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boldness: The God he seeks, and before whom he comes, is revealed to us as Christ's Father, and ours in him; John sx. 17. Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God. Blessed be the words, and the speaker of them ? and happy is the believer of them. Faith cannot stand strong without the remem. brance of them. They are my brethren, for all their fainting, and forsaking of me: I count and call them such, though I be entered in part into my glory. Tell them whither I am going, and where they are henceforth to seek me; and how to call on and worship the Father, as mine and theirs, and theirs because mine.
2. Another ground of boldness, is the mediation of Jesus Christ. But this being the third thing in the text, I leave it to its proper place.
3. The intercession of the Holy Ghost in his people, is a great ground of boldness. They have not only Christ making intercession for them at the right hand of God; but they have the Spirit himself making intercession in them, and for them, Rom. viii. 26, 27. A special scripture ; that I would remark five things from, relating to this purpose.
1. Who is the asa sister of believers in prayer? The Spirit itself; as also he is called as to his witnessing, ver. 16. And the word points at the immediateness of his assistance. 2. What this assistance is applied to ? Our infirmities; infirmities in ourselves, and in our prayers; as the apostle declares, We know not what we should pray for as we ought. The communion of the Holy Ghost is only with believers, for he dwells in them only; and his communion with them is only with his own new creation in them; and because this, as in them, labours with infirmities, his care is about them also. 3. The way of his helping, is in the original hinted : He helpeth with us, or over-against us, as a powerful assistant to the weak, in bearing a heavy burden; as Col. i. 29. Whereunto I labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. It is in vain to expect the Spirie's assistance in work we neglect, or against infirmities we indulge and comply with. 4. What this assistance is? Moking intercession for us, ver. 26, 27. and that according to the will of God. How can a believer but prevail, who hath the blood
of the High Priest speaking in heaven, Heb. xii. 24. and the Spirit of Christ crying in his heart on earth, Gal. iv. 6.? The voice of the Spirit is the best thing in our prayer; it is that God hears and regards. 5. But, lastly, How doth this assistance and intercession work in us? With groanings which cannot be uttered. What! only with groanings? We would think it should be, that he assists with piercing cries that might reach beaven, with strong arguments that cannot but prevail, with mighty force and power that cannot be resisted. Is all this great preamble of the Spirit itself helping our infirmities, and making intercession for us according to the will of God; is all this come to a poor unutterable groaning? How strange seems this to be! Yet how sweet is it! Some groanings are so small, that they cannot be uttered; for the believer hardly feels them: some groans are so great, that they cannot be expressed ; as Job xxiii. 2. Even to-day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning. Sometimes the Spirit of grace and supplications is a Spirit of liberty and enlargement unto Chriscians in prayer; so as they can, by his help, pour out all their hearts to God, and plead strongly : sometimes he is a Spirit of groaning, working only sense of want, and breathings after supply. There is more of the Spirit in a sensible groan, than in many formal words of prayer. The Spirit is called the Spirit of faith, 2 Cor. iv. 13. ; and the Spirit of grace and supplication, Zech. xii. 10. Join both those names together : he is the Spirit of faith in prayer, or, the Spirit of prayer in faith, Rom. viii. 15. The Spirit of grace belongs to the throne of grace ; and his assistance doth give boldness to believers. The more you feel of his help, pray the more boldly.
4. The covenant of grace gives boldness to believers in their coming to the throne of grace. The covenant of grace, as well as the Spirit of grace, belongs to the throne of grace. Dying David had that sight of this covenant, that gave consolation to him under sad reflections : 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow. Let us consider some properties of the promises of this covehant, (for the covenant of grace is a covenant of promise, Rom.
ix. 4. Eph. ii. 12.), that do give just ground for the boldness of faith in coming to the throne of grace.
1st, The exceeding greatness of the promises. They are exceeding great and precious promises that are given to us, 2 Peter i. 4. When a believer looks within, he seeth great and manifold wants and necessities; that he hath nothing, and wants every thing. Some have thought, that they wanted more grace than ever any sinner did ; yet never any wanted more than is in the promises. There is surely more grace in the promises, than there is want in the creature. Creature-wants cannot exhaust God's fulness of grace; așd all this fulness is in the promises. There is more of grace in the promise, than there can be of sin and misery in the man that 'pleads it. Take heed how you compare your necessities with the fulness of the promises. Nothing you can need, but a supply is promised. Study your hearts and God's covenant, and you will quickly find it to be so. We may ask any thing; for God hath promised every thing, Psalm lxxxiv. 11.
