William Bradford Institute
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Early Settlement of America

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Objections Against Receiving Christ Answered


by Ralph Erskine


1. Objections are drawn from the greatness and multitude of sins. It is true,
there are some who have no such objections as this at all; they are as secure,
senseless, and dense as a stone of the wall; there is no hope of saying any
thing, to move and affect such unless the Lord himself awaken them. But if any
here were objecting to this purpose, though it was but one in all this company;
"Oh! my guilt is so serious, my sins are so great, and my transgressions are so
multiplied, that you would tremble to think of the sins I have been guilty of,
and what light I have sinned against, and this makes my heart sink: none know
but God and my own conscience, what a sinner I have been; and will Christ ever
accept of me." Answer: The greatness of your sins should be a great argument to
engage you to come to Christ, and receive him Your sins are not greater than
God's mercies; your guilt is not greater than Christ's merits. It is hardly to
be supposed, that you are worse than some who yet have obtained mercy; such as
Paul a persecutor and blasphemer; Manasseh a murderer and wizard in compact with
the devil; Mary Magdalene in whom were seven devils; and many of the Jews that
crucified the Lord of glory, yet were washed in that blood of the Lamb which
they shed. The merit of Christ's blood is infinite; though your sins were
greater than all sins, yet there is virtue in his blood to expiate them; for, it
cleanses from all sin. Though the sands be many and large, yet the sea can
overflow them all: so, though your sins be numerous and great, the blood of
Christ can cover them all. In a word, the question is not about the greatness of
your sins, but your present duty: be your sin what it will, the Lord calls you
to come to Christ and receive him: and your unbelief in your rejecting Christ is
greater than all your other sins; for it is a refusal of the remedy, whereby you
may be relieved of all your sin and guilt. Your other sins are but against the
law; but this sin, in rejecting Christ, is against the law and the gospel both.
Other sins are against God; but this sin, in rejecting Christ, is against God
and Christ both. It is a great sin to think any sin little; but it is a greater
sin, to think the righteousness of Christ is not above all sin. Our disobedience
is the disobedience of man; but Christ's obedience is the obedience of God:
therefore, our believing in Christ pleases God better than if we had continued
in innocence, and never sinned. The least sin is unpardonable without this
obedience and righteousness of Christ; and the greatest is pardonable by it.
Therefore, O seek Christ, to be clothed with this righteousness.
2. Objections are drawn from the justice of God. "Oh, God is just, and will not
hold the sinner guiltless: therefore, though I should fly to the horns of the
altar, there I fear justice would be avenged upon me." Answer: This is also an
argument why you should receive Christ. God's justice indeed must be satisfied;
and there is no way in the world to give satisfaction to God, but by believing
in Christ; for, "God is in Christ reconciling the world to himself." He has
endured the wrath of God, and so there is no way to answer justice, but by
flying to that satisfaction he has made; and if you do, justice will not demand
a double satisfaction; one from you, and another from your Surety. No, he will
deliver you from going down to the pit, because he has found a ransom. It is
contrary to the nature of justice, to demand a double satisfaction when the
satisfaction given by Christ is infinite.

