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tain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need, Heb. iv. 16. Christ's merits are adequate to all the saints' wants and guilt, and the very appearance which he discovers of having suffered is a sufficient plea for believers; as it is storied of Amintas, who appeared as advocate for his brother Eschylus who was strongly accused and likely to be condemned to die: now, Amintas having performed great services, and merited highly of the commonwealth, in whose service one of his hands was cut off in the field, he comes into the court on his brother's behalf, and said nothing but only lifted up his arm, and shewed them cubitum sine manu, an arm without a hand, which so moved them that, without a word speaking, they freed his brother immediately. And hath not our Jesus suffered more for us than the loss of a hand? Yea, the loss of his life, whereby he hath purchased those things for which he prays, yea, those for which you pray, if you pray aright, and shall they not be granted? Yes, doubtless: he makes larger offers than Ahasuerus to Esther, "What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom :" but what are earthly kingdoms or all the world, to God's gifts of grace and glory? Open your mouths wide, and he will fill them, Ps. lxxxi. 10.
8. Thank God for what you have met with as an answer to prayer, and put it altogether to the score of Christ's intercession. It was not your piety, parts, nor importunities-it was not your enlargedness, zeal, or fervency, that obtained those good things: no, no, you must say as David, Psal. cxv. 1, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake." We have no reason to ascribe any thing to our own worth or good
* Esth. v. 3,
ness, but to God's free grace and Christ's intercession. Rob not our Lord Jesus of any of his glory, it is dear to him, and he will not give it to another; there is no parting stakes betwixt our blessed Lord and creatures: no, no, exalt King Jesus only, give him the glory due to his name. If God have given you any signal mercies, as answers of prayer, let Christ have the credit thereof, for not one drop of saving mercy comes from God to souls but through Christ, and our business is to return our gratitude in the same channel. A good man never went to bed or rose, but he had that "Thanks be doxology in his mouth or on his heart, to God for his unspeakable gift," 2 Cor. ix. 15.
9. Forgive and pray for others, though they have ever so much offended you. It is our Saviour's precept, Matt. v. 44, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." This is a hard word to flesh and blood, but Christ practised it, and if you be his disciples you must follow his example. Study 1 Pet. ii. 21-23. You will say, was this ever practised by any mortal man? surely this goes against the grain of nature, to love them that hate us. I answer, as grace transcends nature, so sometimes it contradicts nature's corrupted emotions: but grace teacheth us to love their souls, not their vices, to pity and pray for those that are maliciously set against us. God saith concerning Job's three friends that wronged him, "My servant Job shall pray for you" it alludes to an advocate in court, that moves the judge in behalf of an offender. So did Job notwithstanding all their severe censures of him, yea, he offered sacrifices, and the Lord accepted him for them and for himself, for the Lord turned the capti*Job xlii. 8-10.
vity of Job. The people reproached Jeremiah, yet he stood before God to speak good for them: so Stephen, David, and many others—this is a piece of brave selfdenial, following Christ's example.
10. Especially let this be your main business, to plead with God for Christ's interest upon earth, the church of God, the success of ordinances, and the conversion of sinners to God. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee."* A pious man will prefer Jerusalem above his chief joy ;† his comfort is bound up in the church's prosperity, and oh what sorrow doth he conceive upon Zion's fall? how doth he give way to his feelings in the earnestness of "Ye that make mention of prayer? Isa. lxii. 6, 7, the Lord, keep not silence, give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth." O that there were greater numbers of such remembrancers! God forbid that we should be taken up with our own houses, while the house of God lies waste. O that all that love God would solemnly engage in this momentous work: you join with Christ herein, of whom it is said, Zech. i. 12, 13, "Then the angel of the Lord answered and said, O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem, and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years? and the Lord answered the angel that talked with me, with good words and comfortable words." Public spirited men have usually peculiar privileges. Come, sirs, help poor Zion in her distresses. All that have a tongue to speak, or a spirit to breathe, stir up yourselves to keep with us a departing gospel. Is it nothing to you whether God go or stay? have you no souls' of your own? have not your children precious souls? can they + Psalm cxxxvii. 5, 6.
• Psalm cxxii. 6.
be saved if the gospel of salvation go? Come all that have any sense of eternal concerns upon your heart, take hold of his strength, and say we are called by thy name, leave us not: I advise you to borrow the complaints and pleas you find in scripture, especially Isa. lxiii. and lxiv. Jer. xiv.
AND now what shall I say? The vast distance betwixt the infinite, incomprehensible Majesty, and a finite worm crawling on this dunghill, amazeth and overwhelmeth my finite faculties: how can I come near Jehovah? And yet the greater distance that sin hath put betwixt the holy God and a guilty, polluted sinner, doth more confound me, so that I may say, How dare I come near him? No, I have great reason to fear banishment from him into eternal torments. But behold, a deep mystery, a transcendent mercy, Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God is become man, hath suffered divine wrath, quenched the flaming sword of justice, and paved a new and living way to the divine Majesty; so that now in Christ Jesus, we who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ.* Here is a wonder of grace, heaven and hell meet, and sweetly converse together. Christ hath smoothed the face of justice, hath dried up Jordan, and driven back the Red Sea, that the ransomed may pass over; yea, he hath shipped over this dead sea thou
*Heb. x. 19, 20. Eph. ii. 13.
sands of gracious souls into a land of light, life, and love.
O gracious and blessed Jesus, what hast thou been? what hast thou done? what hast thou suffered for wretched man? What an astonishing journey didst thou take from the empyrean heaven to this dunghill of earth? What a poor tattered garment of human flesh didst thou put on? Yea, what rendings, stretchings, tearings, did it bear? What malice of devils, what contradiction of sinners, what effects of divine displeasure didst thou endure? till at last thou didst breathe out thy soul upon the cross, wast laid in the grave, as a malefactor, and all this by the malignant Jews, for no fault, but thousands of good deeds, healing the sick, casting out devils, raising the dead. But thou didst arise by thine own power, ascendedst to heaven, and sittest at the right hand of the Majesty on high,* which is thy proper sphere, where thou art negotiating the affairs of thy purchased church, and every individual soul that is by faith united to thee.
But will this blessed Jesus, exalted so high, stoop so low as to cast a propitious eye upon so vile a creature as I am? Yes, he looks upon it as his interest, nay, as his honour to own his meanest member. Saviour of lost man, break through these clouds that my sin hath raised, shine on my soul, with the light of thy countenance, send thy Holy Spirit to plead thy cause within me, yea, to plead my cause with thee, and then I doubt not but thou wilt plead my cause with the Father. Thy chariot is paved with love, and thou makest the humblest believer ride with thee therein; † and dost bear them on thy breastplate before the throne. I have been comparing my Lord's account book in the covenant of grace, with what counterpart I find in
• Heb. i. 3.
+ Cant. iii. 10.