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cant Now an encouragement to beg, is not aurely a license to offend. Prayer and insolence ill accord together.
This boldness then, arises from nothing in ourselves, but purely from the goodness of the Being we address—and it consists principally in a persuasion that we are freely authorized to come, and may confidently hope to succeed.
What a change is made in the view and feelings of a person by conviction of sin! Sin was once nothing in his view; but now, awakened to consider, and enlightened to perceive its nature and consequences, he feels it to be the greatest evil: as before he could not be made to fear, he can scarcely now be induced to hope. Knowing his desert, and judging under the influence of human and guilty feelings, he finds it difficult to believe that God will receive him—But till he does believe this, he will not, he cannot come to him aright. God has therefore made provision to excite and sustain the confidence of self-condemned sinners.
He has revealed himself, not as implacable, but as fill of pity and compassion, as "the Lord God gracious and merciful." He has "commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." The conclusion is not more justly drawn, than it is infinitely encouraging: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Surely he hath borne our grief, and carried our sorrow, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed." His blood "cleanseth us from all sin. He is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." He "suffered, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us unto God." I mention this the more fully, because we "come unto God by him:" and in proportion to our knowledge of the Mediator, and our reliance upon him, will be our enlargement and consolation in duty. It is here that our hopes take their rise: it is here that we are "filled with all joy and peace in believing." "In whom, [speaking of Christ, says the Apostle,] we nave boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. And again, having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near, with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
We have also "exceeding great and precious promises"—such as these: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only bei Son, that whosoever believeth in him
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my'ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
To illustrate these promises, and to banish every fear, that springing from unworthioees and guilt, would hinder our application to him, he has been pleased to add a succession of examples. Some of these are derived from characters the most vile: but vile as they once were, "they were washed, tbey were sanctified, they were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." Among men, the chief oflenders are always made examples of justice—but here they have frequently been made the examples of mercy. Civil governors are afraid to pardon the most criminal lest they should operate as encouragements—but here they are designed to be precedents: " for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering as a pattern to them that should believe on him to life everlasting." By these instances he has said—" Never despair.—See what I can da Learn that neither the number nor the beinousness of your sins shall destroy you, if you are willing 'to obtain salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ'"
In time also, the believer's own experience much aids his confidence. Though he has no more dependence upon himself than he once had, he leams to trust more simply and firmly in him who has never "turned away his prayer," but has been " a very present help in every time of trouble."
This boldness takes in not only a confidence of success, but also "a holy liberty in our addresses to him, expressive of intimacy and privilege." Are we Christians? We come not as strangers and foreigners, but as fellow-citizens with the saints, and of " the household of God." "We have received, not the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father!" Other monarchs can be approached only at certain seasons; and in certain cases; and with certain formalities. But you may call upon him at "all times;" and in all "circumstances." You may "in every thing make known your requests unto God." You may go and inform him of all that perplexes, all that alarms, all that distresses you. He deems nothing too little for you to spread before him. You may tell him what you can tell no earthly friend. And you are not required to keep at a distance, but allowed to come " even to his seat—to order your cause fill your mouth with
ments—to put him in remembrance—to plead with him"—to persevere, and not "let him go except he bless you."
II . Having considered the manner in which, let us observe The Purposes For Which We
ARE TO COME TO THE THRONE OF GRACE. They
are these—to "obtain mercy"—and to "find grace.'" These blessings are wisely connected together by the Apostle, because there are too many people who try to separate them. They would be saved From hell, but not from sin. They wish to be pardoned, but not renewed. They would have mercy, but not grace.
But be not deceived. Whom God forgives he sanctifies and prepares for his service. And both these blessings are equally important and necessary to our salvation. Let us therefore pray for both.
First Pray for mercy. And pray like those who know they greatly need it You are verily guilty. You are charged with innumerable transgressions, and your consciences tell you that many of them are attended with circumstances of peculiar aggravation. Till these are pardoned, you are in a state of condemnation: and what a doom is that which is denounced upon you by the law which you have broken! Think ot "the wrath of God." Think of the "worm that dieth not, and the fire that is never to be quenched. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!"
And you are continually liable to the execution of this sentence. You must die soon, you may die this very night; this very hour: and then it will be too late to cry for mercy. Be prevailed upon therefore to seek it immediately and earnestly—"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions."
