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Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 15

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 15

Import of the Words In No Wise

“And him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.”  IN NO WISE: by these words there is [First,] Something expressed; and [Second,] Something implied.

First, That which is expressed is Christ Jesus, his unchangeable resolution to save the coming sinner; I will in no wise reject him, or deny him the benefit of my death and righteousness.  This word, therefore, is like that which he speaks of the everlasting damnation of the sinner in hell-fire; “He shall by no means depart thence;” that is, never, never come out again, no, not to all eternity (Matt 5:26; 25:46).  So that as he that is condemned into hell-fire hath no ground of hope for his deliverance thence; so him that cometh to Christ, hath no ground to fear he shall ever be cast in thither.

“Thus saith the Lord, If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel, for all that they have done, saith the Lord” (Jer 31:37).  “Thus saith the Lord, If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, then will I cast away the seed of Jacob” (Jer 33:25, 26).  But heaven cannot be measured, nor the foundations of the earth searched out beneath; his covenant is also with day and night, and he hath appointed the ordinances of heaven; therefore he will not cast away the seed of Jacob, who are the coming ones, but will certainly save them from the dreadful wrath to come (Jer 50:4, 5).  By this, therefore, it is manifest, that it was not the greatness of sin, nor the long continuance in it, no, nor yet the backsliding, nor the pollution of thy nature, that can put a bar in against, or be an hindrance of, the salvation of the coming sinner.  For, if indeed this could be, then would this solemn and absolute determination of the Lord Jesus, of itself, fall to the ground, and be made of none effect.  But his “counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure;” that is, his pleasure in this; for his promise, as to this irreversible conclusion, ariseth of his pleasure; he will stand to it, and will fulfil it, because it is his pleasure (Isa 46:10, 11).

Suppose that one man had the sins, or as many sins as an hundred, and another should have an hundred times as many as he; yet, if they come, this word, “I will in no wise cast out,” secures them both alike.

Suppose a man hath a desire to be saved, and for that purpose is coming in truth to Jesus Christ; but he, by his debauched life, has damned many in hell; why, the door of hope is by these words set as open for him, as it is for him that hath not the thousandth part of his transgressions.  “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Suppose a man is coming to Christ to be saved, and hath nothing but sin, and an ill-spent life, to bring with him; why, let him come, and welcome to Jesus Christ, “And he will in no wise cast him out” (Luke 7:42).  Is not this love that passeth knowledge? Is not this love the wonderment of angels?  And is not this love worthy of all acceptation at the hands and hearts of all coming sinners?

[Hindrances in Coming to Christ]

Second, That which is implied in the words is, 1.  The coming souls have those that continually lie at Jesus Christ to cast them off.  2.  The coming souls are afraid that those will prevail with Christ to cast them off.  For these words are spoken to satisfy us, and to stay up our spirits against these two dangers: “I will in no wise cast out.”

1.  For the first, Coming souls have those that continually lie at Jesus Christ to cast them off . And there are three things that thus bend themselves against the coming sinner.

(1.)  There is the devil, that accuser of the brethren, that accuses them before God, day and night (Rev 12:10).  This prince of darkness is unwearied in this work; he doth it, as you see, day and night; that is, without ceasing. He continually puts in his caveats against thee, if so be he may prevail.  How did he ply it against that good man Job, if possibly he might have obtained his destruction in hell-fire?  He objected against him, that he served not God for nought, and tempted God to put forth his hand against him, urging, that if he did it, he would curse him to his face; and all this, as God witnesseth, “he did without a cause” (Job 1:9–11; 2:4, 5).  How did he ply it with Christ against Joshua the high-priest?  “And he showed me Joshua,” said the prophet, “the high-priest, standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him” (Zech 3:1).

To resist him; that is, to prevail with the Lord Jesus Christ to resist him; objecting the uncleanness and unlawful marriage of his sons with the Gentiles; for that was the crime that Satan laid against them (Ezra 10:18).  Yea, and for aught I know, Joshua was also guilty of the fact; but if not of that, of crimes no whit inferior; for he was clothed with filthy garments, as he stood before the angel.  Neither had he one word to say in vindication of himself, against all that this wicked one had to say against him.  But notwithstanding that, he came off well; but he might for it thank a good Lord Jesus, because he did not resist him, but contrariwise, took up his cause, pleaded against the devil, excusing his infirmity, and put justifying robes upon him before his adversary’s face.

“And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee.  Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?  And he answered and spoke to those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him; and unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment” (Zech 3:2–4).

Again, how did Satan ply it against Peter, when he desired to have him, that he might sift him as wheat?  that is, if possible, sever all grace from his heart, and leave him nothing but flesh and filth, to the end that he might make the Lord Jesus loathe and abhor him.  “Simon, Simon,” said Christ, “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.”  But did he prevail against him?  No:  “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.”  As who should say, Simon, Satan hath desired me that I would give thee up to him, and not only thee, but all the rest of thy brethren—for that the word you imports—but I will not leave thee in his hand: I have prayed for thee, thy faith shall not fail; I will secure thee to the heavenly inheritance (Luke 22:30–32).

(2.)  As Satan, so every sin of the coming sinner, comes in with a voice against him, if perhaps they may prevail with Christ to cast off the soul.  When Israel was coming out of Egypt to Canaan, how many times had their sins thrown them out of the mercy of God, had not Moses, as a type of Christ, stood in the breach to turn away his wrath from them! (Psa 106:23).  Our iniquities testify against us, and would certainly prevail against us, to our utter rejection and damnation, had we not an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1, 2).

