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Thomas Wilson.

The works of the right reverend father in God, Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man (Volume 3) online

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perceive the voice of God. And this is one way by which
men miscarry.

And, secondly, another is, by their not making use of the
means which God has afforded them for their salvation.

We can do nothing without God's help; but if we can
have His help for asking it, as we ought to do, it is then



256 THE MERCY OF GOD IN SENDING



I



SERM. plainly our own fault if we have it not. And that we may
"" -• |^.^yg ^^ £.^j, asking, our blessed Saviour has assured us, after

Luke 11. 13. a very sensible manner: "If ye, being evil, know how to
give good things unto your children, how much more shall
your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask
Him ?"

Do but consider how ready parents are to give their chil-
dren what is fit for them, when Ihey ask, and you will be
satisfied, that it is your own fault, if you have not such a '
measure of grace and strength as is necessary for your
safety.

[iieb. 11. It is true, " Without faith,^' that is, without believing the
word of God, " it is impossible to please God." And it is
as true, that I cannot believe what I please. But if I once
know that faith comes by hearing, that is, by attending to
the word of God read or preached : if the word of God is
read to us every Lord's day, and we regard it not, but en-
deavour to thrust it away from us, and choke the good seed
by minding of other things ; why then our destruction is of
ourselves. For the word of God is quick and powerful, able
to convert the greatest sinner, who will but seriously attend J
to it. j

But if a man, when he hears what God, in that holy
Word, has threatened to wilful sinners, that there is a place

[Mark 9. " where the Avorm dieth not, and where the fire is not

44 ] ...

quenched ;" that this will most certainly be the portion of
all them that die in their sins unrepented of; that all such
as neglect and despise the means of grace and salvation
shall be tormented for ever and ever. If people, when they
hear this, are not at all concerned, but go on without laying
it to heart; and strive to divert these thoughts and fears,
and run out of the way of hearing the truth of them made
out to their consciences ; why, it is manifest, they wl/l not
be saved, though the Holy Ghost is striving with them to
bring them to heaven.

And when they hear what the Spirit of God has made
known to us concerning the joys of heaven; that it is im-
possible for the tongue of man to describe, or for the heart of
man to conceive, what great blessings the Lord hath laid up
for them that love Him ; that God for the sake of Jesus



I



THE HOLY GHOST INTO THE WOKI.D. 257

Christ has published a full and free pardou for all sinners,
who with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto Him ;
that in order to our being happy, He will expect no more
from us than what He will enable us to perform. If people,
when they hear these promises, will not mind them, but
are resolved to take their share of pleasures here, what-
ever becomes of those that God has promised hereafter ; all
that must be said is, that they will be for ever undone, that
the Holy Ghost would save them, by setting these promises
before them to make them desirous of heaven, but they will
not be persuaded.

And thus many miscarry for want of faith, notwithstanding
the Holy Spirit is amongst us, striving to bring us all to that
knowledge of God, and to that obedience which would save
our souls.

Thirdly ; but it is not only for want of hearing the word
of God that men miscarry ; even they that read and think of
these things may be lost, if they are not careful to maintain
good works. It is a Gospel direction, " If we live in the Gal. 5. 25.
Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit ;" that is, if we believe
and live under the Gospel, let us do what the Gospel com-
mands us. If we are dedicated to the Spirit of God, and hope
for His help and assistance, let us live like people that do so.

Now if, instead of doing this, we grieve the Holy Spirit,
by going against our consciences ; by refusing to obey the
precepts of Christ, when we know them ; by yielding to the
temptations of the devil, without asking God's help, without
which we know we cannot resist that powerful spirit ; if we
continue to do so, though the Spirit of God shews us the
great danger we are in, then we grieve the Holy Ghost, by
which we were sanctified, and He will leave us to ourselves,
and we shall certainly be ruined.

Lastly (notwithstanding the assistance of God's Holy
Spirit), there are many who have taken up good resolutions
of serving God, and yet miscarry for want of continuing in
them uuto their lives' end : for either they despair of suc-
ceeding, through a sense of their own weakness, or they
neglect to make use of and to improve the means of grace,
which for the present God has given them : either of which
will most certainly be their ruin.



