Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, they shall be filled.” Consider 'here what the nature of hunger and thirst is; “they shall be filled," which implies they were empty before, but now they shall be filled. Suppose now I am not filled with Christ, what, am I without him? No, I want him ; yet there is a blessing to the hungry and thirsty, and there is no blessing without faith. If we be not heirs of the faith, we cannot be heirs of the blessing. Dost thou find in thyself an hungering and thirsting after Christ? Thou art blessed, this faith will save thee. Now faith will say, I am wonderfully pained, faint, and even starved, that I cannot be filled with Christ; yet be content man, thou shalt be filled with him; in the mean while thou hast him, and hast blessedness with him, and shalt be blessed. It is said: “ These things have I written unto you that believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God." Mark how the apostle distinguishes these two things; thou believest on the name of Christ, yet sayest thou, though I believe, I am not sure of my salvation, I do not know it. Why, let not that much trouble thee, that is a consequent of it, and that assurance will follow after; therefore you should not confound it with believing: “These things have I written unto yo that ye might know :" then there is a conclusion to be deduced from the premisses, so that a man may have full hold of Christ, and yet not be fully assured of his salvation. So then here is the will, which is the first thing.

But the Lord works the deed also. And whereas it is said that God takes the will for the deed, the place had need be well understood : when we say God takes the will for the deed, it is not always true; unless it be thus understood. When a man hath done to the utmost of his power what he is able, hath endeavoured by all means, then God will take the will for the deed; but if there be ability in me, and I do not as much as I am able, I do not my utmost endeavour, then God will not take it; but now God works the will and the deed; when a man comes to the throne of grace, and sets forward in his journey towards God, the first thing he doth is to come to the throne of grace with Christ in his arms, and then having fast hold on Christ, he hastens and delays not, having hold as Joab on the horns of the altar. He hastens, he sees it is no time to delay, he sees it is now a time of need ; and need, as the old proverb is, makes the old wife trot. Is it not need to make haste (when the pursuer of blood follows) to the city of refuge? who would make delays and demurs, and not run as fast as his legs would carry him? As soon as I apprehend my need, and see the golden sceptre stretched out, then I come with might and main with Christ in my arms, and present him to the Father, and this is the approaching and drawing near in the text, to the throne of grace.

a 1 John, chap. 3. ver. 13.

But now when I am come thither, what do I say there? What, shall I come and say nothing ? The prodigal son resolved to go to his father, and say, "I will up and go," there is the will;" and say," there is his speech. The believer is not like to the son that said to his father, I will

go, but went not; and when his father bids him come, he will come; he will not only say so, but will draw near, and then he hath a promise: “He that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” But when we come thither, what must we do? why we must take unto ourselves words, according to the prophet's expression: “Taked unto you words, and go unto the Lord, and say, Take away all our iniquities, and receive us graciously, so will we render the calves of our lips.” When he comes to the throne of grace, the thing that he doth, is, he presents unto the Father Christ, bleeding, gasping, dying, buried, and conquering death ; and when he presents Christ to him, he opens his case, and confesses his sin to the full, and says, Lord, this is my case : as a beggar when he comes to ask

© John, chap. 6. ver. 37.

b 1 Kings, chap. 2. ver. 28. d Hos. chap. 14. ver. 2.

[ocr errors]

an alms of you, he will make a preface, and tell you his extremity ; Sir, I am in great want, I have not tasted a bit of bread in so many days, and unless you help me by your charity, I am utterly undone. Now when these two concur, that there is true need in the beggar, and liberality in him, of whom he begs, it encourages the beggar to be importunate, and he prevails; you may know when the beggar hath need by his tone, accent or language: the needy beggar's tone and accent is different from the sturdy beggar's that hath no need; but yet, though the beggar be in great misery, if he see a churlish Nabal go by him, he hath no heart to beg, and follows him not, nor begs so hard, because he hath but litttle hope to attain any thing from him. But I say, let both these meet together; first, that the beggar is in great need, then, that he of whom he begs is very liberal, it makes him beg hard; but now cannot he pray without book? Think not that I speak against praying by the book; you are deceived if you think so; but there must be words taken to us besides, which perhaps a book will not yield us. A beggar's need will make him speak, and he will not hide his sores; but if he hath any sore more ugly or worse than another, he will uncover it; Good sir, behold my woful and distressed case, he lays all open to provoke pity. So, when thou comest before God in confession, canst thou not find out words to open thyself to Almighty God, not one word whereby thou mayest unlap thy sores, and beseech him to look on thee with an eye of pity? I must not mince my sins, but amplify and aggravate them, that God may be moved to pardon me; till we do thus, we cannot expect that God should forgive us. A great ado there is about auricular confession, but it is a mere babble; it were better to cry out our sins at the high cross, than to confess in a priest's ear. Thou whisperest in the priest's ear; what if he never tell it, or if he do, art thou the better? Come and pour out thy heart and soul before Almighty God, confess thyself to him as David did, for that hath a promise made to it: “Against thee, thee only have I sinned,