The sins of the old world cried them down to hell; the sins of Sodom fetched upon them fire from heaven, which devoured them; the sins of the Egyptians cried them down to hell, because they came not to Jesus Christ for life.  Coming sinner, thy sins are no whit less than any; nay, perhaps, they are as big as all theirs.  Why is it then, that thou livest when they are dead, and that thou hast a promise of pardon when they had not?  “Why, thou art coming to Jesus Christ;”  and therefore sin shall not be thy ruin.

(3.) As Satan and sin, so the law of Moses, as it is a perfect holy law, hath a voice against you before the face of God.  “There is one that accuseth you, even Moses,” his law (John 5:45).  Yea, it accuseth all men of transgression that have sinned against it; for as long as sin is sin, there will be a law to accuse for sin.  But this accusation shall not prevail against the coming sinner; because it is Christ that died, and that ever lives, to make intercession for them that “come to God by him” (Rom 8; Heb 7:25).

These things, I say, do accuse us before Christ Jesus; yea, and also to our own faces, if perhaps they might prevail against us.  But these words, “I will in no wise cast out,” secureth the coming sinner from them all.

The coming sinner is not saved, because there is none that comes in against him; but because the Lord Jesus will not hear their accusations, will not cast out the coming sinner.  When Shimei came down to meet king David, and to ask for pardon for his rebellion, up starts Abishai, and puts in his caveat, saying, Shall not Shimei die for this?  This is the case of him that comes to Christ.  He hath this Abishai, and that Abishai, that presently steps in against him, saying, Shall not this rebel’s sins destroy him in hell?  Read further.  But David answered, “What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me?  Shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel, for do not I know, that I am king this day over Israel?”  (2 Sam 19:16–22).  That is Christ’s answer by the text, to all that accuse the coming Shimeis.  What have I to do with you, that accuse the coming sinners to me? I count you adversaries, that are against my showing mercy to them.  Do not I know that I am exalted this day to be king of righteousness, and king of peace?  “I will in no wise cast them out.”

2. But again, these words do closely imply, that the coming souls are afraid that these accusers will prevail against them, as is evident, because the text is spoken for their relief and succor.  For that need not be, if they that are coming were not subject to fear and despond upon this account. Alas, there is guilt, and the curse lies upon the conscience of the coming sinner!

Besides, he is conscious to himself what a villain, what a wretch he hath been against God and Christ. Also he now knows, by woeful experience, how he hath been at Satan’s beck, and at the motion of every lust. He hath now also new thoughts of the holiness and justice of God.  Also he feels, that he cannot forbear sinning against him.  For the motions of sins, which are by the law, doth still work in his members, to bring forth fruit unto death (Rom 7:5).  But none of this needs be [a discouragement] since we have so good, so tender-hearted, and so faithful a Jesus to come to, who will rather overthrow heaven and earth, than suffer a tittle of this text to fail.  “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Import of the Words TO CAST OUT

Now, we have yet to inquire into two things that lie in the words, to which there hath yet been nothing said.  As, FIRST, What it is to cast out. SECOND, How it appears that Christ hath power to save or cast out?

Bunyan, J. (2006).  Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 269–271).  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

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Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 14

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 14

Two Sorts of Sinners Coming to Christ

“And him that COMETH.”  There are two sorts of sinners that are coming to Jesus Christ.  First, Him that hath never, while of late, at all began to come.  Second, Him that came formerly, and after that went back; but hath since bethought himself, and is now coming again.  Both these sorts of sinners are intended by the HIM in the text, as is evident; because both are now the coming sinners. “And him that cometh.”

First.  [The newly-awakened comer.]—For the first of these: the sinner that hath never, while of late, began to come, his way is more easy; I do not say, more plain and open to come to Christ than is the other—those last not having the clog of a guilty conscience, for the sin of backsliding, hanging at their heels.  But all the encouragement of the gospel, with what invitations are therein contained to coming sinners, are as free and as open to the one as to the other; so that they may with the same freedom and liberty, as from the Word, both alike claim interest in the promise.  “All things are ready;” all things for the coming backsliders, as well as for the others:  “Come to the wedding.”  “And let him that is athirst come” (Matt 22:1–4; Rev 22:17).

Second.  [The returning backslider.]—But having spoke to the first of these already, I shall here pass it by; and shall speak a word or two to him that is coming, after backsliding, to Jesus Christ for life.  Thy way, O thou sinner of a double dye, thy way is open to come to Jesus Christ.  I mean thee, whose heart, after long backsliding, doth think of turning to him again.  Thy way, I say, is open to him, as is the way of the other sorts of comers; as appears by what follows:—

1.  Because the text makes no exception against thee. It doth not say, And any him but a backslider, any him but him.  The text doth not thus object, but indefinitely openeth wide its golden arms to every coming soul, without the least exception; therefore thou mayest come.  And take heed that thou shut not that door against thy soul by unbelief, which God has opened by his grace.

2.  Nay, the text is so far from excepting against thy coming, that it strongly suggesteth that thou art one of the souls intended, O thou coming backslider; else what need that clause have been so inserted, “I will in no wise cast out?”  As who should say, Though those that come now are such as have formerly backslidden, I will in “no wise” cast away the fornicator, the covetous, the railer, the drunkard, or other common sinners, nor yet the backslider neither.

3.  That the backslider is intended is evident,

(1.)  For that he is sent to by name, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter” (Mark 16:7).  But Peter was a godly man.  True, but he was also a backslider, yea, a desperate backslider:  he had denied his Master once, twice, thrice, cursing and swearing that he knew him not.  If this was not backsliding, if this was not an high and eminent backsliding, yea, a higher backsliding than thou art capable of, I have thought amiss.

