The Method of Grace

by John Flavel

Christ, "The Mercy"

"To perform the mercy promised to our fathers,
 and remember his holy covenant." Luke 1:72      
     
    This scripture is part of Zechariah's prophecy, at the rising
of that bright star, John, the harbinger and fore-runner of Christ:
They are some of the first words he spoke after Gad had loosed his
tongue, which, for a time, was struck dumb for his unbelief. His
tongue is now unbound, and at liberty to proclaim to all the world,
the unspeakable riches of mercy through Jesus Christ, in a song of
praise. Wherein note,
    The mercy celebrated, namely, redemption by Christ, ver. 68.
    The description of Christ by place and property, ver. 69.
    The faithfulness of God in our redemption this way, ver. 70.
    The benefit of being so redeemed by Christ, ver. 71.
    The exact accomplishment of all the promises made to the
fathers in sending Christ, the mercy promised, into the world, ver.
72. "To perform the mercy promised to our fathers," &t. In these
words we find two parts, namely,
    1. A mercy freely promised.
    2. The promised mercy faithfully performed.
    First, You have a mercy freely promised, namely, by God the
Father, from the beginning of the world, and often repeated and
confirmed in several succeeding ages, to the fathers, in his
covenant-transactions.
    This mercy is Jesus Christ, of whom he speaks in this prophecy
the same which he stilts "An horn of salvation in the house of
David," ver. 69.
    The mercy of God in scripture, is put either for,
    1. His free favor to the creature. Or,
    2. The effects and fruits of that favor.
    It is put for the free and undeserved favor of God to the
creature, and this favor of God may respect the creature two ways,
either as undeserving, or as ill-deserving.
    It respected innocent man, as undeserving, for Adam could put
no obligation upon his benefactor. It respects fallen man, as ills
deserving. Innocent man could not merit favor, and fallen man did
merit wrath: the favor or mercy of God to both is every way free;
and that is the first acceptance of the word mercy: but then it is
also taken for the effects and fruits of God's favor, and they are
either,
    1. Principal and primary: or,
    2. Subordinate and secondary.
    Of secondary and subordinate mercies, there are multitudes,
both temporal, respecting the body, and spiritual, respecting the
soul; but the principal and primary mercy is but one, and that is
Christ, the first-born of mercy; the capital mercy, the
comprehensive root-mercy, from whom are all other mercies; and
therefore called by a singular emphasis in my text, The mercy; that is
the mercy of all mercies; without whom no drop of saving mercy can
flow to any of the sons of men; and in whom are all the tender
affections of divine mercy yearning upon poor sinners. 'The mercy, and
the mercy Promised. The first promise of Christ was made to Adam,
Gen. 3: 15. and was frequently renewed afterwards to Abraham, to
David, and as the text speaks, unto the fathers, in their respective
generations.
    Secondly, We find here also the promised mercy faithfully
performed; "To perform the mercy promised." What mercy soever the
love of God engaged him to promise, the faithfulness of God stands
engaged for the performance thereof. Christ, the promised mercy, is
not only performed truly, but he is also performed according to the
promise in all the circumstances thereof, exactly. So he was
promised to the fathers, and just so performed to us their children:
Hence the note is,
     
    Doctrine. That Jesus Christ, the mercy of mercies, was graciously
         promised and faithfully performed by God to his people.
     
    Three things are here to be opened.
    First, Why Christ is stiled the mercy.
    Secondly, What kind of mercy Christ is to his people.
    Thirdly, How this mercy was performed.
    First, Christ is the mercy, emphatically so called: the
peerless, invaluable, and matchless mercy: Because he is the prime
fruit of the mercy of God to sinners. The mercies of God are
infinite; mercy gave the world and us our being; all our protection,
provision, and comforts in this world are the fruits of mercy, the
free gifts of divine favor: but Christ is the first end chief; all
other mercies, compared with him, are but fruits from that mot, and
streams from that fountain of mercy; the very affections of divine mercy
are in Christ, as in ver. 78. according to the tender mercies, or as
the Greek, the yearning affections of the mercy of God.
