COME AND WELCOME TO JESUS CHRIST
He saith not, and him that is come, but him that cometh. To speak to these
words, First, In general. Second, More particularly.
[First.] In general. They suggest unto us these four things: -
1. That Jesus Christ doth build upon it, that since the Father gave his people
to him, they shall be enabled to come unto him. "And him that cometh." As who
should say, I know that since they are given to me, they shall be enabled to
come unto me. He saith not, if they come, or I suppose they will come; but, "and
him that cometh." By these words, therefore, he shows us that he addresseth
himself to the receiving of them whom the Father gave to him to save them. I
say, he addresseth himself, or prepareth himself to receive them. By which, as I
said, he concludeth or buildeth upon it, that they shall indeed come to him. He
looketh that the Father should bring them into his bosom, and so stands ready to
2. Christ also suggesteth by these words, that he very well knoweth who are
given to him; not by their coming to him, but by their being given to him. "All
that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh," &c. This him
he knoweth to be one of them that the Father hath given him; and, therefore, he
received him, even because the Father hath given him to him (John 10). "I know
my sheep," saith he. Not only those that already have knowledge of him, but
those, too, that yet are ignorant of him. "Other sheep I have," said he, "which
are not of this fold," (John 10:16); not of the Jewish church, but those that
lie in their sins, even the rude and barbarous Gentiles. Therefore, when Paul
was afraid to stay at Corinth, from a supposition that some mischief might
befall him there; "Be not afraid," said the Lord Jesus to him, "but speak, and
hold not thy peace - for I have much people in this city" (Acts 18:9,10). The
people that the Lord here speaks of were not at this time accounted his, by
reason of a work of conversion that already had passed upon them, but by virtue
of the gift of the Father; for he had given them unto him. Therefore was Paul to
stay here, to speak the word of the Lord to them, that, by his speaking, the
Holy Ghost might effectually work over their souls, to the causing them to come
to him, who was also ready, with heart and soul, to receive them.
3. Christ, by these words, also suggesteth, that no more come unto him than,
indeed, are given him of the Father. For the him in this place is one of the all
that by Christ was mentioned before. "All that the Father giveth me shall come
to me;" and every him of that all, "I will in no wise cast out." This the
apostle insinuateth, where he saith, "He gave some, apostles; and some,
prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the
perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the
body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge
of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the
fullness of Christ" (Eph 4:11-13).
Mark, as in the text, so here he speaketh of all. "Until we all come." We all!
all who? Doubtless, "All that the Father giveth to Christ." This is further
insinuated, because he called this ALL the body of Christ; the measure of the
stature of the fullness of Christ. By which he means the universal number given;
to wit, the true elect church, which is said to be his body and fullness (Eph
4. Christ Jesus, by these words, further suggesteth, that he is well content
with this gift of the Father to him. "All that the Father giveth me shall come
to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." I will heartily,
willingly, and with great content of mind, receive him.
They show us, also, that Christ's love in receiving is as large as his Father's
love in giving, and no larger. Hence, he thanks him for his gift, and also
thanks him for hiding of him and his things from the rest of the wicked (Matt
11:25; Luke 10:21). But,
Secondly, and more particularly, "And HIM that cometh."
[Import of the word HIM.]
"And him." This word him; by it Christ looketh back to the gift of the Father;
not only in the lump and whole of the gift, but to the every him of that lump.
As who should say, I do not only accept of the gift of my Father in the general,
but have a special regard to every of them in particular; and will secure not
only some, or the greatest part, but every him, every dust. Not a hoof of all
shall be lost or left behind. And, indeed, in this he consenteth to his Father's
will, which is that of all that he hath given him, he should lose nothing (John
"And him." Christ Jesus, also, by his thus dividing the gift of his Father into
hims, and by his speaking of them in the singular number, shows what a
particular work shall be wrought in each one, at the time appointed of the
Father. "And it shall come to pass in that day," saith the prophet, "that the
Lord shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and
ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel." Here are the hims,
one by one, to be gathered to him by the Father (Isa 27:12).
He shows also hereby that no lineage, kindred, or relation, can at all be
profited by any outward or carnal union with the person that the Father hath
given to Christ. It is only him, the given HIM, the coming him, that he intends
absolutely to secure. Men make a great ado with the children of believers; and
oh the children of believers! 13 But if the child of the believer is not the him
concerned in this absolute promise, it is not these men's great cry, nor yet
what the parent or child can do, that can interest him in this promise of the
Lord Christ, this absolute promise.
AND HIM. There are divers sorts of persons that the Father hath given to Jesus
Christ; they are not all of one rank, of one quality; some are high, some are
low; some are wise, some fools; some are more civil, and complying with the law;
some more profane, and averse to him and his gospel. Now, since those that are
given to him are, in some sense, so diverse; and again, since he yet saith, "And
him that cometh," &c., he, by that, doth give us to understand that he is not,
as men, for picking and choosing, to take a best and leave a worst, but he is
for him that the Father hath given him, and that cometh to him. "He shall not
alter it, nor change it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good," (Lev 27:10);
but will take him as he is, and will save his soul.