3. Objection is drawn from the sinner's unworthiness. "Oh! I am utterly
unworthy, and have nothing to move God to pity me; will he accept the likes of
me?" Answer: What do you think is the strength of that reasoning? It comes just
to this: I have no merit; therefore, God will have no mercy: there is no
salvation for me by the law; therefore there is no salvation for me by the
gospel. If you look at God with the eye of the lawyer, the least sin makes you
ineligible for mercy; but if you look at him in Christ, or with an evangelical
eye, the greatest sinner may receive mercy; yes, the sense of unworthiness makes
a man the more receptive. It is an unworthy objection, and argues lamentable
ignorance of the gospel. Come to him as deserving nothing but wrath, and flying
to God's free grace, and Christ's full merit, and the covenant's rich promise.
It is with faith, as it is with a bird cast into the water; it cannot fly, the
element is so gross; it cannot clap its wings there; but cast it into the air,
then it will clap its wings and mount: so faith is the wing of the soul; when it
looks to the man's self and his own worthiness, this is such a gross element,
faith cannot mount: but let it out to the air of God's free grace and promise in
Christ, then it will act and fly: yes, grace cannot act but upon an unworthy
object, and without any cause from the object. Justice has an eye upon the
disposition of the person, in its rewards; but grace and mercy has an eye upon
itself. Thus, if a king executes a malefactor, this is an act of justice, and
the cause of it is in the offender; but if a king pardons a malefactor, this is
an act of grace, and the cause of it is in the king's heart, not in the
worthiness of the delinquent: so here, if you were worthy, you were not capable
of this free gift. If ever there was a gift freely given, it is Christ; and will
you reject him because you are unworthy? Why, if you were worthy, it would not
be a free gift. No, your refusing of Christ and standing aback from him for your
unworthiness is great pride: you would have a bladder of your own, that you
might swim to heaven without being obliged to Christ. If you meet a poor beggar,
and see nothing but misery and poverty in his face, and draw your purse and
offer him money, would it not be strange to hear him say, "No, I will not have
it; I am not worthy; over there is a gentleman in fashionable clothing, give it
him for he is worthy." Just as ridiculous is the case here, while you stand back
from Christ because of your unworthiness. In a word- Christ is worthy enough of
your taking. What if the greatest prince in the world should make suit to the
poorest beggar, who has neither beauty nor dowry, though she be unworthy to hear
of the proposal, yet the person is worthy who has made it; so it is here, if
Christ, the Prince of life, and King of glory, be worth the receiving, then
reject not his offer that he makes of himself: and indeed never will you be
worthy till you receive him.

4. Objection is drawn from a doubt and suspicion arising in the mind if Christ
be willing: "Oh! I fear he is not willing to accept me." Answer: He declares in
his word, that he is not willing that any should perish; and he swears that he
has no delight in the death of sinners. And O sinner! will you look up to God's
face, and say, though he has both said and sworn to that purpose, that he is not
willing? His purpose of grace in saving some does not say that he is willing to
destroy any; it only says that, as he is not willing that any should perish, so
he is resolved that all shall not get leave to destroy themselves; as all would
do, if he did not catch hold of some, and pluck them as brands out of the
burning fire, and his doing so says that none are destroyed by him, unless they
destroy themselves. None are willing to be saved by him, until his willingness
precedes their willingness. His not saving all is no more an argument of his
desire that any should perish than a king's not pardoning all rebels is an
argument of that prince's willingness that any should live in rebellion against
him, and fall under his furious judgement. Although it was possible for an
earthly prince, to make them all willing subjects to him, yet it were not
inconsistent with a merciful disposition, for him to allow some to take their
will that he may show how stubborn their nature is, and how equal and just he is
in the administration of his government: for acts of justice towards some are
not inconsistent with a will to show mercy upon all. Natural reason and unbelief
still suspect the willingness of Christ; especially because of a decree past in
heaven, which the word mentions concerning the salvation of some, from which
they know not but they may be excluded. This is a powerful temptation of Satan,
leading men boldly and arrogantly to speculate about the records of heaven, that
are locked up from men and angels, till the decree is fully unveiled. It is an
evidence of our cursed hatred against God, that we will not believe his good
will in Christ, revealed in the gospel toward sinners by so many commands and
promises, calls and invitations. If you would notice instances of Christ's
willingness, behold how he wept over Jerusalem, self-destroying Jerusalem,
rejecting his offer, Luke 29: 41,42. "And when he was come near, he beheld the
city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this
thy day, the things which belong to thy peace, but now they are hid from thine
eyes." What a moving sight was this, to see the Son of God in a flood of tears
for lost sinners! Had he been asked, as he did Mary, in another case, "Blessed
Lord, what seekest thou? Why weepest thou?" His answer readily would have been,
"I seek not myself; I weep not for myself; for I shall be glorious in the eyes
of the Lord, though sinners be not gathered; but I weep to see sinners so mad,
as to reject their Saviour and salvation, rather than part with their lusts,
that have damnation attending them; I weep to see them content, rather to cast
themselves headlong into the devil's arms, than throw themselves into my arms of
mercy, or receive and embrace me." Oh! how did Christ's heart melt with pity for
you, and will not your hearts melt with desire toward him! Surely, all the
rivers of tears that flowed from his eyes, and the rivers of blood that flowed
from his pierced heart and feet and hands and side, will be standing monuments
of his good-will to save sinners. How would you have him to discover his
willingness? Why man, woman, he just turns humble supplicant to you; and, as it
were, upon his bare knees beseeches you to be reconciled to him; 12 Cor. v. 20.
"We are ambassadors for Christ, though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in
Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." Tremendous and amazing condescension!
Behold, divine mercy, stooping down to a sinner, in the humble posture,
entreating him to receive a Saviour, and to receive a free remission through
him! Surely the humble entreaties of the great God, should both convince us of
his willingness to receive us, and shame us out of our unwillingness to receive
Christ, and salvation through him.

