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Sermon 42

Sermon 42.

ARGUMENTS TO ENFORCE OUR LOOKING TO CHRIST.

Isaiah xlv. 22. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth ; for lam God, and there is none else.

THE duty of looking to Christ, being explained, I shall,

II. Urge you to look to him by several weighty considerations.

This is the great duty of saints and sinners, and consequently

of every one in all ages and places, even to the ends of the earth

It is the duty of sinners to turn away their eyes from beholding vanity, and fix them upon this attractive, but, alas! neglected Saviour; to turn their attention from the trifles of time to the great Antitype of the brazen serpent, who is lifted up that a dying world may open their eyes just closing in death, and look and live. And saints, whose eyes have been turned to this glorious object, ought to fix them more intensely upon him, to take larger surveys of his glory, and to renew their affectionate trust in him.

I would premise, that when I exhort sinners to look to Jesus, I would not intimate, that they are able to do this of themselves. No; I am very sensible, that all the exhortations, persuasions, invitations, and«xpostulations that a feeble mortal, or even the most powerful angel in heaven can use with them will have no effect, but vanish into air, without the efficacious operation of almighty grace. And yet such exhortations are neither useless, improper, or unscriptural: they tend to convince sinners of their inability to believe, which is necessary to their believing aright; and it is while such arguments are addressed to their understandings, that the holy Spirit is wont to work upon their hearts. Hence they are so often commanded in scripture to recent, to believe in Christ■ to look to him to make them a new heart, Ufc. I would add, that when I express the duty enjoined under the metaphor of looking, I hope it will not lead any of you into gross corporeal ideas, since the import of it has been so fully shewn.

The arguments to enforce this important evangelical duty can never be exhausted; and therefore I must confine myself to those which this copious text furnishes us with, which, when resolved into particulars, will stand thus:

It is salvation we are called upon to pursue—It may he obtained upon the easiest terms, without any personal merit, viz. by a look—It is Immanuel, the incarnate God, that commands and invites us to look—and he is the glorious and affecting object to which we are to look—and our looking shall not be in vain, for he is God, who engages to save those that look to him ;—and it is in vain to look elsewhere for salvation, and needless to fear his grace should be controlled by another; for as he is God, so there is none else—and we in particular are invited, being especially meant by the ends of the earth.

1. It is salvation that is here offered. Look, and be saved. Salvation! O most propitious, transporting sound? Amazing! that ever it should be heard by our guilty ears! Sin, my brethren, has exposed us to the curse of the divine law, to the loss of heaven, and all its joys, yea, and of earth too, and all its entertainments; for death, the consequence of sin, will rend us from them. We have no title to any good to satisfy our eager pantings; and must languish and pine through an endless duration without a drop of bliss, if punished according to our demerit. We are also subject to the torturing agonies of a remorseful conscience, to be cut off from the earth by the sword of justice, and swept away by the besom of destruction into the regions of horror and despair, there to consume away a long, long eternity in inextinguishable flames, in remediless, intolerable torments, in the horrid society of devils and damned ghosts, who shall mutually promote and join in the general roar of torture and desperation. This, Sirs, is our just, our unavoidable doom, unless we obtain an interest in the salvation of the Lord. But salvation brings us a complete remedy, equal to our misery. It contains a title to the divine favour, and consequently to all the joys of heaven ; it contains a perfect deliverance from all the torments of hell: and shall we not then regard and obey the voice that cries, Look unto me, and be ye saved! Is it not fit

those should perish without remedy who hear the offer of such a salvation with indifference? How shall we escafie, if we neglect so great salvation? Were we now under a sentence of condemnation to death by an earthly court, and were going out one after another to the place of execution, and should some welcome messenger with a general pardon in his hand come with joyful speed into this assembly, and proclaim, salvation! salvation! to all that would accept it on the easiest terms, what a shout of general joy would burst from this assembly! What changed faces, what tears cf general joy, would appear among us! In this agreeable character, my brethren, I have the honour and the happiness of appearing among you this day. I proclaim salvation from the Loid to dying men ; salvation to all that will look to him for it. And I would not make the offer to the air, or to the walls af this house, but to rational creatures, capable of consenting and refusing. I therefore request you to look upon it as a proposal made to you; to you men, to you women, to you youth and children, to you negroes, demanding a speedy answer. Will you look to Jesus? or will you hide your faces from him? Will you not think him and his salvation worth a look? Which leads me to observe,

