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 FORCE THERE IS IN THE PROMISE TO MAKE THEM COME TO CHRIST.]
ECOND, "Shall come to me." Now we come to show WHAT FORCE THERE IS IN THIS PROMISE TO MAKE THEM COME TO HIM. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me." I will speak to this promise, First, In general. Second, In particular.
[First], In general. This word SHALL is confined to these ALL that are given to Christ. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me." Hence I conclude,
1. That coming to Jesus Christ aright is an effect of their being, of God, given to Christ before. Mark, They shall come. Who? Those that are given. They come, then, because they were given, "thine they were, and thou gavest them me." Now, this is indeed a singular comfort to them that are coming in truth to Christ, to think that the reason why they come is, because they were given of the Father before to him. Thus, then, may the coming soul reason with himself as he comes. Am I coming, indeed, to Jesus Christ? This coming of mine is not to be attributed to me or my goodness, but to the grace and gift of God to Christ. God gave first my person to him, and, therefore, hath now given me a heart to come.
2. This word, shall come, maketh thy coming not only the fruit of the gift of the Father, but also of the purpose of the Son; for these words are a Divine purpose; they show us the heavenly determination of the Son. "The Father hath given them to me, and they shall; yea, they shall come to me." Christ is as full in his resolution to save those given to him as is the Father in giving of them. Christ prizeth the gift of his Father; he will lose nothing of it; he is resolved to save it every whit by his blood, and to raise it up again at the last day; and thus he fulfills his Father's will, and accomplisheth his own desires (John 6:39).
3. These words, shall come, make thy coming to be also the effect of an absolute promise; coming sinner, thou art concluded in a promise; thy coming is the fruit of the faithfulness of an absolute promise. It was this promise, by the virtue of which thou at first receivedst strength to come; and this is the promise, by the virtue of which thou shalt be effectually brought to him. It was said to Abraham, "At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son." This son was Isaac. Mark! "Sarah shall have a son;" there is the promise. And Sarah had a son; there was the fulfilling of the promise; and, therefore, was Isaac called the child of the promise (Gen 17:19; 18:10; Rom 9:9).
Sarah shall have a son. But how, if Sarah be past age? Why, still the promise continues to say, Sarah shall have a son. But how, if Sarah be barren? Why, still the promise says, Sarah shall have a son. But Abraham's body is now dead? Why, the promise is still the same, Sarah shall have a son. Thus, you see what virtue there is in an absolute promise; it carrieth enough in its own bowels to accomplish the thing promised, whether there be means or no in us to effect it. Wherefore, this promise in the text, being an absolute promise, by virtue of it, not by virtue of ourselves, or by our own inducements, do we come to Jesus Christ: for so are the words of the text: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me."
Therefore is every sincere comer to Jesus Christ called also a child of the promise. "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise," (Gal 4:28); that is, we are the children that God hath promised to Jesus Christ, and given to him; yea, the children that Jesus Christ hath promised shall come to him. "All that the Father giveth me shall come."
4. This word, shall come, engageth Christ to communicate all manner of grace to those thus given him to make them effectually to come to him. "They shall come;" that is, not if they will, but if grace, all grace, if power, wisdom, a new heart, and the Holy Spirit, and all joining together, can make them come. I say, this word, shall come, being absolute, hath no dependence upon our own will, or power, or goodness; but it engageth for us even God himself, Christ himself, the Spirit himself. When God had made that absolute promise to Abraham, that Sarah "should have a son," Abraham did not at all look at any qualification in himself, because the promise looked at none; but as God had, by the promise, absolutely promised him a son; so he considered now not his own body now dead, nor yet the barrenness of Sarah's womb. "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was able also to perform" (Rom 4:20,21). He had promised, and had promised absolutely, Sarah shall have a son. Therefore, Abraham looks that he, to wit, God, must fulfil the condition of it. Neither is this expectation of Abraham disapproved by the Holy Ghost, but accounted good and laudable; it being that by which he gave glory to God. The Father, also, hath given to Christ a certain number of souls for him to save; and he himself hath said, "They shall come to him." Let the church of God then live in a joyful expectation of the utmost accomplishment of this promise; for assuredly it shall be fulfilled, and not one thousandth part of a tittle thereof shall fail. "They SHALL come to me."
