Thomas Wilson.

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

. (page 21 of 49)
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 21 of 49)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

will preach glad tidings — but to whom? why, to the meek;

[isa. 61. 1.] for such only would be disposed to receive His message : He
would bind up the broken-hearted, for such only would be glad
of help : He would proclaim liberty to the captives, for such
only as are sensible of the bondage of sin will be glad to be
set at liberty.

It was such as these that our Lord invited, when He said,

[Matt. 11. "Come unto Me all ve that labour and are heavy laden,"

28 1 " f ■'

with the burden of your sins, " and I will give you rest."

In short; wherever the Gospel was preached, all such as
feared God, and were in fear for themselves, when they were
told of a judgment to come, these received the Gospel with
a glad heart, as shewing them the way to obtain pardon and
[Mai. 4. 1.] happiness. Whilst all the proud, as the same Prophet speaks,
and such as do ivickedly , fearing no evil, to such the Gospel
will be preached without effect.

Now, my design, in the first place, is, to raise in your


hearts the same concei'n and fear which the Apostle siipposeth
every man will have, who sets himself seriously to consider
his condition by nature, and without a Redeemer.

Our first parents were most certainly created innocent and
upright, able and disposed to obey any commands that God
should think good to give them.

We are very sure it is not so with us now. Every one
for himself knows, that matters are wretchedly amiss with
us, until by the grace of God our nature is changed for the
better. Whoever will be at the pains to look into his own
heart, will find this corruption of nature discovering itself
upon all occasions. For instance : we readily acknowledge
the justice of the laws of God ; and yet we find an unwilling-
ness in ourselves to obey them. We know that we want both
knowledge, and grace, and help, from God ; and yet we ask
them but seldom, and with indifi'erence. W^e cannot but
own, that we live upon God^s bounty and blessing; and yet
we can hardly find in our hearts to be thankful. W"e profess
to believe, that God sees all our actions, and yet we are too
apt to sin as presumptuously as if He were an idol, who could
neither reward nor punish us. In one word; we hear what
He has threatened, without fear, and see His judgments upon
others, without so much as thinking how soon it may be our
own case.

These are desperate disorders, whatever people think of
them. But these are not all the proofs of a corrupt nature.
We are forced to struggle hard with ourselves to do what we
know to be not only our duty, but our interest, to do. The
Lord our ISIaker, we confess, has a right to be loved, to be
feared, to be depended upon. Can we say with any truth, that
we are naturally disposed to love, io fear, and to put our whole
trust in Him? Do not we find in ourselves too great an
indifference for the glorious promises God has made us;
and do not we discover a very little fear for His terrible
threatenings ?

Our own experience may convince us, that we are apt to
have a much greater concern for our bodies than for our
souls; for this life, than for that which is to come; for earth,
than for heaven.

If our reason does sometimes get the better of our corrupt



SERM. affections, and we resolve to do what we believe will please

— — ■ God, yet how soon do we forget our good resolutions ? One

day condemning ourselves for having done amiss; and the
next day running into the same miscarriages, and falling into
the sins we so lately repented of.

If we look into the world, we see nothing, in a manner,
but sin and disorder. We see too many who live without
God in the world, committing all iniquity with greediness;
upon whom no reason, no arguments, will prevail, to hinder
them from ruining themselves to all eternity.

Even amongst those who pretend to live in the fear of God,
how many do we see, upon whom His laws have little or no
influence? Do not we see, for example, that many — too
many — must be forced by human laws, and the punishments
that attend them, to do what they know in their consciences
they ought to do; to do justice to their neighbour; to make
satisfaction to those that they have wronged.

How many are there who make a mock of sin, though they
know that it must be most displeasing to God ; and make a
jest of damnation, which ought to make the stoutest heart to
tremble ; who are not content to be wicked themselves, but
take pains to corrupt others ? And (without giving any more
proofs of the corruption of nature) do not too, too many live,
as if they did not believe there is a God, either to reward or
punish them ?

