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warn all sinners against this fatal delusion, and especially when they are anxiously concerned about their future state.
5. It appears from what has been said, that it is much easier to direct inquiring sinners right in respect to their present, pressing duty, than it is to direct them wrong. Those who understand the nature of mercy and the nature of submission, find no difficulty in pointing out how sinners should plead for mercy properly and successfully. They have only to follow the plain example of the apostles. Many anxious sinners besought them to direct them what they must do to be saved. I will mention two or three very remarkable instances. The first is in the second chapter of Acts. Peter said in his sermon, “ Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ;" that is, an absolute Sovereign. “Now when they
“ heard this, they were pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" If Christ be a sovereign he has a right to save or destroy. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." These were very plain, intelligible, and pertinent directions; and three thousands gladly followed them, and received pardoning mercy. · When Simon the sorcerer found himself in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity, Peter directed him to repent of his wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of his heart might be forgiven him.” That is, to pray with submission to God to grant or deny his pardoning mercy. When the Jailer was alarmed and trembled in the view of destruction, he brought Paul and Silas out of the prison, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." It seems that he followed their direction, believed, and was baptized and was saved. The apostles found no difficulty in directing sinners right, in their most anxious and distressed situation. They directed them to pray, and to pray penitently and submissively for pardoning mercy. And sinners found no difficulty in understanding their directions, and when they followed them, they found no difficulty in obtaining pardon and åcceptance in the sight of God.' Ministers who understand the character of sinners, the character of God and the terms of the gospel, find no difficulty in directing inquiring, distressed sinners right; and sinners find no difficulty in understanding their directions. They never go away and say, that they were directed not to pray, because they were directed to pray submissively, for their reason and conscience tell them that they ought to pray submissively, and that they ought to be, and will be denied sovereign mercy, if they do not exercise unconditional submission. But when ministers undertake to give inquiring sinners directions different from the example of the apostles, they find a difficulty to know what directions to give. They almost always give different and contradictory directions. They will generally direct them to pray. But if they ask how they must pray, they know not what to say. They will not presume to say, that they must pray wickedly, but only to pray as well as they can with their totally depraved hearts. But if they are asked, whether God will hear their impenitent, unsubmissive prayers, they dare not say that God will hear them. Hence, they go away as ignorant as when they came, and with increased anxiety ask the next minister, or the next Christian, what they must do? It is just as easy for sinners as for saints, to obtain mercy. Saints must go to God, as Ben-hadad went to Ahab, that is, with unconditional submission, in order to obtain any temporal, spiritual, or eternal favor from him. They must submit to a denial; and when they submit to a denial, they are prepared to receive mercy, and not before. God denies saints much oftener than he denies sinners their requests, for they pray much oftener than sinners generally do, unsubmissively, and are denied. But when either saints or sinners pray submissively, God always hears and answers their requests. It seems to be a very general opinion among ministers and others, that the same directions are not to be given to sinners, that are to be given to saints. But this is an unreason, able and unscriptural opinion, and leads both ministers and people into a great practical error. If there be any sinners here present, that anxiously desire to know how to obtain the pardoning mercy of God, I will give them a true and infallible direction. “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye
, upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts : and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." Let no one think that this is no direction, or that it is a wrong direction, or that he can find mercy without follow
THE MERCY OF CHRIST TO ENTREATING SINNERS.
" AND they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disci.
ples, and a great number of people, blind Bartimeus, the son of Timeus, sat by the highway-side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace; but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise ; he calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.”—Mark X. 46-52.
BARTIMEUS was a blind and poor man, and probably the son of a blind and poor man.