[Second, In particular.] And now, before I go any further, I will more particularly inquire into the nature of an absolute promise.
1. We call that an absolute promise that is made without any condition; or more fully thus: That is an absolute promise of God, or of Christ, which maketh over to this or that man any saving, spiritual blessing, without a condition to be done on our part for the obtaining thereof. And this we have in hand is such an one. Let the best Master of Arts on earth show me, if he can, any condition in this text depending upon any qualification in us, which is not by the same promise concluded, shall be by the Lord Jesus effected in us.
2. An absolute promise therefore is, as we say, without if or and; that is, it requireth nothing of us, that itself might be accomplished. It saith not, They shall, if they will; but they shall: not, they shall, if they use the means; but, they shall. You may say, that a will and the use of the means is supposed, though not expressed. But I answer, No, by no means; that is, as a condition of this promise. If they be at all included in the promise, they are included there as the fruit of the absolute promise, not as if it expected the qualification to arise from us. "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power" (Psa 110:3). That is another absolute promise. But doth that promise suppose a willingness in us, as a condition of God's making us willing? They shall be willing, if they are willing; or, they shall be willing, if they will be willing. This is ridiculous; there is nothing of this supposed. The promise is absolute as to us; all that it engageth for its own accomplishment is, the mighty power of Christ and his faithfulness to accomplish.
3. The difference, therefore, betwixt the absolute and conditional promise is this:
(1.) They differ in their terms. The absolute promises say, I will, and you shall: the other, I will, if you will; or, Do this, and thou shalt live (Jer 4:1; 31:31-33; Eze 18:30-32; 36:24-34; Heb 8:7-13; Matt 19:21).
(2.) They differ in their way of communicating of good things to men; the absolute ones communicate things freely, only of grace; the other, if there be that qualification in us, that the promise calls for, not else.
(3.) The absolute promises therefore engage God, the other engage us: I mean, God only, us only.
(4.) Absolute promises must be fulfilled; conditional may, or may not be fulfilled. The absolute ones must be fulfilled, because of the faithfulness of God; the other may not, because of the unfaithfulness of men.
(5.) Absolute promises have therefore a sufficiency in themselves to bring about their own fulfilling; the conditional have not so. The absolute promise is therefore a big-bellied promise, because it hath in itself a fullness of all desired things for us; and will, when the time of that promise is come, yield to us mortals that which will verily save us; yea, and make us capable of answering of the demands of the promise that is conditional.
4. Wherefore, though there be a real, yea, an eternal difference, in these things, with others, betwixt the conditional and absolute promise; yet again, in other respects, there is a blessed harmony betwixt them; as may be seen in these particulars. The conditional promise calls for repentance, the absolute promise gives it (Acts 5:31). The conditional promise calls for faith, the absolute promise gives it (Zeph 3:12; Rom 15:12). The conditional promise calls for a new heart, the absolute promise gives it (Eze 36:25,26). The conditional promise calleth for holy obedience, the absolute promise giveth it, or causeth it (Eze 36:27).
5. And as they harmoniously agree in this, so again the conditional promise blesseth the man, who by the absolute promise is endued with its fruit. As, for instance, the absolute promise maketh men upright; and then the conditional follows, saying, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord" (Psa 119:1). The absolute promise giveth to this man the fear of the Lord; and then the conditional followeth, saying, "Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord" (Psa 128:1). The absolute promise giveth faith, and then this conditional follows, saying, "Blessed is she that believed" (Zeph 3:12; Luke 1:45). The absolute promise brings free forgiveness of sins; and then says the condition, "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered" (Rom 4:7). The absolute promise says, that God's elect shall hold out to the end; then the conditional follows with his blessings, "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (1 Peter 1:4-6; Matt 24:13).
Thus do the promises gloriously serve one another and us, in this their harmonious agreement.
Now, the promise under consideration is an absolute promise. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me."
