And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.—Acts 4.32.

 
Sermons

By

William Guthrie

From:
Sermons in Times of Persecution

SERMON X.1
"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness."—Isa. 55.1,2.
THERE is in this chapter a proclaimed market, such as was never heard of, even the most pleasant, most substantial, and most glorious market that ever was; the most glorious wares; the most precious wares; the dearest bought and cheapest sold that ever any wares were. Here we have the most free and lawful invitation to all sorts of persons to come and have them. They shall get them and pay nothing for them. Now there is in this chapter

1st, An invitation to all persons in all places, to come and receive Jesus Christ, the King of kings, Lord of lords, and Prince of peace, who is even among our hands in the gospel, wherein He manifests Himself. Now that He offers Himself, take Him, and you are welcome to Him. Any person who hath anything ado with Him, come; for He is now seeking employment to be given Him. He hath balms for all wounds, salves for all sores, and cures for all sorts of diseases. And,

2ndly, There are some objections against this coming, and these He solves, and uses various motives and invitations to encourage souls to come unto Him and buy. Such are the following:—

1. The market is free. He is seeking nothing from you, but hath all glorious things to give you. Therefore, ye are fools if ye will not come and take when ye have nothing to give.

2. If ye will not come, your well-doing is over. Your doom is, "Depart for ever;" and do what ye can, ye shall not prosper, nor get any soul-satisfaction any other way. And,

3. If ye will come, ye need not be afraid of wrath and justice. Ye shall not have that to say that ye dare not come for fear He execute justice upon you. The Father took Christ Jesus to be your Cautioner or Surety. Christ shall stand for you and manage in your room or stead. He will manage all that concerns you, both with regard to the guilt and the pollution of sin; for the punishment of sin, if ye will but accept of Him to be your Cautioner or Surety, He shall answer for all your wrongs, as if they had been done in His own person, and He shall stand for them, and ye shall go free. And,

4. Ye may think it a great honour and prerogative that ever the like of you is allowed to come near Christ, instead of saying ye will not come unto Him. For God hath a mind to make Him unspeakably honourable in His kingdom, think ye of Him what ye will. For many shall come out of all kindreds, kingdoms, and nations, like flocks of sheep, and shall cast down their crowns at His footstool, even those that have never yet heard of Him; and what a shame will it be for you to be the last of all in paying your respects to Him?

5. If ye will not come and close with Him now in the offers of the gospel, wherein He is offered unto you, take care that ye sit not your time of the market; for there is but a set time of His offers, wherein He will be found of you.

But there are two formidable objections, which are these:—

Objection 1. We are so abominable, and have provoked God so often, that we think it cannot stand with His justice to accept of such traitors, though we should come. But God answers, "Away with such chat; for my thoughts are not like your thoughts, saith the Lord; they are as far above them as the heavens are above the earth."

Objection 2. Say some, "Ye may promise us fair words enough; but in the mean time, we get nothing in our hands, but bare words." "That is true," says God, "but I think My word effectual enough to perform anything I can promise; for I am both powerful enough, and willing enough to perform it. Besides My word must prove itself effectual, for it must be for a name, and for a praise unto Me in all generations." And then He hints at the deliverance of the people of the Jews from their bondage. So much for the meaning of this chapter. We now return, to make some improvement of it in the way of comparing it with the former chapter, in which ye heard many a precious promise made to the Church and her children. And now God will have them apply and bring home all these to their own souls, in closing with Christ; wherein we observe,

That whatever promise was made to the Church, all the members of it should believe, and apply them to themselves in the way of closing with Christ. And now we enter upon the words, wherein there are:—

  1. The King's proclamation making way for our coming to the market, in the words, "Ho, every one."
  2. A public intimation of the goods that are to be had at this market, and these are "water," "wine," and "milk."
  3. The manner in which these goods are to be viewed.
  4. The duty of the party to come, and a dehortation from any other way in these words, "Wherefore do ye spend your labour for that which is nought?"
  5. An exclusion from salvation in any other way than by coming unto Christ, and receiving Him as He offereth Himself in the gospel.
I return,

