Thomas Wilson.

The works of the right reverend father in God, Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man (Volume 2) online

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to sanctify and to amend our corrupt nature. And, what is
the most astonishing mercy. He has prevailed with God to
make us everlastingly happy, if, during this short life of trial,
we will but strive to fit ourselves for that state of happiness.
And, to magnify these blessings. He has assured us, that
every soul that shall be born, from the first man that was
made to the last that shall come into the world, may have an
interest in God^s pardon, and in the happiness He proposeth,
if he does not lose it by his own fault.

Now, to set this home upon our hearts, and to teach us
to rejoice with reason for these blessings, let us turn our
thoughts upon ourselves, and consider for whom God has
been so wonderfully good and kind.

As for ourselves, we are a race of poor, wretched, sinful
creatures, made such by our own fault ; who have no merits
of our own to move God to have the least pity for us. On
the other hand, if we consider His Divine Majesty, He hath
miUions and millions of creatures better than the best of us,
who never offended Him, on whom to bestow His favours.


What then can we think, but that the great God should
have overlooked so vile a part of His creation, and left them
to themselves ? But to send His own Son to bring them back
to their duty and happiness ! This love, this mercy of God,
passeth our understanding, and deserves all the thanks we
can possibly render Him.

And the truth is, we could never have believed it, had not
His Son laid down His life to assure us of His Father's com-
passion for His otherwise lost creatures.

This love of God for lost mankind will still appear more
wonderful, when we consider, that He made His Son to be
subject to the law and punishment due to sinners, and to all
the miseries and afflictions which sinners have brought upon
themselves. To poverttj ; for He had not where to lay His
head. To contempt; for He was made the scorn of men.
To pain and sorrow, and to death after all, in order to deliver
us from eternal death.

In order to this, He took our nature upon Him, that He
might be seen by men, and converse Avith them, and set us
an example how we ought to live so as to please God. He
appeared indeed in a poor and humble manner, thoitgh He
was Lord of the world and of all things in it. But this was
to teach us to put no more value on the good things of this
world than what they deserve; to convince men that the
happiness Avhich He has purchased for us is beyond any thing
we can enjoy in this life; and that He might set us an ex-
ample of great humihty, of submission to the will of God,
and to the condition of life in which His providence shall
place us : and lastly, to make us sensible what a sin it will
be, to despise the poor, and such as are in a mean condition,
since He Himself, by the order of His heavenly Father, was
to appear in the world in such a condition of poverty.

It is now time to consider what, in this state of life, Jesus
Christ has done for us. He made known to men the only
true God, Who alone can make us happy. He shewed us
what service and worship was due to Him from men. He
came to offer from God the forgiveness of sins to all men
upon their true repentance. He came to let us know for
certain, that sin unpardoned will be our ruin for ever ; that
God would have all men to repent, and be saved; that He


SERM. will make intercession with His Father for all such as will


— ^ — - — leave their sins and lead holy lives ; that He will deliver all
such from the prevailing power of Satan, as go unto God by
Him ; and from the wrath to come. And finally, He will, if
it be not our own faults, restore us to the image of God, in
which our first parents were created, and make us partakers of a
divine nature in this life, and in the life to come for ever happy.

And now, my christian brethren, let none of us imagine,
that God intended that all this love should be lost upon us ;
or that He expects no other fruits of His own infinite good-
ness to us, or of His Son's humility and labours to save us,
but a bare outward joy and rejoicing.

We do indeed, in our daily prayers, give God thanks in an
especial manner for His inestimable love in the redemption of
the world, by our Lord Jesus Christ : a love, indeed, which
passeth all possible expression on our part. But what will
this signify, if in the manner of our lives we appear to have
no knowledge or sense of the blessing of a Saviour ?

