The Lord spake unto Manasseh, and to his people, by the prophets, but would he hear? No, he would not. But shall Manasseh come off thus? No, he shall not. Therefore, he being also one of those whom the Father had given to the Son, and so falling within the bounds and reach of Shall-come, at last Shall-come takes him in hand, and then he comes indeed. He comes bowing and bending; he humbles himself greatly, and made supplication to the Lord, and prayed unto him; and he was entreated of him, and had mercy upon him (2 Chron 30:10).
The thief upon the cross, at first, did rail with his fellow upon Jesus Christ; but he was one that the Father had given to him, and, therefore, Shall-come must handle him and his rebellious will. And behold, so soon as he is dealt withal, by virtue of that absolute promise, how soon he buckleth, leaves his railing, falls to supplicating of the Son of God for mercy; "Lord," saith he, "Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom" (Matt 27:44; Luke 23:40-42).
Object. 4. They shall come, say you, but how if they be blind, and see not the way? For some are kept off from Christ, not only by the obstinacy of their will, but by the blindness of their mind. Now, if they be blind, how shall they come?
Answ. The question is not, Are they blind? But, Are they within the reach and power of Shall-come? If so, that Christ that said, they shall come, will find them eyes, or a guide or both, to bring them to himself. "Must is for the king." If they shall come, they shall come. No impediment shall hinder.
The Thessalonians' darkness did not hinder them from being the children of light; "I am come," said Christ, "that they which see not might see." And if he saith, See, ye "blind that have eyes," who shall hinder it? (Eph 5:8; John 9:39; Isa 29:18; 43:8).
This promise, therefore, is, as I said, a big-bellied promise, having in the bowels of it, all things that shall occur to the complete fulfilling of itself. They shall come. But it is objected, that they are blind. Well, Shall-come is still the same, and continueth to say, "They shall come to me." Therefore he saith again, "I will bring the blind by a way that they know not, I will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them" (Isa 42:16).
Mark, I will bring them, though they be blind; I will bring them by a way they know not; I will—I will; and therefore "they shall come to me."
Object. 5. But how, if they have exceeded many in sin, and so made themselves far more abominable? They are the ringleading sinners in the county, the town, or family.
Answ. What then? Shall that hinder the execution of Shall-come? It is not transgressions, nor sins, nor all their transgressions in all their sins, if they by the Father are given to Christ to save them, that shall hinder this promise, that it should not be fulfilled upon them. "In those days, and in that time," saith the Lord, "the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found" (Jer 50:20). Not that they had none, for they abounded in transgression, (2 Chron 33:9; Eze 16:48), but God would pardon, cover, hide, and put them away, by virtue of his absolute promise, by which they are given to Christ to save them. "And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have transgressed against me. And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise, and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall bear all the good that I do unto them; and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it" (Jer 33:8,9).
Object. 6. But how, if they have not faith and repentance? How shall they come then?
Answ. Why, he that saith, They shall come, shall he not make it good? If they shall come, they shall come; and he that hath said, they shall come, if faith and repentance be the way to come, as indeed they are, then faith and repentance shall be given to them! for Shall-come must be fulfilled on them.
1. Faith shall be given them. "I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord." "There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust" (Zeph 3:12; Rom 15:12).
2. They shall have repentance. He is exalted to give repentance. "They shall come weeping, and seeking the Lord their God." And again, "With weeping and supplication will I lead them" (Acts 5:31; Jer 31:9).
I told you before, that an absolute promise hath all conditional ones in the belly of it, and also provision to answer all those qualifications, that they propound to him that seeketh for their benefit. And it must be so; for if Shall-come be an absolute promise, as indeed it is, then it must be fulfilled upon every of those concerned therein. I say, it must be fulfilled, if God can by grace, and his absolute will, fulfil it. Besides, since coming and believing is all one, according to John 6:35, "He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst," then, when he saith they shall come, it is as much as to say, they shall believe, and consequently repent, to the saving of the soul.
So then the present want of faith and repentance cannot make this promise of God of none effect; because that this promise hath in it to give what others call for and expect. I will give them an heart, I will give them my Spirit, I will give them repentance, I will give them faith. Mark these words: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." But how came he to be a "new creature," since none can create but God? Why, God indeed doth make them "new creatures." "Behold," saith he, "I make all things new." And hence it follows, even after he had said they are "new creatures," "and all things are of God;" that is, all this new creation standeth in the several operations, and special workings of the Spirit of grace, who is God (2 Cor 5:17,18).
Object. 7. But how shall they escape all those dangerous and damnable opinions, that, like rocks and quicksands, are in the way in which they are going?
Answ. Indeed this age is an age of errors, if ever there was an age of errors in the world; but yet the gift of the Father, laid claim to by the Son in the text, must needs escape them, and in conclusion come to him. There are a company of Shall-comes in the Bible that doth secure them; not but that they may be assaulted by them; yea, and also for the time entangled and detained by them from the Bishop of their souls, but these Shall-comes will break those chains and fetters, that those given to Christ are entangled in, and they shall come, because he hath said they shall come to him.
Indeed, errors are like that whore of whom you read in the Proverbs, that sitteth in her seat in the high places of the city, "to call passengers who go right on their ways" (Prov 9:13-16). But the persons, as I said, that by the Father are given to the Son to save them, are, at one time or other, secured by "shall come to me."
And therefore of such it is said, God will guide them with his eye, with his counsels, by his Spirit, and that in the way of peace; by the springs of water, and into all truth (Psa 32:8; 73:24; John 16:13; Luke 1:79; Isa 49:10). So then he that hath such a guide, and all that the Father giveth to Christ shall have it, he shall escape those dangers, he shall not err in the way; yea, though he be a fool, he shall not err therein, (Isa 35:8), for of every such an one it is said, "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left" (Isa 30:21).
There were thieves and robbers before Christ's coming, as there are also now; but, said he, "The sheep did not hear them." And why did they not hear them, but because they were under the power of Shall-come, that absolute promise, that had that grace in itself to bestow upon them, as could make them able rightly to distinguish of voices, "My sheep hear my voice." But how came they to hear it? Why, to them it is given to know and to hear, and that distinguishingly (John 10:8,16; 5:25; Eph 5:14).
Further, The very plain sentence of the text makes provision against all these things; for, saith it, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me;" that is, shall not be stopped, or be allured to take up anywhere short of ME, nor shall they turn aside, to abide with any besides ME.
[Import of the words TO ME.]
"Shall come TO ME."—To me. By these words there is further insinuated, though not expressed, a double cause of their coming to him. First. There is in Christ a fullness of all-sufficiency of that, even of all that which is needful to make us happy. Second. Those that indeed come to him, do therefore come to him that they may receive it at his hand.
First. For the first of these, there is in Christ a fullness of all-sufficiency of all that, even of all that which is needful to make us happy. Hence it is said, "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell" (Col 1:19). And again, "Of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16). It is also said of him, that his riches are unsearchable—"the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph 3:8). Hear what he saith of himself, "Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment; that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance. And I will fill their treasures" (Prov 8:18-21).
This in general. But, more particularly,
1. There is that light in Christ, that is sufficient to lead them out of, and from all that darkness, in the midst of which all others, but them that come to him, stumble, and fall and perish: "I am the light of the world," saith he, "he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). Man by nature is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knows not whither he goes, for darkness hath blinded his eyes; neither can anything but Jesus Christ lead men out of this darkness. Natural conscience cannot do it; the ten commandments, though in the heart of man, cannot do it. This prerogative belongs only to Jesus Christ.
2. There is that life in Christ, that is to be found nowhere else (John 5:40). Life, as a principle in the soul, by which it shall be acted and enabled to do that which through him is pleasing to God. "He that believeth in," or cometh to, "me," saith he, as the Scripture hath said, "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). Without this life a man is dead, whether he be bad, or whether he be good; that is, good in his own, and other men's esteem. There is no true and eternal life but what is in the ME that speaketh in the text.
