WHEN man is taken and laid under the day of God's power, when Christ is opening his ear to discipline, and speaking to him that his heart may receive instruction, many times that poor man is as if the devil had found him, and not God. How frenzily he imagines; how crossly he thinks; how ungainly he carries it under convictions, counsels, and his present apprehension of things! I know some are more powerfully dealt withal, and more strongly bound at first by the word; but others more in an ordinary manner, that the flesh and reason may be seen to the glory of Christ. Yea, and where the will is made more quickly to comply with its salvation, it is no thanks to the sinner at all. It is the day of the power of the Lord that has made the work so soon to appear. Therefore count this an act of love, in the height of love; love in a great degree.
|I heard thy voice in the garden.| Gen.3: 10. It is a word from without that does it. While Adam listened to his own heart, he thought fig-leaves a sufficient remedy; but the voice that walked in the garden shook him out of all such fancies.
A man's own righteousness will not fortify his conscience from fear and terror, when God begins to come near to him to judgment.
Few know the weight of sin. When the guilt thereof takes hold of the conscience, it commands homeward all the faculties of the soul.
It was upon this account that Peter and James and John were called the sons of thunder, because in the word which they were to preach there were to be not only lightnings, but thunders -- not only illuminations, but a great seizing of the heart with the dread and majesty of God, to the effectual turning of the sinner to him.
Lightnings without thunder are in this case dangerous, because they that receive the one without the other are subject to miscarry: they were once enlightened, but you read of no thunder they had, and they were subject to fall into an irrecoverable state. Paul had thunder with his lightning, to the shaking of his soul; so had the three thousand, so had the jailer: they that receive light without thunder, are subject to turn the grace of God into wantonness; but they that know the terror of God will persuade men. So then, when he decrees to give the rain of his grace to a man, he makes a way for the lightning and thunder; not the one without the other, but the one following the other.
We have had great lightnings in this land of late years, but little thunders; and that is one reason why so little grace is found where light is, and why so many professors run on their heads in such a day as this is, notwithstanding all they have seen.
The method of God is to kill and make alive, to smite and then heal.
He that hath not seen his lost condition, hath not seen a safe condition; he that did never see himself in the devil's snare, did never see himself in Christ's bosom.
Grace proceeds from the throne, from the throne of God and of the Lamb. Wherefore, sinner, here is laid a necessity upon thee; one of the two must be thy lot: either thou must accept of God's grace, and be content to be saved freely thereby, notwithstanding all thy undeservings and unworthiness, or else thou must be damned for thy rebellion, and for thy neglecting of this grace. Wherefore consider with thyself, and think what is best to be done. Is it better that thou submit to the grace and mercy of God, and that thou accept of grace to reign for thee, in thee, and over thee, than that thou shouldst run the hazard of eternal damnation because thou wouldst not be saved by grace? Consider of this, I say, for grace is now in authority: it reigns, and proceeds from the throne. This therefore calls for thy most grave and sedate thoughts. Thou art in a strait; wilt thou fly before Moses, or with David fall into the hands of the Lord? Wilt thou go to hell for sin, or to life by grace? One of the two, as was said before, must be thy lot; for grace is king, is upon the throne, and will admit of no other way to glory. Rom.5:2. In and by it thou must stand, if thou hast any hope, or canst at all rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
If thou do get off thy convictions, and not the right way -- which is by seeing thy sins washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ -- it is a question whether God will ever knock at thy heart again or no; but rather say, |Such a one is joined to idols; let him alone. My spirit, my ministers, my word, my mercy, my grace, my love, my pity, my common providences, shall no more strive with him; let him alone.| O sad! O miserable! who would slight convictions that are on their souls, which tend so much for their good?
In the creation of man, God began with his outside; but in the work of regeneration, he first begins within, at the heart.
Whoever receive the grace that is tendered in the gospel, they must be quickened by the power of God, their eyes must be opened, their understandings illuminated, their ears unstopped, their hearts circumcised, their wills also rectified, and the Son of God revealed in them.