2. This salvation may be obtained upon low terms. It may be obtained by a look. Look and be saved: and this metaphor implies that no merit is required in us to procure this salvation. It is as cheap a cure as that which the Israelites obtained by looking to the brazen serpent. The salvation is wrought already; Christ would not separate his soul and body, and put an end to his pains, till he could say, it is finished, and all required of us is a cheerful acceptance: and what terms can be easier I It is true we are required to abstain from sin, and be holy, in order to enjoy this salvation; but can this be looked upon as a hard term? It is impossible in the nature of things you should be saved in a course of sin ; for one great part of the salvation consists in deliverance from sin. This is the deadly disease which must be healed, in order to your happiness. And how then can you expect to be saved while you indulge it? Would you not think your physician made easy prescriptions to you, if he assured you of recovery, when you were sick, upon condition that you would abstain from poison,and confine yourselves to a wholesome diet? Holiness is as necessary to happiness as temperance to

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health; and though sinners, like drunkards, think this a hard imposition, yet it cannot be altered, without a change in the immutable Deity. Therefore submit to the terms of salvation; they are as low, as easy as the nature of things will permit. They are not the rigid arbitrary impositions of an austere being, but the mild, unavoidable requisitions of an indulgent and wise God, acting according to the reason of things. If salvation was offered to you, upon condition of your making an infinite satisfaction for sin, you might start off from the proposal; for even almighty grace could not enable you to do this: for this you could not do without being advanced above the rank of creatures, and endowed with infinity, which you are physically incapable of. But grace can dispose you to consent to the terms of the gospel; grace can turn your eyes to look to Jesus, for you are only morally incapable of this; that is, you are unwilling, you are sinfully averse to it. Come then, look and live. The lowness of the terms aggravates the guilt of a non-compliance with them. What do those deserve who do not think of a salvation purchased with the blood of God worth a look? What drudgery do you endure, what hardships do you voluntarily undergo, to procure some of the specious toys of this world? What a difficult regimen will you submit to, what nauseous potions will you take, for the recovery of the health of your mortal bodies? And will you not take the trouble of a look for the salvation of your immortal souls? How eagerly will you accept the offer of any temporal advantage ! and will you neglect this invitation to look and live I Especially, when,

