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$21. By these means is the nature of our High Priest filled with tenderness and sympathy. The foundation of their exercise towards us lies in the oneness of his nature and ours; and these things belonging to the pure constitution of his nature, and receiving their improvement by the unction of the Spirit, are not lessened by his present glorification. For they all belong to him, on account of his office, and, therefore, he continuing still in the exercise of the same office, their continuation is also necessary. And hence it is, that he gave so many particular instances of his retaining the same human nature wherein he suffered; Acts i, 2: providing particularly, that they should not think him now to be a mere spirit, and so to have lost his natural human constitution, Luke xxiv, 39. To confirm our faith in this matter, he appeared afterwards in the same nature to Stephen, Acts vii, 56, and to our apostle, telling him that he was Jesus whom he persecuted, chap. ix, 5, and all to assure us, that he is such an High Priest as is able to be affected with a sense of our infirmities.
$22. Herein lies a great advantage of the church, a great encouragement and support to believers under their infirmities, in their trials and temptations. For,
1. It is some relief to be pitied in distress. The want of this Job pathetically bewailed, chap. xix, 21, “Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me.” It went to his heart to find that his friends were not affected with a sense of his sufferings; and it added exceedingly to their weight. Such was the complaint of David, as a type of Christ, Psal. Ixix, 20, “Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness; I looked for some to take pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but there was none." There is relief
in compassion; some going to the stake have been much refreshed with only a compassionate word whispered to them. And how can it fail to be a cause of great refreshment to believers, in all their hardships and weakness, that they share in the compassion of their High Priest? He is in himself exceedingly great and glorious; is nearly allied to us, able to relieve us, being far superior to our troublers, for they are all under his feet.
2. Herein lies a great encouragement to make our address to him in all our straits and weaknesses. For if he be so concerned, so affected in himself with a sense of them, and have in his holy nature, and on the account of his office, such a propensity and ability to relieve; what should hinder us from making our addresses to him continually for help, and supplies of his assisting grace as our necessities require?
3. Here lies no small warning, how heedfully we should take care that we faint not in our trials. He looks on us with concern, and his honor is engaged in our properly acquitting ourselves. If we have a due regard to him and his love, it will excite us to all care and diligence in the discharge of every duty we are called to, notwithstanding the difficulties it may be attended with.
$23. Obs. 5. There will be a season, many a season in the course of our profession, wherein we shall stand in need of special aid and assistance,—“Help in time of need.” This I shall a little enlarge upon: our condition is universally indigent. If we intend to live spiritually, it must be in a constant dependance on God in Christ for supplies; without which we cannot well subsist one moment. But besides that want, which always attends our condition in this world, and which God constantly supplies according to the tenor
of his covenant, there are special straits and difficulties to which we are exposed at several seasons.
(1.) A time of affliction is such a season. And the rule of the covenant in sending relief is upon the coming up of the cry of the afflicted unto God, Psal. i, 15; Exod. ii, 23–25. Let men's stock of wisdom, grace, experience, and resolution be what it will, they are not able to go through with the least new affliction to the glory of God, without new assistance from him.
(2.) A time of persecution is such a season; yea, it may be the principal season here intended. And this is the greatest trial that in general God exerciseth his church with. In such a season, some seed quite decayeth, some stars fall from heaven, some prove fearful and unbelieving to their eternal ruin. Carnal fears, with carnal wisdom and counsels, are apt to be at work in such a season; and all the fruit that comes from those evil roots is bitter. Hence many make it
. their only design, in such a season, to creep through it and live. To be strong in the Lord, and the power of his grace, to the performance of all the duties which the gospel requires, and as it requires, they have no design. But by this means as God hath no revenue of glory from them, nor the church advantage, so they will scarce find inward peace when outward trouble is over. This then is a season wherein, if ever, an especial address is needful for special aid.
(3.) A time of temptation is such a season. Our apostle found it so, when he had the messenger of Satan sent to buffet him. Thrice did he pray, and
, cry out for assistance and deliverance, and he got assurance of them both. In reference to this season doth our apostle give that great caution: “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” i Cor. x, 12. And wherein doth this heedfulness principally consist? In an application to him who is faithful, who VOL. II.
will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it, ver. 13, that is, , who will give out seasonable help; helpin a time of need.
(4.) A time of spiritual desertion is such a season. When God in any way withdraws himself from us, we shall stand in need of special assistance: “Thou didst hide thy face,” saith David, “and I was troubled." Trouble will ensue on God's hiding himself from us. But this is the mystery of his grace, that when he withdraws himself from any soul, as to sense and experience, whereby it is troubled, he can secretly communicate supporting strength.
(5.) A time wherein we are called to the performance of any great and signal duty is such a season. So it was with Abraham, when he was called first to leave his country, and afterwards to sacrifice his son. Such was the call of Joshua, to enter into Canaan, proposed to our example, Heb. xii, 5, and of the apostles to preach the gospel, when they were sent out as sheep among wolves. Something that is new, that we are yet unexperienced in; something that there is great opposition against, or may cost us dear, somewhat that, as to the state of the inward and outward man, we may seem to be very unfit for; somewhat that the glory of God is in an especial manner con: cerned in, we may be called to. And there is nothing of this nature which doth not render the time of it a season wherein we stand in need of special aid and assistance,
(6.) Times of difficult changes introduce such a season. “Changes and war," saith Job, “are against me, chap.x, 17. There is in all changes a war against us, wherein we may be foiled, if we have not good assist
Freedom from changes is, in most, the ground of carnal security, Psal. lv, 19. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.” Changes we
are continually obnoxious to; no man can enumerate the vicissitudes of our course; yet no one of them can we pass through, in a due manner, without special renewed assistances of
grace. (7.) The time of death is such a season. To let go all hold of present things, and present hopes,—to give up a departing soul, entering into_the invisible world -an unchangeable eternity—the hands of a Sovereign Lord,—is what requires strength above our own for its right and comfortable performance.
$24. Now it is easy to apprehend how great an influence these things have on our whole course of walking before God, and how much of our lives and ways is taken up with them. Either afflictions, or persecutions, or temptations, or defections from God, or signal difficult duties, or changes, are continually before us, and the last of them, Death, lies still at the door; and there is none of these but render their seasons "times of need.” It may indeed then be said, wherein doth the speciality of the grace and aid mentioned consist, seeing it is that which we always stand in need of, and always receive? I answer: that not only all special in a sense, but because it is suited to special occasions, to be “seasonable help” in a time of need. And although we may stand in need of it always, yet we do not so always on the same account, which gives it its speciality. Sometimes one thing, sometimes another, makes it needful and suitable. And God is pleased so to dispose of things, that we shall have occasion at all times to make our applications to him for special assistance. If things were left to an ordinary course, without something peculiar to excite and awaken us; it is inconceivable how formal and secure we should quickly grow. Wherefore we have (through divine wisdom) something always pressing upon us, to make us intent, earnest, and vigilant in our addresses