Four good responses to the good news
The Covenanters were a group of faithful ministers and Christians in Scotland who worked to uphold the principles of the National Covenant of 1638 and Solemn League and Covenant of 1643 in order to establish and defend Presbyterianism against the imposition of Episcopacy by the state. They suffered severe persecution through imprisonment, fines and execution rather than abandon their principles.
29 Feb, 2024

When the Lord Jesus came to do His work of redemption, it cost Him dearly. He suffered in His body and in His soul and indeed died for the sake of sinful people like you and me. Preaching on Isaiah 53, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities …” John Welsh of Irongray showed first the depth of Christ’s sufferings. He then asks, how should we respond? The following updated excerpt gives his four suggestions as to appropriate responses, concluding with a reminder of who should especially recognise themselves as summoned to act on the gospel call.

Now that I have spoken of the suffering Saviour, I desire this of you. Rouse yourselves up to be suitably affected with what I have spoken from these truths. There are three or four ways you should respond.

Wonder

And the first thing I would exhort you to be taken up with is wondering. What man or woman is there among you that can hear these things spoken of, and not wonder at it? That Christ should have suffered all this for the like of you and me! That He who is the Son of God should have quit heaven, and that the Son of God should have become man, that He should have been put so sore to it as to die — for sinners!

I cannot tell what calls for wonder from us, if this doesn’t. O the height! O the breadth! O the length! O the depth of this mystery! That the Son of God should have been put so sore to it as to die for sinners, and not only to die, but to drink the cup of the Father’s wrath! Who can hear this declared, and not wonder at the hearing of it? O wonder! O wonder at it! Wonder at the hearing of it!

Detest sin

Did our Lord Jesus Christ have to suffer such great sufferings? Well then, see how you should look on sin. Should not sin be very detestable to you, and very abominable? Should not be at very much pains to forsake sin, when it was sin that brought our blessed Lord Jesus Christ to undergo such great sufferings, sufferings which would have brought you to such sad condemnation, and to lie under the wrath of God eternally and eternally?

Sinners, I think that supposing there was nothing else to motivate you to forsake your sins, and to hate every false way, and to hate the very least word and thought of sin, that this might be a motive — that it brought our Lord Jesus Christ to undergo such great sufferings.

Love to Him will call for this. “All ye that love the Lord, hate evil” (Psalm 97:10).

Don’t disappoint Him

Our Lord Jesus Christ was brought to so many and so great sufferings. And He has undergone them so cheerfully. Has He not? And He is satisfied to see the travail of his soul.

O do not yet then do what you can to disappoint Him, while He is making offer of His blood to wash you! Do not do anything that will make Him regret that He shed His blood for the like of you! For when you do not give him a suitable meeting, you give him good reason to regret it, for you are doing what in you lies to make His sufferings of none effect.

Believe

But what I mainly want to exhort you to is what our Lord Jesus Christ exhorts you to. Remember, after His resurrection, when He came out of the grave, when His disciples were gathered together in a room for fear of the Jews, He came in there among them, and said, “Peace be unto you” (John 20:21). Remember that in the beginning of that chapter there was some word of His resurrection. Some of them affirmed that He was risen, yet others still thought it was only imaginary and a mistake. (Although angels came down from heaven and gave testimony that He was risen, yet some of them could not believe that!) When He comes in among them, what does He say to Thomas? Just the same as He says to us today. He holds out His hands and the hole in His side, and says, “Be not faithless, but believe!” That is the thing. “Reach hither your hands into the hole in My side, and be not faithless, but believe.”

That is the thing I have come here for today as a messenger of the living God. It is to let you see this day the wonderful, condescending love of Christ, and to say to you, “Reach hither the hand of your faith, and take a look at this bloodied Saviour who was crucified. Come, put in your fingers, put in your hand in the hole of that bloody side of His, and be not faithless, but believe!”

That is the great thing that Christ calls for. That is the great reason why He wants His sufferings told us. Why? So that it would bring His people to unite with Him — to give Him credit, and to believe in Him.

That is why I now come here, and say this to you, and bid you reach hither your hand, and be not faithless, but believe. The great reason why He wants His sufferings told is — so that you would close with this suffering Lord Jesus Christ. Come to Him, and be no more faithless, but believe! Say with Thomas, “My Lord, and my God!” As soon as Christ’s hands and His side were presented to him, Thomas could no longer stand out. If the same argument does not prevail with you, I wonder what will! Thomas said, “My Lord and my God! I can stand out no longer, for now I have seen the wonderful love of God! Now I see the wonderful love of Christ, which made Him undergo all these great sufferings! Now I have seen the wonderful excellency of the Saviour!”

Remember who this message is for

Allow me to emphasise this a little here, for this is the great goal which Christ has in mind in keeping up the preached gospel — so that you would believe, so that you would be saved, and brought to close with Jesus Christ.

So I here summon all of you, of all ranks of persons, to a serious frame. Compose your spirits suitable to the message that I am to declare to you. Men and women, I come to you now, and I present before you a bloody Christ, a suffering Saviour. I come to you, as He did to His disciples, and I say to you, “Reach out your hands to a bloody Saviour. Take a look of Him believingly. Look to Him, and close with Him. Look to Him. He has said, ‘Look unto Me, all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved!’ O come and take a look at this suffering Christ! Take a look at Him!”

You older people, maybe you have even been professing faith all your days, yet you never actually closed with Him. You have even thought it fashionable to believe in Jesus Christ, and yet to this day you have never done it. I summon you this very day at this present time to come and take a look of this suffering Jesus Christ, and stretch out the hand of your faith and close with Him, and come and say, “My Lord and my God!”

Secondly, I summon those who are outside of Christ — those who have never yet been hankering about to do it, and those who have made many attempts, but never came cleanly off in the doing of it. I summon you to come here, and stretch out your hands, and be not faithless, but believe. I summon you, whoremongers, adulterers, drunkards, or whatever you may be. Come to him, sinners! Come here and reach in your hands, and be not faithless, but believe, and close with this suffering Jesus Christ.

Will you let Him go away and not take the offer off His hand? and give Him no thanks for it? Shall He have that to say, that you would not take the offer, and that you would not give Him much thanks for His sufferings? Will you not take the benefits that He offers to you by His sufferings? I come here in His name, and offer you peace — will you not take it? I offer you healing in His name, and will you not take it off His hand?

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