5. Objection is drawn from a doubt or suspicion of our being prepared for
receiving Christ. Oh says the sinner, that is any way sensible, "I am not
humbled enough; Christ comes to bind up the broken hearted; but my heart is not
broken; to give the oil of joy for mourning; but I do not have a mourning or
humble spirit: therefore I may not believe, or receive Christ." Answer- You will
never reckon yourself humbled enough, if you would have humiliation proportioned
to your sin, which is an infinite evil. Feelings of guilt, though ever so deep,
though your heart should be broken in as many pieces, as the glass does shiver
against the wall; and though you were roaring day and night under the disquiet
of a guilty conscience, and fearful apprehensions of God's wrath; yet all this
will not say that you are now fit for Christ. These humiliations may be merely
judicial, and punishments of sin, as were those of Cain and Judas; therefore,
you cannot judge yourself by your legal humiliations, but only by the issue and
event of them. Think not, then, to bring humiliation in your hand as a price;
this will but more unfit you: the best humiliation is to see your lack of
humiliation; the best preparation, to see your lack of preparation, and your
lack of all good things about you: and to receive Christ is the only way to true
gospel humiliation. The law is like a thunder clap, that terrifies; but the
gospel is like a warm sun that dissolves the ice. Nothing melts the soul more
than Christ apprehended by faith. "They shall look upon me whom they have
pierced, and they shall mourn," Zech. 12:10. Faith sees the greatest love, the
sweetest kindness; and this melts the heart. No doubt, the prodigal was more
melted, and broken, by his father's embracing of him so kindly, than by all his
former miseries. What! art thou embracing me, a stubborn child, and unworthy
spendthrift? So Christ comes in the gospel, saving, "Come, poor sinner, you have
done evil as you could; though you have wronged me, and my Spirit, and my
Father, and yourself, yet come and I will get you a pardon for all that; fear
not, I will be yours to save you; my blood yours, to wash you; my righteousness
yours, to justify you; my Spirit yours, to sanctify you." This melts the heart!
What! is this for me, guilty me, rebellious me? Yes, it is for you graciously
and freely! How the soul now dissolves into tears!