Again, when David had backslidden, and had committed adultery and murder in his backsliding, he must be sent to by name:  “And,” saith the text, “the Lord sent Nathan unto David.”  And he sent him to tell him, after he had brought him to unfeigned acknowledgment, “The Lord hath also put away, or forgiven thy sin” (2 Sam 12:1, 13).

This man also was far gone: he took a man’s wife, and killed her husband, and endeavoured to cover all with wicked dissimulation.  He did this, I say, after God had exalted him, and showed him great favour; wherefore his transgression was greatened also by the prophet with mighty aggravations; yet he was accepted, and that with gladness, at the first step he took in his returning to Christ.  For the first step of the backslider’s return is to say, sensibly and unfeignedly, “I have sinned;” but he had no sooner said thus, but a pardon was produced, yea, thrust into his bosom:  “And Nathan said unto David, The Lord hath also put away thy sin.”

(2.)  As the person of the backslider is mentioned by name, so also is his sin, that, if possible, thy objections against thy returning to Christ may be taken out of thy way; I say, thy sin also is mentioned by name, and mixed, as mentioned, with words of grace and favour:  “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely” (Hosea 14:4).  What sayest thou now, backslider?

(3.)  Nay, further, thou art not only mentioned by name, and thy sin by the nature of it, but thou thyself, who art a returning backslider, put, (a) Amongst God’s Israel, “Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you; for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever” (Jer 3:12).  (b) Thou art put among his children; among his children to whom he is married. “Turn, O backsliding children, for I am married unto you” (verse 14).  (c) Yea, after all this, as if his heart was so full of grace for them, that he was pressed until he had uttered it before them, he adds, “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings” (verse 22).

(4.)  Nay, further, the Lord hath considered, that the shame of thy sin hath stopped thy mouth, and made thee almost a prayerless man; and therefore he saith unto thee, “Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously.”  See his grace, that himself should put words of encouragement into the heart of a backslider; as he saith in another place, “I taught Ephraim to go, taking him by the arms.”  This is teaching him to go indeed, to hold him up by the arms; by the chin, as we say (Hosea 14:2; 11:3).

From what has been said, I conclude, even as I said before, that the him in the text, and him that cometh, includeth both these sorts of sinners, and therefore both should freely come.

Question 1.  But where doth Jesus Christ, in all the word of the New Testament, expressly speak to a returning backslider with words of grace and peace?  For what you have urged as yet, from the New Testament, is nothing but consequences drawn from this text.  Indeed it is a full text for carnal ignorant sinners that come, but to me, who am a backslider, it yieldeth but little relief.

Answer.  How!  but little encouragement from the text, when it is said, “I will in now wise cast out”! What more could have been said?  What is here omitted that might have been inserted, to make the promise more full and free?  Nay, take all the promises in the Bible, all the freest promises, with all the variety of expressions of what nature or extent soever, and they can but amount to the expressions of this very promise, “I will in no wise cast out;” I will for nothing, by no means, upon no account, however they have sinned, however they have backslidden, however they have provoked, cast out the coming sinner.  But,

Question.  2.  Thou sayest, Where doth Jesus Christ, in all the words of the New Testament, speak to a returning backslider with words of grace and peace, that is under the name of a backslider?

Answer.  Where there is such plenty of examples in receiving backsliders, there is the less need for express words to that intent; one promise, as the text is, with those examples that are annexed, are instead of many promises.  And besides, I reckon that the act of receiving is of as much, if not of more encouragement, than is a bare promise to receive; for receiving is as the promise, and the fulfilling of it too; so that in the Old Testament thou hast the promise, and in the New, the fulfilling of it; and that in divers examples.

1.  In Peter.  Peter denied his master, once, twice, thrice, and that with open oath; yet Christ receives him again without any the least hesitation or stick.  Yea, he slips, stumbles, falls again, in downright dissimulation, and that to the hurt and fall of many others; but neither of this doth Christ make a bar to his salvation, but receives him again at his return, as if he knew nothing of the fault (Gal 2).

2.  The rest of the disciples, even all of them, did backslide and leave the Lord Jesus in his greatest straits. “Then all the disciples forsook him and fled,” (Matt 26:56), they returned, as he had foretold, every one to his own, and left him alone; but this also he passes over as a very light matter. Not that it was so indeed in itself, but the abundance of grace that was in him did lightly roll it away; for after his resurrection, when first he appeared unto them, he gives them not the least check for their perfidious dealings with him, but salutes them with words of grace, saying, “All hail! be not afraid, peace be to you; all power in heaven and earth is given unto me.”  True, he rebuked them for their unbelief, for the which also thou deservest the same.  For it is unbelief that alone puts Christ and his benefits from us (John 16:32; Matt 28:9–11; Luke 24:39; Mark 16:14).

3.  The man that after a large profession lay with his father’s wife, committed a high transgression, even such a one that at that day was not heard of, no, not among the Gentiles.  Wherefore this was a desperate backsliding; yet, at his return, he was received, and accepted again to mercy (1 Cor 5:1, 2; 2 Cor 2:6–8).

4. The thief that stole was bid to steal no more; not at all doubting but that Christ was ready to forgive him this act of backsliding (Eph 4:28).

Now all these are examples, particular instances of Christ’s readiness to receive the backsliders to mercy; and, observe it, examples and proofs that he hath done so are, to our unbelieving hearts, stronger encouragements than bare promises that so he will do.

But again, the Lord Jesus hath added to these, for the encouragement of returning backsliders, to come to him.  (1.)  A call to come, and he will receive them (Rev 2:1–5; 14–16; 20–22; 3:1–3; 15–22).  Wherefore New Testament backsliders have encouragement to come.  (2.)  A declaration of readiness to receive them that come, as here in the text, and in many other places, is plain.  Therefore, “Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps,” of the golden grace of the gospel, “set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest.”  When thou didst backslide; “turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities” (Jer 31:21).

