John Welsh was in real earnest when he pled with his hearers and urged them fervently to unite with the Lord Jesus Christ by faith. The text of his sermon was Isaiah’s description of the Saviour suffering, bleeding, dying for sinners. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). This is not a Saviour to despise – this is the glorious Redeemer conquering sin and death by suffering and dying. The only hope of a sinner is to embrace Him by faith on account of His work on the cross. The following updated extract from John Welsh’s sermon, where he draws out the urgency of believing in Christ for salvation and the many incentives we have for doing so.
How should we receive Christ?
What way we are to close with a suffering Christ?
First, you must do it timeously. You must close with him instantly. At this very moment you must close with him. You must not stop to ponder what He has done for you, and what He has suffered for you, and how that is that you are made partakers of the benefits that He has purchased by His sufferings.
Secondly, you must close with Him deliberately. You may not do it in a sudden fit. A sudden dash at it will not do the turn. It must be a resolved business, after serious deliberation. So you must do it both instantly and advisedly, and the reason is, because I know that if you do not do it resolutely and deliberately, you are taking the best way to fall back again, and to turn your backs on Him when you meet with the cross.
Thirdly, as you must close with Christ deliberately, so you must not take him by halfs. You must take all Christ, as He offers Himself. He makes offer of Himself to be a king, and to be a priest, and to be a prophet, and you must take him for justification, and for sanctification. You must take him for a physician, and for a husband, to be a guide, to be a saviour and to be a redeemer – to be all things that you stand in need of.
And then, fourthly, you must close with Him cheerfully. You must close with whole Christ, with your whole soul. The whole soul must give its consent. You must not close with Him with your conscience only, and with your affections only, but you must close with Him with your whole soul.
On what terms should we embrace Christ?
And then the next thing is the terms upon which you are called to close with Him. I shall give you these two or three words that set out the terms.
The first you will see in Isaiah 55:7: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
You see another in Hosea 3:3: “Thou shalt abide for me for many days: thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another: so also will I be for thee.” You must abide for Him for many days; you must not turn to other lovers, but you must say that you are wedded to Him as your husband, and you must prefer Him above all others.
And then thirdly, you must close with His cross. If you are going to close with Him, you must take Him and His cross. O sirs! You must take Him and His cross. If any resolve to close with Him, you must also resolve to take Him with His cross, and to follow Him whithersoever He goeth, and to sell all, that you may follow Him. These are the terms in Psalm 45:10: “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thy own people, and thy father’s house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty.”
What are some motives for uniting with Christ?
The next thing that I am to speak to is the motives which we want you to be pressed with to close with Christ.
To receive peace and healing
Maybe this would be a reason to move you to close with him – the great benefits that He has purchased to those who will close with Him, i.e., both peace and healing.
If this does not prevail with you, I don’t know what will. O sirs, shall I go away and leave you this day? Dear friends, I do not leave you until I have pressed on you these motives to close with Jesus Christ. I long to bring you to close with Him, for you shall get both peace and healing in time, and peace after time.
You will get peace with God, and peace with your own consciences. You will get peace to your own souls, perfect peace. That one shall be kept in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon Him, and why? Because He has purchased that to those who close with him.
Poor backslidden sinners, who are ashamed of your backslidings, and hard hearted sinners, who are ashamed of your hard heartedness, will you come to Him? Will you close with Jesus Christ, and take what He has purchased with these wounds? If you would come and close with Him ye shall get healing.
To avoid being rebels against God
Here is another motive. As you would not want to be found traitors and rebels against the great God of heaven, you must close with Christ on pain of rebellion. “This is his command, that ye believe on the only begotten Son of God.” He commands, and therefore we command and charge you in His name, to close with Jesus Christ, on pain of eternal damnation, on pain of being found disobeyers of the gospel, and on pain of all the punishments that shall otherwise come upon you.
To give satisfaction to Christ
Close with Him, also, because He is a God who is greatly satisfied to have the benefits that He has purchased applied to sinners. He is greatly satisfied to have sinners making application of these benefits by closing with Him. If you want to give Him satisfaction for His benefits, and if you care about pleasing Him who is offering them, this is the way to satisfy Him, to close with Him.
To be responsive to all the calls you are getting
Many things call you to close with Him. You are called by your frequent sick-beds, whether sickness in your own persons, or sickness in your families. Also plenty other things are calling you too. The mercies of God are calling you. The judgements of God are calling you, and the torments of hell. You own unbelieving, sinful hearts are calling you, and your backslidden hearts. What then? Will you not give up your lusts and close with Him, and embrace Him? The angels are calling you, for they rejoice at the conversion of one soul. And you have the devil by all his temptations calling you. You have all these many calls to close with this suffering Lord Jesus Christ.
To be welcomed by Him
Why else should you close with Him? Because He takes it as a great proof of your sincerity, even when once you begin to say, “My Lord and my God.”
To honour the blood of the covenant
Close with Him then, as you do not want to be found guilty of trampling underfoot the blood of the covenant, and counting it an unholy thing. It is the very blood by which sinners are to be saved.
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