There is many a sad wretch given by the Father to Jesus Christ; but not one of
them all is despised or slighted by him. It is said of those that the Father
hath given to Christ that they have done worse than the heathen; that they were
murderers, thieves, drunkards, unclean persons, and what not; but he has
received them, washed them, and saved them. A fit emblem of this sort is that
wretched instance mentioned in the 16th of Ezekiel, that was cast out in a
stinking condition, to the loathing of its person, in the days that it was born;
a creature in such a wretched condition, that no eye pitied, to do any of the
things there mentioned unto it, or to have compassion upon it; no eye but his
that speaketh in the text.
AND HIM. Let him be as red as blood, let him be as red as crimson. Some men are
blood-red sinners, crimson-sinners, sinners of a double die; dipped and dipped
again, before they come to Jesus Christ. Art thou that readest these lines such
an one? Speak out, man! Art thou such an one? and art thou now coming to Jesus
Christ for the mercy of justification, that thou mightest be made white in his
blood, and be covered with his righteousness? Fear not; forasmuch as this thy
coming betokeneth that thou art of the number of them that the Father hath given
to Christ; for he will in no wise cast thee out. "Come now," saith Christ, "and
let us reason together; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white
as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isa 1:18).
AND HIM. There was many a strange HIM came to Jesus Christ, in the days of his
flesh; but he received them all, without turning any away; speaking unto them
"of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing" (Luke 9:11;
4:40). These words, AND HIM, are therefore words to be wondered at. That not one
of them who, by virtue of the Father's gift, and drawing, are coming to Jesus
Christ, I say, that not one of them, whatever they have been, whatever they have
done, should be rejected or set by, but admitted to a share in his saving grace.
It is said in Luke, that the people "wondered at the gracious words which
proceeded out of his mouth" (4:22). Now this is one of his gracious words; these
words are like drops of honey, as it is said, "Pleasant words are as an
honey-comb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones" (Prov 16:24). These are
gracious words indeed, even as full as a faithful and merciful High-priest could
speak them. Luther saith, "When Christ speaketh, he hath a mouth as wide as
heaven and earth." That is, to speak fully to the encouragement of every sinful
him that is coming to Jesus Christ. And that his word is certain, hear how
himself confirms it: "Heaven and earth," saith he, "shall pass away; but my
words shall not pass away" (Isa 51:6; Matt 24:35).
It is also confirmed by the testimony of the four evangelists, who gave faithful
relation of his loving reception of all sorts of coming sinners, whether they
were publicans, harlots, thieves, possessed of devils, bedlams, and what not
(Luke 19:1-10; Matt 21:31; Luke 15; 23:43; Mark 16:9; 5:1-9).
This, then, shows us, 1. "The greatness of the merits of Christ." 2. The
willingness of his heart to impute them for life to the great, if coming,
1. This shows us the greatness of the merits of Christ; for it must not be
supposed, that his words are bigger than his worthiness. He is strong to execute
his word. He can do, as well as speak. He can do exceeding abundantly more than
we ask or think, even to the uttermost, and outside of his word (Eph 3:20). Now,
then, since he concludeth any coming HIM; it must be concluded, that he can save
to the uttermost sin, any coming HIM.
Do you think, I say, that the Lord Jesus did not think before he spake? He
speaks all in righteousness, and therefore by his word we are to judge how
mighty he is to save (Isa 63:1). He speaketh in righteousness, in very
faithfulness, when he began to build this blessed gospel-fabric, the text; it
was for that he had first sat down, and counted the cost; and for that, he knew
he was able to finish it! What, Lord, any him? any him that cometh to thee? This
is a Christ worth looking after, this is a Christ worth coming to!
This, then, should learn us diligently to consider the natural force of every
word of God; and to judge of Christ's ability to save, not by our sins, or by
our shallow apprehensions of his grace; but by his word, which is the true
measure of grace. And if we do not judge thus, we shall dishonour his grace,
lose the benefit of his word, and needlessly fright ourselves into many
discouragements though coming to Jesus Christ. Him, any him that cometh, hath
sufficient from this word of Christ, to feed himself with hopes of salvation. As
thou art therefore coming, O thou coming sinner, judge thou, whether Christ can
save thee by the true sense of his words: judge, coming sinner, of the efficacy
of his blood, of the perfection of his righteousness, and of the prevalency of
his intercession, by his word. "And him," saith he, "that cometh to me I will in
no wise cast out." "In no wise," that is, for no sin. Judge therefore by his
word, how able he is to save thee. It is said of God's sayings to the children
of Israel, "There failed not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken
unto the house of Israel; all came to pass" (Josh 21:45). And again, "Not one
thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake
concerning you, all are come to pass unto you; and not one thing hath failed
thereof" (Josh 23:14).
Coming sinner, what promise thou findest in the word of Christ, strain it
whither thou canst, so thou dost not corrupt it, and his blood and merits will
answer all; what the word saith, or any true consequence that is drawn therefrom,
that we may boldly venture upon. As here in the text he saith, "And him that
cometh," indefinitely, without the least intimation of the rejection of any,
though never so great, if he be a coming sinner. Take it then for granted, that
thou, whoever thou art, if coming, art intended in these words; neither shall it
injure Christ at all, if, as Benhadad's servants served Ahab, thou shalt catch
him at his word. "Now," saith the text, "the man did diligently observe whether
anything would come from him," to wit, any word of grace; "and did hastily catch
it." And it happened that Ahab had called Benhadad his brother. The man replied,
therefore, "Thy brother Benhadad!" (1 Kings 20:33), catching him at his word.