I. To the first, which is the proclamation openly made for coming unto Christ. "Jesus stood, and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." Now Christ is crying this day, who will come unto Him? He is crying to deaf folk who never heard, "Will ye hear, and believe the word preached? I will make you see, ye blind folk, who are running upon imminent hazard, Ho! are there any folk who have wounds to heal? here is balm for you. Is there any man here who desires to be made clean? here is water to cleanse you. Is there any who have sores to heal? come, here is salve for you. Are there any fractured bones amongst you? here is healing for you. Are there any hard hearts amongst you? here is repentance for you. Are there any confused with darkness amongst you? come, here is light for you. Do any desire to be taught? here is teaching for you. Do you desire to be made friends with God? here is reconciliation for you. Would any be borne up under their crosses? here is strength for them. Is there any person who judges himself, though they suppose they are beguiling themselves? here is counsel for you. Come unto me and I will tell you where you are, and what ye are doing." But oh! what is the matter that we have to say unto you, that few of you will come to Christ, though ye know yourselves to be far from Him? The reason why a proclamation must be made before we come to this market, is,

1. That the King may declare publicly what goodwill He bears to the commonwealth of Israel. He would much rather have folk to be converted and live, than die and perish.

2. He makes it public, that He may evidence His power and sovereignty over all things.

3. He makes it public, that the mouth of all objectors to the contrary may be stopped.

4. That all his enemies may come to a rendezvous and see whether they are able to stop Him.

5. He proclaims it publicly, that all may know that the market has but a set time, wherein Jesus Christ is offered to souls; and therefore they should bestir themselves in the time of the market. Go not away, then, ere ye get the wares secured to yourselves, seeing the great God of heaven has made an open proclamation for all sorts of persons to come to Christ. Let no person be so foolish as to despise the King's proclamation.

He makes an open proclamation, that you may know that there is a reality in closing with Christ in the Gospel. Consider this, all ye who never knew anything of your guilt, nor had the sense of it, nor had ever had any debate about your closing with Christ for your recovery out of your lost state and condition. I say, such are to look upon themselves as the most vile and the maddest creatures that ever were known. They even savour of the earth. Any person that is truly acquainted with the exercises of closing with Christ, and dare say that they have Him for their portion, their countenance shall be made to shine in heavenly glory. As to any person who supposes he has any hatred of his sins, and yet, through a sense of guilt, dares not venture upon closing with Christ, I say, as long as he stands on this side of Christ, he shall have no true peace of mind.

Now we shall give you some motives that we think may put you upon a peremptory closing with Christ. And consider—

1. That these offers are threatened to be removed. God knows how long you may have them. Now, while you have your day of the Gospel, improve and make use of Christ for your salvation, by closing your interest with Him.

2. Though it should please Him to continue the same day of the standing of the Gospel, it will not stand long without a storm and many a winter blast blowing against it and its professors. Since the winter is approaching, ye have need to look that your clothes be provided for you, lest ye go with the storms and dint of the weather.

3. And is not God now plaguing all the land? We conceive it is for no other reason but because people will not flee from their idols, and cleave to Christ, and close with Him for their alone portion. But,

II. We come to the wares of this market, and these are of three sorts—(1) Water, (2) wine, (3) milk.

With regard to water, He is called "the water of life;" with regard to wine, the spouse compares Him to "flagons of wine;" and with regard to milk, He bids His people suck out the "sincere milk of the word (which is Himself), that they may grow thereby." The reasons will be taken from the properties of each of these, which we shall consider separately for your better understanding of the point. And,