3. It is Immanuel, our incarnate God, that invites and commands you to look to him, and be saved. You may trifle with the commands of an usurper, and reject the treacherous invitations of an enemy; but dare you trifle with the injunctions, dare you refuse the gracious invitations of our supreme King and heavenly friend ?—That it is Christ who here calls us to look to him, is evident from the application of this context to Christ by the apostle: To this end Christ both died and rose, and revived, that he might be the Lord both of the dead and living. For it it written, as I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. Rom. xiv. 9—11. Which words, according to the Hebrew, you find in the verse following my text. See also Phil. ii. 9—11. Moreover the characters here predicated concerning the Lord Jehovah, most properly belong to Christ, according to the dialect of the New Testament; Surely shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength. Now we know that Christ is every where represented as our righteousness and strength, In the Lord shall the seed of Israel be justified, verse 24, 25, which is spoken most properly of Christ, through whom alone we can be justified. It is therefore the voice of our Immanuel that sounds so delightfully in our text. It is his voice which spoke this goodly universe into being out of its original nothing; which said, Let there be light ; and there was light; and dare we disobey his voice by whom all things were created? Col. i. 16. He spoke us into being, and we obeyed; and shall we, when blest with existence, resist his almighty call? It is his voice whom angels obey; Gabriel, and all his flaming ministers, fly at the first hvnt of his sovereign pleasure. Nay, universal nature hears his awful mandate, and all her laws are observed, or cancelled according to his pleasure. Events natural and supernatural are equally easy to him. And is this the majestic voice which sinners hear sounding in the gospel, and yet disregard? Is this he whom they make so light of, as not to vouchsafe him a look ? Amazing presumption! And further, It is his voice which shall pronounce the -final sentence upon the assembled universe. He now sits exalted upon a throne of grace, scattering blessings among his subjects, and inviting a dying world to look to him and live; but ere long he will put on majesty and terror, and ascend the throne of judgment. From thence he will speak, and omnipotence will attend his word to execute it. From thence he will pronounce, come, ye blessed, on all that hear his call now; and neither earth nor hell can repeal the joyful sentence. And on those that will not now look to him, he will pronounce, depart from me; "away, away from my blissful presence, ye cursed creatures, never, never to see me more." And though they can now resist the voice of mercy, yet then they must obey the dreadful orders of justice, and shrink confounded from his face, and sink to hell. We, my brethren, must mingle in that vast assembly, and hear our doom from his lips; and can we, in the serious expectation of that day, refuse his call to look to him now? Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him; and how shall we stand the terror of his face, if we now treat him so contemptuously ?—r These considerations shew, that the call in my text is the command of authority, and therefore that our neglect of it is disloyalty and rebellion But O! there is a more melting, a more endearing consideration still. It is the roice of our Beloved, it is the gracious invitation oflove: it is his voice who heard the cry of our helpless misery ; who, though equal with God, and possessed of infinite, independent happiness, emptied himself, and took upon him the form of a servant. He often looked up to heaven with strong cryings and tears in the days of his flesh for us. For us he spoke many a gracious word, still upon record; for us he wrought many a miracle; for us he travelled many a fatiguing journey and endured hunger and thirst, and all the calamities of poverty. For us he was reproached, belied, persecuted ; and O ! for us he sweat and groaned in Gethsemane ; for us his back was furrowed with scourging, his face defiled with spitting, his head bruised with buffettings, and pierced with thorns. For us he was nailed to the cross; for us he hung in ignominy and torture ; for us he shed his blood, he breathed out his life; for us his side was pierced ; and for us the Lord of life lay in the dust of death. And O ! blessed Jesus! after all this love, after all these sufferings, will not the sons of men afford thee one affectionate believing look, when thou exhibitest thyself in the gospel, crying with aloud and loving voice, "Behold me, behold me; look unto me, and be ye saved I" O Sirs, can you reject the invitation of such a Saviour? are you capable of such horrid ingratitude? He bespeaks your attention with dying groans ; his wounds preach from the cross and cry, Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth. There he was lifted up, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness; that whosoever believcth in him, though in the agonies of death, should not perish, but have everlasting life; and can we neglect the invitation of such a Saviour in such circumstances? Shall a guilty world always find something else to look upon, so that they cannot spare a glance to the blessed Jesus? With what pious horror must angels behold such a sight! And may not the earth shudder to support such impious ingratitude!

4. It is Immanuel we are to look to. Look unto me. He that issues the command is the glorious and attractive object we are called to behold. The adorable glories of a God, and the milder beauties of a perfect man, meet in his person. His glories at. tract the admiring gaze of angels, and charm the attention of the happy immortals above. The survey of his perfections is the source of all their bliss, and will furnish all their powers with. extatic employ, through the revolutions of eternal ages. And will not worms look up from the dust to him ? Shall every sordid trifle engage their intense contemplation, while they hide their faces from this glorious Immanuel, as though he had no form or comeliness? There is an infinite variety of objects within the compass of the creation which attract our attention. Our eyes are charmed with the splendour of the day, the midnight glories of the starry arch, the verdure of the spring, the majesty of mountains, the beauties of human faces; nay, there is not a trifling curiosity in nature but engages our observationBut all the glories of the universe are but the faint reflections of his; they are but obscure copies of his underived excellencies. And shall we be charmed with the transcript, and take no notice of the original? Does the contemplation of the works of nature afford such exquisite entertainment to philosophic minds and shall not every mind be transported in the survey of Immanuel's uncreated glories ?—But if all these considerations fail, sure the love of Christ must constrain you. He has exhibited himself to your view this day in a vesture dipt in blood. He has emblematically past before you crowned with thorns, and covered with blood ; and as Pilate said to the Jews, to melt them in compassion, so say we to you, Behold the man! And will you turn away from him regardless, or view him with as much indifference as though he were a malefactor? What is this but to join the Jewish rabble, away with him! away with him! crucify him! crucify him! He has virtually said to you as to Thomas, Look into my hands, and behold the ftrim of the nailt; and look into my side, and behold the stab of the spear, which opened a fountain of life for you. And can you deny an affectionate look to such an object? He hangs conspicuous on the cross, his nerves racked, his bones disjointed, his heart melting like wax in the midst of his bowels, while streams of blood run down his sacred body; and it is in this posture we are to look upon him. In this posture, as it were, he issues forth his gracious invitation, Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth. And is there a mortal so hardy, so ungrateful, as to refuse an affectionate look to him in such circumstances? Shall he complain, with David, his type, I looked for some to pity: but there was none. Ps. lxix. 20. I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man thai would know me; no man cared for my soul. Ps. cxlii. 4. Blessed Jesus 1 shalt thou take up this complaint over creatures for