Sinner, coming sinner, serve Jesus Christ thus, and he will take it kindly at
thy hands. When he in his argument called the Canaanitish woman dog, she catched
him at it, and saith, "Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall
from their master's table." I say, she catched him thus in his words, and he
took it kindly, saying, "O woman great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as
thou wilt" (Matt 15:28). Catch him, coming sinner, catch him in his words,
surely he will take it kindly, and will not be offended at thee.
2. The other thing that I told you is showed from these words, is this: The
willingness of Christ's heart to impute his merits for life to the great, if
coming sinner. "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
The awakened coming sinner doth not so easily question the power of Christ, as
his willingness to save him. Lord, "if thou wilt, thou canst," said one (Mark
1:40). He did not put the if upon his power, but upon his will. He concluded he
could, but he was not as fully of persuasion that he would. But we have the same
ground to believe he will, as we have to believe he can; and, indeed, ground for
both is the Word of God. If he was not willing, why did he promise? Why did he
say he would receive the coming sinner? Coming sinner, take notice of this; we
use to plead practices with men, and why not with God likewise? I am sure we
have no more ground for the one than the other; for we have to plead the promise
of a faithful God. Jacob took him there: "Thou saidst," said he, "I will surely
do thee good" (Gen 32:12). For, from this promise he concluded, that it followed
in reason, "He must be willing."
The text also gives some ground for us to draw the same conclusion. "And him
that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Here is his willingness asserted,
as well as his power suggested. It is worth your observation, that Abraham's
faith considered rather God's power than his willingness; that is, he drew his
conclusion, "I shall have a child," from the power that was in God to fulfil the
promise to him. For he concluded he was willing to give him one, else he would
not have promised one. "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief;
but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that
what he had promised he was able also to perform" (Rev 4:20,21). But was not his
faith exercised, or tried, about his willingness too? No, there was no show of
reason for that, because he had promised it. Indeed, had he not promised it, he
might lawfully have doubted it; but since he had promised it, there was left no
ground at all for doubting, because his willingness to give a son was
demonstrated in his promising him a son. These words, therefore, are sufficient
ground to encourage any coming sinner that Christ is willing to his power to
receive him; and since he hath power also to do what he will, there is no ground
at all left to the coming sinner any more to doubt; but to come in full hope of
acceptance, and of being received unto grace and mercy. "And him that cometh."
He saith not, and him that is come; but, and him that cometh; that is, and him
whose heart begins to move after me, who is leaving all for my sake; him who is
looking out, who is on his journey to me. We must, therefore, distinguish
betwixt coming, and being come to Jesus Christ. He that is come to him has
attained of him more sensibly what he felt before that he wanted, than he has
that but yet is coming to him.
[Advantages to the man that is come to Christ.]
A man that is come to Christ hath the advantage of him that is but coming to
him; and that in seven things.
1. He that is come to Christ is nearer to him than he that is but coming to him;
for he that is but coming to him is yet, in some sense, at a distance from him;
as it is said of the coming prodigal, "And while he was yet a great way off"
(Luke 15:20). Now he that is nearer to him hath the best sight of him; and so is
able to make the best judgment of his wonderful grace and beauty, as God saith,
"Let them come near, then let them speak" (Isa 41:1). And as the apostle John
saith, "And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the
Saviour of the world" (1 John 4:14). He that is not yet come, though he is
coming, is not fit, not being indeed capable to make that judgment of the worth
and glory of the grace of Christ, as he is that is come to him, and hath seen
and beheld it. Therefore, sinner, suspend thy judgment till thou art come
2. He that is come to Christ has the advantage of him that is but coming, in
that he is eased of his burden; for he that is but coming is not eased of his
burden (Matt 11:28). He that is come has cast his burden upon the Lord. By faith
he hath seen himself released thereof; but he that is but coming hath it yet, as
to sense and feeling, upon his own shoulders. "Come unto me, all ye that labour
and are heavy laden," implies, that their burden, though they are coming, is yet
upon them, and so will be till indeed they are come to him.
3. He that is come to Christ has the advantage of him that is but coming in this
also, namely, he hath drank of the sweet and soul refreshing water of life; but
he that is but coming hath not. "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and
drink" (John 7:37).
Mark, He must come to him before he drinks: according to that of the prophet,
"Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." He drinketh not as he
cometh, but when he is come to the waters (Isa 55:1).
4. He that is come to Christ hath the advantage of him that as yet is but coming
in this also, to wit, he is not so terrified with the noise, and, as I may call
it, hue and cry, which the avenger of blood makes at the heels of him that yet
is but coming to him. When the slayer was on his flight to the city of his
refuge, he had the noise or fear of the avenger of blood at his heels; but when
he was come to the city, and was entered thereinto, that noise ceased. Even so
it is with him that is but coming to Jesus Christ, he heareth many a dreadful
sound in is ear; sounds of death and damnation, which he that is come is at
present freed from. Therefore he saith, "Come, and I will give you rest." And so
he saith again, "We that have believed, do enter into rest," as he said, &c.
