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First. How Christ has invited you to come to him, with promises that he will accept of you, if you do so. Christ in his word often invites those that are in your circumstances; whether we consider your circumstances as a lost sinner, or as a sinner under anxiety and concern about your condition. If we consider your circumstances merely as a lost sinner, Christ invites you; for he is often inviting and calling on sinners to come to him. Prov. viii. 4. "Unto you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men." And chapter ix. 4, 5; "Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither; and ye that want understanding, come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine that I have mingled." Rev. iii. 20. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." Rev. xxii. 17. "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come." Or if we consider your circumstances as a sinner burdened in your soul with concern about your condition; such are especially invited by Christ. Matth. xi. 28. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And Isaiah lv. 1. "Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters ;" and John vii. 37, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and That Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, shows what a joint encouragement these invitations are for you to come to Christ in two ways:
(1.) It shows that as Christ invited such sinners, when these invitations were spoken and penned, so he does now, for he is the same now that he was then; so that you are to look on the invitations that you find in your bible not only as invitations that were made then when they were first spoken or written, but that are made now. Christ makes them now as much as he made them then. Those invitations which proceeded out of Christ's mouth when he was on earth are made to you now as much as if they now this moment proceeded from Christ's mouth; for there is no alteration in Christ; he is the same as ever he has been; so that when you read or hear any of the invitations of Christ, you may look upon them as if they now came from his blessed lips.
(2.) It shows that if you come to Christ, he will surely prove to be the same in accepting that he is in inviting. Christ will be consistent with himself. He will not appear one way in calling and inviting you, and then another way in his treatment of you when you come to accept of his invitation. Christ will not appear with two faces, with a pleasant winning face in inviting, and with a frowning countenance in his treatment of persons that come at his call; for he is ever the same. You see that Christ is exceedingly gracious and sweet in his invitations ; and he surely will be as gracious and sweet in his acceptance of you; if you close with his call. And then Christ does not
merely invite, he also promises, that if you accept of his invitation, he will not reject you. John vi. 37. "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." He that is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, will be found the same in fulfilling, that he is in promising.
Secondly. How Christ has treated those that have come to him heretofore. Christ in times past has graciously received those that have come to him; he has made them welcome; he has embraced them in the arms of his love; he has admitted them to a blessed and eternal union with himself, and has given them a right to all the privileges of the sons of God; and he is the same still, that he has been heretofore. We have an account in scripture of many that came to him; we have an account in the history of Christ's life of many that accepted his calls, and we have an account in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, of multitudes that believed in him; but we read of none that ever were rejected by him. And we ourselves have seen many that we have reason to think Christ has accepted on their coming to him, many that have been great sinners, many that have been old hardened sinners, many that had been backsliders, and many that had been guilty of quenching the spirit of God. And he is the same still; he is as ready to receive such sinners now as he was then. Christ never yet rejected any that came to him: he has always been the same in this respect; he is so now; and so he surely will be still.
2. There is in this doctrine great encouragement to all persons to look to Christ under all manner of difficulties and afflictions; and that especially from what appeared in Christ when he was here. We have an account, in the history of Christ, of great numbers under a great variety of afflictions and difficulties, resorting to him for help; and we have no account of his rejecting one person who came to him in a friendly manner for help, under any difficulty whatever. But on the contrary, the history of his life is principally filled up with miracles that he wrought for the relief of such. When they came to him, he presently relieved them, and always did it freely without money or price. We never read of his doing any thing for any person as hired to it, by any reward that was offered him. And he helped persons fully, he completely delivered them from those difficulties under which they laboured. And by the doctrine of the text we learn that though he is not now upon earth, but in heaven, yet he is the same that he was then. He is as able to help, and he is as ready to help under every kind of difficulty. Here is great encouragement for persons who are sick to look to Christ for healing, and for their near friends to carry their
case to Christ; for how ready was Christ, when on earth, to help those that looked to him under such difficulties! and how sufficient did he appear to be for it; commonly healing by laying on his hand, or by speaking a word! And we read of his healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. Persons under the most terrible and inveterate diseases were often healed. And Christ is the same still. And here is great encouragement for mourners to look to Christ for comfort; for we read of Christ's pitying such; as in the case of the widow of Nain, Luke vii. 12, 13, &c. "And so he wept with those that wept, and groaned in spirit, and wept with compassion for Martha and Mary, when he saw their sorrow for the loss of their brother Lazarus, John xi. 32, &c. And he is the same still; he is as ready to pity those that are in affliction now as he was then.
