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 24 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 24 of 49)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

apt to fear the worst, St. Paul speaks of this after a most con-
vincing manner : As the sin of Adam (saith he) affected all Rom. 5.
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 ; for " by the righteousness
of One, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of
life." As sure therefore as I am one of those who by the sin
of Adam are become weak, corrupt, and wicked, so sure am
I redeemed by Jesus Christ. And the sin that does so easily
beset me directs me to Him who came into the world to
save me.

This was the doctrine of Christ, and this He taught by His

The very persons who crucified Him had an interest in the
suffei'ings they made Him to undergo ; otherwise He would
not have prayed for them that God would forgive tliem. St.
Stephen followed his Master's example, and prayed for his
murderers. And the Church of Christ still continues to pray
for Jeios, Turks, Infidels, and Heretics, holding this truth, —
that the love of God, and the merits of Jesus Christ, extend
to all men Avho will lay hold of the mercy; "That who- []
ever believeth in Christ shall not perish, but have everlast-
ing life."

And by this charitable practice, our Church endeavours to
bring all her people to a godlike temper of charity and good-
will for all who bear the image of God ; and by this practice
she endeavours to support the spirits of dejected penitents,
s 2

200 OF god's love in sending

S E R M. who will have no reason to despair, since the greatest sinners
-^^"^' are in a capacity of salvation.

We are obliged indeed to say, in a capacity to be saved ;
for the truth is, all men are not saved, that might be saved,
if it were not for their own wilful blindness, resisting the love
and the counsel of God for their good.

Many will not hear and be made sensible of the danger
they are in ; others will not forsake their sins for any con-
sideration whatever; and many even despise the very offers
of pardon and grace. In all these cases, the Saviour of the
world declares, that it is men^s own fault if they are not
John 5. 40. saved. " Ye will not come unto Me, that ye might have

If people, when salvation is offered them, will notwith-
standing unworthily abuse the mercy ; if men, to whom God
has manifested Himself, 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
be saved ; but they will not be saved ; they will not seriously
attend to the word preached ; they will not believe, at least
they will not consider the importance of a judgment to
come; nor will they submit to the conditions of attaining
eternal happiness.

But then, it must not be said that God did not love them,
that God did not desire their welfare. Who has declared His
Son to be the Saviour, not of some few only, but of the whole
world. And therefore the account of His birth is said by the
[Luke2.i0.] angels, to be tidings of great joy to all people ; that is, to all
that can be prevailed upon, by the goodness of God, by the
love of Christ, by the labours of His ministers, to receive Him
for their Lord and Saviour.

And now we come, in the third and last particular, to

III. What obligations this love of God lays upon christians.
For certainly God did not design that all this love should be
lost upon us. He expects some return, some fruits of His
Son's humiliations, and labours, and sufferings.

Shall I put you in mind how God, by the Prophet Isaiah,


[ch. v.] reasoned with the people of Israel ? " Judge (saith
He), I pray you, betwixt Me and My vineyard." The case
was so plain, that He refers it to themselves : " What could
have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done
in it ? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth
grapes, brought it forth wild grapes V

Now the punishment of this ingratitude, this unfruit-
fulness, followeth : " I will take away the hedge thereof,
and it shall be eaten up, trodden down, laid waste.'' And
so it came to pass. You can any of you apply this as well
as I.

To proceed, therefore : The love of God in sending His Son
into the world obliges us to three things especially. l^^.;
To love the Father, Who sent His Son that we might live
through Him. 2ndli/ ; To love our Lord Jesus Christ, Who
condescended to come down to save us. And Zrclly ; To love
all mankind, for whose sakes, as well as for our's, He came
down from heaven,

I. And first; If God has shewn so great a love for us, we
ought in return to love Him again. But do we find that it is
so with us ? So far from it, that it is with pain and unwil-
lingness that we think of His favours ; it is with difficulty we
ask His mercies; and it is seldom that we thank Him for
them ; and yet we say, it is our duty to love Him with all our
hearts. We know we love a thousand things better, and yet
we are easy.

