23 MARCH (PREACHED 21 MARCH 1773)
Longsuffering and grace
‘Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.’ 1 Timothy 1:16
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Zephaniah 3:14–20
The whole power and authority is here ascribed to Jesus Christ. Though as Mediator he was the Father’s servant, he has life in himself and gives it to whom he pleases. It is he with whom we have to do. Too many in their views of attaining mercy, think little or nothing of Jesus Christ. But may we all take note that he is upon the throne and keeps the keys of life and death, of heaven and hell. If we enquire what is the will and pleasure of this great and only Potentate, we are told it is to show forth all longsuffering and grace. Having wrought our salvation by himself he bestows it freely. So his promises run: Whosoever will—him that cometh I will in no wise cast out. Because we are slow of heart to believe, he confirms his words by examples. You that think yourself not good enough to believe, or that your sins have shut you out from hope of mercy, think of Paul. Had you seen him when he was approaching Damascus, could you have thought him likely to be a vessel of mercy? Yet how suddenly changed, how freely accepted and pardoned. Lest we should think such cases peculiar to the first preaching of the gospel he still affords such instances. Permit me to speak of myself. I had cast off all fear of God and man, and being left to my own evil heart and the power of Satan, was seated in the chair of the scorner before I was twenty years of age. Not only slighted the gospel, but treated it as a fable—was hardened beyond the sense of conviction, and like Ahab sold myself to work wickedness. In this state of mind and practice, I was overtaken by that terrible storm, all hope of being saved quite gone, and I had not the least probability of surviving one quarter of an hour, but I obtained mercy, and it was not to me only but to some of you. The Lord thought of you then and preserved me alive that I might be a witness for him at Olney.
FOR MEDITATION: I could stand forth and propose myself instead of a thousand arguments … as a pattern of thy longsuffering to all that should repent and believe.
Miscellaneous Thoughts, Saturday 24 June 1758
SERMON: SERMON: 1 TIMOTHY 1:16 [3/4]