    Secondly, Christ is the mercy, because all the mercy of God to
sinners is dispensed and conveyed through Christ to them, John 1:
16. Col. 2: 3. Eph. 4: 7. Christ is the medium of all divine
communications, the channel of grace, through him are both the
decursus et recursus gratiarum; the flows of mercy from God to us,
and the returns of praise from us to God. Fond and vain therefore
are all the expectations of mercy out of Christ; no drop of saving
mercy runs beside this channel.
    Thirdly, Christ is the mercy, because all inferior mercies
derive both their nature, value, sweetness, and duration from
Christ, the fountain mercy of all other mercies.
    First, They derive their nature from Christ; for out of him,
those things which men call mercies, are rather traps and snares,
than mercies to them, Proverbs 1: 32. The time will come when the rich
that are christless, will wish, O that we had been poor! And nobles,
that are now ennobled by the new birth, O that we had been among the
low rank of men! All these things that pass for valuable mercies,
like ciphers, signify much when such an important figure as Christ
stands before them, else they signify nothing to any man s comfort
or benefit.
    Secondly, They derive their value as well as nature from
Christ: For how little, I pray you, does it signify to any man to be
rich, honorable, politic, and successful in all his designs in this
world, if after all he must lie down in hell?
    Thirdly, All other mercies derive their sweetness from Christ,
and are but insipid things without him. There is a twofold sweetness
in things; one natural, another spiritual: Those that are out of
Christ can relish the first, believers only relish both. They have
the natural sweetness that is in mercy itself, and a sweetness
supernatural from Christ and the covenant, the way in which they
receive them. Hence it is, that some men taste more spiritual
sweetness in their daily bread, than others do in the Lord's supper;
and the same mercy, by this means, becomes a feast to soul and body
at once.
    Fourthly, All mercies have their duration and perpetuity from
Christ; all christless persons hold their mercies upon the greatest
contingencies and terms of uncertainty; if they be continued during
this life, that is all: there is not one drop of mercy after death.
But the mercies of the saints are continued to eternity; the end of
their mercies on earth, is the beginning of their better mercies in
heaven. There is a twofold end of mercies, one perfective, another
destructive; the death of the saints perfects and completes their
mercies; the death of the wicked destroys and cuts off their
mercies. For these reasons, Christ is called the mercy.
    Secondly, In the next place, let us enquire what kind of mercy
Christ is; and we shall find many lovely and transcendent properties
to commend him to our souls.
    First, He is free and undeserved mercy, called upon that
account, The gift of God, John 4: 10. And to show how free this gift
was, God gave him to us when we were enemies, Romans 5: 8. Needs must
that mercy be free, which is given, not only to the undeserving, but
to the ill deserving; the benevolence of God was the sole, impulsive
cause of this gift, John 3: 16.
    Secondly, Christ is a full mercy, replenished with all that
answers to the wishes, or wants of sinners; in him alone is found
whatever the justice of an angry God requires for satisfaction, or
the necessities of souls require for their supply. Christ is full of
mercy, both extensively, and intensively; in him are all kinds and
sorts of mercies; and in him are the highest and most perfect
degrees of mercy; "For it pleased the Father, that in him should all
fullness dwell," Col. 1: 19.
    Thirdly, Christ is the seasonable mercy, given by the Father to
us in due time, Romans 5: 6. In the fullness of time, Gal. 4: 4. a
seasonable mercy in his exhibition to the world in general, and a
seasonable mercy in his application to the soul in particular; the
wisdom of God pitched upon the best time for his incarnation, and it
takes the very properest for its application. When a poor soul is
distressed, lost, at its wits end, and ready to perish, then comes
Christ. All God's works are done in season, but none more seasonable
than this great work of salvation by Christ.
    Fourthly, Christ is the necessary mercy, there is an absolute
necessity of Jesus Christ; hence in scripture he is called the
"bread of life," John 6: 41. he is bread to the hungry; he is the
"water of life," John 7: 37. as cold water to the thirsty soul. He
is a ransom for captives, Mat. 20: 28. a garment to the naked, Romans
13. ult. Bread is not so necessary to the hungry, nor water to the
thirsty, nor a ransom to the captive, nor a garment to the naked, as
Christ is to the soul of a sinner: The breath of our nostrils, the
life of our souls is in Jesus Christ.
