(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us) Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The whole works of the Rev. Oliver Heywood : including some Tracts extremely scarce, and others from unpublished Manuscripts ; with memoirs of his life"


^JresEirtcb to 
of tlic 

Pnilicrstlg of ©orunto 

Prof. W.H. Ellis 
Mrs. M. E . Ellis 







Including some Tracts extremely scarce, and others from 
nnpuUislied Manuscripts : 




LIFE IN god's favour. 

J0b''s APPEAL. 

















Epistle to the Reader ix 

CHAP. I. Introductory Observations _ - . - 1 

Sect. I. The Context Considered - - - - ib. 

Sect. II. The Words Explained .... 4 

Sect. III. Doctrines Suggested .. _ - - 7 
Sect. IV. Several Instances in Scripture of Closet 

Prayer ...--- 12 
CHAP. II. Reasons to pi-ove that Closet Prayer is a Chris- 
tian Duty 20 

Sect. I. Privacy convenient for Prayer - - . ib. 
Sect. II. Relation between God and a genuine Chris- 
tian 24 

Sect. III. God's Omniscience and Omnipresence - 28 

Sect. IV. The Liberality of God - - - - 32 

CHAP. III. Comprising Information ... - 42 

Sect. I. Concerning Places of Prayer - - - ib. 

Sect. II. On the Nature of Prayer - - - - 45 

Sect. III. On the Efficacy of Prayer ... 48 
Sect. IV. A Love of Retirement characteristic of a 

true Christian ----- 50 

CHAP. IV. Cases which merit Reprehension - - - 53 

Sect. I. Wicked Men Reproved - - - - ib. 

Sect. II. Professors of Religion Reproved - - 56 

CHAP. V. Instructions relative to the Devotions of the 

Closet 68 

VOL. in. b 


Sect. I. On Preparation (^ 

Sect. II. Directions respecting what is essential to Se- 
cret Prayer _ . - _ . 74 

Sect. III. The Circumstances of Secret Prayer - - 83 

Sect. IV. In what way Attention may be profitably oc- 
cupied after having been engaged in 
Devotional Exercises - - - 87 

CHAP. VI. On the IMatter or Words of Prayer - - 94 

Sect. I. The Lord's Prayer ib. 

Sect. II. Jacob an Example of powerful pleading with 

God 98 

CPIAP. VII. Forming a Conclusion to the Subject of Clo- 
set Prayer 103 

Sect. I. The Exhortation of the Text enforced - - ib. 

Sect. II. Several Objections considered and answered 110 

Sect. III. Some Cases of Conscience examined and 

solved - 120 


The Preface 131 

CHAP. I. Introductory Observations - - _ _ 137 

CHAP. II. On the Character of our Intercessor and the 

Import of Intercession - - - 142 

CHAP. III. On the Objects of Christ's Intercession deno- 
minated Transgressors - - - 150 

CHAP. IV. The manner in which Christ manageth this Of- 
fice of Intercession - - - - 1.57 

CHAP. V. The Qualifications of Cln-ist as our Intercessor 166 

CHAP. VI. Jesus Christ the only Intercessor between God 

and j\Ian - - - - - -173 

CHAP. VII. Information furni.-hed by the Doctrine which 

has been stated and confirmed - - 1 79 

CHAP. VIII. Tlie Subject applied for the Conviction of 

Careless Sinners - - - - 185 

CHAP. IX. Examination proposed to ascertain whether 

Jesus Cln-ist be our Intercessor - - 192 

CHAP. X. Directions of a general Nature relative to the In- 
tercession of Christ - - - - 207 



CHAP. XI. The Circumstances in wliich the Intercession 
of Christ becomes a Privilege to a 
Christian ------ 221 

CHAP. XII. The Conclusion 238 


The Epistle to the Reader 245 

CHAP. I. Introductory Observations - _ _ _ 2.15 

CHAP. II. On the Favour of God, and the Life which it 

comprises or produces - - _ 261 

CHAP. III. The Favour of God considered as Life - - 2(JU 

CHAP. IV. The Description of Persons to whom the Fa- 
vour of God is Life, and the Seasons in 
which their Experience confirms this 
Truth 272 

CHAP. V. Of what nature thcit Life is which proceeds from 

the Favour of God - - - - 291 

CHAP. VI. Information derived from the Subject under 

Consideration - - - _ _ 298 

CHAP. VII. Tendency of what has been stated to produce 

Conviction 305 

CHAP. VIII. The Subject considered as furnishing Topics 

for Self-Examination - - - . 337 

CHAP. IX. The Subject furnishes Instruction, and gives 

scope for Exhortation . . _ 3jO 

CHAP. X. The Subject Concluded under the Article of In- 
struction, with an Address to the ob- 
jects of divine Favour . - . 3(56 


An Humble Address to the Righteous God - _ _ .385 
An Addi-ess to the IMourners in Zion - . _ _ 389 
CHAP. I. Preliminary Observations _ - . _ 395 
CHAP. II. Explication of the Passage under Consideration 406 
CHAP. III. iMotives and Reasons which may cause Lamen- 
tation after the Lord - - . - 435 



CHAP. IV. Description of Per?;oiis ]<articularly called uj.on 

to Lament - - - - - 447 

CHAP. y. Diiections and Assistance to forward the Exer- 
cise practised by Isi-ael - - - 469 

CHAP. VI. Encouragement to Perseverance in Lamenting 

after the Lord 487 


Job's Appeal, a Funeral Sermon _ . - _ - 495 


(E\)xi^tim DButg, 




Especially to the strict and serious Professor of Chrlstianify. 

Christian Friend, 
JL HE power of godliness is much spoken of, but I am afraid 
very rarely to be found, even amongst celebratsd professors : 
most content themselves with external visible duties, which for- 
malists may carry on with as much seeming zeal and applause 
as sincere worshippers. A formal spirit is the disease of the pre- 
sent day : the beams of gospel light in the late noon-tide dis- 
pensations, have so far produced an assent to fundamental truths, 
and the necessity of some practical duties, that it is a shame in 
some places not to have a form of godliness. Many will be 
found in the day of accounts orthodox in their judgments, and 
externally conform.able in their practices, yet without a principle 
of grace in their hearts, or the power of religion in their lives : 
witness the foolish ^'irgins. Thousands do finally miscarry be- 
sides the grossly prnfane. Some go to hell with a candle in 
their hand, Christ''s coJ^ur.^ in theix- hats, his word in their 
mouths, and having the habit of religion : every one is not a 
saint that lookshkeone; a well-executed picture makes a fair sho-vr, 
but wants life: a formalist would be amiable indeed, if animated 
with the truth of grace : but tlie leaven of hypocrisy spoils many 
good duties : this was that leaven of the Pharisees, that soured 
their prayers, and rendered them distasteful to God : they made 
religious duties a stage to act their vain-glory upon, their pra}'- 
ers had a thick shell and little kernel. Our Saviour would not 
have his people like them, Christy's disciples must do some sin- 
gular thing, more than others ; their righteousness must go be- 
yond that of the Scril)es and Pharisees : sincerity is the spirit 
and life which is to run through religion, else it is a body with- 


out a soul, or clothes without the man : this is the chief drift 
of our Saviour^s teaching, and main design of gospel commands, 
to render professors sincere and spiritual, approving their hearts 
to God in evangelical performances. I have many times be- 
wailed the condition of those who are very busy in externals of 
religion abroad, and are grossly negligent of the main essentials 
at home. They are like those who are propping up some remote 
members of their body, while their vitals are wasting in a lan- 
guishing consumption: they are like a man in a ftver, his face 
and hands burn, but his heart shakes and quivers for cold: these 
I may call pepper-professors, hot in the mouth, but cold at the 
stomach: there are thousands in the world will run many miles 
to hear a sermon, will countenance the best preachers, will read 
the Scripttires and good books, will pray in their families, yea 
keep days of fasting and prayer with others, that yet will not 
set about heart-work and flesh-displeasing duties, in mortifying 
b^jloved lusts, lo\dng, forgiving and praying for enemies, — yea, 
th.at will not set themselves solemnly to the duties of meditation, 
self-examination, and secrei; prayer; the vessel wiUnot stir exc( -^,t 
the wind of applause fill the sails; these are like the nightingale in 
the wood, of which it is recorded, that she sings most sweetly 
when she thinks any is near her. An hypocrite can pray hest 
when taken notice of by men, you shall seldom see him at work 
with his heart in a closet : he is of the mind of those carnal per- 
sons of Christ's natural kindred, John. vii. 4, who said to Christ, 
" K thou do these things, shew thyself to the world, for, (saith 
the text, ver. 5,) neither did his brethren believe in Iiim ;'"' as if 
he had said, such as perform duties for ostentation, or counsel 
others to such undertakings as may expose them to public view, 
declare plainly they want true grace, which makes persons Jews 
inwardly, "whose circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit, 
whose praise is not of men, but of God," Rom. ii. 29. The 
main trade of a Cln-istian is his home-trade, as one saith, which 
<s spent in secret betwixt God and his own soul : here he drives 
an unknown trade, he is at heaven and home again, richly laden 
in his thoughts with heavenly meditations before the world 
knows where he liath been.* 

The consideration of these things hath engaged mc to spend 

• Gurnari Christian Armour, eh. 12. gee. 3. p. 304. 

KI'lSTl,!: TO THE U1:a1)J:E. XI 

some thoughts on this gi-eat and much neglected duty of Closet 
Prayer; which when I had delivered, and several had got copies 
thereof, it was judged fit for the press. Some hopes being con- 
ceived of its further usefulness, I perused it again and methodiz- 
ed it into this form, and communicated my thoughts to a few 
concerning the publication of it. A friend informed me that 
there was a book extant upon tlie same subject, which I inquired 
after, and found one of Mr. Brooks' on the same text: that book 
I looked over, and was ready to think it would save me a labour; 
but, upon second thoughts, I considered that this might fall into 
some hands which that would not; that several men writing on 
the same subject may be useful, and tliat our method and mo^t 
of our matter, are different ; for I had finished mine before I 
saw the other, except two or three leaves at tlie close : besides 
that, the other is large, this a small piece, and more portable 
as a pocket book, or vade mecum : let it be then a short Appen- 
dix to that excellent piece. 

I am heartily glad any of God's servants have set themselves 
to promote this part of practical piety ; it is an excellent design, 
and I am well assured if Christ'ans were more in their closets 
with God, their own souls would thrive better, and things would 
succeed better abroad; Mr. Rogeis being silenced from public 
work, desired his hearers to spend that time they were w(mt to 
pass at his lecture in serious prayer and meditation in their clo- 
sets, and he was confident Satan would be a loser, and their souls 
gainers by that providence: and this I can affirm, that if per- 
sons would spend part of that time in secret prayer they take to 
run abroad to sermons, they would be better proficients; not but 
that hearing the word is necessary, and so is this; nor must the 
one jostle out the other ; yea, these secret duties help us to pro- 
fit by public ordinances. If dung be poured down in heaps in 
the field it doth no good, it must be spread abroad before it 
. make fruitful ground; the plaister heals not, except it be ap- 
plied : so the word must be spread on our hearts by serious and 
secret meditation and application, or else it will never make our 
souls healthfiil and fruitful; and then we must pray over it for 
tlie showers of divine gTace to wash it and work it into our 
hearts ; many sermons are k;st for want of people taking them 
home to their closets, and turning them into prayer. I fear 


all will be little enough that ministers can preach or write 
upon this theme; I doubt still, this exercise will be 
either totally neglected or negligently performed ; it is a dif- 
ficult exercise, the spirit must travail in it, and, saith good 
Mr. Bains, the saints can endure better to hear an hour than 
to pray a quarter : yea, our trifling hearts will make any excuse 
to evade this duty, or shuffle it off, even though it be in ex- 
change for another, a sign the work is of God, and tending 
much to the soul's good, or else Satan and our corrupt hearts 
would never so much hinder or oppose it. 

Poor soul, it may be thou lookest abroad, and seest much 
wickedness committed, holiness persecuted, thy God dishonoured, 
many things out of order, and thou wantest a capacity to bring 
a remedy : I must therefore say to thee as it is reported Al- 
bertus Crantzius said to Luther, when he began to oppose the 
Pope,* Brother, go into thy cell, and say, God be merciful 
unto me ; so say I. Alas, thy interest and influence reacheth 
but a httle way to reform a wicked world, though thou shouldst 
seek to proceed as far as thy place and calling extend ; but go 
thy way to God in thy closet, bewail thy sins, and the sins of 
others ; plead with God for thine own soul ; busy thyself about 
thyself, set all straight at home, take heed of that of which the 
poor church complains. Cant. i. 6, " They made me the keeper 
of the vineyards, but mine own vineyard have I not kept.'' Oh 
leave other things undone, rather than this great matter, which 
concerns the affairs of thine own soul. 

Mr. Fox tells us of one Peter Moyce, a German martyT,i- that 
being called before the synod at Dornick, they began to ex- 
amine him on certain articles of religion, and when he was 
about to answer boldly and expressly on every point, they inter- 
rupting him, bade him say in one word, either yea or nay. 
Then said he, if you will not suffer me to answer for myself in 
things of such importance, send me to my prison again among 
my toads and frogs, which will not interrupt me while I address 
my Lord and my God. O Christian, the time may come, or is 
already come, when men may stop thy mouth, and will not suf- 
fer thee to witness a good coniession ; withdraw thyself from 

" Frater, vade in cellam, et die, Miserere mei, Deus. 
t Acts Mon. 2 vol. lib. 8. fol. 122. 

F.PisTLi: TO Tin: headj:]'.. ^^n{ 

men, and retire unto thy God, who will make tlice freely wel- 
come, to pour out thy soul to him in secret: he will neither shut 
thy mouth, nor stop his ear; he bids thee open thy mouth wide, 
Psal. Ixxxi. 10, and he tells thee, his ear is open to thy cry, 
Psal. xxxiv. 15. Thou canst net ask such gi-eat things as he 
can and will give, only see tliou beest a child of God. Na- 
turalists tell of a precious stone, of an excellent virtue, which 
loseth all its efficacy when it is put into a dead man's mouth : 
so prayer in the lips of a saint or a righteous man, availeth 
much ; but the prayer of the wicked is not only ineffectual, but 
abominable to God. See to your state, and then see that you 
pray aright, for manner, matter, and end ; many ask and receive 
not, because they ask amiss : above all, my reader, in thy secret 
addresses to God, take heed of a trifling spirit; thou wilt find 
most ado with thyself herein ; our giddy spirits are loth to be 
pent up in the narrow room of a spiritual performance ; we love 
to take our liberty in ranging abroad to a thousand olijects ; but 
Christian, as thou lovest thy peace, thy soul, thy God, look to 
thy spirit in secret prayer ; do not trifle away thy time upon 
thy knees, let not thy words freeze as they come from tliee, let 
no discouragements beat tliee off: the woman of Canaan, as one 
saith, takes the bullets that Christ shot at her, and with an 
humble boldness of faith, sends them back again in prayer ; 
■which indeed reached his heart, and prevailed with God for 

However, I shall enlarge no more at present, but refer thee 
to this small treatise, wherewith I have, according to my poor 
talent, laid before thee this great duty ; what effect it may have 
I know not, my God knows, in whose hands the blessing of our 
endeavours lies ; get alone and pray over this book, and for the 
unworthy sinful author, as he desires to do for thee into v.hose 
hands this may come ; let our prayers daily meet at the throne 
of grace till our souls meet before the throne of God ; if thou 
receivest any good by this or any other work this poor worm 
hath handed to thee, ascribe nothing to the instrument, but all 
to the agent, and efficient, our good God from whom comes 
every good and perfect gift : disdain not the work for the plain- 
ness of the style ; it was purposely put in tliis dress for the ge- 
neral benefit ; and if it or myself bfe exposed to censure for that, 


it is welcome. I write not to pka.sc learned scholars, but to 
profit plain Christians ; whose spiritual good I prefer above any 
credit to myself. I am sure there is none due : there being few 
of my brethren but they transcend me in parts and learning, 
but by the grace of God I am what I am, 1 Cor. xv. 10. Nor 
is his grace altogether in vain: for as he hath helped me in la- 
bours, so he hath in some measure blessed my lab(-urs, though 
I be nothing, the least of saints, not meet to be called a minister. 
Did those that read my performances know me, they would be 
ready to despise them ? this 1 speak because my former book 
hath found such good acceptance, and tliis is so much desired. 
And that no man may think of me, above what he knoweth to 
be in me, I shall add, my heart hath been near fainting through 
discouragements from my great weakness, had I not been sup- 
ported many a time with that word, 2 Cor. iv. 7, " But we have 
this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power 
may be of God, and not of man." Whence I gather, that God 
can make use of weak, unlearned, sinful instruments to do great 
thino-s ; and he can use persons of mean abilities to accomplish 
his glorious purpose, in converting souls, as ' well as the pro- 
foundest clerks, or wisest men on earth : yea, sometimes he lay- 
eth aside these, and rather useth the former, that all the glory 
may be his, " and that no flesh may glory in his presence," 1 
Cor. i. 29. But such as I am, or have, is all devoted to the 
honour of our Redeemer, and the welfare of souls. 

Whilst I am, 

Oct. 31, 1668. OLIVER HEYWOOD. 


Matth. VI. 6. 

But thou, token thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when 
thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in 
secret, and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward 
thee openly. 




The Context examined. 

In this excellent Sermon of our precious Saviour, on 
the Mount, we have both the gospel clearly proposed, 
and the law solidly expounded. The corrupt and car- 
nal Pharisees had degraded God's holy law from its 
spiritual extent and control * by their low and literal 
glosses, but our Saviour restores it to its dignity and 
authority over the hearts and consciences of men. 

In this chapter, the best preacher that ever opened 
his mouth, doth admirably explain the adjuncts, offices, 
and exercises of true piety ; which are, principally, 
three — alms, prayer, and fasting; ver. 1 — 19- 

Particularly, concerning the duty of prayer, there 

* The Author's word here is " regiment," which, in the works 
of Hooker, frequently occurs in this sense. 


were two materially dangerous faults, of which the 
Scribes and Pharisees were guilty, in that delightful 
and solemn exercise. Those were, 1. Hypocrisy, 
2. Battology, or vain repetition. Jesus Christ rebukes 
and rectifies both. 

1. They were wont to perform their private devo- 
tions in public places, merely for vain-glory, to be seen 
of men, as in the synagogues, or in the streets, ver. 5. 
Now for the disciples' practice in this case, he commands 
them to withdraw themselves out of the view of men, 
into some solitary place, and there perform that duty, 
where they would be least exposed to the danger of 
ostentation, ver. 6. 

2. Another fault that our Redeemer rebukes in the 
duty of prayer is, vain repetition. And though he only 
mentions it here as the heathens' fault, verse 7, yet cer- 
tainly the Scribes and Pharisees, who are censured for 
their long prayers. Matt, xxiii. 14, might also be guilty 
of it, but in different circumstances. Here the heathens 
use vain repetitions that they may move God ; there 
the Scribes and Pharisees make long prayers that they 
may deceive men, and devour widows' houses. The 
text saith, " They think they shall be heard for their 
much speaking; " just as Baal's priests, 1 Kings xviii. 
26, "They called on the name of Baal from njorning 
even till noon, saying, O Baal hear us ! they leaped 
upon the altar, and cried aloud, and cut themselves with 
knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them." 
No doubt this was done to move their cruel god, or 
rather stupid block, to some pity and compassion, just 
as the frantic Papists do at this day in their self-tor- 
menting penances ; but our God, who is the searcher 
of hearts, delights more in ardent affections, than in 
either extension of the voice or multiplication of words, 
or excruciating afflictions of the outward man ; there- 


fore, our Saviour tells us, that when we pray, we come 
not to inform God of any thing he is ignorant of, ver. 8, 
" Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, 
before ye ask him ;" but we pray that om* own hearts 
may be affected, and that we may have the condition of 
acceptance — and for the rectifying of this abuse of vain 
babbling in prayer, Christ proposes and presents to us 
an exact draught and compendious platform of prayer, 
in what is commonly called, '•' The Lord's Prayer ;" 
not as though men should say only those words and no 
more, for then the apostles had failed in praying in 
other terms, but that this might be a directory for 
prayer ; so that every thing we ask should be reducible 
to some of those heads mentioned in this perfect plat- 
form ; so that, as Cyprian saith, * " to pray otherwise 
than he hath taught, either as to the manner or sub- 
stance of the matter, is not only ignorance but an 
offence ; and indeed we cannot expect to be heard ex- 
cept we ask, as well according to Christ's mind as in 
his name." But this is not the subject I have chosen 
to insist upon ; that which falls under our present cog- 
nizance from this text, is, 

The modification of prayer, with respect to the cir- 
cumstances of privacy, solitai'iness, or retirement. 

The text holds forth the warrant for, and manner of 
carrying en the great duty of closet prayer — a copious 
subject, a precious exercise, in which are, 

1. The place for it, " Thy closet." 

2. The closeness of the place, "Thy door being shut." 

3. The object of worship, " Thy Father." 

4. The arguments to enforce thy duty. 
(1.) God's omniscience, ''He sees." 
(2.) His mimificence, "Will reward." 

* Ut aliter orare quam docuit, non ignorantia sola est sed et 
culpa, — Cyp. Serin, ad Oral. Domin. p. 408. 
B 2 



The Words eaplained. 

For a more distinct explanation of the words according 
to the parts before-mentioned, consider, 

1. V7hat is meant by a closet here. Some understand 
and interpret it, not literally but mystically, making ati 
allegory of it, as though it did import, interiorein cordis 
recessum, the inner recesses or emotions of theheart; but 
though it be a truth and a duty that we must pray in the 
closet of the heart, yet I humbly conceive, this is not the 
proper meaning of the place, for we need not interpret 
this plain word in such a figurative sense, since multi- 
tudes of Scriptures are so express for worshipping God 
with the heart ; besides, that is not suitable to the 
scope of the place, which opposeth self-retirement to 
the Pharisaical modes of devotion. The v/ord then, is 
to be literally taken, and, in general, imports " any 
secret place,"* where a thing is laid up; particularly, it 
signifies a safe or cupboard, to lay victuals in, or a 
chest locked up, wherein a treasure is usually reserved, 
or it is taken, as indeed here and often elsewhere, for a 
close or secret chamber, a withdrawing room, retiring 
place, w^here a person is not seen or heard, nor yet is 
disturbed in his devotions by any noise or commotion ; 
a secret conclave or apartment locked up where no com- 
pany is admitted. 

2. Shut thy door. This word imports yet a further 
degree of secrecy, as if he had said, that thou mayest 
make thyself to be less observed, shut up thyself in a 
room ; let none come at thee to disturb thee in thy in- 

* Leigh, in Crit. Sac. in verb. Matt. xxiv. 26. Luke xii. 3. 
Quemvis locum occultum notat. — Par. 


tercourse with God, bar the door, and make it fast ; 
yea let none overhear thee in thy retired devotions ; for, 
observe it, in true closet prayer there should be a con- 
finement of the voice as well as the body. Some pray 
so loud in their chambers that they may be heard into 
the streets. This is not properly closet prayer, since 
it doth not attain the end of this retirement, which is 
an approving the heart only to God, and avoiding all 
shew and occasions of hypocrisy and vain-glory ; for it 
is all one in this respect, whether the body be seen or 
the voice be heard. Only remember, this is spoken of 
secret prayer ; for it doth not exclude public prayer in 
a congregation, where the body is seen and voice is 
heard; yet it doth by a sort of synecdoche require 
self-denial, singleness and sincerity in every kind of 
prayer, public, private, and secret; for one part or 
sign of uprightness in the duty is put for the whole, 
shutting the door, for integrity of heart in the whole* 
management of this important exercise. 

3. Here is the object of prayer, p;Y/// to thy Father. 
Thy business is not with men, but v/ith God ; seek, 
therefore, to please and enjoy him. Nor yet art thou 
to fetch a compass and pray to saints and angels, but 
go straight to God in the name of Christ, and be sure 
thou look upon him as under the delightful relation of 
a tender Father, yea, " thy Father." O, a sweet 
word, a blessed word, and such a word as we durst not 
have taken into our mouths ;f had it not been for 
Christ's glorious undertaking to procure adoption for 
us, and his gracious encouragement in the prescribed 
form of prayer, and also for God the Father's voluntary 

* Una specie simplicitatis pro toto gen ere posita. 

t Quod nomen, nemo nostrum in oratione auderet attingere, 
nisi ipse nobis sic permisisset orare — Cyprian Serm. de Orat. Dom. 
page 414. 


condescension. Come then, and fear not, poor discipltf 
of Christ, come with filial affections, and the spirit of 
adoption, and thou art sure to speed, for this paternal 
relation imports affection, provision, condescension and 
compassion. If thou wilt be a child to him, he will be 
a Father to thee. — 2 Cor. vi. 18. 

4. Here are the arguments and encouragements to 
this duty of secret prayer. 

(1.) Thy Father sees in secret. All is one to him 
whether you be in a public church or private closet ; 
God, whose eyes are ten thousand times brighter than 
the sun, sees you in the one place, as well as in the 
other, and though men see you not, yet content your- 
selves with this consideration, that your own con- 
sciences and God, with whom you have to do, and from 
whom you have your reward, are competent witnesses 
of your uprightness. 

(2.) He will reward thee openly. There are two 
things in this expression. First, they shall be reward- 
ed; and secondly, they shall be openly re w^arded. "So 
that men shall say, verily there is a reward for the 
righteous, verily he is a God that judgetli in the earth," 
Psalm Iviii. 11. The Scribes and Pharisees do all 
their works to be seen of men, and of men they have 
that sorry reward: you do yours in the sight of God, 
and from him you shall receive your abundant and 
eternal recompense. Though men see you not, fear not, 
you shall be seen and accepted by him that searcheth 
hearts, and knoweth the mind of the Spirit. But of 
these, more anon. 

The sum and design of the text is this. Thou, my 
disciple, seest the plausible practices of the hypocriti- 
cal Pharisees, to gain credit and applause ; they per- 
form their private duties in public places, as markets 
and synagogues, that they may pass among men for 


eminent saints, and they are generally so esteemed ; 
that is their reward. But thou that hast given up thy 
name to me, in the profession of my name, take my 
counsel for regulating this important duty of secret 
prayer : let none see what thou goest about, steal time 
from all observers, withdraw thyself into some closet 
or private place, and when thou hast made all fast, set 
thyself in the presence of God, approve thy heart to 
him, lay open thy bosom before him, tell him all thy 
grievances ; and though no creature is privy to thy 
secret groans, yet be assured that all thy desires are 
before God, and thy groaning is not hid from him, 
that he takes notice of thy tears, and reserves them in 
a bottle by him, to be rewarded in a visible manner 
in a seasonable time ; thy labour is not in vain, thy 
work is with the Lord, and thy reward with thy God. 


Doctrines suggested. 

Many doctrines lie couched in the words, I shall but 
suggest them, and select one : 

1. Prayer is a choice part of religion ; it holds a 
conspicuous place in the natural worship of the su- 
preme Being, though the right ordering of it is by 
institution. It is a prominent feature in a pious char- 
acter, and therefore often put in Scripture for the 

. whole service of God ! " He that calls on the name of 
the Lord shall be saved," Rom. x. 13. A prayerless 
soul is graceless. 

2. Prayer is a duty much abused. There is scarcely 
any thing so much perverted and corrupted as this sa- 
cred duty, by formality, hypocrisy, superstition, base 
and bye-ends, as is shown by those Pharisees many 


ways, and their younger brethren the Papists at this 
day, in masses, dirges, invocation of saints, &c. 

3. There are several sorts of prayer, occasioned 
by different modes and circumstances. The apostle 
distinguisheth supplications, prayers, intercessions, and 
giving of thanks, 1 Tim. ii. 1. There are also public 
prayer, family prayer, and closet prayer ; now a Chris- 
tian must pray with all prayer and supplication, Eph. 
vi. 18. The last is here insisted on. 

4. A Christian must do nothing for praise or ap- 
plause, especially in matters of religion. It is a base 
prostituting of the highest things of God to our am- 
bition. It is to feed a humour, and ruin the soul with 
that which should save it. Let no Christians, as the 
Pharisees here, make prayer truckle to their credit, 
Phil. ii. 3, " Let nothing be done through strife or 

5. There are set and stated times of prayer. This 
is hinted in this phrase, When thou pray est. A time 
there must be for it, though the point of time is not 
determined, yet a time must be set apart for the duty, 
every day; a Christian must choose out the fittest season 
for the duty, by properly employing his liberty and 

6. Circumstances are of great consideration in all 
our actions. The streets are proper places to walk, 
talk, buy, and sell in, but not so fit for prayer ; the 
church is a fit place for public devotion, not so for a 
solemn performance of the duty of secret prayer. Al- 
though mental ejaculations are fit enough in both, yet 
it is not convenient to kneel down or use outward 
gestures of secret prayer there. 

7. Closet prayer must be with all secrecy and soli- 
tariness — in a closet, with the door shut ; as we must 
jiot blow a trumpet when we give alms, so we must 


not hold out a flag when we go to wait on God in the 
duty of prayer. It was carnal counsel, the brethren of 
Christ gave him, John vii. 4, " Shew thyself to the 
world." The reason is given, ver. 5, " For neither did 
his brethren believe in him :" a sad sign of carnality! 

8. God alone is the proper object of our prayers — 
prmj to thy Father. As he is the object of our faith, 
so of prayer : for he alone can help, therefore he is to 
be sought, none else sees our state, or can satisfy souls, 
Isa. Ixiii. 16, "Doubtless thou art our Father, though 
Abraham be ignorant of us." 

9. In all our addresses to God we must own God as 
our Father, as having adopted us in Christ ; because 
his, therefore ours. "I ascend (saith Christ) to my 
Father and your Father," John xx. 17. Indeed by na- 
ture we were cliildren of wrath, but by grace children 
of his love ; so that we may say, " But now, O Lord, 
thou art our Father."* O plead and improve this 

10. God is omnipresent — thij Father which is in 
secret: the heaven of heavens cannot contain him, 
1 Kings, viii. 27. He filleth all places with his immense 
and infinite essence : heaven is his throne, the earth is 
his footstool ; he is excluded from no place, included 
in none ; for he is without all limitation or dimen- 
sion. f 

11. God is omniscient — Thy Father which seeth in 
secret. The darkest night, or secretest closet, or most 
hidden thought of a reserved heart, can neither hide 
nor be hidden from God's all-seeing eye. — Heb. iv. 13. 
God beholds all things in heaven and on earth with 
one simple, single act of his understanding. 

* Isa. Ixiv. 8. 

t Hinc omnipraesens est quia nullum est ubi unde est exclusus, 
neque alicubi est inclusus — Ames, Med. Theol. lib. \, cap i, 47, 


12. Every believing prayer hath a sure reward — 
he will reward thee openly : not a good word address- 
ed to God, or good work for God, shall be lost : " To 
him that soAveth righteousness, shall be a sure reward," 
Prov. xi. 18. And we know every right prayer is real 
seed, Psal. cxxvi. 6, and it will rise in a full and 
plentiful crop another day. 

13. The reward of secret prayer shall be open and 
manifest. There is previously a reward or gift in 
secret ; communion with God is an abundant recom- 
pense. " In keeping thy commandments there is great 
reward," Psal. xix. 11. But this is a {prcemium ante 
premium) reward before the rew^ard : the other shall 
be in heaven, before angels and men. 

14. A Christian's reward is from God — thy Father 
will reward thee, not men. Scribes and Pharisees 
have their reward from men, from men they expect it : 
saints expect their reward from God, and God gives it 
them : men reward them evil for their good will, and 
they expect no better : if better comes from men, they 
own it as a gratuity sent from their Father : it is a 
principle of religion to know and " believe that God 
is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently 
seek him." — Heb. xi. 6. And as God gives a reward, 
so he is the reward of his saints. Gen. xv. 1, " Yea, 
an exceeding great reward." It can admit of no hy- 
perbole, it cannot have a sufficient emphasis : to enjoy 
God is a reward sufficient, in and for the service of 
God. These doctrines would require large discourses, 
but none of these are the subject on which I shall in- 

I shall raise only one doctrine from the main scope 
of the text, namely — 

That closet prayer is a christian duty. 
Secret prayer is an evangelical exercise. 


Every child of God may and must perform the duty 
of secret prayer. 

As a Christian must pray all manner of prayer, so 
in all places, 1 Tim. ii. 8, " I will that men pray every 
where;" and if every where, then in their closets. 
This divine incense should perfume every room, and 
should ascend to heaven from chambers as well as 
churches : any place now is fit for a divine oratory ; 
God and a believing soul may meet in a corner : a saint 
should give himself to prayer, and dedicate his house 
to God ;* he should, as it were, consecrate every room 
in his house to be a place of private devotion. Abra- 
ham reared an altar to God wherever he came, so 
must a Christian make every place wherever he can get 
close to the duty, a place of prayer. 

Mr. Mede hath undertaken to prove, from Josh, 
xxiv. 26, that the Jews of old, as well as Christians in 
gospel times had their proseuchce, or praying places, 
which he thus describes,! as to the Jews of old: " a pro- 
seucha," saith he, " was a plot of ground, encompassed 
with a wall, or some other similar fence or inclosure, 
and open above, much like to our courts, the use being 
properly for prayer, as the name proseucha imports : 
and these were without the cities, as synagogues were 
within :" of this, as he thinks, was that mentioned 
Acts xvi. 13, and also that, Luke vi. 12, where Jesus 
Christ is said to continue all night, £v rij Trpoo-fuxi? ^« ©£«> 
in proseucha Del, in the place of prayer, or proseucha 
of God. Now although I shall say little on the notion, 
yet I cannot see how it will prove any relative holiness 
of places ; nor yet do I believe or find, but that the 
saints had other praying places, as in houses and else- 
where as occasion offered, even in dwelling-houses, 
Acts xii. 12. But as to this duty of secret prayer, it 
* Psalm cox. 4. Psalm xxx. title t Mede's Diatribe, page 279. 


must not be so narrowly confined, but we may go into 
any closet or private room where our souls may meet 
with God : and, as one saith, we shall not fail to find 
that the grots and caves lie as open to the celestial 
influences, as the fairest and most beautiful temples.* 


Several instances in Scripture of closet prayer. 

The doctrine needs not explication, but confirmation ; 
which I shall furnish from Scripture instances and 

We have several examples of patriarchs, prophets, 
and apostles that practised this duty of solitary or 
secret prayer. 

1. Abraham, the friend of God, and father of the 
faithful, conversed much with his God alone ; parti- 
cularly in this duty of prayer, Gen. xviii. 22. When 
the men, that is, the created angels that seemed men, 
were gone towards Sodom — "Abraham stood yet before 
the Lord," or Jehovah, that is, Jesus Christ, the Angel 
of the covenant. Standing is a praying posture, there- 
fore put for prayer ; hence, Abraham drew near and 
pleaded with God for Sodom : that was his errand to 
God at that time. No doubt he had used this course 
frequently in other cases : hence arose that intimacy 
betwixt God and Abraham :f so that God talked with 
him, came to him, and he again discoursed familiarly 
with God. 

2. Isaac, the son of the promise, a very contempla- 
tive man, therefore it is said, Gen. xxiv. 63, that " Isaac 

* The Life of Dr. Hammond, in a Letter, p. 201 . 
t Gen. XV. 8—13. xvii. 3. 


went out to meditate in the field at even-tide." The 
word signifies as well to pray as meditate ;* it is likely 
he did both in some solitary walk, where he conversed 
with his God. The Chaldee translates it by praying, 
but the Greek by exercising himself, that is, both in 
meditation and prayer : and truly there is a near af- 
finity betwixt these two solemn, yet pleasant duties, 
and it is usual for a devout soul to pass out of the one 
into the other, in its retirements. Soliloquy in the 
heart, helps to a colloquy with God : but here observe 
Isaac's oratory, which he had in the field, and which he 
used for more privacy; "There," saith Parens, f "he 
constantly poured out prayers to God, and at this time 
more earnestly for the happy success of his servant — a 
singular example of piety : a place it was, every way 
fit for prayer, especially in solitude where the senses 
are less drawn off from pious meditations." Some think 
he was returning from his devotions, and then it is 
worth noticing, what a speedy reward of his piety, and 
effect of his prayers was granted : would all young men 
take the like course for a wife, they might meet season- 
ably with a Rebecca in mercy. 

