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men.

Christian can exert of himself; the third person of the Trinity is at work within, as the second is at work above, carrying on the same design. It is true, sometimes the exercise of grace may be intermitted, and the Spirit's assistance suspended when Christ is employed for the gracious soul; but there is the habit of grace, where the Spirit assists and Christ intercedes for

Dost thou then pour out thy heart like water before the face of the Lord ?* dost thou groan and be

? wail with bitter lamentations for sin, with earnest supplications for mercy ? is thy heart lifted up in thankful acknowledgments of mercy? Jacob had power over the angel, and prevailed. How was that? the text saith he wept and made supplication, yea, he wrestled and in a sort wrested a blessing out of his hands. f Almighty God suffers himself to be overcome by weak and sinful creatures, this comes to pass by the Holy Ghost joining with believers in their prayers, and the Lord Jesus in heaven pleading their cause, by which they become prevalent, and have power with God. If the fire of God be on the altar of the heart, the smoke of this incense comes with the prayers of the saints, and ascends up before God out of the angel's hand. || If thy heart be carried out to God, then thou art upon Christ's heart. Our Aaron bears the names of the children of Israel upon the breastplate of judgment, when he goeth into the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually. S

7. Dost thou regulate thy prayers and conduct according to the will of God ? Do not think that Jesus Christ will patronize thy petitions if thou counteract his pleasure ; if thou study the precepts thou mayest plead the promises. The love of any sin spoils the

• Lamb. ii. 19. + Hos. xii. 3, 4. Gen. xxxii. 24. || Rev. viii. 3, 4. § Exod. xxviii. 29.

fruit of our prayers. If you regard iniquity in your hearts, God will not hear your prayers.* Disown sin or he will disclaim you. “God heareth not sinners, but if any man be a worshipper of God and doth his will, him he heareth.”+ Not that you can expect to be sinless, but sincere haters of sin, fighters against it, that it may not have dominion over you. More particularly, your prayers must be regulated according to the will of God for matter, manner and end; “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, to consume it upon your lusts.”+ The Pharisees prayed to be seen of men, they had their reward; it was a poor reward to be applauded as saints, when they were arrant hypocrites.|| Besides, you must bottom your prayers on scripture precept, promise, or precedent; for if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us, and then we know we have the petitions we desired of him, 1 John v. 14, 15, that is, we may be assured our petitions are filled up in heaven, and shall be granted in God's due time, for which it becomes us to wait; for God's preceptive' will is the rule of our petitions, his disposing will is the rule of our submission. He bids uis pray, “ Thy will be done,”S and Christ himself

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* saith, “ Not as I will but as thou wilt.” It becomes not beggars to be choosers, but we should refer ourselves to God, and say, the will of the Lord be done, God is wiser than I am to know what is good for me, and when is the fittest season to bestow mercy. If thy will be melted into God's will, thou mayest pray with Luther, fiat voluntas mea quia tua, let my will be alone mine, because it is thine, there shall not be two wills betwixt us, I freely resign up my will to thee. Then you may be assured Jesus Christ takes

• Psal. lxvi. 18. + John ix. 31. # James iv. 3. || Matt. vi. 5.

$ Matt. vi. 10. T Matt. xxvi 39.

your cause in hand, and it shall succeed-see to this in a special manner: for if you contradict his will, you invalidate Christ's intercession as far as it respects yourself, for Christ doth nothing but what is according to his Father's commandment.*

8. Art thou an advocate for God, and the interests of Christ? All the saints are Jerubbaals, pleaders against sin and idolatry.t True Christians must earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints; they must not be neuters or ambodexters; if you expect Christ should take your part, you must take his.

