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plished, though the wheels of providence should seem to drive ont over it and in over it, Rom. iv. 19, 20,“ And Abraham being not weak in faith, be considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb. He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God." Providence is not our Bible; the works of God may be very various, but the word of promise is always the same, it is never moved. Ye have a very poetical passage, Psal. xviii. 7, and downwards. I think it proceeds upon this view, that though all the confusions of the universe cannot move the promise ; yet if hills, earth, fire, waters, heavens, were all standing before it to hinder its accomplishment, it would move them all out of their places, and make its way through them.
6. They must keep up hope of the thing promised over the belly of all improbabilities, 2 Pet. i. 13,“ Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be bronght unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Faith opening the door of tho promise, hope sees the blessed answer to the petition lying at the King's hand, however long it may be ere it be transmitted. That is very pleasing to God, Psal. cxlvii. 11, “The Lord taketh pleasure in those that hope in his mercy."
7. Lastly, If at any time they begin to faint, they must wrestle against it, that they go not quite away, Heb. x. 35, “ Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.” If faith and hope fail, so will patience : but ye must set yourselves to believe over the belly of senso, and hope against hope.
USE. Christians, communicauts, and whosoever of you would have your business go right in heaven, go from this place resolute to hang on about the Lord's hand, and not to faint, whatever ye have met with, or shall meet with from that airth. Have a horror of fainting, giving over, or going back to another door. Consider,
1. If ye faint and give over, your suit is lost, ye have given up with it. And,
1st, If your suit be the main thing, the eternal wellbeing of your soul, which is what we all pretend to; then your soul is lost, Heb. x. 38, “ If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Be resolute in religion, as ever ye would not be eternally lost; for none will get to heaven but those that have a brow for a bargain, to yoke with difficulties in the way, and go through them. It is a concerning word, Rev. xxi. 8,“ But the fearful, and unbelieving,-shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone which is the second death." I think it has a view to the fearful and unbelieving disposition that kept the Israelites out of Canaan, Numb. xiii. 33, and xiv.
2dly, If it be a temporal mercy, ye may get it, but the substance will be out of it, at least till ye repent of your fainting, Psal. cvi. 15, “He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.”
2. If ye hold on and faint not, be your on-waiting ever so long, it shall not be in vain. Matth. xxiv. 13, “ He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." Gal. vi. 9, “ Let us not be weary in well-doing : for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” God will never put those away empty from him, that hang on, and will not go without the blessing.
3. He is well worth the waiting on. (1.) Though he is infinitely above us, he has waited long on us. (2.) The longer you are called to wait for a mercy, ye will readily find it the more valuable when it comes. The promise uses to go longest with the biggest mercy; witness the promise of Christ, while many lesser promises brought forth. (3.) His time will be found the due time, Gal. vi. 9; the best chosen time for the mercy's coming; witness the time of Isaac's birth. (4.) Ye shall be sure of some blessed offallings, while ye wait on, Psal. xxvii. 14, “Wait on the Lord : be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” and cxxxviii. 3, “In the day when I cried, thou answeredst me; and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.” Ye shall be sure of some pledge of a good answer, Jer. lii. 31, 32.
4. Lastly, They have waited long, that have lost all, by not having patience to wait a little longer, Exod. xxxii.; 1 Sam. xiii. 8, 10. Therefore “let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing," James i. 4; “for in due season ye shall reap, if ye faint not,” Gal. vi. 9.
PETITIONERS AT THE COURT OF HEAVEN ENCOURAGED; OR, THE HAPPY ISSUE OF PRAYING ALWAYS, AND NOT FAINTING.
Two Sermons preached, on a Sacramental occasion, at Galashiels, August 12 and 13,
LUKE xviii. 8.
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.
Ar a late occasion I spoke to the scope of this parable from ver. 1. The parable itself we have vers. 2–5, the doctrine of it, vers. 6, 7.
In the text we bave the doctrine of it repeated, amplified, and confirmed.
1. The doctrine of the parable is here repeated, “He will avenge them.” Our Lord had already laid it before his disciples, ver. 7, in very strong terms: for it is a point upon the belief of which very much depends; particularly his people's "praying always, and not fainting :” q. d. God will certainly hear them at length; therefore they must hang on about his hand crying, and not faint.
1st, Consider the parties for whom this benefit is secured ; them. It refers to ver. 7; and so the parties are, they that “cry unto God night and day; and what that is, appears from the scope : it is even to "pray always, and not to faint;" which I have already explained. So they who having laid petitions for supply of their needs before the Lord, do hang on and insist without fainting and giving over, are assured of a happy issue of their process, however tedious it may be. This is good news to petitioners at the court of heaven, though their answer inay have been so long delayed, that it seems as if they would never be heard : this may make them renew their suit, and pursue as a giant refreshed with wine.
