Come and Welcome
Written By J O H N.B U N Y A N,
Author of "THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS."
"And they shall come which were ready to perish." –Isaiah 27:13.
L O N D O N,
Published seven years before John Bunyan's death.
[WHAT IT IS TO COME TO CHRIST.]
IRST, I would show you WHAT IT IS TO COME TO CHRIST. This word come must be understood spiritually, not carnally; for many came to him carnally, or bodily, that had no saving advantage by him. Multitudes did thus come unto him in the days of his flesh; yea, innumerable companies. There is also at this day a formal customary coming to his ordinances and ways of worship, which availeth not anything; but with them I shall not now meddle, for they are not intended in the text. The coming, then, intended in the text is to be understood of the coming of the mind to him, even the moving of the heart towards him. I say the moving of the heart towards him, from a sound sense of the absolute want that a man hath of him for his justification and salvation.
This description of coming to Christ divideth itself into two heads: First, That coming to Christ is a moving of the mind towards him. Second, That it is a moving of the mind towards him, from a sound sense of the absolute want that a man hath of him for his justification and salvation.
[First.] To speak to the first, that it is a moving of the mind towards him. This is evident; because coming hither or thither, if it be voluntary, is by an act of the mind or will; so coming to Christ is through the inclining of the will. "Thy people shall be willing" (Psa 110:3). This willingness of heart is it which sets the mind a-moving after or towards him. The church expresseth this moving of her mind towards Christ by the moving of her bowels. "My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him" (Can 5:4). "My bowels;" the passions of my mind and affections; which passions of the affections are expressed by the yearning and sounding of the bowels, the yearning or passionate working of them, the sounding of them, or their making a noise for him (Gen 43:30; 1 Kings 3:26; Isa 16:11).
This, then, is the coming to Christ, even a moving towards him with the mind.  "And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live" (Eze 47:9). The water in this text is the grace of God in the doctrine of it. The living things are the children of men, to whom the grace of God, by the gospel, is preached. Now, saith he, every living thing which moveth, whithersoever the water shall come, shall live. And see how this word moveth is expounded by Christ himself, in the book of the Revelations: "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will," that is, willing, "let him take the water of life freely" (Rev 22:17).
So that to move in thy mind and will after Christ, is to be coming to him. There are many poor souls that are coming to Christ, that yet cannot tell how to believe it, because they think that coming to him is some strange and wonderful thing; and, indeed, so it is. But I mean, they overlook the inclination of their will, the moving of their mind, and the sounding of their bowels after him; and count these none of this strange and wonderful thing; when, indeed, it is a work of greatest wonder in this world, to see a man who was sometimes dead in sin possessed of the devil, an enemy to Christ and to all things spiritually good; I say, to see this man moving with his mind after the Lord Jesus Christ, is one of the highest wonders in the world.
Second, It is a moving of the mind towards him, from a sound sense of the absolute want that a man hath of him for his justification and salvation. Indeed, without this sense of a lost condition without him, there will be no moving of the mind towards him. A moving of their mouth there may be; "With their mouth they show much love" (Eze 33:31). Such a people as this will come as the true people cometh; that is, in show and outward appearance. And they will sit before God's ministers, as his people sit before them; and they will hear his words too, but they will not do them; that is, will not come inwardly with their minds. "For with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart," or mind, "goeth after their covetousness." Now, all this is because they want an effectual sense of the misery of their state by nature; for not till they have that will they, in their mind, move after him. Therefore, thus it is said concerning the true comers, At "that day the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem" (Isa 27:13). They are then, as you see, the outcasts, and those that are ready to perish, that, indeed, have their minds effectually moved to come to Jesus Christ. This sense of things was that which made the three thousand come, that made Saul come, that made the jailer come, and that, indeed, makes all others come, that come effectually (Acts 2:8,18).