There is also life for those that come to him, to be had by faith in his flesh and blood. "He that eateth me, even he shall live by me" (John 6:57). And this is a life against that death that comes by the guilt of sin, and the curse of the law, under which all men are, and for ever must be, unless they eat the ME that speaks in the text. "Whoso findeth ME," saith he, "findeth life;" deliverance from that everlasting death and destruction, that, without me, he shall be devoured by (Prov 8:35). Nothing is more desirable than life, to him that hath in himself the sentence of condemnation; and here only is life to be found. This life, to wit, eternal life, this life is in his Son; that is, in him that saith in the text, "All that the Father hath given me shall come to me" (1 John 5:10).
3. The person speaking in the text, is he alone by whom poor sinners have admittance to, and acceptance with the Father, because of the glory of his righteousness, by and in which he presenteth them amiable and spotless in his sight; neither is there any way besides him so to come to the Father: "I am the way," says he, "and the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by me" (John 14:6). All other ways to God are dead and damnable; the destroying cherubim stand with flaming swords, turning every way to keep all others from his presence (Gen 3:24). I say, all others but them that come by him. "I am the door; by me," saith he, "if any man enter in, he shall be saved" (John 10:9).
The person speaking in the text is HE, and only HE, that can give stable and everlasting peace; therefore, saith he, "My peace I give unto you." My peace, which is a peace with God, peace of conscience, and that of an everlasting duration. My peace, peace that cannot be matched, "not as the world giveth, give I unto you;" for the world's peace is but carnal and transitory, but mine is Divine and eternal. Hence it is called the peace of God, and that passeth all understanding.
4. The person speaking in the text hath enough of all things truly spiritually good, to satisfy the desires of every longing soul. "Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." And to him that is athirst, "I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely" (John 7:37, Rev 21:6).
5. With the person speaking in the text is power to perfect and defend, and deliver those that come to him for safe-guard. "All power," saith he, "is given unto me in heaven and earth" (Matt 28:18).
Thus might I multiply instances in this nature in abundance. But,
Second. They that in truth do come to him, do therefore come to him that they might receive it at his hand. They come for light, they come for life, they come for reconciliation with God: they also come for peace, they come that their soul may be satisfied with spiritual good, and that they may be protected by him against all spiritual and eternal damnation; and he alone is able to give them all this, to the filling of their joy to the full, as they also find when they come to him. This is evident,
1. From the plain declaration of those that already are come to him. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Rom 5:1,2).
2. It is evident also, in that while they keep their eyes upon him, they never desire to change him for another, or to add to themselves some other thing, together with him, to make up their spiritual joy. "God forbid," saith Paul, "that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." "Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Phil 3:8,9).
3. It is evident also, by their earnest desires that others might be made partakers of their blessedness. "Brethren," said Paul, "my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." That is, that way that he expected to be saved himself. As he saith also to the Galatians, "Brethren," saith he, "I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are;" that is, I am a sinner as you are. Now, I beseech you, seek for life, as I am seeking of it; as who should say, For there is a sufficiency in the Lord Jesus both for me and you.
4. It is evident also, by the triumph that such men make over all their enemies, both bodily and ghostly: "Now thanks be unto God," said Paul, "which always causeth us to triumph in Christ." And, "who shall separate us from the love of Christ" our Lord? and again, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 2:14; Rom 8:35; 1 Cor 15:55,56).
5. It is evident also, for that they are made by the glory of that which they have found in him, to suffer and endure what the devil and hell itself hath or could invent, as a means to separate them from him. Again, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? as it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8:35-39).
"Shall come TO ME." Oh! the heart-attracting glory that is in Jesus Christ, when he is discovered, to draw those to him that are given to him of the Father; therefore those that came of old, rendered this as the cause of their coming to him: "And we beheld his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father" (John 1:14). And the reason why others come not, but perish in their sins, is for want of a sight of his glory: "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor 4:3,4).
There is therefore heart-pulling glory in Jesus Christ, which, when discovered, draws the man to him; wherefore by shall come to me, Christ may mean, when his glory is discovered, then they must come, then they shall come to me. Therefore, as the true comers come with weeping and relenting, as being sensible of their own vileness, so again it is said, that "the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." That is, at the sight of the glory of that grace that shows itself to them now in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the hopes that they now have of being with him in the heavenly tabernacles. Therefore it saith again, "With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought; they shall enter into the King's palace" (Isa 35:10; 51:11; Psa 45:15). There is therefore heart-attracting glory in the Lord Jesus Christ, which, when discovered, subjects the heart to the Word, and makes us come to him.
It is said of Abraham, that when he dwelt in Mesopotamia, "the God of glory appeared unto him," saying, "Get thee out of thy country." And what then? Why, away he went from his house and friends, and all the world could not stay him. "Now," as the Psalmist says, "Who is this King of glory?" he answers, "The Lord, mighty in battle" (Psa 24:8). And who was that, but he that "spoiled principalities and powers," when he did hang upon the tree, triumphing over them thereon? And who was that but Jesus Christ, even the person speaking in the text? Therefore he said of Abraham, "He saw his day. Yea," saith he to the Jews, "your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad" (Col 2:15; James 2:23; John 8:56).
Indeed, the carnal man says, at least in his heart, "There is no form or comeliness in Christ; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him," (Isa 53:2); but he lies. This he speaks, as having never seen him. But they that stand in his house, and look upon him through the glass of his Word, by the help of his Holy Spirit, they will tell you other things. "But we all," say they, "with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory" (2 Cor 3:18). They see glory in his person, glory in his undertakings, glory in the merit of his blood, and glory in the perfection of his righteousness; yea, heart-affecting, heart-sweetening, and heart-changing glory!
Indeed, his glory is veiled, and cannot be seen but as discovered by the Father (Matt 11:27). It is veiled with flesh, with meanness of descent from the flesh, and with that ignominy and shame that attended him in the flesh; but they that can, in God's light, see through these things, they shall see glory in him; yea, such glory as will draw and pull their hearts unto him.
Moses was the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter; and for aught I know, had been king at last, had he now conformed to the present vanities that were there at court; but he could not, he would not do it. Why? What was the matter? Why! he saw more in the worst of Christ (bear with the expression), than he saw in the best of all the treasures of the land of Egypt. He "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. He forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king." But what emboldened him thus to do? Why, "he endured;" for he had a sight of the person speaking in the text. "He endured, as seeing him who is invisible." But I say, would a sight of Jesus have thus taken away Moses' heart from a crown, and a kingdom, &c., had he not by that sight seen more in him than was to be seen in them? (Heb 11:24-26).
Therefore, when he saith, shall come to me, he means, they shall have a discovery of the glory of the grace that is in him; and the beauty and glory of that is of such virtue, that it constraineth, and forceth, with a blessed violency, the hearts of those that are given to him.
Moses, of whom we spake before, was no child when he was thus taken with the beauteous glory of his Lord. He was forty years old, and so consequently was able, being a man of that wisdom and opportunity as he was, to make the best judgment of the things, and of the goodness of them that was before him in the land of Egypt. But he, even he it was, that set that low esteem upon the glory of Egypt, as to count it not worth the meddling with, when he had a sight of this Lord Jesus Christ. This wicked world thinks, that the fancies of a heaven, and a happiness hereafter, may serve well enough to take the heart of such, as either have not the world's good things to delight in; or that are fools, and know not how to delight themselves therein. But let them know again, that we have had men of all ranks and qualities, that have been taken with the glory of our Lord Jesus, and have left all to follow him. As Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon; and who not, that had either wit or grace, to savour heavenly things? Indeed none can stand off from him, nor any longer hold out against him to whom he reveals the glory of his grace.
[THE PROMISE TO THOSE COMING TO CHRIST.]
"AND HIM THAT COMETH TO ME I will in no wise cast out."
