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But it implies
It is a question asked, implying that he will not. It is a question asked, as with surprise and astonishment that it should be so. "NEVERTHELESS," that is, after all these promises of an answer to believing prayer, after all these encouragements, will there be that prayer? That prayer is the result, the consequence, the effect of faith; and therefore when our Lord says here, "SHALL THE SON OF MAN FIND FAITH?” he means, shall he find many praying, believing people? My brethren, we know that it cannot mean that he shall find none, for there will be at all times "a remnant according to the election of grace," who will ever be crying unto the Lord, with more or less of perseverance. that the remnant shall be small. It is indeed inconsistent with the idea of a state of universal holiness and happiness ushering in the Lord's return, and accords with those representations in which the day of the Lord is set forth as coming with "sudden destruction" upon some, and with glory and blessedness upon others. We need not enter into the point of the comparative numbers of these two classes. The only question is, in which class, be they few or many, are we? If the Lord were to come, in what state would he find us? would he find us watching, and praying, and wrestling, and persevering: orwithout prayer, or any sense of the value of prayer: or-falling away because we had not succeeded, as we conceived, in the prayer of our petitions? I ask not whether he will find us a persecuted people look
1 Rom. xi 5.
ing to the Lord for deliverance, because it is clear that there have been and may be great varieties in the outward circumstances of his children. But I ask whether he would find us among his praying and believing people? I ask you how he would find each of you. And the Lord grant me grace to put the same question to myself.
There may be some present to whom the Lord's return would not be for their vindication, but for their destruction. O that I might this day deliver the message of salvation to such successfully, and that the Holy Ghost would apply to them the offer of pardon and peace! I should wish never to leave the pulpit without addressing that offer of mercy, in the name of my Master, freely to every soul that hears me. And O if there be one present who has never yet embraced it, may God give him the grace to do so now! May he be enrolled among the number, offer up the prayer, and enter into the rest, of his own elect! If there be a prayer in any heart now, responding to this prayer of mine, encourage it; go home and ponder on these things; and turn not back to your gloom and darkness in this, which may be the dawning of your day of grace!
But perhaps there are few who have not wavered, or who can say, that DAY AND NIGHT THEY HAVE CRIED UNTO THE LORD ; 3 who have not felt disconragement, and have not fallen back from their stedfastness; or with whom, to say the least, the Spirit.
3 Luke xviii. 7.
of prayer has not at times varied. Is this to cast you into despair? No. If we supposed that we were only to be acceptable for the liveliness of our feelings, it would lead us to take away our eye from the ground of our confidence, the intercession of Jesus Christ, and the faithful promises of God. But whenever doubt or discouragement may have had its influence, let us deeply lament it, and seek to correct it without delay. If any impatient feeling has occupied your mind, if you should for a season have been in the spirit of David, and under the disappointment of your hopes, or the delay of an answer to your prayers, have used the words of David, "will the Lord cast off for ever, and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies:"4 O lose no time in making David's acknowledgment, that "this is your infirmity," the remains of indwelling sin. Repent of it and mourn over it, and set before your view "the years of the right-hand of the Most Highest," and the promise of your God. Say, "O my God, I cry in the daytime but thou hearest not, and in the night season and am not silent, but thou continuest holy. O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." 6 Yes, let this be your encouragement, that "God is true, though every man be a liar ;" that God is faithful, though every man be faithless. And 6 Ibid. xxii. 2.
4 Psalm lxxvii. 7—9.
5 Ibid. 10. 7. Romans iii. 4.
if you now renew your confidence, and your believing application and dependence, you will find him the same faithful God, "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.”8
To you, however, who are holding on, under all discouragement; who have this moment the testimony of your hearts that you are crying unto the Lord; who, much as you might fear if you were to be tried by other tests, can still say this, I do cling to the Lord, I do look up to him, I do pour out my heart before him, O let me say, "Be of good cheer;"9 and know that that prayer will never pass away unanswered. There may be delay, but there will be an answer. There is an answer in the mind
and counsels of the Eternal. Measure it not, however, by your own expectations. "SPEEDILY," "" 1
with him with whom "a thousand years are as one may differ from what appears speedily to you. But trust him that it will be speedily; as speedily as you could possibly have desired, when you shall understand, as you then will, all the purposes of God, and all the objects he intended to effect. You are now holding fast by God. Your heart is ascending to him in prayer. Let this then be your encouragement, that prayer comes from God before it ascends to God; and that he who gives you a hearty desire to pray" will assuredly fulfil the desire which he has himself vouchsafed to implant. And you who are now crying unto him day
9 Matt. ix. 2.
8 Heb. xiii. 8.
1 Luke xviii. 8.
2 2 Peter iii. 8.
and night, (O that more were doing so!) pray that you may have grace so to continue. And be assured that he will come and crown the patient perseverance of his praying people with the fullest answer to all their petitions; when he shall thoroughly avenge them of all adversaries; vindicate them as his people; claim them as his own; and take them to himself, where none shall any more molest them: where they shall be delivered from the corruptions of this sinful body, from the temptations of this wicked world, and from all the wiles and assaults of their spiritual enemy; and shall be received into that blessed state where sin shall not enter, where they shall no longer meet with opposition, and where they shall no more require an avenger, because they shall no more have a foe. O that we might all have grace to long after that blessed state, and that we might be able to say, in the full perception of our own interest in that day, Jesus, come quickly!" 3
3 Revelation xxii. 20.