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duty, this were comfort indeed: if I were able to conclude, that the Lord Jesus Christ did take my prayers, and my duties, and carry them in unto God the Father; this were sweet consolation : but how shall I know that?
If the Lord Jesus Christ be our High Priest, then we may say also, that he takes our duties, and carries them in for acceptance unto God the Father: if we may say that Jesus Christ hath satisfied for us, and doth intercede for us, then we may say also, that he takes our duties, and carries them for acceptance unto God the Father.
But yet a little further, to bring this comfort nearer to your hearts; give me leave to appeal to you:
First. Whosoever thou art that makes this objection : Didst thou ever find a spiritual fire come down from heaven (as it were) upon thy heart in duty, or after duty ? In the times of the Old Testament, if they offered up a sacrifice, and a material fire came down from heaven and burnt the sacrifice to ashes, it was a certain testimony that the sacrifice was accepted. Now in the times of the gospel we must not expect material fire to come down upon our duties: but hath the Lord at any time caused an inward, and spiritual fire to fall down upon thy heart, warming thy spirit in duty ? there the Lord speaks thus much to thee; thy sacrifice is turned into ashes, and it is accepted by Jesus Christ.
Again, did you never find in your heart (you that make this objection) to pray, and cry, and intercede for others, for the godly especially? Look what disposition there is in your hearts towards the members of Christ, there is the same disposition in Christ's heart towards you. Ah! do you think that there is love in your bosom towards the saints; and that there is none in Christ's heart towards you? Do you think that your bowels are more large than Christ's ? Canst thou find in thine heart to go unto God, when thou seesta saint in misery, to go to God, and pray, and cry, and intercede for him ? and do not you think that the Lord Jesus hath as much bowels towards you, to go and intercede for you, and present your prayers unto God the Father.
Further, do not you look upon your own duties, as coming from yourselves, most unworthy? Beloved ! it is in regard of duties, as it is in regard of persons : when a man
does judge himself to be most unworthy, then Christ counts him worthy. God counts him worthy in Christ. As
you read in the ist of the Canticles, says the spouse there, verse 5. “I am black (O ye daughters of Jerusalem) as the tents of Kedar: Look not upon me because I am black,” verse 6. Now would you see Christ's opinion of her, that counts herself black, saith she, black and black again : but Christ saith concerning her; verse 8.“ O thou fairest among women.” She calls herselfblack,and Christ calls her fair,and"thefairestamong women.” Now, when a man doth count himself most unworthy, God counts him most worthy: and when a man looks upon his own duties, and sacrifices, as most unworthy, they are looked upon by Jesus Christ as most worthy; poor prayers in our eyes, are precious in God's eye.
A word more: do not ye think, that grace is larger now, in the times of the gospel, than it was in the times of the
law? If ye doubt it, as unto this particular ; look upon the · xxxth chapter of Exodus, compared with the xlist of Ezekiel.
In the xxxth chapter of Exodus, the Lord commands an altar to be made to burn incense upon;
66 Of shittim wood shalt thou make it :” verse the 1st.“ A cubit shall be the length thereof,” verse the 2nd. The altar is for incense; it is the matter that now we are upon:
" A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and two cubits shall be the height thereof.” Now in the xlist chapter of Ezekiel, he speaks of the altar in the times of the gospel: and (saith he) at the 22nd verse, it is the altar of incense that there is prescribed to be made, the altar of wood, of shittim wood.) 66 The altar of wood was three cubits high, and the length thereof two cubits.” And yet again, this altar of incense in the times of the gospel, is to be as large again, as that in the times of the law; as high, and as long, and as large again. In the times of the law, times of the Old Testament; a poor soul might go unto the high priest, and might challenge å right in him, and might say, That his service, and his duty, and his sacrifice was accepted by the high priest. If in the times of the Old Testament a man might say so; much more may a poor soul now go unto Jesus Christ our great High Priest, and say, that his service and his duty, and sacrifice, is accepted through him. Here
is abundance of comfort unto the saints : be of good comfort, all you that do believe.
But, how doth this make unto our holiness, unto holiness of life? We confess indeed, that there is abundance of comfort in this, that the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, takes all our gifts, and all our prayers, and presents them to God the Father, and that in his acceptance, we have acceptance : but I pray, how doth all this conduce to our holiness of life?
Much every way:
First, in case I be ungodly, a wicked man: here is that that may for ever keep me, from opposition to the good ways of God. I have said sometimes (may a wicked man say) concerning godly men's duties, That it was their hypocrisy : and I have said concerning such and such professors, this is your pride, and this is your singularity; and I have opposed, with all bitterness, and earnestness, the prayings, and wrestlings of some of God's people; but is this true, that the Lord Jesus Christ, takes every prayer, of the meanest of God's children, and carries it into the bosom of God the Father? and shall I spit upon that that Christ owns ? shall I dare to oppose that that the Lord Jesus Christ presents unto his Father? The Lord in mercy pardon me: I have sinned and done foolishly, and for aught I know, I may have spoken evil of that duty, that Christ hath carried into the presence of God the Father: Oh! through the Lord's grace then, for ever will I leave to make any opposition, against any of the good ways of God again, and I will never speak one word against the persons, meetings, or supplications of the godly again.