But what must a man do who knows this to be his case ?
Why, he must lament the blindness, the perverseness of his
nature, which will not suffer him to love the very Author of
his being, and well-being. He must pray God to increase his
love ; and must endeavour to lessen his love for the world.
In short, we must do Avhat we can, and God by His grace
will supply the rest. Give God thanks for the blessings you
receive; submit patiently to all His dealings wdth you; re-
sign yourself wholly to His good-will and pleasure ; depend
upon His word, upon His promises, upon His goodness; and
your love to God will increase daily, and God will love you
more and more, and will supply all your defects by the merits
of His Son.

And that you may not be deceived, and think you love

262 OP god's love in sending

SEEM. God, when indeed you do not: remember, that love and

XXIII . J ' ^

— - — '— obedience always go together. That where there is not a
desire to please God, and a fear to offend Him, there is no
true love of God.

II. Our Lord Jesus Christ demands the next place in our
love ; for it is only by Him that sinners have hope. It was

[Phil. 2. 7.] He, Who, thongh Lord of the whole creation, took upon Him
the form of a servant, that He might set us an example of
humility, the most acceptable grace of God, and that He
might effectually convince us, that this is not the world we
were made for, and that in truth it is dangerous to have to
do with it.

It is He, Whose whole life, for our sakes, was made up of
sufferings; that having borne all the infirmities of owrnature.
He might more affectionately pity and succour us, while we
are in this vale of misery.

It was He, Who went about doing good ; that He might,
after the most sensible manner, shew us what was most
pleasing to God.
[Heb. 1. 3.] By Him we know God, for He is the express image of the
Father. We know that He is good to all ; that His tender
mercy is over all His works ; that He desires not the ruin of
His creatures ; that He is long-suffering, of great pity ; for
so was His Son our Lord Christ.

And when no other sacrifice would atone for the sins
of the world, it was on Him all our iniquities were laid;
to Him we owe our redemption, even the forgiveness of our

And lastly ; it is this same Jesus, Whom God has exalted
to be a Prince and a Saviour to all that come to God by
Him ; for to Him the Father has committed all judgment.
So that all our hopes of pardon, the acceptance of our
prayers, the grace of God, the conquest of our enemies, all
our comfort on earth, all our hopes of heaven, depend
entirely upon our Lord Jesus Christ, and on what He
has done for us. Well therefore might the Apostle say,
[1 Cor. 16. " That if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him
be accursed."

III. And because He gave Himself for the life of the world,
ive are therefore bound to love all mankind, because Jesus Christ


did so ; not in word and in tongue only, but in deed and in
truth. And that we may be more effectually engaged to do
so, God has made of one blood all the nations of the earth ;
and all these being become equally the children of wrath, He
has redeemed them all by one Saviour. Shall ive then think
aiiy unworthy of our love, whom God has thought worthy of

Let us have a care of making the same evil use of the
favour of God, as we find the Jews did, who, because God
called them His own people, could not imagine that He had
any regard or concern for any other nation. And so narrow,
so selfish a love had possessed that whole people, that when
God sent His Apostles to, and poured His Spirit upon the
Gentiles, they were amazed to find that God had granted
repentance unto life to a people whom they had in their own
thoughts given up to destruction.

Rather let us imitate the boundless goodness of God, Who
has embraced the whole creation within the arms of His love.
And our Lord Jesus Christ has made love the badge of all His
faithful members, and by which they are known to belong to
Him : not a selfish love, for such as think just as I do, — for
such as will be governed by the reasons that prevail with me ;
— but charity is a tender regard for the whole creation of
God, loving the persons of those whose errors I cannot close
with; pitying the blindness, bearing with the perverseness,
praying for the conversion of those that I suppose to be ene-
mies to truth and virtue.

In short, we have this commandment from God, that "He iJohn'i.2i.
who loveth God, love his brother also."

And these are the great obligations which the love of God
lays upon all christians.