258 THE MERCY OF GOD IN SENDING

S E R M. But if, instead of despairing of success^ people would con-

sider, that greater is He that is in us (that is, the Holy

Ghost), than he that is in the world (that is, the devil). If
people would but call to mind the power of the Holy Ghost,
as it is delivered to us in the holy Scriptures, by Whom
ignorant men became of a sudden teachers of others ; the
Holy Ghost enabling them to speak unknown languages, to
work miracles, to confirm their doctrines, and to convince
the world that they were not possessed with a spirit of error
and delusion.

If men would observe what a change is made upon those
who from great sinners have become true penitents; that
from having been strongly inclined to sin, they are become as
much inclined to holiness; to have quite different thoughts
of their former way of living ; not now to look upon sin as a
harmless, indifferent thing, but, as indeed it is, to be avoided
rather than death itself. In a word, that their whole man
has been changed or made new, in so much as the Scrip-
tures call this a new birth, and being born again.

Whoever thinks seriously of these things will conclude,
that there is nothing impossible with God ; and that though
our sins are so many that we cannot recount them, though
we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves ; yet if we
earnestly seek to God for help, and lay hold of the means
offered to us, it is certain we shall be safe, provided we use
that measure of grace which God gives us ; for this is a
[Matt. 13. rule given us by our blessed Saviour : " To him that hath
8" 18.]" ^ shall be given, and he shall have abundantly; but from
him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he
seemeth to have." To him that hath, (that is, that hath
made use of the grace which God hath given him,) to him
God will give more grace : but he that neglects the means
of grace, from him shall be taken away even what before He
had given him.

People do not consider how dangerous a thing it is to put
by good thoughts, to neglect the good advice of their friends,
to lose opportunities of knowing their duty. If they would
but consider, that all these are means of grace; that they
are indeed the work of the Holy Ghost ; they would not so
easily despise them, but would really be afraid of rejecting



THE HOLY CfHOST INTO THE WORLD. 259

the least degrees of grace afforded them for their conversion
and salvation.

The Pharisees rejected the counsel of God, — His gracious Luke 7. 30.
design towards them; they rejected the counsel of God in
refusing the baptism of John ; and look, what followed their
despising these lesser favours. They afterwards rejected the
Son of God Himself, and His doctrine, though approved and
confirmed by miracles.

The same Spirit, which has declared, that He will not [is. 42. 3.]
break a bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax; that
He will encourage the very beginnings of piety; the same
Spirit has also said these terrible words : " Because I called, Prov. i. 24,
and ye refused ; I stretched out My hand, and no man re- "
garded ; I will also laugh at your calamity, and mock when
your fear cometh." So dangerous a thing it is to resist or
to neglect the Spirit of God, and the day of grace !
Let us lay all this together, and to heart too.
We are l)y nature born in sin, in which we should live and
die, without God's help and mercy. We are by baptism
made the children of grace and favour. To all that are so,
the Holy Spirit is given, to enlighten their minds with
saving truth, to lead them in the ways of virtue and holi-
ness, to protect them against their spiritual enemies, to com-
fort them under all adversities, and to bring them safe to
heaven.

In order to these great ends, the Holy Ghost has given
them a rule to walk by, namely, the holy Scriptures, —
THE Word of God. And that they may trust to that rule.
He has confirmed it by many great miracles.

He has also appointed a certain order of men, who, under
the severest penalties, are faithfully to preach this Word
unto His people, and He has promised to bless their labours.
To encourage men to give ear unto them, they are by the
Holy Ghost impowered to promise all such as shall obey that
Word, the blessings of this life and of that which is to come.
And, that men may be afraid to neglect these gracious
offers, they are directed to set before the people the terrible
danger of doing so, and that it is a dreadful thing for a
sinner to fall into the hands of the living God, who can
destroy both body and soul in hell.

s 2



260 THE MERCY OF GOD IN SENDING

^JJ^T?/- All such as lay these tliiue;s to heart, and are desirous of
LXXIV. J ^ >

serving God, and of saving their souls, the Holy Ghost is
ever ready to assist them, by putting into their minds good
desires, by enabling them to do what He has made them
willing to do, by giving them opportunities of learning and
performing their duty, by succouring them when they are
tempted to sin, and by encouraging and cheering their
hearts, when they have overcome temptations; from time to
time increasing His favours as they make good use of them,
until they come to heaven, when all danger shall be over.