This promise therefore is, as is said, a big-bellied promise, and hath in itself all those things to bestow upon us that the conditional calleth for at our hands. They shall come! Shall they come? Yes, they shall come. But how, if they want those things, those graces, power, and heart, without which they cannot come? Why, Shall-come answereth all this, and all things else that may in this manner be objected. And here I will take the liberty to amplify things.
[Objections to the absoluteness of this promise (the force of SHALL- COME) answered.]
Object. 1. But they are dead, dead in trespasses and sins, how shall they then come?
Answ. Why, Shall-come can raise them from this death. "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." Thus, therefore, is this impediment by Shall- come removed out of the way. They shall heal, they shall live.
Object. 2. But they are Satan's captives; he takes them captive at his will, and he is stronger than they: how then can they come?
Answ. Why, Shall-come hath also provided an help for this. Satan had bound that daughter of Abraham so, that she could by no means lift up herself; but yet Shall-come set her free both in body and soul. Christ will have them turned from the power of Satan to God. But what! Must it be, if they turn themselves, or do something to merit of him to turn them? No, he will do it freely, of his own good will. Alas! Man, whose soul is possessed by the devil, is turned whithersoever that governor listeth, is taken captive by him, notwithstanding its natural powers, at his will; but what will he do? Will he hold him when Shall-come puts forth itself, will he then let him, for coming to Jesus Christ? No, that cannot be! His power is but the power of a fallen angel, but Shall-come is the Word of God. Therefore Shall-come must be fulfilled; "and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
There were seven devils in Mary Magdalene, too many for her to get from under the power of; but when the time was come that Shall-come was to be fulfilled upon her, they give place, fly from her, and she comes indeed to Jesus Christ, according as it is written, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me."
The man that was possessed with a legion, (Mark 5), was too much by them captivated for him by human force to come; yea, had he had, to boot, all the men under heaven to help him, had he that said, He shall come, withheld his mighty power: but when this promise was to be fulfilled upon him, then he comes; nor could all their power hinder his coming. It was also this Shall- come that preserved him from death; when by these evil spirits he was hurled hither and thither; and it was by the virtue of Shall-come that at last he was set at liberty from them, and enabled indeed to come to Christ. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me."
Object. 3. They shall, you say; but how if they will not; and, if so, then what can Shall-come do?
Answ. True, there are some men say, "We are lords; we will come no more unto thee" (Jer 2:31). But as God says in another case, if they are concerned in Shall-come to me, they "shall know whose words shall stand, mine or theirs" (Jer 41:28). Here, then, is the case; we must now see who will be the liar, he that saith, I will not; or he that saith, He shall come to me. You shall come, says God; I will not come, saith the sinner. Now, as sure as he is concerned in this Shall-come, God will make that man eat his own words; for I will not, is the unadvised conclusion of a crazy-headed sinner; but Shall-come was spoken by him that is of power to perform his word. "Son, go work to-day in my vineyard," said the Father. But he answered, and said, I will not come. What now? will he be able to stand to his refusal? will he pursue his desperate denial? No, "he afterwards repented and went." But how came he by that repentance? Why, it was wrapped up for him in the absolute promise; and therefore, notwithstanding he said, "I will not, he afterwards repented and went." By this parable Jesus Christ sets forth the obstinacy of the sinners of the world, as touching their coming to him; they will not come, though threatened: yea, though life be offered them upon condition of coming.
But now, when Shall-come, the absolute promise of God, comes to be fulfilled upon them, then they come; because by that promise a cure is provided against the rebellion of their will. "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power"(Psa 110:3). Thy people, what people? Why, the people that thy Father hath given thee. The obstinacy and plague that is in the will of that people, shall be taken away; and they shall be made willing; Shall-come will make them willing to come to thee.
He that had seen Paul in the midst of his outrages against Christ, his gospel, and people, would hardly have thought that he would ever have been a follower of Jesus Christ, especially since he went not against his conscience in his persecuting of them. He thought verily that he ought to do what he did. But we may see what Shall-come can do, when it comes to be fulfilled upon the soul of a rebellious sinner: he was a chosen vessel, given by the Father to the Son; and now the time being come that Shall-come was to take him in hand, behold, he is over-mastered, astonished, and with trembling and reverence, in a moment becomes willing to be obedient to the heavenly call (Acts 9).