“And him that cometh.”  He saith not, and him that talketh, that professeth, that maketh a show, a noise, or the like; but, him that cometh.  Christ will take leave to judge, who, among the many that make a noise, they be that indeed are coming to him.  It is not him that saith he comes, nor him of whom others affirm that he comes; but him that Christ himself shall say doth come, that is concerned in this text. When the woman that had the bloody issue came to him for cure, there were others as well as she, that made a great bustle about him, that touched, yea, thronged him.  Ah, but Christ could distinguish this woman from them all; “And he looked round about” upon them all, “to see her that had done this thing” (Mark 5:25–32).  He was not concerned with the thronging, or touchings of the rest; for theirs were but accidental, or at best, void of that which made her touch acceptable.  Wherefore Christ must be judge who they be that in truth are coming to him; Every man’s ways are right in his own eyes, “but the Lord weigheth the spirits” (Prov 16:2).  It standeth therefore every one in hand to be certain of their coming to Jesus Christ; for as thy coming is, so shall thy salvation be.  If thou comest indeed, thy salvation shall be indeed; but if thou comest but in outward appearance, so shall thy salvation be; but of coming, see before, as also afterwards, in the use and application.

“And him that cometh TO ME.”  These words to me are also well to be heeded; for by them, as he secureth those that come to him, so also he shows himself unconcerned with those that in their coming rest short, to turn aside to others; for you must know, that every one that comes, comes not to Jesus Christ; some that come, come to Moses, and to his law, and there take up for life; with these Christ is not concerned; with these his promise hath not to do. “Christ is become of no effect unto you; whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace” (Gal 5:4).  Again, some that came, came no further than to gospel ordinances, and there stay; they came not through them to Christ; with these neither is he concerned; nor will their “Lord, Lord,” avail them anything in the great and dismal day. A man may come to, and also go from the place and ordinances of worship, and yet not be remembered by Christ.  “So I saw the wicked buried,” said Solomon, “who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done; this is also vanity” (Eccl 8:10).

“TO ME.”  These words, therefore, are by Jesus Christ very warily put in, and serve for caution and encouragement; for caution, lest we take up in our coming anywhere short of Christ; and for encouragement to those that shall in their coming, come past all; till they come to Jesus Christ. “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Reader, if thou lovest thy soul, take this caution kindly at the hands of Jesus Christ. Thou seest thy sickness, thy wound, thy necessity of salvation.  Well, go not to king Jareb, for he cannot heal thee, nor cure thee of thy wound (Hosea 5:13).  Take the caution, I say, lest Christ, instead of being a Savior unto thee, becomes a lion, a young lion, to tear thee, and go away (Hosea 5:14).

There is a coming, but not to the Most High; there is a coming, but not with the whole heart, but as it were feignedly; therefore take the caution kindly (Jer 3:10; Hosea 7:16).

“And him that cometh TO ME;” Christ as a Savior will stand alone, because his own arm alone hath brought salvation unto him. He will not be joined with Moses, nor suffer John Baptist to be tabernacled by him. I say they must vanish, for Christ will stand alone (Luke 9:28–36).  Yea, God the Father will have it so; therefore they must be parted from him, and a voice from heaven must come to bid the disciples hear only the beloved Son.  Christ will not suffer any law, ordinance, statute, or judgment, to be partners with him in the salvation of the sinner.  Nay, he saith not, and him that cometh to my WORD; but, and him that cometh to ME.  The words of Christ, even his most blessed and free promises, such as this in the text, are not the Savior of the world; for that is Christ himself, Christ himself only. The promises, therefore, are but to encourage the coming sinner to come to Jesus Christ, and not to rest in them, short of salvation by him.  “And him that cometh TO ME.”  The man, therefore, that comes aright, casts all things behind his back, and looketh at, nor hath his expectations from ought, but the Son of God alone; as David said, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.  He only is my rock, and my salvation; he is my defense; I shall not be moved” (Psa 62:5, 6).  His eye is to Christ, his heart is to Christ, and his expectation is from him, from him only.

Therefore the man that comes to Christ, is one that hath had deep considerations of his own sins, slighting thoughts of his own righteousness, and high thoughts of the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ; yea, he sees, as I have said, more virtue in the blood of Christ to save him, than there is in all his sins to damn him.  He therefore setteth Christ before his eyes; there is nothing in heaven or earth, he knows, that can save his soul and secure him from the wrath of God, but Christ; that is, nothing but his personal righteousness and blood.

Bunyan, J. (2006).  Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 266–269).  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

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Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 13

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 13

Advantages to the Man that is Come to Christ

A man that is come to Christ hath the advantage of him that is but coming to him; and that in seven things.

1.  He that is come to Christ is nearer to him than he that is but coming to him; for he that is but coming to him is yet, in some sense, at a distance from him; as it is said of the coming prodigal, “And while he was yet a great way off” (Luke 15:20).  Now he that is nearer to him hath the best sight of him; and so is able to make the best judgment of his wonderful grace and beauty, as God saith, “Let them come near, then let them speak” (Isa 41:1).  And as the apostle John saith, “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14).  He that is not yet come, though he is coming, is not fit, not being indeed capable to make that judgment of the worth and glory of the grace of Christ, as he is that is come to him, and hath seen and beheld it. Therefore, sinner, suspend thy judgment till thou art come nearer.

2.  He that is come to Christ has the advantage of him that is but coming, in that he is eased of his burden; for he that is but coming is not eased of his burden (Matt 11:28).  He that is come has cast his burden upon the Lord.  By faith he hath seen himself released thereof; but he that is but coming hath it yet, as to sense and feeling, upon his own shoulders.  “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden,” implies, that their burden, though they are coming, is yet upon them, and so will be till indeed they are come to him.