By these words our Lord Jesus doth set forth yet more amply the great goodness of his nature towards the coming sinner. Before, he said, They shall come; and here he declareth, That with heart and affections he will receive them. But, by the way, let me speak one word or two to the seeming conditionality of this promise with which now I have to do. "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Where it is evident, may some say, that Christ's receiving us to mercy depends upon our coming, and so our salvation by Christ is conditional. If we come, we shall be received; if not, we shall not; for that is fully intimated by the words. The promise of reception is only to him that cometh. "And him that cometh." I answer, that the coming in these words mentioned, as a condition of being received to life, is that which is promised, yea, concluded to be effected in us by the promise going before. In those latter words, coming to Christ is implicitly required of us; and in the words before, that grace that can make us come is positively promised to us. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" thence. We come to Christ, because it is said, We shall come; because it is given to us to come. So that the condition which is expressed by Christ in these latter words is absolutely promised in the words before. And, indeed, the coming here intended is nothing else but the effect of "shall come to me. They shall come, and I will not cast them out."
"AND HIM THAT COMETH."
He saith not, and him that is come, but him that cometh. To speak to these words, First, In general. Second, More particularly.
[First.] In general. They suggest unto us these four things:—
1. That Jesus Christ doth build upon it, that since the Father gave his people to him, they shall be enabled to come unto him. "And him that cometh." As who should say, I know that since they are given to me, they shall be enabled to come unto me. He saith not, if they come, or I suppose they will come; but, "and him that cometh." By these words, therefore, he shows us that he addresseth himself to the receiving of them whom the Father gave to him to save them. I say, he addresseth himself, or prepareth himself to receive them. By which, as I said, he concludeth or buildeth upon it, that they shall indeed come to him. He looketh that the Father should bring them into his bosom, and so stands ready to embrace them.
2. Christ also suggesteth by these words, that he very well knoweth who are given to him; not by their coming to him, but by their being given to him. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh," &c. This him he knoweth to be one of them that the Father hath given him; and, therefore, he received him, even because the Father hath given him to him (John 10). "I know my sheep," saith he. Not only those that already have knowledge of him, but those, too, that yet are ignorant of him. "Other sheep I have," said he, "which are not of this fold," (John 10:16); not of the Jewish church, but those that lie in their sins, even the rude and barbarous Gentiles. Therefore, when Paul was afraid to stay at Corinth, from a supposition that some mischief might befall him there; "Be not afraid," said the Lord Jesus to him, "but speak, and hold not thy peace—for I have much people in this city" (Acts 18:9,10). The people that the Lord here speaks of were not at this time accounted his, by reason of a work of conversion that already had passed upon them, but by virtue of the gift of the Father; for he had given them unto him. Therefore was Paul to stay here, to speak the word of the Lord to them, that, by his speaking, the Holy Ghost might effectually work over their souls, to the causing them to come to him, who was also ready, with heart and soul, to receive them.
3. Christ, by these words, also suggesteth, that no more come unto him than, indeed, are given him of the Father. For the him in this place is one of the all that by Christ was mentioned before. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me;" and every him of that all, "I will in no wise cast out." This the apostle insinuateth, where he saith, "He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph 4:11-13).
Mark, as in the text, so here he speaketh of all. "Until we all come." We all! all who? Doubtless, "All that the Father giveth to Christ." This is further insinuated, because he called this ALL the body of Christ; the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. By which he means the universal number given; to wit, the true elect church, which is said to be his body and fullness (Eph 1:22,23).
4. Christ Jesus, by these words, further suggesteth, that he is well content with this gift of the Father to him. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." I will heartily, willingly, and with great content of mind, receive him.
They show us, also, that Christ's love in receiving is as large as his Father's love in giving, and no larger. Hence, he thanks him for his gift, and also thanks him for hiding of him and his things from the rest of the wicked (Matt 11:25; Luke 10:21). But,
Secondly, and more particularly, "And HIM that cometh."
[Import of the word HIM.]
"And him." This word him; by it Christ looketh back to the gift of the Father; not only in the lump and whole of the gift, but to the every him of that lump. As who should say, I do not only accept of the gift of my Father in the general, but have a special regard to every of them in particular; and will secure not only some, or the greatest part, but every him, every dust. Not a hoof of all shall be lost or left behind. And, indeed, in this he consenteth to his Father's will, which is that of all that he hath given him, he should lose nothing (John 6:39).
"And him." Christ Jesus, also, by his thus dividing the gift of his Father into hims, and by his speaking of them in the singular number, shows what a particular work shall be wrought in each one, at the time appointed of the Father. "And it shall come to pass in that day," saith the prophet, "that the Lord shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel." Here are the hims, one by one, to be gathered to him by the Father (Isa 27:12).
He shows also hereby that no lineage, kindred, or relation, can at all be profited by any outward or carnal union with the person that the Father hath given to Christ. It is only him, the given HIM, the coming him, that he intends absolutely to secure. Men make a great ado with the children of believers; and oh the children of believers! 13 But if the child of the believer is not the him concerned in this absolute promise, it is not these men's great cry, nor yet what the parent or child can do, that can interest him in this promise of the Lord Christ, this absolute promise.
AND HIM. There are divers sorts of persons that the Father hath given to Jesus Christ; they are not all of one rank, of one quality; some are high, some are low; some are wise, some fools; some are more civil, and complying with the law; some more profane, and averse to him and his gospel. Now, since those that are given to him are, in some sense, so diverse; and again, since he yet saith, "And him that cometh," &c., he, by that, doth give us to understand that he is not, as men, for picking and choosing, to take a best and leave a worst, but he is for him that the Father hath given him, and that cometh to him. "He shall not alter it, nor change it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good," (Lev 27:10); but will take him as he is, and will save his soul.
There is many a sad wretch given by the Father to Jesus Christ; but not one of them all is despised or slighted by him. It is said of those that the Father hath given to Christ that they have done worse than the heathen; that they were murderers, thieves, drunkards, unclean persons, and what not; but he has received them, washed them, and saved them. A fit emblem of this sort is that wretched instance mentioned in the 16th of Ezekiel, that was cast out in a stinking condition, to the loathing of its person, in the days that it was born; a creature in such a wretched condition, that no eye pitied, to do any of the things there mentioned unto it, or to have compassion upon it; no eye but his that speaketh in the text.
AND HIM. Let him be as red as blood, let him be as red as crimson. Some men are blood-red sinners, crimson-sinners, sinners of a double die; dipped and dipped again, before they come to Jesus Christ. Art thou that readest these lines such an one? Speak out, man! Art thou such an one? and art thou now coming to Jesus Christ for the mercy of justification, that thou mightest be made white in his blood, and be covered with his righteousness? Fear not; forasmuch as this thy coming betokeneth that thou art of the number of them that the Father hath given to Christ; for he will in no wise cast thee out. "Come now," saith Christ, "and let us reason together; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isa 1:18).
AND HIM. There was many a strange HIM came to Jesus Christ, in the days of his flesh; but he received them all, without turning any away; speaking unto them "of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing" (Luke 9:11; 4:40). These words, AND HIM, are therefore words to be wondered at. That not one of them who, by virtue of the Father's gift, and drawing, are coming to Jesus Christ, I say, that not one of them, whatever they have been, whatever they have done, should be rejected or set by, but admitted to a share in his saving grace. It is said in Luke, that the people "wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth" (4:22). Now this is one of his gracious words; these words are like drops of honey, as it is said, "Pleasant words are as an honey-comb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones" (Prov 16:24). These are gracious words indeed, even as full as a faithful and merciful High-priest could speak them. Luther saith, "When Christ speaketh, he hath a mouth as wide as heaven and earth." That is, to speak fully to the encouragement of every sinful him that is coming to Jesus Christ. And that his word is certain, hear how himself confirms it: "Heaven and earth," saith he, "shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away" (Isa 51:6; Matt 24:35).
It is also confirmed by the testimony of the four evangelists, who gave faithful relation of his loving reception of all sorts of coming sinners, whether they were publicans, harlots, thieves, possessed of devils, bedlams, and what not (Luke 19:1-10; Matt 21:31; Luke 15; 23:43; Mark 16:9; 5:1-9).
This, then, shows us, 1. "The greatness of the merits of Christ." 2. The willingness of his heart to impute them for life to the great, if coming, sinners.