Of the true coming to Christ, the four lepers were a famous semblance, of whom you read, (2 Kings 7:3), &c. The famine in those days was sore in the land, there was no bread for the people; and as for that sustenance that was, which was asses' flesh and doves' dung, that was only in Samaria, and of these the lepers had no share, for they were thrust without the city. Well, now they sat in the gate of the city, and hunger was, as I may say, making his last meal of them; and being, therefore, half dead already, what do they think of doing? Why, first they display the dismal colours of death before each other's faces, and then resolve what to do, saying, "If we say we will enter into the city, then famine is in the city, and we shall die there: if we sit still here, we die also. Now, therefore, come, let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; if they kill us, we shall but die." Here, now, was necessity at work, and this necessity drove them to go thither for life, whither else they would never have gone for it. Thus it is with them that in truth come to Jesus Christ. Death is before them, they see it and feel it; he is feeding upon them, and will eat them quite up, if they come not to Jesus Christ; and therefore they come, even of necessity, being forced thereto by that sense they have of their being utterly and everlastingly undone, if they find not safety in him. These are they that will come. Indeed, these are they that are invited to come. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt 11:28).
Take two or three things to make this more plain; to wit, That coming to Christ floweth from a sound sense of the absolute need that a man hath of him, as afore.
1. "They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them; I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way wherein they shall not stumble" (Jer 31:9). Mind it; they come with weeping and supplication; they come with prayers and tears. Now prayers and tears are the effects of a right sense of the need of mercy. Thus a senseless sinner cannot come, he cannot pray, he cannot cry, he cannot come sensible of what he sees not, nor feels. "In those days, and in that time - the children of Israel shall come; they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten" (Jer 1:4,5).
2. This coming to Christ, it is called a running to him, as flying to him; a flying to him from wrath to come. By all which terms is set forth the sense of the man that comes; to wit, That he is affected with the sense of his sin, and the death due thereto; that he is sensible that the avenger of blood pursues him, and that, therefore, he is thus off, if he makes not speed to the Son of God for life (Matt 3:7; Psa 143:9). Flying is the last work of a man in danger; all that are in danger do not fly; no, not all that see themselves in danger; flying is the last work of a man in danger; all that hear of danger will not fly. Men will consider if there be no other way of escape before they fly. Therefore, as I said, flying is the last thing. When all refuge fails, and a man is made to see that there is nothing left him but sin, death, and damnation, unless he flies to Christ for life; then he flies, and not till then.
3. That the true coming is from a sense of an absolute need of Jesus Christ to save, &c., is evident by the outcry that is made by them to come, even as they are coming to him, "Lord, save me," or I perish; "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" and the like (Matt 14:30; Acts 2:37; 16:30). This language doth sufficiently discover that the truly-coming souls are souls sensible of their need of salvation by Jesus Christ; and, moreover, that there is nothing else that can help them but Christ.
4. It is yet further evident by these few things that follow: It is said that such are "pricked in their heart," that is, with the sentence of death by the law; and the least prick in the heart kills a man (Acts 2:37). Such are said, as I said before, to weep, to tremble, and to be astonished in themselves at the evident and unavoidable danger that attends them, unless they fly to Jesus Christ (Acts 9:16).
5. Coming to Christ is attended with an honest and sincere forsaking of all for him. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26,27).
By these and the like expressions elsewhere, Christ describeth the true comer, or the man that indeed is coming to him; he is one that casteth all behind his back; he leaveth all, he forsaketh all, he hateth all things that would stand in his way to hinder his coming to Jesus Christ. There are a great many pretended comers to Jesus Christ in the world; and they are much like to the man you read of in Matthew 21:30, that said to his father's bidding, "I go, Sir, and went not." I say, there are a great many such comers to Jesus Christ; they say, when Christ calls by his gospel, I come, Sir; but still they abide by their pleasures and carnal delights. They come not at all, only they give him a courtly compliment; but he takes notice of it, and will not let it pass for any more than a lie. He said, "I go, Sir, and went not;" he dissembled and lied. Take heed of this, you that flatter yourselves with your own deceivings. Words will not do with Jesus Christ. Coming is coming, and nothing else will go for coming with him.
[Objections that usually lie in the way of coming to Christ.]
Before I speak to the other head, I shall answer some objections that usually lie in the way of those that in truth are coming to Jesus Christ.
Objection 1. Though I cannot deny but my mind runs after Christ, and that too as being moved thereto from a sight and consideration of my lost condition, for I see without him I perish; yet I fear my ends are not right in coming to him.
Quest. Why, what is thine end in coming to Christ?
Answ. My end is, that I might have life, and be saved by Jesus Christ.
