An Exhortation: THE FOURTH TABLEAndrew Gray (1634-1656) - A Powerful Preacher Who Died at a Young Age
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THERE are two great books that you have to read? there is Christ, and yourselves. And I think, when he have read over the first page of the first book, O ye may wonder how dark his name is? I say, ye cannot imagine a necessity that hinders you from closing with Christ, but he hath taken a name to answer it.
I think there are seven great questions that hinder a Christian’s closing with Christ; and all are answered in that excellent name that Christ hath taken to himself, in Exod. xxxiv. 6.
There is that first and great objection, I dare not come. Why? because I am polluted and defiled. Is it not answered in that letter of his name, He is the Lord God, merciful and gracious? And though we be sinful, he can make mercy triumph over judgment.
The second objection why men will not come to Christ, is this, 0, say ye, I have nothing to commend myself to him. What want ye? I want a heart to come with, and I want ornaments, and excellent robes. I would ask this question at you, want ye imperfections? 0, say ye, I have many: then ye want not something to come with: and that is answered in that letter of his name, He is gracious; there is a blessed freedom in the exercise of his love.
The third objection that stops you from closing with Christ, is this, I have not only offended this day, but I have done it of old: and that is answered from that letter of his name, It is the suffering. Christ cannot be out-wearied in long-suffering.
The fourth objection is this, 0, I am not only a sinner, but I shall tell you a confession of faith, Job xxii. 5, Are not my sins great? And is not that answered from that letter of his name, He is abundant in grace and goodness? O that noble victory that love shall have over justice, if we may imagine that there can be any contest between them; for this court hath reconciled righteousness and love; Righteousness and love did kiss each other.
The fifth objection is this, O how many covenants have I broken, and how dare I to come to Christ? Is not that answered from that letter of his name, He is abundant in truth? I shall tell you Christ’s carriage and believers in the way to heaven, in one word; there is not a day but we lose our grips of Christ; but 0, he never loses his grips of us. Did ye never see friends embrace each other? So it is, when we lose our grips of Christ, those everlasting arms of his embrace us: those arms that did first pluck us out of hell, have to pull us into heaven. O for that pull that we shall never desire another.
The sixth objection is this, I know, Christ is gracious; but here the debate stands, I know not if he will be merciful to me; I think, he will name his curses to me; and is there not a letter in our blessed Lord’s name that answers that too, He keeps mercy unto thousands? Friends, (if I may call you so) what wot ye, but ye are among those, Exod. 34:7. And if ye be in amongst them, O bless him for it. I think, if there were no more in scripture to commend precious Christ, it were more than sufficient. Are there not thousands in heaven, sirs? O but we will be a fair company, if we were once all together; we shall be like olive plants round about his table. O blessed be he, that hath his quiver full of these blessed thousands.
Now have ye any more to say? Yes, I have one thing, and if it were answered, I ought to debate no more: what is that? I am under the power of sin against light, and after resolutions, and under breach of covenants at sacraments: and do ye think, that I dare come to Christ? Yes, ye shall never be welcomer, than when ye bring a burden on your back. Were ye under sins against light, and against free love, and after vows? Yet there is a letter in his name that answers that; O read it, for it is full of love, He forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin. Ye think, what needs all these three words? They are not needless repetitions, but that ye may be persuaded that there is no sin ye can be under, but love can answer it; love was never put to a non-plus; yet all your objections may be cut off with this, It is his will, that we should believe on him, and in hopes that ye will engage, we give you the sacrament, Take and eat: This is even like two married persons, putting their hands to a contract: here the great seal is put to Christ’s contract; and all that is required of you, is, to put to your hands to the contract.
0, say ye, I cannot write – yet say, we will put our hand to Christ’s, and let him lead the pen, and say, even so, I take him to be my Lord and Husband, and do vow and covenant to be a dutiful wife unto him. Eat and drink upon these terms. Do ye not think that there are many eyes in heaven? And yet (if so we may speak) there is not one eye in heaven, that is not fixed on him. Are there not many hands in heaven? And would you know what they are doing? They are all taking Christ in their arms. And is not this a mystery, that so many thousands should get a grip of Christ at once? O but they be a heartsome company! They are eyewitnesses to our communion this day. Though, I think, if they reflect on us, they would even pity us, that there is so great difference between us and them.
I shall say no more; but, O to have been present when that glorious person Jesus Christ was hanging between heaven and earth! What would you have said? Might you not have cried out that word that David hath to another purpose, Let thy hand be against me and my father’s house? What hath that spotless Lamb done? I shall not determine that question, whether angels, and Abraham, and the twelve patriarchs saw, when he was hanging between heaven and earth? But such a sight it was, as we desire, ye may have your faith in exercise upon – viz: a crucified Saviour.
I shall give you three parts of his blessed body, that ye should kiss at a communion. There are some that cannot kiss his mouth, it is a great act of presumption; but they would kiss his feet, to testify their love; and his hands, to testify their subjection; and they may kiss his rosy lips, that once waxed pale, to testify their communion and fellowship with him. I would say this now, let this bread be a witness against you in the day of the Lord, if ye be not content to take him. I remember a word of one that was determined in a thing, and was desired to be deliberate: he answered, needed no deliberation in so good a thing. So I think, ye need no advisement to take Christ. Ye may take him upon implicit faith; for he will not disappoint you: take him upon his word. Himself make you to do so. Amen, and Amen.
Andrew Gray was an exceptionally gifted young preacher. This work is a set of 5 treatises to establish the heart of believers in Christ and give them assurance. Gray is one of the easiest Scottish puritans to read.