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This, when seen, is a great ground of boldness at the throne of grace: Luke xviii. 7. Shall not God avenge his own elect, that cry unto him day and night? This our Lord prays upon
in John xvii. 9, 10. I pray for them: I pray not for the world; s* but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine. And
all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them. Fp2e As if our Lord had said, “ I am sure to be heard; for I pray
for them that are partakers of thine everlasting love. They « are thine by election, and given to me; they are mine, by « receiving and redeeming of them.” We are bid give diligence to make our calling and election sure, 2 Pet. i. 10. They are sure in themselves, and sure to God; but we should make them sure to ourselves: and many Christians smart sadly by neglecting this diligence.
2dly, The gift of Christ for us, is a great privilege that en fors gives boldness at the throne of grace. So the apostle argues,
Rom. viii. 32. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered pieser him up for us all (you may see who this all are, ver. 28, 29, Til 30.) how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?
As if he had said, ' It is a small thing to God to give us all "other things, when he hath given his Son. We receive
now many blessings, blessed be the giver; we have greater " things in the promise than we yet receive, or can yet re
ceive; but shall surely receive in his time : yet all we get, " and shall to eternity receive, is far less than the gift of * Christ.” It is like our Lord had respect to this in that word to the woman of Samaria, John iv. 10. If thou knewest
gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. If she had known Christ as the well of salvation to sinners, she would have employed him, and should have been accepted of him. But here many Christians
stick: they doubt not but Christ was given for his church For and people, but they know not how to apply this to them
selves. If I knew, say many, that Christ was given for me, I would then come boldly to the throne of grace, and
any thing confidently. I answer, None can know that 2
Christ was given for them, till they come unto him; and i
all that come to him, may know that he was given for them,
and should believe it. He was given by the will of the Father, and his own, for his elect. This is a secret hid with God. He comes to men in the gospel, offering himself, and all his purchase and fulness, to all that hear of it. He that hath his heart drawn forth to like this bargain, and accepts by faith of the Saviour, and of his great salvation, hath possession thereof immediately; and by that may come to know, that it was designed for him in God's purpose
of love. So Paul, Gal. i. 14, 15, 16. he was one of the holiest and most religious Jews in their church; and yet was at the same time one of the most wicked young men in all the country: a very hypocrite, a proud self-justiciary, and a bloody persecutor of Christ and his church. Yet of this wicked creature it is here said, that God had separated him from his niother's womb; and Acts iv. 15. He is a chosen vessel unto me; I will pour out of my grace on him, and will do much for him, and by him. When did all this break out? When he called me by his grace, and revealed his Son in me. Then he can say, Gal. ii. 20. He loved
gove himself for me; and again, 1 Tim. i. 15. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. All say so: but had he any
mind of thee? and hast thou any share in his coming to save sinners? Yes, saith he, of whom I am the chief. He came to save me the chief of sinners. Any sinner may come after me, and expect mercy at Christ's hand, when Paul hath sped so well, ver. 16. He hath made me a pattern of his mercy, for the encouragement of all sinners that have a mind for a good turn from Jesus Christ.
3dly, The privilege of actual reconciliation, and of being brought into a state of grace, is a ground of boldness in coming to the throne of grace, Rom. v. 9, 10.; where the apostle having shewn God's love in giving Christ to the death for us, ver. 8. he adds the blessings that flow from this gist; justification by his blood, and therefore much more salvation from wrath through him, ver. 9.; and reconciliation to God by his death, and therefore much more salvation by his life
, ver. 10. The improvement he makes thereof, is in ver. 11. And not only so, but we also joy in God, (the original is, ave
glory or boast in God), through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. A state of grace, is a state of boldness. All that are in it should, and all that know they are in it will, use boldness of faith at this throne of grace, Rom. v. 1,-6.
6. The experiences of believers are a great ground of boldness. Experience works hope, Rom. v. 4. rience of others, as well as our own, is of great use herein. Sometimes we find David improving the experience of others for the strengthening his own faith; sometimes he offers his own experience for the comfort of others, Psal. Ixví. 16. Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul. Because David was in distress of conscience, and got peace and pardon, Psal. xxxii. 1, 6. For this shall every one that is goily pray unto thee, in a time when thou mayesto be found. Psal. cxix. 74. They that fear thee, will be glad when they see' me; because I have hoped in thy word. There is no Christian that hath not experience. As he hath a soul that needs much to be done for it, so the Lord doth much for all he saves. And because the Lord dealeth variously with his people, therefore there is much difference in their experiences. Yet because all believers are members' of the same body, and receive all from the same head, Jesus Christ, there is some skill and capacity in every Christian to understand, and to be profited by the experience of any Christian. Hence it is, that communicating of experiences is a Christian duty, and a good part of the communion of saints. But there is much Christian prudence requisite in the discharge of it. Let no man boast of a false gift, and pretend to that he hath no sense of; nor talk vainly and proudly of what God hath done for him.