On the other hand; all such as have been dedicated to
God in baptism, and, when they come to years of discretion,
do not seriously think of what it is to be a Christian ; or do
not embrace and close with the means of grace afforded
them; such persons have no possible way of escaping the
dangers of a sinful world, the temptations of a powerful evil
spirit, or the miseries of a future life.

Therefore, it behoves every man who hopes to be saved,
(and who is there that does not ?) it concerns every man to
consider, what it is he is a doing, when he neglects or resists
the Holy Ghost calling him to repentance and newness of
life. That he is taking himself from under God's protec-
tion, and putting himself into the service of the devil ; that
he cannot go back when he pleases into the service of God,
no more than he can go to heaven without the leave of God ;
that the wisest man cannot tell where he shall stop, what he
shall do, when once he ventures to leave the ways of religion,
and the means of grace afforded him in the Church of God.

And let no man say that he wants grace and strength to
do what God expects from him ; for God expects no more
than an honest use of that measure of grace which He has
already bestowed upon a man.

It is not expected from one newly converted, that he
should be perfect, that he should never fall into sinful
courses ; but this is expected from him, that he should avoid
all occasions (as much as possible) and temptations to sin;
that he should earnestly pray for grace and the fellowship of
the Holy Ghost ; that whenever he falls he should speedily
return to God by repentance, and make new resolutions of
obedience. And whoever does this in good earnest^ is in



THE HOLY GHOST INTO THE WORLD. 261

the way of salvation, and under the conduct of the Spirit
of God.

From whence we may conchide, (and I pray God all that
are concerned may take notice, and lay it to heart,) that
every person who often falls into the same sins, and does
not strive against them, avoid temptation, pray to God for
help ; that such persons may justly apprehend that they are
not in the way of salvation.

To conclude the whole : here is all the encouragement
our hearts can desire to tarn to God. He will forgive us
what is past; He will enable us for the time to come; He
will help us when we fall; and He will make us happy when
we die. Why then should we put off our repentance ? Is it
because we purpose never to become new men ? O, no ; the
hardiest sinner amongst us dare not resolve never to amend.

But then let us remember, that it is not when we please,
but when the Holy Ghost pleases, that we shall repent and
turn to God ; and if the Holy Ghost stirs in us a desire of
doing so, and we neglect that desire or inclination, if we do
this often, we have much reason to fear He will leave us
to ourselves, and then it will be impossible for us ever to
repent.

Therefore, if there be any of you, who are sensible that
you have hitherto lived a careless, unchristian life; if you
are afraid of what will follow, and do wish that you had
taken up sooner; if you are convinced that the judgments
of God against sinners are terrible and true, and do seriously
wish that you were in a safer condition ; then consider, that
these being thoughts tending towards repentance, are from
the good Spirit of God; that none of His motions are in
vain, but when people wilfully oppose them, or refuse to
hear the voice of God.

What then have you to do ? God Himself directs you ;
" To-day, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts ;" [Ps. 95. 8;
resolve, that by the help of God, you will from this moment ^^^' ^' ''^
do what you can to save your soul; that you will pray to
God to direct, to assist, and to bless your endeavours, and do
what you resolve ; and be assured the Holy Ghost will be
with you, to guide, to help, and to comfort you.

Whoever amongst us has hopes towards God, and believes



262 THE MEUCY OF GOD IN SENDING

PERM himself in the way of life, ought to consider, that when the
Lxxiv . ggj,jp^yj.g speaks of grieving the Holy Spirit, it does inti-
mate to us, that it is possible for us to do such things as
may force Him from us.

Our duty then is, to be careful of our ways ; and, as we
hope for salvation, not to dare to continue in the practice of
any known vice ; but if we are overtaken, to ask ourselves
tliis question, — Is this sin I have been guilty of consistent
with my hopes of mercy at the great day ? It is not ; and
therefore I must part with it, or part with my hopes of
heaven.

And be assured, he that dares not thus reason with his
heart is not yet well in love with a Christian life, but is in
danger of being disappointed of his hopes of heaven.

