« AnteriorContinuar »
mercy upon any terms: “ Haft thou not one blessing for me, even for poor me, O my Father ?" If there be not enough of merit in Christ to save me, I do not feek falvation, but in him I know there is a fulness of redundancy, a treasure that cannot be emptied. And, Lord, art thou not willing as well as able? Hait thou not opened thy fide, that I might look in and see the yearning of thy bowels ? yea, I have heard them many times founding towards loft finners : Why then should I go dwell with everlasting burnings? “What profit, Lord, is there in my blood? The dead cannot praise thee, they that go down to the pit cannot celebrate thy goodness." Is it not better to make me a friend, than let me be an enemy? Is it not better that I hould eternally fing thy praise, than live for ever blaspheming thy name? “Lord, what fhall I do to be saved ? Is there no bałm in Gilead for a wounded soul?" Is there no hope for a distressed finner? Is there no city of refuge for a pursued criminal ? Lord, I am come like a starv. ing beggar to the last door for relief, if thou help me not I mult perish at thy threshold, I can go no further Could we believingly make use of such arguments as these, Christ's pitiful heart would burst out in midst thereof, and say to us as to the woman of Canaan, Mat. XX. “O woman, great is thy faith, be it to thee even as thou wilt."
VIE. As on Sabbath morning we should address God with more folemnity and intenseness, and with greater length than ordinary; so also with special petitions for the day. 1. Pray for yourselves that God may give you hearts and frames to fanctify a Sabbath to the Lord ; that he may prepare your hearts for hear. ing, strengthen and sanctify your memories, go alongit with you to the fanctuary, and allow his presence there. Before you enter upon the public work of this day, labour to get your hearts pofseffed effectually with thefe truths: That God mult work his own work in you and for you, or it will never be done ; and without him you can do nothing : That there is no healing vir· tue in the waters of the sanctuary, unless the Angel of his presence descend and move them : That as in the first creation the Spirit moved on the waters, and then the living creatures were formed; so the Spirit must move upon the waters of ordinances, before they can produce or increase spiritual life, and as he must move upon the ordinances, and give virtue to them, so he must -move upon your souls in attending on them. Pray ear. nestly then, that God may give you his Spirit to prepare » you for hearing of his word, and to allist you in hear ing; and, particularly, that he may give you attention to hearken, understanding to conceive, wisdom to apply, judgment to discern, faith to believe, memory to reiain, and grace to practise what you shall hear; that so the word may prove unto you. “ the favour of life unto life," and not “ the favour of death unto death." O pray ferventiy, that it may not be your condemna. tion to go to the sanctuary every new Sabbath to get new bands laid upon you, to get your hearts more har. dened, your affections niore deadened, and your souls Hain by the words of God's mouth ; but that the word may be attended with saving power, for your convic. tion of fin, and your conversion to God in Jesus Chrift the Mediator. Bé fo intent for Christ's presence this. day, that no Lord's day may satisfy you without the Lord of the day. O what is the belt day that ever was without the Ancient of days ? What are the ordinances of God, without the God of ordinances? What are the affemblies of saints, without the Matter of alfemblies? What is a sermon, without a Saviour! What is a communion table, without a communion with God? What is a Sabbath day, without the Lord of the Sabbath? Proteft therefore in a humble but an importunúte manner, that you will be fatisfied with nothing, this day, without his presence ; say with Moses, Exod. xxxiii. 5. " If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” And cry to him with the church, Isa. lxiv. 1. “O that thou wouldit this day rend the heavens! O that thou wouidst come down, that the mountains might fow at thy presence."