3. Jacob is a famous instance of this choice exer- 
cise, few like him ; he was made to flee, but he could 
not be driven from his God : they had their meeting- 
places and intercourse where none saw, particularly that 
remarkable time, Gen. xxxii. 24, " Jacob was left alone: 
and there wrestled a man with him, until the breaking 
of the day." It is likely Jacob had sent his household 
away on purpose, that he might wrestle with God alone. 
I shall not dispute whether Jacob had any extraordi- 

* mU Locutus est ore, vel corde cogitavit ; proprie significat, 
submissa voce loqui, ut orantes. — Leigh. 

t Locus precibus ubique commodus ; maxima in solitudine, ubi 
aensus de piis meditationibus minus avocantur. — Parens in loc. 


nary natural strength of body, I am sure he had abun- 
dance of spiritual strength of grace, nor shall I take 
notice of the Hebrews' subtle disputes concerning this 
man. Hosea tells us it was an angel, yet withal he 
tells us, "that by his strength he had power with God," 
Hos. xii. o, 4, Therefore this was God himself, the 
creating, not a created angel, even Jesus Christ, the 
angel that redeemed him from all evil,* whom Malachi 
calls, "the angel of the covenant," Mai. iii. 1. It was 
God himself, Elohim, whom Jacob overcame in this 
stupendous monomachia, or conflict. But how did he 
thus prevail ? The text saith, with prayers and tears, 
he wTpt and made supplication : now he had gotten 
God to a side, as it were, and none came to distract 
him, or to part this strong and blessed duel : he is re- 
solved to make good his hold, and not let God go, till 
he blessed him : the consequence was that good Jacob 
came off a noble conqueror, and from that procured 
the famous name of Israel. O unequal match ! O 
unparalleled conquest ! The seemingly adverse combat- 
ant was Jacob's only assistant, and the conquered was 
the invincible Jehovah, and no seconds or spectators, 
but the infinite God, and worm Jacob. 

4. Moses was an excellent man of God, -whom the 
Scripture characterizeth as a, non-suck, Deut. xxxiv. 10. 
** There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto 
Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face :" and this 
intimate acquaintance was obtained, maintained, and 
cherished by this secret conversing with God : how 
often do we find the Lord and his servant Moses to- 
gether and none with them ? yea, Moses only must 
come neai', and the rest must worship afar off:f and 
what business have these familiar friends with each 
other ? Why, sometimes the Lord speaks to Moses^ 
* Gen. xlviii. 16. t Exodus xxiv. 12. 


sometimes Moses speaks to God in secret prayer : see 
both together in Exod. xxxii. 9 — H- A strange 
scripture — God and Moses had been conversing with 
each other in the mount forty days : God tells Moses, 
the people had made them a molten calf, and he was 
angry and would consume them, and bids Moses let 
him alone, as though Moses had bound the hands of om- 
nipotence : nay then, thinks Moses, if my poor people 
be in this hazard since I am with God, I will ply the 
throne of grace, and improve my interest for them : 
and then he falls close to the work, he besought the 
Lord his God, and supplicated mercy for the people. 
At this time he alone stood in the gap, and prevailed 
by his intercession to turn away God's wrath from 
Israel :* here wafe a deliverance, and this was the fruit 
of secret prayer. 

5. David, the man after God's own heart, was a 
man much skilled in secret or closet meditations and 
prayer : hence some of his Psalms of prayer and praise 
were first composed in caves, wildernesses, and solitary 
places, Psalm cxlii. the title is, " Maschil of David, a 
prayer when he was in the cave," and this is for in- 
struction to us, so Maschil signifies : yea, he purposely 
compiles the cii. Psalm, as a pattern to all that may 
be in his case, that is, solitary, " As a pelican in the 
wilderness, an owl in the desert, or a sparrow alone 
upon the house-top," ver. 6, 7- Then they are to pray 
as he did, and to pour out their complaint before the 
Lord : yea, upon a declaration of God's covenant, or 
designs of mercy to David and his house, the good man 
went either into some private room in his own house, 
or into the tent before the ark, and there set himself, 
first to meditate, then to pray; for he did both, as 
that scripture clearly intimates, 2 Sara. vii. 17 — 27- 
* Psalm cvi. 23. 


And O what memorable fruits of secret prayer had 
David frequently ? Surely he felt the sweetness of it, 
both in his soul and body, in his spiritual estate, and 
political affairs ; therefore he commends it to all, Psalm 
iv. 4, 5, " Commune with your own heart upon your 
bed," (or in your bed-chamber) and there also "offer the 
sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the 

6. Another example from Scripture of the perform- 
ance of this duty of secret prayer, is, the celebrated 
man of God Elijah, who wrought many miracles, 
and was mighty in prayer, for so the apostle James 
testifies of him, chap. v. 17, 18, that he could shut and 
open heaven ; he had, as it were, got the key of the 
clouds, to open the window^s of heaven, that it might 
rain or not rain, according to his word. But how came 
he by this power ? Why, certainly he had much inter- 
course with his God in secret. Take one instance what 
his practice was, 1 Kings xvii. 19 — 24. It is the 
memorable history of raising the widow woman's dead 
son. It was a great undertaking : none but God could 
raise the dead; God is to be implored by earnest prayer, 
no place so fit for that great duty as a closet, or some 
close chamber ; therefore he being to deal with his God 
in extreme good earnest about this important business, 
saith the text, " He carried him up into a loft, where 
he abode, and laid him upon his own bed, and then he 
cried to the Lord," ver. 19, 20. It was not the first time 
Elijah had there wrestled with God ; if it was his 
lodging room, it was his praying room, and here God 
heard him, and wrought the miracle : what he did for 
Elijah, he can and will do for us, if he see fit ; for 
Elijah was no more than a man, and subject to like 
passions as we are. 

7. Jeremiah is a Remarkable instance : he was a 


Prophet of the Lord, sanctified from his mother's womb, 
yet he met with so many discouragements, that he hath 
a mind to leave his people, and he wisheth for a lodg- 
ing-place in the wilderness,* that is, some solitary retire- 
ment, that there he might take his fill of weeping; how- 
ever he resolved at present, that wherever he is, he will 
retire, and, saith he, "My soul shall weep in secret places 
for your pride." — Jer. xiii. 17. Yet more appropriately 
to the business of secret prayer, see Jer. xv. 17, where 
he saith, "I sat alone because of thy hand." But v/hat 
did he alone ? Did he only pore and muse upon the 
chiu*ch's sins and sufferings ? No, lie had something 
to say to his God, v. 18. "Why is my pain perpetual?" 
And God then hath something to say to him by way of 
gracious answer, v. 19, "If thou return, then will I 
brino; thee ao-ain, and thou shalt stand before me :" tliis 
is the result of his secret prayer, a restoration of him to, 
and his confirmation in, his office and function, and 
to the public exercise thereof: this is worth praying 

8. Daniel is a famous pattern of the resolute and 
courageous performance of this duty, against all oppo- 
sition : although he might have pleaded, (if ever any) 
there is a lion in the way, I shall be slain in the streets 
or den, for exercise of prayer in my chamber ; yet he 
feared nothing, he ventured upon a severe law, his 
prince's displeasure, the loss of his preferment, the rage 
of his competitors, and the lions' hungry stomachs, 
rather than he would omit or intermit his accustomed 
coiu'se of chamber- worship ; he will endure the lions' 
cruelty, rather than neglect a known duty : na)'', he is 
so far from o-ratifvina; his proud adi^ersaries, that he 
will not in the least abate his wonted frequency, or 
visibility in the duty ; " but his windovrs being opeu 
* Jereviiiah, i^. 1, 2. 


toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three 
times d day and prayed," Daniel, vi, 10. But did 
Daniel hold out a flag, or blow a trumpet, by setting 
open his windows to declare to men what he was going 
to do ? Was not this contrary to the rule in the text? 
Are we here commanded to shut our door, and may 
Daniel open his window? Is not that all one ? Surely 
that good man did not open his windows out of hypo- 
crisy and vain-glory; but to shew his resolution, courage 
and constancy, out-daring these impious, presumptuous 
commands of men : he did not fear to be seen now in 
so plain a case. "^Vhat spirit are they of, that will 
rather give themselves to the roaring lion, and incur 
the wrath of the King of heaven, which exceeds in 
terror a thousand hungry lions, than solemnly perform 
this useful duty of secret prayer : let the careless con- 
sider this. 

9. Peter, a distinguished apostle, shall be another 
instance in the case, Acts ix. 40. AVhen Tabitha or 
Dorcas lay dead in an upper chamber, and the widows 
stood weeping by her, and lie was about to raise her, 
" he put them all forth, and kneeled down and prayed, 
and turning him to the body, said, Tabitha, arise, and 
she opened her eyes." — See here another miracle, like 
Elijah's, following secret prayer : but this was in an 
extraordinary case, did Peter use to pray alone ? A'es, 
turn only to the next chapter. Acts x. 9, " Peter went 
up upon the house-top to pray, about the sixth hour," 
which was about noon, another praying season ;* cer- 
tainly he missed not morning and night for such devo- 
tion : he went to the top of the flat-rooft house, which 
was a private place, and equivalent to a closet ; there 
Peter prayed, in prayer he fell into a trance, and in that 
trance he had a vision concerning the calling in of the 

* Psalm Iv. 17. 


Gentiles,* a glorious mystery and transcendent mercy 
towards us poor outcasts — a mystery \yhich had been 
kept secret since the world began, hid from ages and 
generations — a blessed mystery that the Gentiles should 
be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of 
God's promise in Christ by the gospel; yet this transcen- 
dent design of love was manifested to an eminent apostle 
while he was in the performance of this duty of 
secret prayer : this is very remarkable, and M^orth 

10. The last instance is of our blessed Saviour. Our 
dear Lord Jesus Avas very conv^ersant in this duty. 
Mark, i. 35, "In the morning, rising up a great while 
before day, he went out and departed into a solitary 
place, and there prayed :" ovir precious Redeemer went 
about doing good, and the day-time he usually spent 
in preaching, conversation, healing diseases, &c. and 
the night he spent in prayer, meditation, and such other 
holy exercises : he had scarce time to eat or sleep for 
doing his father's work ; he spent not one moment of 
time unprofitably in above thirty years : how early 
doth he rise, and earnestly doth he follow his business 
in communion with his Father, and in the work of 
our redemption? Yea, Luke vi. 12, "He continued 
all night in prayer to God ;" that is, on a mountain, 
in secret prayer, and frequently elsewhere we shall 
find him alone, and in this work :f and wherefore was 
all this ? Was it not principally for our sakes ? for 
our salvation, and imitation ? Yes certainly, he de- 
signed our good in all; he prayed that we might pray, 
and reap the profit of all his prayers and purchase. Heai' 
we Cyprian expressly speaking on this point : " He 
taught us to pray not by words only but deeds ; himself 
praying frequently, both supplicating, and demonstrat- 
* Rom. xvi. 25. Col. i. 26, 27- Eph. iii. 5, (5. t Ivlatt. xxvi. 30. 
C 2 


ing what we are to do by the evidence of his own 
example." * 

Most divines hold the obligatory power of scripture 
examples, in things not forbidden; especially in prayer 
which being so laudable a practice, and implied in other 
scriptures, all the preceding instances seem cogent argu- 
ments ; and the last, taken from the life of Jesus Christ, 
hath the force of a positive precept and command. 

But there are few or none that have the face of 
Christians, who dare deny this to be a duty ; though I 
fear many that would go for Christians, live in a com- 
mon neglect of it. 




Privacy convenient for prayer. 

All the reasons that I shall employ at present for the 
proof of this doctrine, and showing secret prayer to be 
a duty, shall be fetched out of the text, and they are 
these : 

The conveniency of privacy for prayer. — The relation 
betwixt God and a believer. — God's omniscience. — God's 

* Nee verbis tantum sed et factis Dominus orare nos docuit, 
ipse orans frequenter, et deprecans, et quid facere nos oportet 
exempli sui contestatione demonstrans. — C^^p. Serm. de Oral. Dom. 
p. 425. 


First, The great convenieiicy there is in privacy for 
prayer, and the good providence of God, bestowing 
upon us private rooms, which implicitly calls us to the 
performance of that duty. For there is in retirement 
a great advantage for the managing of any work of 
wisdom, Prov. xviii. 1, "Through desire a man having 
separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all 
wisdom," that is, he that is really studious of true piety 
will voluntarily sequester himself to prosecute it. This 
was anciently the well-meaning design of a monastic 
life, which since hath been wofully abused : but yet 
certainly there is a very great advantage in solitari- 
ness for carrying on a religious business. Take only 
two things at present, which are advantages attending 
this duty of prayer, whereunto secrecy contributes : 

1. Self-expostulations, and self-abasing gestures and 
expressions. When a Christian in prayer finds his heart 
hard, dead, dull, distracted, or any way out of order, he 
m.ay in secret make a pause, and begin to commune with 
his own heart, examine the matter, lament the cause, 
chide his untoward heart, and charge his ro'^dng spirit 
to keep close to his God in duty : thus David, " Why 
art thou cast down, O my soul ? Awake psaltery and 
harp, I myself will awake early : my soul wait thou 
upon God." Nothing is more common in the Psalms 
than such intercisions and diversions from the immedi- 
ate exercise, to raise up the heart to a higher tune in 
prayer and praises. And this may be of singular use ; 
for by such heart-reasonings and debates a saint may 
wind up his spirit, and get better prepared for the 
remaining part of the exercise : now such a work as 
this would not be so seasonable and convenient, when 
others join in the duty. So also for bodily postures ; 
sometimes for an evidence of greater humiliation, a 
Christian finds it requisite to prostrate himself before 


the Lord, and use such gestures as would not be fit in 
the sight of others ; therefore closet prayer is very 
necessaiy where a Christian may use his discretion as 
God shall direct him, for the humbling, quickening, 
raising, and melting of his heart before the Lord 

2. It is a wonderful help against distraction. When 
we are (as it were) out of the noise of the world, we aje 
then fitter for attendance upon God : the affairs, dis- 
courses, troubles, and confusions of a family (if within 
hearing) are a great hinderance to the duties of medita- 
tion and prayer : experience testifies this, a man cannot 
study or cast up accounts in a crowd or throng of people. 
^Vhen we are intent upon any business, how little a noise 
sometimes diverts us ? It may be this was the reason 
why that hospitable gentlewoman, in 2 Kings iv. 10, 
would have a chamber built for her welcome guest the 
prophet Elisha, yea built upon the wall : for she might 
judge him to be a contemplative man, and though she 
might have lodging rooms in her house, yet she might 
look upon that at a little distance, as more commodious 
for his devotions and meditations, as being out of the 
noise of household business and hurry. An active fancy 
quickly closeth with any diversion in our attendance 
upon God, therefore ought we to study to attend upon 
the Lord without distraction : when Abraham went 
to worship in the mount, he left his servants below in 
the valley, lest they should obstnict his communion 
with God: when Moses was to go up unto the Lord, 
though Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu,and the seventy elders 
went further than the people, yet the text saith, " They 
should worship afar fiff ;" but, saith God, " Moses alone 
shall come near the Lord," Exod. xxiv. 1, 2. Observe 
it, w^hen Moses had parted with his company, and was 
alone, then he should come near the Lord ; common 


professors worship not God at all acceptably ; sincere 
saints worshipping God with others are comparatively 
far off ; but souls in a corner or closet are admitted to 
come near God, and have sweet intimacy with him, as 
I shall shew anon : yet mistake me not, as though I 
preferred secret prayer alone, before public prayer along 
with others ; for as God delights in the joint prayers of 
his people, so a soul may enjoy God in the communion 
of saints, and is ordinarily more carried out to God thaii 
in private, according to the helps and advantages he 
hath with others ; yet when the heart is in frame, there 
is usually more intimacy expressed betwixt God and 
the Christian in secret, than when in the company of 
others. Yet further, mistake not, as though solitariness 
freed us from all distractions : if we take our hearts 
with us, we shall have a principle of diversion, and want 
neither noise nor visible objects to keep us from God ; 
and this, those that have magnified solitariness most, 
have found by sad experience, and left upon record. 
Take an instance ; Cyprian speaking of Christ's fasting 
and being tempted in the wilderness, " Choosing," saitli 
he, "that place for its secrecy, because fastings are to be 
observed so as God alone may be judge, and in such en- 
gagements as these we are to call on God alone as specta- 
tor and helper :" and he shews fully the danger of vain- 
glory, and the advantages of secrecy ; yet adds, " Let 
not a man imagine he hath escaped all dangers, when 
he comes into a wilderness or solitary place : for he 
is invaded by the tempter, so much the more danger- 
ously, because more subtlely, who sitting before the 
doors of the thoughts, seeks to strangle all the buds of 
virtue in their very appearance. Yet the disentangled 
soul will more freely resist its efiemy, when the 
fetters of impediments are wanting, when the sight 


discerns no allurements, and the conflict is more secure ; 
when particular affairs pluck not back the combatant, 
nor the delights of enticing pleasures inebriate the 


Relation betu-een God and a gemiine Christian. 

Secondly. — Another reason held forth also in the 
text, is. drawn from that relation which is betwixt God 
and a believing soul ; therefore oui' Saviour says pray- 
to thy Father : and this reason hath two parts — first, 
the believer can more freely open his heart to God in a 
closet ; secondly, God will more clearly manifest him- 
self to the soul in secret. 

1 . A soul in secret making its addresses to God goes 
to him as a Father. Now, we know children cannot 
be so free in their addresses to their Father, in corn- 
pan)^, and before strangers, as when nobody is present : 

* Locus secretus eligitur, quia solius Dei judicio jejunia 
sunt agenda, et singularem inspectorem, adjutoremque I3eum vo- 
lunt haec habere cevtamina, neque in agonibus aliquibus periculosus 
militatur: — Propter hoc, soHtudo carens arbitris, et eremus, os- 
tentatorum satelKtio vacuo, a jejunante Christo eligitur, ut non 
cum carne et sanguine, sed cum spiritualibus nequitiis dimicetur, 
et amotis minorum occasionibu& homo cum diabolo coUuctetur, et 
soli sint in palsestra Christus et Antichristus, Spiritus et Antispirit- 
us. Neque patet hominem evasisse pericula cum in eremum vene- 
rit, quia quanto subtilius tanto difficilius a tentatore invaditur, qui 
cogitationum foribus assidens omnia virtutum germina in ipso ortu 
strangulare molitur. — Cyp. de Jejun. et Teiifat. Christi, prope init. 
png. 300, 301. Verum liberius, anima expedita obviat impugnanti 
ubi compedes impedimentorum defuerint et aspectus irritamen- 
ta non noverit : securiorque est congressus, ubi singula non veli- 

cant dimicantem, nee inebriant animum lenocinia voluptatum 

Fid. plur. 


hence it is, that when a child hath any special business 
with liis Father, he takes him aside, or whispers to 
him, that none may over-hear him : and observe it, 
God's children have an errand to him that none must 
know of; as Ehud said to Eglon, " I have a secret er- 
rand to thee, O King," Judg. iii. 19. So a gracious 
soul may say, O my King, my God, my Father, I have 
a secret errand to thee : a depraved propensity to 
confess, or a mercy to beg or bless thee for, of which 
I would not have others to know. It is not fit any 
should be privy to that which a gracious soul tells God 
of: in this case it may be said, "Discover not thy se- 
cret to another," Prov. xxv. 9- Two may keep counsel, 
but three cannot : God and a gracious soul will be 
faithful to each other, but a third must not know of 
these matters ; nay, in this case we may say, " Keep 
the doors of thy lips from her that lieth in thy bosom," 
Mic. vii. 5. There are many things a saint tells God 
of, with which he will not acquaint either father, or 
wife or friend, that is as his own soul, but only his 
heavenly Father ; he opens his bosom freely to him, 
and tells him his whole heart, best and worst ; hides 
nothing from him, because he only knows the heart : 
and truly I have often in this, admired the wisdom of 
God, who hath so far consulted his people's credit and 
modesty as to appoint them place and ways of speaking 
to him privately, designing secret prayer for this very 
end, that the soul may spread its case of wants and 
complaints before its Father, and present its petition to 
the King of heaven. The spouse of Christ is modest, 
(saith an ancient) and cannot so freely explain herself 
to her beloved before others as in secret ; here then 
comes in the use and advantage of closet prayer, that 
a Christian may, (as Jonathan and David unbosomed 
themselves to each other alone) open his heart to God 


where no eyes see, nor ears hear his secret groans and 
tears : but further, 

2. God will more familiarly communicate liimself to 
the soul in secret ; he also hath something to whisper in 
the believer's ear, that none must know of ; and there- 
fore takes him by himself; a lively emblem whereof 
we have in Joseph making himself known to his breth- 
ren, when his bowels were working, " and he could not 
refrain himself, he cried, cause every man to go out 
from me. Then he wept aloud, and said I am Joseph."* 
And O what endeared reciprocal affections did work in 
all their breasts toward each other ! Just thus it is 
betwixt our Joseph and his brethren, Jesus Christ and 
his members ; there stands none with him while Jesus 
makes himself known unto his brethren ; and though 
at first they be, as it were, troubled at his presence, yet 
when he speaks tenderly, and passeth by former un- 
kindnesses, and saith, come near unto me I pray you, 
then tliey come near, and he saith convincingly, " I am 
Jesus whom ye sold and crucified ;" this affects and hum- 
bles their obdurate hearts, and being broken he pours 
oil into their troubled spirits, and speaks many heart- 
reviving words unto them ; then, then the child of God 
hath most sweet refreshing incomes : when God hath 
allured the soul into the wilderness, he speaks to the 
heart. A wilderness is a solitary place, where other 
speech is not heard, as the word imports :f then speaks 
God to the soul when men cannot speak to it : when 
men are remote, God is near at hand ; yea nearest to 
help, melt, comfort, and quicken, when men are farthest 
off: our Saviour saith of himself, John xvi. 32, "You 
leave me alone, yet I am not alone, for the Father is 

* Gen. xlv. 1 — 4. 

t Hos. ii. 14. "121D Desertum^ sic dictum per Antiphrasin quasi 
locus a sermoue remotus. 


with me," as if he had said, when you go away, my 
Father comes to visit me with most familiar endeariiigs. 
O blessed exchange ! Thus it is often with the saints : 
when men leave them, or they withdraw from men, 
they have, many times, most of God ; and is it not 
infinitely better, to have the jjresence of God, than the 
company of men ? What God saith of Abraham, is 
worth observing, Isa. li. 2, " I called him alone and bless- 
ed him." Mark it, when God had drawn Abraham from 
all his friends, and got him alone, then lie blesseth him, 
and you know what the blessing of Abraham was, even 
a covenant blessing ; such God distributes to his saints 
when he hath withdrawn them from company into some 
sequestered place : tliis is that which made an ancient 
profess, that a town was his prison — a solitary place 
his paradise.* Cities or numerous societies introduce a 
veil betwixt God and the soul, which solitariness with- 
draws, and thus many times becomes most sweet: we 
often lose God in a crowd of business or company, but 
find him when alone : hence a corner of our house may 
be a little corner of heaven, and in our closets we may 
find the sweetest cordials and contentment. You know, 
friends do most familiarly enjoy one another when 
others are not present ; Jonathan sent away the lad 
when he would be familiar with his friend David :f 
and then they kissed one another, and wept one with 
another, until David exceeded. There lies a restraint, 
as it were, upon God by company, which is taken off 
in a measure by solitariness. O when God finds a soul 
alone by itself, having set itself purposely to meet him, 
then he reveals his love, unveils his face, unlocks his 
blessed store, distributes doles of love and grace, and 
sends it not away empty, but full of grace and peace. 

* Mihi oppidum career est, solitudo paradisiis — Hieroiiym. 
t 1 Sam. XX. 40, 41. 


Thus that word of Solomon is verified, Pro v. xiv. 10, 
" The heart knoweth his own bitterness, and a stranger 
internieddleth not with his joy," that is, no creature on 
earth is privy to the secret groans or sweet solace of a 
retired saint. 


GocTs omniscience and omnipresence. 

Thirdly, A further reason is drawn from the om- 
niscience and omnipresence of God. The text saith, 
" Thy Father sees in secret :" and the strength or force 
of this argument lies in these four particulars ; 

1. God sees in secret, therefore he takes notice whe- 
ther thou pray in secret or not : he looks after thee, as 
it were, when thou goest into such a chamber and 
solitary place, and saith, that person hath now an 
opportunity, a convenient place and fit occasion, to 
wait upon me, and will he not ? Will he be always so 
busy in other company, that I must have none of his 
fellowship ? I\Iust his converse be so much with men, 
that he can spare no time for communion with God ? 
nay, will he go so often into such a room to do such 
and such a business, and can he never find time to go 
down upon his knees, and address me ? Hath he so much 
to do in the world, that he hath no leisure to look up 
to heaven ? Do his worldly occasions still thrust out 
spiritual meditations? Will he never set himself 
solemnly in prayer and meditation, to transact betwixt 
myself and him the most important business of his 
soul ? Ah sirs, the omnipresent God takes notice of 
all your movements into and out of your chambers, and 
expects that sometimes at least your souls should wait 
upon him. And Avhy should Christians frustrate his 
expectations ? 


2. God sees in secret, therefore he hath seen thy 
secret sins : thy close and closet wickedness is naked 
and open before the piercing eyes of an all-seeing God ; 
and therefore should thy closet tears and prayers testify 
thy sound and saving repentance. For this is a rule 
in practical divinity, that sorrow for sin must bear some 
proportion to the nature and aggravations of the sin, 
both as to degree, and circumstances of time and place. 
Manasseh humbled himself greatly for his great abomi- 
nations. So for place and manner, they that sin openly 
must be rebuked before all, and testify their repentance 
before the church.* So if the sin be private or less 
known, the rule in Matt, xviii. 15, 16, is to be observed 
for private admonition and confession : and consequent- 
ly secret sins must be secretly mourned over. ^Vhen 
thy sins are known to none but to God and thine own 
conscience, thou art not bound, except in some few cases, 
to discover them to any other but to God, in a hearty 
secret repentance. Here then come in secret prayer and 
godly sorrow : well, there are none of us without our 
secret sins, and God sees them all though never so 
privately committed ; we may hide sin from man, we 
cannot hide it from the Lord : he sets our secret sins in 
the light of his countenance. Psalm xc. 8. His eyes 
are open upon all the ways of man, and he knows 
all the errors of his life.f Therefore must we get alone 
and enumerate all the sins we know of, and desire 
God to shew us what we do not know, and with holy 
David, breathe out that devout petition, Psalm xix. 12, 
" Cleanse thou me from secret faults." 

3. God sees in secret, therefore thou dost not lose thy 
labour, though men know not where thou art, or what 
thou art doing, yet thy God takes notice of thee: thou 
dost not thy good works incognito, though thy groans 

1 Tim. V. 20. t Job xxxiv. 21,22. Jer. xxxii. 19. Prov. v. 21. 


are not seen or heard by men, yet they are v^^ell known 
to thy God, Ps. xxxviii. 9, " Lord, all my desire is before 
thee, and my groaning is not hid from thee ;" as if 
David had said, Lord, 1 many times withdraw myself 
into a closet or retired place, and there I lay before thee 
the sorrows of my soul, " I pour out my heart like water 
before the face of the Lord," Lam. ii. 19 ; sometimes 
in the night watches, or in solitary places, none knows 
what I am doing ; no eye sees my briny tears, no ear 
hears my bitter outcries ; but the all-seeing God hides 
not his eyes from my tears, stops not his ears at my 
cries, but knows my groans, yea my very desires. Ob- 
serve it, there is not a believing prayer but it is upon 
the file, and on record in heaven, though offered up by an 
obscvu-e person, and in an obscure place ; God even know- 
eth the meaning of his Spirit in the hearts of his peo- 
ple, though the troubled saint cannot tell whether it 
be indeed the Spirit of God or not:* but this know, that 
secret prayers in a chamber are as well known to God, 
as open prayers in a public church ; heart ejaculations 
are owned by God as much as the loudest acclamations. 
God took notice of Hezekiah when he turned his face 
toward the wall, and wept and prayed, and said God, 
" I have heard thy j^rayer, I have seen thy tears," Isa. 
xxxviii. 5. Though men did not much take notice, God 
did ; yea more, he expresseth his approbation and ac- 
ceptance of these sacrifices in secret ; but of that, anon. 
4. God sees in secret^ therefore closet prayer is a 
solemn acknowledgment of God's omniscience and om- 
nipresence : when you pray in retirement, you testify 
youi* faith in God's ubiquity, and look upon him as 
filling heaven and earth ; and this God commands us to 
believe, yea would have us to lie under the sense liere- 
of. Hence that vehement expostulation, Jer. xxiii. 24, 

* Rom. viii. 1 7. 


" Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not 
see him, saith the Lord ? Do not I fill heaven and 
earth, saith the Lord ?" Yes, saith the believing soul, 
I know thou art every where ; no thought can be with- 
holden from thee, therefore I wait on thee here : all 
is one where I am, for wherever I am, I cannot escape 
from thee ; and wherever I am, I may approach unto 
thee : and the Lord is nigh to broken hearts and pray- 
ing souls ; he is not far from every one of us, but his 
special presence is with his saints engaged in duty.* 
David composed a Psalm on God's immensity, Psalm 
cxxxix, wherein he shews, (1.) God's omniscience, in 
the six first verses, "thou knowest my down-sitting 
and mine up-rising," &c. (2.) God's omnipresence, ver. 
7 — 14, "whither shall I go from thy spirit ? If to hea- 
ven thou art there," »&;c. Darkness and light are both 
alike to thee: and what use doth holy David make 
of this heavenly doctrine ? Surely if God vrill be with 
him wherever he is, he is resolved to be with God, ver. 
18, " when I awake I am still with thee," that is, by 
secret prayer and meditation : when I lie down I com- 
mend my soul and body to thee, and when I rise up I 
meditate on thee ; when I go to sleep I pray, when I 
awake I am with God by holy and j^recious thoughts. 
So that I am still with God ; all my days, in all places, 
conditions, relations, companies, I am still with my 
God ; and as a good man used to say, " My God and I 
are good company." This, this is to be thorough-paced 
in religion ; this is Enoch's walking with God, a con- 
versation in heaven, a fellowship with the Father, an 
emblem of glory, and the sweetest, happiest life a soul 
is capable of in this world ; and much of this consists in 
conversing with God in the duty of secret prayer. All 
this flows from a due apprehension of God's omniscience 
* Psalm xxxiv. 15, 17, 18. 


and omnipresence, and this reason Cyprian renders, 
why Jesus Christ here doth prescribe our closet devo- 
tions as most agreeable to our christian faith, that we 
may know God is every where present, hears all, and 
pierceth with the fulness of his majesty into the in- 
most rooms, and hidden places according to the scrip- 
tm-es :* and truly this is a doctrine worth confirming 
by such a practice : and this is a practice ^A'orthy of 
such a doctrine. 


The Liber aVity of God. 

Lastly, The text saith. Thy Father that seefh in 
secret will reward thee openly: this reason is drawn 
from God's munificence : wherein we have, first, the 
promise, that is, a reward \ secondly, the manner of 
performance, openly : this is a comfortable circum- 
stance, it is worth something to know that our labour 
is not lost, it shall be rewarded, yea it shall be rewarded 
by God, whose rewards are great like himself, it shall 
even be rewarded by our Father. A father takes in 
good part a little service from an obedient child, and 
gives a great reward for a little work ; closet prayer 
also shall be openly rewarded. The obserA-abkness of 
the mercy enhanceth the rate of it ; tending more to 
increase a Christian's comfort, to exhibit an example for 
others, to afford encouragement to right worshippers, 
and to advance the glory of God : all these things might 

* Denique magisterio suo Dominiis secrete nos orare precepit 
in abditis et secretis vel semotis loci-*, in cubiculis ipsis, quod 
magis convenit fidei, ut sciamus Deum ubique esse prsesentem, au- 
dire omnes, et videre, et majestatis suae plenitudine in abdita quoque 
et occulta penetrare, sicut scriptum est, Jer. xxiii. 23, 34, et Prov. 
XV. 3. Ciipr. Serm. de orat. Dojh. p. 409. 


take up much time, but I shall only suggest what is 
that open reward which God gives to such as are con- 
stant in closet prayer; that is given in these four ways: 
1. By returning a visible answer to secret prayer. 
None saw Jacob wrestling hand to hand, as it were, 
with the angel, but all might observe the tender em- 
braces betwixt that good man and his hostile brother 
Esau ; * there was no witness of Moses' intercession 
for Israel in the mount, but all the congregation and 
the whole world, may bear witness of God's hearing his 
prayer, for sparing an offending people, f When Eli 
observed Hannah's lips move, and heard no voice, he 
misjudged her to be a drunken woman, but the truth 
is, she was busy with her God in earnest prayer ; and 
though he knew nothing of it then, yet afterwards he 
saw the effect: compare 1 Sam. i. 13, with ver. 27, "For 
this child I prayed, and the Lord hath given me my 
petition which I asked of him :" (Ecce signum) " be- 
hold a sign of his favour ! behold an evident token that 
I prayed in truth ! Many a time, yes many a time 
was I provoked by my scoffing adversary Peninnah, 
and as often did I make my complaint to my heavenly 
husband ; and see here the fruit of my sincere devotions 
in private : none saw my tears, all may see my child ; 
none heard my cries in prayer, but the voice of my Sa- 
muel may be heard by all Israel: he shall carry the me- 
morial of answer to secret prayer in his name to the 
grave:" and cannot many a soul speak the same lan- 
guage ? Cannot you set your seal to the same or like 
experiment ? Cannot some of God's children say, this 
mercy I got from God in such a room, chamber, or 
closet ? No creature upon earth knevv' my object there; 
but now all may see the happy effects of my hard 
wrestling, I find that it is not in vain to seek God in 
* Gen. xxxii. 24, with chap, xxxiii. 4. t Exod. xxxii. 10, 11, 14. 


private ; none knows the meaning of the mercy but 
myself. I may call it Naphtali, for with great wrest- 
lings have I wrestled with my God and prevailed * 
This mercy bears a double price to all the rest, for it 
is gained by prayer, and now may be worn with praises 
and trimnphing, so that a believer may say, " This is my 
God, I have waited for him, he will save me ; this is, 
my God, Jehovah, I have waited for him, I will be 
glad and rejoice in his salvation :"| lo here he is, I 
can now make my boast of my God. Wicked men 
are wont to say, " ^Vliere is thy G^d ?" now I can say 
in reply, lo this is he that returns such answers to 
my prayer, that appears so gloriously for m.e, this is 
my God in whom I have trusted, on whom I have 
called, and he hath answered, I am not disappointed : 
blessed be God, these appearances are the visible re- 
turns of my secret prayers. 

2. God rewards secret prayer openly, by discriminat- 
ing providences in a common calamity. God usually 
takes those into the chambers of his protection, who 
have retired into chambers of devotion ; | they that en- 
joy most of God, shall be best secured by God. Psalm 
xci. 1, " He that dwelleth in the secret place of the 
most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Al- 
mighty :" that is, he that by faith and prayer hath got 
most intimate communion with God, is lodged under 
the safest shelter in the day of danger : and who is so 
likely to enjoy God as that Christian that waits upon 
him in secret? he who is much with God in secret 
places, gets into God's secret place. David put up many 
a hearty prayer in solitary caves ; and how remarkable 
does God secure him in the day of apparent hazard, to 
the conviction of Saul and his coiurtiers ? We find the 
mourners in Sion lamenting secretly the abominations 
* Gen. XXX. 8. t Isa. xxv. 9. | Isa. xxvi. 20. 