    Fifthly, Christ is a fountain-mercy, and all other mercies flow
from him: A believer may say with Christ, "All my springs are in
you;" from his merit, and from his spirit, flow our redemption,
justification, sanctification, peace, joy in the Holy Spirit, and
blessedness in the world to come: "In that day shall there be a
fountain opened," Zech. 13: 1.
    Sixthly, Christ is a satisfying mercy; he who is full of
Christ, can feel the want of nothing. "I desire to know nothing but
Jesus Christ, and him crucified," 1 Cor. 2: 2. Christ bounds and
terminates the vast desires of the soul: He is the very sabbath of
the soul. How hungry, empty, and straitened on every side is the
soul of man in the abundance end fullness of all outward things, until
it come to Christ? the weary motions of a restless soul, like those
of a river, cannot be at rest until they pour themselves into Christ,
the ocean of blessedness.
    Seventhly, Christ is a peculiar mercy, intended for, and
applied to a remnant among men; some would extend redemption as
large as the world, but the gospel limits it to those only that
believe; and those believers are upon that account called a peculiar
people, 1 Pet. 2: 9. The offers of Christ indeed are large and
general, but the application of Christ is but to few, Isaiah 53: 1.
The greater cause have they to whom Christ comes, to lie with their
mouths in the dust, astonished and overwhelmed with the sense of so
peculiar and distinguished a mercy.
    Eighthly, Jesus Christ is a table mercy, suited in every
respect to all our needs and wants, 1 Cor. 1: 20. wherein the
admirable wisdom of God is illustriously displayed; "You are complete
in him," (says the apostle) Col. 2: 20. Are we enemies? He is
reconciliation: Are we sold to sin and Satan? He is redemption: Are
we condemned by the law? He is the Lord our righteousness: Has sin
polluted us? He is a fountain opened for sin, and for uncleanness:
Are we lost by departing from God? He is the way to the Father. Rest
is not so suitable to the weary, nor bread to the hungry, as Christ
is to the sensible sinner.
    Ninthly, Christ is an astonishing and wonderful mercy; his Name
is called wonderful, Isa 9: 6. and as his name is, so is he; a
wonderful Christ: His Person is a wonder, 1 Tim. 3: 16. "Great is
the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh.*
    His abasement is wonderful, Phil. 2: 6. His love is a wonderful
love; his redemption full of wonders; angels desire to look into it.
He is, and will be admired by angels and saints to all eternity.
    Tenthly, Jesus Christ is an incomparable and matchless mercy;
"as the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved
among the sons," (says the enamored spouse) Cant. 2: 8. Draw the
comparison how you will between Christ and all other enjoyments, you
will find none in heaven nor on earth to equal him: He is more than
all externals, as the light of the sun is more than that of a
curdle: Nay, even the worst of Christ is better than the best of the
world; his reproaches are better than the world's pleasures, Heb.
11: 25. He is more than all spirituals, as the fountain is more than
the stream. He is more than justification, as the cause is more than
the effect; more than sanctification, as the person him self is more
than the image or picture. He is more than all peace, all comfort,
all joy, as the tree is more than the fruit. Nay, draw the
comparison between Christ and things eternal, and you will find him
better than they; for what is in heaven without Christ, Psalm. 73:
25. "Whom have I in heaven but you?" If Christ should say to the
saints, take heaven among you, but as for me I will withdraw myself
from you; the saints would weep, even in heaven itself, and say,
Lord, heaven will be no more heaven to us, except you be there, who
are by far the better half of heaven.
    Eleventhly, Christ is an unsearchable mercy; who can fully
express his wonderful name? Proverbs 30: 4. Who can tell over his
unsearchable riches, Eph. 3: 8. Hence it is that souls never tire in
the study or love of Christ, because new wonders are eternally
rising out of him. He is a deep which no line of any created
understanding, angelical or human, can fathom.
    Twelfthly, and lastly, Christ is an everlasting mercy; "the
same yesterday, to day, and forever," Heb. 13: 8. All other
enjoyments are perishable, time-eaten things; time, like a moth,
will fret them out; But the riches of Christ are durable riches,
Proverbs 8: 18. The graces of Christ are durable graces, John 4: 14.