2. Pray for him that dispenseth the word, that God may open to him both a door of utterance, and a door of en:rance; and, particularly, that God may
. . direct
direct him to speak fomething that may be suitable to your case. 97 It is a great loss to yourselves, as well as to minifters, that you pray fo little for them : What is the Teason that many times ministers are straitened in deli. very, do not reach your hearts, nor fpeak closely to your cafe ? it is because you pray not for them. Mind that sad threatening, Ezek. iii. 26. where the Spirit faith to the prophet," I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt bę dumb, and thalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house." O pray against this fad ju igment; and beg that God may loose the minister's tongue, and put a word in his mouth for you. Can you expect a bleffmg on your food, when you will not so much as feek it from God, by praying for him that is to break the bread of life to you? 11. Die
mit und 3. Pray for the whole congregation, that the Sabbath, may be a day of the Son of man, and a day of God's power unto them: Pray that Christ 'may mount the white horfe of the gospel, gird his sword on his thigh, and ride in triumph among them; that the arrows of his word may be Tharp, and pierce hearts. Beg that some may be convinced, others strengthened, and others comforted : Pray that God's word preached, may not only be as a living long to the hearers, as Ezek. xxxiii. but as a lively song to them, that many may have it to say as Dávid, Psal. cxix. 50. «. Thy word hath quickened me.111 Pray that God may this day make his word ; as a sharp "two-edged sword;" to divide betwixt fin , ners and their fins; that he may cause its point prick. their hearts and favingly wound their consciences, and make its edge fetch blood from their lusts, yea hew them in pieces like Agag, before the Lord. Pray that God may make his word both as a fire and a hammer to the congregation; a fire to burn up the stubble of their corruptions, and a hammer to break the rocks of their hearts into pieces. Pray that it may be as the key of David, both to open and thut many hearts on this day; a key to open hearts, to as they may never more be thut upon Christ when he stands and knocks at them; and a key to shut hearts, so that they may never open to sin und VOL. IV. A a
when they knock for entrance. Pray that the whole congregation may get grace to hear fermons, agd put up prayers this day, as if they were the last that ever they were to hear or put up in this world : And that Zion's King may take to himself his glorious conquering power, and in his majesty ride prosperousy ; and that he may make the arrows of his word “ sharp iß the hearts of his enemies, so that the people may fall
, to that the people
IX. You must take care, that your secret prayers on Sabbath morning he early and seasonable, that they ine terfere not with family-worship, which ought this morning to be timeoully performed before the public wor ship begin ; for one duty must not justle with another, every dury is beautiful in its season. And in familyprayer you must be more solemn and particular than at other occasions; our facrifices this day ought to be doubled. O it were happy, if secret and family duties were our souls delight on this day; and if we had such fpiritual skill to perform them, that they might be helps, not hindrances to public ordinances.
Lafily, Having this morning put up your fervent prayers to God, you ought to look and wait for a return of them through the day. A wise merchant, that fends a thip to the lea, will enquire after her Prayer brings your food from afar, look what becomes of it. If you present a petition to a prince, you wait what answer will be returned ; and are ye not much more concern, ed in this case to do it? If you look not after your pray. ers, it is a sign you have little fense of your needs; little fense of the burden and yoke of fin; little sense of the preciousness of Christ, or the excellency of these mercies you have been seeking. You ought this day to be able to say, as Pfal. xxv. S. “ On thee do I wait all the day." Your souls should be ftill panting after God and the light of his countenance, saying, “ Othat I may this day behold the beauty of the Lord ! O that I may fee his power and glory! that I may taste that he is good? Q that I may hear his voice, may bear bis i. mage, may be brought into the chamber of presence, and fee him through the lattess of ordinances.
If ye would have a gracious return this day, you must be looking above ordinances and duties to him, who is the dew of Israel," and expect the heavenly rain from himself; otherwise your fleece will remain dry, for all that men or angels can do. Therefore plead with God that he will bless and concur with the means, and " breathe upon your dry bones," without which the breath of men can never make them alive.
III. Of Self searching. As to the duty of felf-searchin', it is very necessary on the Sabbath morning, in order to prepare your souls for the work of the day.
I Erquire into your own state ; try whether you be in nature or grace, that, when you hear the word, you may know what belongs to you: For, if you be ignorant of your condition, you may apply pro.nifes for threatenings ; conclude for heaven, when you are heirs of wrath ; perfuade yourselves of the love of God, when you are in a state of enmity.
II. Enquire into your particular necessities, what are these wants you would have supplied by the word, these fins and lufts you would have sain by it, what are these weak graces you would have strengthened by it, what are these doubts you would have resolved by it, and these heart-plagues you would have cured.
III. Enquire into the frames of your hearts, and fee if they be duly qualified and disposed for attending the public ordinances. · Queft. What sort of hearts ought we to bring with us?
Anf. 1. Bring humble hearts. Consider that you are pieces of mean and vile duft venturing into the prefence of an infinitely glorious God, to hear the “ voice of the Lord, that is full of majesty," and folemnly to converse with him, before whom the “ angels vail their faces."
2. Bring soft hearts, that the word may make fome impreslion on them; for an arrow shot against a stone sticks not, but falls to the ground. Labour to get the “ fallow ground of your hearts plowed up, and broken," A a 2