This is the objection; well, let me tell thee, that to come to Christ for life, and to be saved, although at present thou hast no other end, is a lawful and good coming to Jesus Christ. This is evident, because Christ propoundeth life as the only argument to prevail with sinners to come to him, and so also blameth them because they come not to him for life. "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life" (John 5:40). Besides, there are many other scriptures whereby he allureth sinners to come to him, in which he propoundeth nothing to them but their safety. As, "whosoever believeth in him should not perish;" he that believeth is "passed from death unto life." "He that believeth - shall be saved." "He that believeth on him is not condemned." And believing and coming are all one. So that you see, to come to Christ for life, is a lawful coming and good. In that he believeth, that he alone hath made atonement for sin (Rom 2). And let me add over and above, that for a man to come to Christ for life, though he comes to him for nothing else but life, it is to give much honour to him.
1. He honoureth the word of Christ, and consenteth to the truth of it; and that in these two general heads. (1.) He consenteth to the truth of all those sayings that testify that sin is most abominable in itself, dishonourable to God, and damnable to the soul of man; for thus saith the man that cometh to Jesus Christ (Jer 44:4; Rom 2:23; 6:23; 2 Thess 2:12). (2.) In that he believeth, as the word hath said, that there is in the world's best things, righteousness and all, nothing but death and damnation; for so also says the man that comes to Jesus Christ for life (Rom 7:24,25; 8:2,3; 2 Cor 3:6-8).
2. He honoureth Christ's person, in that he believeth that there is life in him, and that he is able to save him from death, hell, the devil, and damnation; for unless a man believes this, he will not come to Christ for life (Heb 7:24,25).
3. He honoureth him, in that he believeth that he is authorized of the Father to give life to those that come to him for it (John 5:11,12; 17:1-3).
4. He honoureth the priesthood of Jesus Christ. (1.) In that he believeth that Christ hath more power to save from sin by the sacrifice that he hath offered for it, than hath all law, devils, death, or sin to condemn. He that believes not this, will not come to Jesus Christ for life (Acts 13:38; Heb 2:14,15; Rev 1:17,18). (2.) In that he believeth that Christ, according to his office, will be most faithful and merciful in the discharge of his office. This must be included in the faith of him that comes for life to Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1-3; Heb 2:17,18).
5. Further, He that cometh to Jesus Christ for life, taketh part with him against sin, and against the ragged and imperfect righteousness of the world; yea, and against false Christs, and damnable errors, that set themselves against the worthiness of his merits and sufficiency. This is evident, for that such a soul singleth Christ out from them all, as the only one that can save.
6. Therefore as Noah, at God's command, thou preparest this ark, for the saving of thyself, by which also thou condemnest the world, and art become heir of the righteousness which is by faith (Heb 11:7). Wherefore, coming sinner, be content; he that cometh to Jesus Christ, believeth too that he is willing to show mercy to, and have compassion upon him, though unworthy, that comes to him for life. And therefore thy soul lieth not only under a special invitation to come, but under a promise too of being accepted and forgiven (Matt 11:28).
All these particular parts and qualities of faith are in that soul that comes to Jesus Christ for life, as is evident to any indifferent judgment. For, will he that believeth not the testimony of Christ concerning the baseness of sin, and the insufficiency of the righteousness of the world, come to Christ for life? No. He that believeth not this testimony of the word, comes not. He that believeth that there is life anywhere else, comes not. He that questions whether the Father hath given Christ power to forgive, comes not. He that thinketh that there is more in sin, in the law, in death, and the devil, to destroy, than there is in Christ to save, comes not. He also that questions his faithful management of his priesthood for the salvation of sinners, comes not.
Thou, then, that art indeed the coming sinner, believest all this. True, perhaps thou dost not believe with that full assurance, nor hast thou leisure to take notice of thy faith as to these distinct acts of it; but yet all this faith is in him coming to Christ for life. And the faith that thus worketh, is the faith of the best and purest kind; because this man comes alone as a sinner, and as seeing that life is, and is to be had only in Jesus Christ.
Before I conclude my answer to this objection, take into thy consideration these two things.
1st. [Consider] that the cities of refuge were erected for those that were dead in law, and that yet would live by grace; even for those that were to fly thither for life from the avenger of blood that pursueth after them. And it is worth your noting, that those that were upon their flight thither, are in a peculiar manner called the people of God: "Cast ye up, cast ye up," saith God; "prepare the way; take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people" (Isa 57:14). This is meant of preparing the way to the city of refuge, that the slayers might escape thither; which flying slayers are here, by way of specialty, called the people of God; even those of them that escaped thither for life.