And now let me lay before you (in a few words) some
useful observations upon what has been said upon this sub-

And first ; when christians hear such Scriptures as these,
" That God sent His Son into the Avorld, that we might live
through Him;" they are apt to mistake the meaning, and
fancy that there is now no danger, since Jesus Christ has
paid their ransom. Why, now, this is not to magnify, but
to abuse, the grace of God. Christ hath indeed redeemed

264 OF god's love in sending

SERM. us from the wrath to come: but then He must also redeem

XXIII. . .

— - — '— us from all iniquity, and " purify unto Himself a peculiar
Titus 2. 14. ^ c \ ^ „

people zealous oi good works.

In one word : The life which Jesus Christ has purchased
for us must be begun in this world. So that all our hopes,
and happiness hereafter, depend upon our being made con-
formable to Christ in this life: "That our old man being
crucified with Him, the body of sin might be destroyed, that
Rom. 6. 4, 6. henceforth we should not serve sin. That as Christ was
raised from the dead, so we also should walk in newness of
1 Pet. 2. 24. life ; — that we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteous-

You will observe, that our redemption is a work of mere
grace. God sent His Son into the world, when there was
nothing in us to move Him to it but only our misery. What-
ever pretence mankind had to the favour of God before the
fall, it was all forfeited ; and this is the reason that the free
grace of God is so much spoken of in the Gospel, that men
may not arrogate any thing to themselves, but that we may
be humble, and thankful, and obedient, to the Lord that
bought us; that we may be concerned to please, and afraid
to offend Him.

And to all that are thus affected with the goodness of God,
resolving by His grace to live according to His Son's doc-
trine and example; to such, one would use our Saviour's
[Matt. 5. words, " rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your re-
^ ^ ward in heaven." But to such as rejoice they consider not

LProv. 14, why, the words of Solomon suit better their condition : " The
^■-' end of that mirth is heaviness."

We shall conclude this discourse with what the Spirit hath
said by St. Paul, to shew the great obligations we owe to
God, in this dispensation of His mercy; who thus expresseth
it, 1 Cor. i. 30 : " Christ Jesus is of God made unto us ivis-
dom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."
He is our wisdom, by making known to us the will of God,
and His glorious perfections ; our righteousness, by satisfying
in our nature the justice of God, and by restoring us to God's
favour ; our sanctification, by His Holy Spirit working in us
true holiness, and by that separating us from an evil world ;
our redemption from tlie greatest of all slaveries, the slavery


of the devil, and the sins he tempts men to, and from a state
of damnation.

O Jesus, for these mighty blessings, all love, and g\ory,
and thanksgiving, be unto Thee, with the Father and the
Holy Ghost, by us, and all that are partakers of these mighty



1 Con. xvi. 22.

See Matt. If any man love not the Lord Jesas Christ, let Mm he Anathema,

Joiin v. 42 ; Maran-at/m ; [that is, accursed when the Lord cometh to judg-
14. 15/21, '

24 ; Eph.
17; 6.24;
Phil. 3. 8


Saint Paul tells us, the verse before, that he wrote these
iJoim2.i5.' words, and the salutation following, with his own hand, as a
matter that it concerned them to take notice of. And, truly,
it concerns all christians to have some good assurance of
this, that they do indeed love the Lord Jesus Christ, lest, when
He comes to judgment, they should fall under this dreadful
sentence, to be for ever separated from their Lord and

The words are plaiti, and positive, and full of terror. And
I have made choice of them, that I may at once awaken your
attention, and put us all upon a most necessary enquiry,
whether our love be such as it should be ? For it is very cer-
tain, people may deceive themselves, and hope that they are
Christ's faithful servants, and that they shew their love suffi-
ciently, either by endearing expressions, or by their zeal for
their own particular way of serving Him, by standing up for
the truths of the Gospel.

Now, though all these are worthy expressions of respect,
yet they are by no means to be depended upon as infallible
marks of our love to Jesus Christ, because there have been
people, in all ages, who have gloried in the name of Christ,


have contended for the privileges of the Gospel, have spoken
of Jesus Christ in words full of love and respect ; and yet
have been utter strangers to that love, which should have
appeared in their lives as well as in their professions.