All the creatures are flowers, that appear and fade in their month;
but this Rose of Sharon, this Lily of the Valley never withers. Thus
you see the mercy performed with its desirable properties.
    Thirdly, The last thing to be opened is the manner of God's
performing his mercy to his people; which the Lord did,
    1. Realty and truly, as he had promised him.
    2. Exactly agreeable to the promises and predictions of him.
    First, Really and truly; as he had promised, so he made good
the promise. Acts 2: 36. "Let all the house of Israel know
assuredly, that God has made that same Jesus, whom you crucified,
both Lord and Christ."
    The manifestation of Christ in the flesh was no phantasm or
delusion, but a most evident and palpable truth. 1 John 1: 1. "That
which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have
looked upon, and our hands have handled." A truth so certain, that
the assertors of it appealed to the very enemies of Christ for the
certainty thereof, Acts 2: 22. Yes, not only the sacred, but profane
writers, witness to it; not only the evangelists and apostles, but
even the heathen writers of those times, both Roman and Jewish, as
Suetonius, Tacitus, Plinius the younger, and Josephus the Jewish
antiquary, do all acknowledge it.
    Secondly, As God did really and truly perform Christ the
promised mercy, so he performed this promised mercy exactly
agreeable to the promises, types, and predictions made of him to the
fathers, even the most minute circumstances thereof. This is a great
truth for our faith to be established in: let us, therefore, cast
our eyes both upon the promises and performances God, with respect
to Christ, the mercy of mercies. See how he was represented to the
fathers long before his manifestation in the flesh; and what an one
he appeared to be when he was really exhibited in the flesh.
    First; As to his person and qualifications, as it was foretold,
so it was fulfilled. His original was said to be unsearchable and
eternal, Micah 5: 2. and so he affirmed himself to be, Rev. 1: 11.
"I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last." John 6: 31, 32.
"Before Abraham was, I am." His two natures, united into one person,
were plainly foretold, Zech. 13: 7. The man my Fellow; and such a
one God performed, Romans 9: 5. His immaculate purity and holiness
were foretold, Dan. 9: 24. "To anoint the most Holy;" some render
it, the great Saint, the Prince of Saints; and such an one he was
indeed, when he lived in this world. John 8: 46. "Which of you
convinces me of sin?" His Offices were foretold, the prophetical
Office predicted, Deut. 18: 15. and fulfilled in him, John 1: 18.
His priestly office foretold, Psalm. 110: 4. fulfilled, Heb. 9: 14.
his kingly Office foretold, Micah 5: 2. and in him fulfilled; his
very enemies being judges, Matthew; 27: 37.
    Secondly, As to his birth, the time, place, and manner thereof
were foretold to the fathers, and exactly performed to a little.
    First, The time prefixed, more generally in Jacob's prophecy,
Gen. 44: 10. When the scepter should depart from Judah, as, indeed,
it did in Herod the Idumean: More particularly in Daniel's seventy
weeks, from the decree of Darius, Dan. 9: 24. answering exactly to
the time of his birth; so cogent and full of proof, that Porphyry,
the great enemy of Christians, had no other evasion, but that this
prophecy was devised after the event: Which yet the Jews (as bitter
enemies to Christ as himself) will by no means allow to be true.
And, lastly, the time of his birth was exactly pointed at in
Haggai's prophecy, Hag. 2: 7, 9. compared with Mal 3: 1. He must
come while the second temple stood; at that time was a general
expectation of him, John 1: 19. and at that very time he came, Luke
2: 38.
    Secondly, The place of his birth was foretold to be Bethlehem
Ephrata, Micah 5: 2. and so it was, Matthew. 2: 5, 6. to be brought up
in Nazareth, Zech. 6: 12. "Behold the man whose name is the Branch."
The word is Netzer, whence is the word Nazarite. And there indeed
was our Lord brought up, Mat. 2: 23.
    Thirdly, His parent was to be a virgin, Isaiah 7: 14. punctually
fulfilled, Matthew. 50: 20, 21, 22, 23.