2dly. [Consider] that of Ahab, when Benhadad sent to him for life, saying, "Thus saith thy servant Benhadad, I pray thee let me live." Though Benhadad had sought the crown, kingdom, yea, and also the life of Ahab, yet how effectually doth Benhadad prevail with him! Is Benhadad yet alive? saith Ahab; He is my brother; yea, go ye, bring him to me. So he made him ride in his chariot (1 Kings 20).
Coming sinner, what thinkest thou? If Jesus Christ had as little goodness in him as Ahab, he might grant an humble Benhadad life; thou neither beggest of him his crown and dignity; life, eternal life, will serve thy turn. How
much more then shalt thou have it, since thou hast to deal with him who is goodness and mercy itself! yea, since thou art also called upon, yea, greatly encouraged by a promise of life, to come unto him for life! Read also these Scriptures, Numbers 35:11,14,15, Joshua 20:1-6, Hebrews 6:16-21.
Object. 2. When I say I only seek myself, I mean I do not find that I do design God's glory in mine own salvation by Christ, and that makes me fear I do not come aright.
Answ. Where doth Christ Jesus require such a qualification of those that are coming to him for life? Come thou for life, and trouble not thy head with such objections against thyself, and let God and Christ alone to glorify themselves in the salvation of such a worm as thou art. The Father saith to the Son, "Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified." God propoundeth life to sinners, as the argument to prevail with them to come to him for life; and Christ says plainly, "I am come that they might have life" (John 10:10). He hath no need of thy designs, though thou hast need of his. Eternal life, pardon of sin, and deliverance from wrath to come, Christ propounds to thee, and these be the things that thou hast need of; besides, God will be gracious and merciful to worthless, undeserving wretches; come then as such an one, and lay no stumblingblocks in the way to him, but come to him for life, and live (John 5:34; 10:10; 3:36; Matt 1:21; Prov 8:35,36; 1 Thess 1:10; John 11:25,26).
When the jailer said, "Sirs, What must I do to be saved?" Paul did not so much as once ask him, What is your end in this question? do you design the glory of God, in the salvation of your soul? He had more wit; he knew that such questions as these would have been but fools' babbles about, instead of a sufficient salve "Which Cambell seeing, though he could not salve, to so weighty a question as this. Wherefore, since this poor wretch lacked salvation by Jesus Christ, I mean to be saved from hell and death, which he knew, now, was due to him for the sins that he had committed, Paul bids him, like a poor condemned sinner as he was, to proceed still in this his way of self-seeking, saying, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:30-32). I know that afterwards thou wilt desire to glorify Christ by walking in the way of his precepts; but at present thou wantest life; the avenger of blood is behind thee, and the devil like a roaring lion is behind thee; well, come now, and obtain life from these; and when thou hast obtained some comfortable persuasion that thou art made partaker of life by Christ, then, and not till then, thou wilt say, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:  who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies" (Psa 103:1-4).
Object. 3. But I cannot believe that I come to Christ aright, because sometimes I am apt to question his very being and office to save.
Thus to do is horrible; but mayest thou not judge amiss in this matter? How can I judge amiss, when I judge as I feel? Poor soul! Thou mayest judge amiss for all that. Why, saith the sinner, I think that these questionings come from my heart. Let me answer. That which comes from thy heart, comes from thy will and affections, from thy understanding, judgment, and conscience, for these must acquiesce in thy questioning, if thy questioning be with thy heart. And how sayest thou, for to name no more, dost thou with thy affection and conscience thus question? Answ. No, my conscience trembles when such thoughts come into my mind; and my affections are otherwise inclined.
Then I conclude, that these things are either suddenly injected by the devil, or else are the fruits of that body of sin and death that yet dwells within thee, or perhaps from both together.
If they come wholly from the devil, as they seem, because thy conscience and affections are against them, or if they come from that body of death that is in thee, and be not thou curious in inquiring from whether of them they come, the safest way is to lay enough at thy own door; nothing of this should hinder thy coming, nor make thee conclude thou comest not aright.  And before I leave thee, let me a little query with thee about this matter.
