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stop this man's mouth, and bring arguments against Job, that he could not answer? Yes, surely he can ; but he will not ; Will he plead against me with his great power? No, but he will put strength in me. He that I plead with, will help me to plead, and prevail. Few Christians know how much glory is given to God by an enlarged heart, filled with believing expectations of good from him ; and how a heart thus enlarged by faith, is fitted and disposed for receiving a large blessing. We easily conceive how sharp hunger and thirst, strong desires, deep sense of need, and mighty pleadings and importunity, do prepare the way for great receivings; but we little think, how much force is in the bare-like argument of faith ; Psal. xvi. 1. Preserve me, O God; for in thee do I put my trust. Psal. xxxiii. 22. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee. Psal. Ivii. 1. Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me; for my soul trusteth in thee. There is a mighty force in such pleadings of faith. “I know no help but in and " with thee; I expect it from thee, and therefore beg it off « thee." Faith in a believer never rose so high, but the Lord's gracious answer went higher, Eph. iii. 20, Look well to your faith, believers ; raise it high, use it well, and plead by it, and plead upon it, Blessed Jesus will never cast that soul into hell, that cannot forbear to entertain in his heart an expectation of eternal life from him, in the virtue of his precious blood, and on the warrant of his gracious promise. He that believeth on him, shall never be confounded. Never was any; neither
you believe. It was a great word of faith, spoke by a dying man, who had been converted in a singular way, betwixt his condemnation and execution, of whom Mr Fleming speaks in the Fulfilling of the Scriptures: his last words were these spoke with a mighty shout, “ Never man perished " with his face towards sweet Christ Jesus,"
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain
and find grace to help in time of need.
It is one of the names given to the godly in the word, that
they are the generation of them that seek the Lord, that seek his face, Psal. xxiv. 6. And they must be bold and arrogant pretenders to this name, that are guilty of the utter neglect of this duty. Since it is a duty of so great importance, it is needful to know how to manage it aright. This verse gives us a great directory, how to perform in a right manner this great duty. l. It tells us whither to come : To a shrone of grari.
2. How we should come: With boldness. Addresses to God may many ways miscarry ; if not made to the true God, God in Christ; if not in the right manner. We have here one thing about the right manner, coming with boldness.
On this I proposed two things to be handled.
On the nature of this boldness, I began to speak last day; and did mainly insist on the negative.
Now it follows to speak of the positive. It is the boldness of faith that is allowed and commanded here, Eph. iii. 12. Faith is a marvellous grace, both in its original, in its foundation, and in its actings and exercise. It is the meanest and lowest of all graces. Every grace brings somewhat considerable. Love brings a flaming heart, repentance brings a bleeding heart, obedience brings a working hand, patience brings a broad back for the smiter ; but faith brings only an empty heart and hand, to be filled with borrowed and gifted blessings. And yet faith is the highest and loftiest grace ; it cannot rest till it be in at the heart and love of God in Christ. Faith (if I may so speak) can both be in heaven and hell at the saine time. The believer looking on himself as in himself, (the apostle's distinction, 2 Cor. iii. 5. ourselves,
as of our selves), judgeth himself to the pit of hell, as his deserved lot; but when he looks on himself as in Christ, he sits high. Eph. ii. 5, 6. and makes bold to enter into the holiest of all, Heb. x. 19. How many contrary sentiments of himself doth a believer express ! only salved from being contradictions, by this distinction, That the word reveals and faith improves. I know that in me dwells no good thing, Rom. vii. 18. How! no good thing in a man full of the Holy Ghost ! a man rich in the grace of Christ ! a man that had laboured more abundantly than all the twelve apostles! I Cor. xv. 10. Yea, saith he, in me, that is, in my flesh dwells no good thing. A believer as in himself, and a believer as in Christ, are in a manner two different, distinct, contrary persons. A believer as in Christ, is a new creature; as in himself, and the remainders of corruption in him, is an old man still, or rather, hath much of the old man in him. A Christian hath two different opposite Is in him; as the apostle elegantly and deeply discourseth, Rom. vii. 19,-25. This genius of faith is much to be heeded in its bold addresses to the throne of grace.
This boldness of faith in this court of grace, acts in four.
