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cated, not bought. "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."-John iv. 10. Consider, friends, is not Christ the eternal Son of God, and Saviour of the world, worth asking? Why should our Lord charge you as he did his disciples, "Hitherto ye have asked nothing?"* Indeed, you ask nothing if you ask not Christ, and you ask no favour if you ask not in the name of Christ. If you were hungry, would you not ask daily bread, if thirsty, would you not cry out for drink? if you were prisoners, would you not ask for liberty? if condemned and ready to be executed, would you not account your lives worth petitioning for? Come, friends, fall down on your knees, and confess your sins, as having merited hell and damnation; but since God hath held forth Christ to be a propitiation for sin, tell the Lord how much you need him, humbly bespeak him with tears in your eyes and sorrow in your hearts, after this manner: Lord, I am among the fallen sons of Adam, condemned as soon as conceived, an undone creature, lost by the first apostacy, having added to the first sin many thousands of actual transgressions, every sin deserves thy wrath and curse, I deserve damnation; but my case is not like that of the fallen angels, thou hast sent thy only well-beloved Son to redeem lost mankind, he interposed betwixt flaming wrath and guilty sinners, he endured that which would have sunk sinners eternally into torments, and I hear he is at thy right hand to intercede for sinners, I am a miserable, helpless, hopeless sinner, "with thee the fatherless find mercy," thou biddest all welcome that come to thee in his name, he hath successfully managed this work of mediation, and carried thousands of souls to * John, xvi. 24. + Hos. xiv. 3.
heaven, whose case was as forlorn as mine; O give me Christ or else I die, give me Christ and I shall live, for he and none but he can bring me off at the bar of thy justice.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH THE INTERCESSION OF CHRIST BECOMES A PRIVILEGE TO A CHRISTIAN.
ACCORDING to the division which I have made in treating this part of my design, I proceed to consider what concerns the people of God peculiarly, and which may lead to the following inquiries :
1. In what cases should a Christian have recourse to Christ's intercession?
2. How a Christian should conduct himself in the enjoyment of this glorious privilege?
For the first of these, I am at a great loss, not what to say, but what to leave unsaid, not for want of matter, but the abundance of occasions; for there is no state nor occurrence of a Christian's life but affords fresh matter and occasion to employ Jesus in his important character of intercessor, and our dear Lord is ready to help in every situation and strait.
Only I desire this may be remembered, that Christ is not only a pleader for us, but an author of the mercies we want and crave; he doth not only ask the Father to bestow such blessings upon us, but he with his Father communicates them to us: so that we must not
only pray for such and such mercies for Christ's sake, but we must pray to Christ together with the Father, for he saith, "I the Father are one."-John x. 30.
Now, though the indigencies there are in the course of a Christian's pilgrimage be innumerable, yet I shall reduce the proper occasions, on which a Christian sensibly needs our Lord's intercession, to these twenty heads:
1. In the case of original guilt and depravity of nature. Alas, saith the soul, I come into the world wofully stained with guilt and pollution; "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me:"* how shall I get this taint by natural birth taken off? But the gospel assures me, that, "If through the offence of one, many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man Jesus Christ, hath abounded to many."-Rom. v. 15. Whether Christ takes off the guilt of original sin at our birth, I know not, but he takes it off from all true penitents and believing souls that sincerely embrace Christ, and are members of his body: blessed Jesus, take me into that number.
2. In awful blindness and darkness. Alas, by nature I am wofully blind and ignorant; I can see no beauty in the things of God, no excellency in Christ, nothing of the mysteries of grace, I am blind and cannot see afar off, am travelling blindfold into utter darkness; O merciful Saviour, thou art the light of the world, the sun of righteousness, come dart down thy beams of grace into my soul, turn me from darkness to light; enlighten mine eyes, that I may not sleep the sleep of death, give me the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; that the
* Psal. li. 5.
eyes of my understanding may be enlightened, that I may behold spiritual objects in a gospel glass, for my spiritual knowledge is very imperfect.
3. In the case of perverseness and stubbornness of the will. Woe is me, saith the Christian, my will is unruly and ungovernable; some are willingly ignorant, I pray God I be not so. But, however, my will is only imperfectly renewed; "The good that I would, I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do." Come then, dear Jesus, make me truly willing in the day of thy power; I find some poor faint wishes, some little inclinations towards thee, but feel that I cannot perform what I wish-thou canst work both to will and to do: thou blessed Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, carry on this happy beginning of a willing mind unto perfection; that as there is a readiness to will, so there may be a performance. †
4. In case of daily infirmities, and the unexpected breakings out of corruptions. O how many are my trangressions and my sins? "Innumerable evils com
pass me about;" every moment am I committing sin in thought, word, or deed, in omission or commission. Is it possible such vast numbers of sins should be pardoned? Yes, I will look up to my advocate, who is the propitiation for our sins, and is able to save to the utmost; he was never nonplussed with the multitude or magnitude of sins-Lord, thou canst abundantly pardon, or multiply to pardon as we multiply to sin; Lord, take away mine iniquity for it is very great: I will not despair, because I have a God to do with. ‡
5. In the case of deadness and distractions in holy duties. Alas, where is the Christian that finds not sad wanderings from God in duty? Vain thoughts lodge in us, and will not be shut out when we would be most serious; such dead flies mar our best pot of ointment : in the best sacrifices there is more smoke than fire. Well, but the Christian applies himself to our NewTestament Aaron to take away the iniquity of his holy things, to perfume prayer with his much incense. At all times, when the soul opens to its beloved, his hands drop with myrrh, sweet-smelling myrrh, and God smells a sweet savour from it, being offered in Christ.*
6. In slavish fears. God's children are very subject to these: a spirit of bondage returns again;† sometimes the terrors of the law and the lightnings flash in their consciences-Job, David, Heman, had their alarming seasons. When the spirits are agitated, especially when guilt is brought home, and Satan tears the wounds, what must a person do in this case? He must run to the city of refuge, to the horns of the altar, to shelter him from the grounds of his fear. David saith, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee." Here we may have boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus, Heb. x. 19, 22.
7. In sad apprehensions of apostacy from God. The Christian having mournful experience of the treachery of his own heart, the violent assaults of Satan, and the weakness of grace, and having seen the dreadful falls of famous professors, cannot but fear he also may fall away. This fills the soul with sad apprehensions, which yet are a good preservative against apostacy,|| but his only refuge and remedy is Christ's intercession, * Jer. iv. 14. Eccl. x. 1. Exod. xxviii. 38. Cant. v. 5. Gen. viii. 21. + Rom. viii. 15.
Rev. viii. 3.
+ Psal. lvi. 3.
|| Heb. iv. 1.