5. He, therefore, that is come to Christ, is not so subject to those dejections,
and castings down, by reason of the rage and assaults of the evil one, as is the
man that is but coming to Jesus Christ, though he has temptations too. "And as
he was yet a-coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him" (Luke 9:42). For he
has, though Satan still roareth upon him, those experimental comforts and
refreshments, to wit, in his treasury, to present himself with, in times of
temptation and conflict; which he that is but coming has not.
6. He that is come to Christ has the advantage of him that is but coming to him,
in this also, to wit, he hath upon him the wedding garment, &c., but he that is
coming has not. The prodigal, when coming home to his father, was clothed with
nothing but rags, and was tormented with an empty belly; but when he was come,
the best robe is brought out, also the gold ring, and the shoes, yea, they are
put upon him, to his great rejoicing. The fatted calf was killed for him; the
music was struck up to make him merry; and thus also the Father himself sang of
him, "This my son was dead, and is alive again; was lost and is found" (Luke
7. In a word, he that is come to Christ, his groans and tears, his doubts and
fears, are turned into songs and praises; for that he hath now received the
atonement, and the earnest of his inheritance; but he that is but yet a-coming,
hath not those praises nor songs of deliverance with him; nor has he as yet
received the atonement and earnest of his inheritance, which is, the sealing
testimony of the Holy Ghost, through the sprinkling of the blood of Christ upon
his conscience, for he is not come (Rom 5:11; Eph 1:13; Heb 12:22-24).
[Import of the word COMETH.]
"And him that COMETH." There is further to be gathered from this word cometh,
these following particulars: -
1. That Jesus Christ hath his eye upon, and takes notice of, the first moving of
the heart of a sinner after himself. Coming sinner, thou canst not move with
desires after Christ, but he sees the working of those desires in thy heart.
"All my desire," said David, "is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from
thee" (Psa 38:9). This he spake, as he was coming, after he had backslidden, to
the Lord Jesus Christ. It is said of the prodigal, that while he was yet a great
way off, his father saw him, had his eye upon him, and upon the going out of his
heart after him (Luke 15:20).
When Nathanael was come to Jesus Christ, the Lord said to them that stood before
him, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." But Nathanael answered
him, "Whence knowest thou me?" Jesus answered, "Before that Philip called thee,
when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee." There, I suppose, Nathanael was
pouring out of his soul to God for mercy, or that he would give him good
understanding about the Messias to come; and Jesus saw all the workings of his
honest heart at that time (John 1:47,48).
Zaccheus also had some secret movings of heart, such as they were, towards Jesus
Christ, when he ran before, and climbed up the tree to see him; and the Lord
Jesus Christ had his eye upon him: therefore, when he was come to the place, he
looked up to him, bids him come down, "For today," said he, "I must abide at thy
house;" to wit, in order to the further completing the work of grace in his soul
(Luke 19:1-9). Remember this, coming sinner.
2. As Jesus Christ hath his eye upon, so he hath his heart open to receive, the
coming sinner. This is verified by the text: "And him that cometh to me I will
in no wise cast out." This is also discovered by his preparing of the way, in
his making of it easy (as may be) to the coming sinner; which preparation is
manifest by those blessed words, "I will in no wise cast out;" of which more
when we come to the place. And while "he was yet a great way off, his Father saw
him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him" (Luke
15:20). All these expressions do strongly prove that the heart of Christ is open
to receive the coming sinner.
3. As Jesus Christ has his eye upon, and his heart open to receive, so he hath
resolved already that nothing shall alienate his heart from receiving the coming
sinner. No sins of the coming sinner, nor the length of the time that he hath
abode in them, shall by any means prevail with Jesus Christ to reject him.
Coming sinner, thou art coming to a loving Lord Jesus!
4. These words therefore are dropped from his blessed mouth, on purpose that the
coming sinner might take encouragement to continue on his journey, until he be
come indeed to Jesus Christ. It was doubtless a great encouragement to blind
Bartimeus, that Jesus Christ stood still and called him, when he was crying,
"Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me;" therefore, it is said, he cast
away his garment, "rose, and came to Jesus" (Mark 10:46). Now, if a call to come
hath such encouragement in it, what is a promise of receiving such, but an
encouragement much more? And observe it, though he had a call to come, yet not
having a promise, his faith was forced to work upon a mere consequence, saying,
He calls me; and surely since he calls me, he will grant me my desire. Ah! but
coming sinner, thou hast no need to go so far about as to draw (in this matter)
consequences, because thou hast plain promises: "And him that cometh to me I
will in no wise cast out." Here is full, plain, yea, what encouragement one can
desire; for, suppose thou wast admitted to make a promise thyself, and Christ
should attest that he would fulfil it upon the sinner that cometh to him,
Couldst thou make a better promise? Couldst thou invent a more full, free, or
larger promise? a promise that looks at the first moving of the heart after
Jesus Christ? a promise that declares, yea, that engageth Christ Jesus to open
his heart to receive the coming sinner? yea, further, a promise that
demonstrateth that the Lord Jesus is resolved freely to receive, and will in no
wise cast out, nor means to reject, the soul of the coming sinner! For all this
lieth fully in this promise, and doth naturally flow therefrom. Here thou
needest not make use of far-fetched consequences, nor strain thy wits, to force
encouraging arguments from the text. Coming sinner, the words are plain: "And
him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
[TWO SORTS OF SINNERS COMING TO CHRIST.]
