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as in the case of Moses to be a magistrate, and Jeremiah to be a prophet,* they both excused themselves; such a case may frequently fall out, what then must a person do? Why he must first consult the clearness of his call to that station, and when that is scripturally clear, he must have recourse to Jesus Christ, by whom kings rule, and who sets up officers in his church as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, as the fruits of his ascension; now you must go to Christ, both for a commission from him, and for qualifications to manage it to God's glory and the church's edifi'cation.
19. In case of God's refusing to answer your prayers. It hath been thus with some of God's servants; the church saith, “ Also, when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer:”# Job and David sometimes complain of this, and this is a sore affliction, but alas, what have they to help them but importunate prayer? If prayer have lost its virtue I am undone. But man, consider, the answer may be deferred, yet not denied; and withal reflect upon the motives, end, and manner of thy praying, it may be thou didst pray amiss; thy business now is to put it into the hand of thy advocate, it will not miscarry if it be by faith lodged there; look again and see what was absolutely necessary for such a transaction, and fear not as long as thou art praying and waiting, thou hast something of an answer in hand, and more in hope, which will not fail.
20. In the soul's approach to death and judgment. O this is a solemn thing, for it is the statute law of heaven ; “ As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. Death is formidable in a natural sense, judgment in a moral sense ; this body Exod. iv. 13, Jer. i. 6.
+ Eph. iv. 10, 11. + Lam. jii. 8.
|| Heb. ix. 27.
and this soul must part, and meet again before a solemn tribunal; O how shall I come off then? truly, I have no other way than to secure my advocate to appear for me; it is Jesus alone that plucks out the sting of death; if I can get Jesus in mine arms, I can pass safely through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil;* and when I go to the grave I but lay me down to sleep, yea more than so, I shall sleep in Jesus,t and O what a soft warm bed will that be? and as to judgment, I have one to answer for me, the judge of the court is my friend, and I know I shall not be condemned, for when Christ who is my life shall appear, I shall appear with him in glory. I
This, this is the glorious privilege of a child of God, a member of Christ, whether he know it or not, but many do know it, and have the comfort of it.
Thus much for the the former branch of this division, how and in what cases believers should improve this great privilege of Christ's intercession.
The second branch in reference to genuine believers that have interest in Christ's intercession, is to consider how they should conduct themselves when enjoying this privilege, and I shall give these ten directions :
1. Get clear evidences of your interest in Christ's intercession. I suppose you to have interest, but labour to get it cleared up to yourselves; your safety lies in the former, your comfort lies in the latter. O what satisfaction will it be to a pious heart to think, Jesus Christ appears in the presence of God for me; he bears my name, my person, my prayers before the throne, he also bears away my failings; I am accepted in the beloved.|| The church prays, Cant. viii. 6, “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm.” My a
* I Cor. xv. 55–57. Heb. ii. 15. Psal. xxiii. 4. + 1 Thess. iv. 14. # Col. iii. 4.
|| Eph. i. 6.
name is upon the breast and shoulders of the high priest, in the holy of holies;* he acts for me, speaks a good word for me, as if I were the only person concerned, yet others not excluded. He is now speaking for me, when I dare not or cannot speak for myself; he loved me and gave himself for me, and now he ever lives to make intercession for me. O what a privilege is this.
2. Do not in the least question the prevalence of your just suits ; see they be scriptural, grounded upon a promise, and then see that your requests be by faith put into Christ's hands, and fear not speeding, for our advocate hath the greatest interest in God the Father, he is his only well-beloved Son, his dear Son, he always hears him ; † the Father was so pleased with his Son's undertakings on earth, that he welcomes him to heaven with this grant, “ Ask of me and I will give thee." || But he asks no more of God than what he hath purchased by laying down a valuable consideration for it, so that God's justice pleads for his suit. See your matters be right, and the manner of your asking be right as to the main, and then come with confidence, fear not a disappointment.
3. Trust God for what is needful for you over and besides what you petition for. Have you the tree? you have all the fruit growing upon that tree: that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?g Alas, we poor beggars are short-sighted and short-spirited, we know not what we want, and often fail in asking what we know, but we have an astonishing word for this, Eph. iii. 20, “He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or • Exod. xxviii. 9, 12, 28, 29. + Gal. ii. 20. Heb. vii. 25.
Matt. ij. 17. Col. i. 13. John xi. 42. || Psal. ii. 8.
§ Rom. viii. 32.
think;” we can ask much and think more, but woe were to us, if we had not many preventing mercies that we asked not, nor knew any thing of, before they were received; trust God for these, and thank God for them, because he has been better to us than our prayers.
4. Remember Christ at God's right hand who remembers you to your great advantage ; let your hearts and thoughts be above with Christ in meditation and affections, Col. iii. 1, 2. Your good Joseph exalted forgets not you, why should you forget him ? God complains of Israel in the wilderness, that then they had his approbation, but when they were put into a fat pasture and were filled, then they forgot God, Hos. xiii. 5, 6, as if God should say to them, and to thee in a like case, time was when you were in a low condition, and had no other relief, then you and I were better acquainted, many a visit I had from you, but now you are filled, I hear no more of you, you think you need me not, but I will draw the veil over you again, and see then what you will make of it; consider what base disingenuousness this is.
5. Act suitably to this great privilege. O live at the rate of this mercy, do not disoblige God by any unsuitable carriage, this is his own caution, Exod. xxiii. 20, 21, “Behold I send an angel before thee,” beware of him and obey his voice, provoke him not, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him.” Observe it, men might say there is more lenity in the Son than in the Father, if we offend we will fly to the Son; no, no, you cannot think he will pardon those sins that God will not pardon, for he is the same in will and essence with the Father, infinite in power, holiness, justice, and truth, and will not humour sinners in their licentious ways; therefore you must honour Son, as you honour the Father,* by acting like Christians, obeying his commands, and living conscientiously, as under the law of a mediator; though he pardon sin upon repentance, yet he will by no means gratify sinners in vain courses, or in ways of impenitency. Remember the wrath of the Lamb is severe,t as well as of Jehovah.
6. Persevere in the good ways of God. Be not discouraged with the greatest oppositions; remember, Christ ever lives to make intercession for you. I You need not fear his deserting you, if you keep close to duty he will stand by you; you shall see he will hold with you, and he will hold you up: read and think of that good word, Heb. iv. 14, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.” Here is a double ground of encouragement to persevere :
(1.) That Jesus our head is already in heaven, and if the head be above water, the body cannot drown.
(2.) The business that Christ is managing in heaveri, which is to intercede as a great high priest, carrying that work on in the behalf of believers, is in no danger of creating disappointment, if you fail not to employ him; and if you do fail, he will still manage his work for others, but it will be your particular loss, the loss of your souls; O tremble at this, if you fall away after these discoveries, your case will be deplorable, Heb. vi. 5, 6.
7. Be not afraid to ask great things at the hands of God in the name of Christ. Be not daunted with the greatness of your sins, or variety of your wants, but come boldly to the throne of grace, that you may ob
, • John v. 23. + Rev. vi. 16.
Heb. vii. 25.