A CUlllSTlAX DUTV. 35 

committed openly, and God sets an obvious mark upon 
their foreheads, seen discernibly by the destroying an- 
gel, and known apparently by the effects thereof to 
the world, in their exemption from the general stroke 
of desolation, Exek. ix. 4, 6. Jeremiah's soul weeps in 
secret for the pride and profaneness of Israel ; and he 
was strongly secured in the days of Israel's dreadful 
destruction.* What is recorded in Gen. xix. 29, is 
very remarkable — " God remembered Abraham, and 
sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow." Why, 
what did Abraham ? the former chapter tells us, 
that Abraham had been with God in prayer in secret, 
and this was the effect of it, God will snatch Lot out 
of that dreadful burning as a return of secret prayer. 
God selects a season to put a difference betwixt his pray- 
ing people and others ; faith and prayer are two feet 
of the soul, whereby the righteous run to the name of 
the Lord which is their strong tower and are safe :f a 
soul hid with God cannot be hurt by men : if any be 
secured in a day of danger, it is those that are most 
with God in secret : *' Floods of great waters shall not 
come nigh" to praying saints, Psalm xxxii. 6 ; hence 
saitli David, ver. 7, " Thou art m.y hiding-place, thou 
sh alt preserve me from trouble." Some way or other 
God will attest and testify the integrity of his praying 
servants before the world i^ thus he did in the case of 
Job. God's children may be long concealed from the 
view of men, both as to their persons and conduct ; but 
in God's good time he brings them out with honour, as 
he did Elijah. Sometimes God gives clear demonstra- 
tions of his tender affection for his despised saints in 
the view of the world : Rev. iii. 9, " I will make them 
to come, and worship before thy feet, and to know that 

* Jer. xiii. 17, with chap xxxix. 11, 12. t Prov. x\aii. 10. 

t See Psal. xxxi. 19, 20, and xci. 15. 
D 2 


I have loved thee:" this is not a religious adoration, but 
a civil reverence due to real saints as an evidence of 
repentance, or special respect, as dogs fawn upon 
their masters, laying themselves at their feet, as the 
word imports, Natural conscience sometimes doth 
homage to the image of God in the saints : how- 
ever this is a well known truth, that as God hath 
brought forth wicked men's secret works of darkness, 
into open light, to their confusion in this world ; 
so he hath clearly discovered his saints' upright ser- 
vices in secret corners, to their honour and safety at 
the most critical time. Jaddus hearing of Alexander's 
approach to Jerusalem, set himself to pray; tben put 
on his priestly garments and met the conqueror, who 
fell down on his face before him. Parmenio asked him 
why he adored the Jews' High Priest, while other men 
adored himself; Alexander answered, I do not adore him, 
but that God whom the High Priest worshippeth ; for 
in my sleep I saw him in such a habit, when I was in 
Macedonia :f but examples of this nature are frequent 
every where, what strange effects prayer hath brought 
forth, both for defence to the saints, and injury to their 
enemies; so that the clear evidence hereof hath wrested 
from many stout opposers, that acknowledgment of 
the queen of Scots, that she feared more the prayers of 
John Knox than an army of ten thousand fighting men. 
3. God rewards secret prayer openly by confemng 
upon secret wrestlers more eminent gifts and graces of 
his Spirit, and such as shall be taken notice of by others. 
They that are most constant in secret prayer,shall be 
most eminent in public prayer : such as with Moses 

* UpccTicvvaiv ciTTo Tov Kuvcc- Sesc ad pedes alicujus sub- 
jectionis causa provolvere ; qualiter catelli heris suis adblandi- 

+ See Clark's General Martyrolj fol. 5, also Rollin's Anc. Hist. 
Lib. 15, Sect. 7- 


converse with God in the mount, shall have shining 
faces : the beauty of the Lord sliall be upon them : when 
a believer hath been with his God in private, the effects 
are so remarkable, that others take knowledge of him 
that he hath been with Jesus ; and it must needs be so ; 
for, conversing with God is of a transforming nature, 
2 Cor. iii. 18, " But we all with open face beholding as 
in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the 
same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit 
of the Lord." God's appointments are as glasses through 
which we may see the face of God. Now there are 
two sorts of glasses, broader and narrower ; the broader 
glasses are public ordinances, and the narrower glasses 
are private duties : in both these a soul may seek and 
see the face of God, and so become like him; for, seeing 
here is assimilating, as the vision of God hereafter is 
glorifying. O it is a beautifying and beatifical sight to 
see God ! Fulness of grace is the best thing in glory; 
peace and joy are but, as it were, the gloss and varnish 
of this fulness of grace : now the more a soul enjoys 
God the more god-like and heaven-like he is, for his 
graces shine brighter, and he is still mounting higher ; 
and private or secret duties are notable ways of com- 
munion with God ; yea sometimes a soul may miss of 
Christ in public ordinances, and find him in secret ; so 
some interpret that place in Cant. iii. 1 — 4.* The church 
had sought her beloved in the temple-worship and pub- 
lic ordinances, in the streets and broad ways of syna- 
gogues and communion of saints — still she found him 
not ; then she seeks him in conferences and occasional 
meetings with the watchmen, but she can yet hear no 
tidings of Jesus Christ; but saith she, it was but a little 
that I passed from them, and 1 found him whom my 
soul loveth. Observe it, this was not when she Mas 
* See Mr. Cotton in loc 


past all means in a way of neglect of, or being above 
ordinances ; for she was seeking him still, which im- 
plies the use of means, only she had past such as 
were public without finding, and now she is in the use 
of private helps, the after duties of meditation, self- 
examination, secret prayer, and therein the soul finds 
God ; not that this reflects disparagement on the pub- 
lic ordinances, but to shew that God is a free agent, 
and to be a reason and encouragement for us in the use 
of all God's appointments : and when a believer thus 
finds God in private he carries away something of God 
that casts a sv/eet perfume upon his person and actions 
that is taken notice of by others ; it may be said of 
such a soul, as Isaac spoke of his son Jacob, Gen. xxvii. 
27, " See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field 
which tlie Lord hath blessed." So when a serious Chris- 
tian comes doYvn from his closet where he hath met 
with his God, O what a sweet perfume of well scented 
graces doth he send forth ! The savour of religion is 
upon him, some breathing odours of holiness break 
from his lips, hands, and feet ; the power of godliness 
doth manifest itself in his expressions, actions, and 
conversation : where hath such a one been ? Surely 
he hath been conversing with God ; there is the living 
image and superscription of God upon him, and while 
that blessed frame continues, he is not like himself ; as 
he excels carnal men at all times, so now he excels 
himself : yea observe it, a soul conversing much with 
God in the duties of meditation and secret prayer grows 
taller by head and slioulders than other ordinary Chris- 
tians : as all godly men are more excellent than their 
neighbours, so a person that waits much on God in 
secret prayer, is more excellent than most of his godly 
neighbours ; it appears so at present by his gifts in 
praying, and may appear in his support and comfort in 


the day of suffering : O what a mighty man in closet 
prayer was magnanimous Luther ! And what noble 
atchievements did he go through ! William Gardiner,* 
mart}a% in Portugal, sought out solitary places for 
prayer before he attempted that singular act of public 
opposition to idolatry, in taking the host out of tlie 
cardinal's hand, trampling it under his feet, when 
with the other hand he overthrew the chalice : which 
act though it may seem scarcely warrantable in an or- 
dinary way ; yet shewed a heroical spirit for the main, 
obtained by a conscientious attendance upon God in 
the duty of secret prayer. Take one instance more ; it 
is Mr. George Wishart,f or Wiseheart, one of the holiest 
men and choicest Reformers that Scotland ever had. 
One night he got up and went into a yard, where he 
walked in an alley for some space, breathing forth many 
sobs and deep groans, then he fell upon his knees, and 
his groans increased ; then he fell upon his face. Two 
men watched him, and heard him v/eeping and praying, 
near an hour, on which he went to bed again : as this 
saint was much with God, so the Lord was much with 
him in preaching, prophesying, acting coiu-ageously, 
and suffering death cheerfully. Surely the Spirit of God 
and of glory rested upon this man of God, if ever upon 
any, the adversaries themselves being judges : this is 
a great truth, those have been most eminent, who have 
been most with God in secret prayer : let Scripture and 
history speak, time and room would fail me to enumer- 
ate instances : who more famous for piety and learning 
of late years, than the great Usher ? It was his usual 
practice to sequester himself in some privacy, and to 
spend it in strict examination, penitential liumiliation, 

• Clark's General IMartjT, c xxix. fol. 243. 
+ Ibid. fol. 318. 

40 cl()sp:t pkayer, 

and ardent supplication, and this he found sweet to his 
soul ; and others saw the effect. * 

4. The last and chief reward that our heavenly Fa- 
ther will bestow on those that have waited on hira in 
secret prayer, will be the open acknowledgment and 
acceptance of them at that solemn day of judgment, 
when the whole world shall be summoned before the 
Lord, " and every one shall receive the things done in 
his body, according to what he hath done, whether it 
be good or bad," 2 Cor. v. 10. Then oui' blessed Sa- 
viour who shall be Judge, will single out this seed of 
Jacob, and tell them they have not sought his face in 
vain ; he will now solemnly acknowledge them before 
his Father and all the holy angels, as persons with 
whom he hath had familiar acquaintance in secret. O 
the joy and triumpli arising from such a public acknow- 
ledgment ! when our dear Redeemer shall speak such 
a language as this before those myriads of beings ! 
'•' This or that person," calling him forth with honour, 
" though not taken notice of in the Avorld for religion, 
much less for worldly greatness, hath yet had intimate 
familiarity with myself, and I with him ; he hath per- 
formed many a solemn duty which none but an omniscient 
eye hath seen : though he hath lived obscurely in the 
world, and hath been little known to eminent preachers 
or professors ; yet he and I have been long and well 
acquainted. I have had his company many times in 
private, and now I cannot but remember the kindness 
of his youth and old age, the love of his espousals when 
he went after me in solitary places, rather than want 
my presence : he hath visited me in duty, and I have 
visited him in mercy : what mutual endearments, and 
reciprocal exchanges of love have there been betwixt 


US ! He hath owned me, and I have owned him in the 
day of adversity ; whenever he liad any doubt or want, 
or fear, or affliction, I heard from him in a closet ; he 
sent his winged messenger of a believing prayer to the 
throne of grace, and I received it well from him. I 
did not despise his person, or deny his suit ; when others 
have been sporting away time in vain recreations, or 
damning their souls in profane practices, this ransom- 
ed believer when he could steal a little time, run into a 
corner, and there did make his complaint to me : and 
then I gave him something worth his pains, I sent him 
away with a cheerful heart and thankful tongue : and 
now take notice all ye angels and men, I declare that I 
accept his labour of love, and pardon all his imperfec- 
tions, and set him in my immediate presence in eternal 
mansions : he that separated himself from the world, 
shall now be separated from the goats, and be set on 
my right hand ; he that longed so much to be with me, 
shall everlastingly enjoy me, without cessation or in- 
terruption." O blessed day ! O transcendent reward ! 
Is not this a rewarding openly ? You will say, how 
do you know that Jesus Christ will thus address a pray- 
ing soul ? I reply, though we know not the form of 
words he will speak, yet that a discovery shall be made 
of acts of piety and charity, I\Iat. xxv. 34 — 36, evident- 
ly declares. Yea, that secret duties shall be brought to 
light as well as secret sins, the scriptures assure us, 1 
Cor. iv. 5 — " Who will both bring to light the hidden 
things of darkness, and Mill make manifest the counsels 
of the hearts, and then shall every man have praise of 
God :" then good men shall receive open approbation 
and commendation for their holy exercises in sequestered 
places : then will God wipe off all reproaching calum- 
nies of black-mouthed liars, wherewith they have be- 
spattered the reputation of praying saints, and clear 


up their uprightness as the noon-day, by letting the 
world see, how the saints have spent their time in retire- 
ment, both alone, and with their fellow Christians ; not 
in plotting but praying ; even pleading for those that 
persecuted them. O blessed day ! O happy resurrec- 
tion of bodies and of names. Surely praying souls will 
not then repent of all their pains in private, when 
they poured out their hearts in prayers and tears, since 
now they are rewarded with such a blessed euge^ and 
are openly introduced into their Master's joy and Fa- 
ther's kingdom. 




Concerning Places of Prayer. 

If closet prayer be a christian duty, then it shews 
us, that in gospel-times God stands not precisely upon 
places : this holy incense may ascend to heaven with 
as much acceptance upon the golden altar, through 
the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, in a pri- 
vate chamber as a public church. Some have scornfully 
called private devotions, by the derogating title of 
chimney-prayers ; and think to confine all religion to 
public places : yea a great scholar said once, God heard 
prayer in a consecrated place, not because men pray, 
but because they pray there,* as though the conceived 
holiness of the place added some virtue to the prayer, 
* Expressed " Non quia precatur, sed quia ibi." 


or rendered it more acceptable to God. This is worse 
than plain Judaism, to bind religion to places :* the true 
gospelized Christian hath otherwised learned Christ. 
It is true, under the Old Testament dispensation, after 
the erecting of the temple, prayer was to be made at it, 
or towards it, as it typified Christ, through whom our 
prayers are accepted : but that holiness being ceremo- 
nial, it has been abolished by the gospel : now that takes 
place, John iv. 21, " Woman, believe me, the hour Com- 
eth, when ye shall neither in this Mountain, nor yet at 
Jerusalem, worship the Father ;" that is, God now doth 
not so much regard the place, as the manner of worship, 
" that men worship in spirit and truth," ver. 23, 24. 
Now is the prophecy accomplished, Mai. i. 11. " In 
every place, incense shall be offered to my name." 
Which the apostle also asserts expressly, 1 Tim. ii. 8. 
Much hath been said in controversy concerning the ho- 
liness of places ; but this seems to be an undeniable 
argument against that conceit, that if some places be 
holy by the consecration of them to holy uses, then it 
followeth that other places not so consecrated, howbeit 
applied to the same holy use, are more profane and 
less adapted for divine worship than places consecrated, 
which would directly contradict the scriptures last 
mentioned. Indeed Hooker f teacheth that " the ser- 
vice of God in places not sanctified, as churches are, hath 
not in itself such perfection of grace, and comeliness, 
as when the dignity of the place, which it wisheth for, 
doth concur, and that the very majesty and holiness of 
the place where God is worshipped, bettereth even our 
holiest and best actions :" to which we dare not sub- 
scribe, but rather say with Dr. John Reynolds, that 
" to us Christians no land is strange, no ground unholy : 

• Judaismus est, alligare religionem ad certa loca. — Hospin. de 
Orig. Temp. lib. 4. c 2. 

t" Eccles. Polit. lib. 5, c. 1(3. 


every coast is Jewry, every town Jerusalem, every 
house Zion, and every faithful company, yea every 
faithful body, a temple to serve God in."* 

But I shall not enter on a dispute upon this subject : 
the duty enjoined in the text is clear — if God command 
and accept closet prayer, then he doth not make so great 
a matter of the place for this duty as some imagine, 
since it cannot be imagined that closet prayer can be 
performed ordinarily in a consecrated place, as they call 
it, and there being no such place where a duty can be 
performed, to which God hath more expressly promised 
a reward, than what is performed in a corner or closet ; 
and therefore we have no warrant to expect accept- 
ance merely upon the accoimt of one place more than 

Indeed it is a common practice of some persons, to 
perform their private devotions in public places. For 
you will see some at their entrance into a church or cha- 
pel, whatever public worship is in hand, fall down upon 
their knees, or put their hats or hands before their faces, 
and so begin to pray. I will not call this the sacrifice 
of fools, but I judge it very unseasonable: for we should 
join with God's people in the public ordinances, and pre- 
fer them before any thing that we can then undertake. 
The original of this practice was, a conceit that the place 
was more holy than their own houses ; and that their 
prayer would be heard there rather than at home: it is 
too sad a sign that they had not prayed before they came 
thither. I am sure, it savours rankly of a pharisaical 
spirit, for the fault which our Saviour here rectifies, was 
that of the Pharisees praying individually in public places ; 
and in opposition thereunto he directs his disciples to the 
duty of the text, namely, to pray in their closets, f 

* Confer, with Hart. c. 8. Div. 4, page 491. 
t Eo proposito Dominus vetat in conventu orare, iit "a conventu 
videatur Chrysost. Ho. 13. Op. Im. Perf. sup. Math. 



On the Nature of Prayer. 

Wc may hence be informed concerning the nature, 
usefulness, excellency, and efficacy of the duty of pray- 
er ; I speak not now of prayer in general, but in refer- 
ence to closet prayer. And in this point of view, there 
are two conclusions which may be drawn concerning 

1. It follows, that prayer is immediate worship of 
God : for what hath been said, shews that we have to 
do immediately with God, yea that a man alone singly 
hath to do v/ith God : therein it is different from other 
parts of God's instituted worship, which do necessarily 
require company ; as in preaching of the word, there 
must be hearers ; in the seals of the covenant, as in 
baptism and the Lord's supper, there must be a society, 
such a number as may be styled a church : accordingly 
the latter is called a communion, hence saith the apostle, 
" We being many are one bread, and one body :"* but it 
is not absolutely or essentially requisite to prayer, that 
there be a society ; one man or woman, by him or her- 
self alone, may perform this duty of prayer as accepta- 
bly to God, as if in the company of a thousand saints : 
we object not to the public or private meetings of God's 
people for prayer ; but withal affirm, that the nature 
of the duty is such, that it may be performed solita- 
rily and alone. Hence school-men make a distinction 
relative to prayer, saying that it is either common 
or singular :f both have their place and use : though 
great stress is laid upon Christ's promise. Matt, xviii. 
20, engaging to be where two or three are met in his 
• 1 Cor. X. 16, 17. 
t Communis vei Singulaxis, Aq. 2. 2 ae. q. 83. Art. J 2. 


name ; which as we deny not, so we assert the obliga- 
tion of a single person praying according to the text : 
we give both their due, without comparison. 

2. Prayer cannot be prevented in its ascent to God : 
alt the persecutors on earth, cannot hinder a soul's pray- 
ing. This is demonstrated two ways : 

(1.) A child of God banished out of all human soci- 
ety may pray still. Suppose a man were rejected by 
men, and cut off from all intercourse with men, and 
were shut up in the closest prison, or shut out in the 
remotest wilderness ; suppose a man were to inhabit 
the caves and dens of the earth ; yet still he might 
pray and be heard, according to Solomon's prayer, that 
if God's people were carried captive into the land of 
their enemies, far or near, yet if they repented and pray- 
ed unto God towards their land, and that house of God ; 
then he begs that God would hear them ; and God 
testifies that he did hear this prayer of Solomon, 1 
Kings, viii. 46, 41, with chap. ix. 3. The passage to 
heaven is as near and open from one part of the earth 
as another ; therefore David said he would " cry to God 
from the end of the earth," Psalm Ixi. 2. A notable in- 
stance of this we have in Jonah, he was at the bottom 
of the sea, (as far from heaven locally as one could 
imagine) in a great fish's belly, which he calls the very 
belly of hell ; and as he was then far from men, so he 
looks upon himself as cast out of the sight of God, and 
he pathetically expresseth his misery and hopeless state. 
What doth he in this doleful plight ? Why he will 
look towards God's holy temple ; alas, poor Jonah knew 
not now which way the temple stood, he had but a 
small prospect in that dark and narrow prison ; yet, 
faith can set Jonah upon one of the mountains of Israel, 
that from thence he may see as far as momit Zion, and 
reach as high as heaven ; he prays, yea cries ; God 


hears, and delivers : as low as he was, he knocks at 
heaven's gates, and his prayer doth pierce the clouds, it 
makes bold, and steps in, " My prayer," saith he, " came 
in unto thee, into thine holy temple," Jonah ii. 2, 7, 
O the wonderful and swift motion of believing prayer ! 
Let the praying soul be where it will, prayer will 
come to God's ear, and get an answer. 

(2.) A child of God that cannot speak a word, may 
put up an acceptable prayer. Suppose the tongue which 
is the organ of speech, were incapacitated or want- 
ing, yet a saint cannot thereby be obstructed in his 
access to God by prayer. For, as Amesius saith, 
{Orafio formaliter est actus voluntatis) prayer is 
formally the act of the will ; desire is the soul of prayer 
which God can hear, though it be not expressed, for 
he knows the heart, Psalm x. 17, " Lord, thou hast 
heard the desire of the humble." A saint's desire is a 
real prayer ;* if the desire be right, words are but the 
outward garb, habit, or clothes, as I may say, of prayer, 
the frame or shell of the duty ; ardent desires are the 
life, kernel, or marrow of the performance : hence we 
find that Moses, Hannah, and Nehemiah, are said to 
pray, when scripture doth not express a word they 
spoke, nor is it probable they did make any articulate 
sound :* I speak not this to indulge carnal men in their 
lazy conceited ejaculations, as though they could pray 
well enough, and never speak ; or while they are work- 
ing, walking, or talking, f Let me suggest a word, by 
the way, on these : consider, silly man, God has given 
thee a body, and thou must offer it to God as a reason- 
able sacrifice ; thou art bound in conscience to pray and 
praise God with thy tongue, which is thy gloiy ; yea 

* Deus exaudit non solum preces indicativas sed et optativas. 

t Exod. xiv. 16. 1 Sam. i. 13. Neh. ii. 4. 


let me tell thee, if thou hast those members of body, 
and an opportunity to pray thus solemnly with thy 
tongue upon thy knees, and dost never do it, I question 
whether thou ever prayest at all, since thou livest 
in the evident neglect of a known duty: what I have said 
respecting genuine, though sometimes not vocal prayer, 
is to commend the duty, and comfort those who may be 
in such exigencies, that though they cannot speak, yet 
they may pray, and be heard and answered. 


On the Efficacy of Prayer. 

I may also take occasion to discover the power and 
efficacy of prayer, considered as a closet exercise: though 
but a single person, in whatever humble circumstances, 
get upon his knees in secret, and have no creature to 
help him, yet he can undertake to plead with the om- 
nipotent and eternal God, yea by his strength he may 
have power with God, as we read of Jacob; who by 
singly wrestling with him, hand to hand, as it were, 
wrestled a blessing from him. One individual, Elijah, 
unsupported, could stand alone against at least four hun- 
dred prophets of Baal,* and prevail, having recourse to 
the living God by prayer, yea the apostle tells us, that 
this Elijah though but a mortal man, shut up and open- 
ed heaven, that it rained, and rained not, according to 
his prayer ; hence he infers as a universal maxim, that 
the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails 
much, James v. 16 — 18. But some may object, that 
Elijah was a great prophet, an extraordinary person ; 
that he might prevail when we cannot: the apostle 
* 1 Kings, xviii. 36. 


answers, he was no more than a man, " a man subject 
to like passions as we are," a sinful creature ; he prevail- 
ed not for any merits of his own, but through faith in 
the mediator of the covenant, and so may we. There 
is not the meanest child of God but hath the same plea : 
God hath strength enough to give, saith one ; but he 
hath no strength to deny.* Here the Almighty himself 
(with reverence be it spoken) is weak : even a child in 
grace, the weakest in his family, that canbut say, Fa f/ie?\ 
is able to overcome him, for prayer is in a sort omnipo- 
tent ; it can conquer the invincible Jehovah, and bind 
the hands, as it were, of an omnipotent God,f so that 
God cries out to wrestling Moses, '• Let me alone." It 
is said of Luther, that he could do with God even what 
he would. Prayer hath a kind of commanding compul- 
sive power : that is a surprising text, Isa. xlv. 11, " Ask 
me of things to come concerning my sons, and concern- 
ing the work of my hands command ye me :" thus some 
take it — ye shall find me as ready to do you service, as 
if ye had me at command ; yet this must be cautiously 
received, not as though God were forced to any thing 
against his will, but when God's people pray aright in 
the name of Christ according to his will, he heareth 
them : and this he attributes to prayer, for the credit of 
that duty and our encouragement to pray.i The follow- 
ing text shews the readiness of God to answer prayer, 
John xvi. 26, 27 — " I say not unto you, that I will pray 
the Father for you, for the Father himself loveth you.'' 
Christ in this place intends not to deny that he will 
intercede for them, but shews how ready God is cf 
his own accord to grant the saints' petitions ; they shall 
not be put to any great trouble about it, but shall be 
quickly dispatched when they have gone their errands 

* Mr. Giii-nal on Epli. vi. 10, p. 42. t Vincit invinclbilera, 
ligat omnipotentem. J 1 Joha, v. 14. 



to the throne of grace : for as Luther speaks,* a feeble 
groan in the ears of God is a mighty noise, and doth so 
fill heaven and earth, that God can hear nothing be- 
sides it, but silenceth all other tumults to hearken to it. 

Of what an easy quick access, 

lily blessed Lord art thou ! how suddenly 
May our requests thy ear invade ! 
To shew that State dislikes not easiness : 

If I but lift mine eyes my suit is made : 
Thou canst no more not hear, than thou canst die. 

A Love of Retirement characteristic of a true Christian. 

OxcE more, I might shew that to make this excellent 
use of solitariness, is the duty and marks the character 
of a sincere Christian. Carnal persons love not to be 
alone, except they be such whose constitution inclines 
them to melancholy, and then they sit poring on things 
without profit ; it is only the gracious soul that can 
tell how to make the right use of solitariness by having 
recourse to God. No man cares for being alone but the 
serious person, and no man cares for going to God 
when alone, but the sincere Christian. Man is a socia- 
ble creature, and naturally we have no mind to enter- 
tain ourselves by ourselves ; a carnal heart hates a do- 
mestic audit, men that have shrewish wives love not to 
be at home, and persons that have guilty consciences 
cannot endure to come to an explanation with them, 
lest they be tormented before the time. O but a Chris- 
tian that is upright, and downright, would know all 
that concerns his own heart, the best and worst : there- 

• Exiguus gemitus in auribus Dei fortissimus est clamor; et 
ita coelum et terram replet, ut praeter eum Deus nihil audiat, 
at compescit omnes omnium aliaruna reruxQ clamores.— Ltt/A. iom.4.> 

A CfllllSTIAX DUTY. 51' 

fore he communes with his own heart, as David did ;* 
and lest he miss or mistake in his search, he turns him 
to the heart-searching" God by praj-^er, and entreats him 
to search his heart and discover liim to himself. The life 
of religion consists in a soul's communion with God in 
secret ; a man hath so much religion as he hath betwixt 
God and his own soul, and no more. A true saint dares 
in secret to appeal to God for the sincerity of his heart : 
he is there exercising himself, like a soldier by himself 
handling his pike, and keeping his postures, that he 
may be better fitted for a more serious onset ; yea, a 
Christian doth purposely withdraw himself from com- 
pany that he may converse with God. Papists are true 
Christians' apes; hence comes the solitary life of monks; 
pretending to imitate Elijah, and Elisha, John Bap- 
tist, and the Apostles : but it is acknowledged by Je- 
rome, and great sticklers for a monastic life, that 
this practice begun not till about the year 260, or 300. 
Some say Hilarion, others Paulus lliebseus, others An- 
tonius, begun this manner of living : but certainly there 
is a vast difference betwixt the solitary life of the ancient 
Christians and the Papists' way of monastic retirement. 

1. Those first Christians lived solitary of necessity, 
that they might lie hid more safely in a time of perse- 

2. They were not compelled to give all to the poor. 

3. They were not bound to a certain rule, nor did 
they engage themselves by perpetual vow to that place 
and state, but might change their manner of life if they 
saw good ; they were not bound as to meats, mai*riage, 
or fasti ng.f 

4. Those ancient monks were of the laity, not of 
the clergy, nay not so much as deacons, or presbyters. 

* Psalm. Ixxvii. 6. 

t Vid. Perk* Demonstr. probleai, Moniich. p. 217—223. 
E 2 


5. They had no conceit of merit in a monastic life, 
till these latter ages : I may add, 

6. Those ancient monks had a particular calling, and 
did work, as the monks of Bangor that lived by the 
sweat of their brows :* and, 

7. They were not restrained from conversing abroad, 
as there was occasion ; and occasions there are manifold. 
It is not fit persons should be always cooped up in a 
corner, but that they be of use to others in their places 
and capacities : we were not born for ourselves, nor 
must we live only within ourselves, which would con- 
tradict the law of love aivl charity : a constant solitari- 
ness exposeth persons to a world of temptations; it is 
not good to be alone, saith Solomon. An ancient could 
speak it from his own experience, that a solitary life is 
inferior to common intercourse with others, because it 
is full of importunate cogitations, which, like little flies 
arising from a dunghill, fly into the eyes of the heart, 
and interrupt the sabbath of the mind.i 

But I need not trouble you with the mention of po- 
pish fopperies. A right bred Christian, that hath learned 
the truth as it is in Jesus, being thrust into a retired 
place, knows how to improve solitariness for his soul's 
advantage; and voluntarily doth withdraw himself from 
the world, that he may set himself to the work of God 
in good earnest. Hence saith the apostle concerning 
husband and wife, 1 Cor. vii. 5, ''Defraud ye not one the 
'other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may 
give yourselves to fasting and prayer ;" thence note, 

* Clark's Eccles. Hist. fol. 13. 

+ Vita solitaria communi inferior est ; quia importunis cogita- 
tionibus plena, quae tanquam musca? minntissima; de limo surgen- 
tes, volant in oci;ios cordis et interrumpunt sabbathum mentis. 
Jvo Carnatensis Epis. 258— ^'ide sis plura in Perkins ubi supra, 
Demonstrat. Morasteria veterum,ut plurimum, fuissescholas pub- 
licas, id est conimuuitates doceutium et discentium. 


that it is convenient sometimes for Christians to seques- 
ter themselves from nearest relations, that they may 
have free communion with God in holy duties :* only 
let these four cautions and limitations of the text be 
observed, 1. That it be with mutual consent — 2. But 
for a season — 3. That it have as its object an advan- 
tage for fasting and prayer — 4. That they come together 
again : this respects not every day's ordinary perform- 
ances, but some solemn engagement for stated and 
extraordinary fasting in a day of danger or calamity ; 
at which time, " the bridegroom is to go forth of his 
chamber, and the bride out of her closet, Joel ii. 16; 
that is, to sequester themselves from conjugal inter- 
course, to aiflict their souls by fasting and prayer : but 
in these cases, a sound Christian's due discretion regu- 
lated by the general rules laid down in scripture, will 
be sufficient for his guidance, that he may not dash either 
on the rock of superstition or of negligence, but main- 
tain a close and constant communion with God in the 
duties of his general and particular calling in public 
ordinances, and in private and secret duties. 

CHAP. IV. - 



Wicked men reproi-ed. 

Here is just ground of sharp rebuke to all careless, 
prayerless persons, who understand nothing of this du- 
ty ; they know not what it is to pour out their hearts 
• Vide Pareum in loc 


before the Lord, in closet prayer. David saith, " The 
wicked through the pride of his countenance will not 
seek after God ; God is not in all his thoughts," Psalm 
X. 4) : he cannot pray aright any where, much less in 
secret. Tlie same Psalm tells us what he doth in secret, 
ver. 8 — 10, "In the secret places doth he murder the 
innocent, his eyes are privily set against the poor." 
The apostle saith, " It is a shame even to speak of 
those things that are done of them in secret," Eph. v. 
12. O the abominable practices of profane spirits 
in private ! Their consciences can tell them sad stories 
of secret sins, which none but the God of heaven and 
themselves know of, yea, because they see not God 
they think God sees not them ; like the ostrich, silly 
bird, because she thrusts her head into a bush, she 
thinks she is hid from the fowler, though her body be 
exposed to open view. Carnal men's maxim is like that 
monkish one, caute si non caste, proceed cautiously, if 
not chastely; if they can hide their sin from men, they 
take no notice whether God sees them or not ; and, 
from wishing that he might not see, begin to sus- 
pect whether he do see ; and at last arrive at those 
men's arrogant demand, " Who seeth us?" or that 
positive conclusion. Psalm xciv. 7, " The Lord shall 
not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard." But 
what saith the Psalmist to these brutii-h creatures ? 
" He that planted the ear, shall he not hear ? He that 
formed the eye, shall he not see," ver. 9- Let these 
atheists know that God sees, and sets down all their 
secret wickedness, and will bring it forth before angels 
and men at the great day of reckoning. The sin of 
Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point 
of a diamond,* and it can never be erased but by the 
blood of Christ ; though, by multiplied acts of notori- 
* Jer. xvii. 1. 


ous sinning, vsome may blur the engravings of sin on 
the table of their heart, yet it shall be as writing 
with the juice of lemons, being held to the fire of God's 
wrath, it is as legible to the conscience as the first mo- 
ment when the sin was committed. O the secret wick- 
ednesses that sinners have to reckon for ! But where 
are the secret prayers ? Alas, how rarely or how for- 
mally do they wait on God alone ! Custom, vain- 
glory, and carnal interest may put them on joining in 
public prayer, or family duty ; but they are strangers 
to this spiritual self-denying duty of closet prayer. The 
carnal hypocrite exposeth all his religion to open view; 
he is like a house with a beautiful front, but every 
room within, dark ; as one saith, he is a rotten post 
finely gilded ; he hath dressed himself in the garb of 
religion, and will be as devout as the best in temple- 
worship ; but follow him to his closet, he cannot afford 
God one hour in a week ; he doth not make conscience 
of secret prayer : this gains him no credit with men, 
and therefore is little used. This, rightly performed, 
opens the heart to God, which the unsound professor 
dares not do. I shall shew hereafter, v/hether the hypo- 
crite may use closet prayer, and wherein he is distin- 
guished from a sincere Christian in that duty. At 
present I would reprove those that never use it, that 
look upon it as below them ; they either dare not be 
alone, or scorn to stoop so low, for the pui'pose of sigh- 
ing out their desires to God in secret, as though they 
would not be indebted to the great God for any mercy; 
but in their hearts and practice speak the language of 
those proud atheists in Jer. ii. 31, " We are lords, 
we will come no more unto thee ?" But, as they ima- 
gine that they are gods, and will not be indebted to our 
God for mercy, let them know they shall die like men, 
and be damned like devils. Lord, have mercy on these 


poor prayerless sinners, that understand not the neces- 
sity and mystery of closet prayer, but look upon it as 
needless, and are ready to say, it is more to do than 
needs : but let them prepare to make good that despe- 
rate assertion at the bar of God's justice with flames 
about their ears, and let such know that God will an- 
swer their cavils against plain duty, after another man- 
ner than his ministers can do now. To which dread- 
ful judgment, we leave them, except prevented by a 
speedy and sincere repentance. 


Professors of religion reproved. 

But the persons to be principally reproved at present, 
are the professors of religion, that acknowledge this to 
be a duty, but grievously neglect it. I fear, God's 
children are not so constant and conscientious in the 
performance of this duty of closet prayer as they ought 
to be. Are not pious people guilty of frequent omis- 
sions, and intermissions, or at least of negligent per- 
formance of this duty ? It was one of old Mr Dod's 
instructions, that at night we should ask ourselves, 
" Have I twice this day humbled myself before God in 
private ?" And again, " How did I pray ? in faith and 
love ? " 

Who goes to bed and doth not pray, 
Maketh two nights to every day. — Herbert. 