What then doth God expect for all this love ? Why ; that
we should love Him, and live like people that do so. That
we should obey His commands. That we should honour
Him by our holy lives. That we should convince all that see
us, that we are christians in deed and in truth, and that we
love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity for the love He has
shewn us. That we should seriously resolve, with those men-
:hap. 15. tioned in the Book of Wisdom, that we will not sin, knowing
that we are accounted Thy children. That we should not
debase ourselves, nor dishonour our blessed Redeemer, by
becoming the slaves of sin and Satan, from whom He has
redeemed us by His most precious blood. But to shew our
gratitude by fruits worthy of so great a mercy ; especially in
these sad days, wherein the name of Jesus Christ is blas-
phemed by unbelievers, occasioned chiefly by the bad lives of
christians ; — but then they are such christians as are sure to
be shut out of heaven, for being worse than infidels.

In short ; all our hopes of pardon, the acceptance of our
persons and our prayers, the grace of God, the conquest of
our spiritual enemies, all our hopes of heaven, do all depend
upon the Son of God, Whose coming into the world we now
celebrate with joy.


Let US Gill}' consider to whom these tidings of joy belong.
Wh}^, to every penitent sinner ; to every one who fears God,
and is afraid for himself; to every one who loves God, and
desires to do what shall please Him ; in short, to every one
who is concerned for his own soul, and hopes for salvation
through Jesus Christ. To all such as these, the knowledge
of Jesus Christ will be good tidings of great joy.

On the other hand, all such as live in their sins unrepented
of; such as are unjust, covetous, hard-hearted, revengeful,
malicious, drunkards, profane, and the like ; these cannot,
ought not, to rejoice : and for a very dreadful reason, foras-
much as this same Jesus, we are assured, will come to judge
the world in righteousness, and to give to every man accord-
ing to the works done in the body, whether good or evil.

I would not detain you from the solemn service of this day;
but a few words I would leave upon your memory. For ex-
ample : when christians hear such gracious words as these,
that God sent His Son into the ivorld to save sinners ; that Uo\\n 3.
such as receive and believe in Him should not perish, but
have everlasting life ; they are too apt to fancy, that they are
in no great danger, since Jesus Christ has paid our ransom.
Let us have a care of abusing, instead of magnifying, the
mercy of God.

Jesus Christ has indeed redeemed us from the wrath to
come ; but then He must redeem us first from all iniquity,
and purify unto Himself a people zealous of good works.

We may be assured that the case of sinners and their
punishment will be unspeakably dreadful, since the only Son
of God left the glories of heaven, to lead a poor and humble
life on earth, for no other end than to convince sinners that
if they were not reconciled unto God, their loss would be
great, and their misery beyond expression, and without

You will observe (and it ought to increase your joy), that
our redemption and all the steps leading to it, is matter of
mere grace. When God sent His Son into the world, there
was nothing in us to move Him to it, but His own infinite
goodness, and our infinite misery.

Whatever pretence Adam and his posterity might have to
the favour of God before the fall, all was forfeited by his


5 E R M. transgression ; and this is the reason, that the free grace of

'- — God is so much spoken of in the Gospel ; that men may not

claim any thing to themselves, but to be humble, thankful,
and obedient, to the Lord that bought and redeemed them.

To conclude : The Church has sanctified this day, and this
season, in honour of our blessed Saviour, and of His coming
into the world.

Our duty, this day, is to give God our most sincere thanks
for His infinite mercy and goodness in sending His Son into
the world, to shew us our duty and our danger ; how to per-
form the one, and to avoid the other.

Now, as this ought to be the subject of our thanks and joy
at this time, we should not forget that it was our sins which
occasioned our blessed Lord's humbling Himself to be born
into the world, that we might not be miserable for ever.

This will help to temper our joys, lest, forgetting our
danger, we lose our share in the blessings He came to
bring us.

Let all such, therefore, as value themselves for being
christians, and who hope for any benefit from Christ's coming
into the world, resolve, in the first place, sincerely to repent
of those sins for which He gave His life and blood ; and they
will not only have joy in themselves, but will occasion joy in
heaven .

And may our gracious God fill all our hearts with sincere
thanks, as well as our mouths with praise : then we shall have
good reason to rejoice indeed.

Now, unto Him Who had compassion on us when we were
under the sentence of death, and sent His only Son to deliver
us ; blessing, and honour, and glory, and thanksgiving, and
power, be unto Him that sitteth on the throne, and to the
Lamb for ever and ever. Amen.




