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seek and save them that are lost. Now says Christ, I delight to do thy will, 0 my God, 'It is the joy and rejoiceing of my heart, to be seeking and saving lost sinners.1 When Christ was hungry, he went not into a victuallinghouse, but into the temple, and taught the people most part of the day, to shew how much he delighted in the salvation of sinners.
8. Get this principle rivetted in your hearts, that as there is nothing in Christ to discourage you from looking after an interest in him, so there is everything in Christ that may encourage you to get an interest in him. Look upon his name. Thy name is as ointment poured out, and therefore do the virgins love thee, Cant. i. 3. 'The name of Jesus has a thousand treasures of joy and comfort in it,' says Chrysostome, and so have all his other names. If you look upon Christ in his natures, in his offices, in his graces, in his beauties, in his gifts, and in his works, you will find nothing but what may encourage you to believe in him, and to resign up yourselves to him. Ah poor sinners, what would you have? Is there not power in Christ to support you, and mercy in Christ to pardon you, and grace in Christ to heal you, and goodness in Christ to relieve you, and happiness in Christ to crown you? and what would you have more? O that you would believe!
9. Let this principle be rooted in you, that the surest way and the shortest cut to mercy and to get an interest in Christ, is a peremptory casting of the soul by faith on Christ. There is no way under heaven to be interested in Christ, but by believing. There is no way to get an interest in the riches of Christ, but this. He that believeth shall be saved, let his sins be ever so great; and he that believeth not, shall be damned, let his sins be ever so little.
And so much shall suffice to have spoken concerning this great and weighty point. I shall follow what has been said with my prayers, that what has been said may work for your internal and eternal welfare.
CHRIST THE GREAT SUBJECT OF THE GOSPEL
There are two other observations that arise from these words: I shall by divine assistance speak something to them, and so finish this text. And the first is this, that it is the great duty of preachers to preach Jesus Christ to the people.
I shall prove this, and then open it to you.
And daily in the temple and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach, what? Jesus Christ, Acts v. 42. So in Acts iii. 20; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you. So io 1 Cor. i. 23, 24; 2 Cor. iv. 5; We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. So in Acts iv. 2; ii. 36; ix. 20. As soon as Paul was converted, straightway he preached Christ in the synagogue, that he was the Son of God.
Now for the opening of the point, I shall only attempt two things—I. To give you the reasons why it is the great duty of ministers to preach Christ to the people; II. To shew you how they are to preach Christ to the people.
I confess this is a very useful point in these days, wherein many men preach any thing, yea, every thing but a crucified Jesus. Well, Christians, remember this, as it is your duty to take heed how you hear, so it is as much your duty to take heed whom you hear. Many there are who count and call themselves the ministers of Christ, and yet have neither skill nor will to preach Jesus Christ, to exalt and lift up Jesus Christ in lip or life, in word or work. A sad reckoning these will have to make up at last.
I. But to come to the reasons of the point, why it is the great work and duty of ministers to preach Jesus Christ to the people.
1. Because that this is the only way to save, and to win souls to Jesus Christ.
There is no other way of winning and saving souls, but by the preaching of Christ to the people. Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved, Acts iv. 10, 12. You may preach this, and that, and a thousand things to the people, and yet never better them, never win them. It is only the preaching of Christ, that allures. and draws souls to Christ. This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent, John xvii. 3. Ah! nothing melts the hearts of sinners, nor wins upon the hearts of sinners, like the preaching of the Lord Jesus. It is true, the teaching of this and that opinion, may please many a man's fancy, but it is only the preaching of Christ thatchanges the heart, thatconquers the heart, that turns the heart. Peter by preaching of a crucified Christ, converts three thousand souls at once. Were Christ more preached, men would be more enamoured with him. He is precious to them only who hear of him, and believe in him. Christ is in all respects incomparable, and therefore as you would honour him and win upon others, make him more and more known to the world.
2. They are to preach Christ to the people, because it is the choicest and the chiefest way to ingratiate Christ with poor souls.
