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as to look forward to the greater and better things to come. It is a great sin, but very common, that a believer who hath many years experience of the mercy of God, if there be a stop put to the stream of mercy, he is often as much shaken in his faith, as if he had never tasted that the Lord is gracious.
4. In preparing for a time of need, be careful to keep your consciences clean. There is no worse company in an evil day, than an evil conscience. It is worse company than the devils. His company is that of a tempter and accuser ; but an evil conscience is a judge condemning, and an executioner tormenting a man. Therefore herein excise yourselves, to have a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men, Acts xxiv. 16. It is usually seen, that times of great trials do dart in some light into mens consciences, and do make men look into their hearts and ways more narrowly, and spy small faults that they could not see at other times; for they are days of darkness in one sense, and days of light in another. Study therefore to keep thy conscience clean and pure, by holy and tender walking, and by daily believing; for it is the blood of Christ that only can purge the conscience from dead works to serve the living God, Heb. ix. 14. And let me assure you of this, (and if you will not believe it, I dare say you will feel it, and feel it the more then, if you believe it not now), that such as make all their care about their consciences to stand in watchfulness about their hearts and ways, and are utterly estranged from believing applications to the blood of Jesus, when an evil day and an evil conscience meet together, (and meet they will), that they will be in a sad and dreadful confusion. And no better will their condition be, who, upon a false pretence and in this case it is always false) of trusting in Christ, have no care either of their conscience or conversation. The mystery of the faith is to be held (and kept) in a pure conscience, 1 Tim. i. 19.' We should hold faith and a good conscience, 1 Tim. iii. 9. They cannot be got, nor kept, but together. Whoever suffers shipwreck of the one, loseth the other. Christ is the Saviour of sinners; but he is no minister of sin, Gal. ii. 17. He came into the world to save sinners, 1 Tim. i. 15.: not to save saints; for there are none in it,
but of his making : and his making sinners to be saints, is a notable part of his saying, 2 Tim. i. 9. The inheritance is for them that obtain forgiveness of sins, and who are sanctified by faith in him, Acts xxvi. 18. None are saved but the sancti. fied; and none are sanctified but by faith in Christ Jesus. There may be in an unbeliever a picture and shadow of holiness: but it is an abomination in the sight of God; whatever the man that hath it, or they that see it, may think of it. A holy unbeliever, or an unholy believer, never was since the world began, nor will be while it lasts.
5. Multiply your addresses to the throne of grace, before the time of need come. Happy were that Christian that could cry as earnestly for that grace that can help him, before the time of need come, as he will see it needful to have it, when that time doth come. But it is the weakness of our minds as men, and of our grace as Christians, that we cannot take up so clear a prospect of things to come ; and that they are not so big in our eyes at a distance, as when present. Yet by faith we may foresee times of need; and should pray much for grace to help us when that time comes. Suppose you should, for twenty years together, beg that grace and mercy that you should not have occasion for till those years were expired; would there be any hurt in it?
6. In any special prospect of an approaching time of need, make special addresses to the throne of grace, for grace to help in that time. There are two things in these addresses I recommend to you: (1.) Let them be personal, particular, and Secret; our Lord's direction, Matth. vi. 6. Many Christians find it an easier thing to keep a day of prayer with others, than to spend an hour in prayer in secret by themselves. It were far easier to know a man's frame and state, by his secret dealings with God, (if we were acquainted with them), than by all his professions and duties besides. (2.) Let these addresses be sometimes solemn and long. There are some mercies not to be got (as some sort of devils are not to be cast out) but by fasting and prayer, Matth. xvii. 21. Secret, personal fasts, I am afraid, are very rare amongst Christians in our days. Christ commands and directs us about them, Matth.
vi. 16, 17, 18. as well as about secret prayer, chap. vi. 6, 7. Ministers should not load Christians with work above the strength of their bodies, or minds, or grace. But surely it is but reasonable service required of you, that you should make addresses to the throne of grace, in some suitableness to your need of that grace that is dispensed from it.
There are four things, which if they were the fruit of my speaking and of your hearing sở often from this text, we should both have cause to bless the Lord, who teacheth his
people to profit, Isa. xlviii. 17.
1. If you learn to pray better, and to ply prayer more. David gave himself to prayer, Psalm cix. 4. The apostles, these extraordinary officers of the primitive church, gave themselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word, Acts vi. 4. There are times in which private Christians should give themselves to fasting and prayer, 1 Cor. vii. 5. If you belong to God, he will make you pray: and teach you with briers and thorns, if you will not yield to more gentle methods. How sad is the reflection that riseth in the heart, under some heavy trial, “ This is brought on me for my indulged dis“ tance and estrangement from God !"