But we shall need the exercise of mercy as long as we are in the body. We often contract fresh guilt Our most holy things are defiled. "Who can say, I have made my heart clean; lam pure from my sin V Archbishop Usher often said he hoped to die with the language of the publican in his mouth; and his biographer tells us his wish was fulfilled—he died, saying, "God be merciful to me, a sinner." What an exalted character is given us of Onesiphorus! Yet, says the Apostle, "the Lord grant unto him, that he may find"—not justice—but "mercy of the Lord in that day." He would need mercy till then, and then he would need it more than ever. And when we all come to appear before his righteous tribunal, to have our actions and our motives tried—" should he mark iniquity, who could stand?" Let us therefore say, with Job, "Though I were righteous, yet would I not answer him; but I would make supplication to my Judge." Secondly. Let us pray for "grace to help
in time of need." But is not every time a time of need with us! It is. And there is not a moment in our existence in which we can live as we ought independently of Divine grace. We need this grace, to mortify our corruptions; to sanctify our aflections; to resist temptations; to overcome the world. It is this, and this alone, that can enable us to pursue our journey; to run our race; to accomplish our warfare; to "endure to the end." We cannot pray, or sing, or hear, or read, as we ought, without the assistance of this grace helping our infirmities. "We cannot," says Bishop Hopkins, "stand one moment longer than God holds us; or walk one step further than God leads us." For a tiling constantly necessary, the Apostle would teach us to pray constantly.
But there are some seasons in which we peculiarly require the aid of Divine grace. Two or three of these it may be proper to mention.
Prosperity is a time of need. Few "know how to abound." It is no easy thing to be full, and not deny God. Worldly fame and affluence have often had a baneful effect on the minds of good men; have attached them too strongly to earth, and slackened their diligence in seeking "a better, even a heavenly country." They have had less dependence upon God, and less communion with him. They have grown high minded and illiberal; and exhibted far less of the Christian in their advancement than in their poverty. Others have lost their religion entirely in passing from a cottage to a mansion. "The prosperity of fools shall destroy them." Let us therefore be wise, and remember, that the wisdom which can alone preserve us consists in our fearing always; in a diffidence of ourselves; in our praying, "hold thou me up, and I shall be safe." He indeed can keep us from falling, even in slippery places. Thus he guarded Joseph and Daniel, in situations equally high and dangerous.
Affliction is a time of need. It matters not from what quarter the trouble springs: it is a trying season; and the Christian is concerned to "come forth as gold." He not only wants support and comfort, so that he may not "faint," but he wants strength and preservation, so that he may not sin. He is concerned to be secured from impatience; from distrust of Providence; from quarreling with instruments. He wishes to glorify God in the fires; and to derive advantages from his crosses, so as to be able to say, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted." For all this he seeks the Lord; and what the Lord said to Paul he may apply unto himself: "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."
Death is a time of need. And it is an unavoidable one—other times of need may come, bnt this will come. It is indeed the last time
of need—but it is also the greatest It is new and untried. It settles every thing for ever. It is awful to let go our hold of earth, to give up the soul into the hand of God, to enter eternity. The enemy also now uses all his force to distress: for there are two seasons in which he is peculiarly busy: when we are coming to Christ for grace—and when we are going to him for glory. Now others may endeavour to banish this subject from their minds; but the Christian must think of it And ho will be concerned to die safely— as to consequences; honourably—as to religion; comfortably—as to himself; and usefully—as to othsrs. And what can be done here without grace to help—to help in this time of need! If many Christians, who are now cast down, were but assured that their sun would set without a cloud, they would be filled with strong consolation, bear cheerfully their trials, and look forward to every future scene with pleasure. Well, grace can do this, and has done it for many; and even for many who were "once walking mournfully before the Lord!" When the time of need came, then came the grace—suffering grace for a suffering hour—and dying grace for a dying hour.
Now if this be our errand in prayer—if we are to pray—" that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need," does it not follow, as a fair inference from the subject that a prayerless person is destitute both of the mercy and grace of God 1 This is an awful truth; and it leads me, before I conclude, seriously to ask you—
First Have you come to this throne? Have you ever prayed? Perhaps you have sometimes dragged through the duty as a task—but did you ever feel it to be your privilege and your pleasure! Perhaps you have engaged in it occasionally—but has it been your habitual employment? Perhaps you have called upon God in the hour of sickness and danger—but as health returned, have you not discontinued prayer by little and little, till you have lived entirely without him in the world? You have frequently attended public worship—do you pray much in your closet; or, in the duties of your calling, do you send up many a desire to God, saying, "Lord, help me V You are fond of hearing sermons—but while you so often hear from God, does God ever hear from you?
Secondly. Do you design to corne? or have you resolved to " restrain prayer before him!"
