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without me; and yet will I labor to fulfil, if it were possible, ten thousand laws, if there were so many. And Oh, let it be out of love to my sweet Lord Jesus; for the love of Christ constraineth me."
Though no man can be justified by the works of the law, yet unless the righteousness and holiness by which they attempt to enter into this kingdom be justified by the law, it is in vain once to think of entering in at this strait gate. Now, the law justifieth not, but upon the account of Christ's righteousness; if therefore thou be not indeed found in that righteousness, thou wilt find the law lie just in the passage into heaven to keep thee out.
CHRIST A COMPLETE SAVIOUR.
"This is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." John 6:39.
The Father therefore, in giving them to him to save them, must needs declare unto us the following things:
1. That he is able to answer this design of God to save them to the uttermost sin, the uttermost temptation. Hence he is said to "lay help on one that is mighty," mighty to save. Sin is strong, Satan is also strong, death and the grave are strong, and so is the curse of the law; therefore it follows, that this Jesus must needs be by God the Father accounted almighty, in that he hath given his elect to him to save them from these, and that in despite of all their force and power. And he gave us testimony of this his might, when he was employed in that part of our deliverance that called for a declaration of it. He abolished death; he destroyed him that had the power of death; he was the destruction of the grave; he hath finished sin, and made an end of it; he hath vanquished the curse of the law, nailed it to his cross, triumphed over them upon his cross, and made a show of these things openly. Yea,
and even now, as a sign of his triumph and conquest, he is alive from the dead, and hath the keys of death and hell in his own keeping.
2. The Father's giving them to him to save them, declares unto us that he is and will be faithful in his office of Mediator, and that therefore they shall be secured from the fruit and wages of their sins, which is eternal damnation. And of this the Son hath already given a proof; for when the time was come that his blood was by divine justice required for their redemption, washing, and cleansing, he as freely poured it out of his heart as if it had been water out of a vessel; not sticking to part with his own life, that the life which was laid up for his people in heaven might not fail to be bestowed upon them.
3. The Father's giving of them to him to save them, declares that he is and will be gentle and patient towards them under all their provocations and miscarriages. It is not to be imagined, the trials and provocations that the Son of God hath all along had with these people that have been given to him to save. Indeed, he is said to be a tried stone; for he has been tried not only by the devil, guilt of sin, death, and the curse of the law, but also by his people's ignorance, unruliness, falls into sin, and declining to errors in life and doctrine. Were we but capable of seeing how this Lord Jesus has been tried, even by his people, ever since there was one of them in the world, we should be amazed at his patience and gentle carriages to them. It is said indeed, "The Lord is very pitiful, slow to anger, and of great mercy." And indeed, if he had not been so, he could never have endured their manners as he has done, from Adam hitherto. Therefore are his pity and bowels towards his church preferred above the pity and bowels of a mother towards her child. “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, saith the Lord."
God did once give Moses, as Christ's servant, a handful of his people to carry them in his bosom, but no further than from Egypt to Canaan; and this Moses, as is said of him by the Holy Ghost, was the meekest man that was then to be found upon the earth. God gave them to Moses that he might carry them in his bosom, that he might show gentleness and patience towards them, under all the provocations wherewith they would provoke him from that time till he had brought them to their land. But he failed in the work; he could not exercise it, because he had not that sufficiency of patience towards them. But now it is said of the person speaking in the text, that "he shall gather his lambs with his arm, shall carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead them that are with young."
4. The Father's giving them to him to save them, declares that he hath a sufficiency of wisdom to wage with all those difficulties that would attend him in his bringing his sons and daughters unto glory. He hath made him to us to be wisdom; yea, he is called Wisdom itself. And God saith, moreover, that he "shall deal prudently." And indeed, he that shall take upon him to be the Saviour of the people, had need be wise, because their adversaries are subtle above any. Here they are to encounter the serpent, who for his subtlety outwitted our father and mother when their wisdom was at highest. But if we talk of wisdom, our Jesus is wise, wiser than Solomon, wiser than all men, wiser than all angels; he is even the wisdom of God." And hence it is that he turneth sins, temptations, persecutions, falls, and all things, for good unto his people.
I do not doubt but there is virtue enough in the blood of Christ, would God Almighty so apply it, to save the souls of the whole world. But it is the blood of Christ, his own blood, and he may do what he will with his own.
It is also the blood of God, and he also may restrain its merits, or apply it as he sees good. But the coming soul, he shall find and feel the virtue thereof, even the soul that comes to God by Christ, for he is the man concerned in its worth.
There is sufficiency of merit in Christ to save a thousand times as many more as are like to be saved by him.
No man needs at all to go about to come at life and peace and rest: let him come directly from sin to grace, from Satan to Jesus Christ.
The cross, it stands and hath stood from the beginning as a way-mark to the kingdom of heaven. Art thou inquiring the way to heaven? Why, I tell thee Christ is the way; into him thou must get, into his righteousness to be justified; and if thou art in him, thou wilt presently see the cross: thou must go close by it, thou must touch it, nay, thou must take it up, or else thou wilt quickly go out of the way that leads to heaven, and turn up some of those crooked lanes that lead down to the chambers of death.
Many there be that begin with grace and end with works, and think that is the only way. Indeed, works will save from temporal punishments, when their imperfections are purged from them by the intercession of Christ; but to be saved and brought to glory, to be carried through this dangerous world from my first moving after Christ until I set foot within the gates of paradise, this is the work of my Mediator, of my High-priest and Intercessor. It is he that fetches us again when we are run away; it is he that lifts us up when the devil and sin have thrown us down; it is he that quickens us when we grow cold; it is he that comforts us when we despair; it is he that obtains fresh
pardon when we have contracted sin, and that purges our consciences when they are laden with guilt. I know that rewards do wait for them in heaven, that believe in Christ, and shall do well on earth; but this is not a reward of merit, but of grace. We are saved by Christ, brought to glory by Christ, and all our works are no other ways made acceptable to God but by the person and personal excellencies and works of Christ; therefore, whatever the jewels are, and the bracelets and the pearls, that thou shalt be adorned with as a reward of service done for God in the world, for them thou must thank Christ, and before all confess that he was the meritorious cause thereof.
Christ must be helpful to thee every way, or he will be helpful to thee no way; thou must enter in by every whit of Christ, or thou shalt enter in by never a whit of him. Wherefore look not to have him thy Saviour, if thou take him not for King and Prophet; nay, thou shalt not have him in any one, if thou dost not take him in every one of these.
Christ shall bear the glory of our salvation from sin, preservation in the midst of all temptations, and of our going to glory; also he shall bear the glory of our labor in the gospel, of our gifts and abilities, of making our work and labor effectual to the saving of sinners, that in all things he might have the preeminence.
If you have indeed laid Christ, God-man, for your foundation, then you do lay the hope of your felicity and joy on this, that the Son of Mary is now absent from his children in his person and humanity, making intercession for them and for thee in the presence of his Father. 2 Cor. 5: 6.
And the reason that thou canst rejoice hereat is, because thou hast not only heard of it with thine ear, but dost enjoy the sweet hope and faith of it in thy heart;