6. Objection is drawn from fear that the day of grace is past. "Alas! I have
refused many call invitations, and offers, so much that Christ will not regard
me! I have often trifled with the gospel, often trampled on his precious blood;
and with what confidence can I now claim it?" Answer- It is to be hoped that
while you have this call yet to receive Christ, that now is the accepted time,
now is the day of salvation, if your former refusals of Christ have not yet been
malicious and deceitful, but rather temerarious and inadvertent, which though a
grievous sin, yet not unpardonable: and now, since Christ does not yet exclude
you from the gospel offer, why will you exclude yourselves? The more you have
refused his offer in times past, the more need you have of forgiveness. You
should go to God as David, saying, "Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great." This
would indeed be a strange argument with man, "Pardon my crime, for it is great;"
but it is a strong argument with God: Lord, it is great and so I have more need
of a pardon; it is great, and so you will have great honour in pardoning: even
as a physician has in curing a desperate disease. The sinning against Christ's
blood, or slighting it, is indeed a heinous sin but the more heinous it is, the
more need you have to hasten to this blood as the only fountain that can wash
away the guilt of trampling upon it. Nay though you had shed this blood, as the
Jews did, yet you are welcome to come to it for mercy: see the commission that
Christ gives to his apostles, Luke 24:46, 47. "Preaching repentance, and
remission, in his name, to all nations, and begin at Jerusalem " O! why at
Jerusalem, where he was mocked, pierced, and crucified; Nay, begin there; for
they have most need of my blood to wash them. If any thing could alienate
Christ's heart from sinners, surely the consideration of their crucifying him,
and using him so deceitfully, might have done it. "Yes," says he, "go make offer
of my blood and mercy to these my murderers;" and accordingly, it was done by
Peter, Acts 2, and many of them got this blood applied to them. Again,
7. Objection is drawn from the long continuation in sin. "I am an old sinner; my
sins are of very long continuance; I have remained in the grave of sin and I am
just an old rotten sinner." Answer- I fear there are some old sinners here very
near to hell and damnation; the devil has got the prime of their age, and he is
likely to get the dregs. Oh! if gospel grace would draw you, I would let down
the rope ladder of love, by telling you that, though your sins be old, yet they
are not so old as Christ's mercies, which are everlasting mercies. It is not the
first old distemper that Christ hath cured; he raised Lazarus with a word though
he had been four days in the grave: he stopped a bloody issue with the hem of
his garment, that had run twelve years: he loosed a poor woman, whom Satan had
bound eighteen years: he cured an impotent man that had an infirmity
thirty-eight years: and, can he not easily cure all the sicknesses in your soul?
He received those that came at the eleventh hour: he received some that came at
the last hour. Consider the thief on the cross, whom the devil thought he was
sure of, having drawn him the length of the mouth of hell just ready to cast him
in. Yet, even then, upon his looking to Christ, did the arms of mercy take hold
of him. This is encouragement to you to look to him.

8. Objection is drawn from a doubt or jealousy about our right to receive
Christ. "Oh!" says one, "though Christ can save me, yet I have no right to
receive him: though his blood is sufficient to wash me, yet I have no right to
it." Answer- You have a full right and authorisation, from the very call of the
gospel, to run to it. See what Christ enjoins ministers to do, Mark 16:15. "Go
into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature: make offer of me
and my blood to all, without distinction; whatever be their age, sex, or
circumstances, man, woman, and child. Let no children hearing me, think they are
too young to be included in this call to come to Christ; nay, the gospel is
preached to you as well as to old folk: you may die in your youth; and if you
die without Christ, you will perish as well as old Christless persons. ".Preach
the gospel to every creature; even to the worst of sinners: every creature, be
they ever so wicked; even though they have sinned themselves into the likeness
of beasts or devils; yet if they be creatures, offer my blood, my mercy, my
merit, my righteousness to them: invite and press them to come to me and receive
me; and "Him that cometh, I will in no wise cast out." O sinner, let the gospel
offer be accepted: and you shall find, whatever you have been, that there is
mercy enough in God's being to pity you; merit enough in Christ's blood to
pardon you; and power enough in his intercession to provide and apply it to you.
Look to him for a share of this grace offered to you; and receive not the grace
of God in vain.