    Fourthly, His stock, or tribe, was foretold to be Judah, Gen.
49: 10. and it is evident, says the apostle, "that our Lord sprang
out of Judah," Heb. 7: 14.
    Fifthly, His harbinger, or forerunner was foretold, Mal 4: 5, 6.
fulfilled in John the Baptist, Luke 1: 16, 17.
    Sixthly, The obscurity and baseness of his birth were
predicted, Isaiah 53: 2. Zech. 9: 9. to which the event answered, Luke
2: 12.
    Thirdly, His doctrine and miracles were foretold, Isaiah 16: 1,
2. 35: 4, 5. the accomplishment whereof in Christ is evident in the
history of all the evangelism.
    Fourthly, His death for us was foretold by the prophets, Dan.
9: 26. "The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself:" Isaiah 53:
5. "He was wounded for our transgressions." And so he was, John 11:
50. The very kind and manner of his death was prefigured in the
brazen serpent, his type; and answered in his death upon the cross,
John 3: 14.
    Fifthly, His burial in the tomb of a rich man was foretold,
Isaiah 53: 9. and accomplished most exactly, Matthew. 27: 59, 60.
    Sixthly, His resurrection from the dead was typed out in Jonah,
and fulfilled in Christ's abode three days and nights in the grave,
Matthew. 12: 49.
    Seventhly, The wonderful spreading of the gospel in the world,
even to the Isles of the Gentiles, was prophesied of, Isaiah 49: 6. to
the truth whereof we are not only the witnesses, but the happy
instances and examples of it. Thus the promised mercy was performed.
    Inference 1. If Christ be the mercy of mercies, the medium of
conveying all other mercies from God to men; then in vain do men
expect and hope for mercy of God out of Jesus Christ.
    I know many poor sinners comfort themselves with this, when
they come upon a bed of sickness; I am sinful, but God is merciful:
and it is very true God is merciful; plenteous in mercy; his mercy
is great above the heavens; mercy pleases him; and all this they
that are in Christ shall find experimentally, to their comfort and
salvation. But what is all this to you, if you are christless?
There is not one drop of saving mercy that comes in any other
channel than Christ to the soul of any man.
    But must I then expect no mercy out of Christ? This is a hard
case, very uncomfortable doctrine. Yes, you may be a Christless,
and covenantless soul, and yet have variety of temporal mercies, as
Ishmael had, Gen. 17: 20, 21. God may give you the fatness of the
earth, riches, honors, pleasures, a numerous and prosperous
posterity; will that content you? Yes, yes, if I may have heaven
too: No, neither heaven, nor pardon, nor any other spiritual or
eternal mercy may be expected out of Christ. Jude, ver. 21. 0
deceive not yourselves in this point; there are two bars between you
and all spiritual mercies, namely, the guilt of sin, and the filth of
sin; and nothing but your own union with Christ can remove these,
and so open the passage for spiritual mercies to your souls.
    Why, but I will repent of sin, strive to obey the commands of
God, make restitution for the wrongs I have done, cry to God for
mercy, bind my soul with vows and strong resolutions against sin for
time to come: will not all this lay a ground work for hope of mercy
to my soul? No, this will not, this cannot do.
    First, All your sorrows, tears and mournings for sin cannot
obtain mercy; could you shed as many tears for any sin that ever you
committed, as all the children of Adam have shed upon any account
whatever, since the creation of the world; they will not purchase
the pardon of that one sin; for the law accepts no short payment; it
requires plenary satisfaction, and will not discharge any soul
without it; nor can it acknowledge or own your souls to be such. The
repentance of a soul finds, through Christ, acceptance with God, but
out of him it is nothing.
    Secondly, All your strivings to obey the commands of God, and
live more strictly for time to come, will not obtain mercy. Matthew 5:
20. "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the
Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of
heaven."
    Thirdly, Your restitution, and reparation of wrongs you have
done, cannot obtain mercy. Judas restored, and yet was damned. Man
is repaired, but God is not. Remission is the act of God, it is he
must loose your consciences from the bond of guilt, or they can
never be loosed.