OBJECTION. But it is expressly restricted to the elect; therefore, though I hang on never so long, I am, may be, none of God's elect, and therefore can have no encouragement from it. ANSWER. The scope of the parable looks to men indefinitely, ver. 1, " That men ought always to pray, and not to faint;" and the term elect is no restriction of the criers that are to be heard, as if there were some that cry day and night unto God, that are elect ones; and others that cry night and day unto him that are not elect ones. No; but the crying of the elect day and night in the sense of the text, is proposed as an evidence of eternal election : it is inferred from their so crying, that they are elect ones, and therefore shall surely be heard. Q. d. The unjust judge heard a woman he had no regard for, because she came continually to him : how much more will a just God hear those that are coming continually to him, since they are surely his chosen ones, else they would certainly give it over, and go to another door?
2dly, The benefit secured for them, “ He will avenge them;" that is, agreeable to the general scope, he will hear them at length to their full satisfaction; their process shall have a happy issue. But it is expressed by “avenging them,” to intimate, (1.) That all the grievances that God's children labour under, and which send them crying to God for relief, arise from their adversaries, temporal or spiritual, without them or within them. (2.) That they are not able to rid themselves of their adversaries, but must grapple with their burden till another hand take it off. (3.) That God will not only deliver them, but shew them just vengeance on the springs of their grievances.
2. The doctrine of the parable amplified, “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.” Though they think they are put to wait long, yet matters being weighed in an even balance, they shall have a quick return of their prayers.
3. The confirmation of the whole, “ I tell you,” Our Lord Christ gives his word for it.
The doctrine from the first verse was, that our Lord Jesus Christ has kindly intimated to all that have business at the court of heaven, the necessity of so managing themselves, that they still hang on there, and not faint, whatever entertainment they meet with during the dependence of their process. And, in pursuance of the same scope, from the 8th verse compared with the first, I observe the following
DOCTRINE. To move them that have business at the court of heaven, still to hang on there, and not to faint, whatever hardships they meet with during the dependence of their process, our Lord Jesus hath expressly intimated that such petitioners shall certainly be heard to their heart's content, and that speedily, in reality, however tedious their process may seem to them for the time. Briefly, Jesus Christ has given his word for it, that such petitioners at the court of heaven, as will hang on and not faint, shall certainly be heard to their heart's content, and that speedily.
In handling this doctrine, I shall show,
I. What is that treatment petitioners meet with at the court of heaven, under which they will be in bazard of fainting.
II. Why petitioners are in hazard of fainting from such treatment at the court of heaven.
III. Wherefore the Lord gives such treatment to any of his petitioners.
IV. What is the import of this intimation made for this end.
I. First, I shall shew what is that treatment petitioners may meet with at the court of heaven, under which they will be in hazard of fainting. I mentioned several particulars at another occasion ; I offer now only three things in general.
1. The weight and pressure of their heavy case itself, whatever it is, may be long continued, notwithstanding all their addresses for help, Jer. viii. 20, “ The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” They may come again and again to the throne of grace, with their burden on their back, and as often carry it away with them. And that is faintsome work. A short trial, though it be sharp, is but “running with the footmen ;” but a long continued one is “contending with horses,” apt to run one out of breath, Psal. vi. 3,“ My soul is also sore vexed : but thou, O Lord, how long ?
2. There may be no appearance of relief, Psal. lxxiv. 9, “ We see not our signs, there is no more any prophet, neither is there among us any that knoweth how long.” A glimpse of an appearance of relief, though yet afar off, would be like a cordial to the weary attendants, howbeit their night may have been long and dark, and yet no sign of day-break to be discerned. The petitioners are apt to faint, who though they often listen, can hear no voice; though they look oft to the throne, can discern no moving toward their relief, Psal. cxix. 123," Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness."
3. They may get incident weights laid on them, as a load above their burden, Psal. Ixix. 26, “They persecute him whom thou hast smitten, and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded." These are like drops poured into a full cup, ready to cause it run over; like smart touches on a broken leg, inclining one readily to faint.
II. The second thing to be spoke to, is, why petitioners are in hazard of fainting from such treatment at the court of heaven. Four things concur to it.
1. Natural weakness, Is. xl. 6, “ All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. On this very
view the Lord "pities his children,” Psal. ciii. 13, 14. We have weak backs, easily bowed down under a heavy burden, Psal. xxxviii. 6; weak hearts, soon damped, where God shews himself our party; weak heads, and are soon brought to our wits end; weak hands, that can do little for ourselves at a pinch ; and weak knees, ready to bow, and let us go to the ground, after long hanging on.
2. Conscience of guilt, Psal. xxxviii. 5, 6, “My wounds stink, and are corrupt; because of my foolishness. I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long." Guilt is a mother of fears, and fears cause fainting. The sinner goes to God with his pinching case, he is not answered: presently there is a quarrel apprehended, the man knows he is a criminal, and the guilty conscience whispers in his ear, “ There is no hope."