From what has been said, you see what God has done for
us, before we were able to do any thing for ourselves.

He has received us into covenant, given us His holy Word
and Sacraments, made us many great and precious promises,
and set before us the dreadful consequence of neglecting
them.

You see likewise, that noiv something is to be done by us,
that we may secure the favour and assistance of this Holy
Spirit.

We must keep ourselves pure and undefiled members of
Christ's Church : we must not drive Him from us, by any
wicked course of sinning; and we must omit no opportuni-
ties of growing in grace, which God has appointed and shall
afford us : we must read or hear His holy Word : we must
take care to keep holy such days as are set apart for His
service : we must go constantly to His house, and constantly
acknowledge our dependence upon Him, b}^ praying to God
for what we want, and by giving Him thanks for what we
receive : and we must be sure to receive the holy Sacrament
of the Lord's Supper, which is the strength and refreshment
of our souls, and is therefore in an especial way called a
means of grace .

Now, if we do these things as we ought, with an honest
heart, these will be the effects :

First; we shall be very humble, knowing that we have
nothing of our own to boast of : for if I differ from another,



THE HOLY GHOST INTO THE WORLD. 263

it is the Holy Ghost that has made the difiFerence ; we being
all equally born in sin, and all equally liable to be overrun
with it.

Secondly ; we shall be very careful of our ways^ remem-
bering, that we are under the direction and government of
a Holy Spirit, who will be grieved to see us thoughtless
and negligent when our immortal souls lie at stake.

Lastly ; we shall be very thankful that God is pleased to
accept and save us upon any terms. But that His good
Spirit will ever be present with us, to keep us in the way we
should go, to pull us back when we go wrong, to defend us
against our powerful enemies, to support, to comfort, and at
all times to succour us : this ought to create in us such a
sense of gratitude as we are not able to express, but by an
entire obedience to His commands.

And may that blessed Spirit, from whom cometh every
good and perfect gift, I'est upon us and dwell with us for
ever, preserving us in the unity of the Church ; continuing
to us the means of grace; removing far from us all igno-
rance, hardness of heart, and contempt of God's Word ; that
we may, with patience and comfort, run the race that is set
before us ; stedfastly believing, that all things shall work
together for good to those that fear God, through Jesus
Christ our Lord.

To Whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all
honour and glory, world without end. Amen.



SERMON LXXV.



THE LORD'S SUPPER THE MEDICINE OF THE SOUL



Mark vi. 56,
As many as touched Him tvere made whole.

The whole verse is as followeth : "Whithersoever Jesus
entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick
in the streets, and besought Him that they might touch, if
it were but the border of His garment; and as many as
TOUCHED Him were made whole."

What a blessed opportunity had these people of being
healed of all their diseases ! How happy did they think
themselves in having Jesus Christ present amongst them !
How good and kind was He, to go from one place to an-
other, that every liody who had a desire to be healed, and
who had faith in His power, miyht be made whole !

We cannot but esteem this a mighty blessing, and wish it
were our own case. Why now, my Christian brethren, it is our
own case, and to much greater purposes. And we should
certainly be convinced of it, if we were but as sensible of our
spiritual disorders, as these people were of the diseases of
their bodies ; and we should, with as much zeal and faith in
His power and readiness to help us, we should apply to Him,
now He is in heaven, as earnestly as these people did when
He was on earth and amongst them.

All that we want is, to feel our disorders, and to see the
danger we are in without His help -, for then we should, with
thankful hearts, accept of the sovereign medicine which He
has prescribed for the cure of all our maladies.

Well then, how may we become sensible of our disorders
and danger? Let every one, who desires to know this, look



THE lord's supper THE JIEDICINE OF THE SOUL. 265

into his own heart, and ask himself some such questions as
these : Do I love with all my heart the God who made me,
who preserves and gives me all that I want, or enjoy, or
hope for? Do I fear to offend Him, who, for my own good,
has given me rules to live by, and has assured me, that if I
do not observe those rules, I shall lose His favour, and de-
prive myself of greater happiness than all this world can
give me?