    Fourthly, All your cries to God for mercy will not prevail for
mercy, if you be out of Christ, Matthew. 7: 22. Job 27: 29. A
righteous judge will not reverse the just sentence of the law,
though the prisoner at the bar fall upon his knees, and cry, Mercy.
mercy.
    Fifthly, Your vows and engagements to God for time to come
cannot obtain mercy; for they being made in your own strength, it is
impossible you should keep them; and if you could, yet it is
impossible they should obtain remission and mercy: should you never
sin more for time to come, yet how shall God be satisfied for sins
past? Justice must have satisfaction, or you can never have
remission, Romans 3: 25, 26. and no work wrought by man can satisfy
divine justice; nor is the satisfaction of Christ made over to any
for their discharge, but to such only as are in him: therefore never
expect mercy out of Christ.
    Inference. 2. Is Christ, the mercy of mercies, greater, better, and
more necessary than all other mercies: then let no inferior mercy
satisfy you for your portion.
    God has mercies of all sorts to give, but Christ is the chief,
the prime mercy of all mercies; O be not satisfied without that
mercy. When Luther had a rich present sent him, "he protested God
should not put him off so:" and David was of the same mind, Psalm.
17: 14. If the Lord should give any of you the desires of your
hearts in the good things of this life, let not that satisfy you,
while you are Christless. For,
    First, What is there in these earthly enjoyments, whereof the
vilest men have not a greater fullness than you? Job 21: 7, 8, 9, 10,
11. Psalm. 17: 10. and 73: 3, 12.
    Secondly, What comfort can all these things give to a soul
already condemned as you are; John 3: 18.
    Thirdly, What sweetness can be in them, while they are all
unsanctified things to you? enjoyments and sanctification are two
distinct things, Psalm. 37: 16. Proverbs 10: 22. Thousands of
unsanctified enjoyments will not yield your souls one drop of solid
spiritual comfort.
    Fourthly, What pleasure can you take in these things, of which
death must shortly strip you naked? You must die, you must die; and
whose then shall all those things be, for which you have labored?
Be not so fond, to think of leaving a great name behind you: it is
but a poor felicity (as Chrysostom well observes) to be tormented
where you are, and praised where you are not: the sweeter your
portion has been on earth, the more intolerable will your condition
be in hell; yes, these earthly delights do not only increase the
torments of the damned, but also prepare (as they are instruments of
sin) the souls of men for damnation, Proverbs 1: 32. "Surely the
prosperity of fools shall destroy them." Be restless, therefore,
until Christ, the mercy of mercies, be the root and fountain,
yielding and sanctifying all other mercies to you.
    Inference. 3. Is Christ, the mercy of mercies, infinitely better than
all other mercies? Then let all that be in Christ be content, and
well satisfied, whatever other inferior mercies the wisdom of God
sees fit to deny them. You have a Benjamin s portion, a plentiful
inheritance in Christ; will you yet complain? Others have houses,
splendid and magnificent upon earth; but you have "an house made
without hands, eternal in the heavens," 2 Cor. 5: 1. Others are
clothed with rich and costly apparel, your souls are clothed with
the white, pure robes of Christ's righteousness. Isaiah 61: 10. "I
will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God:
for he has clothed me with the garment of salvation, he has covered
me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself
with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels." Let
those that have full tables, heavy purses, rich lands, but no
Christ, be rather objects of your pity, than envy: it is better,
like store cattle, to be kept lean and hungry, than with the fatted
ox; to tumble in flowery meadows, thence to be lead away to the
shambles. God has not a better mercy to give than Christ, your
portion; in him all necessary mercies are secured to you, and your
wants and straits sanctified to your good. O! therefore, never open
your mouth to complain against the bountiful God.
    Inference. 4. Is Christ the mercy, that is he in whom all the tender
mercies of God towards poor sinners are, then let none be
discouraged in going to Christ, by reason of the sin and
unworthiness that are in him: his very name is mercy, and as his
name is, so is he. Poor drooping sinner, encourage yourself in the
way of faith; the Christ to whom you are going, is mercy itself to
broken hearted sinners moving towards him in the way of faith; doubt
not that mercy will repulse you; it is against both its name and
nature so to do. Jesus Christ is so merciful to poor souls that come
to him, that he has received and pardoned the chief of sinners;
men that stood as remote from mercy as any in the world, 1 Tim. 1:
15. 1 Cor. 6: 11. Those that shed the blood of Christ, have yet been
washed in that blood from their sin, Acts 2: 86, 87. Mercy receives
sinners, without exception of great and heinous ones. John 7: 37.