All these pretend to reason ; and indeed God has given all
men reason. But lusts and passions will corrupt and blind
our reason ; what then would become of the wisest of men,
if God did not help us by His Spirit and by His grace?

You see, christians, what we are by nature, what men are
capable of, what they would be, when God leaves them to
themselves and to their own natural corruption. You shall
now see,

II. The verij great danger' we are in on that account, if God
should leave us to ourselves, and to our own natural powers.

When one looks into the world, and sees the generality of
people without any concern and fear for themselves, and for
what may come hereafter, one cannot but conclude, surelij
they do not know the danger they are in.

This is indeed the root of all our miserv. We are in the


way of ruin, and do not mind it. We are afraid of laying
things to heart, lest they should make us uneasy; and our
misfortune is, that we are not (the generality of christians)
so uneasy as we should be.

For who can, who ought, to be easy, that knows, that con-
siders, the danger to which his corrupt nature exposes him ?
For, as such, in the first place, he is under the displeasure of
God, and, without God^s help and grace, he must continue so
unto his lifers end; forasmuch as no man can change, can
mend a corrupt nature, by a reason and will that are both

Now, God can take no pleasure in any man, until his
nature be mended; till then he is an enemy to God, and
under the government of Satan. This we learn from the
commission which the Apostles had from Christ Himself, Acts 26. 18,
which was, '' To preach the Gospel to the heathens, in order
to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of
Satan unto God."

What the power of Satan is, we learn from many instances
of Scripture ; and we see with our own eyes the sad effects
of his power upon those who are under his government, and [2 Tim. 2.
who are led captive by him at his ivill.

In short; these are the evils which, as fallen creatures, we
are, every soul of us, subject to; a corrupt heart; the malice
and power of wicked spirits ; a proneness to evil continually ;
the temptations of an evil world ; a weakness of nature which
cannot withstand them ; a certain prospect of death ; the fears
of a judgment to come; the continual dread of the sentence
then to be passed upon sinners ; and lastly, the assurance that
we cannot possibly deliver ourselves out of this sad condition.

The thoughts of these things are enough to make the
stoutest heart to tremble, and to distract the wisest man
living, if the God of mercy had not proposed a way to deliver
us out of the danger that threatens us.

These dangers I have set before you, not to drive you to
despair ; but to awaken us all into a just sense of the unhappy
state we are in without the blessing of a Redeemer.

III. The necessity and blessing of a Redeemer, we now come
to consider.

Now, every thoughtful person may be convinced, that as

228 coRurpTioN of human nature,

SERM. fallen creatures we must have forfeited all the favours which


— — God designed us at our creation. That we lost that Holy

Spirit by which our souls were united to God, and by which
we had power to know, and to do, whatever God should re-
quire of us. That by the loss of that Holy Spirit, our reason
became insufficient to guide us ; our will and our affections
became ungovernable, so that of course we became subject to
all manner of wickedness. That, while this was our con-
dition, God could take no pleasure in us, and we had nothing
to expect but the punishment due to our offences. And,
lastly, that we could not, by any thing we could do, help
ourselves out of this sad condition.

Now, does not all this shew us the absolute necessity of a
Redeemer ; of one, who could undertake to make satisfaction
for our offences to the Divine Justice; of one, who could
plead with God for His lost creatures, who could prevail with
Him to forgive us, and to receive us again into His favour ?

Who does not see the necessity of some one, who could
let us know upon what terms God would forgive us; who
could shew us the way and means of salvation; who could
give us that Holy Spirit which we had lost, to help us to re-
gain our former happy state; of one, who could help us to
subdue all our enemies spiritual and temporal; who could
set us an example how we ought to live so as to please God ;
and lastly, one who should be able to deliver us from the wrath
to come?

Now, all this -our Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ, has
done for us. He has given us the greatest assurance, that
for His sake God will be reconciled to us ; that he will accept
of our repentance when we have done amiss; that He will
treat us, as He would have done our first parents, had they
not so grievously offended Him, if we will but be governed
by Him ; that He will give His Holy Spirit, to sanctify and
mend 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 do our
best to fit ourselves for that happy state.