1. Dost thou like these wicked blasphemies? Answ. No, no, their presence and working kills me.
2. Dost thou mourn for them, pray against them, and hate thyself because of them? Answ. Yes, yes; but that which afflicts me is, I do not prevail against them.
3. Dost thou sincerely choose, mightest thou have thy choice, that thy heart might be affected and taken with the things that are best, most heavenly, and holy? Answ. With all my heart, and death the next hour, if it were God's will, rather than thus to sin against him.
Well then, thy not liking of them, thy mourning for them, thy praying against them, and thy loathing thyself because of them, with thy sincere choosing of those thoughts for thy delectation that are heavenly and holy, clearly declares, that these things are not countenanced either with thy will, affections, understanding, judgment, or conscience; and so, that thy heart is not in them, but that rather they come immediately from the devil, or arise from the body of death that is in thy flesh, of which thou oughtest thus to say, "Now, then, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me" (Rom 7:17).
I will give thee a pertinent instance. In Deuteronomy 22, thou mayest read of a betrothed damsel, one betrothed to her beloved, one that had given him her heart and mouth, as thou hast given thyself to Christ; yet was she met with as she walked in the field, by one that forced her, because he was stronger than she. Well, what judgment now doth God, the righteous judge, pass upon the damsel for this? "The man only that lay with her," saith God, "shall die. But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death. For, as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter; for he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her" (Deut 22:25-27).
Thou art this damsel. The man that forced thee with these blasphemous thoughts, is the devil; and he lighteth upon thee in a fit place, even in the field, as thou art wandering after Jesus Christ; but thou criest out, and by thy cry did show, that thou abhorrest such wicked lewdness. Well, the Judge of all the earth will do right; he will not lay the sin at thy door, but at his that offered the violence. And for thy comfort take this into consideration, that he came to heal them "that were oppressed of the devil" (Acts 10:38).
Object. 4. But, saith another, I am so heartless, so slow, and, as I think, so indifferent in my coming, that, to speak truth, I know not whether my kind of coming ought to be called a coming to Christ.
Answ. You know that I told you at first, that coming to Christ is a moving of the heart and affections towards him.
But, saith the soul, my dullness and indifferency in all holy duties, demonstrate my heartlessness in coming; and to come, and not with the heart, signifies nothing at all.
1. The moving of the heart after Christ is not to be discerned, at all times, by thy sensible affectionate performance of duties, but rather by those secret groanings and complaints which thy soul makes to God against that sloth that attends thee in duties.
2. But grant it to be even as thou sayest it is, that thou comest so slowly, &c., yet, since Christ bids them come that come not at all, surely they may be accepted that come, though attended with those infirmities which thou at present groanest under. He saith, "and him that cometh;" he saith not, If they come sensible; so fast; but, "and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." He saith also in the ninth of Proverbs, "As for him that wanteth understanding," that is, an heart (for oftentimes the understanding is taken for the heart), "come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled."
3. Thou mayest be vehement in thy spirit in coming to Jesus Christ, and yet be plagued with sensible sloth; so was the church when she cried, "Draw me, we will run after thee;" and Paul, when he said, "When I would do good, evil is present with me" (Song 14; Rom 7; Gal 5:19). The works, strugglings, and oppositions of the flesh, are more manifest than are the works of the Spirit in our hearts, and so are sooner felt than they. What then? Let us not be discouraged at the sight and feeling of our own infirmities, but run the faster to Jesus Christ for salvation.
4. Get thy heart warmed with the sweet promise of Christ's acceptance of the coming sinner, and that will make thee make more haste unto him. Discouraging thoughts they are like unto cold weather, they benumb the senses, and make us go ungainly about our business; but the sweet and warm gleads of promise are like the comfortable beams of the sun, which liven and refresh.  You see how little the bee and fly do play in the air in winter; why, the cold hinders them from doing it; but when the wind and sun is warm, who so busy as they?
5. But again, he that comes to Christ, flies for his life. Now, there is no man that flies for his life, that thinks he speeds fast enough on his journey; no, could he, he would willingly take a mile at a step. O my sloth and heartlessness, sayest thou! "Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest" (Psa 55:6,8).