I am afraid, many of us could give but a sorry account 
in answer to these serious inquiries. Let us be ashamed, 
lay it to heart, and give God glory by repentance and 

For the humbling of our hearts in this case, let me 


propose these ten r.wakening interrogatories, that we 
may mourn for our neglect of this duty of closet prayer. 
1. Are you not very unlike Jesus Christ ? Is not he 
the perfect copy that we should write after ? And do 
we not find him often in private prayer ? We meet 
with him in this solitary duty, sometimes in the day, 
sometimes in the night, sometimes all night ; in a gar- 
den, in a mountain ; he took all opportunities to go to 
his Father;* "In the days of his flesh he offered up 
prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears," 
Heb. V. 7. As he was a man of sorrows, so he was a 
man of prayer, and the sharper his sorrows, the stronger 
his cries, Luke xxii. 44, " Being in an agony, he prayed 
more earnestly ;" and was not this for our example, 
and for our advantage ? Should we not learn of him ? 
nay, doth not our very Christianity consist in our con- 
formity to Christ ? Alas, how unlike him are most of 
us ? Shall we pass for Christians, that follow not his 
steps ? Was it not blessed Paul's study and ambition 
to be conformed to this blessed pattern ? Can we imi- 
tate a better person ? Was it necessary Christ should 
wrestle for us, and is it not as necessary we should wres- 
tle with God for our own souls ? Or, doth Christ's 
praying for us excuse our pleading for ourselves ? No, 
no, as it was for our example and benefit in the days of 
his flesh, so his present intercession in heaven doth both 
imply and encourage our praj^ing : for we are to ask in 
his name, and employ our dear Advocate, that we may 
speed : and shall not we, as it were, set him to work, 
and send up our prayers to be mixed with his sweet 
incense ? The Lord humble us for, and pardon us our 
neglects and omissions ! 

2. Are you not herein very unlike the saints of God? 
The seed of Jacob are wrestlers with God. God hath 
* Luke vi. 12. Matt. xxvi. 36. 


no children still-born, they all cry, Abba Father. Jacob 
wrestled with God in secret prayer, and ever since, all 
the saints in all ages have borne that name. Psalm xxiv. 
6, " This is the generation of them that seek him, that 
seek thy face, O Jacob," that is, who seek the God of 
Jacob, as Jacob did ; and indeed every one that is godly 
will thus pray.* There might be brought a cloud of 
witnesses in all ages, of praying saints, that conversed 
with God in secret : it is recorded of the apostle James, 
that his knees were as hard as camel's feet with praying. 
Some have sought out for private places to pray in, some 
have risen out of their beds to pray, some have set days 
apart to humble themselves in secret, by fasting and 
prayer, others would never venture on business without 
seeking God : such as are acquainted with ecclesiastical 
history, or christian experience, may find store of in- 
stances of this sort : and why should we be unlike our 
brethren ? Have we not all one spirit, as well as all 
one Father ? and is not this a spirit of grace and sup- 
plication ? and is it not that which on all occasions 
draws the soul to its Father ? God said of Paul, when 
newly converted, " Behold he prayeth !" — Acts ix. 11 : 
others do not see it, but I know it ; there he is in re- 
tirement, sighing and seeking me; go, Ananias, inquire 
for him, he is now one of you, a real convert, for, " Be- 
hold he prayeth." A soul praying in secret is worthy 
of observation, there is an ecce put upon it, " Behold 
he prayeth !" And why should we that pretend to be 
Christians, be unlike our brethren ? 

3. Are you not herein unlike yourselves in former 
times ? When God did at first work upon your hearts, 
did you not then run to God privately ? Did you not 
set yourselves intently to the duty of secret prayer ? 
How often did God find you by yourselves, sighing, 

* Psalm xxxii. 6. 


sorrowing, weeping, breathing after God, pouring out 
your hearts like water, before the face of the Lord ; 
when your heavenly Father pitied you, spoke verj^ kind- 
ly to you, wiped off your tears, cheered your hearts, 
heard your prayers, and made those days of grief, times 
of love? O the SAveet endearments that then took place, 
betwixt your souls and God ! Have you forgotten such 
a chamber, such a closet, such a barn, such a vv^ood, 
where you sometimes walked and meditated: sometimes 
fell prostrate and wept before the Lord, till you had no 
more power to weep ? If you have forgotten those 
blessed days, your God hath not : " He remembers thee, 
the kindness of th}^ youth, the love of thine espousals, 
when thou wentest after him in a solitary wilderness," 
Jer. ii. 2. Canst not thou remember the day when 
thou wouldst rather have been with thy God in a private 
room, than upon a prince's throne ? Yea, thou thought- 
est thou wast to do nothing else but cry and pray in 
secret : thou wast engaged in it every day, yea many 
times in a day. How comes it to pass that there is such 
a change ; that thou dost so rarely go to visit thy best 
friend, as formerly ? Is he changed ? is he not as good 
and kind as he was wont to be ? Hast thou found any 
fault in God? or art not thou blame-worthy? What 
has become of thy ancient spirit of prayer ? why dost 
thou forget thy sweetest wrestling-place ? why dost 
thou not inquire for those good old M'ays of communion 
with thy God ? 

4. Let me further expostulate with God's children, 
that are rarely exercised in this duty of secret prayer. 
Do you not deprive yourselves of many sweet refresh- 
ments ? Have not your souls had delightful experience 
of transporting incomes in secret duties ? How many 
pleasant morsels have you eaten alone ? Have not 
these stolen waters been sweet ? and would the^r not 


be SO again if you would open the same sluice? O 
what endearments of love might your souls have, that 
no creature would know of ! Secret influences are 
conveyed to souls in secret duties; these you block up by 
neglect. Ah, sirs, are the consolations of God small 
to you ? Is communion with God of no worth ? Wliy 
are you so unwilling to take pains to go to your 
Father, especially Vv'hen you know he hath a kindness 
for you ? Have you ever lost by this duty ? Will 
not your profit infinitely countervail your pains ? Ask 
those that use it most, they will tell you it is the 
happiest time they spend ; yea, cannot your own ex- 
perience attest it? Did you ever lose your labour 
when you set yourselves about the exercise in good 
earnest? Hath not this close and privy commerce 
with God brought in much spiritual gain ? Beloved 
friends, you little consider the good you miss for want 
of performing this excellent duty : but that is not all. 
5. Do you not by neglect of secret prayer expose 
yourselves to many sad temptations ? Watching and 
prayer are singular helps against temptation, JNIatt. 
xxvi. 41. It has been said, and M'hat wonder, that 
Satan hath professed, that he hath watched when 
some of God's children have gone out without closet 
prayer, and that day he hath gotten great advantage 
against them, sometimes by tripping up their heels 
and casting them down from their excellency, into 
some gross iniquity ; sometimes by tormenting their 
hearts with blasphemous, or soul-perplexing injections : 
sometimes God hath left them to fall into some afflictive 
snare, laid by this subtle fowler, which hath cost them 
many bitter pangs, all this and much more hath been 
the fruit of such neglects. Christians, have you not 
found this too true by sad experience? When you 
have gone abroad without calling on God, hath not 


God secretly withdrawn from you? hath not Satan 
obtained his designs upon you ? have not your hearts 
been growing out of frame ? some lust increasing, 
grace decaying, and your souls at the brink of some 
astonishing fall ? When you have gone out in the 
morning without a portion of spiritual food from God, 
has not this state of emptiness been to the prejudice of 
your souls' health ? If you engage not God by prayer 
to go with you, what security have you for that day ? 
If God leave you, the devil may do what he list with 
you, and hamper you in a thousand snares and sins. 

6 Doth not your neglect of secret prayer argue 
little love to God, or delight to be in his company ? 
When persons have a strong affection for each other, 
they love to be together. Love delights in union and 
communion ; yea, when persons love devotedly, they 
withdraw from other company, that they may enjoy 
each other with more endeared familiarity; the presence 
of a third person mixeth the streams of communication, 
and mars their intimate communion ; and if you did 
supremely love the Lord, would you not withdraw 
from others, that your souls might enjoy some fresh 
and refreshing intercourse with your best beloved ? 
How can you say, you love him, when you have no 
desire for his company ? If you did indeed love him, 
you would hold him, and not let him go, until you had 
(with the spouse,) brought him into the chambers of 
intimate communion, and solitary recesses : love is 
the gravity of the soul,* and draws it to the object 
beloved. If your hearts were captivated with him, you 
would take more pleasure in conversing with him, you 
would bless God for an opportunity of enjoying him ; 
but this strangeness speaks a great defect in this noble, 
grace. And would you be esteemed such as love not God? 
* Cant. ill. 4. Amor meus, poudus meuna. 


What a sad thing is it to be low and deficient in !o\^e 
to God under such strong engagements to love ? Poor 
soul ! have not those silken cords of love which have 
been cast about thee, drawn thee nearer, and boiuid 
thee faster to thy God than thus ? Have not such 
bellows and incentives, kindled and increased thy spark 
of love into a flame ? Lament thy sin, and shame thy- 
self before thy God, for this decay of love, and dangerous 

7. Do not you by these omissions declare yourselves 
ungrateful for the grace of God ? It is God's way to 
engage souls to approach to him, by holding out pro- 
mises of reward, as we offer apples, fruit, &:c. to children, 
to entice them to us; nor is it a bait to cozen and 
ensnare us, but real offers of kindness to us, whereof 
we may partake, and wherewith we may be happy. 
Suppose a prince desire a beggar's company, with ex- 
pressions of great affection, and promises of many 
kindnesses ; is it not ingratitude, if he fling away, 
and scorn the invitation ? Or, suppose a potent per- 
son send to a poor man a kind message, telling him 
he hath considered his case, and hath appointed time 
and place, that they two together may confer about the 
necessary concernments of this poor man ; that he shall 
have free admission and liberty without disturbance 
to present his petition, and ask what he will, and it 
shall be granted ; that none shall be present, but only 
they two shall converse familiarly together, for the 
good of the poor man : but if, instead of a thankful 
acceptance of this kindness, the poor man picks a 
quarrel with the messenger or message, grows sullen 
and perverse, runs away and saith, I need neither his 
counsel nor assistance; let him bestow his kindness 
wher^e he will, I will not meddle with him : were not 
this gross ingratitude, and how would it be taken ? 


The case is thine Christian, that neglectest secret 
duties ; the God of heaven gives thee notice to meet 
him in such a place, to negotiate freely the main con- 
cernments of thy precious soul, and thou art backward 
and shy, and wilt not come near him, but either plainly 
deniest, or heedlessly delayest. Oh monstrous folly! 
Oh black ingratitude ! Be ashamed of it, be humbled 
for it, thy God takes it ill that thou art so loath to be 
happy, that thou even forsakest thine own mercies, 
and wilt go twice as far another way to gratify a friend, 
rather than go into thy closet to please thy God and pro- 
fit thy poor soul. How long must God watch and wait, 
and strive and sue, to have thy company, and thou dost 
Still neglect and growaverse thereto? O be ashamed of it. 
8. Do you not, by neglect of secret prayer, resist 
the motions of the blessed Spirit ? and is this no 
fault ? Is it nothing to neglect communion with God 
the Father, or to improve the intercession of Jesus 
Christ the mediator, but you must also slight the 
motions of God, the blessed Spirit? this is sad. How 
often doth the Holy Ghost knock at your doors, stir 
you up, spur you forwards unto duty, and take you 
by the hand, offering his asistance if you will go to 
God — and yet do you refuse ? Do you make nothing 
of quenching, grieving, yea vexing the good Spirit of 
God ? Consider what you do : as you deal with him, 
so he will deal with you; if you do not embrace his call, 
perhaps he will not be j^resent at your call : and what 
Can you do in duty, without him ? If you strive 
against him, he will cease striving with you : be it 
known to you, you have not this heavenly wind at your 
command; and you may toss in the boat of duty long, 
but shall not approach the port without it : nothing but 
the Spirit of God can carry thy soul to God : and what 
can excite and comfort thee when thy assistant and 


comforter is slighted and saddened ? Grieve therefore, 
Christian, for thy grieving of the Spirit, lay to heart thy 
careless quenching of this holy fire ; and let those wa- 
ters of sensuality or negligence cost thee the waters of 
godly sorrow and repentance, that this sin may not be 
laid to thy charge. Say as that divine poet. — 

And art thou grieved, sweet and sacred Dove, 

When I am sour. 
And cross thy love ? 

Griev'd for me ? The God of strength and power I 
Griev'd for a worm ? which when I tread, 
I pass away and leave it dead. — Herbert. 

9. If you can only pray in company, what M'ill you 
do when your company is gone ? A time may come 
when you may be left alone, as Christ saith he was. 
You had need to engage the Father to be with you, that 
you may say as the apostle, 1 John i. 3, " Truly our 
fellowship is with the Father." It is true, communion 
of saints is desirable, but external communion is not 
always attainable, you may be thrust out by divine 
providence : now it is a sad thing to be at a loss when 
persons are alone. It is a strange expression of some, 
that they know not how to live, if such and such chris- 
tian friends or godly relations be taken away ; why, 
what is the matter ? Are they in the place of God ? 
Is your spiritual life maintained by the leaden pipes, 
or by the living springs that stream through them ? 
Alas, sirs, if you more understood and used this art 
of drawing influences from God immediately through 
Christ by secret prayer, you would not be so discouraged 
with the loss of friends ; you would say, indeed it is 
true, my loss is great, such a one had a notable gift in 
prayer, and spoke my very heart to God, but though 
he be gone, is my God gone ? Is prayer gone ? 
Though I cannot employ such iiiaving expressions as 

A CIlHiSTlAX Dl'TV. G.> 

such a one had, yet I have opened my Iieart to God as 
I could in wsecret formerly, and there is the same refuge 
now, the same road into this city and sanctuary, and 
therefore all my comfort is not gone, blessed be God. 
But a poor soul that hath leaned upon the staff of 
others' enlargements will be severely put to it when 
that staff is gone : and, is it not a great disparagement 
to a noble and immortal soul, that it cannot treat and 
entertain its God alone ? What, cannot God and a 
heaven-born soul converse together without auxiliaries ? 
Must another interpose as an instrument, without 
whom you cannot enjoy communion with God ? Be 
ashamed of it, and chide yourselves, as not acting suit- 
ably to your rational powers, much less to a super- 
natural principle of grace. 

Lastly, let me further demand of you — what, if our 
Lord should call you away and find you under the 
guilt of neglecting this known duty ? What confusion, 
grief, and jealousy would possess you if death should 
arrest you in such state ? ^Vhat a hurry was forlorn 
Saul in, when the Philistines were upon him, and he 
had not offered sacrifice unto God ? And what a 
desperate plunge will you be put to, when the king of 
terrors is upon you, and you have not personally and 
privately been seeking God? Though you may be 
right and safe for the main, yet your spirits will be 
much perplexed, and you will suffer shrewd rebukes 
from your own consciences for your omission, and will 
be put to that last prayer of a dying saint eminent in 
the church, " The Lord forgive me my sins of omis- 
sion;" and possibly may want that spiritual solace in 
a dying hour that praying souls may have. O what 
a blessed thing will it be, if our dear Redeemer find a 
believer upon his knees before the Lord! O the 
hearty welcome he will give unto his God ! Tliis is 




the time he waited for, he was got into a corner, was 
sighing over his sins, pleading for mercy, breathing after 
grace, and panting for glory, and behold, what a quick 
return doth his God make ! even while he is speaking 
and praying the Lord doth send a guard of angels to 
conduct the soul into eternal mansions, where God 
and the soul shall part no more. Blessed for ever is 
that servant whom his Lord, when he cometh shall 
find so doing ! Now consider of it, which state would 
you be found in ? And do not you know, his coming 
may be sudden and unexpected ? "Would you be found 
under neglect, or in the faithful performance of duty ? 
^Vould you not be carried from your closet devotions, 
to eternal communion with God ? O then take our 
liord's most wholesome counsel, " Take ye heed, watch 
and pray : for ye know not Avlien the time is." — Mark 

Xlll. oo. 

I might here challenge Christians also, not only for 
their neglect, but careless performance of this duty of 
closet prayer : with what sorry shifts do we put off 
God ? how hard, dead, unbelieving, distracted are our 
hearts in secret ? God takes much pleasure in adverbs; 
it pleaseth not God that a duty be done, except it be 
M^ell done. Many satisfy their own consciences that 
they have prayed, but consider not how they have 
prayed. There is a curse on such as do the work of 
God negligently ; and, that have in their flock a male, 
and offer to the Lord a corrupt thing.* And it is a 
fearful thing to get a cm'se upon our knees, when we 
come for a blessing. Look to it, God takes notice how 
you pray ; the devil stands under your closet window, 
and heareth what you say to God in secret, all the 
while studying' how he may commence a suit against 
you for your duty ; like those that come to sermons 
* Jer. xlviii. 10. JMal. i. 14. 

A c inus'i'iAX i^i.Tv. 67 

to carp or catch at wliat the preacher saith ; or as one 
saith, like a cunning opponent in the schools, while his 
adversary is busy reading his position, he is studying 
to confute it; and oh, what advantage do we often 
give Satan to trip us and make us tardy ? AVhat 
occasion do we afford him to accuse us to God and to 
ourselves, while we have our filthy garments on us ? 
Yea, remissness in our duties brings decay in grace. 
Tradesmen may go behind-hand by being careless in 
their dealings, as well as by being much out of their 
shops. Alas, what sad decay is in our souls for want 
of close and constant communion with God ! We have 
very perverse hearts, we have much ado with them ; 
when we would do good, evil is present. It is our 
great sin we are so much out of order, even upon our 
knees. Satan sends his imps to haunt and torment us, 
he jogs our hand when we are to write a letter to 
heaven in prayer, so that we can scarcely make sense 
of what we present to God. Om* thoughts are unfixed, 
ranging abroad like a spaniel to a thousand objects, 
so that sometimes we have lost ourselves, and know 
not where we are. Oh let us lament oui* vain and 
trifling spirit in secret duties, and turn unto God for 
help, as a servant when the child he tends is trouble- 
some, and will not be ruled by him, calls out to the 
father to come to him, who no sooner speaks the word, 
but all is hushed with him ; our God can set in order 
our unruly spirits, only he will be called upon by 
earnest prayer. 

F 2 




On Prej)arnti(i7i. 

My next and main business is to furnish assistance in 
the duty of closet prayer, by proposing some helps and 
rules for direction, which 1 shall reduce to these four 
heads : namely. 

Preparatives to it, — essentials in it, — circumstances 
about it, — and consequences upon it. To prepare : — 

1. Look to your state before God. If you be not 
real saints, you are not fit for this spiritual duty. 
Your relation must be changed by converting grace ; 
hence the text saith, "Pray to thy Father." See then 
that God be your Father in Jesus Christ, else you can- 
not truly cry, Abba Father. If we mnst be reconciled 
to our brother before we offer our gifts, much more to 
God, for how can two walk together except they be 
agreed ? I deny not but an unregenerate person should 
withdraw himself into retirement, examine his state, 
fall down on his knees, and beg converting and pardon- 
ing grace, and thus men should acquaint themselves 
with God, that they may come before him ; for de- 
praved, miconverted sinners, have no right as children 
to call to the King of heaven, though as creatures they 
may and must seek unto God, yet they worship afar off. 
It is the gracious Christian only, that prayeth acceptably: 
wicked men's prayers are an abomination ; an hypocrite 
shall not come before him. — Job xiii. 16. And, indeed, 


till you be real saints, you will have no mind to buckle 
close to this duty : truth of grace will capacitate you 
for secret approaches to God ; strength of grace will 
elevate you to God ; and evidence of sincerity will make 
you come boldly to the throne of grace. Therefore try 
your state, inquire what relation you have to God, or 
else expect no familiarity with him. God will not take 
the wicked by the hand to lead them into these 
chambers of communion, the throne of iniquity hath 
no fellowship with him. Our Lord Jesus marrieth 
none but widows that are divorced from all other 
husbands, and he opens his heart to none but his 
betrothed spouse. O sirs ! come over without reserve 
to God, by closing with Christ, renounce yourselves, be 
united to him, and then come aud welcome to enjoy 
communion with him in closet prayer. 

2. Discard other things from your hearts and hands, 
let not your earthly transactions intrude into your closet 
exercises ; say to the concerns and affairs of the world 
as Abraham to his servants, " Stay there while I go 
and worship the Lord yonder," or as Nehemiah in 
another case, " I am doing a great work, and I cannot 
come down to you :" so do thou say, I have appohited 
other times and seasons for attending worldly business, 
let me alone with my God, every thing is beautiful in 
its season, communion with God is as much as I cau 
attend to at once, I must not be diverted by other 
objects, the business I am about is of the greatest im- 
portance, I must consult how I may attend upon the 
Lord without distraction, and worldly matters have 
distracted me in God's service, and have cost me many a 
tear; therefore get away from me. Why should the 
work of the Lord cease ? Why should I be kept from 
my God ? What can you afford me that can be worth 
one hour's communion with liim ? Thus do ycu 


actually renounce the world, for you cannot mind two 
things at once ; and observe it, if you leave any matters 
of the world tarrying for your attendance, the thoughts 
of them will attend you, and make you cut your duties 
short, and run away before your hearts be warmed ; 
therefore, if it may be, dispatch them, rid your hearts 
of them. The heathen left their shoes at the temple 
doors, to shew that all earthly concernsand affections 
must be left behind when M^e go to God. 

Let vain or busy thoughts have there no part, 

Br'mg not thy plough, thy plots, thy pleasures thither ; 

Clirist purg'd his temple, so invist thou thy heart. 
All worldly thoughts are but thieves met together 

To cozen thee. — Herbert. 

3. Set yourselves in God's presence. Although you 
be not within the view of any mortal creature, yet the 
eternal God sees what you are going about. So saith 
the text — " Your Father sees in secret." Darkness or 
closeness hides not from him : and it is of more conse- 
quence that one God sees you, than if all the men on 
earth gazed at you. His eyes are ten thousand times 
brighter than the sun, and " he is of purer eyes than 
to behold iniquity;" therefore wash your hands in in- 
nocency before you compass his altar : for if you re- 
gard iniquity in your heart, God will not hear your 
prayer.* Set the Lord always before you, especially 
when you are scttiiig yourselves before the Lord. If 
that caveat was enough to beget reverence in a hea- 
then, " Cato sees thee;"f O what reverence would the 
sense of God's omnipresence beget in your hearts, if 
duly weighed ! Christians, impress your spirits with 
such meditations as these — God's e5'^e is never off me, 
I am daily walking in the sun ; but now I am setting 

* Hab. i. 13. Psal. xxvi. 6. Psal. Ixvi. 18. 
t Cave, spectat Cato. 


myself to pray in secret, I come to appear before God 
in a special manner. I may deceive men and myself, 
but God will not be mocked : I had need nov/ engage 
my heart to approach mito God ; that is the thing he 
looks for. O for a spirit suitable to the worship of 
such majesty ! Lord, draw out my affections, unite 
my heart, excite my graces, that my whole soul may 
be carried out after thee. Thus " commit thy works to 
the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established." ^•' 
When thou art setting thy face towards a duty, where 
thou art sure to meet Satan, and to carry with thee a 
corrupt deceitful heart, let God know from thy mouth 
whither thou art going, and what thy fears are. Never 
(saith one) doth the soul march in so good order, as 
when it puts itself under the conduct of God ; and ne- 
ver is it so full of awe, as when it sets itself under the 
eye of God. " I am God Almighty, walk before me, 
and be thou perfect," Gen. xvii. 1. When you sensibly 
discern that you are kneeling before God, will not this 
make you perfect, and sincere, and more holy ? If you 
think God be not in your closets, what do you go to 
pray there for ? And if you know he sees you there, 
why do you not think so, and set yourselves as in his 
presence ? The child will stand gravely before his fa- 
ther, the scholar before his master ; and so will the 
gracious soul before God in duty, if sensible of his 

4. Collect and compose your thoughts. Our thoughts 
and affections are like the strings of an instrument out 
of tune, and therefore we must take some pains to 
regulate them. This is that which Zophar adviseth. 
Job xi. 1.7, to prepare the heart, and then stretch 
forth the hands. And for this end, it v/ould not be 
amiss when you come into a private room to pray in 

* Psal. xxxvii. 5. Prov. xvi. 3. 


secret ; first to read some portion of scripture, which 
may be of use to compose your spirits : and like 
David's harp in Saul's case, drive away your wild 
imaginations ; yea, the word read, may afford you 
suitable matter of prayer to God. More particularly, 
let me recommend one tried and approved expedient, 
which is this ; when you are addressing yom'selves to 
God in secret prayer, endeavour to fix your thoughts 
upon some particular subject to enlarge upon : there is 
no question, but you have sometimes one special 
errand to God, sometimes another, if you observe yoiu* 
circumstances well ; be sure to mind that ; whether it 
be to confess some predominant sin, to beg pardon of it, 
or power against it ; you may have some grace in your 
eye, some grace that you need more than ordinarily, 
and see your weakness and defect therein, &c. Now 
do not satisfy yourselves in nmning out into general 
supplications only, but set yoiu'selves to plead the 
cause of your souls in that very case, which you have 
found out by serious inquiry, should most engage you 
at that time to approacli God, expatiate principally 
upon that subject : and this I conceive to be a taking 
to ourselves words* (which the Holy Ghost directeth 
us to employ in prayer,) not a form of such and such 
phrases, but some special subject m.atter on which to 
address God; the word in Hebrew impcrts so much.f 

Now an intent and earnest pursuit of such a special 
consideration at the throne of grace is of use in these 
two respects : 

(1.) You will find it a help against distractions, 
wanderings, withdrawings from God. AVlien }'ou pur- 
posely set yourselves to mind one thing, you will be 
more intent upon it, than when you allow youi'selves 
liberty in variety of matter. When the stream runs 
* Hos. xiv. 2. t "^21 Verbuni, res, negotium — rid. Biwi. Lex. 


one way, it is stronger than when dispersed in sev^eral 
channels,* so, when the Christian unites his strength 
to plead with God on a particular business, he is usually- 
more warm and affectionate, and so less subject to dis- 

(2.) It will enable you to enlarge when spreading 
particular cases before the Lord, in correct and proper 
expressions, even before others as you have a call and 
opportunity ; and this is that which is called the gift 
of prayer, which is of singular use, when a person can 
particularly and pathetically spread out a case, plead 
with God, improve promises, and rationally expostulate 
even with the Almighty on a spiritual or temporal 
concernment; this holy art is obtained by frequency 
in secret prayer, and particularly pleading for a man's 
own soul. This is the last preparative ; think before- 
hand what special business you have in your approach 
to God ; let this be a settled consideration, you cannot 
think to speak of all things to God at one time, but 
take that which is of present urgent use and importance, 
and set yourselves to enlarge upon that ; follow that 
home till you feel your hearts to be v/armed and affected, 
and so have some tokens for good that God will return 
a gracious answer. You will say, must we thus prepare 
ourselves before every duty of secret prayer ? can we 
have time for it? I shall answer this in the words of my 
dear and reverend father Angier :f — " There are some 
separating duties that prepare for others, as. examina- 
tion, meditation, prayer ; and they do prepare by stir- 
ing up the grace of God, and providing a heavenly 
assistance to begin with us in the duty. If thou canst 
not always have separating time betwixt other occa- 

* Vis unita fortior. 

t His book called, A Help to Better Hearts for Better Times, 
pag. 19fi, 197; read more on this subject. 


sions and God's worship, yet have some separating 
thoughts ere thou enter upon the duty, thou art not fit 
else to meddle with wisdom." Thus he expresses 
himself. It is true, some have not the leisure that 
others have, yet so much preparation is necessary for 
every duty as may withdraw the heart from other 
objects, and impress the spirit with a due sense of the 
work we have in hand, and sometimes this may be 
done speedily ; yet as for such as have more time to 
work upon their hearts, and state their soul's case by 
mustering up themselves to the work, by not doing it 
they neglect a duty and cannot warrantably expect the 
Lord's presence : and this I conceive is the reason why 
the Lord's people miss of God in secret prayer, at least 
is one reason because they do not make such conscience, 
and take such care of preparing their liearts as they 
ought. Ah Christians, when you come into your closet, 
sit down and pause a little, before you fall down upon 
your knees, consider your state, shake off your business, 
set yourselves in God's presence, and muster up the 
sins or wants or mercies, you purpose to spread before 
the Lord : a client will consider all his matters, before 
he come to state his case to his advocate ; a poor 
patient will bethink himself how he is, that he may 
tell his ailings to his physician ; and a petitioner will 
not go hand over head to his prince, but order his cause 
before-hand, that he may plead it more effectually — 
and shall not we much more prepare ourselves to wait 
upon the God of heaven ? 


Directions respecting what is essential to Secret Prayer. 

Another class of rules regards some things es- 
sentially requisite to the right performance of devo- 


tional exercises in private, which you are to look to in 
the duty ; and those are such as are required in every 
description of prayer : namely. 

That it be performed with the heart — by the help 
of the Spirit — according to God's will — and in the 
name of Christ. 

1. Secret prayer must be the prayer of the heart. A 
heartless duty is a worthless duty; yea, the whole heart 
must be engaged in it, Psal. cxix. 10, " With my whole 
heart have I sought thee." It is the heart that God 
chiefly looks after, Prov. xxiii. 26, " My son, give me 
thy heart." Nothing else can please God, if the heart 
be wanting ; if the heart be engaged in the duty, he 
will rather dispense with other weaknesses, where 
there is not wilful negligence. Observe it, in that 
worship of God we perform with others, a man's gift 
may be of use, though his heart go not along with his 
voice ; but in closet prayer it doth no good at all, 
except the heart be engaged ; therefore God i^rincipallij 
requires the heart in other duties, in this he requires 
the heart onhj, for the voice is not necessary. To 
love and serve the Lord our God with all our heart, 
soul, mind, strength, is a keeping of the law,* and 
more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. We 
should pray with every faculty of the soul, and with 
the utmost power of every faculty. God deserves and 
requires our strongest affections. That is but a vain 
worship which is performed without the heart ; f right 
attendance on God is an engaging the heart to approach 
to him.:}: Christians, in all your addresses to God, mind 
the object of worship; let the subject worshipping, 
and object worshipped, be closely united ; look beyond 
the duty. It is one thing to have communion with an 
ordinance, and another thing to have communion with 

* i\Iark xii. 30, 33. t Matt. xv. 8, 9. % Jer. xxx. 1\ . 


God in an ordinance. God's dear children know what 
this means ; for sometimes they are more taken up 
with expressions, affections, or some accidental things 
in the performance, than with the object of worship 
they should be intent upon; but this is very dangerous, 
for whatsoever interposeth betwixt the soul and God, 
to divert the thoughts from him, is an idol : Ezek. xiv. 
3, " These men have set up their idols in their hearts." 
The Septuagint reads it,* they have put their thoughts 
upon their hearts, that is, they have committed idolatry 
with their own imaginations, instead of worshipping 
God, their minds have fixed on something short of God, 
after which they have, as it were, been adulterous even 
in their duty. I shall not give tliat as the sense of the 
place, yet the observation may be useful. I fear many 
of us are guilty of a kind of spiritual fine-spun idolatry, 
by heterogeneous thoughts in holy duties, that draw 
us back from God, when we are approaching to him. 
The Lord humble us for this, and fix our thoughts 
upon God, that we may sa}'' as the church, Isa. xxvi. 
8, " The desire of om* soul is to thy name, and to the 
remembrance of thee." Cyprian saith,f Every secular 
thought must depart, and the mind must be taken up 
with nothing but what we are about ; he tells, the 
practice of the church in his time was, that the minister 
before prayer, prepares the people's minds, saying siirsum 
cor da ^ lift up your hearts, and they answer habemus 
ad Dominum, we have them up to the Lord ; whereby, 

* OvTOi avopec IviVTO ra ciavorifAaTa olvtCjv IttX ruq Kupciag 
avTwv. — Sept. 

t Cogitatio omnis secul.iris et carnalis cedeat, nee quicquam 
tunc animus, quam id solum cogitet quod precatur : ideo et sa- 
cerdos, ante orationem prefatione praemissa, parat fratrum mentes, 
dicendo, Sursum corda, et respondet plebs, Habemus ad Dommum, 
ab hoc monetur nihil aliud nos, quam Dominum cogitare debere. 
— Cy/J. Scrm. dc Oral. Dom. p. 246. 


saith he, we are admonished, tliat in prayer we must 
think of nothing but the Lord. What the minister 
said to the people, do you say to yourselves, sursum 
corda, lift up your hearts ; let every one say, I am now 
worshipping a heart-searching God, O that my heart 
were with God. The ancients (saith Luther,*) finely 
described prayer, to be an ascent of the mind to God : 
O that I did experimentally know what this means, by 
uniting my heart to God. Lord, gather in my roving 
and wandering thoughts. This is the first direction, 
mind the frame of your hearts. 

2. Implore and expect the Spirit's assistance. — 
Prayer must be by the Spirit's enlarging influence ; 
hence it is called " the spirit of grace and supplica- 
tion :"f it helps our infirmities by making our souls 
cry out, Abba, Father, \ with unutterable groans. A 
Christian should spread the sails of his soul for the 
gales of God's grace, which would carry him apace to- 
wards God, yea and make his prayers reach the ear of 
God, for he knoweth the mind of the spirit. This is 
that which is called, a worshipping God in the spirit, 
a praying in the Holy Ghost ; || that is, either as to the 
matter of the prayer dictated by the Spirit, or as to 
the manner of praying, the soul being actuated by the 
Holy Ghost : for I conceive it may import the former 
as well as the latter, as other scriptures compared fully 
imply. J Alas, flesh and blood will put up such peti- 
tions as God will not accept, or in such a manner as is 
no way suitable to his spiritual nature. The truth is. 
Christians, you Mdll but bungle at the work without 
this help of God's Spirit, and God will take no notice 
of you except he hear his own language. Do not 

* Ascensus mentis ad Deum — Luth. Colloq. Mi/st. fol. 239. 
t Zech. xii. 10. + Rom. viii. 26. || Phil.'iii. 3. Jude 20. 
§ See ^Nlark xii. 36. and xiii. 11. 

/8 C1.0s1:T I'KAYEK, 

think you can wrestle out the business yourselves ; you 
must be indebted to God for help in prayer, as well as 
for hearing your prayers. Your own spirits will not 
carry you to heaven : that ^vhich is from the tarth is 
earthly, and riseth no higher than earth ; but the Holy 
Ghost will elevate your souls to God. Therefore, I 
beseech you, sirs, supplicate the Spirit, yield to its in- 
fluence, improve its operations ; say when you are go- 
ing to duty, Lord, now stir up thyself, and stir up thy 
grace in my heart : "Awake, O north wind ; and come, 
thou south ; blow upon my garden, that the spices 
thereof may flow out," Cant. iv. 16 ; that graces may 
be exercised and exerted. Lord, I am low, flat, unfeel- 
ing ; send the powerful arm of thy blessed Spirit to 
work all gracious dispositions in me, and raise up my 
affections to thee. I see I am below the duty, and in- 
finitely below thee in the duty ; but thou, and thou 
alone canst raise me up, quicken, soften my dead and 
rocky heart. Come, Lord, and show thy powerful arm; 
let it appear what God can do for a poor worm. O 
lift me up to thee, that my soul may enjoy some sweet 
communion with thee. Send thy Spirit to fetch in my 
roaming wandering heart. O for some fire from hea- 
ven to bui'n up my sacrifice, or else it will lie as a piece 
of flesh, and be no true holocaust, or pure incense be- 
fore thee. Let thy Spirit scatter these mists of igno- 
rance, and drive aw^ay these flies of distracting thoughts, 
that my heart may be with thee, and my performance 
may be a sweet savom* unto God. 