9. Objection is drawn from the power of sin. "Alas! I find sin to be strong in
me; how should I believe or receive Christ? none have such a wicked heart;
surely the Lord will loath me." Ans. That as a sense of the power of sin, is
better than to be senseless and dull under it; so, consider the nature of
unbelief, more than the strength of sin; for, it is an evil heart of unbelief,
that gives strength to sin. There are two things you must be obliged to Christ
for. his merit, to get the guilt of sin pardoned; and his Spirit, to get the
power of sin subdued. There is no healing but under the wings of Christ; and
therefore you must go to him for it. What do you think of faith? Is it an enemy
to holiness? No, by no means; it is the only way to it. And do you find sin
opposing you? Why then, know, that this time of opposition, is a time for faith
to work. When a man sees death, then it is time for faith to believe life. When
he sees the grave, it is time for faith to believe the resurrection; when he
sees guilt, it is time for faith to believe pardoning mercy; and when he sees
sin, it is time for faith to receive a Saviour; when he sees strong corruption,
then it is time for faith to lay hold on Christ's strength, and cast yourself
upon his faithful promise, for healing and pardoning of it. You may try other
ways, but they will not do; you may wash in other waters, but they will not
cleanse you; you may perplex your own thoughts, with a thousand shifts beside
this, but they will not avail you: in Christ and the promises of the covenant,
are the cures of your sinful nature;, and faith applies the healing medicine.
But now, to name no more,

10. Objection is drawn from the weakness of the creature, and of means. "What"
say you, "I have no strength to believe; no strength to pray; no heart to duty:
or, if I try it at any time, I have no success in it, or benefit by it." Here
are two objections, and I shall divide them, in order to give a more distinct
reply.

Well, then, the first part of the objection is, "I have no strength to believe,
no power to receive Christ. I don't even have the heart to pray for faith."
Answer- It is proper for you to know our own utter inability to believe; they
who think they can believe well enough of themselves mistake the faith of God's
operation for dreams, and strong imagination of their own brain. But, even
though you say you have no strength, see that the disease lies rather in this,
that you have no will. If you were made willing, you undoubtedly would find
yourselves made able in due time: therefore, cry for one pull more of omnipotent
grace, to make you willing in the day of his power. And even though you say you
cannot cry and you have no heart to pray; it is perhaps your mercy, to be kept
empty-handed, that you may not make a Christ of your duty, or a Saviour of your
feelings; for, perhaps, you would rest there. However, know, that unbelief is
the great cause of feeling unable to perform duty; for it fills the man with
hard thoughts of God. "Oh!" says unbelief, "God is so holy, he will never regard
you; God is so just, he will never endure you." Unbelief makes God all full of
frowns and anger; and so the man's spirit sinks within him: but faith would
bring up the soul; Psalm 22:13. "I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the
goodness of the Lord, in the land of the living."

Faith shows God to be on a throne of grace; and this raises the heart. and faith
gives the soul reasons to prevail in prayer; such as, the name of God, the blood
of Christ, the promise of the covenant, the intercession of Christ, the
faithfulness of God. In the meantime think not either to believe or pray aright,
without opposition from Satan, an evil heart of unbelief, the prevalence of sin,
and an ensnaring world. You must wrestle, through grace, all the way to glory
"The kingdom of heaven suffreth violence, and the violent take it by force. Be
strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Press toward the mark, for the
prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

