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What if you do pray to God, is God obliged to hear the prayers of an enemy What if you have taken a great deal of pains, is God obliged to give heaven for the prayers of an enemy God may justly abhor your prayers, and all that you do in religion, as the flattery of a mortal enemy. No wonder God does not accept any thing from the hands of an enemy. Inf. V. Hence we may learn how wonderful is the love that is manifested in giving Christ to die for us. For this love is love to enemies. That is taken notice of in the text, “While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” How wonderful was the love of God the Father in giving such a gift to such, who not only were such as could not be profitable to him, and such as could merit nothing from him, and poor little worms of the dust ; but were his enemies, and enemies to so great a degree They had that enmity that aimed at his life; yet so did he love them, that he gave his own Son to lay down his own life to save their lives. Though they had that enmity that sought to pull God down out of his throne, yet God so loved them, that he sent down Christ from heaven, from his throne there, to be in the form of a servant; and instead of a throne of glory, gave him to be nailed to the cross, and to be laid in the grave, that so we might be brought to a throne of glory. How wonderful was the love of Christ in thus exercising dying love to his enemies! That he should so love those that hated him, with hatred that sought to take away his life, so as voluntarily to lay down his life, that they might have life through him. “Herein is love; not that we loved him, but that he loved us, and laid down his life for us.” Inf VI. If we are all naturally God's enemies, hence we may learn what a spirit it becomes us to be of towards our enemies. Though we are enemies to God, yet we hope that God has loved us ; and we hope that Christ has died for us ; and we hope that God has forgiven or will forgive us, and will do us good, and bestow infinite mercies and blessings upon us, so as to make us happy forever. All this mercy, we hope has been, or will be exercised towards us while enemies.
Certainly then, it will not become us to be bitter in our spirits against those that are enemies to us, and have injured and ill treated us, and though they have yet an ill spirit towards us. Seeing we depend so much on God’s forgiving us, though enemies, we should be of a spirit of forgiveness towards our enemies. And therefore our Saviour inserted it in that prayer which he dictated as a gencral directory to all ; “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” to enforce the duty upon us, and to show us how reasonable it is. And we ought to love them even while enemies; for so we hope God hath done to us. We should be the children of our Father, who is kind to the unthankful and cvii. Luke vi. 35.
If we refuse thus to do, and are of another spirit, we may justly expect that God will deny us his mercy, as he has threatened “If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you ; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matth. vi. 14, 15. The same we have in the parable of the man who owed his lord ten thousand talents. Matth. xviii. 23.....35,
The true Christian's Life, a journey towards
HEBREws XI. 13, 14.
AND CONFESSED THAT THEY WERE STRANGERS AND PIL.
THE apostle is here setting forth the excellencies of the grace of faith, by the glorious effects and happy issue of it in the saints of the Old Testament. He had spoken in the preceding part of the chapter particularly of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Jacob. Having enumerated those instances, he takes notice that “these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers,” &c. In these words the apostle seems to have a more particular respect to Abraham and Sarah, and their kindred that came with them from Haran, and from Ur of the Chaldees, by the 15th verse, where the apostle says, “and truly if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.” It was they that upon God's call left their own country. Two things may be observed in the text. 1. What these saints confessed of themselves, viz. “that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Thus we have a particular account concerning Abraham. “I am a stranger and sojourner with you.” Gen. xxiii. 4.
And it seems to have been the general sense of the patriarchs, by what Jacob says to Pharaoh. “And Jacob said to Pharaoh, the days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years : Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” Gen. xlvii. 9. “I am a stranger and a sojourner with thee, as all my fathers were.” Psal. xxxix. 2. . . ... 2. The inference that the apostle draws from hence, viz. that they sought another country as their home. “For they that say such things, declare plainly, that they seek a country.” In confessing that they were strangers, they plainly declared, that this is not their country; that this is not the country where they are at home. And in confessing themselves to be pilgrims, they declared plainly, that this is not their settled abode ; but that they have respect to some other country, that s they seek and are travelling to as their home.
This life ought so to be shent by us, as to be only a journey towards Heaven. XHere I would observe, - ... " I. That we ought not to rest in the world and its enjoyments, but should desire heaven. This our hearts should be chiefly upon and engaged about. We should seek first the kingdom of God, Matth. vi. 33. He that is on a journey, seeks the place that he is journeying to. We ought above all things to desire a heavenly happiness: to go to heaven, and there be with God, and dwell with Jesus Christ. If we are surrounded with many outward enjoyments, and things that are very comfortable to us; if we are settled in families, and have those good friends and relations that are very desirable ; if we have companions whose society is delightful to us; if we have children that are pleasant and hopeful, and in whom we see many promising qualifications; if we live by good neighbors; have much of the respect of others; have a good name ; are generally beloved where we are known ; Vol. VII, 2 C
and have comfortable and pleasant accommodations; yet we ought not to take our rest in these things. We should not be willing to have these things for our portion, but should seek a higher happiness in another world. We should not merely seek something else in addition to these things, but should be so far from resting in them, that we should choose and desire to leave these things for heaven; to go to God and Christ there. We should not be willing to live here always, if we could, in the same strength and vigorof body and mind as when in youth, or in the midst of our days; and always enjoy the same pleasure, and dear friends, and other earthly comforts. We should choose and desire to leave them all in God's due time, that we might go to heaven, and there have the enjoyment of God.— We ought to possess them, enjoy and make use of them, with no other view or aim, but readily to quitthem whenever we are called to it, and to change them for heaven. And when we are called away from them, we should go cheerfully and willingly. - w He that is going a journey, is not wont to rest in what he meets with that is comfortable and pleasing on the road. If he passes along through pleasant places, flowery meadows, or shady groves; he does not take up his content in these things. He is content only to take a transient view of these pleasant objects as he goes along. He is not enticed by these fine appearances to put an end to his journey, and leave off the thought of -proceeding : No; but his journey's end is in his mind; that is the great thing that he aims at. So if he meets with comfortable and pleasant accommodations on the road at an inn, yet he does not rest there ; he entertains no thoughts of settling there. He considers that these things are not his own, and that he is but a stranger; that that is not allotted for his home. And when he has refreshed himself, or tarried but for a night, he is for leaving these accommodations, and going forward, and getting onward towards his journey's end. And the thoughts of coming to his journey's end, are not at all grievous to him. He does not desire to be travelling always and never come to his journey’s end; the thoughts of that would be discouraging to him. But it is pleasant to him to think, that so much of the