This brings Christ and the soul together, and this keeps Christ and the soul together. Nothing en dears Christ to the soul like this. We see, by woeful experience, Christ neglected, despised, scorned, and trampled upon by most; and no wonder; for many preach themselves more than Christ, and they preach men more than Christ, and their own notions and impressions more than Christ. Surely Christ is but little beholden to such ministers, and, I think, the souls of men as little; and O that they were so wise as to consider of it, and lay it to heart! Surely a real Christian cares not for any thing that has not something of Christ in it. There is a strange and strong energy or forcibleness in hearing Christ and his beauties and excellencies displayed and discovered. The daughters of Jerusalem by hearing the church presenting Christ in so high a character, and by describing and painting him out in such lively colours, are so enchanted and inflamed, that might they but know where to find him, they would be at any pains to seek him. When Christ is set forth in his glories, with much affection and admiration, others fall in love with him, as you may see by comparing Cant. v. 10—16. with Chap.vi. 1.
3. It is their great duty to preach Jesus Christ to the people, because the preaching up of Christ is the only way to preach down Antichrist, or whatever makes against Christ.
Some would have Antichrist down, yea, they would have him down root and branch, but there is no such way for his total and final overthrow, as the preaching of Christ; for the more the glory, fulness, perfection, and excellency of Christ are discovered, the more the horrid vileness and matchless wickedness of the man of sin will be discovered and abhorred. And then shall that wicked one be revealed, 2 Thess. ii. 3—10; the Greek word properly signifies a lawless, yokeless, masterless monster, one that holds himself subject to no law. Pope Nicholas the first said, that he was above law, because Constantine styled the pope God. And of the same opinion were most of the popes. Whom he shall consume; the Greek word signifies to consume by little and little, till a thing come to nothing. With the spirit of his mouth; that is, with the evidence and glory of his word in the mouths of his messengers. The ministers of the word are as a mouth whereby the Lord breathes out that glorious, mighty, and everlasting gospel, which shall by degrees bruise Antichrist and all his adherents, and break them in sunder like a rod of iron. When Christ was born, all the idols that were set up in the world, as historians write, fell down. When Jesus Christ comes to be lifted up in a nation, in a city, in a town, in a family, yea, in any heart, then all idols without and within will fall before the power, presence, and glory of Jesus. Since Luther began to lift up Christ in the gospel, what a deal of ground has Antichrist lost? and he does and will lose more and more, as Christ comes to be more and more manifested and lifted up in the chariot of his word. Many in these days who speak much against Antichrist, have much of Antichrist within them; and certainly there is no such way to cast him out of men's hearts and out of the world, as the preaching and making known of Christ, as the exalting or lifting up of Christ in the gospel of grace.
4. A fourth reason why they are to preach Christ to the people, is this, because else they contract upon themselves the blood of souls.
There is no other way for them to avoid the contracting the blood of men's souls upon them, than the preaching of Christ unto them. Now a man were better to have all the blood of the world upon him, than the blood of one soul. The blood of souls, of all blood, cries loudest and wounds deepest. The lowest, the darkest, and the hottest place in hell will be the sad and dreadful portion of such upon whose skirts the blood of souls shall be found at last. Hence that passage of Paul in 1 Cor. ix. 16; Woe unto me if I preach not the gospel. The motto that should be written upon preachers' study doors, and on their walls, and on all the books they look on, on the beds they lie on, and on the seats they sit on, should be this, ' the blood of souls; the blood of souls.' The soul is the better, the nobler part of man; it bears most of the image of God; it is capable of union and communion with God; Christ sweat for it and bled for it; and therefore woe to those merchants who make merchandize of the souls of men. This was a comfort and an honour to Paul, that he kept himself from the blood of souls, Acts xx. 25—27. He appeals to them that they were witnesses that he was free from the blood of all men. Paul had held out Jesus Christ in his natures, in his names, in his offices, and in all his excellencies and perfections; and so frees himself from the blood of all men. And ministers can no way secure themselves from the blood of souls, but by preaching up and living out a crucified Jesus.
5. The last reason is this, because the preaching of Christ contributes most to their comfort here, and to their reward hereafter; therefore they are to preach the Lord Christ to the people.
When Luther was upon a dying bed, this was no small joy and comfort to his spirit. 'Thee, O Lord,' said he, 'have I known, thee have I loved, thee have I taught, thee have I trusted; and now into thy hand I commend