Imagini ale paginilor

perverted, that by this means it may not be run down, nor they confounded, or put to silence by its enemies, Luke xxi. 15. I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your ad' versaries shall not be able to gainsay, nor resist.'

7. There are promises made to the religious and strict observation and sanctification of the Lord's day, Isa. lvi. 2. 'Blessed is the man that doth this; that keepeth the Sabbath 'from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.'

2dly, There are promises, contained in scripture, which respect God's giving his people special grace, together with that joy, peace and comfort that flows from it, which will be of great use to them, in order to their engaging aright in the duty of prayer.


1. There are promises of the grace of faith, and others that are made to it; as it is said, in John vi. 37. All that the Fa'ther giveth to me shall come to me; and him that cometh to 'me I will in no wise cast out.' And, in Eph. ii. 8. By grace ( are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.'


2. There are promises of the grace of repentance, in Rom. xi. 26. There shall come out of Zion the deliverer, and shall



turn away ungodliness from Jacob.' And, in Ezek. xx. 43. 'Ye shall remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein · ye have been defiled, and ye shall lothe yourselves in your ' own sight, for all your evils that ye have committed.'


3. There are promises of love to God: Thus in Gal. v. 2. 'The fruit of the Spirit is love.' And, 2 Tim. i. 7. God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love, ' and of a sound mind.' And, in Rom. v. 5. Hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our " hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.' And, in 2 Thes. iii. 5. The Lord direct your hearts into the love of 'God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.'

4. Another grace promised is an holy filial fear of God, in Jer. xxx. 39, 40. I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear them for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them. And I will make an everlasting < covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to 'do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that 'they shall not depart from me.' And, in Hos. iii. 5. They 'shall fear the Lord and his goodness.'


5. Obedience to God's commands, which is an indispensable duty, is also considered as a promised blessing, in Deut. xxx. 8. Thou shalt return and obey the voice of the Lord, and do 'all his commandments which I command thee this day.'


Moreover, as there are promises of the graces of the Spirit, so the comforts that flow from thence are also promised: Thus

it is said in Isa. li. 12. I, even 1, am he that comforteth you. And, in chap. xl. 1. Comfort ye, comfort ye my people: Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, &c. more particularly,

(1.) There are promises of peace of conscience, which is a great branch of those spiritual comforts which God gives his people ground to expect: Thus it is said in Isa. lvii. 18, 19. I will restore comforts unto him, and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips; peace, peace to him that is afar off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord.' And, in chap. xxvi. 4. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is . stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.'

(2.) God has promised a good hope of eternal life, in 2 Thes. ii. 16. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even


our Father, who hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting 'consolation, and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts.' And, in Rom. xv. 4. 'Whatsoever things were written afore'time were written for our learning; that we through patience ' and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope.'

(3.) God has promised spiritual joy to his people, in Psal. lxiv. 10. The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall ⚫ trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.' And, in Psal. xcvii. 11, 12. Light is sown for the righteous, and 'gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holi'ness.'


Here we shall consider a believer, when drawing nigh to God in prayer, as depressed and bowed in his own spirit, and hardly able to speak a word to him in his own behalf, as the Psalmist says, in Psal. lxxvii. 3, 4. I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed. I am so troubled that I cannot speak; and how he may receive great advantage from those promises which he will find in the word of God; as,

(1st,) When he complains of the wickedness, hardness and perverseness of his heart; in this case God has promised, in Ezek. xi. 19. I will put a new spirit within you, and I will 'take the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you an 'heart of flesh.' And, in Jer. xxiii. 29. Is not my word like 'a fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces.'

(2d,) When a believer is sensible of his ignorance, or, at least, that his knowledge of divine truths bears no proportion to the means of grace, which he has been favoured with, and that he is often destitute of spiritual wisdom, to direct his way, and carry him through the difficulties he often meets with, as to what concerns his temporal or spiritual affairs: There are promises suited to this case, in Prov. ii. 3-6. If thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

[ocr errors]

' if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her, as for hid 'treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord; ' and find the knowledge of God.' And in James i. 5. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth 'to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given ' him.'

(3d) If they complain of the weakness of their memories, that they cannot retain the truths of God when they hear them; Christ has promised, in John xiv. 26. that the Holy Ghost shall teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance.

(4th,) If they complain of their unthankfulness, or that they have not hearts disposed to praise God for the mercies they receive, he has promised, in Isa. 21. This people have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise. And, in Psal. cxl. 14. Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name, the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

(5th,) There are many who are not altogether destitute of hope that they have the truth of grace, but yet are filled with trouble, as apprehending that they do not make those advances, in grace, as they ought, but seem to be at a stand, which they can reckon little other than going backward, and they dread the consequences thereof; such may take encouragement from those promises that respect a believer's growing in grace; as it is said, in John viii. 7. Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end shall greatly increase. And, in Isa. xl. 29, 31. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might, he increaseth strength. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint. And if they complain of their unprofitableness under the means of grace, and not receiving any spiritual advantage by the various dispensations of providence which they are under; there is a promise adapted to this case, in Isa. xlviii. 17. Thus saith the Lord thy Redeemer, the holy One of Israel, I am the Lord thy God, which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.