1. This shows us the greatness of the merits of Christ; for it must not be supposed, that his words are bigger than his worthiness. He is strong to execute his word. He can do, as well as speak. He can do exceeding abundantly more than we ask or think, even to the uttermost, and outside of his word (Eph 3:20). Now, then, since he concludeth any coming HIM; it must be concluded, that he can save to the uttermost sin, any coming HIM.
Do you think, I say, that the Lord Jesus did not think before he spake? He speaks all in righteousness, and therefore by his word we are to judge how mighty he is to save (Isa 63:1). He speaketh in righteousness, in very faithfulness, when he began to build this blessed gospel-fabric, the text; it was for that he had first sat down, and counted the cost; and for that, he knew he was able to finish it! What, Lord, any him? any him that cometh to thee? This is a Christ worth looking after, this is a Christ worth coming to!
This, then, should learn us diligently to consider the natural force of every word of God; and to judge of Christ's ability to save, not by our sins, or by our shallow apprehensions of his grace; but by his word, which is the true measure of grace. And if we do not judge thus, we shall dishonour his grace, lose the benefit of his word, and needlessly fright ourselves into many discouragements though coming to Jesus Christ. Him, any him that cometh, hath sufficient from this word of Christ, to feed himself with hopes of salvation. As thou art therefore coming, O thou coming sinner, judge thou, whether Christ can save thee by the true sense of his words: judge, coming sinner, of the efficacy of his blood, of the perfection of his righteousness, and of the prevalency of his intercession, by his word. "And him," saith he, "that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." "In no wise," that is, for no sin. Judge therefore by his word, how able he is to save thee. It is said of God's sayings to the children of Israel, "There failed not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass" (Josh 21:45). And again, "Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you, all are come to pass unto you; and not one thing hath failed thereof" (Josh 23:14).
Coming sinner, what promise thou findest in the word of Christ, strain it whither thou canst, so thou dost not corrupt it, and his blood and merits will answer all; what the word saith, or any true consequence that is drawn therefrom, that we may boldly venture upon. As here in the text he saith, "And him that cometh," indefinitely, without the least intimation of the rejection of any, though never so great, if he be a coming sinner. Take it then for granted, that thou, whoever thou art, if coming, art intended in these words; neither shall it injure Christ at all, if, as Benhadad's servants served Ahab, thou shalt catch him at his word. "Now," saith the text, "the man did diligently observe whether anything would come from him," to wit, any word of grace; "and did hastily catch it." And it happened that Ahab had called Benhadad his brother. The man replied, therefore, "Thy brother Benhadad!" (1 Kings 20:33), catching him at his word. Sinner, coming sinner, serve Jesus Christ thus, and he will take it kindly at thy hands. When he in his argument called the Canaanitish woman dog, she catched him at it, and saith, "Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table." I say, she catched him thus in his words, and he took it kindly, saying, "O woman great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt" (Matt 15:28). Catch him, coming sinner, catch him in his words, surely he will take it kindly, and will not be offended at thee.
2. The other thing that I told you is showed from these words, is this: The willingness of Christ's heart to impute his merits for life to the great, if coming sinner. "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
The awakened coming sinner doth not so easily question the power of Christ, as his willingness to save him. Lord, "if thou wilt, thou canst," said one (Mark 1:40). He did not put the if upon his power, but upon his will. He concluded he could, but he was not as fully of persuasion that he would. But we have the same ground to believe he will, as we have to believe he can; and, indeed, ground for both is the Word of God. If he was not willing, why did he promise? Why did he say he would receive the coming sinner? Coming sinner, take notice of this; we use to plead practices with men, and why not with God likewise? I am sure we have no more ground for the one than the other; for we have to plead the promise of a faithful God. Jacob took him there: "Thou saidst," said he, "I will surely do thee good" (Gen 32:12). For, from this promise he concluded, that it followed in reason, "He must be willing."
The text also gives some ground for us to draw the same conclusion. "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Here is his willingness asserted, as well as his power suggested. It is worth your observation, that Abraham's faith considered rather God's power than his willingness; that is, he drew his conclusion, "I shall have a child," from the power that was in God to fulfil the promise to him. For he concluded he was willing to give him one, else he would not have promised one. "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was able also to perform" (Rev 4:20,21). But was not his faith exercised, or tried, about his willingness too? No, there was no show of reason for that, because he had promised it. Indeed, had he not promised it, he might lawfully have doubted it; but since he had promised it, there was left no ground at all for doubting, because his willingness to give a son was demonstrated in his promising him a son. These words, therefore, are sufficient ground to encourage any coming sinner that Christ is willing to his power to receive him; and since he hath power also to do what he will, there is no ground at all left to the coming sinner any more to doubt; but to come in full hope of acceptance, and of being received unto grace and mercy. "And him that cometh." He saith not, and him that is come; but, and him that cometh; that is, and him whose heart begins to move after me, who is leaving all for my sake; him who is looking out, who is on his journey to me. We must, therefore, distinguish betwixt coming, and being come to Jesus Christ. He that is come to him has attained of him more sensibly what he felt before that he wanted, than he has that but yet is coming to him.
[Advantages to the man that is come to Christ.]
A man that is come to Christ hath the advantage of him that is but coming to him; and that in seven things.
1. He that is come to Christ is nearer to him than he that is but coming to him; for he that is but coming to him is yet, in some sense, at a distance from him; as it is said of the coming prodigal, "And while he was yet a great way off" (Luke 15:20). Now he that is nearer to him hath the best sight of him; and so is able to make the best judgment of his wonderful grace and beauty, as God saith, "Let them come near, then let them speak" (Isa 41:1). And as the apostle John saith, "And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world" (1 John 4:14). He that is not yet come, though he is coming, is not fit, not being indeed capable to make that judgment of the worth and glory of the grace of Christ, as he is that is come to him, and hath seen and beheld it. Therefore, sinner, suspend thy judgment till thou art come nearer.
2. He that is come to Christ has the advantage of him that is but coming, in that he is eased of his burden; for he that is but coming is not eased of his burden (Matt 11:28). He that is come has cast his burden upon the Lord. By faith he hath seen himself released thereof; but he that is but coming hath it yet, as to sense and feeling, upon his own shoulders. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden," implies, that their burden, though they are coming, is yet upon them, and so will be till indeed they are come to him.
3. He that is come to Christ has the advantage of him that is but coming in this also, namely, he hath drank of the sweet and soul refreshing water of life; but he that is but coming hath not. "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink" (John 7:37).
Mark, He must come to him before he drinks: according to that of the prophet, "Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." He drinketh not as he cometh, but when he is come to the waters (Isa 55:1).
4. He that is come to Christ hath the advantage of him that as yet is but coming in this also, to wit, he is not so terrified with the noise, and, as I may call it, hue and cry, which the avenger of blood makes at the heels of him that yet is but coming to him. When the slayer was on his flight to the city of his refuge, he had the noise or fear of the avenger of blood at his heels; but when he was come to the city, and was entered thereinto, that noise ceased. Even so it is with him that is but coming to Jesus Christ, he heareth many a dreadful sound in is ear; sounds of death and damnation, which he that is come is at present freed from. Therefore he saith, "Come, and I will give you rest." And so he saith again, "We that have believed, do enter into rest," as he said, &c. (Heb 4).
5. He, therefore, that is come to Christ, is not so subject to those dejections, and castings down, by reason of the rage and assaults of the evil one, as is the man that is but coming to Jesus Christ, though he has temptations too. "And as he was yet a-coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him" (Luke 9:42). For he has, though Satan still roareth upon him, those experimental comforts and refreshments, to wit, in his treasury, to present himself with, in times of temptation and conflict; which he that is but coming has not.
6. He that is come to Christ has the advantage of him that is but coming to him, in this also, to wit, he hath upon him the wedding garment, &c., but he that is coming has not. The prodigal, when coming home to his father, was clothed with nothing but rags, and was tormented with an empty belly; but when he was come, the best robe is brought out, also the gold ring, and the shoes, yea, they are put upon him, to his great rejoicing. The fatted calf was killed for him; the music was struck up to make him merry; and thus also the Father himself sang of him, "This my son was dead, and is alive again; was lost and is found" (Luke 15:18,19).
