faithful to God and man. Thus Jesus, our great High Priest, is compassionate ; “is touched with the feeling of our infirmities; was tempted in all points like as we are; and, being made perfect through sufferings, became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Heb. iv. 15. v. 9. Now it is the office and business of Jesus Christ to save sinners. The high priest of old had nothing to do but with sinners. It was an office on purpose for sinners : and this was the only errand of Christ to our world. He came not to condemn the world : he declined any thing of that sort; as you may remember respecting the woman taken in adultery, he would not condemn her, John viii. ll; he abhorred her sin, but it was not his office to condemn; he came only to save. And as to proud self-righteous people, he had nothing to do with them; for “ he came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Look, then, upon Jesus as a public officer, appointed by divine authority to dispense mercy and pardon to every coming sinner; to every one who comes to God for mercy through him. As it is the duty of a judge to dispense the laws, and do justice between man and man; as it is the duty of the physician of an hospital to take care of all the sick who are in it; so it is the gracious office of the Lord Jesus to dispense mercy, pardon, grace, life, and salvation to all who apply to him; and were
it possible, we speak it with the deepest reverence, were it possible, which it is not, that the blessed Jesus should refuse and reject one sinner who comes to him for life, he would be unfaithful; but this can never be, we have his word for it in the text, 6 I will in no wise cast out him that cometh.”
3. Consider, once more, the gracious conduct and behaviour of our Saviour when he was upon earth. 66 He went about doing good.” And who were the objects of his regard ? Were they the princes and rulers, the rich and prosperous, the wise and learned ? No. These, in general, despised and rejected him. He turned his attention to the poor and needy, the sick and miserable ; yea, to publicans and harlots, that he might reclaim and save them. This was his reproach—66 a friend of sinners.” Did he see a multitude of ignorant people following him for instruction ? How did he exert himself in teaching them; in houses, in synagogues, in the temple, in a ship, on a moun tain! How plainly, how sweetly, how forcibly did he lead them into divine knowledge ! Nor did he forget their bodies. Were they hungry and ready to faint ? He had compassion on them, and wrought miracles to supply them with food. See also what vast numbers of diseased persons apply to him; the blind, the deaf, the dumb; the diseased with fever, leprosy, palsy, and others possessed by the devil; he heals them all. You never read of one poor, sick, miserable creature that he rejected ; if they came they were welcome; he never sent them away disappointed; and do you think he will show less pity to the sorrows of the mind, to the diseases of the soul ? Surely not; for the salvation of one soul is of more consequence than all the hundreds of bodily cures he wrought upon earth. Every man and woman that Christ healed died at last; but he whom Jesus saves 6 shall never die, but have everlasting life.” And yet this, great as it is, is
Remember, too, what a kind attention Jesus paid to mourning sinners. Remember the penitent harlot in the Pharisee's house: she came behind him, and washed his feet with penitential tears; she was despised by the Pharisee because she had been a great sinner, but Christ speaks kindly to her, and says, “ Thy sins are forgiven thee.” Remember what he said to another great sinner, the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar—" If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." John iv. 10.-If you knew the worth of salvation, and would ask it of Christ, you should have it; and he says the very same to us : “ If you knew the value of my salvation-felt your need of it, and would apply to me for it, you should not be denied.” Remember, my friends, how Jesus mourned and wept when hardened sinners were about to perish in their unbelief; remember how he wept to think of Jerusalem's approaching destruction. Remember, too, how he rejoiced at the prospect of a sinner's salvation; though he was a man of sorrows, this filled him with joy: and can you doubt, after all this, whether Jesus will receive you or not? Oh, be not faithless, but believing! Stagger not at this precious promise through unbelief; but be strong in faith, glorifying God.
From what has been said, we may learn what an important thing it is to come to Christ. We are all by nature at a dreadful distance; and “they that are far from him," if they die so, “must perish.” This, then, is the first and chief thing in religion, to come to