As for " such as deny the Lord that bought them/' charity 2 Pet. 2. 1.
will not suffer us to believe that there are any such present.
But then there are too many, who (as we said just now) are
under a delusion without knowing it.

First ; There are many, for instance, who love Jesus Christ
as He is their Saviour, who do 7iot love Him as He is their
Prince and Laivgiver,

Secondlij ; There are many who love Him, but not heartily,
because they do not know their own misery without the bless-
ing of a Redeemer.

Thirdly; There are many, very many, who hope that
they may love Jesus Christ, without renouncing the love of
the world.

Fourthly ; There are too many, who, mistaking the marks
of a love for Christ, misspend their time in vanity, and mis-
place their affections.

Lastly ; It is impossible to love Jesus Christ as we should
do, unless we obey His commands.

These, therefore, are things fit to be made plain, and
these are the particulars, which, by the favour of God, I
shall now insist upon.

I. We shall first consider the delusion of those who love
Jesus Christ as a Saviour, but do not love Him as He is their
Prince and Lawgiver.

When the love of Jesus Christ is first announced, people
look upon it as a most reasonable duty, and the most easy to
be received: they consider Him as a. Redeemer ; ''that HeiTim.i.i5.
came into the world to save sinners ;" that by His means
God is 7'econciled to us, for He laid down His life for us, and
the Lord laid on Him the iniquities of us all; that He is our [jsa. 53. 6.]
Advocate with the Father, our Great High Priest, making
intercession for us continually ; that " we are all the children Gal. 3. 26.
of God by faith in Jesus Christ ;" " and if children then Rom. 8. 17.
heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ."

These are all such glorious privileges, purchased for us by
Christ, that it seems impossible for any christian not to love


SERM. Him. And we do not wonder that the Prophets, foreseeinar


'— His incarnation and appearance in the world, called Him

Hag. 2. 7. the desire of all nations ; that all nations should call Him

Ps. 72. 17. i)igggg(i . that all the families of the earth should be happy
Gen. 28. 14. . ' -^ "^ ^^^

m Him.

But then we are apt to forget, that this Saviour, Whom we
love and admire, is our Prince and Lawgiver ; that we are
His subjects, and bound to obey all His laws ; that He is to
be our Judge, and will call us to a very strict account, if we
pretend to be His servants, to love Him, and do not the things
which He commands us. And this makes a strange alteration
in our affections ; when we call to mind what our Redeemer
expects from us ; what strict laws this Prince has given for
the good government of His subjects ; and upon what con-
ditions He will be a Saviour to us.

These thoughts are apt to lessen our joys, and we are
almost ready to say, in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, liii. 3,
" there is no beauty in Him that we should desire Him/^
And it is then we find that a matter of difficulty, which before
we thought the easiest duty in the world. And indeed it is
the hardest thing to flesh and blood to love Him sincerely,
Who commands us, /or His sake, to renounce all that is dear
to us in this world ; to deny one's self a great many things
which we are very passionately fond of; to keep under the
body, and bring it into subjection ; not to conform ourselves
according to this present evil world, for which we are sure to
be reproached ; and yet to esteem this reproach of Christ
before all worldly advantages; to glory in nothing so much
as in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which we are
taught to despise all that the world doats on.

These are the commands of Jesus Christ, concerning which,
[John 15. hear what our Saviour Himself saith : "Ye are My friends, ye
are they that love Me, if ye do whatever I command you."

When, therefore, we read the history of our Lord's life
with a sensible pleasure ; when we admire at His wonderful
humility in the manner of His birth; for the Son of the
Highest to be born of a poor virgin, in an obscure town, in
the worst part of that poor town ; to live a private life ; to
want many of the conveniencies even of such a life ; to see
Him refuse to be made a king, content to be called an im-



postor, a dealer with the devil; suffering Himself to be be-
trayed, to be scorned, to be crucified ; and all this to satisfy
the justice of God for His sinful creatures, that had offended
Hira. No christian can hear these things without being
sensibly affected.