2dly, The freeness of the promises gives boldness at the throne of grace. That they are promises of a covenant of grace, proves they must be free. A free promise is a bond given merely from the heart and proper motion of the promiser, without any motion or motive from the party to whom it is made, except it be that of his misery, that grace works on. If the promises were not purely free to us, there could be no boldness in pleading of them. See how the Shunamite pleads with the prophet Elisha, 2 Kings iv. 28. Did I desire a son of my bord? did I not say, Don't deceive me? As if she had said, “ It was not at my desire, but of thine'own motion, thou “ didst promise me a son : and į did not fully beļieve it at « first: but now the son promised is dead." So
the beliea yer plead : “ Lord, I did not ask of thee a promise of grace o and glory. I was sinfully contented in, and with my patu“ ral lost estate ; and thou didst call me, and quicken me with “thy promise : wilt thou not make out thy promise ?” The freeness of the promise is the firmest foundation of boldness in pleading its performance. No other promises, but free ones, are in the covenant of
grace ; and no other pleading of them but as free, is allowed to them that come to the throne
of grace. If thou be for merit and worth in thyself, go elsewhere; there is no place for such proud rich folks at this
3dly, The sureness of the promises of the covenant of grace, is another ground of boldness at the throne of grace. They are the sure mercies of David, Isaiah lv. 3. Sure, because of grace: Rom. iv. 16. Therefore it (the promise, or the inheritance promised) is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed. A promise is made for faith; (would ever God or man promise, but to be believed ?) faith is given for, and acts on the promise ; (believing without a promise, is dreaming). A promise made by the God of all grace, 1 Peter v. 10. to sinners void of all grace, to give all grace to them, must be a promise of grace : the believer of this promise must, and can have nothing in his eye, but the grace of the promiser. Now, saith Paul, it is this grace of the promise and promiser, that makes the blessing promised sure to all the seed. Again, the promises of God are sure, because they are his, Heb. vi. 17, 18.; promises sworn for putting an end to the strife of unbelief. Balaam was a bad man, and therefore called a mad prophet, 2 Peter ii. 16. ; yet, by the over-ruling Spirit of God upon him, spoke truly and highly, Numb. xxiii. 19. God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he niet do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? All God's promises are sure, because they are his promises that cannot lie. And they are yet farther confirmed of God in Christ, Gal. iii. 17. So that the believer, in his pleading of God's promises, may lay down this conclusion: I want indeed great and many blessings ; but I want nothing, I ask nothing, but what he hath promised who cannot lie, and what is confirmed in Jesus Christ, the Amen, the true and faithful witness. Believers fail greatly in their neglect to quicken and strengthen their faith, by taking up the promises in their full extent, fulness, freeness, and certainty. It is always found, that faith is weak, when the promises are mean in our eyes : but if the promise appear, and shine in its glory, as God's faithful word faith is aloft, and acts strongly. Hence it is, that all strong believing gives glory to the promises, Rom. ix. 20. and weak
can be before it ; for itself
faith reflects on him, Psal. lxxvii. 8, 9. Hath God forgottest be gracious? doth his promise fail for evermore? Alas! it was the good man's infirmity to say and think so, ver. 10. But from his arguing I observe, that where faith is feeble, a man thinks the promise fails; (as a giddy man thinks the rock be stands on, shakes and reels, when all the shaking is in bisa head or legs); and when he thinks the promise fails, he thinks the promiser is changed from what he was when he made it to his glorious attribute of unchangeableness. If you have a mind to believe, keep still the promise in your eye; would believe strongly, view the promise narrowly and steadily The promise is both the father and mother of faith; it both power of the promise ; and the continued and growing life of faith, is by sucking and drawing nourishment from the breasts
5. Another ground of the boldness of believers in their ap proaches to the throne of grace, is, their privileges that they are possessed of. So the apostle argues, Heb. x. 19, 20, 21, of these I shall name, with this caution, That though all be lievers have them, yet all do not know they have them; and knew them to be theirs. But all should therefore labour to therefore all do not use them as they ought, and would, if they know them, that they may use them to the glory of the giver, and to the comfort and edification of the receivers.
1st, The first of these privileges, is election. And justly is before time, and all that they afterwards receive, flows from it. Election is that eternal and adorable act of free select company of mankind, that were to come into the on them, to the praise of his grace, Eph. i. 4, 5, 6. This blessing is revealed in believing. When God gives faith, he makes known his electing love ; and when we act faith, we may see it. Faith is the faith of God's dect, Tit. i. 1,
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to drawing near with full assurance of faith,
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