7. In a word, he that is come to Christ, his groans and tears, his doubts and fears, are turned into songs and praises; for that he hath now received the atonement, and the earnest of his inheritance; but he that is but yet a-coming, hath not those praises nor songs of deliverance with him; nor has he as yet received the atonement and earnest of his inheritance, which is, the sealing testimony of the Holy Ghost, through the sprinkling of the blood of Christ upon his conscience, for he is not come (Rom 5:11; Eph 1:13; Heb 12:22-24).
[Import of the word COMETH.]
"And him that COMETH." There is further to be gathered from this word cometh, these following particulars:—
1. That Jesus Christ hath his eye upon, and takes notice of, the first moving of the heart of a sinner after himself. Coming sinner, thou canst not move with desires after Christ, but he sees the working of those desires in thy heart. "All my desire," said David, "is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee" (Psa 38:9). This he spake, as he was coming, after he had backslidden, to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is said of the prodigal, that while he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, had his eye upon him, and upon the going out of his heart after him (Luke 15:20).
When Nathanael was come to Jesus Christ, the Lord said to them that stood before him, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." But Nathanael answered him, "Whence knowest thou me?" Jesus answered, "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee." There, I suppose, Nathanael was pouring out of his soul to God for mercy, or that he would give him good understanding about the Messias to come; and Jesus saw all the workings of his honest heart at that time (John 1:47,48).
Zaccheus also had some secret movings of heart, such as they were, towards Jesus Christ, when he ran before, and climbed up the tree to see him; and the Lord Jesus Christ had his eye upon him: therefore, when he was come to the place, he looked up to him, bids him come down, "For today," said he, "I must abide at thy house;" to wit, in order to the further completing the work of grace in his soul (Luke 19:1-9). Remember this, coming sinner.
2. As Jesus Christ hath his eye upon, so he hath his heart open to receive, the coming sinner. This is verified by the text: "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." This is also discovered by his preparing of the way, in his making of it easy (as may be) to the coming sinner; which preparation is manifest by those blessed words, "I will in no wise cast out;" of which more when we come to the place. And while "he was yet a great way off, his Father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him" (Luke 15:20). All these expressions do strongly prove that the heart of Christ is open to receive the coming sinner.
3. As Jesus Christ has his eye upon, and his heart open to receive, so he hath resolved already that nothing shall alienate his heart from receiving the coming sinner. No sins of the coming sinner, nor the length of the time that he hath abode in them, shall by any means prevail with Jesus Christ to reject him. Coming sinner, thou art coming to a loving Lord Jesus!
4. These words therefore are dropped from his blessed mouth, on purpose that the coming sinner might take encouragement to continue on his journey, until he be come indeed to Jesus Christ. It was doubtless a great encouragement to blind Bartimeus, that Jesus Christ stood still and called him, when he was crying, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me;" therefore, it is said, he cast away his garment, "rose, and came to Jesus" (Mark 10:46). Now, if a call to come hath such encouragement in it, what is a promise of receiving such, but an encouragement much more? And observe it, though he had a call to come, yet not having a promise, his faith was forced to work upon a mere consequence, saying, He calls me; and surely since he calls me, he will grant me my desire. Ah! but coming sinner, thou hast no need to go so far about as to draw (in this matter) consequences, because thou hast plain promises: "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Here is full, plain, yea, what encouragement one can desire; for, suppose thou wast admitted to make a promise thyself, and Christ should attest that he would fulfil it upon the sinner that cometh to him, Couldst thou make a better promise? Couldst thou invent a more full, free, or larger promise? a promise that looks at the first moving of the heart after Jesus Christ? a promise that declares, yea, that engageth Christ Jesus to open his heart to receive the coming sinner? yea, further, a promise that demonstrateth that the Lord Jesus is resolved freely to receive, and will in no wise cast out, nor means to reject, the soul of the coming sinner! For all this lieth fully in this promise, and doth naturally flow therefrom. Here thou needest not make use of far-fetched consequences, nor strain thy wits, to force encouraging arguments from the text. Coming sinner, the words are plain: "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
[TWO SORTS OF SINNERS COMING TO CHRIST.]
"And him that COMETH." There are two sorts of sinners that are coming to Jesus Christ. First, Him that hath never, while of late, 14 at all began to come. Second, Him that came formerly, and after that went back; but hath since bethought himself, and is now coming again. Both these sorts of sinners are intended by the HIM in the text, as is evident; because both are now the coming sinners. "And him that cometh."
First. [The newly-awakened comer.]—For the first of these: the sinner that hath never, while of late, began to come, his way is more easy; I do not say, more plain and open to come to Christ than is the other—those last not having the clog of a guilty conscience, for the sin of backsliding, hanging at their heels. But all the encouragement of the gospel, with what invitations are therein contained to coming sinners, are as free and as open to the one as to the other; so that they may with the same freedom and liberty, as from the Word, both alike claim interest in the promise. "All things are ready;" all things for the coming backsliders, as well as for the others: "Come to the wedding." "And let him that is athirst come" (Matt 22:1-4; Rev 22:17).
Second. [The returning backslider.]—But having spoke to the first of these already, I shall here pass it by; and shall speak a word or two to him that is coming, after backsliding, to Jesus Christ for life. Thy way, O thou sinner of a double dye, thy way is open to come to Jesus Christ. I mean thee, whose heart, after long backsliding, doth think of turning to him again. Thy way, I say, is open to him, as is the way of the other sorts of comers; as appears by what follows:—
1. Because the text makes no exception against thee. It doth not say, And any him but a backslider, any him but him. The text doth not thus object, but indefinitely openeth wide its golden arms to every coming soul, without the least exception; therefore thou mayest come. And take heed that thou shut not that door against thy soul by unbelief, which God has opened by his grace.
2. Nay, the text is so far from excepting against thy coming, that it strongly suggesteth that thou art one of the souls intended, O thou coming backslider; else what need that clause have been so inserted, "I will in no wise cast out?" As who should say, Though those that come now are such as have formerly backslidden, I will in "no wise" cast away the fornicator, the covetous, the railer, the drunkard, or other common sinners, nor yet the backslider neither.
3. That the backslider is intended is evident,
(1.) For that he is sent to by name, "Go, tell his disciples and Peter" (Mark 16:7). But Peter was a godly man. True, but he was also a backslider, yea, a desperate backslider: he had denied his Master once, twice, thrice, cursing and swearing that he knew him not. If this was not backsliding, if this was not an high and eminent backsliding, yea, a higher backsliding than thou art capable of, I have thought amiss.
Again, when David had backslidden, and had committed adultery and murder in his backsliding, he must be sent to by name: "And," saith the text, "the Lord sent Nathan unto David." And he sent him to tell him, after he had brought him to unfeigned acknowledgment, "The Lord hath also put away, or forgiven thy sin" (2 Sam 12:1,13).
This man also was far gone: he took a man's wife, and killed her husband, and endeavoured to cover all with wicked dissimulation. He did this, I say, after God had exalted him, and showed him great favour; wherefore his transgression was greatened also by the prophet with mighty aggravations; yet he was accepted, and that with gladness, at the first step he took in his returning to Christ. For the first step of the backslider's return is to say, sensibly and unfeignedly, "I have sinned;" but he had no sooner said thus, but a pardon was produced, yea, thrust into his bosom: "And Nathan said unto David, The Lord hath also put away thy sin."
(2.) As the person of the backslider is mentioned by name, so also is his sin, that, if possible, thy objections against thy returning to Christ may be taken out of thy way; I say, thy sin also is mentioned by name, and mixed, as mentioned, with words of grace and favour: "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely" (Hosea 14:4). What sayest thou now, backslider?
(3.) Nay, further, thou art not only mentioned by name, and thy sin by the nature of it, but thou thyself, who art a returning backslider, put, (a) Amongst God's Israel, "Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you; for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever" (Jer 3:12). (b) Thou art put among his children; among his children to whom he is married. "Turn, O backsliding children, for I am married unto you" (verse 14). (c) Yea, after all this, as if his heart was so full of grace for them, that he was pressed until he had uttered it before them, he adds, "Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings" (verse 22).