And lastly, to magnify this blessing, every one, from the
first man to the last that shall be born, may have an interest
in this blessing, if he loseth it not by liis own fault.


IV. Now let US consider the great love of God, in ser,
His own Son to be our Redeemer. " God (saith our Redeemer) John 3. i6.
so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have ever-
lasting life."

That our hearts may be touched with a sense of this mighty
blessing, let us consider ourselves as poor, wretched, sinful
creatures, in the certain way to ruin, utterly unable to help
ourselves. Then let us look unto God, who has millions and
millions of creatures better than the best of us, who never
offended Him, always ready to serve and glorify Him. What,
can we think, could move this great God not to overlook this
vile part of His creation, but to give His own Son for their
redemption ? Why, verily, this love of God passeth our com-
prehension ; nor could we have believed it, had not this His
Son laid down His life to assure us of His Father's love for
His poor creatures.

This love of God, this tender concern for lost mankind,
will appear still more surprising, when we consider, that He
made this His only Son to become subject to the law made
for sinners, and to all the miseries and afflictions which sinners
deserve and are subject to; to poverty, to contempt, to sorrow,
to pain, and to death after all, in order to deliver us from
eternal death.

I know there can be no case on earth to be compared to
this love of God, in order to raise our value for so great a

However, let us imagine, how we should value one who
had delivered us out of a cursed slavery, and paid our ransom ;
or one who had hazarded his own life to save any one of us
from certain death? And has not our gracious God done
this, and much more than this, for us ? But how few are
affected, as they ought to be, with this amazing instance of
love, mercy, and goodness.

I will but just hint to you some instances of His mercy in
this dispensation, in which He has had a merciful regard to
all our disorders.

God knew that our reason, corrupted by our passions, was
not aljle to lead us in the way we should go ; for as the Spirit
of God assures us, and we find it by sad experience, " There [Prov. 14.


SERM. is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but tlic end thereof

'- — are the ways of death." God has tlierefore given us safe and

infallible rules to walk by, to lead us to heaven and happiness.
He knew how apt we are to go astray; He has therefore
promised, for our Redeemer's sake, to accept of our repent-
ance. He knew the weakness of our nature, and the diffi-
culties, and enemies, we had to struggle with j He therefore
offers us the assistance of His Almighty Spirit.

In short ; the greatest sinner may be sure of pardon, if it
is not purely his own fault ; the weakest christian may depend
upon all the assistance that he can possibly want ; the meanest
servant of Christ may be assured that he will not be over-
looked ; and every christian has a sure promise that his labour
shall not be in vain in the Lord. This will lead us to an-
other particular :

V. To consider ivhat obligations this great Love of God lays
upon christians.

Do not imagine, christians, that God intended that all this
love should be lost upon us, or that He expects no other
fruits of His Son's labours and sufferings, besides a bare
profession of gratitude. Woe be to that man who acts as if
he thinks so !

We do indeed, in our daily devotions, give God thanks in
a very particular manner for His inestimable love in the re-
demption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, — a love which
passeth all possible expressions and acknowledgment on our
part. But what will this signify, if in our works we deny
Him; if in our lives we are like heathens, not knowing or
not valuing the blessing of a Redeemer ?

What then does God expect from us, on account of this
mighty love? Why, that we should act like reasonable
creatures, like people who know they are upon their trial,
and that this is for eternity ; who may be happy if it is not
their own fault, and who will be miserable beyond redemp-
tion, if they close not with this offer of mercy.

God expects, therefore, that we should glorify Him in our
lives for this His great goodness; that we should convince
the world that we do really believe the things we profess to
believe, by working out our salvation with fear, with a con-
cern answerable to what we hope for, or what we fear. He



expects that we should remember what manner of love He
had for us, that we should be called the sons of God. That
we should resolve with those mentioned in the book of
Wisdom, [xv. 2.] " We will not sin, knowing that we are ac-
counted Thine/^ That we should not debase ourselves by
becoming the servants of Satan, from w^hose dominion we
have been redeemed by the precious blood of His dear Son ;
but should let the love of God constrain us to shew our
gratitude, by fruits w^orthy of so great a mercy; especially
in these dangerous days, wherein the name of Christ is
blasphemed, and His sufferings not valued by unbelievers,
occasioned chiefly by the bad hves of christians; but then
they are such christians as are certain to be shut out of
heaven, for being as bad as infidels.