3. It is also an important quality of prayer, that it 
be according to God's will. It must have a warrant 
from the Word ; a word of precept, or promise, or ex- 
ample, must be the ground of our petitions : a com- 
mand is our warrant, a promise oiu* encouragement, an 
example is our track, and the footsteps of the flock 


wherein we must walk. He that asks amiss shall not 
speed, but if we ask any thing according to God's will 
he heareth us, and then we know we have the petitions 
that we desired of him, 1 John v. 14, 15. Now, we 
ask according to his will, when both the matter of our 
petition is right, and our end in asking is God's glory, 
and our own or others' spiritual good : otherwise, if we 
ask of God what we conceit to be a mercy, and have 
not asked counsel at God's mouth ; or ask so as to con- 
sume it on our lusts, we may well meet with a denial. 
My friends, you may not say what you please in the 
presence of God. " Consider, God is in heaven, you 
are on earth, therefore be not rash with your mouth, 
and let not your heart be hasty to utter any thing be- 
fore God, let your words be few," and well weighed. — 
Eccles. V. 2. The work you are about is a solemn 
business; do not ramble in extravagant desires after 
unlawful things ; think not that God will patronize 
your lusts : and when you have asked that v/hich you 
conceive is according to his will, refer it wholly to his 
will, say, the will of the Lord be done ; submit your- 
selves to his disposal, for time, manner, means, and all 
circumstances in giving it : ask temporal mercies con- 
ditionally, and spiritual comforts with submission to 
God's will : learn that petition, " Thy will be done," to 
pray it as well as say it. Indeed Luther could say, 
" Let my will be done ;" but he came off with this — 
" 3Ii/ tvill, Lord, because my will is melted into thine, 
there is but one will betwixt us." Let God's will be 
your will ; it is fit it should be so, our heavenly Fa- 
ther is wiser than we. Consider, a man cannot pray 
in faith, for that which he hath no warrant to ask. 
Besides, Amesius saith, " If a man come not with an 
humble submission to God's will, it were not a religious 
prayer directed to the supreme Creator, but a kind of 


conimaiid by a superior to an inferior, or a familiar 
discourse as amongst equals :"* therefore let us humbly 
plead God's will as Abraham did, Gen. xviii. 27. Fur- 
ther consider, the design of prayer is not to incline God 
before unwilling, to our mind and desire, for with him 
there is no variableness nor shadow of change ; but 
that we may obtain of him by prayer what we know 
before-hand he is willing to give. Lastly, consider 
Christ's example : Matt. xxvi. 39, " If it be possible, 
let this cup pass from me ; nevertheless, not as I will, 
but as thou wilt." This is right praying, to ground 
our petition upon a promise, yet freely to leave all at 
God's feet, to dispose of us as he sees good. Our prayers 
and God's promises should point towards each other as 
intended for correspondence ; promises do bend down- 
wards, and to approach them, our prayers must ascend 
upwards, so will there be a blessed harmony and sea- 
sonable return. 

4. Place dependance on your Advocate ; John xiv. 13, 
" Whatsoever you ask in my name, that will I do." To 
ask any thing in his name, is not rudely, customarily, or 
by way of compliment to conclude with these words — 
" through Jesus Christ our Lord," &c. but, in confidence 
of his merit and intercession, to call upon our heavenly 
Father, as Daniel pleads, " for the Lord's sake," Dan. 
ix. 17. For, since the fall, none can come immediately 
to God but through a mediator ; nor are we to fetch a 
compass by the groundless invocation of saints and 
angels. I hope you have otherwise learned Christ. 
I am most afraid in the practical part, that, in particu- 

* Haec representatio debet esse submissa et humilis : alias enim 
non esset precatio religiosa, a creatura subdita ad supremum Nu- 
inen et Creatorem directa ; sed vel imperium siiperioris erga infe- 
riorem, vel quasi familiar is collocutio, qualis est inter scquales.^ 
Ames. MeditU. Theol. lib. 2. c. 9. p. 251. 


lar acts at least, i)recioiis souls are in danger to mis- 
carry, especially in closet prayer. When a Christian 
is alone, and there finds a sweet gale of the blessed 
Spirit, inclining his heart to moiu'n for sin, to bev/ail 
his misery, to plead for mercy, and to give God the 
glory due unto his name ; O then he goes away much 
satisfied, and God must needs accept his person and 
hear his prayer. Why so ? Why, he hath found 
abundant assistance, melting frames, and enlargements. 
Alas, sirs, where is Christ all this while ? I am afraid 
your advocate is quite forgotten, your surety is set 
aside as a poor insignificant cipher. And tell me, 
friend, thou that boastest thus of thy enlargements, 
darest thou appear before a holy God in those rags ? 
Suppose thy rags be velvet, they are but rags still, and 
are too scanty a garment for thy naked soul ; thou 
comest to gain the ear of God and open his heart, in a 
wrong way ; we are accepted only in the Beloved, and 
not because we are enlarged. It is true, evangelical 
assistance may be a sign of acceptance, but it is no 
cause thereof; no, no, our persons and prayers are 
owned only on account of our surety and intercessor. 
Our dear Lord Jesus, who died for us, has stationed 
liimself at the court of heaven as our ambassador, to 
plead for us, and to see matters carried fairly be- 
twixt God and ransomed souls — and shall we not em- 
ploy our advocate, and find liim v/ork ? or shall we 
think to go our own errand ? Lord, forgive this black 
ingratitude. O Christians, whatever your straitness 
or enlargements be, make use of him who is at God'.s 
right hand ; place your sacrifices on this golden altar ; 
lay the whole stress of your acceptance upon Christ's 
meritorious intercession; act faith on him w^io mingles 
his sweet incense with your poor performances. () 
look after our Aaron who is gone into the Holy of 


82 CI.OSET niAYElJ, 

liolies for us. Consider, frieiuls, it M'ould be a sad thing 
for you if you were to be judged according to the best 
secret duties that ever you performed. It is good to 
liave an enlarged heart in secret, yet there is danger in 
it, and it may undo us, because our foolish hearts are 
apt to boast of, and trust to our good frames ; there- 
fore it is better for us to be sometimes straitened, than 
constantly enlarged in oiu* closet prayers. This is 
what hath made some say that their duties have done 
them more hurt than their infirmities ; and the reason 
is plain, because our corrupt hearts are so apt to de- 
pend upon the former, whereas we are daunted and 
emptied of ourselves by considering the latter. The 
Lord help us all in this important business of prayer, 
yea this principal part of our religion, to depend 
wholly upon the righteousness and intercession of Je- 
sus Christ, for access to, and acceptance with God. 
8tudy these Scriptures, John xvi. 23, 24. Eph. iii. 12. 
Heb.'iv. 15, 16. x. 19—22. Phil. iii. 3. The gospel 
is full of this, yea, this is the main hinge of om* reli- 
gion : you are not Christians unless you acknowledge 
Jehovah your righteousness in all that you do, as well 
as maJce God your ultimate end : you will go away as 
the proud Pharisee without acceptance, if you plead 
youi' enlargements with God : but if you come as tlie 
Publican, pleading only God's mercy, and Christ's me- 
rits, you shall be owned and crowned with abundant 

There are also several other necessary ingredients in 
all prayer, which I might urge with reference to this 
duty of secret prayer ; as, 

(1.) A right understanding, 1 Cor. xiv. 15, "I will 
pray with the understanding ;" for blind devotion is not 
pleasing to God. 

(2.) A sensible perception of our wants; we must come 

A (TllllSTIAX DUTY. 83 

weary and lieavy laden, Matt. xi. 28 ; burdened with 
the guilt of sin, distressed for want of grace. 

(3.) Fervency of spirit, James v. 17, arising from a 
consideration of the necessity and excellency of what 
we desire. 

(4.) A reverent disposition, Eccl. v. 2; an unfeigned 
abasing of ourselves before God, from the sense of his 
infinite majesty and our own unworthiness. 

(5.) Secret persuasions of prevailing, 1 Tim. ii. 8. 
grounded on God's all-sufficiency and fidelity, though 
we be unworthy. 

(6.) A charitable disposition, forgiving others. Matt, 
vi. 14, and especially having an endeared affection for 
all saints. 

(7.) Perseverance in prayer, holding on without 
cessation, Eph. vi. 18, following God in the duty all 
our days. 

Such constituent qualities as these are essentially 
requisite in the duty of prayer. 


The Circumstances of Secret Prayer. 

These circumstances may be a great furtherance or 
hinderance in this performance. They are four : 

Place, posture, season, and voice. 

I shall but briefly advert to these. 

1. ^Vith respect to place, I advise you to choose the 
most retired room, where you may be freest from dis- 
turbance, that you may not hear the noise of the family 
or distracting commotions of a tumultuous world. Ee 
not curious in the choice of a place, if only it accom- 
plish your end for secrecy or retirement ; no matter 
how homely it be, the sweetness of the company v»'ill 
G 2 


compensate for the ineannt ss of the place. If you have 
not a convenient room within doors, yet a pious heart 
will not disdain to go and meet its beloved Lord in 
any cote, or barn, or wood. " Isaac walked out into 
the fields to pray and meditate." See you choose a 
private place wherever it be, according to the nature of 
tlie duty, before opened to you. Observe God's provi- 
dences in disj^osing of you, and accept such place as he 
shall offer. 

2. For posture, in general, see that v»diat you adopt 
})e humble. I'here are examples of several laudable 
gestures in prayer. Sometimes we find saints standing, 
ordinarily kneeling, spreading forth their hands, lift- 
ing up their eyes toAvards heaven ; sometimes prostra- 
ting the body all along upon the earth before the Lord. 
You may do in tiiis as you find most advantageous in 
your experience : no invariable rules can be given as 
to these particular circumstances ; only see that your 
closet prayers be with as much reverence as if you 
Avere before others. Consider, your bodies are God's, 
and must be presented as a sacrifice to God : he will be 
A\ orshipped with the outward as well as inward man ; 
j'ou cannot, without dangerous sacrilege, rob him of 
either. Besides, o1)serve it, there are both evidence 
and assistance in the body's humble gesture ; it is a 
help to make you humble, and it is a sign that you are 
luunble : but, on the contrary, an unsuitable sight and 
position of the body in God's service, is a sad sign of 
an luihumbled soul, and prevents humiliation. There- 
fore though you be never so solitary, yet remember, 
your Father in heaven sees you ; therefore, as Cyprian 
exhorts,* let us consider v.'e stand under the view of 

* Cogitemus, r.os sub conspectu Dei stare ; placendum est Di- 
vinis oculis, et habitu corporis et modo vocis. — Cyp. Serm. in Oral. 
Bom. p. 409. 


God, and we should seek to i)lease him, both in tlie 
habit of our body and manner of our voice. Think of 
this rule. 

3. In reference to the season, the apostle saith, 
" Pray continually, or without ceasing." Yet there are 
some, as it were, canonical hours of prayer, wherein a 
Christian's discretion must interpose ; only, in this 
case, take the fittest seasons for secret prayer, as when 
you are most at leisure from worldly business, most 
free from company, least in danger of drowsiness. O 
Christians, if it be possible, put not off your secret de- 
votions too long, till you go to bed, then you are fitter 
for rest and sleep than for wrestling with God on your 
knees. And then, for the frequency of this exercise, 
no certain rule can be given. David and Daniel 
" prayed three times a day," morning, noon, and night.* 
Noon-time was the sixth hour, which was also a time 
of prayer, Acts x. 9 ; others also observed the ninth 
hour, which was three o'clock in the afternoon,! Acts 
iii. 1. Certainly the third hour, that is, nine in the 
morning, was an hour of prayer, Acts ii. 15, and so 
was evening, six at night, say some. David adds a 
seventh in Psalm cxix. 164, " Seven times a day will I 
praise thee ;" which may only denote frequency in the 
duty. Some of these may seem extraordinary cases. 
The ordinary seasons the saints have taken, have been 
morning and evening, as the Jews sacrificed a lamb at 
those seasons. I In the morning our spirits are fresh 
and lively ; at evening we may find the past affairs of 
the day a fit occasion for prayer and praise. It would 
do well to take Isaac's season for devotion, even about 
sun-set, or the shutting in of the day. But I shall not 

* Psalm Iv. 17. D;in. vi. 10. 

t Dr. Ham. Pract. Cat. 1. 3, sect. 2, p. 274. 

t Exod. xxix. 38, 31). Psdm v. 3, Ixxxviii. ]3, and cxli. 2. 


too peremptorily impose in these undetermined circuni- 
vStances, only take that general rule, " Watch unto 
prayer," 1 Pet. iv. 7. 

4. In regard to the voice. The articulate sound of 
words is not absolutely necessary in prayer, and it may 
not be so convenient in closet prayer, which should be 
managed privately betwixt God and a man's own soul, 
approving the heart to God as sole witness of his sin- 
cerity; except, through some extacyand strong emotion 
of the affections, the soul's desires break out on the lips 
beyond its first intentions. I know, Mr. John Carter, 
that eminent man of God, did pui'posely use his voice 
in secret prayer for these two reasons, (1.) Because he 
found it a help to liis affections ; (2.) Because it was 
an example to his family.* I must not therefore im- 
jiose any necessity in these variable circumstances; 
only, I humbly conceive, it is most suitable to the na- 
ture of closet prayer to perform it so as none else may 
take notice thereof. Give me leave to mention a few 
passages out of Cyprian to this purpose :f — As it is a to- 
ken of impudent forwardness to make a noise with loud 
clamours ; so it is most suitable to a modest spirit to 
pray with silent supplications : for God is the hearer 
not of the voice, but of the heart. He makes Hannah 
a tjqje of the church, who prayed not with loud peti- 
tions, but with affections agitating her and rising with- 
in the recesses of her breast — she spake v/ith hidden 
prayer, but manifest faith. 

* ]Mr. Clark in his Life. 

t Nam ut impudentis clanioribus strepere, ita contra congriiit 
verecunclo modestis precibus orare : quia Deiis non vocis, sed 
cordis auditor est. El paido po.it : Quod Anna in primo Regum 
libro, ecclesiae typum portans, custodit et servat, quie Donii- 
num non clamosa petitionc sed tacite et modeste, intra ipsas pec- 
toris latebras, precabatur : ioquebatur prece occulta, sed manitesta 
fide.— Q//)r. Scrm. ck Or at. Dom. p. 400, AH). 


Thus much for the circumstances of closet prayer, 
wherein I am more brief and hesitating, because I 
would not prescribe any thing to the people of God 
whicji he hath left free in his word ; only in general 
take notice, that though accidental circumstances which 
concern a duty be mutable, yet by the wise ordering of 
those circumstances they will become a singular assist- 
ance in the performance of the duty. 


In what way attention may he profitably occtipied after 
having been engaged in demtional exerciises. 

After closet prayer our attention should be directed 
to the following things, which may be considered as 
incumbent upon us, and from which we may derive 
advantage ; namely, 

We ought to observe the manner in which God deals 
with us — to walk suitably — to wait for returns of 
prayer — and to communicate the success of our inter- 
course with God. 

1. Wlien you have been before the Lord in closet 
prayer, observe how God hath been dealing with yoiu* 
hearts, that you may be suitably disposed and affected; 
if the Lord hath withdrawn himself from you, left you 
under hardness, deadness, distraction, uncomfortable- 
ness ; you are to mourn for it, inquire the cause of it, 
reflect upon yourselves, see what guilt there is upon 
your conscience, which separates betwixt God and 
your souls : and then (if time permit) begin again, 
lament the sin, be ingenuous in confession, make 
stronger resolutions, remove all obstructions, that God 
and your souls may not be at any distance, reckon 
straight, and make up your accounts, part friends that 
you may meet friends the next time you go to him. If 


you find that God liath helped you, incited your hearts, 
and graciously manifested himself to your souls, take 
special notice of it, record that for time to come, slight 
not the least appearances of God in your favour, ac- 
knowledge him, and praise him for these manifestations 
of his love. Learn this lesson even from Ilagar tlie 
bond woman : when she was in a solitary wilderness, 
the angel of the Lord comforts her and tells her that 
God had heard her affliction, that she was with child, 
and that her seed should be multiplied ; slie as a 
grateful return to God for his kindness, sets an asterism 
of observation upon the place, for a memorial of God's 
seeing and looking after her, " so the v/ell was called 
Beer-lahai-roi," that is, the well of him that liveth, 
and seeth me. Gen. xvi. 13, 14. Thus do you : think 
and think again. Oh, who, or what am I, that God 
should look after me, or take notice of me, in this 
desolate state and place ! I shall remember this time 
of love whilst I live ; in such a room I met with God, 
such a chamber or closet was a Bethel, a mount Nebo, 
wliere I beheld mj^ Jesus, and took a blessed view of 
the promised land. — Thus Christians, reflect uj)on, and 
recollect your experiences in God's presence, \\'hich 
may be of use to you all your days. 

2. Let your behaviour at all times be suitable to 
vour closet prayers, let it appear that you are wholly 
devoted to God ; cross not your prayers with your 
practices: pray much, and live well; let it appear that 
you liave been with God, that you have been drawing 
supplies from the spring-head ; walk with men as 
those that walk with God ; let indications and evidence 
of your lieaAeuly intercourse be perceivable in your 
gracious expressions and exemi)lary conversation ; live 
not after the oi'diiiary rate of professors. As your 
heart is God-wards, so let your light be men-wards, 


that the}^ may see your good works and glori'y God: 
carry soiriething out of your closet, that may hold forth 
the word of life and work of grace ; be able to say in 
your conduct what David speaks in Avords, Psal. cxix. 
55, 56, after he had said, " He remembered God's 
name in the night," he adds, " This I had, because I 
kept thy precepts ;" he tells not what it was, but cer- 
tainly something it was, worth having — possibly, it 
was some strength to obey the will of God, some power 
over a corruption. O Christians, let your actions 
demonstrate what you get in God's presence. What a 
sin and shame it is, when persons do that morally 
which Moses did literally, even come down from the 
mount and break the tables of God's law, as soon as 
they are off the place. Oh how sad it is for a person 
to come down from closet prayer, and be proud, pas- 
sionate, envious, or covetous ! and observe it, then you 
are most in danger, for then doth Satan tempt most, 
and your hearts are then most apt to be secure, con- 
ceited, and carnally confident, as though you had done 
enough, and might now sit down and take your ease ; 
and having sweat at duty, and suddenly cooling, the 
gracious soul doth contract a dangerous surfeit, and 
fall into a languishing condition ; be jealous therefore 
of yourselves when you have been with God in secret; 
and have an eye upon the devil, who is like a swindler, 
who strikes in with a young heir, when he hath newly 
received his rents, and never leaves him till he hath 
eased him of his money. Oh now walk warily and 
watchfully, consider where you have been, and do no- 
thing contrary to your communion or profession. Let it 
never be said of you, as some are apt to say, I wonder 
what such persons do so much alone ! unless they lived 
better and conducted themselves after another mode; 
they pretend devotion, but there is little seen in their 

90 CLOSET rilAYEll, 

conversation, they will talk as vainly, live as freely, be 
as hard and false in their way of trading, and be as proud, 
scornful, pei-fidious and injurious as others are. Ah 
Christians, let this never be said, at least give no occa- 
sion for such speeches ; let the world see that your 
prayers have some efficacy, that you get some strength 
in duties which you lay out in your practice. 

3. Another duty incumbent upon you after you have 
been with God in secret, is, to wait for a seasonable 
return ; stand upon your watch, hearken what God will 
speak ; " Unto thee," saith David, " will I direct my 
prayer, and will look up," Psal. v. 3. So do you, 
Christians, look up to see what becomes of your prayers, 
observe what answers God gives. It is mockery of 
another, Pilate-like, to ask a question and expect no 
answer : and is it not a gross solecism in religion, to 
speak many things to God, and expect no return ? It 
is certainly a great fault among Christians, to pray 
and pray, and never to consider or gather up the fruits 
of prayer. Is it not a strange piece of folly for men 
to be always sowing, and never to look for a harvest ? 
Surely Christians have more harvests than they are 
aware of; therefore, sirs, observe how you reap, take 
special notice of any thing that looks like a return of 
prayer ; examine it thoroughly, gather something out 
of it, catch at what comes from the King of heaven, as 
Benhadad's servants did by the king of Israel's words ; 
and if there be but a hint, lay it up, make much of it, 
improve it, praise God for it, and hope for more. It is 
the negligence or unwarrantable modesty of some 
Christians, to think that they can expect no fruit of 
their prayers, because of the imperfection of their 
duties ; forgetting God's gracious promise to upright- 
hearted seekers, and remembering his strict justice to 
such as seek him not in the due order. But, sirs, you 


must SO be humbled, as also to believe ; you must so 
deny youi* own righteousness, as also to improve 
Christ's intercession ; you are to renounce all conceit 
of merit in yourselves, and yet look up for mercy from 
God. God hath graciously annexed his promise of ac- 
ceptance to the performance of the condition ; and if 
God have assisted you to pray right on the whole, you 
may expect his audience ; for God is faithful and 
merciful, both in forgiving our iniquities, and granting 
us mercies * God's answers are larger than our ask- 
ings ; when we truly pray for a piece of bread, God 
giveth a whole acre of land, as Luther saith ;f and he 
tells us, that when his wife was sick, he prayed to God 
that she might live: " so," saith he, " he not only granted 
that request, but also therewith he hath given us a 
goodly farm at Zorlsdorf, and thereto hath blessed us 
with a fruitful year." Instances of this sort are endless. 
There is never a sincere prayer lost ; God always gives 
in return, only we either do not observe or mistake his 
mercies, and lose the comfort of them. An aswer of 
prayer doth not always come in the way we expect it ; 
we look for it at the front door, and it comes in at the 
back door, while we are still expecting the friend we 
look for, he is in the house ; the mercy we desired is 
received, only it comes in a way we thought not of, 
and are therefore apt to overlook it: therefore take 
heed of confining God to your way or limiting him to 
your time. 

4. Communicate your success, and thereby commend 
the duty to others : thus David saith, " Come, and I 
wdll declare what he hath done for my soul," Psal. Ixvi. 
16. " This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him," 
Psal. xxxiv. 6. Do you as I have done, and you shall 
speed as I have sped. Do not mistake this, I would 
* 1 John i. 9. 2 Tim. iv. 8. t Lath. Colloq. IMens. fol. 245. 

92 CI.OSET rilAYEK, 

not have you tell every one when you gx) to closet 
prayer, or when you have been at it — that is a phari- 
saical blowing of a trumpet ; but you must, at some 
times, to such persons as you can confide in, or as you 
have some well-grounded hope of profiting, tell them 
your experience, for their direction and encouragement ; 
in this case acquaint them how God is wont to deal 
with your hearts, what good you have found from God 
in that duty, and you question not but upon a consci- 
entious use thereof they may find the like advantage ; 
and this would be singular of use, for hereby they have 
not only a rule for it, but the exemplifying of it in a 
precedent, and we know that examples have a prevail- 
ing influence ; especially, see that yovi put your family 
upon this practice. O what a blessed thing were it, if 
every person in some room of the house were engaged 
with God in secret prayer ! how bravely would that 
house be perfumed ! how well would the trade of 
godliness thrive ! Surely such a house would be a 
more blessed beautiful edifice than any prince's palace 
under heaven. It is the disposition of gospel penitents 
to mourn, every family apart, husbands and wives 
apart, Zech. xii. 11, 12. and of gracious souls, "to be 
like doves of the valleys, every one mourning for his 
iniquity," Ezek. vii. 16. There must be joint prayers, 
and separate prayers, together and apart. Let not 
Christians be content to find Christ in private for 
themselves, but let them do what they can that others 
also may enjoy him ; this was the frame of the church, 
Cant. iii. 4. When she had found him, " I held him," 
saith she, " and would not let him go, until I had 
brought him into my mother's house," that is, into 
more public assemblies. And truly, Christians, that 
man hath not found Christ at all, that would not have 
all others to find him. O, thinks the Christian in his 


retirement, that otliers did but feel arid enjoy what my 
soul hath sweet experience of; would to God, my hus- 
band, wife, brother, father, cliild, neighbour, M'ould 
but try this course a wliile, () what advantage would 
they get by it ! Though I eat these sweet morsels 
alone, yet fain would I have others to partake with 
me. In things of this world, ])ersons are apt to 
grudge others any great benefit, which they may have 
obtained ; but in spiritual advantages there is no en^y, 
and if there be, it proceeds not from grace, but from 
corrupt nature : the more grace the less envy ; and 
when envy is gone, persons will be communicative. 
Take away envy, and mine is thine, and thine is 
mine.* True grace or " charity is kind, envieth not," 
1 Cor. xiii. 4. Now this is what I am recommending, 
that they who have found Christ would be so charitable 
to souls as to communicate the knowledge of him and 
the way to enjoy him, unto others ; thus doth Andrew 
come to Simon, and Philip to Nathaniel, and both of 
them were (as a man finding a jewel, and cannot con- 
tain,) overjoyed, and cry out evnv.Ku, a/piji.o, I have 
found him, " we have found the Messiah," John i. 41 — 
45. And when the poor woman of Samaria, had been 
privately conversing with Jesus, down she threw, or at 
least, left behind her, her waterpot, and all in haste, 
went to the city, and said to the men, " Come see a 
man which told me all things that ever I did : is not 
this the Christ ?" John iv. 28, 29. Thus do you, sirs, 
promote and propagate the observance of this choice 
duty, commend it to the practice of others, and so 
you may be instruments of good. 

* Tolle invidiam, mea tua sunt et tua mea. 




The LorcTs PraTjer. 

Thei{E is one thing yet remains, on which it may be 
expected something should be said, and that is, the 
matter in praying, or words of prayer ; w^hether it be 
lawful or requisite to use a form or not ? Most judge, 
that as forms are lawful, so prescribed words may be 
requisite to some young beginners in religion, and other 
Christians of weak parts, who cannot express their de- 
sires to God in fit words, for the purpose of furnishing 
them with aid, when conscious of their deficiency or in- 
experience.* Yet, Christians ought to press after more 
growth and proficiency, that they may lay aside those 
crutches, and arrive at the gift of prayer, which may 
be of singular use. As for closet prayer, Dr. Hammond 
doth assert it, that every one may ask his own wants in 
what form of words he shall think fit.f And, indeed, 
all particular cases incident and variable, can scarce be 
comprehended in one constant form : besides, in secret 
prayer, God doth not so much stand ui)on phrases or 
well formed sentences, as the workings of the heart in 
sighs and groans, which are the best rhetoric in liis ears. 
It is inquired, whether we may use the Lord's prayer ? 
I answer, we may use it as other prayers in scripture ; 
but, I conceive, the principal end of it is, not to be re- 
hearsed every time we pray, but to be regarded as an 

* Videas Ames. Cas. Cons. lib. 4. c. 17- p- 190. 
t Practical Catech. pag. 2/7- 


example, platform, or directory, according to the con- 
tents whereof we must direct our prayers. 

Therefore for the further help of young professors, I 
shall briefly touch on the several branches of that admi- 
rable, compendious rule of prayer, which you ha^'e Matt, 
vi. 9 — 13 ; and the rather, because it may seem to re- 
fer chiefly, though not solely, to closet devotion : M'hat 
I shall say to it may be a practical analyzing of it, in 
its several parts and branches. 

First, The preface, Our Father ichtcJi art in heaven. 
You may thus make use of it : Infinite and eternal Ma- 
jesty, the Maker of heaven and earth, who dwellest in 
the highest heavens, and in the lowest hearts, who seest 
all things here below, and art a God that hearest prayer; 
I am a poor worm at thy foot-stool, looking up to the 
throne of thy grace; cast a fatherly eye upon me, and 
though I be by nature a child of wrath, yet through 
Jesus Christ make me thy child by grace and adoption, 
teach me to cry, Abba, Father, with holy reverence and 
filial confidence ; raise my heart to heaven, beget in me 
faith in thy promises, love to my brethren, and due ap- 
prehensions of thy sovereign power, and gracious con- 
descension; that praying by the help of thy Spirit, in 
the name of thy Son, I may obtain good at thy fatherly 
hands. — Secondly, The petitions. 

1. Hallowed he thy Name : O my God, I have dis- 
honoured thee all my days by my ignorance, pride, 
hardness, and unthankfulness, and I am unapt and un- 
able to glorify thee, but do thou glorify thyself in my 
conversion and salvation ; help me to know and adore 
thee, to make a high account of thy titles, attributes, 
and ordinances ; to believe thy word and admire thy 
w^orks, in mercy or judgment ; help me with spiritual 
thoughts becoming my holy profession, with pious lips 
speaking good of thy name, and a suitable conversation 


to walk before the Lord. Holy God, destroy atlieisni, 
ignorance, idolatry, and profaneness; magnify thy name 
through the world, and direct and dispose all things 
to the advancement of thy glory, by thy oAcr-ruling 
providence, and thy infinite wisdom. 

2. Thy kingdom come : Lord, I must confess, that 
by nature I am dead in sin, and a bond-slave to the 
prince of darkness, who rules in my heart, and leads 
me captive by ignorance, error, and disobedience ; but 
do thou, by the power of thy grace, cast out the strong 
man, and take possession of my heart; sway thy blessed 
sceptre in me, and bring my whole man to obedience. 
Destroy Satan's kingdom, propagate the gospel among 
all nations, purge thy house, furnish thy church with 
officers, orders, and pvu-e ordinances ; make kings nurs- 
ing fathers to it, convert sinners, confirm saints, comfort 
the sad, and hasten thy second coming to judgment, 
and the blessed kingdom of glory. 

3. Thy will he done in earth as it is in heaven. 
Holy Majesty, I acknowledge my natural ignorance of 
thy will, and inability to obey it, yea, enmity and an- 
tipathy against it ; my best services are imperfect, my 
spirit repining under thy hand, and my will perversely 
resisting grace, and rushing into sin ; but, dear Lord, 
inform my mind, conquer my will, order my affections 
sweetly to comply with thy mind ; teach me to do thy 
will in obedience ; make me content with thy will con- 
cerning me in every providence ; beget in me those 
heavenly dispositions that are in the glorious angels, 
and glorified saints, that with humility, cheerfulness, 
diligence, and faithfulness, zeal, sincerity and constancy, 
I may be actively and passively at thy disposal. 

4. Give us this day our daily bread : Heavenly Fa- 
ther, I must confess, that by the original apostacy of 
man, I have lost my right to every morsel of bread. 


and deserve not to breathe in tliy air, or tread on thy 
earth ! my sin hath pnt a curse and sting into every 
comfort, I can obtain nothing by my industry, yet am 
prone to desire, get, and use thy mercies unlawfully ; 
thy blessing only is the staff of my bread ; help me to 
wait on thy providence in a moderate use of lawful 
means ; give me a competency of outward comforts, 
thy blessing in the use thereof, and contentment there- 
with ; and, above all, a right thereto in Christ, and 
prevent needless cares and sensual delights. 

5. Forgive us on?- debts, as we forgive our debtors : 
Lord, I am wofully guilty of original and actual sin, 
and am thereby a debtor to divine justice ; I owe milli- 
ons, and cannot pay a single farthing, therefore deserve 
to be cast into the dark dungeon of eternal torments ; 
but, dear Lord, thou hast found a ransom, who stands 
in man s stead to be surety for him. O accept me in 
thy beloved Son Jesus Christ ; wash away my sins in his 
blood ; clothe my naked soul with his glorious robes ; 
give me saving faith, to embrace him upon his ov/n 
terms ; free my soul from the guilt and punishment of 
sin ; pardon my daily failings, and seal an acquittance 
in my conscience, which tells me I do freely forgive all 
offences against myself. 

6. And lead us not into temptation, hut deliver us 
from evil: Lord, it were righteous with thee to leave me 

to be assaulted and conquered by Satan, my soul's cruel 
enemy. My heart is growing sensual, proud, and care- 
less ; apt to thrust myself into temptations, but unable 
to resist or overcome them : thou mayest justly bring 
me into occasions and leave me to m} self therein ; but, 
O my God, keep my soul from being tempted, or assist 
me in the hour of temptation, or recover me out of my 
foils and falls ; sanctiry my slips, make my standing, 
surer in thy strength, tread Satan under my feet, cou- 



quer the world for me, crucify me unto the world, sub- 
due my flesh within, and in due time raise my soul above 
all sins and snares, into thine immediate presence. 

And then shut up all with such like words as these, 
on that conclusion; For thine is the Mngclom, the power 
and the glory, for ever. Amen. Omy God, I am unwor- 
thy thou shouldest grant my petitions for any thing in 
myself; all my arguments in prayer, and grounds of 
acceptance, I fetch from thyself. Thou hast a kingdom 
of grace, and throne of grace, from whence thou hearest 
prayers, and dispenseth blessings : all the power is in 
thine hands, to give and to forgive, to kill or make 
alive, and the glory shall be thine if thou hear my 
prayer; and blessed be my God for all my mercies. 
I ascribe to thee, and thee alone, eternal sovereignty, 
omnipotence, and glorious excellency, v/hich, as I desire 
all may be given to God, so I am humbly emboldened 
by faith, to rest upon thy power and promise, that in 
due time thou wilt hear my requests ; and, as a token 
of that my desire and confidence, my soul doth echo 
forth, Amen, even so be it. 

Thus I have given you a specimen from the Lord's 
prayer, of directions for the matter of our prayers. I 
shall but propound another scripture instance, relative 
to arguments in prayer. 

J<M:ohy an example of potcerful pleading icith God. 

God would have his people converse with him in a 
rational way, and God's children have employed many 
pleas in prayer, which they have produced in strong 
expostulations, as we may find scattered up and down 
in scripture, as Moses, Nehemiah, Ezra, and Daniel, in 
their approaches to God ; and above all, David through 


the book of Psalms, is exceeding full this way. But I 
shall j)ass by the rest, and fix only upon one scripture 
instance, and the rather because it was a secret or soli- 
tary prayer, of which we are now speaking, and there 
are notable pleas therein, which may possibly suit our 
condition, therefore I shall briefly examine the parts of 
it, and recommend it to your imitation. It is that of 
good Jacob, who was trained up in this holy art of 
wrestling with God; — Gen. xxxii. 9 — 12. His pleas 
there may be reduced to these ten particulars. 

1. He makes use of suitable titles of God ; he calls 
him "Lord," or Jehovah, which denotes God's self-exist- 
ence, and his giving being or existence to the promises, 
in first making them, and then making them good. 
Thus do you, sirs, raise in your hearts suitable appre- 
hensions of God, and let your expressions be answerable; 
acknowledge God as the infinite, omniscient, omnipotent 
Majesty, able to do beyond what you can ask or think, 
and that you neither need nor desire any more than what 
his almighty power can effect ; tell him, if all-sufficiency 
cannot supply you, you are content to go unsped ; but 
you question neither his hand nor heart ; you are sure 
he both can and will help his children in their need ; 
he will make good with his hand, what he hath spoken 
with his mouth, for he is Jehovah. 

2. He pleads covenant relation to God. " O God of 
my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac," and 
so my God ! this is an admirable plea. If God own a 
soul in a covenant relation, he will certainly do it 
good ; though his grace be free, yet when God hath 
chosen any to be his, he hath as it were engaged him- 
self to own them ; now he hath pledged his truth. 
Thus then a believer may plead — Lord thou hast been 
my father's God, and wilt tliou not be my God ? and 
wilt thou be my God, and withhold such a mercy from 

H 2 


me? my ancestors fomid grace in thy sight, and obtained 
those same good things I am craving ; and am not I 
under the very same covenant with them ? are not the 
})romises the same ? is there not tlie same mediator ? 
Lord, I come to thee in a covenant relation for a 
covenant mercy, and wilt thou deny me ? 

3. He pleads a warrant for his undertaking, appeal- 
ing to God that he was in the way he had directed 
him to go, saying, " Thou, Lord, which saidst unto me, 
return unto thy country." Oh with what encourage- 
ment may the soul plead for assistance and protection, 
that is in God's way and work, according to his own 
appointment? thus then plead — Lord, hast not thou set 
me about this worlv ? hast thou not given me a charge 
to do what I do ? have I not a plain positive scrip- 
ture warrant to bind my conscience? I dare not do 
otherwise. I may say, if I be deceived, thou hast 
deceived me, but I am sure, plain scripture is no 
deceiver, I cannot otherwise understand such a com- 
mand. And O mv God, since thou hast thus eno;a£red 
me in thy work, wilt thou suffer me to miscarry 
therein ? 