(4.) Nay, further, the Lord hath considered, that the shame of thy sin hath stopped thy mouth, and made thee almost a prayerless man; and therefore he saith unto thee, "Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously." See his grace, that himself should put words of encouragement into the heart of a backslider; as he saith in another place, "I taught Ephraim to go, taking him by the arms." This is teaching him to go indeed, to hold him up by the arms; by the chin, as we say (Hosea 14:2; 11:3).
From what has been said, I conclude, even as I said before, that the him in the text, and him that cometh, includeth both these sorts of sinners, and therefore both should freely come.
Quest. 1. But where doth Jesus Christ, in all the word of the New Testament, expressly speak to a returning backslider with words of grace and peace? For what you have urged as yet, from the New Testament, is nothing but consequences drawn from this text. Indeed it is a full text for carnal ignorant sinners that come, but to me, who am a backslider, it yieldeth but little relief.
Answ. How! but little encouragement from the text, when it is said, "I will in now wise cast out"! What more could have been said? What is here omitted that might have been inserted, to make the promise more full and free? Nay, take all the promises in the Bible, all the freest promises, with all the variety of expressions of what nature or extent soever, and they can but amount to the expressions of this very promise, "I will in no wise cast out;" I will for nothing, by no means, upon no account, however they have sinned, however they have backslidden, however they have provoked, cast out the coming sinner. But,
Quest. 2. Thou sayest, Where doth Jesus Christ, in all the words of the New Testament, speak to a returning backslider with words of grace and peace, that is under the name of a backslider?
Answ. Where there is such plenty of examples in receiving backsliders, there is the less need for express words to that intent; one promise, as the text is, with those examples that are annexed, are instead of many promises. And besides, I reckon that the act of receiving is of as much, if not of more encouragement, than is a bare promise to receive; for receiving is as the promise, and the fulfilling of it too; so that in the Old Testament thou hast the promise, and in the New, the fulfilling of it; and that in divers examples.
1. In Peter. Peter denied his master, once, twice, thrice, and that with open oath; yet Christ receives him again without any the least hesitation or stick. Yea, he slips, stumbles, falls again, in downright dissimulation, and that to the hurt and fall of many others; but neither of this doth Christ make a bar to his salvation, but receives him again at his return, as if he knew nothing of the fault (Gal 2).
2. The rest of the disciples, even all of them, did backslide and leave the Lord Jesus in his greatest straits. "Then all the disciples forsook him and fled," (Matt 26:56), they returned, as he had foretold, every one to his own, and left him alone; but this also he passes over as a very light matter. Not that it was so indeed in itself, but the abundance of grace that was in him did lightly roll it away; for after his resurrection, when first he appeared unto them, he gives them not the least check for their perfidious dealings with him, but salutes them with words of grace, saying, "All hail! be not afraid, peace be to you; all power in heaven and earth is given unto me." True, he rebuked them for their unbelief, for the which also thou deservest the same. For it is unbelief that alone puts Christ and his benefits from us (John 16:52; Matt 28:9-11; Luke 24:39; Mark 16:14).
3. The man that after a large profession lay with his father's wife, committed a high transgression, even such a one that at that day was not heard of, no, not among the Gentiles. Wherefore this was a desperate backsliding; yet, at his return, he was received, and accepted again to mercy (1 Cor 5:1,2; 2 Cor 2:6-8).
4. The thief that stole was bid to steal no more; not at all doubting but that Christ was ready to forgive him this act of backsliding (Eph 4:28).
Now all these are examples, particular instances of Christ's readiness to receive the backsliders to mercy; and, observe it, examples and proofs that he hath done so are, to our unbelieving hearts, stronger encouragements than bare promises that so he will do.
But again, the Lord Jesus hath added to these, for the encouragement of returning backsliders, to come to him. (1.) A call to come, and he will receive them (Rev 2:1-5; 14-16; 20-22; 3:1-3; 15-22). Wherefore New Testament backsliders have encouragement to come. (2.) A declaration of readiness to receive them that come, as here in the text, and in many other places, is plain. Therefore, "Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps," of the golden grace of the gospel, "set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest." When thou didst backslide; "turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities" (Jer 31:21).
"And him that cometh." He saith not, and him that talketh, that professeth, that maketh a show, a noise, or the like; but, him that cometh. Christ will take leave to judge, who, among the many that make a noise, they be that indeed are coming to him. It is not him that saith he comes, nor him of whom others affirm that he comes; but him that Christ himself shall say doth come, that is concerned in this text. When the woman that had the bloody issue came to him for cure, there were others as well as she, that made a great bustle about him, that touched, yea, thronged him. Ah, but Christ could distinguish this woman from them all; "And he looked round about" upon them all, "to see her that had done this thing" (Mark 5:25-32). He was not concerned with the thronging, or touchings of the rest; for theirs were but accidental, or at best, void of that which made her touch acceptable. Wherefore Christ must be judge who they be that in truth are coming to him; Every man's ways are right in his own eyes, "but the Lord weigheth the spirits" (Prov 16:2). It standeth therefore every one in hand to be certain of their coming to Jesus Christ; for as thy coming is, so shall thy salvation be. If thou comest indeed, thy salvation shall be indeed; but if thou comest but in outward appearance, so shall thy salvation be; but of coming, see before, as also afterwards, in the use and application.
"And him that cometh TO ME." These words to me are also well to be heeded; for by them, as he secureth those that come to him, so also he shows himself unconcerned with those that in their coming rest short, to turn aside to others; for you must know, that every one that comes, comes not to Jesus Christ; some that come, come to Moses, and to his law, and there take up for life; with these Christ is not concerned; with these his promise hath not to do. "Christ is become of no effect unto you; whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace" (Gal 5:4). Again, some that came, came no further than to gospel ordinances, and there stay; they came not through them to Christ; with these neither is he concerned; nor will their "Lord, Lord," avail them anything in the great and dismal day. A man may come to, and also go from the place and ordinances of worship, and yet not be remembered by Christ. "So I saw the wicked buried," said Solomon, "who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done; this is also vanity" (Eccl 8:10).
"TO ME." These words, therefore, are by Jesus Christ very warily put in, and serve for caution and encouragement; for caution, lest we take up in our coming anywhere short of Christ; and for encouragement to those that shall in their coming, come past all; till they come to Jesus Christ. "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
Reader, if thou lovest thy soul, take this caution kindly at the hands of Jesus Christ. Thou seest thy sickness, thy wound, thy necessity of salvation. Well, go not to king Jareb, for he cannot heal thee, nor cure thee of thy wound (Hosea 5:13). Take the caution, I say, lest Christ, instead of being a Saviour unto thee, becomes a lion, a young lion, to tear thee, and go away (Hosea 5:14).
There is a coming, but not to the Most High; there is a coming, but not with the whole heart, but as it were feignedly; therefore take the caution kindly (Jer 3:10; Hosea 7:16).
"And him that cometh TO ME;" Christ as a Saviour will stand alone, because his own arm alone hath brought salvation unto him. He will not be joined with Moses, nor suffer John Baptist to be tabernacled by him. I say they must vanish, for Christ will stand alone (Luke 9:28-36). Yea, God the Father will have it so; therefore they must be parted from him, and a voice from heaven must come to bid the disciples hear only the beloved Son. Christ will not suffer any law, ordinance, statute, or judgment, to be partners with him in the salvation of the sinner. Nay, he saith not, and him that cometh to my WORD; but, and him that cometh to ME. The words of Christ, even his most blessed and free promises, such as this in the text, are not the Saviour of the world; for that is Christ himself, Christ himself only. The promises, therefore, are but to encourage the coming sinner to come to Jesus Christ, and not to rest in them, short of salvation by him. "And him that cometh TO ME." The man, therefore, that comes aright, casts all things behind his back, and looketh at, nor hath his expectations from ought, but the Son of God alone; as David said, "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock, and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be moved" (Psa 62:5,6). His eye is to Christ, his heart is to Christ, and his expectation is from him, from him only.