He is called the son of Timeus, which seems to be mentioned as a circumstance that
aggravated his blindness and poverty. If his father was blind and poor, then his blindness and poverty were both hereditary, and a good reason why he should sit by the highway side begging; and why both he and his father should be generally known in the city Jericho. Though Bartimeus was blind, yet he was not deaf, for he heard the noise of the multitude that followed Christ, when he left Jericho in his way to Jerusalem. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth that passed by, "he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.” This was a precious opportunity to cry for mercy, for Christ was just going to leave him; and it was the only opportunity he ever expected to have, to gain the ear and excite the compassion of Christ, the son of David and Saviour of the world. Christ had just been preaching and working mir
. acles, and was then going about doing good to the souls and bodies of men, and dispensing both temporal and spiritual blessings to poor, perishing, guilty creatures. If Bartimeus
had neglected to cry for mercy while Jesus was passing by, he might have died without mercy. And it seems that a sense of his critical situation excited his ardent desire and importunate cry for mercy. He felt that all his temporal and eternal interests lay at stake, and he determined to surmount all the difficulties in the way of gaining the attention and compassion of Christ. The more the multitude attempted to dissuade him from crying to Christ, the more a great deal he persisted in crying, “ Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me." Jesus heard his cry, called him to him, demanded his request, and then said, “Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.” It appears from all the circumstances of the case, that he was healed of his natural and moral maladies; his sight was restored and his sins were forgiven; and his heart was united to Christ and disposed to follow him. This instance of Christ's conduct was recorded for the instruction and encouragement of sinners in all future ages, and forcibly teaches us this important truth;
That he is willing to bestow mercy upon all who sincerely plead with him for mercy. I shall show,
I. What is implied in sinners pleading for mercy; and,
II. That Christ is willing to show mercy to sincere suppliants.
I. I am to show what is implied in sinners sincerely pleading for mercy. And here it may be observed,
1. It implies that they renounce all claims upon justice to save them. They cannot plead for justice and mercy at the same time. Unless they realize that God would be just in destroying them, they cannot desire, nor sincerely ask for his pardoning mercy. If God could not justly punish them forever for transgressing his righteous law, then he is bound in justice to save them from future and eternal punishment. And so long as they feel that they do not deserve to suffer the penalty of his holy law which they have broken, they cannot plead for mercy to save them from the wrath to come. They must necessarily renounce all claims to justice, before they can sincerely ask for mercy. And a clear conviction of the entire corruption of their hearts and of the entire sinfulness of their lives, must constrain them to feel that they deserve to suffer the full penalty of the divine law, and that nothing but divine mercy can save them from it. As soon as they feel justly condemned for their sins, they cannot hope for pardon upon any other ground than mere mercy, which constrains them to plead for mercy. Thus the Publican was constrained to cry for
“God be merciful to me a sinner.". Thus the prodigal was constrained to cry, “ Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.” And thus Paul was humbled to the dust, by a sense of his guilt and illdesert in the sight of God, before he cried to Christ for mercy, and begged to know what he would have him to do to secure his favor. Sinners must not only feel that they are exposed to destruction, but that they deserve destruction, before they can sincerely plead for mercy. It is one thing to plead to be spared from going down to the pit of destruction, and another to plead for a restoration to the forfeited favor of God. The devils could plead with Christ not to torment them, but they had no disposition to plead for future holiness and blessedness upon the selfabasing terms of the gospel. Sinners must not only see, that they are condemned by justice, but must cordially approve of the justice which condemns them, before they can sincerely plead for mercy.
2. Their pleading for mercy implies that they give up all claims to divine mercy, as well as to divine justice. Those who need mercy at the hands of Christ cannot claim his mercy. Though the innocent may claim justice, yet the guilty cannot claim mercy. Though Christ has suffered and died on the cross to atone for their sins, and can consistently show mercy, yet he is under no obligation to show them mercy. To plead for his mercy is a very different thing from claiming his mercy. Poor, blind Bartimeus did not claim the mercy of Christ, when he so ardently prayed, "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me." Sinners sometimes vainly imagine, that though they do not deserve to be saved in point of justice, yet they deserve to be saved in point of mercy. Since Christ can show mercy to them, through the atonement he has made, they imagine he ought to show them mercy, and that he has no right to deny them, and show mercy to others. But while they thus mistake mercy for justice, they cannot sincerely plead for mercy, When they sincerely plead for mercy they mean mercy and not justice; and feel that Christ has a right to deny them the mercy they plead for. When Bartimeus sat by the way-side begging of his fellow-men, he did not claim mercy from them, or suppose that they were bound to supply his wants; and much less when he begged of Christ to have mercy upon him, did he claim mercy at his hands. Had he claimed mercy, Christ would undoubtedly have left him to pine away in the blindness of his eyes and hardness of his heart. Christ knew that he meant mercy, when he cried for mercy, and therefore