3.  He that is come to Christ has the advantage of him that is but coming in this also, namely, he hath drank of the sweet and soul refreshing water of life; but he that is but coming hath not.  “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink” (John 7:37).

Mark, He must come to him before he drinks: according to that of the prophet, “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.”  He drinketh not as he cometh, but when he is come to the waters (Isa 55:1).

4.  He that is come to Christ hath the advantage of him that as yet is but coming in this also, to wit, he is not so terrified with the noise, and, as I may call it, hue and cry, which the avenger of blood makes at the heels of him that yet is but coming to him.  When the slayer was on his flight to the city of his refuge, he had the noise or fear of the avenger of blood at his heels; but when he was come to the city, and was entered thereinto, that noise ceased.  Even so it is with him that is but coming to Jesus Christ, he heareth many a dreadful sound in is ear; sounds of death and damnation, which he that is come is at present freed from.  Therefore he saith, “Come, and I will give you rest.” And so he saith again, “We that have believed, do enter into rest,” as he said, &c. (Heb 4).

5.  He, therefore, that is come to Christ, is not so subject to those dejections, and castings down, by reason of the rage and assaults of the evil one, as is the man that is but coming to Jesus Christ, though he has temptations too.  “And as he was yet a-coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him” (Luke 9:42).  For he has, though Satan still roareth upon him, those experimental comforts and refreshments, to wit, in his treasury, to present himself with, in times of temptation and conflict; which he that is but coming has not.

6.  He that is come to Christ has the advantage of him that is but coming to him, in this also, to wit, he hath upon him the wedding garment, &c., but he that is coming has not.  The prodigal, when coming home to his father, was clothed with nothing but rags, and was tormented with an empty belly; but when he was come, the best robe is brought out, also the gold ring, and the shoes, yea, they are put upon him, to his great rejoicing.  The fatted calf was killed for him; the music was struck up to make him merry; and thus also the Father himself sang of him, “This my son was dead, and is alive again; was lost and is found” (Luke 15:18, 19).

7.  In a word, he that is come to Christ, his groans and tears, his doubts and fears, are turned into songs and praises; for that he hath now received the atonement, and the earnest of his inheritance; but he that is but yet a-coming, hath not those praises nor songs of deliverance with him; nor has he as yet received the atonement and earnest of his inheritance, which is, the sealing testimony of the Holy Ghost, through the sprinkling of the blood of Christ upon his conscience, for he is not come (Rom 5:11; Eph 1:13; Heb 12:22–24).

Import of the word COMETH

“And him that COMETH.” There is further to be gathered from this word cometh, these following particulars:—

1.  That Jesus Christ hath his eye upon, and takes notice of, the first moving of the heart of a sinner after himself. Coming sinner, thou canst not move with desires after Christ, but he sees the working of those desires in thy heart.  “All my desire,” said David, “is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee” (Psa 38:9).  This he spake, as he was coming, after he had backslidden, to the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is said of the prodigal, that while he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, had his eye upon him, and upon the going out of his heart after him (Luke 15:20).

When Nathanael was come to Jesus Christ, the Lord said to them that stood before him, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” But Nathanael answered him, “Whence knowest thou me?” Jesus answered, “Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee.” There, I suppose, Nathanael was pouring out of his soul to God for mercy, or that he would give him good understanding about the Messias to come; and Jesus saw all the workings of his honest heart at that time (John 1:47, 48).

Zaccheus also had some secret movings of heart, such as they were, towards Jesus Christ, when he ran before, and climbed up the tree to see him; and the Lord Jesus Christ had his eye upon him: therefore, when he was come to the place, he looked up to him, bids him come down, “For today,” said he, “I must abide at thy house;” to wit, in order to the further completing the work of grace in his soul (Luke 19:1–9).  Remember this, coming sinner.

2.  As Jesus Christ hath his eye upon, so he hath his heart open to receive, the coming sinner. This is verified by the text: “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”  This is also discovered by his preparing of the way, in his making of it easy (as may be) to the coming sinner; which preparation is manifest by those blessed words, “I will in no wise cast out;” of which more when we come to the place.  And while “he was yet a great way off, his Father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).  All these expressions do strongly prove that the heart of Christ is open to receive the coming sinner.

3.  As Jesus Christ has his eye upon, and his heart open to receive, so he hath resolved already that nothing shall alienate his heart from receiving the coming sinner. No sins of the coming sinner, nor the length of the time that he hath abode in them, shall by any means prevail with Jesus Christ to reject him. Coming sinner, thou art coming to a loving Lord Jesus!

4.  These words therefore are dropped from his blessed mouth, on purpose that the coming sinner might take encouragement to continue on his journey, until he be come indeed to Jesus Christ. It was doubtless a great encouragement to blind Bartimeus, that Jesus Christ stood still and called him, when he was crying, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me;” therefore, it is said, he cast away his garment, “rose, and came to Jesus” (Mark 10:46).  Now, if a call to come hath such encouragement in it, what is a promise of receiving such, but an encouragement much more?  And observe it, though he had a call to come, yet not having a promise, his faith was forced to work upon a mere consequence, saying, He calls me; and surely since he calls me, he will grant me my desire.  Ah! but coming sinner, thou hast no need to go so far about as to draw (in this matter) consequences, because thou hast plain promises: “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”  Here is full, plain, yea, what encouragement one can desire; for, suppose thou wast admitted to make a promise thyself, and Christ should attest that he would fulfil it upon the sinner that cometh to him, Couldst thou make a better promise? Couldst thou invent a more full, free, or larger promise? a promise that looks at the first moving of the heart after Jesus Christ?  A promise that declares, yea, that engageth Christ Jesus to open his heart to receive the coming sinner? yea, further, a promise that demonstrateth that the Lord Jesus is resolved freely to receive, and will in no wise cast out, nor means to reject, the soul of the coming sinner!  For all this lieth fully in this promise, and doth naturally flow therefrom. Here thou needest not make use of far-fetched consequences, nor strain thy wits, to force encouraging arguments from the text. Coming sinner, the words are plain:  “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Bunyan, J. (2006).  Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 264–266).  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