All true experiences are acts of grace from God felt on the soul. And grace is humbling; 1 Cor. iv. 7. Fo· who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive ? Now, if thou didst receive it? why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? Three questions confounding the pride of men and Christians.
Of these experiences that should give boldness in coming to the throne of grace, I shall name three.
Ist, The experience of the first visit of grace,
a good ground of confidence in asking any blessing of God. Can you remember when you were dead in sin, and had no thought of grace, nor of thy need and want of it, but wast well content with thy lost state; and that, in this state, grace came from this throne, and did beset thy heart, and overcome it? May you not argue, If the Lord sought me out, and found me in my departing from him, and stopped me, and turned my heart towards himself; may not I come now confidently, and ask mercy and grace? It is a matter of great use to believers, to keep up a savoury remembrance of the gracious change that preventing grace wrought upon them. Paul could never forget first Christ's visit to him, but speaks of it before kings and rulers, and people, Acts xxii. 26. He remembers time and place, and every circumnstance. I say not that Christ's first visit is so sensible to all, or it may be) to any, as it was to Paul. But Christ's work of grace may be known by itself, even when some cireumstances of time, and place, and outward means, are not known.
2dly, The experience of the Spirit of prayer, and of añ. swers of prayer, is a great ground of boldness of faith. I join these two together, for the Lord usually doth so: Psalm cxvi. 1, 2. I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, I will call upon him as long as I live. Have ye not known, that sometimes you have been so troubled, that you could not speak ? as Psalm lxxvii. 4.: that your hearts have been so bound up, and straitened, that you could say nothing, and do nothing, before the Lord; but sit as dumb and oppressed, all dark above, all dead within, and all doors shut upon you ; you durst not neglect prayer, and you could not perform it? and have you not quickly found the two-leaved gates cast open to you, your hearts enlarged, and your mouth wide open in asking? The reme brance of such experiences should strengthen the confidence of your faith. Have you not known what the answer of prayer is ? that he hath prepared your heart, and hath caused his ear to hear ? as Psal. x. 17. Come the more boldly at all other times. They are triflers in prayer, that know nothing of God by the name of hearer of prayer, Psal. Ixv. 2.
They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy. Whoever hath gone forth weeping, bearing (and sowing) hts precious seed, hath doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him, Psalm cxxvi. 5, 6.; and should therefore sow in hope.
3dly, The experience of communion and fellowship with God, is a great ground of boldness in coming to the throne of grace for more. Such as have most of this blessing, desire most earnestly more of it, and may desire it the more confidently, 1 John i. 1, 2, 3, 4. Surely we have this fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Christ Jesus; and we would fain have you share with us therein, that your joy may be full. This communion with God is a mystery, undoubted to him that tasteth it, and surpassing all the delights of sense or reason; incredible and unintelligible to all that have it not. A stranger intermeddles not with this joy, Prov. xiv. 10. It lies more deep, than that any eye of flesh can see it. It is of that nature, that only tasting can declare its transcendent sweetness : Psal. xxxiv. 8. O taste and see that the Lord is good. Saints feel much of it, they talk much of it, the word is full of suitable and savoury expressions of it; yet all are riddles and dark parables to them that experience
You that know what it is, though you cannot express it, yet you can relish and understand some sound words about it. Yet know what it is to be brought near to him, and to have the clouds and vails, that are either on your hearts, or on his face, scattered, and the light of his countenance lifted up upon you, Psal. iv. 6, 7. You have been sometimes so in the mount, as to think, O, how good it is to be here! You have known what the warm and healing beams of the Sun of Righteousness upon you are, Mal. iv. 2. You have tasted that in his company, that hath made the puddle of the world's wools of comfort lothsome and unsavoury; yea, as hath made you groan in this tabernacle, and long to be in at that complete and uninterrupted communion above, whereof all you taste on earth, is but a small earnest and first-fruits. And may not, should not such come boldly to the throne of grace ?