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spent three or four and thirty years in poverty, labor, and contempt, in purchasing redemption, at last finished the purchase by closing his life under such extreme sufferings as you have heard ; and so by his death, and continuing for a time under the power of death, completed the whole.
This is the person you reject and despise. You make light of all the glory of his person, and of all the glorious love of God the Father, in sending him into the world, and all his wonderful love appearing in the whole of this affair. That precious stone that God hath laid in Zion for a foundation in such a manner, and by such wonderful works as you have heard, is a stone set at nought by you.
Sinners sometimes are ready to wonder why the sin of unbelief should be looked upon as such a great sin : But if you consider what you have heard, how can you wonder? If it be so, that this Saviour is so great a Saviour, and this work so great a work, and such great things have been done in order to it, truly there is no cause of wonder that the sin of unbelief, or the rejection of this Saviour, is spoken of in scripture as such a dreadful sin, so provoking to God, and what brings greater guilt than the sins of the worst of the Heathen, who never heard of those things, nor have had this Saviour offered to them.
II. What has been said, affords matter of reproof to those, who, instead of believing in Christ, trust in themselves for salvation. It is a common thing with men to take it upon themselves to purchase salvation for themselves, and so to do that great work which Christ came into the world to do. Are there none such here who trust in their prayers, and their good conversations, and the pains they take in religion, and the reformation of their lives, and in their self denial, to recommend them to God, to make some atonement for their past sins, and to draw the heart of God to them?
Consider three things :
1. How great a thing that is which you take upon you.... You take upon you to do the work of the great Saviour of the world. You trust in your own doings to appease God for your sins, and to incline the hcart of God to you. Though you are poor, worthless, vile, polluted worms of the dust; yet
so arrogant are you,
upon you that very work that the only begotten Son of God did when upon earth, and that he became man to capacitate himself for, and in order to which God spent four thousand years in all the great dispensations of his providence in the government of the world, aiming chiefly at this, to make way for Christ's coming to do this work. This is the work that you take upon yourself, and foolishly think yourself sufficient for it ; as though your prayers, and other performances, were excellent enough for this purpose. Consider how vain is the thought which you enter, tain of yourself. How must such arrogance appear in the sight of Christ, whom it cost so much to make a purchase of salvation, when it was not to be obtained even by him, so great and glorious a person, at a cheaper rate than his wading through a sea of blood, and passing through the midst of the furnace of God's wrath. And how vain must your arrogance appear in the sight of God, when he sees you imagining yourself sufficient, and your worthless, polluted performances excellent enough for the accomplishing of that work of his own Son, to prepare the way for which he was employed in ordering all the great affairs of the world for so many ages!
2. If there be ground for you to trust, as you do, in your own righteousness, then all that Christ did to purchase salvation when on earth, and all that God did from the first fall of man to that time to prepare the way for it, is in vain. Your self righteousness charges God with the greatest folly, as though he has done all things in vain, even so much in vain, that he has done all this to bring about an accomplishment of that which you alone, a little worm, with your poor polluted prayers, and the little pains you take in religion, mingled with all that hypocrisy and filthiness, are sufficient to accomplish for yourself without Christ's help. For if you can appease God's anger, and can commend yourself to God by these means, then you have no need of Christ ; but he is dead in vain : Gal. ii. 21. “ If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."
If you can do this by your prayers and good works, Christ might have spared his pains, he might have spared his blood : He might have kept within the bosom of his Father, without coming down into this evil world to be despised, reproached, and persecuted to death ; and God needed not to have busied himself, as he did for four thousand years together, causing sp many changes in the state of the world all that while, in order to the bringing about that which you, as little as you are, can accomplish in a few days, only with the trouble of a few sighs, and groans, and prayers, and some other religious performances. Consider with yourself what greater folly could you have devised to charge upon God than this, to do all those things before and after Christ came into the world so needlessly ; when, instead of all this he might only haye called you forth, and committed the business to you, which you think you can do so easily.
Alas! How blind are natural men ! How sottish are the thoughts they have of things ! And especially how vain are the thoughts which they have of themselves! How ignorant of their own littleness and pollution ! How do they exalt themselves up to heaven! What great things do they assume to themselves!