There is one other obligation which the Spirit of God has
laid upon all such as value the blessing of a Redeemer: "If iJohn4.ii.
God so loved us, we ought also to love one another," This
is to be the motive and the pattern of our love for our neigh-
bour. "This command we have from God, that he who iJohn4.2i.
loveth God do love his neighbour also."

This leads us to consider in the last place,

VI. The sad condition of those who neglect, or despise, this
mercy of God.

It is the Spirit of God who hath declared, " That there is Acts 4. 12.
none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby
we must be saved, but only the name of our Lord Jesus
Christ." So that whoever does not lay hold of this means
of salvation must undoubtedly perish to all eternity.

If you wonder how it is possible for any man who knows
this to hazard his soul to all eternity, the Apostle will give
you the true reason : " The God of this world hath blinded 2 Cor. 4.4.
the minds of them that believe not."

Little do wicked men and unbelievers think, that Satan,
the God of this world, is he who is perpetually suggesting to
them such things as weaken and destroy their faith, such
pleasures as blind their understandings, such ways of living,
as lead them directly to hell. And yet it is certainly so ; he
hath bhnded their eyes, so that they cannot see the con-
sequence of abused mercy, nor the sad condition of being
given over to a reprobate mind ; though there be no condition


SERM. more dreadful, than for a man to be subject to the justice of
'- — God, without any interest in His mercy. This made David,

(though in the main a good man,) this made him mourn so
bitterly, when, through the corruption of his nature, he had
[Ps. 38. 6.] grievously offended God : "lam sore troubled ; mine ini-
quities are an heavy burden; I go mourning all the day
long." What a dreadful condition had he been in, even to
eternity, had there been no sacrifice for sin? And, indeed,
there was none under the Law for such sins as his was, as he
himself acknowledges ; nor would his troubled spirit, his
broken and contrite heart, have been accepted for his pardon,
but only for the sake of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of all
from the foundation of the world.

In one word : we may, if we will but consider, we mai/
judge how sad our condition and danger is, without a Re-
deemer,- by the way which God has made use of to save us
from ruin. Nothing, in the decrees of God, nothing could
save us, but the sending of His own Son to lay down His life
for us.

I have set before you, christians, the great disorders we
are by nature sul^ject to ; the great hazard we are in on
that account ; the only sure remedy we have to trust to ;
the great goodness of God in pitying our sad condition ;
what He requires in return for this mercy ; and the sad con-
sequence of not closing with His gracious designs for our

Great kindnesses, or great judgments, are the usual methods
by which God reduces His poor wandering creatures. Which
of these methods will you wish to be dealt with ? I have set
before you the greatest instance of love, goodness, mercy,
and kindness, that was ever shewed to men or angels. If
this does not work upon you, and if ever you hope to be
saved, you have nothing to look for, but to be reclaimed from
the ways of sin by severe judgments. But this is not what
[Rom. 2. 4.] God delights in ; He would have His goodness, and that only,
to lead men to repentance.

Few people can be easy without something which they call
religion. For God's sake remember this truth: that no
religion will be of use to us, which does not mend our corrupt
nature, and by doing so restore us to the favour of God;


which does not bring us to love Him for His goodness to
us, and to strive to glorify Him by leading a christian life ;
by an humble dependance on His providence, and submission
to His will; and by doing good in our generation. Without
this, all our religion is vain, and we shall still be in the way
of perdition.

Have a care, christians, of a delusion which too many are
in danger of being ruined by, by fancying that the corrup-
tion of their nature will be some excuse for their unchristian
lives. God commands us certain duties; He offers us all
necessary assistance ; He proposes to reward us according to
our sincere endeavours to obey Him. To say after this, ive
are all sinners, and who can help it ? without resolving that
moment to repent and amend, is an affront to our dear Re-
deemer, and a doing despite to the Spirit of Grace.