Therefore the man that comes to Christ, is one that hath had deep considerations of his own sins, slighting thoughts of his own righteousness, and high thoughts of the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ; yea, he sees, as I have said, more virtue in the blood of Christ to save him, than there is in all his sins to damn him. He therefore setteth Christ before his eyes; there is nothing in heaven or earth, he knows, that can save his soul and secure him from the wrath of God, but Christ; that is, nothing but his personal righteousness and blood.
[Import of the words IN NO WISE.]
"And him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." IN NO WISE: by these words there is [First,] Something expressed; and [Second,] Something implied.
First, That which is expressed is Christ Jesus, his unchangeable resolution to save the coming sinner; I will in no wise reject him, or deny him the benefit of my death and righteousness. This word, therefore, is like that which he speaks of the everlasting damnation of the sinner in hell-fire; "He shall by no means depart thence;" that is, never, never come out again, no, not to all eternity (Matt 5:26; 25:46). So that as he that is condemned into hell-fire hath no ground of hope for his deliverance thence; so him that cometh to Christ, hath no ground to fear he shall ever be cast in thither.
"Thus saith the Lord, If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel, for all that they have done, saith the Lord" (Jer 31:37). "Thus saith the Lord, If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, then will I cast away the seed of Jacob" (Jer 33:25,26). But heaven cannot be measured, nor the foundations of the earth searched out beneath; his covenant is also with day and night, and he hath appointed the ordinances of heaven; therefore he will not cast away the seed of Jacob, who are the coming ones, but will certainly save them from the dreadful wrath to come (Jer 50:4,5). By this, therefore, it is manifest, that it was not the greatness of sin, nor the long continuance in it, no, nor yet the backsliding, nor the pollution of thy nature, that can put a bar in against, or be an hindrance of, the salvation of the coming sinner. For, if indeed this could be, then would this solemn and absolute determination of the Lord Jesus, of itself, fall to the ground, and be made of none effect. But his "counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure;" that is, his pleasure in this; for his promise, as to this irreversible conclusion, ariseth of his pleasure; he will stand to it, and will fulfil it, because it is his pleasure (Isa 46:10,11).
Suppose that one man had the sins, or as many sins as an hundred, and another should have an hundred times as many as he; yet, if they come, this word, "I will in no wise cast out," secures them both alike.
Suppose a man hath a desire to be saved, and for that purpose is coming in truth to Jesus Christ; but he, by his debauched life, has damned many in hell; why, the door of hope is by these words set as open for him, as it is for him that hath not the thousandth part of his transgressions. "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
Suppose a man is coming to Christ to be saved, and hath nothing but sin, and an ill-spent life, to bring with him; why, let him come, and welcome to Jesus Christ, "And he will in no wise cast him out" (Luke 7:42). Is not this love that passeth knowledge? Is not this love the wonderment of angels? And is not this love worthy of all acceptation at the hands and hearts of all coming sinners?
[Hindrances in coming to Christ.]
Second, That which is implied in the words is, 1. The coming souls have those that continually lie at Jesus Christ15 to cast them off. 2. The coming souls are afraid that those will prevail with Christ to cast them off. For these words are spoken to satisfy us, and to stay up our spirits against these two dangers: "I will in no wise cast out."
1. For the first, Coming souls have those that continually lie at Jesus Christ to cast them off. And there are three things that thus bend themselves against the coming sinner.
(1.) There is the devil, that accuser of the brethren, that accuses them before God, day and night (Rev 12:10). This prince of darkness is unwearied in this work; he doth it, as you see, day and night; that is, without ceasing. He continually puts in his caveats against thee, if so be he may prevail. How did he ply16 it against that good man Job, if possibly he might have obtained his destruction in hell-fire? He objected against him, that he served not God for nought, and tempted God to put forth his hand against him, urging, that if he did it, he would curse him to his face; and all this, as God witnesseth, "he did without a cause" (Job 1:9-11; 2:4,5). How did he ply it with Christ against Joshua the high-priest? "And he showed me Joshua," said the prophet, "the high-priest, standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him" (Zech 3:1).
To resist him; that is, to prevail with the Lord Jesus Christ to resist him; objecting the uncleanness and unlawful marriage of his sons with the Gentiles; for that was the crime that Satan laid against them (Ezra 10:18). Yea, and for aught I know, Joshua was also guilty of the fact; but if not of that, of crimes no whit inferior; for he was clothed with filthy garments, as he stood before the angel. Neither had he one word to say in vindication of himself, against all that this wicked one had to say against him. But notwithstanding that, he came off well; but he might for it thank a good Lord Jesus, because he did not resist him, but contrariwise, took up his cause, pleaded against the devil, excusing his infirmity, and put justifying robes upon him before his adversary's face.
"And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee. Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? And he answered and spoke to those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him; and unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment" (Zech 3:2-4).
Again, how did Satan ply it against Peter, when he desired to have him, that he might sift him as wheat? that is, if possible, sever all grace from his heart, and leave him nothing but flesh and filth, to the end that he might make the Lord Jesus loathe and abhor him. "Simon, Simon," said Christ, "Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." But did he prevail against him? No: "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." As who should say, Simon, Satan hath desired me that I would give thee up to him, and not only thee, but all the rest of thy brethren—for that the word you imports—but I will not leave thee in his hand: I have prayed for thee, thy faith shall not fail; I will secure thee to the heavenly inheritance (Luke 22:30-32).
(2.) As Satan, so every sin of the coming sinner, comes in with a voice against him, if perhaps they may prevail with Christ to cast off the soul. When Israel was coming out of Egypt to Canaan, how many times had their sins thrown them out of the mercy of God, had not Moses, as a type of Christ, stood in the breach to turn away his wrath from them! (Psa 106:23). Our iniquities testify against us, and would certainly prevail against us, to our utter rejection and damnation, had we not an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1,2).
The sins of the old world cried them down to hell; the sins of Sodom fetched upon them fire from heaven, which devoured them; the sins of the Egyptians cried them down to hell, because they came not to Jesus Christ for life. Coming sinner, thy sins are no whit less than any; nay, perhaps, they are as big as all theirs. Why is it then, that thou livest when they are dead, and that thou hast a promise of pardon when they had not? "Why, thou art coming to Jesus Christ;" and therefore sin shall not be thy ruin.
(3.) As Satan and sin, so the law of Moses, as it is a perfect holy law, hath a voice against you before the face of God. "There is one that accuseth you, even Moses," his law (John 5:45). Yea, it accuseth all men of transgression that have sinned against it; for as long as sin is sin, there will be a law to accuse for sin. But this accusation shall not prevail against the coming sinner; because it is Christ that died, and that ever lives, to make intercession for them that "come to God by him" (Rom 8; Heb 7:25).
These things, I say, do accuse us before Christ Jesus; yea, and also to our own faces, if perhaps they might prevail against us. But these words, "I will in no wise cast out," secureth the coming sinner from them all.
The coming sinner is not saved, because there is none that comes in against him; but because the Lord Jesus will not hear their accusations, will not cast out the coming sinner. When Shimei came down to meet king David, and to ask for pardon for his rebellion, up starts Abishai, and puts in his caveat, saying, Shall not Shimei die for this? This is the case of him that comes to Christ. He hath this Abishai, and that Abishai, that presently steps in against him, saying, Shall not this rebel's sins destroy him in hell? Read further. But David answered, "What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? Shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel, for do not I know, that I am king this day over Israel?" (2 Sam 19:16-22). That is Christ's answer by the text, to all that accuse the coming Shimeis. What have I to do with you, that accuse the coming sinners to me? I count you adversaries, that are against my showing mercy to them. Do not I know that I am exalted this day to be king of righteousness, and king of peace? "I will in no wise cast them out."
2. But again, these words do closely imply, that the coming souls are afraid that these accusers will prevail against them, as is evident, because the text is spoken for their relief and succour. For that need not be, if they that are coming were not subject to fear and despond upon this account. Alas, there is guilt, and the curse lies upon the conscience of the coming sinner!