"If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink." Gospel
invitations run, in general terms, to all sinners that are heavy
laden, Mat. 11: 28. When Mr. Bilney the martyr heard a minister
preaching at this rate, O you old sinner, who have been serving the
devil these fifty or sixty years; do you think that Christ will
receive you now? O! said he, what a preaching of Christ is here?
Had Christ been thus preached to me in the day of my trouble for
sin, what had become of me? But, blessed be God there is a
sufficiency both of merit and mercy in Jesus Christ for all sinners,
for the vilest among sinners, whose hearts shall be made willing to
come unto him. So merciful is the Lord Jesus Christ, that he moves
first, Isaiah 62: 1, 2. so merciful, that he upbraids none, Ezek. 18:
22. so merciful, that he will not despise the weakest, if sincere,
desires of souls, Isaiah 13: 3. so merciful, that nothing more grieves
him than our unwillingness to come unto him for mercy, John 5: 40.
so merciful, that he waits to the last upon sinners to show them
mercy, Romans 10: 21. Mat. 23: 37. in a word, so merciful, that it is
his greatest joy when sinners come unto him, that he may show them
mercy, Luke 15: 5, 22.
    Object. But yet it cannot enter into my thoughts that I should
obtain mercy.
    Sol. First, you measure God by yourselves, 1 Sam. 24:19. "If a
man find his enemy, will he let him go well away?" Man will not, but
the merciful God will, upon the submission of the enemies to him.
    Secondly, You are discouraged, because you have not tried. Go
to Jesus Christ, poor distressed sinners; try him, and then report
what a Christ you find him to be.
    Object. But I have neglected the time of mercy, and now it is
too late.
    Sol. How know you that? Have you seen the book of life, or
turned over the records of eternity? Or do you not unwarrantably
intrude into the secrets of God, which belong not to you? Besides,
if the treaty were at an end, how is it that your heart is now
distressed for sin, and solicitous after deliverance from it?
    Object. But I have waited long, and yet see no mercy for me.
    Sol. May not mercy be coming, and you not see it? Or have you
not waited at the wrong door? If you wait for the mercy of God
through Christ, in the way of humiliation and faith, and continue
waiting, assuredly mercy shall come at last.
    Inference. 5. Has God performed the mercy promised to the Fathers,
the great mercy, the capital mercy, Jesus Christ; then let no man
distrust God for the performance of lesser mercies contained in any
other promises of the scripture. The performance of this mercy
secures the performance of all other mercies to us. For,
    First, Christ is a greater mercy than any other which yet
remains to be performed, Romans 8: 32.
    Secondly, This mercy virtually comprehends all other mercies, 1
Cor. 3: 21, 22, 23.
    Thirdly, The promises that contain all other mercies, are
ratified and confirmed to believers in Christ, 2 Cor. 1: 20.
    Fourthly, It was much more improbable that God would bestow his
own Son upon the world, than that he should bestow any other mercy
upon it. Wait, therefore, in a comfortable expectation of the
fulfilling of all the rest of the promises in their seasons. Has he
given you Christ? He will give you bread to eat, raiment to put
on, support in troubles, and whatever else your soul or body stands
in need of: The blessings contained in all other promises are fully
secured by the performance of this great promise; your pardon, peace,
acceptance with God now, and enjoyment of him forever shall be
fulfilled: The great mercy, Christ, makes way for all other mercies
to the souls of believers.
    Inference. 6. Lastly, How mad are they that part with Christ, the
best of mercies, to secure and preserve any temporal lesser mercies
to themselves! Thus Demas and Judas gave up Christ to gain a little
of the world; O soul undoing bargain! How dear do they pay for the
world, that purchase it with the loss of Christ, and their own peace
forever!
     
       Blessed be God for Jesus Christ, the Mercy of mercies.
 




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