The true answer must be this : I find myself prone to evil
continually. Of myself I am not able to resist the tempta-
tions to sin that I meet with, I do many things which my
own conscience tells me I ought not to do, and I omit very
many duties which I owe to God my Maker, to my neigh-
bour, and to myself. I cannot but be sensible that I do not
love God as I ought to do. I have not had that regard to
His commands that so great a Majesty demands of me. I
have received infinite mercies and favours from His good-
ness, and have never thanked Him for them. I have,
times without number, broken His commands, without feai'-
ing what must follow. I have little minded what His own
Son has made known to us, — that a day is coming when
God will judge the world in righteousness, according to our
behaviour in this life; and that they that have done good
shall go into life and happiness everlasting, and they that
have done evil, and have not timely repented, shall go into
everlasting fire.

This I have heard a thousand times, without being awa-
kened, or bettered by it ; T cannot but see that every day
brings me nearer death ; that death is the end of my trial
in this life, and that after that there is no repentance.

Jesus Christ in His holy Gospel assures us, that, the mo-
ment we die, our souls are carried to places of happiness or
misery, according as our lives have been spent here, there to
remain till the judgment of the great day.

Now, who is there that hears and understands this, who
does not know that every syllable of this is true ? For these
are not the sayings of men, but the words of God, the
God of truth, who cannot deceive His creatures, but would
have all men to repent, and to come to the knowledge of the
truth, and of their own interest.



'^G6 THE lord's supper the medicine of the soul.

SERM. And can any man hear these truths, and apply thera to
'— himself, without seeing that this is his own case ; without



seeing the danger he is in without some help besides his
own; and without laying hold of that help that is offered
him by a merciful Saviour and Physician of our souls ?

Do but look back to the text, and the history set before
you for your consideration and pattern. All that found
themselves sick and in danger, made no delay, lest they
should lose so good an opportunity of being healed of their
infirmities. Wherever Jesus Christ came, they saw His
power and His mercy to heal poor miserable people, and
they besought Him to heal them; and He did so most wil-
lingly, f

They saw plainly, that without His help they must suffer
or die; and they besought Him, — they begged of Him, — to
heal them of their diseases. And as many as did so were
made whole.

Now, my Christian brethren, what have I set this history
before you for, but to persuade you to follow the example of
these diseased people ? Not one soul of us will dare to say, I
[1 John 1. Nothing ails me — / am in no danger. " If we sa}^ that we
have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in
us," saith St. John ; and so saith every man's own con-
science, who will but look inwards.
[Gal. 5. 21; And what saith the Spirit of Truth in the Gospel?— iVo
Matt. 25. Wicked 'person can enter into the kingdom of heaven, — can
■-' inherit eternal life, — but shall be sent into outer darkness,

"where there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing
of teeth."

Now, can any sinner, can any man who knows any thing
of himself, be easy under the belief and thoughts of this,
until he knows whether there be any help for him or not ?

Here therefore is seen the blessing of Christianity, which
offers, which has provided, a remedy for all our disorders,
[1 John 1. and for all our fears. " The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth
3i •] '' ■ "us from all sin," saith the Holy Spirit by St. John ; and our
Lord Christ Himself says, " Verily, all sins shall be for-
given unto men;" that is, unto those who are weary and
heavy laden with the burden of their sins ; who confess and
forsake their sins, and, through faith in His blood, beseech



THE LORD S SUPPER THE MEDICINE OF THE SOUL. 2G7

Him to help, and to heal them ; and this with that sincere
desire and earnestness, that these sick people desired to
touch if it were but the border of His garment, and were
thereby made whole.

This will lead us to consider, how Jesus Christ has ap-
pointed us to apply to Him for His help, and the cure of our
disorders.

For though He is gone into heaven, yet He is still ready,
and has promised to heal all the diseases of our souls, when
we apply to Him, out of a true sense of our sad condition
without His help and mercy.

Jesus Christ, while He was on earth, had told His dis-
ciples and followers, that He was " the bread of life,^^ the life- John 6. oi,
giving bread, " which came down from heaven, which if any
man should eat, he should live for ever.^^ That " this bread
is His flesh, which He would give for the life of the world."



Online LibraryThomas WilsonThe works of the right reverend father in God, Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man (Volume 3) → online text (page 24 of 49)