(6th) Are they afraid that they shall fall away after having made a long profession of religion? There is a promise which our Saviour himself took encouragement from, though never liable to any fear of this nature, which a believer may apply to himself, as affording relief against these fears and discouragements, in Psal. xvi. 8. 'I have set the Lord always be'fore me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be mov

ed.' And there is another which is more directly applicable to this case, in 1 Cor. i. 8. Who shall also confirm you


unto the end that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord

[ocr errors]

Jesus Christ.' And if he is fallen, and, at the same time, afraid that he shall never be able to rise again, and recover what he has lost, there is another promise in Psal. xxxvi. 24, 28. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. The Lord loveth 'judgment, and forsaketh not his saints' And God also says, in Heb. xiii. 5. I will never leave thee, nor for sake thee."


(7th,) If a believer be under divine desertion, which he may be, and yet kept from apostacy; if he is mourning after the Lord, and earnestly desiring that he would return to him; he may take encouragement from that promise in Psal. xlii. 5. Why art thou cast down, O my soul; and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.' And, in Jer. xxxi. 13, 14. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both "young men and old together: For I will turn their mourn



ing into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice 'from their sorrow. And I will satiate the soul of the priests * with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my good'ness, saith the Lord."


(8th,) Is he cast down under a sense of the guilt of sin, and afraid of the punishment that will ensue? there are many promises in the word of God that respect the forgiveness of sin, in Psal. ciii. 3. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities: who 'healeth all thy diseases.' And, in Psal. cxxx. 4. There is 'forgiveness with thee, that thou mayst be feared.' And, in Isa. xliii. 25. I, even I am he that blotteth out thy transgres 'sions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.'

(9th,) Is a believer afraid of the last enemy, death, by reason of the fear whereof he is all his life-time subject to bondage: Heb. ii. 15. and Psal. xlviii. 14. This God is our 'God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even unto 'death.' And, in Psal. xxiii. 4. Yea, though I walk through 'the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for 'thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.' And, in Psal. xxxvii. 37. Mark the perfect man, and behold

the upright; for the end of that man is peace.' Thus we have considered the promises of God as suited to every condition, and, consequently, as affording matter of encouragement to us in drawing nigh to him in prayer.

5. Those reproofs for sins committed, and threatenings which are contained in the word of God, as a means to deter from committing them, may be improved for our direction in prayer.

(1.) As we are hereby induced to hate sin, beg strength to subdue and mortify it, and deprecate the wrath and judgments of God against those that commit it.


Y y

(2.) We are hereby led to see our desert of punishment, while we confess ourselves to be sinners, and to bless God that he has not inflicted it upon us; but especially if he has given us ground of hope that he has delivered us from that condemnation which was due to us for sin.

(3.) They will be of use to us in prayer, as we are thereby led to have an awful sense of the holiness and justice of God, and to draw nigh to him with fear and trembling, lest we should provoke his wrath by our unbecoming behaviour in his presence, and thereby bring on ourselves a curse instead of a blessing.

6. The word of God is of use for our direction in prayer, as it contains many examples of the performance of this duty in a right manner by the saints, whose graces, and the manner in which they have drawn nigh to God, are proposed for our imitation in this duty: Thus we read of Jacob's wrestling with God, and his great importunity, when it is said, in Hos. xii. 4. He had power over the angel, and prevailed; he wept and made supplication unto him;' as referring to what is mentioned in Gen. xxxii. 26, 28. The angel,' that is, Christ, says, let me go, for the day breaketh,' q. d. cease thy importunity, which thou hast maintained to the breaking of the day; during which time I have given thee no encouragement that I will grant thy request. Jacob persists in his resolution, and says,




I will not let thee go, except thou bless me ;' that is, I will not leave off importuning thee, till thou givest me a gracious answer: Upon which, our Saviour says, as a prince hast thou power with God,' that is, with me, and with men,' to wit, with Esau thy brother, and hast prevailed:' So that he shall do thee no hurt, in ver. 28. but his heart shall be turned toward thee.



Again, we read of Abraham's humility in prayer, when he says, in Gen. xviii. 27. Behold now, I have taken upon ( to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes. And, in ver. 30. Oh! let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak.'

We also read of David's sincerity, in Psal. xvii. 1. Attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer that goeth not out of 'feigned lips;' and of Hezekiah's addressing himself to God with tears in his sickness; upon which, he immediately received a gracious answer, in Isa. xxxviii 3, 5. and when he was recovered, he gives praise to God, in ver. 19. The living, 'the living, he shall praise thee as I do this day: The Father to the children shall make known thy truth.'

We have an instance of Jonah's faith in prayer, when his disobedience to the divine command, had brought him into the utmost distress, in Jonah ii. 2, 4. Out of the belly of hell cried *I, and thou heardest my voice. Then I said, I am cast out ' of thy sight; yet will I look again toward thy holy temple.'

« ÎnapoiContinuă »