4. He pleads a particular promise, " I will deal well 
with thee ;" surely a comprehensive word, containing 
in it all that Jacob wanted. Thus must a Christian 
search the scriptures, get hold of a promise, spread it 
before the Lord, m hether for spiritual grace, inward 
comfort, or outward supply, in this way: — Lord, I 
find a promise in such a place, to a person in my cir- 
cumstances, well adapted and pertinent to my very con- 
dition, as if it had been calculated purposely for me in 
this juncture ; now, Lord, make it good to my soul and 
seed ; thou hast made it good to others in my state, 
and why not to me? am not I an heir of promise, 
and must not I have a share therein ? 


5. Jacob hiiiribles himself under a sense of his own 
unvvorthiness, '' I am not worthy," saith he, " of the 
least of all thy mercies." This is the property and ex- 
cellency of a saint, to annihilate himself, and make 
God all in all ; so Abraham when pleading for Sodom, 
calls himself dust and ashes, and the centurion judged 
himself not worthy that Christ should come under his 
roof. Thus then, abase thyself: — Lord, I am not 
worthy to enjoy any common mercy, not fit to lift up 
mine eyes to thee, being less than the least of thy mer- 
cies ; behold I am vile, I am not only destitute of 
merits, but full of demerits ; hell is my desert, I can 
challenge nothing as mine but sin, and the fi-uits there- 
of ; Lord, I condemn myself, do not thou condemn me, 
nor cast me from thee. 

6. He is affected with God's faithfulness in the per- 
formance of his promises ; acknowledging the truth of 
God shewed to his servant. There is mercy in God's 
making a promise to Abraham, truth in making it 
good to Jacob.* Well then, with Jacob, thus plead : — 
Lord, it is true, there was nothing of desert in me to 
engage thee, either to make or keep thy gracious pro- 
mise, but sure, the word is gone from thee, yea, and 
nothwithstanding all my treachery and unfaithfulness 
thou hast kept it to this day, O keep it still, it depends 
wholly on thee, let not my vanity alter the course of 
thy mercy, but pardon and accept, as thou hast done 
from the time of my deliverance from spiritual Egypt 
until now. 

7. Jacob further recounts his former poverty, his 
low condition — " With my staff I passed over this 
Jordan," I came hither in poor destitute circumstances, 
a sorry pilgrim. Thus do you plead — truth it is, Lord, 
thy grace is absolutely free, there was neither v^'it nor 

* Mic. vii. 20. 


wealth to move tliee to do what thou hast done. I 
can remember the time, when I was a depraved and 
guilty creature, in a forlorn state. There was no 
capacity in me to do thee any remarkable service, thou 
didst not set thy love upon me for any natural or 
moral accomplishment, but even so. Father, because it 
pleased thee ; and wilt thou now forsake me ? thou 
migiitest have done that at an easier rate. 

8. Here is Jacob's stone of memorial for past and 
present mercies — " Now," saith he, " I am become two 
bands ;" that is, two great companies of wives, children, 
servants, flocks, and herds. I m.ay say. These, where 
had they been ? It is strange to see poor worm Jacob 
thus rich. O the bounty of God ! So do thou say — 
Lord, consider what thou hast done for me ; must all 
this be in vain? wilt thou throw away these good 
things ? wilt thou not rather crown these gifts with a 
continuance of thy kindness ? wilt thou return to do 
me hiu't, after thou hast done me all this good ? dost 
thou not remem.ber my convictions and consolations — 
my fears, tears, doubtings, and refreshments ? O the 
passages of love betwixt thee and me ! Shall I be the 
grave of these mercies ? Lord, forget me not ! 

9. Here is his sense of approaching danger — " De- 
liver m.e, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother — 
for I fear him," &c. A brother offended, is harder to 
be won than a strong city. Jacob's danger was a spur 
to his prayer. A pursued hart runs fast for shelter : 
so do thou, soul, when afraid ; fly to the Lord, and say, 
O my God, I have deadly enemies within and v/ithout ; 
my case is forlorn and desperate ; I have none to run 
to but thyself : hast not thou said, that " in thee the 
fatherless find mercy?" Other refuge fails me, no man 
cares for my soul : Lord relieve, deliver this sinful 
wretch, else I go down into tlie pit. 



10. Once more, doth Jacob plead the promise, and 
enlarge on the granted charter — " Thou saidst, I will 
surely do. thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of 
the sea ?" Thus do you ; still seek out, derive sweet- 
ness from, and put in suit the promises by earnest 
prayer, in this manner: — Lord, hast thou not promised 
a heart of flesh, a broken heart ? Why then is my 
heart hardened from thy fear ? Dost thou not say, 
thou wilt " give thy Holy Spirit to them that ask it?" 
This, Lord, I want, to be a spirit of truth and illumin- 
ation, a spirit of prayer and supplication, a spirit of 
grace and sanctification, and of satisfaction. O bestow 
this mercy upon me ! Dost thou not promise to take 
away my iniquities, by pardoning grace, for thine own 
name's sake, and to subdue my corruptions, and in- 
crease grace and bring me to glory? Lord, remem- 
ber thy word unto thy servant, in which thou hast 
caused me to trust. 




The E.Thorfation of the Text enforced. 

My beloved friends, I beseech you suffer the word of 
exhortation. You see the work before you, you see a 
plain scripture warrant for it, you have heard many 
instances of scriptiu'e patterns, you see the manner of 
the performance ; let none now plead ignorance, or 


look upon it as needless, or make excuses, or evasions. 
Is it not equal and reasonable ? Is it not worth the 
while to converse with your God in private ? Look 
over the reasons of the doctrine, and see if there be not 
some weight in them. 

But, besides those, I shall propose to you these ex- 
postulatory motives. 

1. Would you not be such as make conscience of 
every commanded duty ? You are no real saints un- 
less you have respect to all God's commandments, Psal. 
cxix. 6. If you pick and choose in your obedience, you 
are hollow-hearted hypocrites. And can you deny this 
to be a duty? And will you stand parleying witli God ? 
Must he erase this sentence out of the Bible, to humour 
your conceits and sloth ? Is not closet prayer a chris- 
tian duty ? Dare you argue against it ? Out of what 
topics will you fetch your arguments ? And do you 
acknowledge it to be a duty, and will yon not practise 
it ? Your own mouths will condemn you : what need 
any more witnesses ? But if you be real Christians, 
I dare say, you do approve of it, and practise it some- 
times ; and wliy are you not constant in your obedi- 
ence ? Is it not the characteristic of a saint to do righ- 
teousness at all times ? Psal. cvi. 3. O consider this, 
and do not either neglect a command, or omit this 
known duty. 

2. Would you not have the truth of grace cleared 
up in your souls ? Surely there is no Christian but 
would arrive at assurance ; and this is one way to evi- 
dence sincerity, being much with God in secret duty. 
As he grieves truly that grieves without witness ; * so 
those religious actings are most evidential of grace that 
are least obvious to the view of men, and Avhereby a 
Christian approves his heart only to the heart-search- 
* I lie dolet vere qui sine teste dolet. 


ing God. Here is the true Israelite, that can, with 
Jacob, converse with God alone, and seeks the praise, 
not of men but of God.* Observe it, a Christian ordi- 
narily hath not that comfort in a duty exposed to 
others' view, which he hath in what he performs be- 
twixt God and his own soul ; for there is most danger 
of selfishness in the former, and more self-denial in the 
latter. The wind of applause may blow men far in a 
creditable performance, but humility and sincerity are 
most evident in secret appeals to God. Consider this. 
Christians ; you run to sermons, ministers, and good 
books, and take much pains to try your state by marks 
and signs ; make trial of this more compendious course, 
to clear your state — be much with God in closet 

3. Would you not be foimd in the possession of the 
power of godliness ? O then engage much in closet 
prayer. Alas, sirs, hearing sermons, reading scriptures, 
discoursing religiously, praying in the family, may be 
done only for fashion's sake, and the person that doth 
them, may have no more than the form of godliness. 
Mistake me not, I do not condemn the practice of these 
things, nor them that do them, as formalists for that : 
God forbid ; they are scriptui'e duties: still the outward 
part of these may be done without the power of godli- 
ness ; but to struggle with a man's own heart, to wrestle 
with God in secret, to meditate and give up a man's 
self to these duties, as in the presence of God ; O, this 
shews something of the power of grace, and life of ho- 
liness. This is heart work, and that is hard work ; 
these are costly duties, spiritual exercises, which are 
more acceptable than to offer God thousands of rams, 
or a first-born son. David would not offer that to God 
Vi^hich cost him nothing, and shall we be content with 
• Rom. ii. 28. 


the ordinary duties which may be consistent with an 
easy plodding formality ? 

4. Would you not have your hearts relieved vmder 
pressing burdens? are you in love with your sorrows ? 
would you not be rid of them ? Behold, I show unto 
you an excellent way to get relief, which is a recourse 
to God in secret prayer. I have heard some esteemed 
Christians say, that when any thing hath lain upon their 
hearts, ready to overwhelm them, they have run to God 
in private, and there have left their load, and thence 
have gone away with good Hannah, and have been no 
more sad : and experience tells us, that when any press- 
ing affliction lies upon us, if we can unbosom ourselves 
to an intimate friend, thougli not a word of counsel or 
comfort pass from him, yet, tliat opening of oiu' hearts 
doth ease, as vomiting doth an oppressed stomach. 
And hence, saith Elihu, " I will speak that I may be re- 
freshed." And scripture confirms this, Phil. iv. 6, " Be 
careful for nothing, but in every thing make your re- 
quests known to God ;" pour your cares and fears into 
the bosom of God. But how ? Why, by prayer and 
supplication, with thanksgiving : lay your load on God 
by prayer, and he will bear it. 

5. Would you not obtain boldness in access to God, 
and familiarity with him ? O, go often to God in closet 
prayer. Princes assume a greater degree of stateliness 
when conversing with their favourites before others, 
but when none are present, they open their hearts more 
familiarly to them : I know Abraham, saith God, he and 
I are intimately acquainted ; he is my friend, he visits 
me often, and " shall I hide any thing from Abraham?" 
I will take him aside, and tell him my whole heart ; so 
will God to you ; he will communicate much to you, and 
you may say any thing to him ; you are not strangers 
to him, but may come into his presence boldly, and he 


will make you welcome. — Heb. iv. 16. On the contrary, 
what a dreadful thing will it be to have estranged 
thoughts of God, in duty, or at death ? Strangeness 
betwixt God and a soul is a sad and uncomfortable thing. 
Wicked men are total strangers to God : gracious souls, 
little employed in secret prayer, are little acquainted with 
God, and worship afar off; but sincere souls, conversing 
much with God in secret, attain to abundance of inti- 
macy with the Lord ; and is not that a mercy worth a 
world ? 

6. Would you have the sins of others not to bring 
wrath and judgment on the place ? O, then, let your 
souls weep and pray in secret places, as Jeremiah did, 
chap. xiii. 17. This is the last and safest way to be 
delivered from the guilt of open crying sins in the land ; 
even to mourn for them in prayer, before the Lord. 
Thus did Lot and David, Paul, and all saints : yea, 
Moses' solitary prayer interposed betwixt flaming wrath 
and offending Israel ; thus did he stand in the gap, and 
believers may still perform a similar office. A gift in 
secret may pacify that wrath that is ah'eady broken out 
against us. Wicked men sin in secret, * let us mourn 
in secret ; yea, they sin openly, let us lament privately. 
The truth is, secret sins may undo a nation, except the 
cry of the saints' secret prayers be louder than the cry 
of wicked men's secret sins. O then, begin and pro- 
ceed in devotional exercises. " Arise, cry out in the 
night, in the beginning of the watches pour out thine 
heart like water, before the face of the Lord." — Lam. 
ii. 19. 

7- Would you have your own secret sins not set in 

the light of God's countenance ? f then repent and 

pray alone, humble your souls in private, for your 

secret sins. Are j'ou not conscious to yourselves of 

* 2 Kings xvii. 9. t Psalm xc 8. 

108 CLOSET niAYElJ, 

much secret guilt ? and doth not God expect that you 
should set yourselves to mourn over it, and cry to him 
for pardoning grace in secret ? do you not knoAV that 
God will bring every secret thing to light in the great 
day of accounts ?* ray, God may punish you openly, as 
he did David for his secret sin.f A Veil then, anticipate 
that sad severe judgment, by judging yourselves, and 
deprecating his righteous judgment. I may say to 
you individually, as Solomon to Shimei, thou knowest 
all the wickedness which thy heart is privy to; and 
where are thy prayers, and tears, and groanings in 
secret ? O, sirs, if others' sins draw you not to secret 
prayer, let your own, which may afford matter of 
abundant grief in yom- closets and retirement. 

8. Would you not prevent and circumvent wicked 
men's secret plots ? be sure then, you undermine them 
by secret prayer : the devil and the pope have many 
close and conclave consultations to undermine the Pro- 
testant religion, and to root out the name of Israel from 
under heaven ; they are working under ground to do 
us mischief; we have seen by the light of London's 
flames their hellish devices in their dark vaults ; 
" Wicked men lie in wait secretly, as a lion in his den, 
to catch the poor and nuirder the innocent,"^ Psal. x. 
8, 9 : and now what course is to be taken for prevent- 
ing these horrid designs ? alas, we have no other 
remedy, than the ancient Christians' weapons, prayers 
and tears ; these may break their nets, and blunt their 
weapons : good Jeremiah knew not that they had 
devised devices against him, but he reveals his cause 
to God in prayer, and then God shews him their 
doings, and prevents their attempts, Jer. xi. 18 — 20. 
Saints' closet prayer, may break wicked men's closet 
plots. Fall close then to this great duty. 

* Eccl. xii. 14. t 2 Sam. xii. 12. J Psal. Ixiv. 1—5. 

A CHRISTIAN nnv. 109 

9. ^Voiild you avoid being condemned ])y the hea- 
then's chamber idokitiy ? () then, do you perform 
chamber and closet duties ! They had their JJivos 
j}enefrales, or penafes, their household gods, and closet 
images, they had their opertanea and tenebrosa sacra, 
their covered, veiled, and mysterious exercises in secret 
places. And the Jews borrowed several mystical rites 
of the heathens ; hence we read Ezek. viii. 12, of 
chambers of imagery, as the Papists at this day have 
their crucifixes, their petty, chamber, closet deities, 
where they drop their beads, and do homage to their 
idols ; and shall these in their blind superstition con- 
demn our irreligion ? shall it be said of a devout 
philosopher, that in so many years he spoke more with 
the gods than with men ? and shall it be said of any 
of us, that God (even the true God) is not in all our 
thoughts ? or so little in our lips, at least, in secret 
solemn addresses to him ? let not poor ignorant Papists 
out-strip us in devotion, since there is such vast dif- 

10. Would you not be reconciled to God's dispensa- 
tions ? When the Lord our God puts us to silence, 
and into solitary places, he expects that we should 
visit him there : Cant ii. 14, " O my dove that art in 
the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs," 
that is, in an afflicted, persecuted, and desolate condition, 
" let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice," 
that is, in the duties of prayer, praise, and gospel ordi- 
nances, "for then was her voice sweet, and counte- 
nance comely." When we are cast out, then doth 
God receive and entertain us ; and this advantage 
have God's children had by privacy, into which they 
were cast, as we heard before of Jeremiah, chap. xv. 
15 — 17. So an individual is described. Lam. iii. 28, 
29, when he sitteth alone in solitariness, then he put- 

110 CLOSET PllAYElt, 

teth his mouth in the dust, with fasting and prayer ; 
if so be there may be hope. AMiile persons have their 
full occupation or enjoyment, the}' are too busy ; but 
when any are thus occupied, they should occasion- 
ally withdraw themselves and retreat to God. The 
less comfort persons find in public ordinances, the 
more serious must they be in closet performances, that 
the loss may be supplied in another way. 


Several Ohjections Considered and Answered. 

It is strange if our carnal hearts and cavilling spirits 
have not something to say against this difficult duty ; I 
shall therefore mention what objections, I can foresee 
may be made, and briefly answer them. 

1. Obj. We pray in om- families, and is not that 
enough ? what needs all this ado ? 

Answ. This objection cannot be made by all, some 
have no families to pray with, but if thou dost pray in 
thy family, it is well. There are many graceless in- 
dividuals and iDrayerless houses, of which it may be 
said, the fear of God is not in this place ; O the wrath 
that shall be poured out on such families. But suppose 
thou dost, family prayer is one thing, and closet 
prayer is another; and let me tell thee, God never 
made one duty to supersede another; you must not 
jostle out one work, because you are bound to perform 
another. Every thing is beautiful in its j^lace and 
season. God's commandments are exceeding broad, 
and take in a great compass of duties. You must 
worship God in your houses ; that exempts you not 
from worshipping God in your closets, no more than 
in the public assemblies : there are equal commands 
for all, necessity for all, you neglect at your peril; 

A f'lIiaSTlAN DUTY. Ill 

besides, I told you, a child of God hatli a secret errand 
to his Father, of which it is not fit his family should 
know : and on this account God hath appointed closet 
prayer, as being tender over the credit of his people, that 
they might not discover their spiritual nakedness to any 
but to that God who knows thier secrets, and will 
keep their counsel. And I must tell thee, soul, thou 
art very little sensible of thy spiritual state or wants, 
if thou hast nothing to say to God that thou wouldst 
not have others to hear. 

2. Ohj. But I am a poor man, and busy in my 
calling, and cannot spend so much time in closet prayer ; 
I have other occasions. 

Ansiv. Friend, hast thou any greater business than 
the affairs of thy soul ? let thy calling stand still rather 
than thy soul should be lost. Cursed be those oc- 
casions that eat out religion. But consider, you may 
follow both callings, if you be observant ; our general 
and particular callings must not interfere. Clean crea- 
tures divided the hoof, considerate Christians are such 
as rightly proportion works to their particular seasons. 
A chief part of David's arithmetic of numbering days, 
was in that which we call division, to cast up the ac- 
count of this our short life, so as to divide the little 
total sum thereof, into the several portions of time due 
for performing every duty in. The handmaid may 
not thrust out the mistress ; nor the shop have all, and 
the chamber none of our time. You are flat atheists, 
if you think praying will hinder your work ; no, no, 
it blesseth and expediteth temporal affairs.* We use 
to say, meat and matins hinder no work. Canst thou 
not get time for eating and sleeping ? yea, dost thou 
not spend as much time in idleness, and vain discourse, 
as would be required every day for this duty ? if thou 
* Nobis pietate peculia crescunt. — Maiit. 

112 CLOSET rilAVElJ, 

hadst au honest lieart, thou wouldst redeem time from 
tliy meat, or sleep, or recreations, for jjrayer, rather 
than neglect a duty, or ruin thy soul : the truth is, 
we complain we want time, but we waste time. There 
is not the poorest labourer, but he mispends more 
time than prayer time com.es to : and why should any 
water be let off, when there is little enough in the 
channel to turn the mill for, or towards, our God ? 

3. OhJ. But I am a servant, and must o])ey my 
master ; I am kept too hard at work, to get time for 
secret prayer ; I am called to work betimes, dogged to 
it all the day. 

Aiisw. Though you be servants to do men's work, 
yet you are not slaves to their lusts ; in that respect you 
must not be the servants of men ; if you be servants, 
you are the Lord's free men; if free, you are Christ's 
servants, 1 Cor. vii. 22, 23. Remember, you have a 
master in heaven ; no mortal creature can discharge 
you from your attendance on God. You must do God's 
work as well as your master's, and your master's work 
for God's sake.* Oh sirs, do not neglect youi' duty to 
God, to please men. Can your superior answer for 
youi' neglect, or interpose betwixt flaming wrath and 
your sinning souls ? but I am afraid, some lay the 
blame on masters, when the fault is in themselves. De- 
ceive not thyself by accusing others to clear thyself; 
this was Adam's fault. Think not that another's 
rigour can excuse thy neglect. Let me tell you, there 
is never a servant so strictly watched, but might steal 
some time from his master for his God, and yet do 
him no wrong ; only see that you be prudent in choos- 
ing such seasons, as may not provoke your master, or 
prejudice his occasions. And be often in yom* callings 
lifting up yoiu* hearts to God ; be content with your 
* Eph. vi. 6, 7- 


condition : had you more liberty, it may be your hearts 
would not be in so good a frame. But let me bespeak 
masters' indulgence to poor and pious servants; Ohinder 
them not in any good work, rather put them upon it, 
encourage them in it, bless God that you have praying 
servants ; this is a hopeful presage of good success. 
Let not your servants fare the worse, but better, for 
being God's servants. 

4. Ohj. But I have no closet to pray in, no conve- 
nient room for secret prayer : I have a little house, a 
busy full family, and cannot withdraw myself. 

Answ. A good heart will find room, either within 
doors, or without; a gracious person will seek out 
places to pray in ; any sorry cote where he can en- 
joy his God, will be a Bethel ; or, if he cannot get to 
this exercise under a roof, he will, with good Isaac, 
walk out into the fields to meditate and to pray. Could 
heathens and idolatrous Jews plant groves for their 
superstition, in an apish imitation of Abraham's prac- 
tice ? and cannot a bird of paradise take its flight out 
of some wood or arbour into heaven ? But, most need 
not make this silly slight excuse ; they have good 
roofs to be under, and need not worship God suh Dio, 
in the open air. There are few of us that have not 
convenient rooms, but most of us want affectionate 
hearts to visit God therein. Now, Christians, make 
good use of your houses to serve God therein, else 
they may justly vomit you out, and leave you har- 
bourless; and then, what dreadful guilt and terror 
will follow you whithersoever you go? O consider 
London's flames and ruins ; your houses are no better 
built, nor more secured from the like catastrophe ; do 
not weaken their foundations by wilful neglects, or 
scandalous sins. 

5. ObJ. But I know some good Christians who 


114 CLOSET rilAYEl?, 

never use it, yea, who maintain that in their judg- 
ments it is not necessary, except in some extraordinary 
cases ; what say you to that ? 

Answ. I never yet met with such persons as had 
the face of religion, that ever spoke against the or- 
dinary practice of this duty of closet prayer. I con- 
fess, I have met with some, who being urged to family 
prayer, have put it off with this evasion, that they 
would pray in their closets ; how well, the God of 
heaven knows. But if the judgment of any professors, 
be so far bribed as to plead for the flesh on this neglect, 
the Lord rebuke them, and forgive them, they know not 
v/hat they say. This is a lamentation, that there is 
scarce any truth so sacred, or duty so spiritual, but it 
hath been contradicted in these licentious days ; some 
have pleaded against family prayer, catechising, chris- 
tian meetings, and what not ? but they can produce no 
solid arguments ; do not you follow their example con- 
trary to plain scripture precepts and precedents. Many 
were produced for confirmation, most whereof were not 
only in extraordinary cases, but were an ordinary prac- 
tice. And can you find the day that affords not some 
special matter to occasion you to make addresses to God 
in secret prayer ? If you be sensible and observant, 
surely you will see great need for such retirement in 
ordinary practice. Remember this, that you follow no 
man, but as he follows Christ : and I am sure our pre- 
cious Saviour used this practice. 

6. ObJ. But I find not my heart affected or pre- 
pared. Is it not a tempting of God, to go when the 
spirit doth not move me ? 

Ansiv. It is a dangerous mistake to think you may 
net go to duty but when the spirit moves you ; for it 
may be long before it stir ; the Spirit is like the wind, 
which bloweth where and when it listeth : you are 


therefore to lay youi*selves in the way of the Spirit, and 
call in his aid, which may be expected in the path of 
duty. Holy performances are, as it were, the walk of 
the Spirit, the air where he breathes ; and be sure he is 
most likely to be found in his own track ; but you can- 
not expect him in the neglect of plain duty. Try this 
way, put God to it, plead his promise; you cannot 
think to be warm, if you run from the fire. If you 
have not a disposition to pray, you must pray for a 
disposition ; for neglect, or omission of a duty, never 
fits, but always unfits for duty. If you will heed your 
trifling sjwrits, and accejJt every excuse wliich they 
make, you will never pray. If you play the truant 
one time, you will have less mind to go to God the 
next time ; guilt makes you afraid, and you dare not 
come near that God whom you have wronged ; as 
Adam run from God, and Peter would thrust Christ 
from him, when conscious of guilt. How dare you 
look God in the face, whom you have slighted ? Besides, 
you will find that neglect of duty, doth not make the 
next performance more easy, but more difficult. It 
will (as one saith) require more time and pains for you 
to tune j^oiu* instrument, than for another to play his 
lesson. And is it not more likely God should come to 
you in pains-taking, than total omission ? Do you 
not read in the Psalms, how often David begun faintly, 
and ended triumphantly? Try the Lord, and see if 
he be not better than you expect. 

7. Ohj. But, saith a poor soul, I meet with temp- 
tations when I go to God in secret ; Satan assaults me, 
I am timorous, and dare not be alone, or in the dark, 
but am affrighted. 

Answ. It is a sign the duty is good, because so bad 
a spirit opposeth it. The more Satan sees a duty is 
for the soul's advantage, the more diligent he is to hin- 


der the performance. But must Satan be gratified ra- 
ther than God glorified, or thy soul edified ? W\\t thou 
give way to him ? " Resist the devil, and he will flee 
from thee." Think not thou canst perform a flesh-dis- 
pleasing duty when Satan is quiet, and doth not molest; 
he will be busy to tempt when thou art going to thy 
God, this is no new thing ; he will jog thy hand when 
thou art writing thy letter to tliy friend in heaven. 
Think not to be more exempted than even thy Saviour 
himself; he was set upon by the devil in his solitary 
recesses in the wilderness; and, oh, the horrible nature 
of those temptations ! Matt. iv. When Joshua the 
high priest prayed, Satan stood at his right hand to 
resist him ; but the issue was good, God rebid^ed him, 
Zech. iii. 1, 2. And thus he will do for thee ; he will 
tread Satan under thy feet, and make thee n conqueror ; 
only when thou art annoyed with this foul spirit, turn 
to God, leave not thy work, let not Satan take thee off 
duty, then he would attain his end ; fall more closely 
to the work ; consider, fasting and prayer cast out the 
devil, watching and prayer are preservatives from temp- 
tation ; yea, prayer itself is a chief piece of a Chris- 
tian's armour.* If you be beat off this, you are routed ; 
this engageth God for you ; without this, you are but 
like other men, and the Philistine will put out your 
eyes, lead you captive, and make sport of you : stick 
close to this, whatever you do. Though all the devils 
in hell roar upon you, yet run to your God in prayer. 
They are sluggards, or cowards, that say, " There is a 
lion in the way," when they are called out to hard ser- 
vice or difficult duty ; nay, rather say as was once said 
in an arduous undertaking, " Here is a work fit for the 
spirit of an Alexander :" so here is a duty that becomes 
a Christian to manage. By your God you may run 
* :\Iatt. xxvi. 41. Eph. vi. 18. 


through a troop, and leap over a wall. But more of 
this anon. 

8. Ohj. But I get no good by closet prayer. I have 
used it long, and still my heart is as cold, hard, and 
dead as ever : I will give over now. 

Answ. Is not this too like the language of those that 
say, " It is in vain to serve God ?" Mai. iii. 14. And 
are you like those Atheists that think prayer is to no 
purpose ? I hope not. You think it doeth good to 
some, but not to you. Well, what is the reason ? Is 
it not because you do not pray aright? Therefore 
search yourselves, see how you prayed, mourn over 
your defects, and mend the matter. It is true, one wlio 
sees the well dry, breaks or throws away his pitcher. 
But, is God a barren wilderness ? Is it not good for 
you to draw near to God ? were they ever ashamed 
that waited on him ? Hast not thou sometimes found 
benefit by secret prayer ? God is good to the soul that 
seeks him : try again, you will not lose your labour ; 
'• be not weary of well-doing, in due time you shall 
reap, if you faint not." Let not your hands hang down, 
let not your knees grow feeble. The text tells you, 
" Your Father that sees in secret, will reward you 
openly ;" and dare you not trust him beyond sense and 
experience ? There may be more advantage from this 
duty than you are aware of; you shall not yet know 
the profit you have by secret prayer ; you must keep 
on in a patient continuance in well-doing, and not give 
over till you receive a full reward. But, oh, take heed 
of giving over prayer because you think you want pre- 
sent profit : you cannot do Satan greater service, or 
your souls more prejudice. 

9, Ohj. But I am weak in parts, and know not 
what to say ; fain I would, but alas, I cannot open my 
wants to God in prayer, I want gifts, abilities. 


Answ. I am glad to hear thee thus complain ; thou 
art fitter for praying, when thou canst lie under the 
sense of thy inability to pray, that is a useful disposi- 
tion in duty. But thou sayest thou canst not pray, 
then I will tell thee what to do ; go thy ways alone, 
and fall down upon thy knees, and plainly tell the 
Lord thou canst not pray, and entreat him to help thee 
by his blessed Spirit, which he hath promised to them 
that ask it ; tell the Lord, that thou canst not think a 
good thought, or speak a good word, without that 
blessed Spirit, but lie w^ll help thine infirmities, and 
teach thee what to say. O beg hard for that Holy 
Spirit ; and then, let some means be used to get matter 
of prayer ; you know it consists of confession of sin, 
petition for good things, deprecation of evil, and 
thanksgiving for mercies : well then, sit down, and 
think with thyself, what sins thou art guilty of, origi- 
nal or actual, of omission or commisiou ; this is too, 
too fruitful a subject ; take them home, tell God of 
them, by ingenuous confession ; then bethink thyself, 
what thou wantest at the hands of God, as pardon, 
grace, peace, hea^'en, and beg these ; consider also 
what thou art afraid of, as guilt, strength of tempta- 
tion, effects of sin, God's wrath, Satan's malice ; and 
desire the Lord to prevent and remove these, for 
Christ's sake ; and lastly, recollect what mercies thou 
hast had from God, and reckon them up to him, with 
exj)ressions of thankfulness ; do this v/ith plainness 
and seriousness ; heed not so much for exact method, 
or fine phrases ; the gilt of the key makes it not open 
the door a jot the better ; and a prayer has no more 
influence upon God, because of the neat language 
therein; but unbosom thyself plainly and seriously 
before thy God, and thou shalt find present assist- 
ance and acceptance, and future enlargements and 


encouragement. Be honest, though never so homely 
in prayer. 

10. OhJ. But I like not this stir, it is a hard and 
difficult work ; I would rather do any thing than this, 
my spirit is wonderful averse to it ; say what you 
will, it will not go down with me, to make all this ado on 
closet prayer ; it is pretty fair if I can keep up such 
duties as church and family require. 

Answ. This is the pleading of flesh and blood, this 
is the bottom of the former objections, I expected this 
all along ; if the tongue speak not thus, the heart doth. 
Let a duty be pressed home never so much, a carnal 
heart will make evasions; though the mouth be stopped, 
yet a cavilling heart will have something to say against 
a spiritual duty ; and if it cannot be mad with reason, 
it grows mad without reason, and against scripture. 
It is easier to bring arguments to convince the judg- 
ment, than to draw the will and affections to a thorough 
obedience. But, O man, wilt thou plead for Baal? 
wilt thou take the devil's part, and yield to carnal 
reason? or wilt thou baulk any divine commands to 
gratify a lazy humour, or a base lust? God forbid; 
methinks, if thou canst not obey as thou oughtest, 
yet thou shouldest take God's part, and plead for 
obedience ; Paul doth so, Rom. vii. 15, 16, though he 
saith, " What I would, that do I not, but what I hate, 
that do I," — yet saith he, " I consent to the law that 
it is good," that is, I take part with God, and join 
with God's will against my corrupt and carnal affec- 
tions, which would draw my neck from under this hea- 
venly yoke. And if you have not something within 
you that takes part with God's revealed will, you are 
not of God. But a principle of grace doth facilitate 
and make easy the hardest duties, because there is a 
likeness betwixt holy hearts and holy performances. 


Love makes every thing easy ; hence it conies to pass 
that Christ's yoke is easy. Matt. xi. 30, his ways 
pleasant, and his commandments not grievous, 1 John 
V. 3. If thy heart were right, duties would be sweet 
to thy soul ; it is no burden to eat, drink, sleep ; the 
acts of nature are delightful to persons in a right 
temper, if they be not, natm'e is opprest, and out of 
order. A child of God in duty, so far as regenerated, 
is like a man in his calling, or a creature in its proper 
element ; besides, vv^ert thou more accustomed to duty 
in secret, it would be more familiar to thee, and less 
irksome. We see by experience, use makes heavy 
things light, we hardly feel the weight of our clothes, 
because fitted to us, and constantly carried by us, where- 
as the same weight upon our shoulders would trouble 
us. Christians, consider ail christian duties are not 
of equal difficulty ; yet withal observe it, duties that 
are hardest to go through, many times bring the 
sweetest income ; and so is this, the jirofit of it will 
abundantly recompense for your pains in it ; be sure 
when a duty is lined with difficulty, and your corrupt 
hearts draw back, and have most averseness to it, there 
is something of God in that duty, and God intends you 
more than ordina-y advantage by it ; therefore do not 
say a word against it, but stir up yourselves, spiu* on 
your hearts, shake off sloth, and run to God, whatever 
Satan, the world, or the flesh say to the contraiy. 


Some Cff.se.^ of Conscience, e.vnmined and solved. 

There are yet four cases of conscience I shall 
briefly propose and answer. 

1. Case. Whether or not may a liypocrite or grace- 
less soul perform this duty of closet prayer ; and what 


difference is there betwixt a real saint and an unregene- 
rate person in this exercise ? 

Ans. It is possible a carnal man may pray in se- 
cret, but with these differences : — (1.) He is urged to 
it by the challenges of an accusing conscience, he is as 
it were dogged to it, he dare not but do it ; but a 
child of God hath a gracious principle, inclining him 
to it, from love to God, and a desire to please and en- 
joy him : yet, through the remainders of corruption, 
there is much unwillingness in the best, so that some- 
times a saint must even force himself to the perform- 

(2.) A hypocrite will not thus pray always. Job 
xxvii. 9, 10 ; it is only in some pang, or under some 
pressing affliction ; and when this favourable mood is 
over, he takes his leave of God, till whipt to him 
again in a similar way ; but a child of God is in some 
measm-e constant and diligent in the duty, though 
he may have sinful omissions and intermissions, yet 
never a total cessation from duty. Grace works the 
heart God-ward, and the soul is not content without 

(3.) A hypocrite doth not make conscience of getting 
his heart up to God in the duty, he is content with 
the work done or words said ; but a real saint hath 
most ado with his heart, that is the hardest piece of 
the work ; he dare not leave that behind him, and he 
hath difficulty in getting it along, and engaging it in 
the service. 

(4.) A carnal man keeps his round in formal duty, 
but gets nothing ; he prays to little profit or purpose, 
and indeed doth not much study to gain spiritual 
good : but a child of God is a great gainer, he obtains 
sometimes communion with God and communications 


from him ; O what good doth his soul meet with ! 
though not always, yet at times. 

2. Case. Whether a Christian may bind himself to 
the performance of this duty of closet prayer at stated 
times ? or suppose a Christian miss his times designed 
for that duty, what must he then do ? 