Do you imagine you can acquire these blessings in any other way than by prayer? This is impossible: "For all these things," says God, >'will I be inquired of:" "Ask, and if shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
Or do you imagine these blessings are not worthy of your pursuit? Alas! strange as it
may appear, I suspect that this is the case. You are not prepared to estimate theee advantages. You do not feel your need of mercy and grace; otherwise surely you would deem them worth asking for. If you could gain a fortune by prayer—would yon not pray! Or health—would you not pray? But what are these to mercy and grace I These comprise every other blessing—and nothing else can be a blessing without them.
Or do you imagine they are not to be gained! There is no ground for such despair: he "waiteth to be gracious; and is exalted to have mercy." "Come, for all things are now ready." None are excluded. All are welcome.
Yet if one class of petitioners could be more welcome and successful than another, it would be the Yocng: "I love them that love me; and they that seek me early shall find me."
SUMMER AND HARVEST.
He that gathereth in summer is a wise ton: but he that tleepeth in harvett is a ton that cauteth shame,—Prov. x. 5.
What a scene of desolation was presented to the eye of Noah when he opened the door of the ark! No human face appeared. The earth was stripped of all its beauty; and no trees, no plants, no grass were to be seen. The effects of the Deluge were everywhere awfully visible; and every cloud, every wind, excited alarm. In this condition he offered a sacrifice. God accepted it—and to dissipate his fears, and to draw forth his confidence, he said, " While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest cold and heat and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease."
Each of these periods is not only useful, but instructive. Wo cheerfully part with the dreary hours of winter, to embrace the reviving spring; and as readily resign the growing hours of spring, to welcome the joyful harvest. When, under Divine Providence, this season arrives, "the year is crowned with his goodness; the earth is full of his riches;" and the husbandman is called forth to secure the golden produce. He is reasonably expected to make every concern give place to this, and to exert all his diligence to improve the short, but all-important period. Hence the reflection of Solomon: "He that gathereth in summer is a wise son; but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame."
Common sense readily acquiesces in this truth.' But let us accommodate the subject to moral and spiritual purposes. Let us represent Your Harvest Skason; and enforce
the NECESSITY OF DILIGENCE IN
I . God affords you Opportunities For Good. He favours you with seasons which may be considered as your harvest
In this view we may regard the whole period of life. While you are continued in this world, you have "space for repentance; and the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation." You are blessed with a season of Gospel grace. While many are sitting in darkness, and in the region of the shadow of death, upon you "hath the light shined, to guide your feet into the way of peace." You not only live in a country where there is a written revelation, but your "eyes see your teachers, and your ears hear a voioe behmd you, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn aside to the right hand, or to the left/' Though the preaching of the word is neglected by some, and despised by others, it is an invaluable privilege. By this, the Scripture is explained to the mind, and enforced on the conscience: by this, you are warned of your danger, and encouraged to flee for refuge; you are called upon to draw nigh, and assured that "all things are now ready." "Faith cometh by hearing; and hearing, by the word of God." And this reminds us that you have a season of civil and religious liberty. You have the Bible in your hands, and are not fined for reading it You may assemble together in public, and hear the word of life without danger. Your devotions are sanctioned by law, and you may "sit under your own vine, and under your own fig-tree, and none make you afraid." What advantages do we possess, above many of our ancestors who suffered for conscience' sake? They laboured, and we have entered into their labours. "They took ioyfuily the spoiling of their goods. They had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings; yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins: being destitute, afllicted, tormented: of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens, and caves of the earth."
Some are living in a religious family, where they have the benefit of instruction, prayer, and example. Some, like Timothy, have been trained up by a mother and a grandmother, of unfeigned faith, and, "from a child, have known the Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation."
Who, in passing through a vale of tears, has not experienced a day of trouble? From such a period, many have had to date their saving acquaintance with Divine things. Affliction is favourable to religion: it abstracts, it softens, its awes the mmd: it strips the
world of its attractions, and starves us out of J vicious appetites and passions? Great is the the creature into God. I happiness of those that belong to God here;
Where is the person, who does not know what we mean by a season of conviction? Conscience has sometimes forced you to a stand. Like Felix, you have trembled under the power of the world to come. You have sometimes been pleasingly affected: you have wept, and prayed, and sighed—"Now, Lord, what wait 1 for? my hope is in thee."