And were not they far gone, that you read of, (Acts 2) who had their hands and hearts in the murder of the Son of God; and to show their resolvedness never to repent of that horrid fact, said, "His blood be on us and on our children?" But must their obstinacy rule? Must they be bound to their own ruin, by the rebellion of their stubborn wills? No, not those of these the Father gave to Christ; wherefore, at the times appointed, Shall-come breaks in among them; the absolute promise takes them in hand; and then they come indeed, crying out to Peter, and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" No stubbornness of man's will can stand, when God hath absolutely said the contrary; Shall-come can make them come "as doves to their windows," that had afore resolved never to come to him.
The Lord spake unto Manasseh, and to his people, by the prophets, but would he hear? No, he would not. But shall Manasseh come off thus? No, he shall not. Therefore, he being also one of those whom the Father had given to the Son, and so falling within the bounds and reach of Shall-come, at last Shall-come takes him in hand, and then he comes indeed. He comes bowing and bending; he humbles himself greatly, and made supplication to the Lord, and prayed unto him; and he was entreated of him, and had mercy upon him (2 Chron 30:10).
The thief upon the cross, at first, did rail with his fellow upon Jesus Christ; but he was one that the Father had given to him, and, therefore, Shall-come must handle him and his rebellious will. And behold, so soon as he is dealt withal, by virtue of that absolute promise, how soon he buckleth, leaves his railing, falls to supplicating of the Son of God for mercy; "Lord," saith he, "Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom" (Matt 27:44; Luke 23:40-42).
Object. 4. They shall come, say you, but how if they be blind, and see not the way? For some are kept off from Christ, not only by the obstinacy of their will, but by the blindness of their mind. Now, if they be blind, how shall they come?
Answ. The question is not, Are they blind? But, Are they within the reach and power of Shall-come? If so, that Christ that said, they shall come, will find them eyes, or a guide or both, to bring them to himself. "Must is for the king." If they shall come, they shall come. No impediment shall hinder.
The Thessalonians' darkness did not hinder them from being the children of light; "I am come," said Christ, "that they which see not might see." And if he saith, See, ye "blind that have eyes," who shall hinder it? (Eph 5:8; John 9:39; Isa 29:18; 43:8).
This promise, therefore, is, as I said, a big-bellied promise, having in the bowels of it, all things that shall occur to the complete fulfilling of itself. They shall come. But it is objected, that they are blind. Well, Shall-come is still the same, and continueth to say, "They shall come to me." Therefore he saith again, "I will bring the blind by a way that they know not, I will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them" (Isa 42:16).
Mark, I will bring them, though they be blind; I will bring them by a way they know not; I will —I will; and therefore "they shall come to me."
Object. 5. But how, if they have exceeded many in sin, and so made themselves far more abominable? They are the ringleading sinners in the county, the town, or family.
Answ. What then? Shall that hinder the execution of Shall-come? It is not transgressions, nor sins, nor all their transgressions in all their sins, if they by the Father are given to Christ to save them, that shall hinder this promise, that it should not be fulfilled upon them. "In those days, and in that time," saith the Lord, "the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found" (Jer 50:20). Not that they had none, for they abounded in transgression, (2 Chron 33:9; Eze 16:48), but God would pardon, cover, hide, and put them away, by virtue of his absolute promise, by which they are given to Christ to save them. "And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have transgressed against me. And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise, and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall bear all the good that I do unto them; and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it" (Jer 33:8,9).
Object. 6. But how, if they have not faith and repentance? How shall they come then?
Answ. Why, he that saith, They shall come, shall he not make it good? If they shall come, they shall come; and he that hath said, they shall come, if faith and repentance be the way to come, as indeed they are, then faith and repentance shall be given to them! for Shall-come must be fulfilled on them.
1. Faith shall be given them. "I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord." "There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust" (Zeph 3:12; Rom 15:12).
2. They shall have repentance. He is exalted to give repentance. "They shall come weeping, and seeking the Lord their God." And again, "With weeping and supplication will I lead them" (Acts 5:31; Jer 31:9).
