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notorious, let this thought hinder you from turning to
God, that your case is desperate, and your work so great that you know not where to begin it. If it was your own work to satisfy for your sins, and blot them out of God's book, you might well despair. -But in Christ you have full relief from this tormenting thought, and all the encouragement you can desire to come unto God by him. Before you were born, and before the world was made, he was appointed of God to do this great thing for you. And in the fulness of time he came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost, to call sinners to repentance, to bear their sins in his own body, to pluck them out of the hands of the devil, to redeem them from death, to make them children of God, and joint heirs with him in his kingdom in heaven. This you cannot but see is evidently a gift, and not man's work, whether saint or sinner; and your heart should leap with joy to think that, whoever you are,
your own. And whatever he requires us to do for ourselves, he will enable us to perform by strength from above. For something he does require of all who will be his disciples; and save none but those who come to him for the blessing of a new heart, as well as the forgiveness of their sins, and are willing to be delivered both from the guilt and power of them. That we may not, therefore, mistake our privilege, and reject this gift, let us consider,
IV. The character of those who receive it; signified to us in these words, “the government shall be upon his shoulder," for government implies subjection and obedience in the governed. “The kingdoms of the world are become the kingdoms of our Lord,” and he has all
power given him in heaven and earth, to the end he might teach and command us in the name of God, and make us a willing people, living by his rule, and serving him with
freedom of spirit. Do not mistake here, upon the peril of your souls. Christ is not the minister of sin, nor the master of a lawless family. He is not the head of whoremongers and adulterers, of sots and drunkards, of liars, swearers, evil-speakers, and sabbath-breakers, nor of those who live and die in the open breach of any of his commands. To all such he says, “ He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still.” If the sinner will not be persuaded, but is bent upon pleasing himself, in opposition to the authority and commands of his Lord, let him go on in the ways of his own choosing, and make his damnation sure, by casting the will of God behind his back. But thou who callest thyself a Christian, and lookest for a reward at thy Master's hands, be a faithful follower of him in truth and sincerity, and by professed subjection to him from a pure heart.
My brethren, you know in your own consciences, that the word of God is as full for our holiness under Christ, as the forgiveness of our sins by him; and that you must make a blot of the whole Bible, before you can entertain a thought, that the grace of God, which bringeth salvation, does not teach us “ to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world ;” and if we will not be thus taught by it, but make light of this qualification, by refusing to walk with him in the way which all his servants do, we must never look for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” For the government is upon his
' shoulder, that we may think ourselves well and happy under it, and receive a full blessing from it, in the duty and loyalty of our hearts to him; and he saves none but those who take him for their Lord and King to reign over them.
All he did and suffered to deliver us from the condemnation of sin, shows 'the heinous, accursed nature of it, God's abhorrence of it, and vengeance against it, in so strong a light, that we must be blinded to the wish of Satan, and led captive by him at his will, if we do not see the necessity of forsaking it. This then is the character and necessary qualification of all that belong to Christ. If you would be owned by him as his disciples, you must be subject to him in all things, fashioning your hearts and lives continually by the rule of God's word. The love of Christ constrains, the commands of Christ oblige you to obedience. There never was a more prevailing reason offered to the world, there cannot be a stronger bond laid upon the heart of man, for its grateful and willing subjection, than the love of God in giving his Son to die for us, and the love of Christ in offering himself to the stroke of justice in our stead. All, who are rooted and grounded in the faith of this love, feel the force of its drawing; and know what influence it has to keep their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus; to keep them from all evil, in all good.
May the Lord get himself a name in this place, by increasing the number of them; show them more and more what a happy privilege it is to be renewed by Christ, to the desire and love of holiness; and to have their souls confirmed in his obedience, as well as refreshed by his peace; what a glorious change it is in our condition, to be enabled, by the power of God's Spirit, to offer him free-will offerings with a holy worship, and to abound in good works to the praise of the glory of his grace.
The “child that was born, the son that was given,” to save the souls of his people from death, says, “ If ye love
, me, keep my commandments;" and they know they cannot so much as desire to be freed from their obligations to keep his laws, or take themselves from under his government, without renouncing their interest in him, and rendering themselves utterly unworthy of his regard. In the belief of the great deliverance he has wrought for them, they come to the blessed sacrament, both to have the pardon of their sins assured and conveyed to them, and to receive strength from it to live as becomes the disciples of the holy Jesus. Whilst those who pretend to believe in him, and yet make no conscience of obeying him, who have not so much as the form and appearance of his religion, and live in the neglect of this his peculiar, sacred command, which is our security for keeping all the rest, can have no hope or expectation of any benefit from him; but, instead thereof, subject themselves to that heavy doom, which he has forewarned them of: “As for these mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”
The Lord open your eyes before it be too late, and draw you to the Saviour in mercy and loving-kindness, that you may rejoice before God in the comfort of these words, and say with one mind, and one mouth, “ Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder.” We are thine, O Jesus! bought with thy blood, and thee we will serve. Even so, Lord Jesus, may we all give ourselves to thee, with obedient thankful hearts, for the gift of thyself to us. Take us unto thyself, and take possession of us by thy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father; to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honour, praise, and thanksgiving, for ever and ever.
And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the
Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Isaiah, ix. 6.
Our Lord has a great variety of names given him in Scripture, in order to set forth more fully the glory of his person, or explain the nature of our redemption by him. Jesus is the Saviour; Christ is the Lord's anointed, in all his offices of King, Priest, and Prophet ; Immanuel is God with us, not only in work, power, and mercy, but
, God in our flesh. He is called “ the true God and eternal life,” as the restorer of it to mankind when it was lost: the “ second man,” or “last Adam,” with a view to his abolishing the curse brought upon us by the first: the “great Prophet :” the “High Priest of our profession :" “the Prince of the Kings of the earth :" with a multitude of others, above 260, (See Frank's Christus Sacra Scripture Nucleus, page 234), to denote his Godhead or manhood, his character and offices; and all of them sig
; nificant of some benefit we receive by him. And here in the text he is called by no less than five names,
• Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” The prophet being directed by the Spirit of God to add one description or character of him after another; no one of them being sufficient to express fully what he is in himself, and all of them intended to raise our expectations of his being to us what he is called : for his names are therefore told us, that we may look for a suitable effect from them in ourselves, and be blessed in every one of them
To the intent you may understand and consider them, and secure your por