Atis. In general thou mayest and must swear and 
vow, that thou wilt keep God's commandments, Psal. 
cxix. 106, so doth David. And in scripture we are 
bid to make vows, and pay them to the Lord, Psal. 
Ixxvi. 11. Vowing ourselves and all that we have to 
God, is necessary. Sequestring some part of our time 
to his service is requisite ; and in some cases for some 
persons, it may be expedient to bind and task them- 
selves by a holy resolution to take so much time, at 
least every day for God's worship, also at such a time 
as may be judged most commodious from experience. 
And this may be a good help to keep in oiu* treacherous 
hearts from delay or dallying ; but to engage ourselves 
to a particular hour so punctually and unalterably, as 
not to take another, may not be so safe ; partly, because 
our times are in God's hands, and we know not what 
intervening providence may fall in to prevent our per- 
formance, whereby conscience may be entangled in a 
perplexing labyi'inth ; besides, our outward occasions, 
and the frame of our spirits, may discover a greater 
fitness at another season; yet, though I would not 
have Christians bring a snare upon their souls by vow- 
ing, yet I humbly conceive that they may consult con- 
veniences and design some time for that work and 
purpose, God willing, to keep an hour of prayer ; and 
if they be hindered by a journey or any unexpected un- 
avoidable occasions, they must mourn for it as their 
burden, redouble their diligence another time, not 


plead needless diversions, lift np ejaculations to God, 
keep a praying frame of spirit, and God will graciously 
pardon and accept them. 

3. Case. How may a Christian know that he enjoy- 
eth communion with God in closet prayer ? 

Alls. Communion with God is twofold, (1.) As to 
graces. (2.) As to comforts. Sometimes a Christian 
may feel the joy of God's salvation, have the sweet 
manifestations of his favoiu*, the smiles of his face, the 
seals of the Spirit, and lively springings of joy and 
transporting pleasures ; these carry their own evidence 
along with them : but all have not these, nor any at all 
times ; therefore the surest way is to inquire after 
communion with God, with reference to the exercise of 
grace in duty. Then hath a believer true fellowship 
with God, when by the gracious assistance of his 
Spirit the mind is knit to the object of worship, when 
the understanding is fruitful in spiritual thoughts, 
when the will and affections are carried out in strong 
and panting desires and longings after God, when 
the heart is thoroughly broken with a sense of sin, 
melted into godly sorrow, affected with the sweetness 
of pardoning grace, and ardently jileads with God for 
acceptance ; also, when the graces of the Spirit are 
exercised in the duty, such as a holy awe and fear of 
God, faith, love, humility, zeal and fervency, and a 
willingness to forgive others, as well as to be forgiven 
by the Lord. Lastly, a soul may know when it hath 
communion with God, by the consequences of duty, as 
when the Christian is more vile in his own eyes, as 
Abraham was, gives God all the glory, sees and be- 
wails his defects in the greatest enlargements, when 
the spirit is left in a better frame, and fitter to bear 
crosses, and perform after duties, &c. I do but hint 
these things. 


4. Case. Suppose I have prayed and prayed, and 
find not my heart affected ; it is dead, dull, distracted, 
I do no good ; get no good in duty, I fear I offend 
God, what shall I do ? 

Ans. Such a case is sad : yet consider, 

(1.) It may be the case of gracious hearts ; David 
was so depressed and troubled, that he coiUd not speak, 
Psalm Ixxvii. 3, 4. God's best children are sometimes 
out of frame, and their spirits unfit for duty. 

(2.) A total neglect will not mend the matter, nor 
help the frame of your hearts ; one sin will never cure 
another ; running from the fire is not the way to be 
warm ; your hearts are not better, but worse, by for- 
bearance ; omission indisposeth. 

(3.) Wiio knows but God may come at the next time? 
Keep upon the royal exchange still, ply the oars, give 
God no rest, gratify not Satan by neglect. Tradesmen 
keep their markets, though for small gains : you will 
get something at last worth your pains ; they never 
were ashamed that have waited on him ; the issue will 
be good. 

(4.) God may graciously accept thy obedience, though 
thou hast not sweet enlargement; the obedience is 
thine, the enlargement God's : he is a free agent, and 
works when he pleaseth ; he loves to see poor souls 
tug and struggle with their own hearts, though they 
can get little forward, yet they would be better and do 
better. The Father takes it well when the child is 
striving to obey him, though it fall very far short ; he 
sees the spirit is willing, though the flesh be weak, and 
accepts of upright endeavours : nay, observe it, a 
Christian's conscientious attendance upon God, without 
a sensible enjoyment of his presence, may be more ac- 
ceptable to God than when he hath the most sensible 
enjoyment ; because there is most obedience in such a 

A CinilSTIAN DUTY. 125 

duty, but in the other case a Christian is as it were hired 
to performances by the earnest-penny of enjoyment. 
O, it is a brave thing to persevere in duty under dis- 
couragements ; he that can trade when times are so 
dead, that all his wares lie upon his hand, surely has a 
great stock. So it is an evidence of much faith, love, 
and sincerity, if the soul can maintain this heavenly 
trade, when its sensible incomes are small. Yet when 
God thus withdraws from you, you must deeply lay it 
to heart, inquire the cause, make your peace with him, 
and ply the throne of grace Avith greater importunity. 
Thus much briefly, for these cases of conscience. 

And now, beloved friends, I have dispatched this 
subject concerning closet prayer, what remains but 
that we should all seriously commence the constant 
practice of this duty ? ^Vliat do ministers preach ser- 
mons, or print books for ? Is it to be seen or heard in 
public ? is it to be applauded ? or, is it not rather to 
do good to peojjle's souls ? And can people get any 
good by hearing a sound of words, or a complimentary 
reading what is written ? Is there not something else 
required of you now, even a setting about the conscien- 
tious practice of what is before you ? What say you, 
sirs, to this point ? Is closet prayer a christian duty, 
or is it not ? If it be not, why doth Christ direct us 
to the right manner of performance, and assure us that 
our Father will reward it openly ? Will God reward 
any thing but commanded duty ? There is no ques- 
tion but it is a duty ; I challenge any man to disprove 
it now, and to stand to his assertion another day before 
the God of heaven : but I thinly none will deny it to be 
duty — and, sirs, dare any man that professeth religion, 
live in the gross neglect of plain duty ? Do you think 
it is fit it should be done, and will you not do it ? 
Shall your own tongues be brought in as witnesses 


against yourselves ? Will you be like (liat son that 
said, I go, sir, but went not ? Shall God wait your 
leisure, and you will not give him a visit ? Will you 
go into your closets to make up your accounts, and will 
you not reckon straight betwixt God and your souls ? 
Dare you go from day to day under the guilt of a 
known sin ? If you do not what you have read, this 
book will fly in the face of conscience another day. 
But I am most afraid, lest Christians trifle about this 
work, and shuffle it off after any fashion, and so put 
off God with a mere outside performance, to pacify 
conscience, without that warmth and life we should 
have in our closets. It is recorded of Luther, that he 
prayed every day three hours, and even then when his 
spirits were most lively, [per tres horas, easque ad 
studia cq^tisslmas.'] Nor were his closet prayers dull, 
careless, heartless ; but so fervent and ardent, saitli 
Melancthon, that those who stood under his window 
where he stood praying, might see his tears falling and 
dropping down. But O where is this zeal and ardency 
in our secret devotion ? Are we not ready to droj) 
asleep, even upon our knees ? alas, how formal are we? 
The fire of God is wanting in our sacrifices ; nay, do 
we not take God's name in vain many times, and know 
not what we say ? O, why do we thus forget God's 
omnipresence and omniscience? Doth not he know 
our hearts, and should not we approve ourselves to 
God in our closets ? Yea, doth not Satan stand under 
our closet windows, or rather at our elbow, and hear 
what we say to God in our closets ? If you take not 
notice of your mistakes in closet prayer, Satan doth ; 
and takes advantage by them. Indeed, I have heard 
some make this a scruple, whether they should in se- 
cret confess heart sins, lest Satan should be acquainted 
with what he knew not before, and so be furnished 


with matter to accuse them ; but an ingenuous confes- 
sion prevents Satan's accusation, because we have a 
promise of remission annexed thereunto, Rom. viii. 33, 
"And who shall lay any thing to the charge of justified 
persons ?" He hath little reason to take your confes- 
sions, and throw them in your teeth ; since these are 
both the means and evidence of pardon. But if you 
have any fear of that, you may do as Hannah did in 
prayer, speak in yom* hearts, and then Satan cannot tell 
what you say, but God doth. However, neglect not the 
duty; for of this you may be sure, that Satan will obtain 
more advantage by omission or negligent performance, 
than by an ingenuous acknowledgment of heart sins, 
though he do hear you. 

Sirs, awake to righteousness, rouse up yourselves to 
the work, put not off God or conscience with a negative 
answer : you may as well say, No, as pretend and pro- 
mise to do it, and not perform ; begin the practice 
of it therefore this day, there is danger in delays ; if 
you do it not to-day, you will be more unfit to-morrow. 
At this instant, fall upon thy knees, beg a blessing 
upon this book for the good of thy soul and others, 
look upon closet prayer as thy privilege, as well as thy 
duty. It is a mercy thou mayest go to God as often 
as thou wilt, and for what thou needest. It is no small 
favour that God hath allowed thee the use of this privy 
key to open heaven's gates, when thou hast not the more 
public key of others to help thee in prayer ; yet this is 
thy encouragement, " Thy Father that sees in secret 
will reward thee openly." 




J^ractical Application* 




Christian Reader, 

J- HAVE great need to apologize for this my undertaking, 
partly because of king Solomoifs caution, Eccl. xii. 12, "And 
further by these, my son, be admonished ; in making many 
books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the 
flesh :''"' and partly because I have already obtruded several 
practical treatises upon the world in this critical age. But, in 
the passage just quoted, I suppose the wise man has a reference 
to subjects natural, political, or polemical. As for practical 
truths of a truly spiritual nature, they lie in a small compass ; 
so saith he, verse 13, " Let us hear the conclusion of the 
whole matter. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this 
is the whole duty, business, and happiness of man." True re- 
ligion consists in a right principle and unreserved obedience, to 
which every soul should be devoted ; and it also becomes minis- 
ters to preach and promote the doctrine which is according to 
godliness, to use wholesome words for people's edification, hold- 
ing faith and a good conscience. * Nor is it inconsistent with 
their present work to transmit something to posterity by writing, 
that after their decease, generations to come may have the 
truths of God always in remembrance, "f* It is true, we have 
the sacred records of infallible scripture, but practical treatises 
of godly ministers have always been accounted most excellent 
expedients to propagate religion in the world, and have proved 
successful for attaining the end. 

I have but a few reasons to assign for my present under- 

* 1 Tiin. i. 4, 5, 19. vi. 3, 4. f 2 Pet. i. 15. 

K 2 


1. The subject is exceedingly necessary ; our persons and 
our prayers would be lost, had we no intercessor ; we are ac- 
cepted only in the Beloved ; if our Lord Jesus does not hand 
poor sinners to God, woe be to them ; no gospel doctrine is 
more necessary than this ; the very satisfaction of Christ will 
do us no g0v.d without his intercession. 

2. Most people ai-e ignorant of it, or forget it in their ap- 
proaches to God ; when conscience, relations, or ministers, put 
them upon prayer, or sore afflictions or death force tliem to go 
to God by prayer, they understand little of the right mode of 
taking Christ along with them by faith, but go to God abso- 
lutely considered, or if they say for Christ'^s sake, it is but a 
com])]iment, they cannot be benefited by his mediation. 

3. I find not, in all my acquaintance with books, any one 
treatise upon this subject ; systems of divinity mention it, and 
some others glance at it occasionally, but none that I have seen 
treat purposely on it, though it is one of the fLmdamental arti- 
cles of our religion, and deserves serious consideration. 

4. Providence hath cast me into a declining condition, and 
some infirmities which render me incapable of travelling abroad, 
and even among my neighbours, so that I cannot personally 
converse with my hearers, jet my heart is much carried out 
towards them, and to God for them, amongst whom I have 
laboured in public and private, above fifty years ; and having 
preached through the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, in relation 
to the gi-eat ordinance of the Lord's supper, and having finished 
it, I was moved, partly by own inclination, and partly by the 
iniportunity of some fi-iends, to resume the thoughts of it, and 
put it into writing, which hath greatly increased and extended 
itself in my hands ; this point, I conceive, admits not of dispute, 
no such controversies having been raised about this part of 
Christ's priestly oflSce as on the other about his satisfaction on 
the cross for the sins of men, and as I love not controversy, I 
need not meddle with the many intercessors of Papists, who 
distinguish between a mediator of satisfaction and a mediator of 
intercession, the former they say is proper to Christ, the latter 
is common to saints and angels. 

Ah poor simier ! how darest thou a})pcar before the tremen- 
dous Jehovah ? Look to thy state and standing, tremble lest 
thou be found Christlcss, in duties, at death or judgment. 

I'UKFACE. 133 

God a ter- 
I death sits 

upon thy lipa, and tliou must be gone into another Avin-ld, Satan 
seizing thee, the law thundering, conscience accusing, worldly 
comforts leaving tliee, divine vengeance meeting thee, as thou 
art passing out of time into eternal torments — what wilt thou 
do ? Then, if not before, " the sinners in Zion are afraid, 
fearfulness surpriseth the hypocrites."'' Oh then your " hearts 
will meditate terror," asking, " Who among us shall dwell 
with the devouring fire ? Who amongst us shall dwell with 
the everlasting burnings P"" * But there you must dwell, there 
you must live in misery whether you will or not; death will not 
put an end to your being, but well-being. How glad would 
you be to be annihilated ? Oh, you will say, that I might lie 
in hell a thousand years, and even a thousand thousand years 
endure intolerable torments, so that after millions of years I 
might be set at liberty ; no, no, the door is shut, the gulf is 
fixed, there you are, there you are like to abide for evermore. 
Oh that you were wise to consider these things betimes, before 
they be for ever hid from your eyes. Ministers intercede for 
God with you to gain your consent, tlie Spirit strives with you, 
conscience checks, God affords helps, all tliese will be your 
accusers another day if you close not with Christ. 

Particularly, my poor neighbours and hearers, let me now 
bespeak you with all the tenderness of christian affection, as 
one going shortly to give up his accounts. Shall I meet you at 
the right hand of the Judge among the sheep, or the left hand 
with the goats .'* Whether would you hear, " Come ye blessed,"' 
or " Go ye cursed ?'''' Are you content to be banished from God, 
or desirous to be admitted into everlasting communion with 
him ? Look on these as dying words of your aged pastor. O 
that he may meet v/ith comfort another day, that he that sowed, 
and such as reaped may rejoice together. 

I have but a few hints to leave with you, which I desire you 
to receive as the last legacy of a dying man, a friend, a 

1. Thoroughly study your lost and lapsed state by your 
birth-sin ; you arc estranged from God, and so continuing must 

" Isaiah xxxiii. 14, Iji. 

134 PllEFACE. 

be for ever banished from him at death : you must be changed 
or damned. * 

2. " Search the Scriptures," there you find the way to heaven 
opened, the character of the saved, the black traits of the lost, 
with their promises, precepts, and threatenings ; lean not on 
your own fancies, but divine oracles, f 

3. Examine your consciences ; enter into the secrets of your 
hearts, commune with them, bring your hearts to the rule and 
touchstone, spend some time alone upon it, be faithfvd and im- 
partial, tremble at hazarding a mistake. .| 

4. Accuse and condemn yourselves, you will find great 
reason ; your sins are obvious to God and conscience, if you 
hide them, they will undermine you ; there are hopes that God 
will clear you, if you censure yourselves. || 

5. Ilenounce every sin ; it is sin that separates betwixt God 
and you, that is dragging you to hell, that is provoking the 
Most High against you ; crucify the iiesh with its affections 
and lusts. § 

6. Enter into a covenant with God ; solemnly renew your 
baptismal covenant ; take God as your God, and give up your- 
selves to him, defer not one day, tell the Lord you are his by 
many obligations. ^ 

7. Put no confidence in yourselves, or in any thing of your 
own ; judge you.*selves most unworthy of the high favour of co- 
venant relationship ; you may and must accoimt yourselves even 
as dead dogs before God. ** 

8. Join with God's people ; stand not at a distance from those 
that God owns ; renounce vain persons whom God rejects, sit 
not with them, but love and choose the society of saints for 
whom Christ pleads, -j-f 

9. Be much in prayer ; plead with God for a spirit of grace : 
Christ is God's gift, be thankful for him, beg of God that 

• Ps. Iviii. 3. Rom. vi. 23. iii. 19, 23. Matt, xviii. 3. 

t John V. 39. ii. 22. Acts xvii. U. 

t Vs. iv. i. 2 Cor.-xiii. 5. Gd. vi. 4. Zepli. !i. 3. 

II 1 John iii. 20. 1 Cor. xi. 31. Prov. xxviii. 13. 1 Jolm i. 8. 

§ Isa. lix. 2. 

% Ps. 1. 5. Isa. xliv. 5. 2 Cor. viii. 5. 

*• Ps. cxvi. IG. Matt. viii. 8. xv. 2?. Liikc vii. 11. 2 Sam. ix, 8. 

ft Ps. xxvi. 4. cxix. 63. Phil, ii. 10. 



through him you may liave pardon, peace, and heaven, without 
money and without price : will you not ask ? * 

10. Rest not satisfied without saving faith wliich gives inte- 
rest in Christ : remember all men have not faith ; some have 
a faith but not sincere ; yet it is absolutely necessary, there is 
no Hving, no dying without faith, "f" 

I only advert to these things at present, read the rest in this 
ensuing Treatise. 

As for you that have a principle of grace, an interest in 
Christ, admire the riches of God's grace in him, still say, 
" Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift :'' I it is the 
greatest gift that ever came out of the hands of God, or that 
ever was in the hands of man, without whom all gifts are but 
giftless gifts. Nothing you have will do you good without him, 
nothing you do is accepted without him. O admirable grace ! 
Christ is the covert that shelters you from God's wrath : he is 
the King's favourite that makes you welcome into the King of 
Heaven s presence. It was for you he came from heaven to 
earth ; it is for you that he is gone from earth to heaven, to 
prepare room and mansions for you ; l| it was for you that he was 
man, and acts as God. It is worth observing that twice did 
that excellent word sound from heaven, once at our Lord's bap- 
tism, and again at his transfiguration, " This is my beloved 
Son, in whom I am well pleased."§ jNIark it, he doth not say, 
with whom, as wdth his person, but in whom ; that is, aU that 
have interest in him, and come to God through him. O happy 
sotils, come when you will, come in whatever condition you may 
be, and you may find rehef and release. Be not discouraged with 
the splendoiu: of divine and dazzling glory : God appears in the 
cloud on the mercy-seat, and the mercy-seat is above upon the 
ark, to secure sinners from the rigour of the law, and then Je- 
hovah will meet sinners and commune witli tliem. ^ 

This is admirable condescension in God, and advancement of 
a Christian. I may say to you, " Why stand you gazing up 
unto heaven .^" ** Be not idle spectators, but really cultivators 
of piety ; imitate the blesi>ed Jesus in his life, improve his 

• John ir. 10. Isa, Iv. 1. Rev. iii. 18. 

t Eph.iii. 17. 2 Thess. iii. 2. Heb. xi. 6. 

J 2 Cor. ix. 15. || John sdv. 2. § Matt. iii. !>. xvii. 5. 

^ Lev. xvi. 2. Exod. xxv. 21. 22. ** Acts i. 11. 

136 niEFACE. 

death and resurrection, follow him in your holy meditations and 
ardent affections, send your prayers and praises after him, and 
run patiently this race that is set before you, that you may ar- 
rive in the celestial Canaan, at the new Jerusalem, the city of 
the great King, where you shall be " before the throne of God, 
and serve him day and night in his temple, and he that sitteth 
on the throne shall dwell among you."" * That this may be the 
residt of all our adorations of the true God, through Christ, is 
the prayer of, 

Thy soul's servant in the gospel, 


• Rev. vii. 15. 


Isaiah liii. 12. 

Therefore will I divide him a portion ivith the great, and he 
shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath 
poured out his soul unto death : and he was numbered 
with the transgressors, and he bare the sin of many, and 
made intercession for the transgressors. 



This is an excellent chapter, referring to the blessed 
Saviour of mankind, giving an account of his birth, 
outward abject appearance, voluntary humiliation, 
bitter sufferings, together with the cause thereof, the 
persons for whom, together with their benefit thereby, 
his patience under all his sorrows, his violent death, 
his burial, his innocency, God's pleasure and design in 
all, the efficacy and blessed fruits of his undertaking, 
in the conversion and justification of sinners, and the 
method of free grace in the application of all the work 
of our blessed Redeemer. 

The last is strongly expressed in the verse which I 
have read, including two considerations : — 

I. The promise to divide him a portion with the 


great, and the spoil with the strong ; however low he 
might be, he should be highly exalted, lead captivity 
captive, and give gifts to men, even to the rebellious ;* 
gifts of grace and glory, privileges which are the 
fruits of his purchase ; and these are not merely free 
gifts from the Father, but merited by Christ at a dear 
rate, therefore it is added, " Because he hath poured 
out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the 

But here the question is asked, Whether did Christ 
by his sufferings merit this advancement? In reply 
I answer : — 

1. Christ did not merit the personal union of the 
divine and himian natures, or his original perfections, 
or his happiness with his Father, these were essential 
to him, he was invested with these before he suffered, 
and merit must precede reward. 

2. Yet we may say that Christ's humiliation was 
the meritorious cause of his exaltation, so it is said, Phil, 
ii. 6 — 9, " He humbled himself — wherefore God also 
hath highly exalted him." But still, this must be under- 
stood, not so much with respect to his person, as to 
his church, which is his mystical body, over whom he 
is head, and which he quickens together with himself, 
" raising us up, and making us sit together, in heavenly 
places in Christ," Eph. ii. 5, 6. This is a great truth, 
yet some so understand the text, that these sufferings 
precede this advancement, not so much by order of 
causality as of antecedency, considering his exaltation 
as the consequence of his passion. 

But however it is clear from the words : — 
1. That Jesus Christ must be abased before he was 

This is showed by the mouth of all the prophets, 
* Eph. iv. 8. Psal. Ixviii. 18. 


that Christ must suffer. Acts iii. 18. And this was 
the sum of apostle's preaching, that Christ must needs 
have suffered, and risen again from tlie dead, Acts 
xvii. 3. 

2. Christ's sufferings contained a pouring out of his 
soul unto death. 

This refers to the bloody sacrifices under the law, 
given to Israel, which sacrifices were offered upon the 
altar, to make an atonement for their souls. Lev. xvii. 
11. Thus Christ truly died, \_cujn ejus evacuarentur 
vence^ sanguisque fimdcwetiir^ when the blood of his 
veins was shed, especially when the soldier pierced his 
side, " and forthwith came there forth blood and 
water," John xix. 34. It was an undoubted death, that 
there might be certain and effectual fruits of his death. 

3. Jesus Christ was " numbered with the trans- 

He that was best was numbered with the w^orst; 
he was reputed a worse person than Barabbas a vile 
murderer, John xviii. 40. He was crucified betwixt 
two thieves as the very ringleader of them, so the 
scripture was fulfiled, " He was numbered with the 
transgressors," Mark xv. 27, 28. Yea, he was rejected 
by most classes of men, he was esteemed most despic- 
able, so that his own received him not.* But O let 
Christ be the more precious in our account, the more 
vile he became for us, 1 Pet. ii. 7. 

4. Christ " bare the sins of many." 

This load was laid on the innocent Jesus, he was 
made sin for us who knew no sin, % Cor. v. 21. He 
bore the burden which we must have borne, and which 
would have sunk us into eternal torments ; yea, it 
would liave sunk him but that he was the infinite God, 
and could bear infinite weight, and could satisfy infinite 
* Isa. liii. 3. John i. 11. 


justice ; for it was the blood of God, of him that is 
God, Acts XX. 28. 

5. Jesus Christ is advanced to the highest dignity- 
after his sufferings, 

When God raised Christ from the dead, he set him 
at his own right hand in heavenly places, far above all 
principalities. — Eph. i. 20, 21. There he sits on the 
right hand of the Majesty on high ; from thence he 
will come to judge the quick and the dead.* 

6. The exalted Jesus scatters his gifts or donatives 
among the sons of men. 

This alludes to the triumphs of the Romans, wherein 
they scattered their bounty, the noble fruits of their large 
spoils. So doth Christ dispense and disperse precious 
gifts and gratuities,! the fi-uits of his glorious resurrec- 
tion, ascension and session at God's right hand, sending 
forth ministers ordinary and extraordinary, instituting 
sacraments, seals of the covenant, sending down the 
Holy Ghost in cloven tongues, communicating spiritual 
grace, valuable privileges to believers, &c. 

7. The great and strong, as well as poor and weak, 
need those important gifts of our exalted Jesus. 

The great and strong may be considered : — 

(1.) Properly in a natural sense : kings and princes 

are said to see his glory, Isa. Ixii. 2, kings' daughters 

to be among his honourable women, yea the rich 

among the people intreat his favour, ; this was literally 

accomplished in Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea 

an honourable counsellor, who were Christ's disciples. 

(2.) Figuratively ; the souls that have true grace, 

though poor in the world, are yet rich in faith and heirs 

of a kingdom ; || even if persons be conceited of their 

goodness, and think themselves rich and strong he can 

batter down their confidence, make them poor in spirit, 

* Heb. i. 3. t Eph. iv. 11. t Psal. xlv. 9, 12. 1| Jam. ii. 5. 

OF ciniisT. 141 

and fill them with true spiritual riches, as lie did Paul 
and m^ny others. 

Thus much for Christ's humiliation, and the dis- 
tribution of his spoils, the consideration of which I 
purposely wave. 

II. The latter blessed fruit of Christ's exaltation, 
consequent upon liis sufferings, is his intercession, a 
delightful subject little treated on and less considered ; 
therefore I shall on purpose take it into serious con- 
sideration. The word [y3D] signifies occurrere, to 
meet, obstruct, or hinder another's motion ; and it is 
taken sometimes in a bad sense, as when a man hinders 
another in doing good, but here it is taken in a good 
sense, for Jesus Christ stopping the wrath of God that 
comes forth against poor sinners, and meeting God 
with a design to speak a good word for poor suppli- 
cants, so some render it in this sense, [^?ro prcBvari- 
catorlbus oravit, rogavit, ohviam ivit, intercessit] that 
Christ prayed, besought the father, met him with 
entreaties and intercessions, to be gracious to poor 
sinners, shewing him the value of his blood and suffer- 

Docf. That Clirist and Christ alone makes inter- 
cession for transgressors. 

Transgressors of God's holy law have a High Priest 
in heaven to intercede for them : in handling this 
point, I shall shew, 

1. What this intercession is. 

2. For what transgressors Christ intercedes. 

3. How our Lord manageth this intercession. 

4. Why Christ only is intercessor. 
And so make application. 



The intercessor here meant is Christ himself in his 
own person, for the Holy Ghost, the third person of 
the Trinity is also in some sense an intercessor ; so 
Christ saith, " I will pray the Father, and he will give 
you [aXXoi' 7rajoav/\?)rov] another paraclete, or comfort- 
er." * But it is the same word which is applied to 
Christ, 1 John ii. 1, and rendered advocate — " If any 
man sin, we have an advocate [TrapaicXjjrov] with the 
Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Christ is the 
advocate without us, the Holy Ghost within, and 
though they always go together, yet they are thus dis- 
tinguished : — 

1. According to the economy of salvation, Jesus 
Christ principally negotiates the affairs of believers 
with God the Father ; the Holy Ghost is the divine 
agent with believers, to manage God's work in the 
world, — to testify of Christ, John xv. 26, — to reprove 
the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, John 
xvi. 8 ; and with respect to the church, to teach them 
all things, John xiv. 26, — to guide them into all truth, 
xvi. 13, — to comfort their hearts, therefore he is often 
called, " The Comforter." 

2. Jesus Christ is in heaven sitting at God's right 
hand, and makes intercession for us, Rom. viii. 34. 
But the Holy Ghost doth make intercession, or inter- 
pellation, with the saints, by directing them what to 
say in prayer, how to speak, helping their infirmities 
" with groanings which cannot be uttered," Rom. viii. 

* John xiv. 16. 


26. The SjHrit indites the Christian's prayers for him, 
this is the blessed fruit of Christ's purcliase ; hence the 
Spirit is called the Spirit of his Son, sent forth by God 
into our hearts, " crying Abba, Father," Gal. iv. 6. 
Thus all the persons of the sacred Trinity cany on the 
same design. 

But this work of intercession is more peculiarly ap- 
propriated to Jesus Christ, the second person of the 

And this word applied to Christ in the ^ew Testa- 
ment, where he is denominated irapuKkirrog, advocate or 
intercessor, hath a fourfold signification. 

1. It signifies a deprecator, that is, one that depre- 
cates evil that it may not fall upon another ; so Jer. 
xviii. 20, " Remember that I stood before thee to 
speak good for them, to turn away thy wrath from 
them." This is Christ's work by impetratiou and 
intercession, " to deliver us from the wrath to come." * 
O what flames of wrath would seize on us, did not 
Christ restrain them ! It was this angel of the cove- 
nant that prevailed with God, for tui*ning away his 
wrath from Jerusalem : " Jehovah answered the angel 
with good words and comfortable words," Zech. i. 12, 
13. Christ's prayer is always prevalent. 

2. It means {exhortator) an exhorter, a persuader, 
and one that vmdertakes to prevail with another. The 
word also doth signify consolation ; so Barnabas is 
called vioc TTapaKkncrewg, " a SOU of consolation," Acts 
iv. 36, so we read it : but it may as well be read, the 
son of exhortation, for he was very expert in persuad- 
ing and exhorting — Acts xi. 23, 24, " He exhorted 
them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave 
unto the Lord :" and it was effectual, for much people 
were added to the Lord. Thus effectual are Christ's 

* 1 Thess. i. 10. 


arguments with his Father for believers, as we shall 
hear anon. 

3. The word signifies {patronus) patron, defender, 
or niaintainer of another's person and cause, and this 
is the same with his being an advocate in a com-t of ju- 
dicature, to vindicate another's right or title according 
to law. Thus Christ doth undertake the patronage of 
his despised saints, against all those that would in any 
case wrong or abuse them ; thus all God's children 
may in him find grace to help them in time of need, 
Heb. iv. 16. It is of Christ that the church in all ages 
hath confidently asserted, " The Lord is our judge, 
the Lord is our lav/giver, the Lord is our king, he 
will save us." — Isa. xxxiii. 23. 

Once more, the word is employed to denote (inter- 
cessor, interlocutor) an intercessor or speaker on both 
sides, especially betwixt two parties that have had dif- 
ferences, who interposeth betwixt them to make them 
friends, and take up the controversy ; one that is con- 
cerned for both sides, and hath considerable interest in 
them, and doth offer his mediation : Job calls such a 
one a sm-ety, chap. ix. 33, " Neither is there any days' 
man betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us 
both." The word in Hebrew [rriDin] cometh from a 
root that signifieth to argue or reprove, such a one as 
may state the question right between us : thus the 
Lord himself was the umpire betwixt Laban and Jacob, 
in rebuking Laban : * thus doth our blessed Jesus step 
up to be arbitrator, mediator, and referee betwixt God 
and sinners. This is the case ; God and man are at 
variance in consequence of Adam's apostacy. " Now," 
saith the apostle. Gal. iii. 20, " a mediator is not a 
mediator of one, but God is one ;" he appears the same 
wise, just, holy God, under every dispensation of reli- 
* Gen. xxxi. 24. 


gion, there is no difference among the persons of the 
sacred Trinity; but there is a sad controversy com- 
menced betwixt a righteous God and sinning man. How 
must these be made friends ? Infinite love and wisdom 
have found out an expedient that is sufficient to effect it, 
even the second person of the Trinity, assuming the 
nature of man, and interposing two ways : — 

(1.) By suffering the penalty that man had deserved, 
and satisfying justice by his meritorious oblation of 
himself; " He offered himself for us, an offering and a 
sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour," Eph. v. 
2 ; " Who his own self bare om- sins in his own 
body on the tree ;" * " in whom we have redemption 
through his blood, the forgivenes of sins :" f and thus 
he hath reconciled God and man by his death on the 
cross4 This is the mystery of mysteries, the mercy 
of mercies. But this is not the point on which I am 
now to speak, but another founded upon it, which is — 
(2.) The intercession of Christ now in heaven; he is 
our advocate, because he is the propitiation for our 
sins, 1 John ii. 1, 2. Thus Christ is now in heaven 
to pursue the same design he had upon the cross, so 
that Christ's intercession sets out the perpetual efficacy 
of his sacrifice, and the continual application of it to 
believers, himself demanding from his Father for him 
and his, what was formerly merited and now looked 
on as a debt due in consequence of what Christ hath 
done and suffered. Hence it is said, " If we confess 
om* sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, 
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." j| It is mercy 
to us, but justice to Christ, who hath merited it for us, 
and doth claim it as the fruit of his purchase. 

Yet more particularly, this intercession is twofold ; 
1. Interpretative or virtual ; 2. Direct. 
* 1 Pet. ii. 24- t Eph. i. 7. i Col. i. 21, 22. || 1 John i. 9. 


1. Our Lord makes intercession more objectively 
and interpretatively or virtually, and this is by pre- 
senting himself to God in heaven ; so saith that re- 
markable text, Heb. ix. 24, " For Christ is not entered 
into the holy places made with hands, which are the 
figures of the tnie, but into heaven itself, now to appear 
in the presence of God for us." The high priests of 
old went into the holy of holies, and bore the names of 
the twelve tribes upon their breast-plate for a memo- 
rial before the Lord, Exod. xxviii. 30. Our Lord 
answers this exactly, and having finished his suffering 
work on earth, the justice of God was fully satisfied, 
and he now presents himself to the Father, in the name 
and room of all believers, and virtually speaks this 
language — " Here I am, having finished the work thou 
gavest me to do." * I have fulfilled all righteousness, 
accomplished prophecies, answered the tyj^es, and here 
I am demanding by right what thou hast promised 
me, not only for myself, but for those whom thou as- 
signedst to me by the covenant of redemption before 
the foundation of the world ; and this he demands as 
due debt, because an equivalent price is paid and jus- 
tice itself can demand no more : though it came 
freely to us, yet was bought at a dear rate by Christ. 
See Rom. iii. 24 — 26. 

2. Formally, properly, and directly, Christ makes 
intercession by praying for us. Yet this must not be 
understood literally, as though Christ did now, after 
the manner of humble supplicants, kneel down or pro- 
strate himself, as he did in the days of his flesh, with 
strong crying and tears :f but some way making known 
his desires to his Father for the good of saints, whether 
by words or signs v/ho can tell ? but in such a way as 
is suitable to his glorified state. Divines generally 

* John xvii. 4. t ^latt. xxvi. 39. Heb. v. 7- 


t-onclude that Christ's intercession is his most gracious 
will and pleasure, strongly and immoveably expressed, 
that all his members, through the perpetual virtue of his 
sacrifice may be accepted of the Father, and admitted 
with him into heavenly mansions.* This is sufficient for 
us to know, only we may be sure as it is heavenly and 
glorious, so it is always prevalent and efficacious. 

It may be further asked, whether Christ make inter- 
cession as God or as man ? The reason of this doubt 
is, because it is said, 1 Tim. ii. 5, " There is one God 
and one mediator between God and man, the man 
Christ Jesus." 

I answer, that doth not exclude his deity, but only 
assures believers of his readiness to undertake our 
cause because he is so near akin to us, being flesh of 
our flesh, and cannot deny our suits, or refuse to un- 
dertake our patronage, or intercession for us. He that 
put himself so near us in his incarnation, will not be a 
stranger now in interposing with the Father on our 

But, as mediator betwixt God and man, it was abso- 
lutely necessary he should partake of both natures in 
his passion and satisfaction, for if he had not been man 
he could not have suffisred, and if he had not been God 
he could not have satisfied : he must be God's fellovv^, 
and equal with God, | or he could not have managed 
these great works both on God's behalf and man's, 
therefore he saith, John x. 30, " I and my Father are 
one " — not only one in consent, but in essence, of one 
nature, and carry on the same design. " And no man 
knoweth the Father but the Son ;":!: he was in the bo- 
som of the Father, || and so knov/s his mind, and their 
mutual counsels, and will ask nothing but what is con- 

* John xiv. 2, 3. t Zech. xiii. 7- Phil. ii. G. 

t Matt. xi. 27. II John i. 18. 

