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It is far otherwise with the weary. They can scarcely tell where they feel most. They cry, as in Psa. xxxi. 9, 10, “ Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly. For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.” In figurative language, should they attempt to move and employ any member, they find them all defective and diseased. Their hand is withered. Their eye is blind from their birth. Their legs are lame, and their loins filled with a loathsome disease. They find in experience “ that there is no soundness in the flesh because of the Lord's anger: neither is there any rest in their bones because of sin.” They are said to be rich, and increased in goods, and standing in need of nothing. In direct opposition to this, the weary know and feel that “ they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Nay, these are the very things which make them weary. It is a great part of their distress that they are naked, and have nothing to cover their shame, and defend them from the storm; and that they are blind, and neither see their danger nor deliverance. Extreme poverty completes their misery, and makes them weary, as they have nothing to buy food, medicine, or raiment. If Job was weary when a wind from every quarter blew down his son's house, and destroyed his children; the weary find that all their refuges were built on sand. The waves and winds dashed against them with fury, and levelled them with the ground. Finding themselves destitute of shelter,
and uncertain but the next surge may hurt them into the ocean of destruction, they cannot but be weary. In fine, these of an opposite character either think little about eternity, or reckon themselves prepared for it. They have established a righteousness of their own, or trust to the general mercy of God. Having fasted twice a week, they are disposed to say, with the Pharisee, “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers; or even as this publican:” or with the young man, “ all these things have I kept from my youth up.” I pray to God, do good to my neighbour, and injure no man; and I have no doubt of future acceptance and eternal reward. Like these, the weary in the text once thought themselves possessed of a righteousness of their own, enough to cover and cherish every part. Having wrought it out, they tried it on as a robe; but to their sad disappointment, instead of finding it like the clean garment of salvation, or the seamless robe of righteousness, sufficient to defend and adorn, they found it only filthy rags. Viewing themselves in the mirror of the law, covered with their own righteousness; instead of easing the smart, the sight filled them with horror and made them more weary. Though disappointed when they tried it on in the day-time, they fondly thought it might ease their pain in the darkness and silence of the night. Here, too, they were sadly deceived. Stretching themselves on it, they found it too short; and from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot it made every member awfully weary. But, had their pain been tolerable, (as it was not) their covering was unspeakably too narrow. Thus,
neither day nor night, can they enjoy a moment's ease; and how can they but be weary !
2. The weary may be known from other branches of the same character. As the careless and unconcerned are variously described, so are awakened sinners, and afflicted saints. These descriptions are characteristic of the weary. They labour and are heavy laden. Nothing is more calculated to make one weary than an insupportable load. They are sinners. They have got a discovery of their guilt, feel it a burden too heavy, and are ready to sink under it. They commonly have many other burdens. They are loaded with affliction, and tossed with temptation. Their way, too, is difficult, and dangerous, and this makes them weary. They are poor in spirit and self-emptied. Formerly they trusted in themselves, but “ the commandment camé, sin revived, and they died.” Now they see nothing about themselves that can either afford them the least ease at present, or ground to hope for it at any future period. Thus overwhelmed and in perplexity, they cry, all refuge failed me, and no man cared for my soul. They are hungry and thirsty. These sensations in the extreme, must make them weary. Hotly pursued by the law, and the terrors of the Lord, they thirst for water, and there is none. Far off in a distant country, like the prodigal, they hunger, and fain would eat; but they can have no bread. In extreme want they would fill their bellies with the husks that the swine did eat; and no man gave unto them. But, should they receive the husks, like some roots they would neither satisfy their hunger nor abate their pain ; or rather,
powerfully persuade sinners to come to Christ, and escape the terror of the Lord.
· All these things he would do, firmly persuaded that they were means of God's appointment, which he had promised to bless. This would make him speak with authority and courage, and animate his heart with hopes of success. He knew that the Lord would gather his own to himself, and that he would bless these means for that end. He knew the grace and faithfulness of him who had promised to go forth working, when his servants went forth preaching. He relied on Christ's faithful promise that he would be with him always to the end. Constrained by love, and animated by Divine faithfulness, however great his discouragements were, having received this ministry, he did not faint, but knowing the terror of the Lord, continued to persuade men.
We shall now subjoin some further application.
1. We may learn from this subject that moral suasion of itself will never change the heart, or bring a sinner to Christ. The Scriptures expressly assert this. They assure us that no man cometh unto Christ unless the Father draw him. We have many proofs in fact. Christ was infinitely able to argue. He was well acquainted with all the arts of persuasion; but “ no man received his testimony.” Paul had every possible advantage. He had excellent natural abilities, much literature, and great grace. He received his acquired endowments at the feet of Gamaliel, and made such progress, as made some conclude that much learning had made him mad. He received his
gracious qualifications in the third heavens. But, with all these attainments, he could never persuade or change a single heart. Not accompanied by Divine power, his best discourses adapted in every respect to his hearers, instead of bringing sinners to Christ, exposed him to the contemptuous titles of a babbler, a setter forth of strange gods, and an insignificant creature, rude in speech.
Moral suasion never did, and never will, produce love to Christ in the carnal heart, which is enmity. The utmost which the best reasoning can do in this matter, is to produce a cold, dry, uninfluencing light in the head, and some transient, uneasy emotions in the conscience; while the heart itself is left hard as the nether millstone. Sin is too strong for the best arguments. The hearts of men are fully set in them to do evil. The heart is dead, dark, shut, and makes positive exertions to keep out the light. The old man fights hard for his own safety, and the enjoyment of his lusts. If he appears at any time to yield, it is only a kind of ill-formed resolution, and insincere promise to repent at some future period, and convenient season. The resolutions and engagements of the unrenewed heart are like those of one half awaké. He promises to rise, but instead of performing, instantly falls faster'asleep.
2. That it is of the greatest importance for Gospel hearers to know whether they are persuaded or not. All who are persuaded believe the terror of the Lord to be a great reality, that they themselves deserve Divine wrath, and are exposed to it. They believe that they must fall under that wrath, unless they are mercifully