2. If you learn to mind Christ more, and make more use of him in your praying. He is the King on this throne of grace. As much as Christ is out of your minds in praying, so much are you out in praying, and your praying out of that it ought to be. That which we beg, is out of Christ's store. In whose name do we beg it, but in his? for whose sake, but for his ? Out of whose hand do we receive what we ask and get, but out of his ? It is marvellous, that people should pretend to praver, and think they pray, who yet forget Jesus Christ, who is all in all, in all right prayer.
3. If you learn to mind and plead more God's free grace in Jesus Christ, in your praying. Free grace is the sensible humble man's plea. He is a proud ignorant person, that seeks or uses any other plea at God's throne of grace. Free grace is the only thing that faith can first lay hold on. It is a plea that any man may use; it is the constant and powerful plea of a wise believer. It answers every case, and suits every prayer; and the lowest case, and the highest
4. If you learn never to leave off improving of Christ, and pleading før grace at this throne of grace, till ye have no more need of grace.
And that will never be as long as you live. If any man fall into such a dream, that he has got beyond the need of grace, and so of praying, he is one that never rightly knew himself, nor grace, nor Christ, nor praying. The believer knows he stands in need of Christ and grace; and therefore prays as long as he liveth, as David resolved, Psal. cxvi. 2. And when he comes to die, and hath prayed his
prayer, with Stephen, Acts vii. 59. Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, and gets it answered ; praying, believing, and the throne of grace itself, as to him, is at an end; and everlasting praises before the throne of glory, of God, and of the Lamb, begin, never to have an end.
“ Even so come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Finish thy work ; “ fulfil all thy promises ; answer fully all the prayers of all
thy people. Put an end to sin, and time, and trouble, and “ temptation: and hasten the marriage day, that thy people
may be glad and rejoice, and give honour to thee, Rev. xix. 7. “ Let the bride be made ready, and let the Bridegroom ap
pear in his wedding-garments of glory. Ohow blessed " will the meeting and the marriage be! He married his bride " when on earth, in garments dyed in his own precious blood; " and the bride receives him as glorious, even in his bloody “raiment. This most precious blood was shed in love to his « bride, and for her salvation; and therefore he is amiable to “ her in that dress. Believers in Christ are contracted to a « slain husband; but shall be married to him in a far other “manifestation of himself. How great is the difference be=' "twixt our dearest Lord Jesus, under his cross, and under “ his crown ? And yet, under his cross, he is infinitely amia" ble to a believer's heart and eye. If it were not that the " light of that glorious day of his appearance will prevent all « mistakes, the nations of them which are saved (as they are "called, for their multitude out of all nations, Rev. xxi. 24.) "might doubt, (but doubt they cannot; but wonder they “ will, both at him and at themselves, 2 Thess. i. 10.), and " say, Is this that blessed Saviour I believed on so feebly? " whom I trusted with my soul and its salvation, with so much VOL. I.
« fainting, and with so many fears ? Is this he whom I loved so “ little, and so coldly? Is this he whom (all the time I lived “ on earth, after he had revealed himself to me), I depended « and lived on by faith, and that with so many staggerings « through unbelief, because I knew not so well, as now I do, « whom I then believed ?
“ And until this blessed day come, (and come it will; for “ it is promised and sworn by him who cannot lie. It is not « far off; for it is above sixteen hundred years since he tes" tihed, Surely I come quickly, Rev. xxii. 20. It is his last pro« mise to his bride), let his most excellent name be poured out " as cintment; and let the savour of his knowledge be made “ manifest in every place. Let his saving blessed death be “ remembered, gloried in, and fed upon, by all believers : “ (the greatest token of his love to us, the only price of our re« demption, 1 Pet. i. 19.) and the only food of our souls.) “ Let his justifying righteodsness be only mentioned before « God on earth by believing sinners, as it will be only men« tioned by glorified praising saints in heaven. Let the throne " of grace, reared up by the Father in his Son, and conse-. “ crated by the blood of his Son, God manifest in the flesh, be * revealed to the darkened world, and set up amongst the « blinded nations: and let grace from thence be dispensed to
thousands of perishing sinners. Let the glory of God's “ free, most free, every way free grace in Jesus Christ, shine " so in the nations, as it may (and when that glory shines, it “ will) darken, confound, and put to shame, all the Anti
christian darkness, (and dreams of false Christs of mens “ making, and of works, hire, and merit, under all their names « and pretences), and make it all hateful in sinners eges, as « it is hurtful to their souls, and as it is hateful in God's « sight. Let the praises of my Lord and my God, as recovered « Thomas calls him, John ss. 28. fill hearen and earth; and « fill the hearts, and fill the mouths, and shine in the lives of “ all believers on his name ; and let his praise fill all the gos"pel-worship in all the churches, tiil the day of the glorious “arpearing of the great Ga, ar? cur Savicur Jesus Christ, « Tit. ii. 13. And unto these wishes let every believer on, and * sincere lover of Jesus Christ, say (and every one that is such, w will say) Amen. So let it de, sa sriid it be."