"And him that COMETH." There are two sorts of sinners that are coming to Jesus
Christ. First, Him that hath never, while of late, 14 at all began to come.
Second, Him that came formerly, and after that went back; but hath since
bethought himself, and is now coming again. Both these sorts of sinners are
intended by the HIM in the text, as is evident; because both are now the coming
sinners. "And him that cometh."
First. [The newly-awakened comer.] -For the first of these: the sinner that hath
never, while of late, began to come, his way is more easy; I do not say, more
plain and open to come to Christ than is the other -those last not having the
clog of a guilty conscience, for the sin of backsliding, hanging at their heels.
But all the encouragement of the gospel, with what invitations are therein
contained to coming sinners, are as free and as open to the one as to the other;
so that they may with the same freedom and liberty, as from the Word, both alike
claim interest in the promise. "All things are ready;" all things for the coming
backsliders, as well as for the others: "Come to the wedding." "And let him that
is athirst come" (Matt 22:1-4; Rev 22:17).
Second. [The returning backslider.] -But having spoke to the first of these
already, I shall here pass it by; and shall speak a word or two to him that is
coming, after backsliding, to Jesus Christ for life. Thy way, O thou sinner of a
double dye, thy way is open to come to Jesus Christ. I mean thee, whose heart,
after long backsliding, doth think of turning to him again. Thy way, I say, is
open to him, as is the way of the other sorts of comers; as appears by what
1. Because the text makes no exception against thee. It doth not say, And any
him but a backslider, any him but him. The text doth not thus object, but
indefinitely openeth wide its golden arms to every coming soul, without the
least exception; therefore thou mayest come. And take heed that thou shut not
that door against thy soul by unbelief, which God has opened by his grace.
2. Nay, the text is so far from excepting against thy coming, that it strongly
suggesteth that thou art one of the souls intended, O thou coming backslider;
else what need that clause have been so inserted, "I will in no wise cast out?"
As who should say, Though those that come now are such as have formerly
backslidden, I will in "no wise" cast away the fornicator, the covetous, the
railer, the drunkard, or other common sinners, nor yet the backslider neither.
3. That the backslider is intended is evident,
(1.) For that he is sent to by name, "Go, tell his disciples and Peter" (Mark
16:7). But Peter was a godly man. True, but he was also a backslider, yea, a
desperate backslider: he had denied his Master once, twice, thrice, cursing and
swearing that he knew him not. If this was not backsliding, if this was not an
high and eminent backsliding, yea, a higher backsliding than thou art capable
of, I have thought amiss.
Again, when David had backslidden, and had committed adultery and murder in his
backsliding, he must be sent to by name: "And," saith the text, "the Lord sent
Nathan unto David." And he sent him to tell him, after he had brought him to
unfeigned acknowledgment, "The Lord hath also put away, or forgiven thy sin" (2
This man also was far gone: he took a man's wife, and killed her husband, and
endeavoured to cover all with wicked dissimulation. He did this, I say, after
God had exalted him, and showed him great favour; wherefore his transgression
was greatened also by the prophet with mighty aggravations; yet he was accepted,
and that with gladness, at the first step he took in his returning to Christ.
For the first step of the backslider's return is to say, sensibly and
unfeignedly, "I have sinned;" but he had no sooner said thus, but a pardon was
produced, yea, thrust into his bosom: "And Nathan said unto David, The Lord hath
also put away thy sin."
(2.) As the person of the backslider is mentioned by name, so also is his sin,
that, if possible, thy objections against thy returning to Christ may be taken
out of thy way; I say, thy sin also is mentioned by name, and mixed, as
mentioned, with words of grace and favour: "I will heal their backsliding, I
will love them freely" (Hosea 14:4). What sayest thou now, backslider?
(3.) Nay, further, thou art not only mentioned by name, and thy sin by the
nature of it, but thou thyself, who art a returning backslider, put, (a) Amongst
God's Israel, "Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not
cause mine anger to fall upon you; for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will
not keep anger for ever" (Jer 3:12). (b) Thou art put among his children; among
his children to whom he is married. "Turn, O backsliding children, for I am
married unto you" (verse 14). (c) Yea, after all this, as if his heart was so
full of grace for them, that he was pressed until he had uttered it before them,
he adds, "Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings"
(4.) Nay, further, the Lord hath considered, that the shame of thy sin hath
stopped thy mouth, and made thee almost a prayerless man; and therefore he saith
unto thee, "Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away
all iniquity, and receive us graciously." See his grace, that himself should put
words of encouragement into the heart of a backslider; as he saith in another
place, "I taught Ephraim to go, taking him by the arms." This is teaching him to
go indeed, to hold him up by the arms; by the chin, as we say (Hosea 14:2;
From what has been said, I conclude, even as I said before, that the him in the
text, and him that cometh, includeth both these sorts of sinners, and therefore
both should freely come.
