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3. Unacquaintedness with the methods of sovereignty, Psal. lxxvii. 19, “ Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.” The mysteries of the management of providence have perplexed saints of the first magnitude, as Asaph, Jeremiah, & We are apt to measure God's ways by our own, which occasions much fainting in trials: whereas they differ as far as heaven and earth, Is. lv. 8, 9.

4. A strong bias to unbelief and walking by sense, quite contrary to our duty and interest, 2 Cor. v. 7. We are apt to be impressed more with what we see and feel in providence, than what we hear from the word. And whereas we should expound providence by the promise, the word being our rule, and so get the cordial virtue of it; we expound the promise by providence, and so put ourselves in hazard of fainting : Luke xxiv. 20, 21, 25, 26, " The chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to-day is the third day since these things were done. Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

III. The third thing to be considered is, wherefore the Lord gives such treatment to any of his petitioners.

First, Negatively.

1. It is not for mere will and pleasure. Satan will be ready to suggest this, and pose the party with such questions as these, for what use is all this delay? what glory comes to God by it? what profit comes to you by it? Good folk may listen overmuch to it. But it is a lie, that it is for mere will and pleasure, Lam. iii. 33, “For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.”

1. It is not because he has no pity on you, nor concern for you under your burden ; though Zion, by the suggestion of Satan, may entertain that jealousy of her God, which he flatly refuses, Is. xlix. 14, 15, " But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." Whatever the Lord's way be with thee, it is an eternal scripture truth, "God is love," 1 John iv. 16, "gracious and full of compassion,” Psal. cxi. 4. And it is apparent even in this case, in that it is not worse with thee, Lam. iii. 22, and that thou art always getting new supports under thy burden,

ver. 23.

3. It is not to signify to you that you should give it over, and trouble him no more with your petition ; as the hasty unbelieving heart is ready to take it, and to give over duty because there is no sensible appearance of success, Jer. xx. 9. “I said I will not make mention of him nor speak any more in his name.” He has signified his will to be the quite contrary, 1 Thess. v. 17. “Pray without ceasing ;" and our Lord spoke this parable to prevent that misconstruction.

4. Lastly, It is not because he is resolved not to hear you at any rate, cry as long as yo will. Satan will interpret it that way to you, and there is too much listening to it, Hab. i. 2. “O Lord, how long shall I cry and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of of violence, and thou wilt not save !" He has promised the contrary Psal. 1. 15, “Call upon me in the day of trouble ; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." Our Lord assures you of the contrary in the text.

Secondly, But positively, in general,

It is for holy, wise, becoming ends; it is necessary for his glory and your case.

Believe that on the credit of the word, Deut. xxxii. 4, “He is the rock, his work is perfect : for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he.” There is not one random step in his whole way, Lam. iii. 33. There is a necessity for what he does.

OBJECTION. I cannot see how my case requires it, or what glory God can have by it. ANSWER. You are no competent judge of what your case requires, and therefore you should leave that to the Lord, Psal. xlvii. 4, “He shall choose our inheritance for us ;" Jer. x. 23, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself : it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” If you are sick, you leave it to your physician how to order your case : if your affairs are perplexed, and you have a plea at law, you leave it to your lawyer : and when you have a process at the court of heaven, will you not leave it to your

God ? Ye are as little competent judges of what glory God can have by such and such a management. God can raise glory to himself. where ye can see nothing but dishonour to him : and he will have it, Rom. xi. 36, “For—to him are all things.” Believe that, and leave the way of raising it to himself. The seed of glory to God in Job's trial, neither he nor his friends generally saw for a long time: yet it sprung up fair at length, and flourishes to this day.

But particularly, 1. It is for the honour of the man Christ. It contributes to it,

1st, In that thereby the petitioners are conformed to his image, in the suffering part thereof. He met with that treatment at the throne, Psal. 1, 2, “ My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not; and in the night-season, and am not silent.” And for a reward of his bearing it, it is appointed it should be the way of the court ever after. And therefore none of God's children shall miss to share of it, in greater or lesser measure, soon or late, Rom. viii. 29, “ For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.

2dly, Thereby be gets the more employment as the great Intercessor, and is more earnestly applied to than otherwise he would be. Longsome pleas give the advocates much ado; and longsome processes at the court of heaven bring much business to the Mediator, and so much honour.

3dly, It affords him the most signal occasion of displaying his power in combating with and baffling the old serpent, next to that he had on the cross, 2 Cor. xii. 9, " And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee : for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Here Satan and a weak creature is yoked, Heaven standing by and looking on. The poor creature has a burden on his back, he cries, Lord take it off, and cries again, but no answer: Satan takes the advantage, works against him to make him faint; but the combat is maintained, and Satan is baffled, through secret support conveyed to the sinner from Jesus.