I told you before, that an absolute promise hath all conditional ones in the belly of it, and also provision to answer all those qualifications, that they propound to him that seeketh for their benefit. And it must be so; for if Shall-come be an absolute promise, as indeed it is, then it must be fulfilled upon every of those concerned therein. I say, it must be fulfilled, if God can by grace, and his absolute will, fulfil it. Besides, since coming and believing is all one, according to John 6:35, "He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst," then, when he saith they shall come, it is as much as to say, they shall believe, and consequently repent, to the saving of the soul.
So then the present want of faith and repentance cannot make this promise of God of none effect; because that this promise hath in it to give what others call for and expect. I will give them an heart, I will give them my Spirit, I will give them repentance, I will give them faith. Mark these words: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." But how came he to be a "new creature," since none can create but God? Why, God indeed doth make them "new creatures." "Behold," saith he, "I make all things new." And hence it follows, even after he had said they are "new creatures," "and all things are of God;" that is, all this new creation standeth in the several operations, and special workings of the Spirit of grace, who is God (2 Cor 5:17,18).
Object. 7. But how shall they escape all those dangerous and damnable opinions, that, like rocks and quicksands, are in the way in which they are going?
Answ. Indeed this age is an age of errors, if ever there was an age of errors in the world; but yet the gift of the Father, laid claim to by the Son in the text, must needs escape them, and in conclusion come to him. There are a company of Shall-comes in the Bible that doth secure them; not but that they may be assaulted by them; yea, and also for the time entangled and detained by them from the Bishop of their souls, but these Shall-comes will break those chains and fetters, that those given to Christ are entangled in, and they shall come, because he hath said they shall come to him.
Indeed, errors are like that whore of whom you read in the Proverbs, that sitteth in her seat in the high places of the city, "to call passengers who go right on their ways" (Prov 9:13-16). But the persons, as I said, that by the Father are given to the Son to save them, are, at one time or other, secured by "shall come to me."
And therefore of such it is said, God will guide them with his eye, with his counsels, by his Spirit, and that in the way of peace; by the springs of water, and into all truth (Psa 32:8; 73:24; John 16:13; Luke 1:79; Isa 49:10). So then he that hath such a guide, and all that the Father giveth to Christ shall have it, he shall escape those dangers, he shall not err in the way; yea, though he be a fool, he shall not err therein, (Isa 35:8), for of every such an one it is said, "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left" (Isa 30:21).
There were thieves and robbers before Christ's coming, as there are also now; but, said he, "The sheep did not hear them." And why did they not hear them, but because they were under the power of Shall-come, that absolute promise, that had that grace in itself to bestow upon them, as could make them able rightly to distinguish of voices, "My sheep hear my voice." But how came they to hear it? Why, to them it is given to know and to hear, and that distinguishingly (John 10:8,16; 5:25; Eph 5:14).
Further, The very plain sentence of the text makes provision against all these things; for, saith it, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me;" that is, shall not be stopped, or be allured to take up anywhere short of ME, nor shall they turn aside, to abide with any besides ME.
[Import of the words TO ME.]
"Shall come TO ME." —To me. By these words there is further insinuated, though not expressed, a double cause of their coming to him. First. There is in Christ a fullness of all-sufficiency of that, even of all that which is needful to make us happy. Second. Those that indeed come to him, do therefore come to him that they may receive it at his hand.
First. For the first of these, there is in Christ a fullness of all-sufficiency of all that, even of all that which is needful to make us happy. Hence it is said, "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell" (Col 1:19). And again, "Of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16). It is also said of him, that his riches are unsearchable —"the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph 3:8). Hear what he saith of himself, "Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment; that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance. And I will fill their treasures" (Prov 8:18-21).
This in general. But, more particularly,
1. There is that light in Christ, that is sufficient to lead them out of, and from all that darkness, in the midst of which all others, but them that come to him, stumble, and fall and perish: "I am the light of the world," saith he, "he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). Man by nature is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knows not whither he goes, for darkness hath blinded his eyes; neither can anything but Jesus Christ lead men out of this darkness. Natural conscience cannot do it; the ten commandments, though in the heart of man, cannot do it. This prerogative belongs only to Jesus Christ.