Quest. 1. But where doth Jesus Christ, in all the word of the New Testament,
expressly speak to a returning backslider with words of grace and peace? For
what you have urged as yet, from the New Testament, is nothing but consequences
drawn from this text. Indeed it is a full text for carnal ignorant sinners that
come, but to me, who am a backslider, it yieldeth but little relief.
Answ. How! but little encouragement from the text, when it is said, "I will in
now wise cast out"! What more could have been said? What is here omitted that
might have been inserted, to make the promise more full and free? Nay, take all
the promises in the Bible, all the freest promises, with all the variety of
expressions of what nature or extent soever, and they can but amount to the
expressions of this very promise, "I will in no wise cast out;" I will for
nothing, by no means, upon no account, however they have sinned, however they
have backslidden, however they have provoked, cast out the coming sinner. But,
Quest. 2. Thou sayest, Where doth Jesus Christ, in all the words of the New
Testament, speak to a returning backslider with words of grace and peace, that
is under the name of a backslider?
Answ. Where there is such plenty of examples in receiving backsliders, there is
the less need for express words to that intent; one promise, as the text is,
with those examples that are annexed, are instead of many promises. And besides,
I reckon that the act of receiving is of as much, if not of more encouragement,
than is a bare promise to receive; for receiving is as the promise, and the
fulfilling of it too; so that in the Old Testament thou hast the promise, and in
the New, the fulfilling of it; and that in divers examples.
1. In Peter. Peter denied his master, once, twice, thrice, and that with open
oath; yet Christ receives him again without any the least hesitation or stick.
Yea, he slips, stumbles, falls again, in downright dissimulation, and that to
the hurt and fall of many others; but neither of this doth Christ make a bar to
his salvation, but receives him again at his return, as if he knew nothing of
the fault (Gal 2).
2. The rest of the disciples, even all of them, did backslide and leave the Lord
Jesus in his greatest straits. "Then all the disciples forsook him and fled,"
(Matt 26:56), they returned, as he had foretold, every one to his own, and left
him alone; but this also he passes over as a very light matter. Not that it was
so indeed in itself, but the abundance of grace that was in him did lightly roll
it away; for after his resurrection, when first he appeared unto them, he gives
them not the least check for their perfidious dealings with him, but salutes
them with words of grace, saying, "All hail! be not afraid, peace be to you; all
power in heaven and earth is given unto me." True, he rebuked them for their
unbelief, for the which also thou deservest the same. For it is unbelief that
alone puts Christ and his benefits from us (John 16:52; Matt 28:9-11; Luke
24:39; Mark 16:14).
3. The man that after a large profession lay with his father's wife, committed a
high transgression, even such a one that at that day was not heard of, no, not
among the Gentiles. Wherefore this was a desperate backsliding; yet, at his
return, he was received, and accepted again to mercy (1 Cor 5:1,2; 2 Cor 2:6-8).
4. The thief that stole was bid to steal no more; not at all doubting but that
Christ was ready to forgive him this act of backsliding (Eph 4:28).
Now all these are examples, particular instances of Christ's readiness to
receive the backsliders to mercy; and, observe it, examples and proofs that he
hath done so are, to our unbelieving hearts, stronger encouragements than bare
promises that so he will do.
But again, the Lord Jesus hath added to these, for the encouragement of
returning backsliders, to come to him. (1.) A call to come, and he will receive
them (Rev 2:1-5; 14-16; 20-22; 3:1-3; 15-22). Wherefore New Testament
backsliders have encouragement to come. (2.) A declaration of readiness to
receive them that come, as here in the text, and in many other places, is plain.
Therefore, "Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps," of the golden grace of
the gospel, "set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest."
When thou didst backslide; "turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these
thy cities" (Jer 31:21).
"And him that cometh." He saith not, and him that talketh, that professeth, that
maketh a show, a noise, or the like; but, him that cometh. Christ will take
leave to judge, who, among the many that make a noise, they be that indeed are
coming to him. It is not him that saith he comes, nor him of whom others affirm
that he comes; but him that Christ himself shall say doth come, that is
concerned in this text. When the woman that had the bloody issue came to him for
cure, there were others as well as she, that made a great bustle about him, that
touched, yea, thronged him. Ah, but Christ could distinguish this woman from
them all; "And he looked round about" upon them all, "to see her that had done
this thing" (Mark 5:25-32). He was not concerned with the thronging, or
touchings of the rest; for theirs were but accidental, or at best, void of that
which made her touch acceptable. Wherefore Christ must be judge who they be that
in truth are coming to him; Every man's ways are right in his own eyes, "but the
Lord weigheth the spirits" (Prov 16:2). It standeth therefore every one in hand
to be certain of their coming to Jesus Christ; for as thy coming is, so shall
thy salvation be. If thou comest indeed, thy salvation shall be indeed; but if
thou comest but in outward appearance, so shall thy salvation be; but of coming,
see before, as also afterwards, in the use and application.