The second part of the objection is, "That, though you attempt, you find no
success in duty, no benefit by it; "I am still where I was." Answer-. True
seeking comes always to something: it is pride and impatience that says, "It is
vain to serve the Lord:" see Mal. 3:14, 18 and Isa. 40:22-24. "God is faithful
who hath promised." It is true, many ask and receive not, because they ask
amiss, and do not ask in faith, nothing wavering. What success can we expect, if
we tell the true God to his face, that he is a liar, and that he will not make
good a word that he says? Therefore, seek the removal o this unbelief.
Besides, remember that there is a twofold answer that God makes; real and
tangible. A king may sign a pardon, and yet the criminal not know it, for a
time. An answer may be given sometimes when we know not of it; For example: you
seek, perhaps, a heart to pray, and a heart to hate sin: well, upon this perhaps
you find your heart harder, to your feeling, than it was; and your corruption
bursting forth upon you; which makes you lie grovelling, with the greatest
urgency, at heaven's gate, and causes the most extreme loathing of your depraved
nature. Why, here you get the very thing you was seeking, yet you are not aware
that these things are answers; because the answer comes in a way different from
your expectation. The heart may have such thirstiness after grace, such an
abomination of sin, that these present answers from heaven may seem to be
nothing, yet there is something more the man would have. Present grants are not
a satisfying of his desire; however something is got by every faithful seeking.
The man gets either more addition to some grace, or more aversion to some sin;
or more grace to seek, or more strength to wait. But though you get not so much
as you desire, surely you get more than you deserve. Although it is not so much
as to satisfy, yet it is as much as to help for the present. Suppose you be not
answered at all, it is your sin to murmur, and your duty to wait: and remember,
that God never gives his people so large an alms here, but that they need to
become beggars, the next hour at the throne of grace again: and know that God
loves to be urged, but he does not love to be hastened. If God promises, it is
your duty to believe: if he delays, it is your duty to wait. God postpones that
he may be gracious; and, "Blessed are all they that wait for him." In a word,
the Lord may keep his door bolted, that you may be provoked to knock the harder.
The woman of Canaan struggled with the intent of Christ's refusing to answer
her; therefore she becomes unrelenting; and so gets all her will. Therefore,
whatever discouragement you meet with, resolve never to quit the throne of
grace, but always to lay yourselves in Christ's way, and never to go to another
for help. Indeed, purpose that you will die waiting on him. Remember the
Psalmist's experience, Psalm 40:1. "I waited patiently on the Lord, and at
length he inclined his ear, and heard my cry." You may meet with discouragement
and temptation, and be put to very hard thoughts; but you must be resolute in
looking to Christ for help; reasoning with yourselves like the four lepers at
the siege of Samaria, 2 Kings 7:4. If I live at a distance from Christ I will
certainly perish, there is no hope for me: if Christ pity me not, when I am
waiting on him, I will certainly die; but yet there is hope, he will have pity
at length. Therefore, if I perish, I will perish at Christ's feet; still looking
up to him, where never one yet perished and I hope he will not let me be the
first.

Thus I have attempted to answer some objections: but after all there may be
thousands of objections that remain; and it is the Lord only that can
effectively and powerfully answer them, or any of those already mentioned. but
whatever be your objections against receiving Christ, pray to Christ himself to
answer them: he is content that you receive him for this purpose, to answer all
your objections, as well as to pardon all your sins and conquer all your
corruptions.

Notwithstanding all that has been said, perhaps some are ready to think, my
objection has not been mentioned, my case has not been touched; for, it is a
singular case. I am no more moved with all that has been said than a stone in
the wall. Well it might give some foundation for faith, if you consider that
Christ can, out of these stones, raise up children to Abraham; and that he has
promised to take away the heart of stone. O beloved, will you put him to his
word? Nay, say you, my heart is raging in hatred against him, like a devil.
Well, say not, for all that, there is no hope; for Christ can cast out devils;
and it is his work and business to put evil spirits out, and to put his own
Spirit within you: only allow him to work; for it is one of the ways of
receiving him, even to exercise him to receive you and to destroy the works of
the devil within you. If Christ should not find any work here among all this
company, woe is us, that you should all give such a vile slight to a precious
Christ, as that you prefer your lowly lusts to him, and will not so much as
desire him to put the sacrificing knife to the throat of your lusts; and though
he stand knocking at your door, yet you will not so much as desire him to come
in; nor invite him to close the door. If anyone knocks at your door, you will
readily desire them to open, and come forward. Shall not glorious Christ get as
much reception as that from you? Oh invite him, at least, to put in his hand by
the knob of the door, and then your inner being will move for him, Song 5:4. May
the Lord persuade you to receive Christ, and answer all your objections against
him.




 

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