2. There is that life in Christ, that is to be found nowhere else (John 5:40). Life, as a principle in the soul, by which it shall be acted and enabled to do that which through him is pleasing to God. "He that believeth in," or cometh to, "me," saith he, as the Scripture hath said, "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). Without this life a man is dead, whether he be bad, or whether he be good; that is, good in his own, and other men's esteem. There is no true and eternal life but what is in the ME that speaketh in the text.
There is also life for those that come to him, to be had by faith in his flesh and blood. "He that eateth me, even he shall live by me" (John 6:57). And this is a life against that death that comes by the guilt of sin, and the curse of the law, under which all men are, and for ever must be, unless they eat the ME that speaks in the text. "Whoso findeth ME," saith he, "findeth life;" deliverance from that everlasting death and destruction, that, without me, he shall be devoured by (Prov 8:35). Nothing is more desirable than life, to him that hath in himself the sentence of condemnation; and here only is life to be found. This life, to wit, eternal life, this life is in his Son; that is, in him that saith in the text, "All that the Father hath given me shall come to me" (1 John 5:10).
3. The person speaking in the text, is he alone by whom poor sinners have admittance to, and acceptance with the Father, because of the glory of his righteousness, by and in which he presenteth them amiable and spotless in his sight; neither is there any way besides him so to come to the Father: "I am the way," says he, "and the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by me" (John 14:6). All other ways to God are dead and damnable; the destroying cherubim stand with flaming swords, turning every way to keep all others from his presence (Gen 3:24). I say, all others but them that come by him. "I am the door; by me," saith he, "if any man enter in, he shall be saved" (John 10:9).
The person speaking in the text is HE, and only HE, that can give stable and everlasting peace; therefore, saith he, "My peace I give unto you." My peace, which is a peace with God, peace of conscience, and that of an everlasting duration. My peace, peace that cannot be matched, "not as the world giveth, give I unto you;" for the world's peace is but carnal and transitory, but mine is Divine and eternal. Hence it is called the peace of God, and that passeth all understanding.
4. The person speaking in the text hath enough of all things truly spiritually good, to satisfy the desires of every longing soul. "Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." And to him that is athirst, "I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely" (John 7:37, Rev 21:6).
5. With the person speaking in the text is power to perfect and defend, and deliver those that come to him for safe-guard. "All power," saith he, "is given unto me in heaven and earth" (Matt 28:18).
Thus might I multiply instances in this nature in abundance. But,
Second. They that in truth do come to him, do therefore come to him that they might receive it at his hand. They come for light, they come for life, they come for reconciliation with God: they also come for peace, they come that their soul may be satisfied with spiritual good, and that they may be protected by him against all spiritual and eternal damnation; and he alone is able to give them all this, to the filling of their joy to the full, as they also find when they come to him. This is evident,
1. From the plain declaration of those that already are come to him. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Rom 5:1,2).
2. It is evident also, in that while they keep their eyes upon him, they never desire to change him for another, or to add to themselves some other thing, together with him, to make up their spiritual joy. "God forbid," saith Paul, "that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." "Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Phil 3:8,9).
3. It is evident also, by their earnest desires that others might be made partakers of their blessedness. "Brethren," said Paul, "my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." That is, that way that he expected to be saved himself. As he saith also to the Galatians, "Brethren," saith he, "I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are;" that is, I am a sinner as you are. Now, I beseech you, seek for life, as I am seeking of it; as who should say, For there is a sufficiency in the Lord Jesus both for me and you.
4. It is evident also, by the triumph that such men make over all their enemies, both bodily and ghostly: "Now thanks be unto God," said Paul, "which always causeth us to triumph in Christ." And, "who shall separate us from the love of Christ" our Lord? and again, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 2:14; Rom 8:35; 1 Cor 15:55,56).
5. It is evident also, for that they are made by the glory of that which they have found in him, to suffer and endure what the devil and hell itself hath or could invent, as a means to separate them from him. Again, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? as it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8:35-39).
"Shall come TO ME." Oh! the heart-attracting glory that is in Jesus Christ, when he is discovered, to draw those to him that are given to him of the Father; therefore those that came of old, rendered this as the cause of their coming to him: "And we beheld his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father" (John 1:14). And the reason why others come not, but perish in their sins, is for want of a sight of his glory: "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor 4:3,4).