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Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 12

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 12

Import of the Work Him

“And him.”  This word him; by it Christ looketh back to the gift of the Father; not only in the lump and whole of the gift, but to the every him of that lump.  As who should say, I do not only accept of the gift of my Father in the general, but have a special regard to every of them in particular; and will secure not only some, or the greatest part, but every him, every dust. Not a hoof of all shall be lost or left behind. And, indeed, in this he consenteth to his Father’s will, which is that of all that he hath given him, he should lose nothing (John 6:39).

“And him.”  Christ Jesus, also, by his thus dividing the gift of his Father into hims, and by his speaking of them in the singular number, shows what a particular work shall be wrought in each one, at the time appointed of the Father.  “And it shall come to pass in that day,” saith the prophet, “that the Lord shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.”  Here are the hims, one by one, to be gathered to him by the Father (Isa 27:12).

He shows also hereby that no lineage, kindred, or relation, can at all be profited by any outward or carnal union with the person that the Father hath given to Christ.  It is only him, the given HIM, the coming him, that he intends absolutely to secure. Men make a great ado with the children of believers; and oh the children of believers!  But if the child of the believer is not the him concerned in this absolute promise, it is not these men’s great cry, nor yet what the parent or child can do, that can interest him in this promise of the Lord Christ, this absolute promise.

AND HIM.  There are divers sorts of persons that the Father hath given to Jesus Christ; they are not all of one rank, of one quality; some are high, some are low; some are wise, some fools; some are more civil, and complying with the law; some more profane, and averse to him and his gospel. Now, since those that are given to him are, in some sense, so diverse; and again, since he yet saith, “And him that cometh,” &c., he, by that, doth give us to understand that he is not, as men, for picking and choosing, to take a best and leave a worst, but he is for him that the Father hath given him, and that cometh to him. “He shall not alter it, nor change it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good,” (Lev 27:10); but will take him as he is, and will save his soul.

There is many a sad wretch given by the Father to Jesus Christ; but not one of them all is despised or slighted by him. It is said of those that the Father hath given to Christ that they have done worse than the heathen; that they were murderers, thieves, drunkards, unclean persons, and what not; but he has received them, washed them, and saved them.  A fit emblem of this sort is that wretched instance mentioned in the 16th of Ezekiel, that was cast out in a stinking condition, to the loathing of its person, in the days that it was born; a creature in such a wretched condition, that no eye pitied, to do any of the things there mentioned unto it, or to have compassion upon it; no eye but his that speaketh in the text.

AND HIM.  Let him be as red as blood, let him be as red as crimson. Some men are blood-red sinners, crimson-sinners, sinners of a double die; dipped and dipped again, before they come to Jesus Christ. Art thou that readest these lines such an one?  Speak out, man!  Art thou such an one? and art thou now coming to Jesus Christ for the mercy of justification, that thou mightest be made white in his blood, and be covered with his righteousness?  Fear not; forasmuch as this thy coming betokeneth that thou art of the number of them that the Father hath given to Christ; for he will in no wise cast thee out. “Come now,” saith Christ, “and let us reason together; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa 1:18).

AND HIM.  There was many a strange HIM came to Jesus Christ, in the days of his flesh; but he received them all, without turning any away; speaking unto them “of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing” (Luke 9:11; 4:40).  These words, AND HIM, are therefore words to be wondered at. That not one of them who, by virtue of the Father’s gift, and drawing, are coming to Jesus Christ, I say, that not one of them, whatever they have been, whatever they have done, should be rejected or set by, but admitted to a share in his saving grace.  It is said in Luke, that the people “wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (4:22).  Now this is one of his gracious words; these words are like drops of honey, as it is said, “Pleasant words are as an honey-comb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (Prov 16:24).  These are gracious words indeed, even as full as a faithful and merciful High-priest could speak them. Luther saith, “When Christ speaketh, he hath a mouth as wide as heaven and earth.” That is, to speak fully to the encouragement of every sinful him that is coming to Jesus Christ. And that his word is certain, hear how himself confirms it:  “Heaven and earth,” saith he, “shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away” (Isa 51:6; Matt 24:35).

It is also confirmed by the testimony of the four evangelists, who gave faithful relation of his loving reception of all sorts of coming sinners, whether they were publicans, harlots, thieves, possessed of devils, bedlams, and what not (Luke 19:1–10; Matt 21:31; Luke 15; 23:43; Mark 16:9; 5:1–9).

This, then, shows us, 1.  “The greatness of the merits of Christ.”  2.  The willingness of his heart to impute them for life to the great, if coming, sinners.

1.   This shows us the greatness of the merits of Christ; for it must not be supposed, that his words are bigger than his worthiness. He is strong to execute his word.  He can do, as well as speak. He can do exceeding abundantly more than we ask or think, even to the uttermost, and outside of his word (Eph 3:20).  Now, then, since he concludeth any coming HIM; it must be concluded, that he can save to the uttermost sin, any coming HIM.

