« PreviousContinue »
progenitors have procured great and distinguishing favors for us, so our humble and fervent prayers may procure the best of blessings for our distant posterity. Indeed, it is our indispensable duty to pray for the accomplishment of all the purposes and predictions of God, which remain to be accomplished.
4. It appears from what has been said, that saints are in a safe and happy condition. They enjoy the benefit of the prayers of all the people of God. Good men are required to pray for one another, and they live in the daily performance of this duty. They make intercessions and supplications for all the friends of Zion. They continually pray for the enlargement and prosperity of the church; which is virtually praying for the peace, and comfort, and edification of every sincere christian on earth. These prayers of God's people are very efficacious. They have all the influence, which any good man can desire, to draw down the blessings of God upon him. Must it not be a source of peculiar satisfaction to any pious pilgrim and stranger on earth, to reflect, that all God's people are constantly praying for him, while he is passing through this vale of tears? The effectual fervent prayers of the friends of God for one another, ought to comfort, quicken, and animate them, to run with patience and confidence the race that is set before them. They may rely upon it, that they will never be forgotten nor forsaken of God, while so many memorials in their favor are daily presented to the throne of divine grace.
5. This subject may remind sinners of what they have to fear from the prayers of saints. Their united supplications for the honor of God, the accomplishment of his designs, and the overthrow of all his incorrigible enemies, forebode terrible and eternal evils to impenitent sinners. The prayers of Noah proved fatal to the old world. The prayers of Lot proved fatal to
Sodom. The prayers of Moses proved fatal to the
' Egyptians and the Amalekites. The
prayers of Joshua proved fatal to the inhabitants of Canaan. The prayers of Elijah proved the ruin of Ahab. The prayers of David destroyed Ahitophel. And the Apostle John represents the prayers of saints as one procuring cause of the wasting judgments, which God has sent, and is still sending upon the Antichristian world, by the ministers of his vengeance. "I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came, and stood at the altar having a golden censer: and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God, out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightenings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.” This is a lively representation of the power of prayer, to enkindle the wrath of God against the enemies of his church. The wicked, therefore, have abundant reason to tremble at the powerful intercession of the people of God against them. In their present state they have nothing to expect, but that the prayers of saints will prove their final ruin. They certainly will, unless they repent and believe the gospel.
6. Since prayer has such a prevailing influence upon the heart of the Deity, saints have great encouragement to abound in this duty They are formed for this devout and holy exercise. Having become the children of God, they possess the spirit of adoption, which is the spirit of grace, and supplication. It was said of Saul of Tarsus, as soon as he was converted, "behold! he prayeth.” Prayer is the
Prayer is the proper business of good men, who have the greatest encouragement to call upon God, without ceasing. Jacob wrestled with God and prevailed. And God has never said to the seed of Jacob, "Seek ye me in vain.” Their prayers are always heard and accepted, even though the things they pray for be not immediately, nor eventually granted. But besides this, there are many other motives, which ought to prevail upon all good men to abound in the duty of prayer.
Let them consider, in the first place, that this duty is very generally neglected. Though all men ought to pray, and not to faint; yet how many cast off fear and restrain prayer before God? How many rise up and lie down, go out and come in, without acknowledging God in any of their ways? How many are so averse from prayer, that nothing but some threatening danger, or pressing calamity, can bring them to the throne of divine grace? How many prayerless families, and prayerless persons, are to be found in every place? This melancholy reflection ought to animate the few friends of God in the world, to cry mightily for themselves, and for thoughtless, guilty, perishing sinners.
Let them consider, in the next place, the peculiar pleasure to be found in devotion. When do saints enjoy more of heaven upon earth, than while they are drawing near to God, and unbosoming themselves to their heavenly Father? What divine satisfaction did Job, David, Daniel, and other devout men enjoy, while they were fervently praying for the peace and prosperity of Zion? Prayer naturally fixes the atten. tion upon the character, the conduct, and the designs of the Deity, and upon all those great and amiable ob: jects which are suited to gratify every holy and devout affection. Jacob never enjoyed a happier season,
than while his whole soul was vigorously wrestling with God in prayer. God is ever ready to reward those, who call upon him in sincerity, with the pecu. liar manifestations of his love. And this is certainly an animating motive to pray without ceasing and without fainting.
Let them consider, in the third place, that humble, fervent, constant prayer will give them life and spirit in the performance of all other duties. They will meditate, they will read the word of God, they will hear the gospel preached, they will attend divine ordinances, they will pursue their secular concerns, ar converse with their fellow men, very much in the same manner, in which they call upon God. If they maintain a daily intercourse with the Deity, and sincerely implore his gracious presence and assistance, they will find themselves ready to every good work, and exhibit an amiable example of virtue and piety to all around them. They will most certainly live as they pray.
In the last place, let them seriously consider that constancy, sincerity, and fervency in prayer, will be the best means to prepare them for dying. It is the natural tendency of this duty to inspire the mind with clear and realizing views of invisible and divine ob. jects. It is principally by prayer, that saints familiarize the scenes, which lie beyond the grave, and prepare for an easy and joyful transition out of time into eternity. Hence we find the ancient patriarchs spent their last moments in prayer. The last words of David were employed in thanksgiving and praise. Stephen died calling upon God. And the great Redeemer expired in the act of praying. Those, who live prayerfully, are prepared to die prayerfully. And who would not wish to leave this world, and appear before God, in a praying frame?
ON THE JUSTIFICATION OF BELIEVERS.
ROMANS V, 1. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. THE apostle having, in the preceding chapters, established the doctrine of justification by faith alone through the atonement of Christ, proceeds to draw a just and important inference from it in the text. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Justification places all, who cordially believe in Christ, in a new, a safe, and a happy situation. There is, howev. er, no small difficulty in reconciling this, with some other equally plain and important truths of the gospel. But all this difficulty, perhaps, may be entirely removed, by exhibiting the doctrine of justification in a just and scriptural light. In attempting to do this, it is proposed,
1. To describe true believers.
II. To consider what is meant by their being justified.
III. To consider how they are justified.
V. To consider the terms upon which they are justified.
1. I am to describe true believers. These are persons, who have been brought out of a state of nature into a state of grace. All men are by nature morally depraved, and entirely destitute of the least degree of true love to God. They are completely under the