[merged small][ocr errors]

and done this evil in thy sight, that thou mayest be justified when thou speakest, and clear when thou judgest.” Why so? Why, one main cause why we should confess sin, is to justify God. When a sinner confesses, I am a child of wrath, and of death ; if thou castest me into hell, as justly thou mayest, I have received but my due ; when a man does thus (as the king's attorney may frame a bill of indictment against himself) he justifies Almighty God. He gives God the honour of that justice, which at the present he executes in pouring horror into the conscience of the sinner, and hath farther in store in providing the lake of fire and brimstone for the impenitent. Thus did David : " Against thee, against thee," &c. Now when we have thus aggravated our misery, comes the other part of begging, to cry for mercy with earnestness, and here is the power of the Spirit. It is one thing for a man to pray, and another thing for a man to say a prayer, but to pray and cry for mercy, as David did, in good earnest, to wrestle with God, to say, Lord, my life lies in it, I will never give thee over, I will not go with a denial; this is termed ouvaywvískolai, this is the work of God's Spirit. I named you a place where the apostle exhorts, “but' ye, beloved, build up yourselves in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost;" there is the prayer of the faithful, to pray in the Holy Ghost. And in the Ephesians we read of an armour provided for all the parts of a man's body, yet will not serve the turn, unless prayer come in as the chief: “ Prayings always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance.” This is the prayer of faith, that procures forgiveness of sins; we must pray in faith, and in the Spirit ; that is the language, which God understands. He knoweth the meaning of the Spirit, and knoweth none else but that: many men are wonderously deceived in that which they call the spirit of prayer. One thinks it is a faculty to set out one's desires in fair words, shewing earnestness,

Jude, ver, 20.

6 Ephes, chap. 6. ver. 18.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

and speaking much in an extemporary prayer. This we think commendable, yet this is not the spirit of prayer. One that shall never come to heaven, may be more ready in this, than the child of God; for it is a matter of skill and exercise; the spirit of prayer is another thing. “ The Spirit helpeth our infirmities, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.” What shall we think then, that the Holy Ghost groans or speaks in prayer? No: but it makes us groan, and though we speak not a word, yet it so enlarges our hearts, as that we send up a volleyof sighs and groans which reach the throne of grace. And this is the spirit of prayer, when with these sighs and groans I beg, as it were, for my life. This is that ardent affection the Scripture speaks of. A cold prayer will never get forgiveness of sins; it is the prayer of faith which prevails. The prayer of the people availeth much, if it be łapyovuévn, fervent. In the ancient churches those that were possessed with an evil spirit, were called {vepyoóuevoi, because that caught them up, and made them do actions not suitable to their nature ; prayer is a fire from heaven, which if thou hast it, will carry all heaven before it; there is nothing in the world so strong as a Christian thus praying: prayers that are kindled with such a zeal, are compared to Jacob's wrestling with the angel', whereby he had power over the angel. The prophet expounds what this wrestling was, “ he wept and made supplication unto him ; he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with him.” This is the wrestling with God, when thou fillest heaven with thy sighs and sobs, and bedewest thy couch with thy tears as David did ; and hast thy resolution with Jacob, “I will not let thee go except thou bless me.” God loves this kind of boldness in a beggar, that he will not go away without an answer. As the poor widow in the parable that would not give over her suit, so that the judge, though

1

I Rom. chap. 8. ver. 26.

i Hos. chap. 12. ver. 4.

« PoprzedniaDalej »