But can I forget another season? Can I forget to urge the admonition of wisdom and friendship—" Remember now thy Creator, in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them!"— Never, never, my young friends, will you have a season in which your hinderances are so few, or your helps so many. Every thing now invites; every thing constrains you. "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
II. I would enforce upon you the NecessiTy op Diligence To Improve Voir Reaping
And first Consider how much you have to accomplish. You have the work of a husbandman in harvest—Will this allow you to be drowsy and idle? Does it not require you to rise early, and be active all the day? To seize every moment, and secure every assistance? The salvation of the soul is a great and arduous concern; and many things are required of you. For though you are not left to yourselves, nor called to act in your own strength, yet religion is a race, and you must run; it is a warfare, and you must fight The blessings of the Gospel are free, but they are to be sought and gained. It is God that "worketh m us to will and to do of his own good pleasure;" but we are commanded, notwithstanding this, yea, because of this, to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling." Spring then from the bed of sloth; shake off every impediment: you have sins to be pardoned, passions to be subdued, graces to be exercised, duties to be performed—a harvest to gather in!
Secondly. Consider the worth of the blessings that demand your attention. The advantages held forth by the prospect of harvest animate the husbandman to diligence, and reconcile him to exertion; but what are the blessings of the field, compared with the blessings of salvation! The one is perishable, the other is eternal—the one is for the body only, the other is for the soul. What is an earthly portion in a barn, to "an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us!" I would address you as rational creatures. Is it not desirable to be redeemed from the curse of the law? to be justified freely from every charge brought against us at the bar of God? to be delivered from the tyranny and rage of
out who can describe the exalted glory and | joy that await them hereafter? Dto you not wish toenter in with those who shall be for ever with the Lord ?" They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat For the I Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Will not this indemnify you for every sacrifice, and abundantly recompense all your toil?
Thirdly. Remember that your labour will not be in vain in the Lord. "Be not weary in well-doing, for in due time you shall reap if you faint not" The husbandman has many uncertainties to contend with; insects, blights, droughts, and storms-r-but probability stimulates him,—how much more should actual certainty encourage you!" They that sow in tears shall reap m joy. He that goeth forth and weepelh, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
Fourthly. Remember that your season for action is lunited and short Harvest does not last long. Your time in the whole compass of it is but "a few days:" and how little of it deserves the name of life, or can be applied to any important services. When infancy, sleep, business, recreations have engrossed their share—is the remainder, think you, too long a period to acquire the kingdom of God and his righteousness? Butyour time is uncertain as well as short The present only is yours—you know not what a day or an hour may bring forth. The fool in the Gospel talked of " goods laid up for many years," when he had but a few moments left: God put his finger upon his conscience, and said, "Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee." "Man knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net und as the birds that are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time when it falleth suddenly upon them." Youth is no certain protection from the grave. Death does not go by age, nor does it always wait till it has sent a warning. Your time is always in motion: if you are idle, time is not; but hurrying you forwards. If you do not perceive your progress, every hour, every moment brings you nearer to your end. And your time once gone, cannot be recalled. God has plainly told you that there is a season when he will not be found: "therefore seek ye the L/jrd while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. In vain those who despised the warnings of Noah clung to the sides of the ark when the door was shut: it was then too late. "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye
begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know ye not whence ye are: then shall ye begin lo say, we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are: depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kmgdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out
Therefore, finally. Reflect upon the consequences of negligence. Is a man blamed for sleeping in harvest? Does every one reproach him as a fool? Does he deserve to suffer famine! You act a part far more absurd and fatal who "neglect this great salvation," and will not embrace " in this your day the things that belong to your peace before they are hid from your eyes." Having made no provision for futurity—for eternity, your ruin is unavoidable. It will also be insupportable. "It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you." For a strict account will then be required of all your talents and opportunities: and what can you answer? O the feelings of sinners in hell who have perished under the means of grace!—How will their consciences upbraid and condemn them! O the anguish and despair of sinners, when, dropping from time into eternity, they exclaim, "The harvest is past the summer is ended, and we are not saved!"
Let us conclude, first by blessing God for the harvest with which he has again favoured our country. We went forth with anxious hope: we saw "first the blade, then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear." We lifted up our eyes and saw "the fields already white unto harvest" and with tears of joy said, "Thou hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor." We only wanted "the appointed weeks of harvest"—and lo! the weather is favourable; and the precious treasure will soon be secured!" It shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth, and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine and oil; and they shall hear Jezreel." However numerous the means and the second causes arc which concur to enrich us with plenteousness, God is the original mover, and to him our praise is to be addressed. Without his blessing, the ox would have ploughed, and the husbandman would have sowed, in vain. How easily could he have shrivelled up the grain by heat drowned it by showers, destroyed it by insects! By his permission, an enemy might have invaded our borders, and war have spoiled "the finest of the wheat" Every thing is full of God, he lives through all life, and while seeming