Besides, he is conscious to himself what a villain, what a wretch he hath been against God and Christ. Also he now knows, by woeful experience, how he hath been at Satan's beck, and at the motion of every lust. He hath now also new thoughts of the holiness and justice of God. Also he feels, that he cannot forbear sinning against him. For the motions of sins, which are by the law, doth still work in his members, to bring forth fruit unto death (Rom 7:5). But none of this needs be [a discouragement] since we have so good, so tender-hearted, and so faithful a Jesus to come to, who will rather overthrow heaven and earth, than suffer a tittle of this text to fail. "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
[Import of the words TO CAST OUT.]
Now, we have yet to inquire into two things that lie in the words, to which there hath yet been nothing said. As, FIRST, What it is to cast out. SECOND, How it appears that Christ hath power to save or cast out?
[WHAT IT IS TO CAST OUT.]
FIRST. For the first of these, What it is to cast out. To this I will speak, First, Generally. Second, More particularly.
1. To cast out, is to slight and despise, and contemn; as it is said of Saul's shield, "it was vilely cast away," (2 Sam 1:21), that is, slighted and contemned. Thus it is with the sinners that come not to Jesus Christ. He slights, despises, and contemns them; that is, "casts them away."
2. Things cast away are reputed as menstruous cloths, and as the dirt of the street (Isa 3:24; Psa 18:42; Matt 5:13; 15:17). And thus it shall be with the men that come not to Jesus Christ, they shall be counted as menstruous, and as the dirt in the streets.
3. To be cast out, or off, it is to be abhorred, not to be pitied; but to be put to perpetual shame (Psa 44:9; 89:38; Amos 1:11). But,
Second, More particularly, to come to the text. The casting out here mentioned is not limited to this or the other evil: therefore it must be extended to the most extreme and utmost misery. Or thus: He that cometh to Christ shall not want anything that may make him gospelly-happy in this world, or that which is to come; nor shall he want anything that cometh not, that may make him spiritually and eternally miserable. But further, As it is to be generally taken [as respecteth the things that are now], so it respecteth things that shall be hereafter.
I. For the things that are now, they are either, 1. More general: Or, 2. More particular.
1. More general, thus:
(1.) It is "to be cast out" of the presence and favour of God. Thus was Cain cast out: "Thou has driven," or cast "me out this day; from thy face," that is, from thy favour "shall I be hid." A dreadful complaint! But the effect of a more dreadful judgment! (Gen 4:14; Jer 23:39; 1 Chron 28:9).
(2.) "To be cast out," is to be cast out of God's sight. God will look after them no more, care for them no more; nor will he watch over them any more for good (2 Kings 17:20; Jer 7:15). Now they that are so, are left like blind men, to wander and fall into the pit of hell. This, therefore, is also a sad judgment! therefore here is the mercy of him that cometh to Christ. He shall not be left to wander at uncertainties. The Lord Jesus Christ will keep him, as a shepherd doth his sheep (Psa 23). "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
(3.) "To be cast out," is to be denied a place in God's house, and to be left as fugitives and vagabonds, to pass a little time away in this miserable life, and after that to go down to the dead (Gal 4:30; Gen 4:13,14; 21:10). Therefore here is the benefit of him that cometh to Christ, he shall not be denied a place in God's house. They shall not be left like vagabonds in the world. "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." See Proverbs 14:26, Isaiah 56:3-5, Ephesians 1:1922, 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.
(4.) In a word, "To be cast out," is to be rejected as are the fallen angels. For their eternal damnation began at their being cast down from heaven to hell. So then, not to be cast out, is to have a place, a house, and habitation there; and to have a share in the privileges of elect angels.
These words, therefore, "I will not cast out," will prove great words one day to them that come to Jesus Christ (2 Peter 2:4; John 20:31; Luke 20:35).
2. Second, and more particularly,
(1.) Christ hath everlasting life for him that cometh to him, and he shall never perish; "For he will in no wise cast him out;" but for the rest, they are rejected, "cast out," and must be damned (John 10:27,28).
(2.) Christ hath everlasting righteousness to clothe them with that come to him, and they shall be covered with it as with a garment, but the rest shall be found in the filthy rags of their own stinking pollutions, and shall be wrapt up in them, as in a winding-sheet, and so bear their shame before the Lord, and also before the angels (Dan 9:27; Isa 57:20; Rev 3:4-18, 15, 16).
(3.) Christ hath precious blood, that, like an open fountain, stands free for him to wash in, that comes to him for life; "And he will in no wise cast him out;" but they that come not to him are rejected from a share therein, and are left to ireful vengeance for their sins (Zech 13:1; 1 Peter 1:18,19; John 13:8; 3:16).
(4.) Christ hath precious promises, and they shall have a share in them that come to him for life; for "he will in no wise cast them out." But they that come not can have no share in them, because they are true only in him; for in him, and only in him, all the promises are yea and amen. Wherefore they that come not to him, are no whit the better for them (Psa 50:16; 2 Cor 1:20,21).
(5.) Christ hath also fullness of grace in himself for them that come to him for life: "And he will in no wise cast them out." But those that come not unto him are left in their graceless state; and as Christ leaves them, death, hell, and judgment finds them. "Whoso findeth me," saith Christ, "findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death" (Prov 8:35,36).
(6.) Christ is an Intercessor, and ever liveth to make intercession for them that come to God by him: "But their sorrows shall be multiplied, that hasten after another," or other gods, their sins and lusts. "Their drink-offerings will I not offer, nor take up their names into his lips" (Psa 16:4; Heb 7:25).
(7.) Christ hath wonderful love, bowels, and compassions, for those that come to him; for "he will in no wise cast them out." But the rest will find him a lion rampant; he will one day tear them all to pieces. "Now consider this," saith he, "ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver" (Psa 50:22).
(8.) Christ is one by and for whose sake those that come to him have their persons and performances accepted of the Father: "And he will in no wise cast them out;" but the rest must fly to the rocks and mountains for shelter, but all in vain, to hide them from his face and wrath (Rev 6:15-17).
II. But again, These words, CAST OUT, have a special look to what will be hereafter, even at the day of judgment. For then, and not till then, will be the great anathema and casting out made manifest, even manifest by execution. Therefore here to speak to this, and that under these two heads. As, First, Of the casting out itself. Second, Of the place into which they shall be cast, that shall then be cast out.
First, The casting out itself standeth in two things. 1. In a preparatory work. 2. In the manner of executing the act.
1. The preparatory work standeth in these three things.
(1.) It standeth in their separation that have not come to him, from them that have, at that day. Or thus: At the day of the great casting out, those that have not NOW come to him, shall be separated from them that have; for them that have "he will not cast out." "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats" (Matt 25:31,32). This dreadful separation, therefore, shall then be made betwixt them that NOW come to Christ, and them that come not. And good reason; for since they would not with us come to him now they have time, why should they stand with us when judgment is come?
(2.) They shall be placed before him according to their condition: they that have come to him, in great dignity, even at his right hand; "For he will in no wise cast them out": but the rest shall be set at his left hand, the place of disgrace and shame; for they did not come to him for life. Distinguished also shall they be by fit terms: these that come to him he calleth the sheep, but the rest are frowish goats, "and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats;" and the sheep will be set on the right hand—next heaven gate, for they came to him—but the goats on his left, to go from him into hell, because they are not of his sheep.
(3.) Then will Christ proceed to conviction of those that came not to him, and will say, "I was a stranger, and ye took me not in," or did not come unto me. Their excuse of themselves he will slight as dirt, and proceed to their final judgment.
2. Now when these wretched rejecters of Christ shall thus be set before him in their sins, and convicted, this is the preparatory work upon which follows the manner of executing the act which will be done.
(1.) In the presence of all the holy angels.
(2.) In the presence of all them that in their lifetime came to him, by saying unto them, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels": with the reason annexed to it. For you were cruel to me and mine, particularly discovered in these words, "For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not" (Matt 25:41-43).