And here is great encouragement for those that are exercised with the temptations of Satan; for how often do we read of Christ casting out Satan from those of whom he had the sirongest possession! and Christ is the same still. And whoever are under spiritual darkness, from the consideration of their own sinfulness, have encouragement hence to look to Christ for comfort; for if they do so, he will be ready to say to them, as he did to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee;" for he is still the same that he was then.
V. The truth taught in the text may be applied by way of Consolation to the Godly. You may consider that you have in him an unchangeable Saviour, who, as he has loved you and undertaken for you from eternity, and in time has died for you before you were born, and has since converted you by his grace, and brought you out of a blind, guilty, and undone condition, savingly home to himself; so he will carry on his work in your heart; he will perfect what is yet lacking in you, in order to your complete deliverance from sin, and death, and all evil, and to your establishment in complete and unalterable blessedness. From the unchangeableness of your Saviour, you may see how he thinks of that chain in Rom. viii. 29, 30. "For whom he did foreknow them he also did predestinate, and whom he did predestinate them he also called, and whom he called them he also justified, and whom he justified them he also glorified." The Saviour has promised you very great and precious blessings in this world; and things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, in the world to come; and from his unchangeableness you may be assured that the things which he has promised he will also perform.
You may from this doctrine see the unchangeableness of his love; and therefore, when you consider how great love he seemed to manifest, when he yielded himself up to God a sacrifice for you, in his agony and bloody sweat in the garden, and when he went out to the place of his crucifixion bearing his own cross, you may rejoice that his love now is the same that it was then.
And so when you think of past discoveries which Christ has made of himself in his glory, and in his love to your soul, you may comfort yourself that he is as glorious, and his love to you is as great, as it was in the time of these discoveries.
You may greatly comfort yourself that you have an unchangeable friend in Christ Jesus. Constancy is justly looked upon as a most necessary and most desirable qualification in a friend; that he be not fickle, and so that his friendship cannot be depended on as that of a steady sure friend. How excellent his friendship is, you may learn from his manner of treating his disciples on earth, whom he graciously treated as a tender father his children; meekly instructing them, most friendlily conversing with them, and being ready to pity them, and help them, and forgive their infirmities. And then you may consider this doctrine, and how it thence appears that he is the same still that he was then, and ever will be the same.
From the unchangeableness of your Saviour, you may be assured of your continuance in a state of grace. As to yourself, you are so changeable, that, if left to yourself, you would soon fall utterly away; there is no dependence on your unchangeableness; but Christ is the same, and therefore, when he has begun a good work in you he will finish it; as he has been the author, he will be the finisher of your faith. Your love to Christ is in itself changeable; but his to you is unchangeable, and therefore he will never suffer your love to him utterly to fail. The apostle gives this reason why the saints' love to Christ cannot fail, viz. that his love to them never can fail.
From the unchangeableness of Christ you may learn the unchangeableness of his intercession, how he will never cease to intercede for you. And from this you may learn the unalterableness of your heavenly happiness. When once you have entered on the happiness of heaven, it never shall be taken from you, because Christ, your Saviour and friend, who bestows it on you, and in whom you have it, is unchangeable. He will be the same for ever and ever, and therefore so will be your happiness in heaven. As Christ is an unchangeable Saviour, so he is changeable portion. That may be your rejoicing, that however your earthly enjoyments may be removed, Christ can never fail.
Your dear friends may be taken away and you suffer many losses; and at last you must part with all those things. Yet you have a portion, a precious treasure, more worth, ten thousand times, than all these things. That portion cannot fail you, for you have it in him, who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.