Poor coming soul, thou art like the man that would ride full gallop, whose horse will hardly trot! Now, the desire of his mind is not to be judged of by the slow pace of the dull jade he rides on, but by the hitching, and kicking, and spurring, as he sits on his back. Thy flesh is like this dull jade; it will not gallop after Christ; it will be backward, though thy soul and heaven lie at stake.  But be of good comfort, Christ judgeth not according to the fierceness of outward motion (Mark 10:17) but according to the sincerity of the heart and inward parts (John 1:47; Psa 51:6; Matt 26:41).
6. Ziba, in appearance, came to David much faster than did Mephibosheth; but yet his heart was not so upright in him to David as was his. It is true, Mephibosheth had a check from David; for, said he, "Why wentest not thou with me, Mephibosheth?" But when David came to remember that Mephibosheth was lame, for that was his plea —"thy servant is lame" (2 Sam 19), he was content, and concluded, he would have come after him faster than he did; and Mephibosheth appealed to David, who was in those days as an angel of God, to know all things that are done in the earth, if he did not believe that the reason of his backwardness lay in his lameness, and not in his mind. Why, poor coming sinner, thou canst not come to Christ with that outward swiftness of a courier as many others do; but doth the reason of thy backwardness lie in thy mind and will, or in the sluggishness of the flesh? Canst thou say sincerely, "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt 26:41). Yea, canst thou appeal to the Lord Jesus, who knoweth perfectly the very inmost thought of thy heart, that this is true? Then take this for thy comfort, he hath said, "I will assemble her that halteth - I will make her that halted a remnant," (Micah 4:6), "and I will save her that halteth" (Zeph 3:19). What canst thou have more from the sweet lips of the Son of God? But,
7. I read of some that are to follow Christ in chains; I say, to come after him in chains. "Thus saith the Lord, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee: in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee: they shall make supplication unto thee, saying - Surely there is none else" to save (Isa 45:14). Surely they that come after Christ in chains, come to him in great difficulty, because their steps, by the chains, are straitened. And what chains are so heavy as those that discourage thee? Thy chain, which is made up of guilt and filth, is heavy; it is a wretched bond about thy neck, by which thy strength doth fail (Lam 1:14; 3:18). But come, though thou comest in chains; it is glory to Christ that a sinner comes after him in chains. The chinking of thy chains, though troublesome to thee, are not, nor can be obstruction to thy salvation; it is Christ's work and glory to save thee from thy chains, to enlarge thy steps, and set thee at liberty. The blind man, though called, surely could not come apace to Jesus Christ, but Christ could stand still, and stay for him (Mark 10:49). True, "He rideth upon the wings of the wind;" but yet he is long-suffering, and his long-suffering is salvation to him that cometh to him (2 Peter 3:9).
8. Hadst thou seen those that came to the Lord Jesus in the days of his flesh, how slowly, how hobblingly, they came to him, by reason of their infirmities; and also how friendly, and kindly, and graciously, he received them, and gave them the desire of their hearts, thou wouldest not, as thou dost, make such objections against thyself, in thy coming to Jesus Christ.
Object. 5. But, says another, I fear I come too late; I doubt I have staid too long; I am afraid the door is shut.
Answ. Thou canst never come too late to Jesus Christ, if thou dost come. This is manifest by two instances.
1. By the man that came to him at the eleventh hour. This man was idle all the day long. He had a whole gospel day to come in, and he played it all away save only the last hour thereof. But at last, at the eleventh hour, he came, and goes into the vineyard to work with the rest of the labourers, that had borne the burden and heat of the day. Well, but how was he received by the lord of the vineyard? Why, when pay-day came, he had even as much as the rest; yea, had his money first. True, the others murmured at him; but what did the Lord Jesus answer them? "Is thine eye evil, because I am good? I will give unto this last, even as unto thee" (Matt 20:14,15).
2. The other instance is, the thief upon the cross. He came late also, even as at an hour before his death; yea, he stayed from Jesus Christ as long as he had liberty to be a thief, and longer too; for could he have deluded the judge, and by lying words have escaped his just condemnation, for ought I know, he had not come as yet to his Saviour; but being convicted, and condemned to die, yea, fastened to the cross, that he might die like a rogue, as he was in his life; behold the Lord Jesus, when this wicked one, even now, desireth mercy at his hands, tells him, and that without the least reflection upon him, for his former misspent life, "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). Let no man turn this grace of God into wantonness. My design is now to encourage the coming soul.