Firstly, (1.) Water, ye know, is good for washing and cleaning away of all filthiness. (2.) Water is good for the softening of any hard thing. (3.) Water is good for refreshing, or quenching of thirst. (4.) Water is good for curing hot and fiery humours. All these properties are to be found in Christ. Art thou one of the most filthy creatures upon the earth? Then Christ is that fountain opened for washing away your sin and uncleanness. Is the wrath of God burning in thy conscience for thy sin and uncleanness? Then Christ broke down the partition wall, and quenched justice and wrath, and became a curse for us. Hast thou an old hard heart, harder than anything thou ever sawest? I say, Christ can soften it, and pour out the spirit of repentance, and make one mourn for sin that never mourned for it before. Is thy conscience galled for sin that thou canst get no rest? Christ is a Prince for that end, to make peace in a soul that is out of peace. Hast thou a desire after Christ, and are all things nothing to thee for want of Him? Then come and venture upon Christ, and thou shalt be satisfied and filled with Him in such a manner that out of "thy belly shall flow living waters;" that is, thou shalt have full satisfaction in Him. Is thy case one of the most strange and wonderful in the world? Then Christ's name is also the Wonderful, Counsellor. Art thou afraid of the removal of the gospel, which would oblige thee to flee to the mountains, where thy soul would be famished for want of this water? Christ can be a little sanctuary, and preach to thee there Himself. "But I fear," says one, "for all that, I shall fall into some error or other for want of instruction." I say, Christ will feed thee, lead thee, and teach thee. "But," say you, "what will I have there to live upon, on the top of a bare mountain!" Why? Christ can feed thee there, according to His prophetical office? "But," say ye, "what if the gospel be not totally removed, but is tainted with some mixture that will prove poison to me?" I say, Christ will "lead thee by the way that thou shouldst go," even up unto His own bosom, which is the ocean from which the whole gospel flows, where thou shalt drink pure and clear water without any mixture at all. And if thou thinkest thou canst not get Him served there, He can write His law in thy inward parts, circumcise thy heart, and cause thee to serve Him.

Secondly, As for wine, ye know it is good for comforting a weak and heavy spirit. It is also good for reviving one that falls into fainting fits. It is likewise good for fitting a man for more than ordinary pieces of work. All these properties, and more, are to be found in Christ. Then look what case thou hast to propose; there is still something in Christ to answer it. Is thy case a dead case? Then Christ revives the dead and dry bones of Zion. Art thou not only dead, but so very dead that thou art past hopes of recovery? Then Christ can say to these dry and withered bones, Live. Is thy strength quite gone? Then come to Christ, and He will be thy strength and portion for ever. Thinkest thou thyself one of the most needy creatures in the world? Then Christ is that noble plant of renown, that puts life, and holds life, in all His branches. Hast thou no strength to resist an enemy? Then say, "When I am weak, then am I strong in the Lord." Art thou oppressed and borne down with an enemy, and hast thou lost all strength to resist? Then they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, and make them to face their enemy again. Is all thy strength so far spent that thou art sighing and going backward? Then Christ is that green fir-tree that holds in the spark of life in all the branches that are withered. And as for growth; hast thou such a case that for all the pains that have been taken upon thee thou hast never grown anything better Then Christ is the choice builder who makes all the stones of the house cement compactly together. Besides, He is that Sun of righteousness who arises with healing under His wings for all sorts of maladies and diseases, or kinds of diseases.

There are other reasons why Christ and all that believers have in Him, are compared to water, wine, and milk. And Christ represents Himself under these similitudes to hold out the variety of cures that are in Him, suited to the variety of diseases in His people.

Then, all polluted people, come away to Christ; He has cleansing for you. All that are languishing under diseases, come away; He has cleansing for you. Here is a cure for all your diseases; strength for all your weaknesses; comfort under all your crosses and trials; growth under all your backwardness. He takes away the guilt of sin, and the filth of sin, and the punishment of it. He makes the blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk and go forward. He feeds the hungry with good things, binds up the broken-hearted, and dandles them upon His knees, and tenderly lays them in His bosom. We will say no more of that ocean of fulness that is in Christ, but this, "that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard it," nor is tongue able to express the bottomless fulness that is to be had in Christ. Oh, that He were made use of and got employment at our hands! How much more cheerful in this case would many souls be than they are! There would not be so many complaints amongst you; but we think all would be stirring up one another to speak unto His commendation; and that would be a sweet and comfortable life for you.

III. We come to the manner in which the party is desired to come and accept of Christ in this market of free grace. And, First, They are desired to come that are thirsty.

