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himself what is requisite in right prayer, he will make conscience of all, for he believes that if any of these be wanting his prayer is lost, and he is undone, for Christ will not intercede for those souls that do not pray aright, at least in the main. Consider this.
2. Endeavour to impress on your spirits, the vast difference and consequences of God's accepting and rejecting of prayers.
God disowns the prayers of a graceless guilty soul; “When you make many prayers I will not hear: your hands are full of blood,” Iså. i. 15. To the wicked God saith, “What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldst take my covenant in thy mouth ?”* Alas, what have I to help me in my distress but crying to God for aid, and if he turn his back on me, and disown me, what will become of me? But as for God's children, a sigh, a groan goes to the heart of God, being offered up in the name of Christ; if the soul cannot speak out, but cry, Abba, God hears-Hezekiah bid but chatter like a crane or a swallow,t but God heard and owned him. Whether company would you rather be of, in the day of your distress, or in the hour of death? Surely this matter is of some concernment now, and you will find it so then.
3. Thoroughly examine your consciences with reference to your spiritual state. Be not content with imagination or may-bes; it may be Christ is my advocate, it may be not, and so leave the matter at utter uncertainties : by which you may either be continuing to live in a fool's paradise, and so die with a lie in your right hand, † or be left upon the rack of uncertainties; but as far as may be, put the question out of question. “Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith ; prove your ownselves : know ye not your ownselves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates," àookytoi, unapproved, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. The decisive trial belongs to God, but the disquisitive belongs to us. And as you would not be found under a mistake at last, deal faithfully with yourselves now : lay judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet. Try by your having or wanting the conditions of the new covenant, by characters laid down in scripture, and such marks as God's children have tried themselves by, see whether your experience will answer theirs. Be not partial, but faithful; there is deceit in general propositions. Will not a tradesman search his books? Will not a lapidary prove his precious stones? Drive the matter to an issue, form this dilemma, either I am, or I am not a child of God, either I have Christ to be my advocate, or I have not; if I have, how came I by this privilege? What scripture evidences can I give of such a thing? I must be tried another day, I will now prove mine own work, that I may have rejoicing in myself alone and not in another;* but if you cannot find it out this way, appeal to God, the searcher of hearts, as David did often ; “ Examine me, O Lord, and prove me, try my reins and my heart ;”+ let me know the best and worst of my condition ; I cannot deceive thee, let me not deceive myself.
* Psal. 1. 16. + Isa. xxxviii. 14. # Isa. xliv. 20
4. Get a distinct knowledge of Christ's mediatorial work, and of the manner in which all his three offices of Prophet, Priest and King, are concerned in his intercession, for though they be in some sort distinguished, yet they are not divided. It is true, we make Christ's intercession the second branch of Christ's priestly office, but therewith is joined the former part, namely, his sufferings upon the cross, for he carries his blood into the holy of holies. $ Thus his sacrifice goes to qualify him, and secure his success as intercessor. * Gal. vi. 4. † Psal. xxvi 2. cxxxix. 23. # Heb. ix. 12, 24.
Nor must we exclude his prophetical office, for all the promises of illumination, guidance, and direction, are the blessed fruits of this office of Christ, as prophet, which yet our Lord prays for, " for all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen.”* As to his kingly office, he sits as priest upon his throne, and all the good that souls receive from him descends from his kingly office, as power against sin, defence against temptation, protection while we live, and deliverance from death: so that all the offices of Christ are inseparably connected with his intercession, at least in the application of the benefits accruing to souls thereby : so that you must not only respect the second part of Christ's priestly office singly in your addresses to the throne of grace, begging the benefits of Christ's intercession, but you must act faith on all his three offices, for obtaining good at God's hands. Alas, sirs, you have too low conceptions of Christ's intercession, if you look upon him in a single capacity, speaking a good word for you as one man doth for another: no, you must own Christ as having authority, not only as God equal with the Father, but acting as prophet, priest, and king at God's right hand, and procuring our good by virtue of his office; consider this in all your addresses to him.
5. Consider the vast distance betwixt the infinite God and you. In point of nature or being, God in his essential perfections is inconceivably great and glorious; read and consider Isa. xl. 12—27, where you have a
. . most elegant comparison betwixt the great God, and worm man; “ Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand ? and ineted out heaven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the * 2 Cor. i. 20.
+ Zech. vi. 13.
a sons ?
hills in a balance ?- Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.-All nations before him are as nothing, and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.” - How magnificently doth scripture decipher this glorious Majesty of heaven? and how diminutively doth it speak of man? yea, nobles, judges, princes in all their pomp, he makes them nothing, yea vanity. But how much more inconsiderable are inferior per
Which of us then dare presume to approach this King of kings without a spokesman, a middle
? But then consider what further distance sin hath produced, betwixt the holy God and such impure beings as we are; “God is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity.”* And what are we but masses of sin? How can we then expect that God, this sin-hating God, should look towards us with any respect ? surely a glance of his eye would confound us, there is no coming near God without a mediator, and this mediator must stand on even ground with both parties ; this is Jesus Christ and none else; think of this that you rush not irreverently into the presence of the great God; yea, consider Jesus Christ is the infinite God, though he became man, yet now glorified, and you cannot have slight thoughts of him, but adore him, as well as come to God by him.
6. You must remove out of your souls and hands whatsoever is offensive to him, or a hindrance to you in your employment of Christ for your advocate ; especially away with sin, all sin, heart-sin, life-sin, if you expect a share in this branch of the covenant promise, you must cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit;f if sin reign in you, Christ will not * Hab. i. 13.
+ 2 Cor. vii. 1.
plead for you ; “Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee?”* no, never expect it, if thou do not renounce sin, he will renounce thee. He will not own that soul that loves sin, if you regard iniquity in your heart, the Lord will not hear you.f He will not be a patron of sin, though he will be an advocate for sinners, that have fallen out with sin; and hate it with a perfect hatred. Yea, you must abstain from all occasions of sin, and appearances of evil. † Get disentangled from the world, the men of the world, or things of the world that would ensnare you, and divert you from God.
Yet one thing more, if you would have Christ stand your friend, renounce your own righteousness; never think of Christ's pleading his merits for you, if you think to plead your own merits with God, these are utterly inconsistent; so saith the scripture, Rom. iv. 4, 5, and Gal. v. 3, 4, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace;” some say it means the ceremonial law, others the moral law; doubtless “ Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth :"|| I know this point is much debated, but scripture leads us out of ourselves for justification by Christ alone, you must be found in him, or you are lost for ever; “Not having your own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith,” Phil. iii. 8, 9, that is, by faith as the instrument to receive Christ only, it is the object that justifies, not merely the act, the tò credere, in the sense of Arminians, who dethrone Christ to exalt faith.
7. Down on your knees and entreat that this blessed Jesus may be your advocate ; Christ is to be suppli* Psal. xciv. 20.
+ Psal. lxvi. 18. # 1 Thess. v. 22.
ll Rom. x. 4.