1 Tor. 1. 15.

This is a faithful sai/iiig, and loorthy of all accej)tatimi, that Christ
Jesus came into the tcorld to save sinners.

That is, there is no truth more certain, no truth more
worthy of our knowledge, no truth which so much concerns
us to know, or whicli we may more surely depend on, than
this ; " That Christ Jesus came into the world to save

But however worthy this truth is to be received of all men,
yet few, God knows, receive it as they ought to do. For how
many are there, who because Jesus Christ came into the
world to save sinners, hope for salvation, without taking any
care to live as becomes the Gospel of Christ ? How many
who believe this truth, and yet receive no comfort from it ;
either suspecting themselves not to be of the number of those
whom Christ came to save, or that their sins are too great to
be pardoned ? And lastly, how very many are there, who,
though they are indeed sinners, never think of the danger of
being such; and are therefore as careless and unconcerned
for what may come hereafter, as if there were nothing to be
feared, nothing to be hoped for ?

Now, all these being sad delusions and a great dishonour
to Christianity, it well becomes the servants of Him, Who
came into the world to save sinners, to use their utmost
endeavours to remove them ; to support the spirits of those
who fear where there is no danger ; to awaken the consciences


S E R M. of those who are secure and careless in the very midst of

'- — danger; and lastly, to reprove the presumption of those who

hope for salvation through Jesus Christ without observing
His laws.

And these are the things which I beseech you will give
attention to with the greatest seriousness. And that I may
set these things before you after as plain a manner as possible,
we will consider,

First ; the meaning and extent of this truth, " That Christ
Jesus came into the world to save sinners;" that we may be
able to judge who may, and who may not, hope for salvation
through His merits.

Secondly ; We shall consider the delusion, and the danger,
of those who neglect or despise the salvation purchased for
them by Jesus Christ.

I. We will first consider the meaning, and then the
EXTENT, of this truth, 77iat Christ Jesus came into the world
to save sinners.

Now, a sinner is one, who having broken the laws of God,
has reason to fear that God will severely punish him for so
doing. He sees very plainly, that he cannot deliver himself
from the wrath of an angry God. He is so far from being
able to make any satisfaction for the sins he has been guilty
of, that he finds in himself a proneness, an inclination to evil,
and an aversion, an unwillingness to close with what God has
commanded us for our good. This is the condition of a
sinner ; this is the condition of every man by nature. And a
sad condition it will appear to be to every one who knows
and considers, that the end of sin is not to be seen in this
life; but that a day is coming, in which God will judge the
world in righteousness, and give to every man according to
the works done in the body.

What sinner, what man living, could think of this without
despair, if Jesus Christ had not undertaken to deliver us from
the just displeasure of God ; to make satisfaction for our sins ;
to restore us to God's favour; and to put us into a way of
being happy for ever?

But what has Jesus Christ done to save sinners from this
sad condition ? Why, He took upon Him the nature of man ;
He dwelt amongst men ; made known to them this com-


fortable truth, that God, for His sake, will accept of our
repentance ; receive us into favour, notwithstanding our past
offences ; assist us with helps sufficient to do what He ex-
pects from us ; and will make us eternally happy when we
die, if we will suffer ourselves to be governed by His holy
laws while we live.

To convince us more effectually of the truth and import-
ance of these things, after He had wrought many wonderful
miracles to shew that He came from God, He willingly laid
down His life for our sake, for our sins, for our offences ; and
that God might spare us, and not punish us as we had

And God, to convince mankind how entirely He was
reconciled to them, on account of His Sou's death, raised
Him from the dead, received Him into heaven, set Him at
His own right hand, where He is continually interceding for
all those that come unto God by Him, that pray to God for
His sake.

And that we may have no doubt in our minds but that all
this is done in heaven for us, our Lord sent down the Holy
Ghost to supply His place on earth ; Who, having appointed
an order of men to publish these glad tidings to the whole
world, enabled them to work miracles ; to speak languages
which before they were ignorant of; to heal the sick with
a word of their mouth ; to raise the dead ; in one word, to
do such things as none but such as were sent by God
could do.