Again, In case a man be ungodly, a wicked man: here is mighty encouragement, for to come unto Jesus Christ; aye, and to come presently. For is Jesus Christ the ladder that Jacob saw, by whom we go up to heaven? doth he take all our duties, and prayers, and present them to God the Father for acceptance? Then, till I do come to Christ, all is nothing, all is lost: if I be a drunkard, and will not come to Christ, prayer is all lost; If I be a swearer, and will not come to Christ, an unclean wretch, and will not come to Christ; all my prayers, and all my duties are lost: Oh ! the Lord pity me (may many a poor soul say) I have lost too many prayers already, through the Lord's grace, now
I will lose no more: Oh! I come to Christ, Lord I come, I come. This is a mighty encouragement, to make every man now for to come unto Jesus Christ; because the Lord Jesus our High Priest, takes every duty, and carries it into the bosom of God the Father for acceptance. Thus for ungodly.
Secondly, in case a man be godly; this truth doth conduce to our further holiness, and growth in grace.
If I be godly; then here I see infinite reason, why I should be much in duty; not only pray, but be much in prayer. Why? for the Lord Christ taketh all, and carries all into the bosom of the Father, mingles his own odours, intercessions with it, although it be but a sigh, and a groan. The apostle upon this account, makes this use of it? having spoken of Christ our High Priest ? Therefore (saith he) “ let us come with boldness unto the throne of grace.” The word signifies, to speak all one's mind ? let us come speaking all. Having such an High Priest indeed, as will carry all into the presence of God the Father, for acceptance, every sigh, and every groan ? then who would not be much in prayer? speak all to Christ, be free with Christ, “ come with boldness ?" There is many a poor soul, that is much discouraged, and he dares not go to prayer, many times, afraid to go to the throne of grace. The reason is because he looks upon his prayer, or duty, as it lies upon his own heart, or as it comes from himself. Whereas, my beloved, it is with your prayers, and duties, as it is with fire: your kitchen fire is troubled with abundance of smoke, and there is filth about it; fire upon the hearth hath much smoke: but fire above, in the element of fire, there is no smoke. So, your prayer, when it lies upon your own hearth (as I may say) there is a great deal of smoke; but when it gets once into the hands of Jesus Christ, there is its element, and it is freed from all its smoke. Or as it is with a man's body: so long as he lives here upon the earth, he is feeble, and weak, and many times sickly: as soon as he is come into heaven, all his weakness is taken away, and his body being in heaven, it is presently glorified, and strength put upon it, and all his diseases are gone.
So it is with our prayers : so long as they are here below, in our own bosoms, they are full of weakness;
soon as our prayer is out of our mouth, it is in the hand of Christ, it is in heaven, it is glorified, the weak
once it is
ness is now done away; Oh! it is a glorified prayer; when
it is in the hand of Christ. And therefore, this is a mighty encouragement unto all those that are godly, to be, not only in prayer, but to be much in prayer, come with boldness unto the throne of grace. Again, If
ye be godly; yea, if ye be ungodly: here I see infinite reason, why I should receive every truth that comes from Christ, though accompanied with many failings in him that speaks it. The Lord Jesus Christ, he accepts of every prayer, and duty that comes from me; though it have many weaknesses: yea, he takes my prayer, and carries it into the presence of God the Father for acceptance, my poor prayer, labouring with many weaknesses : then when a truth comes from Christ, shall not I accept of it? what though the minister, or preacher that speaks it, labour with this or that weakness? There is pride, or there is some miscarriage in the delivery, or the like: shall the Lord Christ take my prayer, labouring under infirmity, and accept thereof, and carry it into the presence of God the Father for acceptance, notwithstanding all the failings of my duty ? and shall not I accept of truth that comes from Christ, notwithstanding all the failings of the poor messenger that brings it ?
Further, the more evangelical you are in your obedience, the more holy ye are in your lives. This truth that is now before ye, well studied and considered, will make you more obedient in an evangelical way. And ye shall find therefore, that the Lord himself from heaven does make this use of it: pray consult with the xviith of Matthew, and the 5th verse, “ This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased : hear ye him.” Those words follow, “Hear him.” Hearing notes faith, and obedience; not bare hearing with the ear. Compare this, and the same speech together, which ye have in the ižird of Matthew and the 17th verse. “Lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Hear ye him, is not there in the iiird of Matthew; but here in the xviith of Matthew, these words are added, Hear ye him: what should the reason be, that hear ye him, should be added here in the xviith of Matthew, and not in the iiird of Matthew ? Give me leave to give you some reason for it, so far as may make to our present purpose: not to say any thing of that which Moses said, In his days a prophet will