There is therefore heart-pulling glory in Jesus Christ, which, when discovered, draws the man to him; wherefore by shall come to me, Christ may mean, when his glory is discovered, then they must come, then they shall come to me. Therefore, as the true comers come with weeping and relenting, as being sensible of their own vileness, so again it is said, that "the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." That is, at the sight of the glory of that grace that shows itself to them now in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the hopes that they now have of being with him in the heavenly tabernacles. Therefore it saith again, "With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought; they shall enter into the King's palace" (Isa 35:10; 51:11; Psa 45:15). There is therefore heart-attracting glory in the Lord Jesus Christ, which, when discovered, subjects the heart to the Word, and makes us come to him.
It is said of Abraham, that when he dwelt in Mesopotamia, "the God of glory appeared unto him," saying, "Get thee out of thy country." And what then? Why, away he went from his house and friends, and all the world could not stay him. "Now," as the Psalmist says, "Who is this King of glory?" he answers, "The Lord, mighty in battle" (Psa 24:8). And who was that, but he that "spoiled principalities and powers," when he did hang upon the tree, triumphing over them thereon? And who was that but Jesus Christ, even the person speaking in the text? Therefore he said of Abraham, "He saw his day. Yea," saith he to the Jews, "your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad" (Col 2:15; James 2:23; John 8:56).
Indeed, the carnal man says, at least in his heart, "There is no form or comeliness in Christ; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him," (Isa 53:2); but he lies. This he speaks, as having never seen him. But they that stand in his house, and look upon him through the glass of his Word, by the help of his Holy Spirit, they will tell you other things. "But we all," say they, "with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory" (2 Cor 3:18). They see glory in his person, glory in his undertakings, glory in the merit of his blood, and glory in the perfection of his righteousness; yea, heart-affecting, heart-sweetening, and heart-changing glory!
Indeed, his glory is veiled, and cannot be seen but as discovered by the Father (Matt 11:27). It is veiled with flesh, with meanness of descent from the flesh, and with that ignominy and shame that attended him in the flesh; but they that can, in God's light, see through these things, they shall see glory in him; yea, such glory as will draw and pull their hearts unto him.
Moses was the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter; and for aught I know, had been king at last, had he now conformed to the present vanities that were there at court; but he could not, he would not do it. Why? What was the matter? Why! he saw more in the worst of Christ (bear with the expression), than he saw in the best of all the treasures of the land of Egypt. He "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. He forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king." But what emboldened him thus to do? Why, "he endured;" for he had a sight of the person speaking in the text. "He endured, as seeing him who is invisible." But I say, would a sight of Jesus have thus taken away Moses' heart from a crown, and a kingdom, &c., had he not by that sight seen more in him than was to be seen in them? (Heb 11:24-26).
Therefore, when he saith, shall come to me, he means, they shall have a discovery of the glory of the grace that is in him; and the beauty and glory of that is of such virtue, that it constraineth, and forceth, with a blessed violency, the hearts of those that are given to him.
Moses, of whom we spake before, was no child when he was thus taken with the beauteous glory of his Lord. He was forty years old, and so consequently was able, being a man of that wisdom and opportunity as he was, to make the best judgment of the things, and of the goodness of them that was before him in the land of Egypt. But he, even he it was, that set that low esteem upon the glory of Egypt, as to count it not worth the meddling with, when he had a sight of this Lord Jesus Christ. This wicked world thinks, that the fancies of a heaven, and a happiness hereafter, may serve well enough to take the heart of such, as either have not the world's good things to delight in; or that are fools, and know not how to delight themselves therein. But let them know again, that we have had men of all ranks and qualities, that have been taken with the glory of our Lord Jesus, and have left all to follow him. As Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon; and who not, that had either wit or grace, to savour heavenly things? Indeed none can stand off from him, nor any longer hold out against him to whom he reveals the glory of his grace.
[FIRST, THE TEXT TREATED BY WAY OF EXPLICATION.]
[SECOND, THE TEXT TREATED BY WAY OF OBSERVATION.]