But then, we should consider the meaning of this wonder-
ful order of Providence ; that it was to convince us, that this
is not the world we were made for ; that it is no great mat-
ter how poor we are born, how many things we want, how
much we are despised, what severe things we suffer, provided
we do our duty in that state of life in which the Providence
of God has placed us ; forasmuch as the happiuess which
God has prepared for them that love Him will make suf-
ficient amends for whatever they want or suffer here.

To love Jesus Christ, therefore, is to love His humility,
His patience, His self-denial, and to imitate them ; and this
will dispose us to love Him as our Pi'ince and Lawgiver ; to
love His commands, and to obey them to the best of our power ;
without which all other instances and expressions of love will
signify very little. "If ye love Me (saith Christ Himself), John I4.i5.
keep My commands." This is the end of all religion.

We dedicate our children to Christ in baptism, that they
may be bound betimes to keep His laws ; they promise to do
so themselves at confirmation. We renew these vows every
time we receive the Lord^s Supper ; we pray to God in His
name ; we read His life, and remember His sayings ; and all
this, that we may be prevailed on to keep His laws. And we
plainly delude ourselves, if we hope that any other ex-
pressions of our love will excuse us from obeying His com-
mands. " Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, [Matt. 7.
shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the "-'
will of My Father Which is in heaven."

What ! shall we say then, that there are but few that love
the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and that the rest are
anathema ? We dare not pronounce this sentence : that must
be left till the Lord comes to judgment. In the mean time,
it nearly concerns us all to prevent that sentence, and to
possess our hearts with such a love of Christ, as may at once
affect our hearts, and influence our lives. To obtain this, it
is necessary, above all things.


SERM. 11. That we be thoroughly convinced of our misery, without
'— the blessing of a Redeemer.

To be bo7'n in sin, and to be the children of wrath; this we
are taught as soon as we can speak. But who considers the
meaning of these words, even while we feel the sad effects of
the sin of our first parents ? The words of the text offer us
an instance of our misery.

It is unquestionably true, that God made man to love and
to serve Him. Our first parents before the fall did so un-
doubtedly; and it was their highest pleasure to love God
and to obey Him. Do we find it now so with us ? Very far
from it. We think of Him with pain and difficulty ; we
obey Him unwillingly ; we are backwards in asking His
blessings, and we easily forget to thank Him for His favours ;
we boldly break His laws, and we are not sufficiently afraid
when we have done so.

"What a strange disorder is this ! That a creature made to
love and to depend upon God, should love every thing better
than God; should find an uneasiness in God's presence;
should take delight in such things as displease God ; and
should think it a burden even to ask a favour of Him !

This plainly shews, that men, by nature, do not love God;
that they have lost the image of God, in which they were
created ; that God is angry with them ; and that it is only
for Christ's sake that ever He should be reconciled to them.

A man must be blind not to see that this is the condition
of every man, and that it is a miserable one without the
blessing of a Redeemer ; especially if we consider, how much
worse we have made our condition, by the many actual trans-
gressions of our lives. So that we may truly say, in the
words of Isaiah, lix. 2, "^ Our iniquities have separated
betwixt us and our God, and our sins have hid His face
from us." The consequence of which must be shame, and
sorrow, and /ear, lest we should be for ever miserable. And
miserable we should have all been, had not Jesus Christ un-
dertaken to redeem us. It is to Him we owe our redemp-
1 John 4. 9. tion, even the forgiveness of our sins. " God sent His only
begotten Son into the world, that we might live through

Whoever lays these things to heart, and endeavours to


possess liis soul with a sense of its misery, and with the love
of Christ in reconciling us to God, will easily see the blessing
of a Redeemer, and will have one of the strongest motives to
love Him with all his heart. Our Lord would convince us
of the truth of this, in that most affecting parable recorded
by St. Luke : " There was a certain creditor, which had two chap. 7.
debtors : the one owed him five hundred pence, and the
other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly
forgave them both. Which of them will love him most ?
Certainly he to whom he forgave most."

I shall conclude this particular with the observation of a
very learned man'', to this purpose : " Our Redemption being
a work of as great mercy, at least to us, as was that of our
creation, we could not but love our Redeemer even as much

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 24 of 49)