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Luke xxii. 31, 32, “Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.” See, Christ was interceding, when Peter was most in danger of apostacy: so that the sincere Christian may make that bold challenge, “ Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ?”_Rom. viii. 34-36.
8. In case of omission or intermission of duty. This is too oft the case of good men; they slight motions of the Spirit, and omit waiting on God in the season of duty, through some worldly incumbrance, as Martha, troubled about many things, * or through negligence : and conscience is sorely afflicted with this, and judgeth that the Lord will not own them; but Christ prayed for Peter when he was in temptation, little disposed for prayer; and doubtless our Lord prayed in his agony for his sleeping disciples : † and we read, Isa. Ixv. 24, “ Before they call I will answer.” Mark it, here is sovereign grace; God is not tied to wait his people's actual praying, for Christ interposeth to prevent thousands of evils, which we know nothing of.
9. On approaches of public calamities. Such a day oft falls out, and prudent persons oft foresee these public evils, and are greatly appalled. † Alas, misery is coming on the nation, and we shall be involved in the common calamity, whither can we run ? Who shall avoid or abide this approaching storm ? Surely the gracious soul flees to his strong hold, gets into the ark, and there he is safe, God looks on the rainbow and remembers his covenant; || there is a rainbow round about the throne, and he looks on his saints in covenant through the Mediator, Rev, iv, 3. He can hide them in the hollow of his hand till all calamities be overpast. • Luke x. 40. + Matt. xxvi. 44. Prov. xxii. 3. Il Gen, ix. 16. VOL, III.
10. In personal afflictions. These may befall the best of men, such as poverty, shame, censures of men, loss of relations, long and tedious afflictions of body, acute pains that may put the best of men hard to it. What shall I do in this case ? Is there any hope or help? Whither must I go? Why, still thou must go the same road, to God in Christ, this was Job's refuge and remedy, Job xix. 25, “ I know that
Redeemer liveth,” he is speaking a good word for me, either to moderate the affliction, or to remove it, or however to sanctify it, that it shall do me no hurt but good. Remember Isa. lxiii. 9, “ In all their afflictions he was aillicted, and the angel of his presence,” that is, Christ, “ saved them.” Fear not you have a good companion.
11. In desertion, which indeed is the heaviest trouble that can happen to a poor soul. " When thou didst hide thy face, I was troubled ;" no wonder, for in his favour is life, then the want of it must be death. David saith, his spirit was overwhelmed ; † Heman saith, “while I suffer thy terrors, I am distracted :" | what must a person do in this forlorn state ? still he must centre on Christ the rock of ages. As terrible as God looks, he commands the light to shine out of darkness, when you can behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. iv. 6. If you walk in darkness, you must stay yourselves on your God: || get under Christ's wings, the wings of the cherubim, then you are safe, and he will make your position pleasant.
12. In spiritual conflicts. Alas, the feeble Christian is in great hazard of being borne down by Satan, the world, and the flesh; he is set sometimes with his back to the wall; these intestine wars strike up con. Psalm xxx. 7.
+ Psalm lxxvii. 3, 4. # Psalm lxxxviii. 15.
|| Isa. 1. 10.
trary alarms in his soul, and make him at his wits? end, not knowing the issue. Whither now must the soul go for a reserve, but to the Captain of our salvation, * who can with a word of his mouth confound all the soul's enemies? “ For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” † He alone can lead captivity captive, he hath spoiled principalities and powers, he triumphed over them upon the cross, $ much more when he is now at God's right hand. The believing soul hath benefit thereby, and is more than a' conqueror through him that loved us; this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. ||
13. In relative concerns. How solicitous is the Christian for those that depend on him, or are related to him? O what shall I do for my husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, or friend, who is as mine own soul ? “O that Ishmael might live before thee!" s How can I see the damnation of the members of my family? Alas, what can I do for them? “ I have great heaviness, and continual sorrow of heart, for my poor kindred after the flesh.”T Well, I know no other course I can take for them, than put them into the hands of Christ the mediator, to hold them up to the Father for converting and pardoning grace. O that Christ would take these children and bless them! there is grace enough in the covenant for all. Is not my child, in a sense, clean by relation to a poor weak believer, and dedication to God? **
14. In the enjoyment of privileges. I confess divine Providence hath cast my lot under a pleasant sun
• Heb. ii. 10.
+ 1 John iii. 8. Eph. iv. 8. Col. ii. 15. || Rom. viii. 37. 1 John v. 4. § Gen. xvii. 18.
Rom. ix. 2, 3. • 1 Cor. vii. 14. Matt. xxviii. 19.
shine of powerful preaching, lively praying, baptism, and the Lord's supper, dispensed according to divine institution, which might make me fat and well-liking, but alas I am barren, dead, and hard-hearted still, nothing will do except the Spirit of grace breathe upon
“ Awake, 0 north wind, and come thou south, blow upon thy garden that the spices thereof may
flow out."* Dear Jesus that walkest in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, f reach this breast of mine, and let my heart long after thee, bring down some illapses from above, as the fruits of Christ's ascension and session at God's right hand, for the perfecting of the saints, for the edifying of the body of Christ. I Send thy Spirit from above, (according to thy prayer and promise) which may lead us into all truth, and bring all things to remembrance, and prepare my soul for glory. 1
15. In the want of ordinances. Such a day hath been, and may come again, when persons shall find a famine of the word, when they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and not find it. § When poor souls shall faint for want of the bread of life, what shall we then do ? Our business is to feed on Christ the bread of life: his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed, he needs no channel of ordinances, but can drop down immediate influences from above, that in days of famine we may be satisfied. ** He can feed his children in the wilderness with suitable and sufficient manna : if you have the marrow and design of ordinances in Christ, you have all and in all. †
• Cant. iv. 16.
of Rey. ii. 1.
John vi. 48, 51, 55. ++ Col iii. 11.
16. In sharp divisions and controversies amongst professors. This goes to the heart of a gracious peace. able Christian, who desires to live in love and unity with all. O it is sad to see the the seamless coat of Christ rent in pieces; for the divisions of Reuben there are great thoughts or searchings of heart.* What shall a poor soul do in this case ? surely get alone and lament it; “Mark them which cause divisions, and avoid them.”+ Espouse catholic principles, maintain a charitable spirit; but above all have recourse to Jesus Christ our common Saviour, and entreat that he by grace would irradiate men's minds with saving truths, sanctify their hearts, mortify their corruptions, and establish their souls on a right foundation, both as to doctrine and principle, and Christ is the only foundation, 1 Cor. iii. 11–13, Eph. ii. 20, 21.
17. In the public concerns of the church. The good child of God cannot but bear the state of Zion upon his heart; “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.”+ The pious man is like Eli, he sits trembling for the ark of God, he loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Alas, what can such a poor insignificant creature as I do? well, I will put it into the hands of my Lord Jesus, who dearly purchased the church with his own blood, and now sits at God's right hand to intercede for it. O God, look after thy spiritual Zion, “and make thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary, for the Lord's sake." || that is, for Jesus Christ's sake.
18. In great undertakings. Sometimes it is so that Providence calls some Christians out to unusual employments, such as they are sensible of their own inability to manage, and would rather shift them off. Judges v. 15, 16.
+ Rom. xvi. 17. * Psal. cxxxvü 5.
Il Dan. ix. 17