2. To shew who are meet to be heard, and who not? who have a due value for the mercy petitioned for, and the God in whose hand it is ? Israel wandered in the wilderness till all the despisers of the pleasant land, and unbelievers of the word, dropt off: and Caleb and Joshua, who followed the Lord fully, were brought in. The fainting petitioners either despise the mercy, by dropping it; or God himself, by carrying their process to another.

3. To magnify the promise. Satan, in man's state of innocence, bent his main force against the threatening, to shake man's faith of it. Now he bends his main force against the promise, to make poor sinners quit their grips of it. In such a case there is a solemn struggle about it; faith holds, and the devil draws. The believer sees he is gone if he quit it; it is his all; and therefore, though the floods overflow, he strives to keep the gripe.

4. Lastly, To keep up the mercy, till that time come, that, all things considered, will be the absolutely best time for bestowing it, John xi. 14, 15. “Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. I am glad for your sakes, that I was not there (to the intent ye may believe); nevertheless, let us go unto him.”

USE 1. Know then, that trifling and careless management will not do at the court of heaven. Deep earnest ye must be in, resolved not to take a Day-say. Be sincere, prepare, and vigorously press

your suits.

2. This may encourage sinners to come to Christ, and to put their case in his hand, and hang on. Particularly back-sliders, and whosoever are fore-boding no good to themselves from him, may be encouraged by this doctrine.

IV. The fourth thing to be spoke to is, What is the import of this intimation made for this end ? It imports,

1. That sinners are ready to take delays at the court of heaven for denials. Satan and their own and unbelieving hearts tell them they are so. And therefore, in opposition to this, and to preveut the mistake, our Lord expressly gives his word that it is not so.

2. That importunity and resolute banging on, and repeated addresses for the supply of the same need, are very welcome and acceptable to Christ and his Father. There is no fear of excess here; the oftener ye come, the more resolute ye are in your hanging on, the more welcome. The intercessor will not weary of your putting your petitions in his hands, nor his Father of taking them out of his.

3. That the faith of being heard at length, is necessary to keep one hanging on without fainting, Psal. xxvii. 13. “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Petitioners indifferent whether they be heard or not, may continue their customary prayers without the faith of being heard: but if men be in deep earnest with their petitions, they will never escape fainting without faith, Rom. iv. 18, 19, 20,

4. That the hearing to be got at length at the court of heaven, is well worth the waiting on, be it ever so long. It will more than counterbalance all the fatigue of the process, that is kept longest in dependance. And the faith of this should be kept up, to keep the petitioner from fainting.

V. The fifth thing in the method is, The certainty of such petitioners being heard at length. Here it is necessary to repeat what was said of the duty of hanging on and not fainting, that we may see who they are that are such petitioners.* Now, that such petitoners will be heard, is beyond peradventure, however long they get to wait on, if ye consider,

1. They are doubtless God's own children, elect believers, whatever they think of themselves, Luke xvii. 7. “ And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them ?" If they were not so, they could never take such a treatment at God's hand, and yet still hang on about it, John viii. 35. “ The servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.” And will not God hear the cries of his own children at length ? certainly he will. The begun resemblance to their elder brother must be complete, 2 Tim. ii. 11, 12. “It is a faithful saying, For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with him, &c.

* What the author repeated here, is to be found under head 3. of the sermons on Luke xviii. 1. pages 350, 351, 352, 353, above.

2. The nature, name, and promise of God, join to insure it. He is good and gracious in his nature, Exod. xxxiv. 6,-9. He has bowels of mercy more tender than a mother to her sucking child, Is. xlix. 15. He is the hearer of prayer, Psal. Ixv. 2. and will he not answer that part of his name? will he not hear his own children, and hear them after they have cried long, and still continue crying ? He has bound himself by promise, Psal. 1. 15. “ Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me:" and cii. 17.“ He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.” And will he not perform this his promise ?

3. Such prayers are the product of his own Spirit in them, and therefore he cannot miss to be heard, James v. 16. “ The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Ye say, ye have cried so long, and no answer; and therefore your petitions appear to be the product of nature, not of the Spirit of God. But I say, according to the word, ye have cried so long and no answer, and yet continue crying, and have not fainted, and given over, but stick by it resolutely; therefore your petitioning is not the product of nature, but of the Spirit. For nature's praying is a pool that will dry up in a long drought; but the Spirit of prayer is the lasting spring, John iv. 14. If thou art strengthened to hang on, and not faint, it is a token heaven's hand is at thy upholding; as was the case with David, Psal. cxxxviii. 3, “In the day when I cried, thou answeredst me; and strengthenedsi me with strength in my soul."

4. Our Lord Jesus has given his word on it, and so has impawned his honour they shall be heard, “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.” Now, he is the Intercessor at the court of heaven, and his intercession is never baulked there : so the honour of the Mediator, and his people's being heard, are in one bottom to sink or swim together; and he is able to secure his own honour: and does not that make sure work of your being heard? I proceed to shew,

VI. Sixthly, How they shall be heard to their heart's content. 1. They shall at length see that their prayers have been accepted.

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