Do you think, I say, that the Lord Jesus did not think before he spake?  He speaks all in righteousness, and therefore by his word we are to judge how mighty he is to save (Isa 63:1).  He speaketh in righteousness, in very faithfulness, when he began to build this blessed gospel-fabric, the text; it was for that he had first sat down, and counted the cost; and for that, he knew he was able to finish it!  What, Lord, any him? any him that cometh to thee?  This is a Christ worth looking after, this is a Christ worth coming to!

This, then, should learn us diligently to consider the natural force of every word of God; and to judge of Christ’s ability to save, not by our sins, or by our shallow apprehensions of his grace; but by his word, which is the true measure of grace.  And if we do not judge thus, we shall dishonor his grace, lose the benefit of his word, and needlessly fright ourselves into many discouragements though coming to Jesus Christ.  Him, any him that cometh, hath sufficient from this word of Christ, to feed himself with hopes of salvation.  As thou art therefore coming, O thou coming sinner, judge thou, whether Christ can save thee by the true sense of his words: judge, coming sinner, of the efficacy of his blood, of the perfection of his righteousness, and of the prevalency of his intercession, by his word.  “And him,” saith he, “that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”  “In no wise,” that is, for no sin. Judge therefore by his word, how able he is to save thee.  It is said of God’s sayings to the children of Israel, “There failed not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass” (Josh 21:45).  And again, “Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you, all are come to pass unto you; and not one thing hath failed thereof” (Josh 23:14).

Coming sinner, what promise thou findest in the word of Christ, strain it whither thou canst, so thou dost not corrupt it, and his blood and merits will answer all; what the word saith, or any true consequence that is drawn therefrom, that we may boldly venture upon.  As here in the text he saith, “And him that cometh,” indefinitely, without the least intimation of the rejection of any, though never so great, if he be a coming sinner.  Take it then for granted, that thou, whoever thou art, if coming, art intended in these words; neither shall it injure Christ at all, if, as Benhadad’s servants served Ahab, thou shalt catch him at his word.  “Now,” saith the text, “the man did diligently observe whether anything would come from him,” to wit, any word of grace; “and did hastily catch it.” And it happened that Ahab had called Benhadad his brother.  The man replied, therefore, “Thy brother Benhadad!” (1 Kings 20:33), catching him at his word.  Sinner, coming sinner, serve Jesus Christ thus, and he will take it kindly at thy hands. When he in his argument called the Canaanitish woman dog, she catched him at it, and saith, “Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.”  I say, she catched him thus in his words, and he took it kindly, saying, “O woman great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt” (Matt 15:28).  Catch him, coming sinner, catch him in his words, surely he will take it kindly, and will not be offended at thee.

2.  The other thing that I told you is showed from these words, is this:  The willingness of Christ’s heart to impute his merits for life to the great, if coming sinner.  “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

The awakened coming sinner doth not so easily question the power of Christ, as his willingness to save him. Lord, “if thou wilt, thou canst,” said one (Mark 1:40).  He did not put the if upon his power, but upon his will.  He concluded he could, but he was not as fully of persuasion that he would.  But we have the same ground to believe he will, as we have to believe he can; and, indeed, ground for both is the Word of God.  If he was not willing, why did he promise?  Why did he say he would receive the coming sinner?  Coming sinner, take notice of this; we use to plead practices with men, and why not with God likewise?  I am sure we have no more ground for the one than the other; for we have to plead the promise of a faithful God.  Jacob took him there:  “Thou saidst,” said he, “I will surely do thee good” (Gen 32:12).  For, from this promise he concluded, that it followed in reason, “He must be willing.”

The text also gives some ground for us to draw the same conclusion.  “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”  Here is his willingness asserted, as well as his power suggested.  It is worth your observation, that Abraham’s faith considered rather God’s power than his willingness; that is, he drew his conclusion, “I shall have a child,” from the power that was in God to fulfil the promise to him.  For he concluded he was willing to give him one, else he would not have promised one.  “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” (Rev 4:10, 11).  But was not his faith exercised, or tried, about his willingness too?  No, there was no show of reason for that, because he had promised it. Indeed, had he not promised it, he might lawfully have doubted it; but since he had promised it, there was left no ground at all for doubting, because his willingness to give a son was demonstrated in his promising him a son.  These words, therefore, are sufficient ground to encourage any coming sinner that Christ is willing to his power to receive him; and since he hath power also to do what he will, there is no ground at all left to the coming sinner any more to doubt; but to come in full hope of acceptance, and of being received unto grace and mercy.  “And him that cometh.”  He saith not, and him that is come; but, and him that cometh; that is, and him whose heart begins to move after me, who is leaving all for my sake; him who is looking out, who is on his journey to me.  We must, therefore, distinguish betwixt coming, and being come to Jesus Christ.  He that is come to him has attained of him more sensibly what he felt before that he wanted, than he has that but yet is coming to him.

Bunyan, J. (2006).  Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 262–264).  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

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Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 11

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 11

The Promise to Those Coming to Christ

“AND HIM THAT COMETH TO ME I will in no wise cast out.”

By these words our Lord Jesus doth set forth yet more amply the great goodness of his nature towards the coming sinner.  Before, he said, They shall come; and here he declareth, That with heart and affections he will receive them.  But, by the way, let me speak one word or two to the seeming conditionality of this promise with which now I have to do.  “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”  Where it is evident, may some say, that Christ’s receiving us to mercy depends upon our coming, and so our salvation by Christ is conditional. If we come, we shall be received; if not, we shall not; for that is fully intimated by the words. The promise of reception is only to him that cometh.  “And him that cometh.”  I answer, that the coming in these words mentioned, as a condition of being received to life, is that which is promised, yea, concluded to be effected in us by the promise going before. In those latter words, coming to Christ is implicitly required of us; and in the words before, that grace that can make us come is positively promised to us.  “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” thence.  We come to Christ, because it is said, We shall come; because it is given to us to come.  So that the condition which is expressed by Christ in these latter words is absolutely promised in the words before. And, indeed, the coming here intended is nothing else but the effect of “shall come to me.  They shall come, and I will not cast them out.”