When the question is asked, «« Who is on the Lord's side ?” do you as the sons of Levi, “gather yourselves unto the Lord ?"|| do you separate yourselves from sin and sinners, as David, who could say, “I have not sat with vain persons I will not sit with the wicked;"s God forbid I should be confederate with God's enemies ? Nay, do you resolve by God's grace to resist unto blood, striving against sin? do you contend hard for precious truths,

| pure ordinances, and practical godliness, wherein the glory of God and welfare of souls are nearly concerned? In indifferent things Paul will become all things to all men, but to false brethren in weighty cases, he saith, Gal. ii. 5, “ To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” The pious soul is peremptory for God, will not yield a hair, nor leave a hoof behind, where the essence of religion is concerned, and the honour of God. This is indeed a Shibboleth, it may come to this, that you must either sin or suffer; and if you confess him before men, it is as certain that he will confess you before his Father, otherwise he will • John x. 18. + Judges, vi. 32.

Jude, 3. || Exod. xxxii. 26. § Psal. xxvi. 4, 5. 1 Heb. xii. 4.

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not, Matt. x. 32, 33. Do you sympathize with Christ and his members? Doth the care of all the churches lie upon you ?* Are you like minded with the saints, naturally caring for the good of souls ? + Do you prefer Jerusalem above your chief joy? Do you pray for the peace of Jerusalem ? Are you the Lord's remembrancers to give him no rest, till he establish his Jerusalem a praise in the earth ? † If you will not plead Christ's cause, how can you expect he will plead yours?

Hath not Christ deserved that you should speak a good word for him ? not accidently or by the by, but purposely, and expressly; the Psalmist saith,

Prayer also shall be made for him," || that is, not for Christ personal, but for Christ mystical, his church, cause or interests. You are no real member of Christ, unless you duly regard his cause ; your own concerns will be swallowed up in his; but if you mind your own things, and not the things of Christ; § if you mind your trades, profits, preferments, and matter not whether religion sink or swim, our Lord will leave you out of his prayers. If men be careless of Christ, he will be as regardless of them, for truth hath said it, “ Them that honour me, I will honour; but they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. I

9. What experience have you had of returns to your prayers ? God never answers prayers, but on the account of his Son's intercession. Now if you have truly found that the Lord hath given a gracious answer to your prayers, you may infer your interest in Christ.

Ques. But how may a Christian know that his prayers are answered in mercy ? • 2 Cor. xi. 28.

+

Phil. ii. 20. * Psal. cxxxvii. 6. cxxii. 6. Isa. Ixii. 6, 7. || Psal. Ixxii. 15. § Phil. ii. 21.

1 Sam. ij. 30.

Ans. If thy heart be prepared or established, God then causeth his ear to hear. * When the soul takes more delight in God himself, than in the mercy solicited. When the soul is eased of its burden, on pouring out its complaint before God.+ When the mercy is brought to our hands through insuperable difficulties, as in Abraham's having a son. When God facilitates the

I producing of the mercy, as in Israel's deliverance out of Egypt. || When God dips the mercy in covenant love. When God is seen in the mount of extremity. S When the mercy prayed for and obtained, leaves the soul in a more humble, fruitful, thankful frame. When a holy flame of love and zeal descends from the altar to the hearth of the heart, and many more evidences, experienced by the gracious soul, which cannot be here recited. And indeed I dare appeal to the praying saint, whether he have not found some satisfying testimonies coming along with the mercy prayed for, whereby he may perceive it comes in mercy, from peculiar love, either from the soul's qualification for it, the means and manner of its coming, the season and circumstances attending it, together with the effects and consequences thereof; all which will demonstrate this truth, that some mercies come in answer to prayer. And what then ? was it the goodness of the prayer absolutely considered, that obtained the mercy? No such thing, it was only Christ as the meritorious and efficient cause, by the Spirit's assisting the Christian in prayer, as the means and condition of audience of prayer: so that the whole praise is due to Christ, to God in Christ, as the object and author, and mediator, procuring these good things for us. What workings • Psal. x. 17. xxxvii. 4.

+ 1 Sam. i. 18. # Rom. iv. 17.

|| Exod. ij. 23. xi. 3. § Psal. Ixxxvi. 17. Gen. xxii. 14.

1 Chron. xxi. 23.

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