Secondly, Those that have no money. These are the only objects of Christ's free offers. For thirsty folk, it is clear from the fore-cited text: "Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." And for those who have no money: "Thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed," Now,

1st, For the first of these, viz., the thirsty. I shall speak to so many sorts of them that are invited to come.

1. Some are afraid of hell, and thirst principally for heaven, that they may be kept in life. These, perhaps, have no thoughts of Christ. I say to those who are afraid of hell, and would gladly be at heaven, ye must come to Christ for that, for Christ hath both the keys of heaven and hell at His side; it is He that must open heaven's gates, if ever ye get there. Therefore close with Christ for salvation, and ye need not be afraid that ye will not get heaven; but without Him heaven ye shall never see.

2. There is a sort that thirst principally after Christ; and give them all the world, they count it but loss and dung if they get not Christ. Give them evidences of their interest in Him, it will make up all their other losses. I say, I wot well ye should come and close with Christ; for He cries unto all, who have any desire after Him to come, and He will fulfil and satisfy all their desires. "Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

3. There is another sort that thirst after holiness; and these also are bidden come. But although this be good in itself, yet take care that ye thirst not more to be holy than to come unto Christ Himself, who must sanctify you, and make you holy by His Holy Spirit. And,

(1.) Beware of seeking holiness in order to make it a positive qualification, whereby ye may have it to say that ye have something in your hands to buy with, by which ye will spoil all the market; for the market is "without money, and without price."

(2.) I say, think ye ever to get the grace of holiness wrought within you until first ye venture your salvation on Christ, and take Him to be a righteousness unto you. Take Christ in the first place, and then seek holiness from Him. According to His own word, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Seek first righteousness, and then holiness. Ye would think him a foolish man that would look for apples on a tree that is not yet planted. So people are foolish to think that ever Christ will make one grow in holiness as long as they dare not venture their salvation upon Him. How can ye believe He will make you holy, as long as ye cannot believe in Him, or trust your salvation unto Him. But,

(3.) In the third place, Think not that we discommend holiness, or those who are seeking after it. No, God forbid; "for without holiness, no man shall see God." Our meaning here is, that people should think nothing of their holiness. For anything that they can do is but as "an unclean thing," which needs mercy for the imperfection of it. However, they must be earnest in following after commanded duties, for fear of offending God; and the due honour of their Maker should be the reason of holy duties. And,

(4.) I say, if once ye were well interested in Christ for salvation, then He would put a principle of holiness within you that would not let you take a liberty to sin, and would make you so walk in duties, that for a thousand worlds ye durst not do such things as the multitude do, who know nothing of Christ by closing with Him. Know ye what the apostle Paul, with all his holiness, says? "I count all things but loss and dung, that I may win Christ."

(5.) I say, every thought that puts Christ out of His place, is as much as to say, ye will shift for yourselves without Him. I say, that is even the conflict betwixt Christ and souls: they would still have something in themselves; and Christ will have all flesh as grass, still abasing themselves as nothing, and seeing there is a daily need of Him, and a daily hazard without Him.

4. A fourth sort that have a thirst, that lets them have no rest, and yet they are so stupid that they cannot tell what it is. But oh how glad would they be to have some person's counsel, that could tell them the right way; and how ready would they be to do anything that would relieve them. I say, let such wait on Christ for counsel, and close with Him, according to that word, "He that hath no light, and walks in darkness, and sees himself to be in that case, let him stay himself upon God, and come to Christ, and he shall give him light," Seek light from Him who, I am certain, will not deceive you.

5. A fifth sort are those who have some desire after Christ, and yet spend their strength upon the world, and its vanities. I say, these may also come to Christ, and close with Him in the way of forsaking their idols. "Thou hast played the harlot with many lovers, yet return unto me, and I will have compassion upon thee, saith the Lord."

2ndly, The second sort of people invited to come to this market, are those who have no money. And,

1. Is there any man that has no money in his purse, and yet knows not where to get any, let him come to this market, and close with Christ.