"And him that cometh TO ME." These words to me are also well to be heeded; for
by them, as he secureth those that come to him, so also he shows himself
unconcerned with those that in their coming rest short, to turn aside to others;
for you must know, that every one that comes, comes not to Jesus Christ; some
that come, come to Moses, and to his law, and there take up for life; with these
Christ is not concerned; with these his promise hath not to do. "Christ is
become of no effect unto you; whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are
fallen from grace" (Gal 5:4). Again, some that came, came no further than to
gospel ordinances, and there stay; they came not through them to Christ; with
these neither is he concerned; nor will their "Lord, Lord," avail them anything
in the great and dismal day. A man may come to, and also go from the place and
ordinances of worship, and yet not be remembered by Christ. "So I saw the wicked
buried," said Solomon, "who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and
they were forgotten in the city where they had so done; this is also vanity"
"TO ME." These words, therefore, are by Jesus Christ very warily put in, and
serve for caution and encouragement; for caution, lest we take up in our coming
anywhere short of Christ; and for encouragement to those that shall in their
coming, come past all; till they come to Jesus Christ. "And him that cometh to
me I will in no wise cast out."
Reader, if thou lovest thy soul, take this caution kindly at the hands of Jesus
Christ. Thou seest thy sickness, thy wound, thy necessity of salvation. Well, go
not to king Jareb, for he cannot heal thee, nor cure thee of thy wound (Hosea
5:13). Take the caution, I say, lest Christ, instead of being a Saviour unto
thee, becomes a lion, a young lion, to tear thee, and go away (Hosea 5:14).
There is a coming, but not to the Most High; there is a coming, but not with the
whole heart, but as it were feignedly; therefore take the caution kindly (Jer
3:10; Hosea 7:16).
"And him that cometh TO ME;" Christ as a Saviour will stand alone, because his
own arm alone hath brought salvation unto him. He will not be joined with Moses,
nor suffer John Baptist to be tabernacled by him. I say they must vanish, for
Christ will stand alone (Luke 9:28-36). Yea, God the Father will have it so;
therefore they must be parted from him, and a voice from heaven must come to bid
the disciples hear only the beloved Son. Christ will not suffer any law,
ordinance, statute, or judgment, to be partners with him in the salvation of the
sinner. Nay, he saith not, and him that cometh to my WORD; but, and him that
cometh to ME. The words of Christ, even his most blessed and free promises, such
as this in the text, are not the Saviour of the world; for that is Christ
himself, Christ himself only. The promises, therefore, are but to encourage the
coming sinner to come to Jesus Christ, and not to rest in them, short of
salvation by him. "And him that cometh TO ME." The man, therefore, that comes
aright, casts all things behind his back, and looketh at, nor hath his
expectations from ought, but the Son of God alone; as David said, "My soul, wait
thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock, and my
salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be moved" (Psa 62:5,6). His eye is to
Christ, his heart is to Christ, and his expectation is from him, from him only.
Therefore the man that comes to Christ, is one that hath had deep considerations
of his own sins, slighting thoughts of his own righteousness, and high thoughts
of the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ; yea, he sees, as I have said,
more virtue in the blood of Christ to save him, than there is in all his sins to
damn him. He therefore setteth Christ before his eyes; there is nothing in
heaven or earth, he knows, that can save his soul and secure him from the wrath
of God, but Christ; that is, nothing but his personal righteousness and blood.
[Import of the words IN NO WISE.]
"And him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." IN NO WISE: by these
words there is [First,] Something expressed; and [Second,] Something implied.
First, That which is expressed is Christ Jesus, his unchangeable resolution to
save the coming sinner; I will in no wise reject him, or deny him the benefit of
my death and righteousness. This word, therefore, is like that which he speaks
of the everlasting damnation of the sinner in hell-fire; "He shall by no means
depart thence;" that is, never, never come out again, no, not to all eternity
(Matt 5:26; 25:46). So that as he that is condemned into hell-fire hath no
ground of hope for his deliverance thence; so him that cometh to Christ, hath no
ground to fear he shall ever be cast in thither.
"Thus saith the Lord, If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of
the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel, for
all that they have done, saith the Lord" (Jer 31:37). "Thus saith the Lord, If
my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the
ordinances of heaven and earth, then will I cast away the seed of Jacob" (Jer
33:25,26). But heaven cannot be measured, nor the foundations of the earth
searched out beneath; his covenant is also with day and night, and he hath
appointed the ordinances of heaven; therefore he will not cast away the seed of
Jacob, who are the coming ones, but will certainly save them from the dreadful
wrath to come (Jer 50:4,5). By this, therefore, it is manifest, that it was not
the greatness of sin, nor the long continuance in it, no, nor yet the
backsliding, nor the pollution of thy nature, that can put a bar in against, or
be an hindrance of, the salvation of the coming sinner. For, if indeed this
could be, then would this solemn and absolute determination of the Lord Jesus,
of itself, fall to the ground, and be made of none effect. But his "counsel
shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure;" that is, his pleasure in this;
for his promise, as to this irreversible conclusion, ariseth of his pleasure; he
will stand to it, and will fulfil it, because it is his pleasure (Isa 46:10,11).