1. In a free access at all times, and in all cases. privilege allowed by the Lord to his people, and embraced and improved by their faith. There is no forbidden time, in which we may not come. No such command as in that King's court, Esther iv. 11. Here it is proclaimed, Psalm lxii. 8. Trust in him at all times. Phil. iv. 6. Be careful for nothing: but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. There cannot be a more large and comprehensive account of the matter of allowed addresses to the throne of grace, than this. The apostle prescribes prayer as a cure of perplexing care. He hints, that every thing that is, or may be the matter of care, may lawfully be made the matter of holy prayer. Turn your care into prayer; and the care will evaporate and vanish, and your cure will be felt. Blessed be the Lord, that hath made this good in the experience of many who have gone before him, with hearts filled and oppressed with many cares, and have returned light and free, and their countenance no more jad; as Hannah, 1 Sam. i. 18.
It is a
2. The boldness of faith acts in free speaking of all the mind to God. This the Greek word in the text particularly points at. Let us come with boldness, free speaking of all our mind; pouring out the heart to him, Psalm lxii. 8. I poured out my complaint before him: I shewed before him my trouble, Psal. cxlii. 2. The tongue is not to be tied at this throne ; but all that is on the heart, is to be told to him. He knows it before we tell it, and better than we do; but it is his will, that we should make all our minds known to him. A believer, the better case his faith is in, he is the more open and free in dealing with God.
It is recorded of a man, that we should hardly have counted a believer, had not the Holy Ghost numbered him amongst them, in Heb. xi. 32. that he uttered all his words (or matters) before the Lord in Mizpeh, Judg. xi. 11. So Samuel did, 1 Sam, viii. 21. And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord. It is a great favour that the Lord allows us so to do. This is not after the manner of men. It would be counted a troublesome impertinence, to vent all our thoughts, and cases, and concerns, to a creature; but we may do so to the Lord. When David refrained his speech, and kept silence, it went badly with him, Psal. xxxii. 3.
3. This boldness of faith acts, and should act, in familiarity with God. Believers should come to the throne of grace, not as strangers and foreigners, but as fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, Eph. ii. 19. Our Lord, in his directing us to pray, bids us begin with, Our Father, which art in heaven. The Spirit of adoption helps to cry, Abba, Father, Rom. viii. 15. Gal. iv. 6. When faith speaks rightly this word, and fixeth on it, all other desires will sweetly follow. Abba and Amen, uttered in faith, are the might of prayer. Strangers know not what familiarity the Lord expresseth to his people, nor how much familiarity he allows them to use with him. It was a great word of a great saint many years ago in this land, when dying in a bright shining of the Sun of Righteousness on his soul, “ Tell it to the people, preach it at my funeral, That « God dealeth familiarly with men."
4. This boldness of faith acts in importunity at the throne of grace. This importunity is nothing but the stiffness and , tenaciousness of faith. Faith sometimes (and then it is best) will neither be beat back by delays from God, nor by inward challenges; but when it hath got hold of God, it will keep its hold. Our Lord spoke several parables to direct and encourage to this importunity: Luke xviii. 1,-8. that of the unjust judge and oppressed widow; and Luke xi. 5,-8. We must understand parables warily. No importunity did ever, or can ever prevail with God, to do that for us, or give that to us, that he hath no mind to do or give. All he doth and gives, is in love. Yet he puts his people on importunity in asking, as if he were unwilling to give; when indeed it is that they may be more fit to receive, and that he may give the more. Thus Christ tried the woman of Canaan, Matth. xv. 22,-28.
So much for the first thing, What is the boldness of faith allowed and commmanded in approaches to the throne of
II. What grounds are there for this boldness?
There is need of great and solid ones to bear up this frame. And, blessed be God, we have such.
1. The gracious discovery made to us of God in Christ. This is, as it were, the essence of the throne of
The Father's name declared by the Son, John xvii. 25, 26. It is utterly impossible that there can be any lawful boldness in approaching unto God, unless we know this name, and take up this discovery of God. Many professors busy their minds and heads with general notions and names of God; as that he is gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity. All good names of God. But is he not just, and a hater of iniquity; holy, and of purer eyes than that he can behold it? But the main inquiry is little thought on, Where shall we find the benefit of all the comfortable names of God, and escape the harm of his awful names ? It is all in this blessed name, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Eph. iii. 14. If you approach to God out of Christ, you run into a consuming fire. Here is the ground of the believer's