2. Those who have nothing in their purses, and yet know where to get it, but dare not come to take it, I say, here is your warrant to come holden out to you, subscribed and sealed with the King's seal.

3. There are a sort of poor folk, poor indeed, while they know not that they are poor, but imagine that they are rich enough; they think that nothing is awanting to them. I say unto you, Atheists of this kind, if ye were once brought so far as to suspect yourselves, and were but afraid of beguiling yourselves, ye might make it an errand to come to Christ, and close with Him, that ye might get a better sight of yourselves, according to that third chapter of the Revelation before-cited. So that if thirsters, and those who have no money, are to be the only party at Christ's banquet this day, and the only persons who are to taste of these fat things, then anyone that sees his need, and has any desire of Christ and these things; and sees that he has nothing in himself to help him; and sees any worth in a Christ to do him good; let such a one come away to Him; here is your market. Here is a rich supply of all your wants.

We know that there will be some objections to this, proposed by some; but it will not be by those that are convinced they have no money. We know few that can boast of their duties or works at this time; we think all may be ashamed of their naughtiness. But we know of some that will say, that they are not of those who are thirsty, and therefore they should not come. Their objection will be this:—

(1.) A thirsty man is pained and troubled under his thirst; but this I am not. I have neither pain nor thirst.

(2.) We say that a thirsty man is not only troubled, but is impatient under his thirst; but this I am not; I have neither trouble nor pain for want of Christ; neither am I seeking after Him, or at pains to find Him.

(3.) A thirsty man is not only pained, and gets no rest under thirst; but even so much pained that he cannot forget it. But it is not so with me; I have no trouble for want of Christ; nor am I in pain to get Him; and besides, any thought or desire I have is soon forgotten. And how can any person in this case be said to thirst for Christ, and be among those that should close with Him this day?

1st, In answer to this:—Dare you say that Jesus Christ, in this text, excludes any person that has the least desire to be interested in Him? Here is a word for that. Boaz, who was a type of Christ, said to Ruth, "When thou art athirst, go unto the vessel and drink of that which the young men have drawn." So I say unto you, If ye have any desire after Christ, He is here offered unto you. Go, take Him, and close with Him. "And any man who will come, let him come, and drink of the water of life freely." But who dare put another qualification upon their closing with Christ, than what He has set down here in His word?

2ndly, I say, ye must consider that everyone gets not a like degree of thirst after Christ. To some the King measures with larger measure; and to some with less, according to His absolute sovereignty. How dare you be so bold as to make any qualification necessary that He has not set down Himself? Dost thou see any need of closing with Him? Seest thou any need of the pardon of sin, or any need of strength to be borne through, or any diseases thou hast to be cured? Seest thou that thou art not able to make any help to thyself? and that thou canst not remedy thy case? Seest thou any merit in Christ? Come then, and close with Him for salvation, in order to be freed from the punishment of sin, and to be cured of all your diseases, and to have strength for all your weakness. For, think ye ever to get a constant dependence on Him, adherence to Him, hunger after Him, and thirsting for strength to cleave to Him, if ye close not with Him first for salvation? But,

3rdly, I say it may be ye have resolved upon it beforehand never to close with Him till He give you such a measure of holiness, and then ye would venture your soul's salvation on Him if invited to it. But when ye would think that Christ is bound to you by your holiness, and ye would think salvation, so to speak, to be out of Christ's common. And,

Lastly, I say that the text excludes none living, whether they have any good desires or not. If they have any need of Him, let them come, be what they will. If ye be so self-witted that ye will not come, stand your hazard. If you can provide for yourselves without Him, never come near Him. If ye will not come till ye get something in your hands to put you out of His common, then ye shall not come unto Him, for that ye shall never get. And if ye remain as ignorant as stocks and stones of the knowledge of God, ye may not come unto His table; but if ye see your need of Christ, and are under the sense of sin, and behold anything in Him that will do you good, then ye may come forward to the table of the Lord, in the way of closing with Him as your Saviour, and receiving His wine and milk without money and without price.


Footnotes:

1. This sermon seems to have been preached immediately before the celebration of the Lord's Supper.