Suppose that one man had the sins, or as many sins as an hundred, and another
should have an hundred times as many as he; yet, if they come, this word, "I
will in no wise cast out," secures them both alike.
Suppose a man hath a desire to be saved, and for that purpose is coming in truth
to Jesus Christ; but he, by his debauched life, has damned many in hell; why,
the door of hope is by these words set as open for him, as it is for him that
hath not the thousandth part of his transgressions. "And him that cometh to me I
will in no wise cast out."
Suppose a man is coming to Christ to be saved, and hath nothing but sin, and an
ill-spent life, to bring with him; why, let him come, and welcome to Jesus
Christ, "And he will in no wise cast him out" (Luke 7:42). Is not this love that
passeth knowledge? Is not this love the wonderment of angels? And is not this
love worthy of all acceptation at the hands and hearts of all coming sinners?
[Hindrances in coming to Christ.]
Second, That which is implied in the words is, 1. The coming souls have those
that continually lie at Jesus Christ15 to cast them off. 2. The coming souls are
afraid that those will prevail with Christ to cast them off. For these words are
spoken to satisfy us, and to stay up our spirits against these two dangers: "I
will in no wise cast out."
1. For the first, Coming souls have those that continually lie at Jesus Christ
to cast them off. And there are three things that thus bend themselves against
the coming sinner.
(1.) There is the devil, that accuser of the brethren, that accuses them before
God, day and night (Rev 12:10). This prince of darkness is unwearied in this
work; he doth it, as you see, day and night; that is, without ceasing. He
continually puts in his caveats against thee, if so be he may prevail. How did
he ply16 it against that good man Job, if possibly he might have obtained his
destruction in hell-fire? He objected against him, that he served not God for
nought, and tempted God to put forth his hand against him, urging, that if he
did it, he would curse him to his face; and all this, as God witnesseth, "he did
without a cause" (Job 1:9-11; 2:4,5). How did he ply it with Christ against
Joshua the high-priest? "And he showed me Joshua," said the prophet, "the
high-priest, standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his
right hand to resist him" (Zech 3:1).
To resist him; that is, to prevail with the Lord Jesus Christ to resist him;
objecting the uncleanness and unlawful marriage of his sons with the Gentiles;
for that was the crime that Satan laid against them (Ezra 10:18). Yea, and for
aught I know, Joshua was also guilty of the fact; but if not of that, of crimes
no whit inferior; for he was clothed with filthy garments, as he stood before
the angel. Neither had he one word to say in vindication of himself, against all
that this wicked one had to say against him. But notwithstanding that, he came
off well; but he might for it thank a good Lord Jesus, because he did not resist
him, but contrariwise, took up his cause, pleaded against the devil, excusing
his infirmity, and put justifying robes upon him before his adversary's face.
"And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord that
hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee. Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
And he answered and spoke to those that stood before him, saying, Take away the
filthy garments from him; and unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine
iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment" (Zech
Again, how did Satan ply it against Peter, when he desired to have him, that he
might sift him as wheat? that is, if possible, sever all grace from his heart,
and leave him nothing but flesh and filth, to the end that he might make the
Lord Jesus loathe and abhor him. "Simon, Simon," said Christ, "Satan hath
desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." But did he prevail against
him? No: "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." As who should
say, Simon, Satan hath desired me that I would give thee up to him, and not only
thee, but all the rest of thy brethren -for that the word you imports -but I
will not leave thee in his hand: I have prayed for thee, thy faith shall not
fail; I will secure thee to the heavenly inheritance (Luke 22:30-32).
(2.) As Satan, so every sin of the coming sinner, comes in with a voice against
him, if perhaps they may prevail with Christ to cast off the soul. When Israel
was coming out of Egypt to Canaan, how many times had their sins thrown them out
of the mercy of God, had not Moses, as a type of Christ, stood in the breach to
turn away his wrath from them! (Psa 106:23). Our iniquities testify against us,
and would certainly prevail against us, to our utter rejection and damnation,
had we not an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John
The sins of the old world cried them down to hell; the sins of Sodom fetched
upon them fire from heaven, which devoured them; the sins of the Egyptians cried
them down to hell, because they came not to Jesus Christ for life. Coming
sinner, thy sins are no whit less than any; nay, perhaps, they are as big as all
theirs. Why is it then, that thou livest when they are dead, and that thou hast
a promise of pardon when they had not? "Why, thou art coming to Jesus Christ;"
and therefore sin shall not be thy ruin.
(3.) As Satan and sin, so the law of Moses, as it is a perfect holy law, hath a
voice against you before the face of God. "There is one that accuseth you, even
Moses," his law (John 5:45). Yea, it accuseth all men of transgression that have
sinned against it; for as long as sin is sin, there will be a law to accuse for
sin. But this accusation shall not prevail against the coming sinner; because it
is Christ that died, and that ever lives, to make intercession for them that
"come to God by him" (Rom 8; Heb 7:25).
COME AND WELCOME TO JESUS CHRIST: Part Four