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my face in vain,” Isa. xlv. 19. “ In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer,” Isa. liv. 8.
ARG. 5. The more stedfast and fixed thou art in wrestling with God in prayer, even when all the world is against thee, and God himself seems to frown upon thee; the more will thy faith appear to be a divine faith, and the more glory wilt thou bring to God's great name.
It is no wonder to see and hear a person speak and act for God while the continued smiles of God's face shine like the sun upon him; but for a soul to rest on God in the darkest night of affliction, when the methods of Providence, like a spring-tide, seem to overturn all the ground of his hopes and expectations, and when nothing appears, in the face of Providence, but what seems to the eye
of sense and carnal reason to be a plain indication of the hatred and wrath of God; then to believe in a frowning God, to trust in him, to continue to pray to him believingly and dependingly; this is faith indeed; and O! how few now living can do thus!
ARG. 6. The encouraging discovery God makes of himself in the word of his grace. He sets himself forth as set on a throne of grace, clad with the royal robes of goodness, mercy, love, grace, and compassion, towards all returning coming sinners, with open arms ready to receive, with the most endearing welcomes that a God can give,
every poor trembling soul who thirsts and pants after his grace and favour.
ARG. 7. The work and office of Christ, the exalted Son of God, about which he is now employed in the highest heavens, namely, to represent at God's throne the imperfect state and afflicted condition of all his members in their militant condition here on earth, and to make intercession for them with his and their Father in heaven. Now, if the weak and tempted béliever did but know how incomprehensibly excellent and inconceivably glorious a person the Son of God is, and how overcoming and prevalent an influence his prayers have on God his Father, whatever or whoever he prays for; the weakest believer on earth would hasten, with a holy boldness, to the throne of grace, though legions of devils lay in
O poor soul! if thou hadst but right conceptions of his almightiness to save, and his faithfulness in discharging the office he hath undertaken for elect sinners, there is nothing in or out of hell that could possibly hinder or discourage thee in coming to God by him. It was on this very account that God his Father intrusted him with all the many millions of sinners whom he chose to himself out of lapsed Adam's fallen posterity. He knew his Son's almightiness to redeem and bring them to God, and that his truth and faithfulness was no way short of his almightiness.
And hath God the Father committed all the
elect to the care and trust of his Son Jesus Christ, and canst not thou find in thy heart to venture thy one poor soul with him to save it? And wilt thou not put that honour upon him in going boldly to God's throne of grace, in his name and merit, to obtain whatever thou wantest?
MADE BY THE BELIEVER.
Object. 1. I am so weak, so very, very weak in prayer, that I am under great discouragements, as fearing lest my praying might rather displease than please God.
Ans. I answer in four particulars.
First, The promise of acceptance is made as truly to the weakest grace as it is to the strongest. Remember and seriously consider what the meaning of that promise in Isa. xlii. 3, is, “ A bruised reed will he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.” Here are two metaphors in the same text, both importing the same thing; and that for the greater confirmation of the doctrine contained in this text, which is, that where the grace of God is in truth, though it be never so weak or small as to degree, Christ, the servant of God in the great work of mediation, will carry
most tenderly and compassionately towards that soul until he hath perfected the work of grace begun; he will not deal roughly with, or carry it austerely and discouragingly towards, such a poor soul.
A reed at best is but a weak and brittle thing, easily crushed and broken; but, when full of bruises and crackles, nothing can be more frail and liable to be crushed by the least tread on it, either of man or beast. The weakness of thy grace
is here met with; and know it for thy comfort thou must, that, although thy grace be never so small and weak, yet the foot of Christ's almightiness, which hath trampled thine enemies to death, will never tread on thee to hurt thee; he is so far from being angry or displeased with thee for thy weakness, that the weaker thou art in grace the more doth. his bowels yearn towards thee. The sickliest and weakest child in a family is always most pitied and indulged. “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them,” Isa. xli. 17.
Secondly, The real sense of inward weakness, accompanied with earnest and constant endeavours to grow stronger
is an undoubted argument of the truth of grace in thee. Rom. vii. 23; “But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin that is in my members."
Phil. iii. 14; “ I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
In the person of Paul, the condition of all true believers is set forth. As it was with him, as touching the sense he had of indwelling corruption, and his labouring after perfection in grace, so is it with every sound believer in measure.
Thirdly, That small measure of grace given thee in effectual calling is the earnest of the Spirit, which is never given but in the right of election, and that as a pledge of future perfection in conformity to Jesus Christ, thy head and king. Where strength in praying is wanting, there the Holy Ghost supplies that want by filling the heart and soul of the weak believer with unutterable groans. Rom. viii. 26; “ Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
When a weak believer is at a loss in his own spirit, and is ready to sink under the heavy weight of his innumerable infirmities, not knowing what to do, or how to compose a prayer
suit his afflicted condition, then the Holy Ghost steps in as a comforter, and teaches the believer how to spell out a prayer. The word in the Greek is συναντιλαμβανεται, which properly signifes one who comes in to the help and relief of another who is just sinking under the weight of a heavy burden, the which he is no way able either to lift or carry.