3. You that trust to your own righteousness, arrogate to yourselves the honor of the greatest thing that ever God him. self did ; not only as if you were sufficient to perform divine works, and to accomplish some of the great works of God; but such is your pride and vanity, that you are not content without taking upon you to do the very greatest work that ever God himself wrought, even the work of redemption.... You see by what has been said, how God has subordinated all his other works to this work of redemption. You see how God's works of providence are greater than his works of creation, and that all God's works of providence, from the beginning of the generations of men, were in order to this, to make way for the purchasing of redemption. But this is what you take upon yourself. To take on yourself to work out redemp. tion, is a greater thing than if you had taken it upon you to create a world. Consider with yourself what a figure you, a poor worm, would make, if you should seriously go about to create such a world as God did, should swell in your own con:
ceit of yourself, should deck yourself with majesty, pretend to speak the word of power, and call an universe out of nothing, intending to go on in order, and say, “Let there be light: Let there be a firmament,” &c. But then consider, that in attempting to work out redemption yourself, you attempt a greater thing than this, and are serious in it, and will not be beat off from it; but strive in it, and are full of the thought of yourself that you are sufficient for it, and always big with hopes of accomplishing it.
You take upon you to do the very greatest and most difficult part of this work, viz. to purchase redemption. Christ can accomplish other parts of this work without cost, without any trouble and difficulty : But this part cost him his life as well as innumerable pains and labors, with very great ignominy and contempt besides. Yet this is that part which selfrighteous persons go about to accomplish for themselves. If all the angels in heaven had been sufficient for this work, would God have set himself to effect such things as he did in order to it, before he sent his Son into the world ? And would he ever have sent his own Son, the great Creator and God of the angels, into the world, to have done and suffered such things?
What selfrighteous persons take to themselves, is the same work that Christ was engaged in when he was in his agony and bloody sweat, and when he died on the cross, which was the greatest thing that ever the eyes of angels beheld. This, as great as it is, they imagine they can do the same that Christ accomplished by it. Their selfrighteousness does in effect charge Christ's offering up himself in these sufferings, as the greatest instance of folly that ever men or angels saw, instead of being the most glorious display of the divine wisdom and grace that ever was seen. Yea, selfrighteousness makes all that Christ did through the whole course of his life, and all that he said and suffered through that whole time, and his incarnation itself, and not only so, but all that God had been doing in the great dispensations of his providence from the beginning of the world to that time, as all nothing, but a scene of the most wild, and extreme, and transcendent folly.
Is it any wonder, then, that a selfrighteous spirit is so represented in scripture, and spoken of, as that which is most fatal to the souls of men ? And is it any wonder, that Christ is represented in scripture as being so provoked with the Pharisees and others, who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and were proud of their goodness, and thought that their own performances were a valuable price of God's favor and love?
Let persons hence be warned against a selfrighteous spirit. You that are seeking your salvation, and taking pains in religion, take heed to yourselves that you do not trust in what you do ; that you do not harbor any such thoughts ; that God now, seeing how much you are reformed, how you take pains in religion, and how you are sometimes affected, will be pacified towards you with respect to your sins, and on account of it will not be so angry for your former sins ; and that you
shall gain on him by such things, and draw his heart to show you mercy; or at least that God ought to accept of what you do, so as to be inclined by it in some measure to forgive you, and have mercy on you. If you entertain this thought, that God is obliged to do it, and does not act justly if he refuse to regard your prayers and pains, and so quarrel with God, and complain of him for not doing, this shows what your opinion is of your own righteousness, viz. that it is a valuable price of salvation, and ought to be accepted of God as such. Such complaining of God, and quarrelling with him, for not taking more notice of your righteousness, plainly shows that you are guilty of all that arrogance that has been spoken of, thinking yourself sufficient to offer the price of your own salvation.
III. What has been said on this subject, affords matter of reproof to those who carelessly neglect the salvation of Christ; such as live a senseless kind of life, neglecting the business of religion and their own souls for the present, not taking any course to get an interest in Christ, or what he has done and suffered, or any part in that glorious salvation he has purchased by that price, but rather have their minds taken up about the gains of the world, or about the vanities and pleasures of youth, and so make light of what they hear from time to time