And lastly, these having fulfilled their ministry, before
they laid down their lives for the truths they had preached,
they (as Jesus Christ had commanded them) ordained others
to supply their places, to preach these truths, to offer these
terms of mercy to all succeeding generations, with whom
He promised His presence and blessing unto the world's

To these He has given power to receive all that are willing
into His family, which is His Church; to reconcile such as
fall, and return from their evil ways ; and to represent unto
God the satisfaction which His Son has made in our nature
for our sins.

This is what Jesus Christ has done for us. He has recon-


S E R M. ciled us to God ; He has put us into a way of salvation : He

XV '

— has given us all necessary assistance, to support our weak-
ness, to resist our enemies, to renew our nature, and to make
us fit for heaven and happiness.

But have all men a right to this salvation purchased by
Jesus Christ? This we shall see now we come to consider
the EXTENT of these words, "That Christ Jesus came into
the world to save sinners."

And truly, the Scriptures are in nothing more plain than

John 3. 17. in this truth, " That God so loved the world, that He sent
His Son, that the world through Him might be saved."
That God had no respect of persons in thus loving the

1 Tim. 2. 4. world, IHs wUl being this, that all men should be saved;
that even such as perish, through their own wilful disobe-
dience, are of the number of those whom Jesus Christ came

['2Pet.2.i.j to save. They denied, saith St. Peter, the Lord that bought
them; that bought and would have saved them, but that
they brought upon themselves destruction.

Nay, to take away all manner of scruple, and to apply
this comfortable truth to the minds of afflicted penitents,

Eom. 5. St. Paul speaks of this after a most convincing manner. As
the sin of Adam (saith he) affected all his posterity; as by
one offence judgment came upon all men to condemnation ;
so the merits of Christ were designed to redeem all the
posterity of Adam ; forasmuch as by the righteousness of One,
that is, Jesus Christ, the free gift came upon all men unto
justification of life.

As sure then as I am one of those, who by Adam's trans-
gression am become corrupt and a sinner before God, so sure
am I redeemed by Jesus Christ. This every christian man
may say to liimself.

This was the very doctrine of Christ Himself, and this He
taught by His own example, when He prayed for the very
persons who crucified Him, Avho had an interest in the very
death they made Him to suffer; otherwise He would not
have prayed that God would forgive them.

And the Church of Christ still continues to intercede with
God for all mankind, holding this truth, that the love of
God, and the merits of Jesus Christ, extend to the whole
race of men. By this practice, endeavouring to bring the


hearts of believers to that godlike temper of charity and
good-will for all that bear the image of God; and, by this
practice, supporting the spirits of dejected penitents, who
will have no reason to despair, since the greatest sinners
are in a capacity of being saved.

We are obliged to say, in a capacity of salvation ; for the
truth is, all are not saved that Christ came to save. Salva-
tion is indeed offered to all, to whom the Gospel is or has
been preached; but all are not disposed to receive it, espe-
cially on the terms on which it is offered.

Many are not sensible of the danger they are in ; others
will not forsake their sins for any consideration whatever;
and even too, too many despise the very offers of a Redeemer,
of pardon and grace through Him.

In all these cases, the Saviour of the world assures us, that
it is their own fault, purely their own fault, if they are not
saved. " Ye will not come unto Me (saith He) that ye might John 5. 40.
have life."

If people, when salvation is offered them, will notwith-
standing unworthily slight the mercy ; if men to whom God
has made Himself known, will not retain God in their know-
ledge ; if those that have been enlightened, and have escaped
the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ; if they are again entangled
therein, and are finally lost ; this is not for want of means to
save them, but they will not be saved : they will not attend
to the word preached unto them; they will not beheve the
terrors of the world to come ; they will not submit to the
terms of salvation. This being their case, their destruction
is from themselves.

II. And this brings us to consider, how very dreadful the
case is of those who deny the Lord that bought them, or neglect
the offers of salvation made hy Him to all sinners.