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whom thou didst bleed and die! over creatures who »we all their hopes to thee! may not the whole creation be struck with consternation at the complaint! why are not the miraculous solemnities that attend thy death renewed? why do not the earth tremble, the rocks rend, the sun put on the livery of a mourner, to see a dying God and a careless world! the Creator, the Saviour of men, in agony, in blood ; and his creatures, his ransomed, asleep, and not affording him so much as a look of love and compassion! Were ever such horrid incongruities pronounced at a breath, or united in one sentence !—But the cross is not the only place where we should look upon him. Lift up your eyes to scats above, there you may behold him who tasted of death, crowned with glory and honour. His head, that was once crowned with thorns, is now adorned with a crown of glory: his face that was once bruised with blows, and disgraced with spitting, shines brighter than the sun in his meridian glory: His hands, that were once nailed to the cross, now sway the sceptre of the universe: and his feet, that were cruelly pierced, now walk the crystal pavement of heaven. He that was insulted by Jews and Gentiles, he at whom they wagged their heads, is now adored by all the heavenly hosts, who congratulate his exaltation, and cry with united voice, Worthy ie the Lamb that wan slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Rev. v. It, 12. This is the voice of ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands in that world where Jesus is best known. And shall we break the harmony of the universal choir? Shall we not echo back their song, and reply, To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in Mis own blood, (which is more than he did for angels) to him be glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen. Rev. i. 5, 6. Shall we not look to him whose glory attracts the eyes of all the celestial armies, and congratulate his exaltation? We have cause indeed to rejoice in it; for O! he is exalted, that he may have jnercy upon us, Isa. xxx. 18. he has ascended the throne, that he may thence scatter blessings on a guilty world beneath him. He retains his usual love, and the tenderest bowels of compassion towards the meanest of his people. He is now pleading their cause in the court of heaven, and preparing a place for them. From thence he exhibits himself to our intellectual view, and invites us to look to him. And can we slight such glory and lore united? Are our natures capable of such infernal gratitude? O let us look to him, especially since it shall not be in vain:

For, 5. He is able to save us upon our looking to him. Look unit me, and be ye saved, for lam God. This is annexed as the reason of the duty enjoined; and what can give us greater security of salvation upon our compliance? If God be for us, who shall be against us? If God justify, who is he that condemneth ? It is his right to constitute the terms of salvation, and he has almighty power to save all that comply with them. It is that God, who threatens to punish sinners, that here promises to save them upon their looking to him. And what glorious encouragement, what strong consolation does this afford us! Is there a creature here so full of unbelieving despondency, as seriously to think that even Jehovah cannot save him? Surely no; therefore look and be saved, for it is God that undertakes to save you. And he can do exceeding abundantly more for you than you can ask or think. Your sins may be mighty, but not almighty: your guilt may be great, but the blood of God can expiate it: the obstructions in your way may be numerous and insuperable to you, but he can reduce a mountain into a plain before you. You are feeble helpless things, but have you not heard, have you not known, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth faint eth not, neither is weary? He giveth flower to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But they that wait ufion the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount ufi with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint. Isa. xl. 28—31.

6. Look to him; for as he is God, so there is none else. This implies that there is no other Saviour, and that this sole Saviour is uncontrollable, and therefore able to save.