“AND HIM THAT COMETH.”

He saith not, and him that is come, but him that cometh.  To speak to these words, First, In general. Second, More particularly.

[First.]  In general.  They suggest unto us these four things:—

1.  That Jesus Christ doth build upon it, that since the Father gave his people to him, they shall be enabled to come unto him.  “And him that cometh.”  As who should say, I know that since they are given to me, they shall be enabled to come unto me. He saith not, if they come, or I suppose they will come; but, “and him that cometh.”  By these words, therefore, he shows us that he addresseth himself to the receiving of them whom the Father gave to him to save them.  I say, he addresseth himself, or prepareth himself to receive them.  By which, as I said, he concludeth or buildeth upon it, that they shall indeed come to him.  He looketh that the Father should bring them into his bosom, and so stands ready to embrace them.

2.  Christ also suggesteth by these words, that he very well knoweth who are given to him; not by their coming to him, but by their being given to him.  “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh,” &c.  This him he knoweth to be one of them that the Father hath given him; and, therefore, he received him, even because the Father hath given him to him (John 10).  “I know my sheep,” saith he.  Not only those that already have knowledge of him, but those, too, that yet are ignorant of him.  “Other sheep I have,” said he, “which are not of this fold,” (John 10:16); not of the Jewish church, but those that lie in their sins, even the rude and barbarous Gentiles.  Therefore, when Paul was afraid to stay at Corinth, from a supposition that some mischief might befall him there; “Be not afraid,” said the Lord Jesus to him, “but speak, and hold not thy peace—for I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:9, 10).  The people that the Lord here speaks of were not at this time accounted his, by reason of a work of conversion that already had passed upon them, but by virtue of the gift of the Father; for he had given them unto him.  Therefore was Paul to stay here, to speak the word of the Lord to them, that, by his speaking, the Holy Ghost might effectually work over their souls, to the causing them to come to him, who was also ready, with heart and soul, to receive them.

3. Christ, by these words, also suggesteth, that no more come unto him than, indeed, are given him of the Father.  For the him in this place is one of the all that by Christ was mentioned before.  “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me;” and every him of that all, “I will in no wise cast out.”  This the apostle insinuateth, where he saith, “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:11–13).

Mark, as in the text, so here he speaketh of all.  “Until we all come.” We all! all who? Doubtless, “All that the Father giveth to Christ.”  This is further insinuated, because he called this ALL the body of Christ; the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.  By which he means the universal number given; to wit, the true elect church, which is said to be his body and fullness (Eph 1:22, 23).

4.  Christ Jesus, by these words, further suggesteth, that he is well content with this gift of the Father to him.  “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”  I will heartily, willingly, and with great content of mind, receive him.

They show us, also, that Christ’s love in receiving is as large as his Father’s love in giving, and no larger. Hence, he thanks him for his gift, and also thanks him for hiding of him and his things from the rest of the wicked (Matt 11:25; Luke 10:21).  But,

Secondly, and more particularly, “And HIM that cometh.”

Bunyan, J. (2006).  Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 261–262).  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

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Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 10

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 10

Import of 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 honor 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 forever 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 safeguard.  “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 recompense 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 savor 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.

Bunyan, J. (2006). Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 258–261). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

 

 

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Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 9

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 9

Objections to the Absoluteness of this Promise (The Force of Shall-Come) Answered

Objection.  1.  But they are dead, dead in trespasses and sins, how shall they then come?

Answer.  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.

Objection.  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?

Answer.  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.”

Objection.  3.  They shall, you say; but how if they will not; and, if so, then what can Shall-come do?

Answer.  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 41:18).  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).

Objection.  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?

Answer.  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.”

Objection.  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.

Answer.  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 honor 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).

Objection.  6.  But how, if they have not faith and repentance? How shall they come then?

Answer.  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).

Objection.  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?

Answer.  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.

Bunyan, J. (2006).  Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 256–258).  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

 

 

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Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 8

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 8

What Force There is in the Promise to Make Them Come to Christ

SECOND, “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.

Bunyan, J. (2006).  Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 254–256).  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

 

 

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Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 7

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 7

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?

Answer.  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 honor 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 stumbling block 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 6:16–20.

Objection. 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.

Answer.  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 stumbling blocks 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).

Objection. 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?  Answer.  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?  Answer.  No, no, their presence and working kills me.

2.  Dost thou mourn for them, pray against them, and hate thyself because of them?  Answer.  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?  Answer.  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 neighbor, 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).

Objection.  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.

Answer.  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 1–4; 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 labor 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.

Objection.  5.  But, says another, I fear I come too late; I doubt I have staid too long; I am afraid the door is shut.

Answer. 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 laborers, 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 Savior; 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.

Objection.  But is not the door of mercy shut against some before they die?

Answer.  Yea; and God forbids that prayers should be made to him for them (Jer 6:16; Jude 22).

Question.  Then, why may not I doubt that I may be one of these?

Answer.  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).

Objection.  But it is said, that some knocked when the door was shut.

Answer.  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!

Objection.  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.

Answer.  Falls are dangerous, for they dishonor 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 stumbling blocks 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).

Bunyan, J. (2006).  Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 249–254).  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

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Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 6

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 6

What It Is To Come To Christ

FIRST, 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 colo rs 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 labor 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.

Bunyan, J. (2006).  Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 247–249).  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)


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