Object. But is not the door of mercy shut against some before they die?
Answ. Yea; and God forbids that prayers should be made to him for them (Jer 6:16; Jude 22).
Quest. Then, why may not I doubt that I may be one of these?
Answ. By no means, if thou art coming to Jesus Christ; because when God shuts the door upon men, he gives them no heart to come to Jesus Christ. "None come but those to whom it is given of the Father." But thou comest, therefore it is given to thee of the Father.
Be sure, therefore, if the Father hath given thee an heart to come to Jesus Christ, the gate of mercy yet stands open to thee. For it stands not with the wisdom of God to give strength to come to the birth, and yet to shut up the womb, (Isa 66:9); to give grace to come to Jesus Christ, and yet shut up the door of his mercy upon thee. "Incline your ear," saith he, "and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David" (Isa 55:3).
Object. But it is said, that some knocked when the door was shut.
Answ. Yes; but the texts in which these knockers are mentioned, are to be referred unto the day of judgment, and not to the coming of the sinner to Christ in this life. See the texts, Matthew 15:11, Luke 13:24,25. These, therefore, concern thee nothing at all, that art coming to Jesus Christ, thou art coming NOW! "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor 6:2). Now God is upon the mercy-seat; now Christ Jesus sits by, continually pleading the victory of his blood for sinners; and now, even as long as this world lasts, this word of the text shall still be free, and fully fulfilled; "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
Sinner, the greater sinner thou art, the greater need of mercy thou hast, and the more will Christ be glorified thereby. Come then, come and try; come, taste and see how good the Lord is to an undeserving sinner!
Object. 6. But, says another, I am fallen since I began to come to Christ; therefore I fear I did not come aright, and so consequently that Christ will not receive me.
Answ. Falls are dangerous, for they dishonour Christ, wound the conscience, and cause the enemies of God to speak reproachfully. But it is no good argument, I am fallen, therefore I was not coming aright to Jesus Christ. If David, and Solomon, and Peter, had thus objected against themselves, they had added to their griefs; and yet, at least they had as much cause as thou. A man whose steps are ordered by the Lord, and whose goings the Lord delights in, may yet be overtaken with a temptation that may cause him to fall  (Psa 37:23,24). Did not Aaron fall; yea, and Moses himself? What shall we say of Hezekiah and Jehosaphat? There are, therefore, falls and falls; falls pardonable and falls unpardonable. Falls unpardonable are falls against light, from the faith, to the despising of, and trampling upon Jesus Christ and his blessed undertakings (Heb 6:2-5; 10:28,29). Now, as for such, there remains no more sacrifice for sin. Indeed, they have no heart, no mind, no desire to come to Jesus Christ for life, therefore they must perish. Nay, says the Holy Ghost, "It is impossible that they should be renewed again unto repentance." Therefore these God had no compassion for, neither ought we; but for other falls though they be dreadful, and God will chastise his people for them, they do not prove thee a graceless man, one not coming to Jesus Christ for life.
It is said of the child in the gospel, that while "he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him" (Luke 9:42). Dejected sinner, it is no wonder that thou hast caught a fall in coming to Jesus Christ. Is it not rather to be wondered at, that thou hast not caught before this a thousand times a thousand falls? considering, 1. What fools we are by nature. 2. What weaknesses are in us. 3. What mighty powers the fallen angels, our implacable enemies, are. 4. Considering also how often the coming man is benighted in his journey; and also what stumblingblocks do lie in his way. 5. Also his familiars, that were so before, now watch for his halting, and seek by what means they may to cause him to fall by the hand of their strong ones.
What then? Must we, because of these temptations, incline to fall? No. Must we not fear falls? Yes. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor 10:12). Yet let him not utterly be cast down; "The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up those that are bowed down." Make not light of falls! Yet, hast thou fallen? "Ye have," said Samuel, "done all this wickedness; yet turn not aside from following the Lord," but serve him with a perfect heart, and turn not aside, "for the Lord will not forsake his people," and he counteth the coming sinner one of them, "because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people" (1 Sam 12:20-22).
[FIRST, THE TEXT TREATED BY WAY OF EXPLICATION.]
[SECOND, THE TEXT TREATED BY WAY OF OBSERVATION.]