We are ready enough to own the blessing of a Redeemer,
when we only consider Jesus Christ as coming into the world
to save sinners; as being our Advocate with God to accept
of our repentance. But we should always remember, that
He is also our Lawgiver, and that we must obey His laws, or
He will be no blessing to us. You see therefore, christians,
to whom our Redeemer will be a blessing; even to such as
by a saving faith, and a sincere obedience, do suffer them-
selves to be made partakers of a divine nature.

And now, before I conclude, I must advise you of two ways
by which Satan will attempt to divert you from making a
profitable use of such doctrines as these; either he tempts
christians to despair, and out of a deep sense of their corrup-
tion to cry out, O wretched creature that I am, who shall
deliver me from the sin that does beset me ? Or he tempts
them to believe, that since Christ came into the world to save
sinners, it is a very easy thing to be saved. These are both
of them very dangerous delusions.

Jesus Christ did indeed come into the world to save sin-
ners ; but what sort of sinners ? Why, such as do forsake
their sins, and fully purpose to lead holy lives for the time to
come. But as for such as depend upon a bare outward per-
formance of the duties of Christianity; who comfort them-
selves with being able to say, We have ate and drank at Thy
table, and we are called by Thy name; our Lord Himself has


SERIM. declared what judgment He will pass upon such christians:

'- — " Depart from Me ; I know you not." A sentence (believe

' itj christians !) that should make the very best of us examine
whether our lives and our works do answer our outward

As for such sinners as are truly afraid for themselves; who
sincerely lament the corruption of their nature, and, out of
an earnest desire to please God, cry out, who shall deliver me
from this body of death? let such always remember what
follows : / thank God through Jesus Christ ; that is, for His
sake God will deliver me from the evil effects of the cor-
ruption of my nature, from the power of the devil, and from
eternal death.

If it be so, you will be apt to ask. Why then are there few
that be saved ? The case is sad, but plain ; people will not
fear for themselves : they will not part with their sins, nor
lay hold of the mercy offered them.

But may every sinner (says the desponding christian) be
confident that God will pardon those who have so many
ways offended Him? Take an answer, not from me, but
from the Son of God Himself, Who has declared, even with
Mark 3. 28. an oath, " Verily, all sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of

Why should any, the most fearful christian, imagine, that
that Divine Shepherd, Who with so much love and pains
came to seek His lost sheep, that He will turn His back
upon one that cries after Him for help ; that He would lay
down His life for His sheep, and after that reject them. Let
not the most disconsolate christian entertain such unkind
thoughts of God, and of our good Redeemer. Rather let us
comfort ourselves, under the most desponding thoughts, with
Rom. 5. 10. the argument of the Apostle : " If when we were sinners
and enemies to God, we were reconciled to Him by the
death of His Son ; much more, being reconciled, we shall be
saved by Him; for He ever liveth to make intercession
for us."

And now, let me leave this one truth upon your minds ; it
is a truth as certain as this [the Bible] is the Word of God,
that unless our corrupt nature be mended before we die, we
shall never go to heaven, never be happy.


May the good Spirit of God fix these truths in all our
hearts, for Jesus Christ's sake. To Whom, with the Father
and that Holy Spirit, be ascribed all honour and glory now
and for ever. Amen.




Mark v. 13.

SeeEccliis. Atul fortliioith Jesiis gave them leave. And the unclean sjnrits
Lukeib.17; ^^^^^ o^^lj C''^'^ entered into the swine: and the herd ran vio-
27^*2 Cor ^^^^l^J/ dotvn a steep place into the sea, {they were about two
2- 10, 11 ; thousand.) and ivere cholced in the sea.

Eph. 2. 2 ; "

Rev. 12. 12.' The Church has appointed this festival, that we may not
forget that there are other beings, besides those ^ve every day
see and converse with, with which we are greatly concerned ;
the Word of God assuring us, that both good and bad angels

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 21 of 49)