And indeed, when we consider what Jesus Christ has done,
in order to redeem and save us, we shall have the greatest
reason to believe, that the punishment of those who are not
saved by Him will be unspeakably great. For can we imagine
that Christ, the Son of God, would have left the glories of
heaven, and would have lived a miserable life on earth, and
died a more miserable death, but that He knew, that if sin-


SERM. ners were not reconciled to God, but died in their sins, their
— — — punishment Avould be terrible, and their condition miserable,
and without remedy.

So that the greatness of the mercy may convince us of the
greatness of the punishment of those that despise the salva-
tion offered them. The Spirit of God, from Whom only we
can know what becomes of men after death, assures us, that
such shall be shut out of heaven, and have their portion in a
place where there is nothing but weeping, and wailing, aud
gnashing of teeth.

And whatever may become of those who have never had
the Gospel preached unto them, they who have had salvation
offered to them, and mind it not, must not expect to escape
a severe judgment.

And, lest we should think ourselves safe, because we have
embraced the Gospel, let us always remember, that the Gospel
requires Faith and E/Cpentance of all that expect any benefit
by it. We must not only say, we believe the Gospel, but
we must live like men that do so ; like men that are in the
midst of enemies, with fear and care, lest we should mis-
carry; like those that have escaped eternal misery, with
thankful hearts ; and like those who hope to go to heaven,
where no impure thing can enter.

But if, instead of doing so, we lead a careless or a wicked
life : if we neglect the means of grace, the ordinances of God,
and turn our backs upon the Word and Sacraments ; if we
confess we are sinners, and yet take no care to amend our
ways ; if we are taken up with the business or pleasures of
this life, so as to forget that there is another to come ; why
then, in truth, we are not of the number of those who shall
be saved; neither will it be any blessing to such, that Jesus
Christ came into the world to save sinners.

And now, good christians, you see what a merciful regard
God has had for His poor creatures in this dispensation.
The most ignorant may know what God expects from them.
The greatest sinner may be sure of pardon, if he repents,
and brings forth fruit answerable to amendment of life. The
weakest christian may depend upon all necessary assistance.
The meanest servant of Christ may be sure not to be over-
looked. Lastly, every christian may be confident, that his


labour will not be in vain, but that he may be for ever happy,
if it is not altogether his own fault.

These are certain truths, and worthy of all men to be re-
ceived. How comes it then to pass, that we so often hear
these truths without beiug affected by them ? Why, the
truth is, we are not well convinced of the danger a sinner is
in, without the help of a Redeemer.

If one talks to a sick man about the cause of his illness,
and gives him good hopes that his distemper is curable, you
need not use many words to persuade him to hear you, be-
cause his life is at stake ; but if you tell a man that thinks
himself well, of a remedy, it is a thousand to one but he
forgets it. This is our case — the case of the generality of
christians. We, in obedience to our Lord's command, preach
faith, and repentance, and obedience; we publish in His
name a free pardon to all who are willing to comply with
the terms of salvation. They that la}' things to heart, that
know they are sinners, and the danger of being such ; these
gladly hear, and receive, and remember, and oheij, the terms
of salvation ; whilst others are as unconcerned as if they had
nothing to fear.

From whence you see, christians, that your faith and salva-
tion depend very much upon that disposition with which you
hear the Gospel. If you are serious and concerned in good
earnest for your salvation, it will be no hard matter to per-
suade you to look upon the Gospel as the greatest blessing.
But without these dispositions, the Gospel will be a burthen
to you ; Jesus Christ Himself no blessing ; nor heaven worth
caring for.

You see who they are, who ought to rejoice upon every
return of this festival ; who ought to take comfort ; by M'hom
this truth is worthy to be received ; even by all such as are
sincere, such as resolve to serve and to please God to the
best of their power. Such may be sure of pardon and ac-
ceptance, though they have been never so great sinners. All
such may and will receive the terms of pardon, and him who

Online LibraryThomas WilsonThe works of the right reverend father in God, Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man (Volume 2) → online text (page 16 of 49)