December 24, 2010

Nathaniel Vincent (1638–1697) on Christ's Four-Fold Compassion on Them that Perish

Doct. I. The first Doctrine is this, That Jesus Christ is exceeding full of pity and compassion. The tears which he shed prove this; and if tears will not satisfie, a little after you may behold him shedding of his blood. This compassion of Christ extends it self to them that perish, as well as unto those he saves.

To them that perish, his compassion is seen in four things.

1. In causing the Light whereby he is discovered to shine upon them. 'Tis a mercy that the lost are told of a Saviour, that they are informed how sin hath caused their misery and Christ is sufficient to cure it. Tender mercy appears, that the Day-spring from on high does visit them that sit in darkness, which can guide their feet into the way of peace, Luke 1. 78, 79. They need not say, Who shall ascend into heaven, to understand the means of fallen Man's recovery? The word is nigh, which can give a sufficient information. Twas the great advantage of the Jews, that to them were committed the Oracles of God, Rom. 3. 1, 2. But now those Oracles are pronounced more fully and plainly; and to enjoy them is the priviledge of such, as in [a] Land of light have their lot given them. It was great mercy towards Capernaum, that he was lifted up to Heaven, that such words were spoken, that such works were done in her; and because she improved not the mercy, how does our Lord upbraid her?

2. Christ's compassion towards them that perish is seen, in calling and inviting them to come to him: The Marriage-feast is prepared, and the servants are sent into the highways, to invite all to come, and partake of it, Matth. 22. Wisdom cryeth without, she uttereth her voice in the streets, she cryeth in the chief places of concourse; How long ye simple ones will ye love simplicity? and scorners delight in scourning, and fools hate knowledge? turn ye at my reproof, &c. Prov. 1. 20, 21, 22. And Prov. 9. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. we read, Wisdom hath killed her beasts, she hath mingled her wine, and furnished her table, she hath sent forth her maidens, she cryeth upon the highest places of the City; Whoso is simple let him turn in hither; as for him that wanteth understanding, she said unto him, come eat of my bread, and drink my wine which I have mingled; forsake [the] foolish and live, and go in the way of understanding. Thus sinners are called after, and though Dogs, yet the same bread which prepared for the Children is proffer'd them; the same inestimable benefits [of] Christ, as pardon, peace, grace, glory, are tendered to them, which believers have accepted of; with the same eye-salve the eyes shall be anointed, with the same tried gold they shall be enriched; with the same white rayment all their nakedness shall be covered, if they will but come and close with Jesus.

3. Christs compassion towards them that perish is seen, in waiting long that he may be gracious; he knocks at the door, and he stands knocking there, Rev. 3. 20. He stands till his head is filled with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night. He sees how Satan hath admission at his pleasure, and [unto] Mammon at first approach the door is set wide open to receive him, but against Christ 'tis lock'd and bolted; and yet his love and patience overcomes these indignities, and he waits still to see, if at last sinners will consult their own good, and entertain him. Christ by his Spirit strives long, checkin them from sin, moving them to duty, demonstrating the reasonableness of conversion and obedience, the danger of continuance in their provocations. Christ does not go away at the first repulse, nor curse the Fig-tree for the first years unfruitfulness, but he digs about it and dungs it, and expects a great while, before that sentence be pronounced, Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?

4. Christ's compassion towards them that perish, is seen, in wishing, when for their obstinancy they are given over to themselves, that they would have hearkened and obeyed. Thus he weeps and wishes, that Jerusalem had known what they were ignorant of. And Israel, when for their deafness unto, and refusing of God, they were given up to their own hearts lusts, and suffer'd to walk after their own counsels, the Lord wishes, O that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! Psal. 81. 11, 12, 13. Those that perish will have no reason to complain of Christ, but of themselves; he wanted not pity, but to themselves they were unmerciful.
Nathaniel Vincent, The Day of Grace in Which the Chief of Sinners May be Turn'd and Healed (Boston: Re-printed for Alford Butler, and sold at his Shop, the lower End of King-Street, near the Crown Coffee-House, 1728), 8–11.

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