It is only a God that is able to work our salvation. Men, angels, all creatures are unequal to the task. They cannot satisfy divine justice for our sin ; they cannot subdue our corruptions, and sanctify our hearts; nor conduct us safe through all the dangers and temptations that surround us. We in particular are utterly incapable of these things. It is not in the power of our hand to relieve ourselves.* And if you will not look to Christ, lo whom will you look.' Call now, if there be any that will answer

• To attempt to save ourselves i* to aflcct to be Gods, and to claim the peculiar work of omnipotence.

thee; and to which of the saints, to which of the angeli, wilt thol turn? You are shut up to the faith, my brethren; you have Do alternative but to look to Christ, or sink to hell. There is Id salvation in any other. And will you rather be without a Saviour than look to him as such ? Why, what evil hath he done I Why such strange aversion to your best Friend, who is able to save to the utmost ? And as none else can save, so

He is able to save, because beyond control. There is no God besides, to reverse his will; but whom he blesses, is blessed indeed. He is head over all things to /us church. He limits the power, controls the rage, and baffles all the politic schemes of the powers of hell; and the hearts of men, of kings, are in his band; and he turns them whithersoever he pleases. None therefore shall pluck his sheep out of his hand; but he will give unto them eternal life. Look then to him, poor trembling weaklings, that are daily putting your life in his hand, and often dismally forebode your own destruction, and the victory of your enemies. IVustin the Lord, Jehovah ; for in his arm is everlasting strength.

7- And lastly, look to him, for you are particularly invited, being especially meant by those in the ends of the earth. A promiscuous call may not be regarded so much as a particular invitation directed to us, as it were, by name. We dwell in a continent that may be called the ends of the earth with peculiar propriety; and though America was unknown in Isaiah's time, and probably not in his thoughts when he uttered these words, yet no doubt that omniscient Spirit, who inspired his lips, had a reference to it. It is true the words may be taken figuratively, as referring to the Gentiles in general, who might be said lobe in the ends of the earth with respect to the favourite land of Judea, which was situated near the middle of the then known world, on the borders of Asia, near where it joins with Europe and Africa. Those in the ends of the earth seem also to suggest to us the ideas of poor outcasts in a helpless condition, as the Gentiles then were, without the knowledge of God and the means of grace. And if we take the text in this sense, it still refers to us who are the posterity of heathens. But methinks there is a particular beauty and propriety in it taken literally ; " Look unto me, and be ye saved, ye that dwell in the remotest ends of the inhabited earth; look unto me, ye Americans, ye Virginians." O what a joyful sound! Not many years ago we or our near ancestors came from the old continent of Europe.or its adjacent islands , and the Lord hath driven out the heathen from before us, and planted us in their stead. We left his church and the favourite lands where his gospel had shined for ages, and came among savages that never heard of the name of Jesus, but dwelt in darkness and the shadow of death. But Io! he sends his gracious invitation after us to the ends of the earth, Look unto me, and be ye saved. In the days of Isaiah God was mindful of America, he was mindful of Virginia, and treasured up a rich invitation, till it should be inhabited, and in need of it. And shall we not regard it? Shall we not regard his voice crying in this wilderness? Indeed if any other blessings were worthy to be compared with those of the gospel, I might observe that he has not been kind to us in this respect only. He has turned this wilderness into a fruitful field: the residence of savages and wild beasts into a mart of nations. He hath blessed us also, so that toe are multiplied greatly; and he

mffereth not our cattle to decrease. See Psalm cvii. 36 38. We

may borrow the words of Moses, in Deut. xxxii. 10—14. But, alas 1 we have waxed fat, and kicked against God, like well-fed horses against their proprietor. We have turned his blessings into occasions of sinning. We have improved in guilt and impiety in proportion to our improvement in riches and the arts of life. And it is an instance of divine patience that may astonish even heaven itself, that so ungrateful a land has not been visited with some signal judgment. But our iniquities are not yet full, and we hope there are more than ten righteous persons among us, whose prayers stand in the gap, and prevent the irruption of vengeance. But perhaps our day is at hand, and then, though Noah, Daniel, and Job should stand before God, yet his heart will not be turned towards us. Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish peofile and unwise! is not he thy Father, that hath bought thee ? hath he not made thee and established thee? Deut. xxxii. 6. But to abuse the gospel is the greatest of all crimes. It is this that ripens a people for ruin, and fills up the measure of their iniquity: God will easier bear with the abuse of any mercy than with the contempt of his Son. Therefore look unto him, and be ye saved, O ye ends of the earth.

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