L 2 


sistent with Iiis will. The Son of man was in heaven 
as to his Godhead, even \vhile his manhood was upon 
earth, and now his manhood is in heaven, his Godhead 
is with his church to the end of the world.* Besides^ 
as the altar sanctifies the gift, | so the Godhead of 
Christ is that blessed altar that makes his death and 
our offerings acceptable to God ; "we have an altar, 
whereof they have no right to eat, that serve the taber- 
nacle," Heb. xiii. 10 : and " by him let us offer the 
sacrifice of praise to God continually," ver. 15. 

If it be asked, when Jesus Christ took this office 
upon him to be mediator or intercessor ? I answer, 

1. From all eternity in God's decree or purpose, or 
in that covenant of redemption, contrived and agreed 
upon betwixt the Father and the Son, to which Christ 
consented ; Psalm xl. 7, 8, " Then said I, Lo I come, 
in the volume of the book it is written of me," which 
the apostle interprets of Christ, Heb. x. 7, 9 ; and God 
tlie Father consents to it, and promised to Christ be- 
fore the world began, what he would do for him and 
by hhn.^ Accordingly, all believers are predestinated 
to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, and there- 
fore are accepted in the Beloved,Eph. i. 4 — 6. 

2. From the beginning of the world, as soon as 
Adam fell from God. God liad threatened man, " in 
the day thou eatest, thou shalt die the death " || — how 
came it then to pass that Adam lived ? Doubtless, it 
M'as by virtue of Christ's intercession, who was the 
promised seed, of whom God saith to the serpent, " It 
shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel ;"§ 
meaning that Satan should put Christ to death, and 
Christ should gloriously triumph over the devil, both 
personally and mystically in his members : and this is 

* John iii. 13 Matt, xxviii. 18, 20. t Matt, xxiii. 17- 

X Tit. i. 2. II Gen. ii. IJ. § Gen. iii. 15. 


the meaning of that passage, Rev. xiii. 8, which asserts 
that " the Lamb v/as slain from the foundation of the 
world;" that is, Christ's satisfaction and intercession 
have been effectual for the salvation of believers in all 
ages, even before he appeared in the world, all sacri- 
fices having referred to him. 

3. In the fulness of time, when he was incarnate and 
manifested in the flesh. " The fulness of time is now 
come," as the apostle saith, Gal. iv. 4, 5; and though 
his main work was to redeem sinners, yet he preached 
the gospel, wrought miracles, and even in those days 
of his flesh, "offered up prayers and supplications, with 
strong crying and tears," Heb. v. 7, upon several occa- 
sions, as I shall shew hereafter. 

4. Now he is exalted to heaven, our Lord is in his 
proper element of intercession. So saith the apostle, . 
Rom. viii. 34, " It is Christ that died, yea, rather that 
is risen again, who is ever at the right hand of God, 
who also maketh intercession for us :" that is his em- 
ployment and our happiness. Yea, " upon his right 
hand doth stand the queen in gold of Ophir." * So 
pleased is Christ with his church and gracious souls, 
that he hath their persons and concerns always present 
with him ; this, this is the happiness of believers. 
This is a high privilege, a doctrine worth studying, for 
next to Christ's satisfaction upon the cross, a Chris- 
tian's safety lies in Christ's intercession : Heb. vii. 25, 
" Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost 
that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to 
make intercession for them." Observe it, the com- 
pleting of our salvation much depends upon Christ's 

* Psalm xlv. 9. 



A SECOND inquiry is, who are those that Christ makes 
intercession for ? 

The text saith they are transgressors, sinful men, that 
are fallen from God. 

Quest. Doth not Christ make intercession for the 
holy angels, that keep their standing ? 

Answ. The scripture saith of Christ, that verily he 
took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on 
him the seed of Abraham, Heb. ii. 16. 

It is a disputable point, whether Christ intercede for 
any except those that he redeemed; but the angels 
that never fell need no redemption, and the fallen 
angels are in a hopeless state — " They are reserved in 
everlasting chains under darkness." * As for the good 
angels, though they be perfect creatures, yet they are 
but creatures, and therefore mutable; and the language 
of scripture is, " Plis angels he chargeth with folly," f 
that is, comparatively, with respect to himself, who 
only hath immortality. \ The angels, though not 
actually yet potentially, may be charged with folly : 
they might possibly fall, but now they stand. Mr. 
Perkins saith, || it cannot, however, be proved that 
they stand by the virtue of Christ's redemption, but 
they are under him as he is their Lord and King, and 
by the power of Christ, as he is God and their God, 
they are confirmed. Yet we may truly say that the 
angels are confirmed by Christ's mediation. Look on 

* Jude, fi. t John iv. 18. Vid. Caryl, in loc. 

X ] Tim. vi. IG. II Perk, on Creed, 202. 


the angels in their creation, and they were naturally- 
blessed, and from that they might fall, and many of 
them did ; but now look upon them in a supernatural 
blessedness, which consists in the vision of God, which 
they have obtained by Christ ; from this they cannot 
fall, and so are by grace become immutable. Thus 
Christ is a confirmer and supporter of the angels, which 
is by his intercession, so some understand. Col. i. 20. 

But the persons for whom Christ particularly makes 
intercession are men, and transgressing men ; " he made 
intercession for the transgressors." Now, there are 
two sorts of transgressors among men : graceless, un- 
converted sinners — real saints. 

1. Unconverted souls, strangers to God, that are 
still unsanctified, in their natural state, never yet in 
covenant with God. Now, it is a great question whe- 
ther Christ makes intercession for these, because he 
saith, John xvii. 9, " I pi*ay for them, I pray not for the 
world, but for them that thou hast given me, for they 
are thine." By " the world," may be meant those that 
are at present unbelievers as the rest of the world are, 
for these he prayeth that they should believe, as he had 
before prayed for those that actually did believe : but 
he did not pray for the finally impenitent, or those that 
should die unbelievers. 

Yet there are two cases wherein Christ is said to 
pray for wicked transgressors. 

(1.) For sparing them and giving them time and 
means of repentance, and many outward mercies ; so it 
is said of the dresser of the vineyard, when justice bids 
him cut down the fig-tree, Luke xiii. 7, 8, he answers, 
" Lord, let it alone this year also." The worst of men 
are indebted to Christ for their lives, seasons of grace, 
and calls to repent. O that men thought of this ! 
(2.) Christ prayed for his miu'derers and worst of 


l)erseciitors : " Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them, 
for they know not what they do." — Luke xxiii. 34. 
Not that Jesus prayed for pardon absohitely, without 
respect to their repentance, but this is inchided, and 
his prayer was answered in the many thousands con- 
verted after his ascension. * Christ in heaven inter- 
cedes with his Father for the application of his work 
of redemption : his pm'chase prepares a plaster, his in- 
tercession applies it. 

2. Another class of transgressors are those that are 
truly godly ; it is for them that he properly and di- 
rectly makes intercession, as members of his body, pur- 
chased by him. This he doth for them in a peculiar 

You will say, Are sanctified souls transgressors ? 

I answer, Yes. The best daily sin, and transgress 
God's law in thought, word, and deed : " If we say we 
have no sin, we deceive om'selves, and the truth is not 
in us ;" and " sin is a transgression of the law:"f only 
there are sins of wilfulness and sins of weakness. Sin 
hath not dominion over a child of God.t Every child 
of God is conscious to himself of great offences, and 
may sadly lament v/itli the church, Psalm Ixv. 3, " Ini- 
quities prevail against us ; as for our transgressions, 
thou shalt purge them away :" this is through Christ's 
merits and intercession. This is a mystery. 

Quest. How shall we know what our Lord prays 
for now, in the highest heavens, on the behalf of be- 
lievers ? 

Ansiv. We must be regulated by scripture line in 
this matter ; and the best way to ascertain it is, to ob- 
serve what was Christ's prayer for his church when he 
was on earth, and no doubt he pm'sues the same design 
now he is in heaven. 

* Acts ii. 41, 47. t 1 John i. 8. iii.4. i Rom. vi. 14. 

OF CIIllIST. 153 

Now we may form some conjecture respecting it, by 
observing these few particulars : — 

1. He says plainly, John xiv. 1(5, " I will pray the 
Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that 
he may abide with you for ever." O blessed legacy ! 
It is true, the influences of the Spirit came down in an 
extraordinary manner upon the blessed apostles and 
primitive saints ; but all God's children may expect 
the effusion thereof according to their measure, a spi- 
rit of conviction, illumination, and sanctification, of 
prayer and supplication, of assurance and satisfaction : 
you may expect this blessed Spirit to descend into your 
hearts as a precious fruit of Christ's intercession * 

2. Audience of our prayers : " A^Tiatsoever ye ask 
in my name, that will I do," John xiv. 13, 14. This 
he doubles for greater security. Yea, there are two 
extraordinary expressions in John xvi. 23, "In that 
day you shall ask me nothing ;" which some take for 
resolution in case of doubting, after the Spirit is poiu*ed 
down, which shall teach all things.f Hitherto they 
had asked nothing comparatively, ver. 24. Nay, he 
saith, " I say not unto you that I will pray the Father 
for you, for the Father himself loveth you," ver. 26, 27. 
There is a mighty inclination in God's heart to hear 
you of himself, besides my intercession, so that you 
need not fear audience. 

3. Clear discoveries of God. John xiv. 20, "At that 
day you shall know that I am in the Father, and you 
in me, and I in you." This is in answer to the good 
Philip's request, ver. 8, " Lord, show us the Father, 
and it sufficeth us." It is true, Christ himself upon 
earth was the most lively image and portraiture of the 
Father,^ but the Spirit makes further and fuller disco- 
veries of God and Christ, ver. 21, " I will manifest 

* Rom. viii. 9. Gal. iv. 6. t 1 John ii, 27- t John xvi. 15. 


myself to him ;" yea, ver. 23, " we will come unto 
him," that is, the Father and Son, " and make our 
abode with him." 

4. A spirit of remembrance. John xiv. 26, " He," 
that is, the Spirit, "shall teach you all things ;" namely, 
all things necessary to salvation, edification, or conso- 
lation ; " and bring all things to your remembrance, 
whatsoever I have said unto you." O what a privilege 
is this to fortify our slippery memories, and bring up 
truths, as seed sown in the earth, to a blessed harvest ! 
Thus Paul recollects a passage that our Saviour spake, 
no where else recorded, Acts xx. 35. Doubtless his 
disciples reflected on many things that Christ did and 
spake, which weie not written.* And thus a season- 
able remembrance is a fruit of Christ's intercession, 
which is a very great mercy. 

5. Sweet peace and contentment in the spirits of be- 
lievers. John xiv. 27, " Peace I leave with you." This 
is Christ's legacy, and no doubt but he will take care 
for having it dispensed to all his people. In the world 
they must have tribulation,-}- but in him they shall 
have peace, that peace which passeth all understanding. 
O what a calm doth Christ make in the conscience of 
a perplexed sinner — centering the soul upon the Rock 
of Ages ! You can have no solid peace but by this 
method, " being justified by faith, we have peace with 
God, through our Lord Jesus Christ," Rom. v. 1. 

6. Preservation from infection in the world, or pre- 
judice by it. John xvii. 11, "Holy Father, keep through 
thine own name those that thou hast given me ;" ver. 
15, "I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of 
the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the 
evil." O blessed word ! Alas, we daily walk among 
snares and traps, allurements of a sinning world, oppo- 

* John XX. 30. t John xvi. 33. 

OV CHllIST. 155 

sitions of a persecuting world, and temptations of Satan; 
and we have treacherous hearts, that are as tinder to 
tliose baits and sparks, unless divine grace prevent us : 
it is this that Jesus Christ now prays for on oiu' behalf. 

7. Union and communion of saints. John xvii. 11, 
" That they might be one, as we are." And this ex- 
tends to all the saints in all ages ; ver. 21, " That they 
all might be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in 
thee." As there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 
and all real saints are one mystical body, so Christ 
prays that they may be one in opinion respecting all 
fundamental truths, one in endeared affection to each 
other, and join in one mutual communion. O when 
shall this prayer be heard, that all that fear God may 
" be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly 
love, in honour preferring one another."* 

8. Further sanctification. John xvii. 17, " Sanctify 
them tlu'ough thy truth : thy word is truth." Yea, 
ver. 19, " For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they 
also might be sanctified." Our Lord was to this pur- 
pose set apart to his mediatorial work, to be both priest 
and sacrifice, for the purpose of consecrating his saints 
to be a kingdom of priests, and to be more and more 
sanctified, piu'ified from corruption, and dedicated to 
God. O what a blessed design is he driving on, " that 
we may be holy as he is holy,"f and at last arrive at 
perfection in holiness. 

9. Conversion of more souls to God. John xvii. 20, 
" Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also 
which shall believe through their word." There are 
two things hinted in this text: (1.) That Christ prays 
for the actual conversion of those that were given to 
him by everlasting love : they shall at last be effectu- 
ally brought home by the means of grace ; John x. 16, 

* Rom. xii. 10. t 1 Pet. i. 16. 


"Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold ; them 
also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice." We 
poor Gentiles were God's sheep in the counsels of hea- 
ven, to whom the gospel was shortly to be sent, and 
upon whom it must be effectual. O blessed day ! O 
happy design ! when " more must be the children of 
the desolate, than the children of the married wife ;"* 
that is, the Jewish church. This is the fruit of Christ's 
purchase and intercession. (2.) He prays for them 
when they are believers ; that the Lord would receive 
them, pardon and save them, that none of them might 
perish, but that all should have everlasting life.f 

10. Christ intercedes for all his, that they may as- 
cend with him into heaven. John xvii. 24, " Father, I 
will that they also whom thou hast given me be with 
me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which 
thou hast given me." This is the top-stone of the 
Christian's happiness. No doubt Christ ascended into 
heaven, not only for himself but for his chiu'ch, and 
that not only to represent them, for " he hath made 
them sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus ;"^ 
but he is gone before into those heavenly mansions to 
prepare a place for them, John xiv. 2, 3. And he looks 
on himself as not complete till all his followers be ga- 
thered to him ; he therefore prays for their perfect 
sauctification and admission by death into glory ; and 
then they shall be glorified together || with him, in 
their souls at death, in their bodies and souls at the 

Thus I have briefly hinted at the matter of Christ's 
intercession in heaven being answerable to the petitions 
he presented to his Father upon earth, so far as we 
may conjecture by analogy when he is still carrying on 
the same design. 
• Isa. liv. 1, 2. t John X. 28. ^ Eph. ii. 6. || Rom. viii. 17- 



The third general division relates to the manner in 
which our blessed Jesus manageth this glorious under- 
taking of interceding for his church, or particular 

I told you this word imports our Lord's being an 
advocate, and as an advocate he undertakes the patron- 
age of a believer's person and cause, to bring him off 
clear before a court of judicature, to which it alludes. 
I shall accordingly prosecute it under these four par- 
ticulars : — 

1. An advocate is to hear the case stated. 

2. He is to give counsel to his client. 

3. To plead the equity of the cause. 

4. To oppose the adversary, and to answer all ac- 

1. A solicitor, advocate, or intercessor, is to be 
thoroughly acquainted with the cause on all sides, he 
must not go blindfold about so important an affair, 
he must see to evidences, examine witnesses, weigh all 
circumstances, and to these things he must attend with 
due care, wisdom, and patience, that he may give a 
right judgment; he must also be well versed in the 
law, that he may legally manage the cause. 

This is the case in the intercession of our Lord 
Jesus. He carefully regards what the soul which is 
his client, hath to say; Jer. xxxi. 18, "I have surely 
heard Ephraim bemoaning herself."* Christ as God 
knows the secret workings of the heart, he lays his ear 
at the saint's closet door ; nay, he that searcheth the 
* Heb. " In hearing I have heard." 


the heart knows the mind of the spirit;* and saith to 
the poor client as Absalom in compliment, " see thy 
matters are good and right ;"f for our Lord will not 
imdertake a bad cause ; nay, he will not only under- 
stand the client's case, but make the client to under- 
stand it himself, else he will challenge him, and say, 
you know not what you ask. Observe this, our 
advocate doth not only understand law and justice, but 
he also instructs us in reference to what we must ask 
of God ; and therefore we should come to him and say, 
" Lord, teach us to pray." :j: He will not suffer us to 
espouse a wrong cause, no more than he will patronize 
us therein, but he will rectify our mistakes, regulate 
our suits, and then undertake the cause for us ; and as 
he hears the case stated by the client, so he hears what 
the judge saith to the case. God is righteous ; " Shall 
not the judge of all the earth do right ?"|| Our Lord 
Jesus understands both sides, and will see to it that 
nothing in this whole affair be done to the prejudice 
of either party. 

2. The work of an advocate is to declare in the 
court, what is law, as well as know it, he must declare 
in open court before witnesses, how matters stand ou 
both sides ; thus doth our Lord — on God's part he de- 
clares God's displeasiu'e against the sinner for violating 
the covenant of works, and the death, and the curse, 
due to him for it. As many as are of the works of the 
law are under a curse ; § we are all dead and condemned 
by the first covenant, children of wrath as all others 
are;^ and then our Lord produceth another cove- 
nant, the law of grace, and confu*ms it, " He that be- 
lieveth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that be- 
lieveth not shall be damned, and the wrath of God 

• Rom. viii. 26, 27. t 2 Sam. xv. 3. t Luke xi. 1. 

II Gen. xviii. 25. § Gal. ill. 10. IF Eph. ii. 3. 

OF cniiisT. 159 

abides upon him;"* this Christ declares before all in 
open court, that none may plead ignorance, and gives 
counsel to the client to look to the sincerity of his 
faith and repentance, or else he is a lost sinner, not- 
withstanding all the provision Jesus Christ hath made 
in the gospel dispensation. Thus the blessed Jesus is 
the comisellor, Isa. ix, 6, and advises his client what 
method to take, that he may be rectus in curia, found 
right and upon good terms in the court of heaven. 

3. And when the poor sinner hath truly embraced 
Christ upon these terms, then our advocate pleads the 
equity and legality of the procedure, in justifying and 
acquitting the sinner according to this law of grace in 
the gospel dispensation, and declares that God may 
salvd justitici, notwithstanding infinite justice, pardon 
the condemned prisoner, because an infinite price is 
paid for him, even the blood of Godf (or of him who 
is God,) which is fully commensurate with divine re- 
quirements, the surety satisfies for the creditor, the 
king's son dies for the malefactor at the bar, and de- 
mands a release for him according to law, so that our 
dear Lord makes that bold challenge in Isa. 1. 7 — 9. 
" The Lord God will help me, who is he that shall con- 
demn ? He is near that justifieth me, who will contend 
with me?" I have paid the utmost farthing, justice 
itself cannot demand more. I am able save to the 
uttermost all that come to God by me,:}: none shall 
perish for want of full satisfaction. I have given my- 
self for sinners, and this is an offering, and a sacrifice 
to God for a sweet smelling savour ; || God himself can 
ask no more, so that now I demand spiritual blessings 
as a debt, due upon my undertaking, through rich 
grace and mercy to the sinner. O blessed contrivance, 

* Mark xvi. 16. Johniii. 30. t Acts xx. 28. 

% Ileb. vii. 25. || Eph. v. 2. 


and hence it is that the pardoning of a believing sin- 
ner united to Christ, is declared to be an act of God's 
righteousness; Rom. iii. 25, 26, "Whom God hath 
set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, 
to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins 
that are past, through the forbearance of God ; to de- 
clare, I say, at this time his righteousness : that he 
might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth 
in Jesus." It is an excellent text, and repeated for 
greater emphasis. Christ offers this propitiation to 
God, and assures us, that as certainly as the believer 
hath saving faith, so certainly shall he be justified. 
This plea our Lord makes good. 

4. But is there nothing to be said against all this ? 
are there no accusers ? Yes, and therefore our advocate 
and intercessor stands up to oppose the adversaries in 
this court, and to answer all objections. Now, there 
are four that bring in their pleas against the justifying 
of the sinner : justice, the law, Satan, and conscience. 
But our advocate nonsuits all these. 

(1.) Justice pleads against the poor sinner, and saith 
I am injui'ed, and all the attributes of God are violated 
by this man's sinning — holiness opposed, faithfulness 
questioned, mercy abused, wisdom and omniscience are 
slighted, and omnipotence provoked ; while justice 
stands engaged to be revenged on the transgressor. 
This is the flaming sword in the cheinibim's hand, 
" turning every way to keep the way of the tree of 
life," * so that the sinner cannot be pardoned and saved 
till that be removed : but Christ oiu' advocate is fully 
equal to his office, by his blood he quencheth divine 
wrath, and so delivers the sinner from the wrath to 
come.f " God," saith the apostle, Rom. v. 8, 9, " com- 
mendeth his love towards us, in that while we were 
* Gen. iii. 24. t 1 Thess. i. 10. 


yel sinners, Christ died for us : much more being now 
Justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath 
through him." " He drunk of the brook in the way, 
and so lift up his head." * This wrath is an insup- 
portable burden, and would press the creature to the 
lowest hell ; but Christ hath borne it, and it was the 
heaviest burden in all his sufferings — this made him 
cry out, " My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto 
death ;" f and put him to a non-plus, " What shall I 
say? My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken 
me ?" ^ Thus God's wrath lay hard upon him for our 
sakes, but he hath fully answered the demands of jus- 
tice, and now pleads what he has done on the behalf of 
those that do retain him as their advocate, and he is 
able to answer even infinite justice itself. 

(2.) A righteous law pleads against the sinner. 
" The law worketh wrath ;" || it comes out thimdering 
against the sinner, saying, he hath contradicted my just 
commands, and incurred the penalty of my threatenings, 
and the severest malediction ; it tells the sinner, with 
aggravating circumstances, all his offences of omission 
and commission, and fastens a curse upon him, saying, 
" Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things 
which are written in the book of the law to do tliem."^ 
Oh how formidable is this ! But behold suddenly 
after comes a relief by Christ, " who hath redeemed 
us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, 
for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a 
tree." •[[ '* His own self bare our sins, in his own body 
on the tree."** O bitter tree to Christ, O blessed tree 
to us ! Thus our intercessor stopped the mouth of the 
law, answered all its demands ; it cannot now pronounce 

* Psalm ex. 7. T jMatt. xxvi. 38. 

:}: John xii. 27- P.'Iatt. xxvii. 46*, || Rom. iv. 15. 

§ Gal. iii. 10. ^ Gal. iii. 13. ** 1 Pet. ii. 24. 



the filial sentence of condemnation upon the true be- 
liever: he perfect!}^ answered its demands by his active 
obedience, and satisfied for our breach of it by his pas- 
sive obedience. That is an excellent text, Rom. viii. 
3, 4, " For Avhat the law could not do, in that it was 
weak through the flesh," that is, through our inability 
to comply with it, " God sending his own Son in the 
likeness of sinful flesh," not that he was a sinner, but 
in the likeness of a sinner, " and for sin condemned 
sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might 
be fulfilled in us," that is, as if we had personally 
obeyed it ourselves, " who walk not after the flesh, 
but after the Spirit," namely, who live with upright- 
ness in the general course of our lives, notwithstand- 
ing our many slips and failings. But Jesus Christ 
doth cancel this bond of the Irav, as to the malediction, 
though not as to the obligation of it, to believers. And 
as to its condenming power, Christians may give that 
bold challenge, 1 Cor. xv. 55, " O death, where is thy 
sting ? O grave, where is thy victory ? The sting of 
death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law : but 
thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through 
our Lord Jesus Christ." 

(3.) The next accuser is Satan, who is called " the 
accuser of the brethren."* Sometimes he accuseth them 
to God, and oft to themselves. He is a subtle sophister 
that casts his fiery darts into our stubble souls, some- 
times to kindle innate lust in our hearts into a flame, 
and then to terrify our consciences for sins committed. 
Sometimes Satan accuseth God to saints as formidable, 
and unapproachable, and unappeasable, otherv^^hiles he 
represents God to be all made up of mercy, to draw 
them either to despair or presumption. Often he ac- 
cuseth poor sinning souls to God, as graceless and im- 
^ Rev. xii. 10. 


penitent ; but most usually he accuseth Christians to 
themselves as hopeless and irrecoverable. What shall 
a Christian do in all these difficult cases ? He must 
have recourse to his advocate or intercessor, to rectify 
his mistakes, and nonsuit Satan. We have a notable 
text for this in Zech. iii. 1 — 4, in which observe, 

[i.] Satan's action against Joshua the high priest, 
he stands at his right hand to resist him, that is, to be 
a Satan, an adversary to him. 

[ii.] The ground of this accusation, " he was clothed 
with filthy garments," some guilt upon him, this gave 
the devil too much advantage for challenging him. But, 
[iii.] Observe the angel of the Lord, Jesus Christ our 
advocate deals with him, first. By words, " the Lord 
rebuke thee," and by an excuse, " Is not this a brand 
plucked out of the fire ?" As if he had said, Alas, he 
is but newly come from Babylon, and smells of the 
burning. Secondly, He confutes the devil by deeds, 
ordering his filthy garments to be taken from him, by 
remission of his sins ; and then to be clothed with 
change of raiment, by putting on him the pure robe of 
Christ's perfect righteousness ; and lastly, setting a 
fair mitre on his head, that he may boldly execute his 
priestly office. 

And now, Satan, what hast thou to say against my 
servant Joshua ? His pardon is thy confutation, thy 
bills of indictment are all answered ; begone, thou in- 
fernal fiend, I have work for my servant to do, I have 
privileges to load him with. And thus doth our Lord 
take from Satan all the armour wherein he trusted— 
and thus he destroys the works of the devil — and thus 
the accuser of the brethren is cast down.* This doth 
our Lord for all his saints, and the like doth he against 
the devil's agents, wicked men, that are the saints' im- 
* Luke xi. 22. 1 John iii. 8. Kev. xii. 10. 
U 2 


placable enemies : at present he will confound tliem, 
and at last " consume them with the spirit of his mouth 
and the brightness of his coming," 2 Thess. ii. 8. 

(4.) The last accuser is a man's own gviilty conscience. 
This is as a thousand witnesses — this is the bailiff to 
arrest him, the witness to accuse him, the vmder-judge 
to sentence him, the executioner to torment him — this, 
this is the poor simier's hell upon earth. O what nips 
and gripes hath the convinced sinner ! It makes him 
tremble with Cain, and endangers him to lay violent 
hands on himself with Judas ; for " a wounded spirit 
who can bear?"* Yea, the guilty sinner hath "a fear- 
ful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which 
shall devour the adversaries."! His guilt constantly 
attends him as an infernal fury, he can no more flee 
from it than from himself ; and if his " heart condemn 
him, God is greater than his heart, and knoweth all 
things." i Well, but our Lord Jesus, the blessed Ad- 
vocate, knows how to silence and to satisfy conscience, 
by his mediation and Spirit. The blood of Christ 
speaks better things to the conscience than the blood 
of Abel, Heb. xii. 24. The Apostle also says, Heb. ix. 
14, " How much more shall the blood of Christ, who 
tlu'ough the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot 
to God, purge your conscience from dead works to 
serve the living God." Nothing but a plaster made of 
the blood of Christ can pacify conscience ; and by this 
blood of Jesus we have boldness to enter into the holi- 
est, Heb. X. 19, 22. Christ by his merit and interces- 
sion pacifies his Father, and then by the influences of his 
Spirit pacifies the conscience of the sinner ; when the 
sinner's conscience is like the troubled raging sea, 
Christ saith, " Peace, be still ;" this only makes a calm 
within. Thus our Lord Jesus is an advocate to purify 

* Prov. xviii. 14. t Heb. x. 27- i 1 John iii. 20. 


and pacify conscience, and make a man become a real 
friend to himself. 

Thus our Lord meets those accusations on the be- 
half of his client. 

But, mistake not, these impleadings are for different 
reasons. 1. Christ doth not encounter justice as an ad- 
versary, but to make it friendly to us, which yet we 
must stand in awe of. 2. He meets not the charge of 
the law so as to supersede it from being the rule of our 
practice, but only to deliver us from the curse of it. 
3. He so opposes Satan as not to hinder the poor Chris- 
tian's fighting against him, but to furnish arms and ar- 
gmnents against him. 4. He so meets the accusations 
of conscience as not to rock us asleep in security, but 
to be the more watchful, and establish conscience upon 
a sure basis. 

I might further add, that when our blessed advo- 
cate hath thus cleared the Christian's cause in the 
court, then he demands a final verdict, to show his 
client, and satisfy him that all things are fairly carried, 
and he is cleared from all charges laid against him ; 
and this is by divine testimony in the holy scriptures 
to the sinner's conscience, saying plainly, " Be of good 
comfort, thy sins are forgiven thee," Matt. ix. 2. And 
now the soul can make that bold and brave challenge, 
" Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?" 
Rom. viii. 33, 34. 



Before we proceed to tlie reasons for Christ becom- 
ing Intercessor, I shall briefly review the properties 
and cjiialities of an advocate engaged to intercede, that 
we may see how Christ is sufficiently qualified for this 
office ; and indeed he is beyond the rate of mortals ac- 
complished for this occupation. 

Now there are ten several qualifications of Christ 
that make him fit for this work. 

1. He is intelligent. He is very able, judicious, and 
skilful for managing this important concern. A novice 
or an ignoramus is not fit for so high an employment ; 
they would but bungle about it, and please no side. 
An attorney must exactly know the laws of the land, 
the mind of the lawgiver, the custom of the country, 
and circumstances of both parties. Such a one is our 
blessed Jesus, well accomplished for this high office 
and difficult service : Isa. xi. 2, 3, " The spirit of the 
Lord rests upon him, the spirit of wisdom and under- 
standing, the spirit of comisel and might, the spirit of 
knowledge and the fear of the Lord, — and shall make 
him of quick understanding."* Christ is omniscient, 
and knoweth all things ; he is well versed in the sta- 
tutes of heaven, yea, acquainted with the decrees of 
God ; for he was not only present in the grand trans- 
action about recovering lost mankind, but sat at the 
council table, and interprets the divine will : " The 
only-begotten Son of God, which is in the bosom of the 
Father, he hath declared him," John i. 18. All things 
* Marp:. Scent or smell. 


are delivered to him of the Father as his great pleni- 
potentiary ; he is the Judge's Son, and knows his Fa- 
ther's pleasure ; yea, he is Judge in the King's Bench, 
and Master of Requests ; he can help his clients in all 
their concerns in that court : yea, he knows the client's 
case and cause better than the client knows it himself. 
He knows what is in man, what he needs, what he 
would say ; for " he that searcheth the heart knoweth 
what is in the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh 
intercession for his saints according to the will of God," 
Rom. viii. 27. 

2. He is just, righteous, and impartial ; not taking 
bribes to pervert judgment, nor favouring some that 
are not to be encouraged, and daunting others that 
have the better cause : " He shall not judge after the 
sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of 
the ears ;" he acts not by hearsay or specious pre- 
tences, " but with righteousness shall he judge the 
poor, and reprove with equity, for the meek of the 
earth," Isa. xi. 3, 4. He will not be fee'd to embrace 
a bad cause ; no, he is exact and punctual in his pro- 
cedure ; for as he is " holy, harmless, undefiled, sepa- 
rate from sinners"* in himself, so he is in all his pleas 
and actings, for he always did the things that pleased 
God. As for man, he challengeth his most carping 
adversaries, saying, " Which of you convinceth me of 
sin ?" Yea, " the prince of this world came, and had 
nothing in him."f His greatest enemies cleared him ; 
yea, Pilate, that condemned him, said, " I find no fault 
in this man." " He did no sin, neither was guile found 
in his mouth." i Fear not mistaking or miscarrying, 
if Christ be your advocate ; never did any to this day 
detect him of any flaw or fault in managing what he 

* Heb. vii. 26. t John viii. 46. xiv. 30. 

X John xix. 4. 1 Pet. ii. 22. 


undertook, for he never undertakes any but a righteous 
cause, and manageth it righteously — you may venture 
all in his hands. 

3. He is condescending, he is of easy access, good to 
be spoken to. Though " he dwell on high, yet he huni- 
bletli himself to behold things in heaven and earth."* 
Christ is God's fellow, " thought it no robbery to be 
equal with God, yet took on him the form of a ser- 
vant ;"f and now he hears the requests of poor as well 
as rich, and espouseth the cause of the meanest pea- 
sant who is a humble client supplicating for grace and 
mercy. He despiseth not his prisoners that lie at his 
footstool ; the lower they lie, the welcomer they are. 
Solomon's mother bids him " plead the cause of the 
jjoor and needy ;" ^ so doth our blessed Solomon effec- 
tually : " Though all kings fall down before him, yet 
he shall deliver the needy when he crieth, the poor 
also and him that hath no helper," Psal, Ixxii. 11 — 14. 
Since the world began it cannot be said that ever he 
rejected an upright suitor, for he hath said, and con- 
firmed it many thousand times, " Those that come unto 
n^e, I will in no wise cast out." |] It is very emphatical 
in the Greek,^ I will not, no, I will not reject either 
their persons or suits. 

4. Another excellent qualification of this advocate 
is, that he is free, willing of his own accord to under- 
take any cause witliout any fee. You may have what 
you want of him " without money and without price." ^ 
He prevents us with his " blessings of goodness ;"** he 
begins his suit to us, and encourages us on, saying, 
" I counsel thee to buy of me gold."f f He sells not 
law, but gives it, and it easeth his heart when he gets 

* Psalm cxiii. 4—0. + Phil. ii. 6, 7- J Prov. xxxi. 9. 

II John vi. 37. § 'Ou fr) tic/BaXw fuw. 

U Isa. Iv. 1. •» P^alm xxi. 3. ft Rev. iii. 18, 


custom of poor sinners. You must come to him in 
forma pauperis, as poor beggars, and then you are 
most welcome : if you come to him begging, you will 
speed better than lie that brings bags of gold and sil- 
ver, I mean a conceit of their own merits. The poor 
publican that had but this word to say, '• God be mer- 
ciful to me a sinner," sped better than the proud Phari- 
see, that had so much to say for himself, how good he 
was, and what good he had done.* Our Lord doth all 
gratis, and looks upon it as a disparagement to his free 
grace to have his practice bought and sold, as if he 
were mercenary : there is his free Spirit, his free par- 
don, free access and acceptance — all is free. 

5. He is ready, nigh at hand, within a call, he is 
not far to seek, when his client's necessitous case calls 
for his speedy help. You need not say, " Who shall 
ascend to heaven, to bring Christ down from above ?"-}■ 
He is not so included in those celestial mansions as to 
be excluded from his church on earth ; for, saith he, 
" I am with you to the end of the world," t He walks 
in the midst of the golden candlesticks ;1| he is still 
within a call, " a present help in time of trouble." ^ 
" The Lord was ready to save me," •[[ saith good Heze- 
kiah. Daniel, Jonah, the three childi'en, and all the 
saints in all ages and straits, have found him so ; he is 
ever at God's right hand, listening what petitions you 
have to present to him, and there he is ready to pre- 
sent you to God as supplicants. 

6. He is compassionate, very sjonpathizing with all 
his members, he is not accustomed to daunt or damp 
the courage of any of his poor clients, but to allure 
them with the sweetest attractions; "Come unto me 

• Luke xviii. 13, 14. t Rom x. 6—8. 

+ IMatt. xxviii. 20 || Rev. ii. 1. 

§ Psalm xlvi. 1. IT Isa. xxxviii. 20. 


all ye that are weary and heavy laden ;"* and when 
they come he deals gently with them, he even carries 
the lambs in his arms, puts them into his bosom, 
embraces them, and gently leads them that are with 
young.f So true is what is said of our High Priest, 
Heb. V. 2, that he can have compassion on the ignor- 
ant, and them that are out of the way ; they cannot 
be more ready to confess sin, than he is ready to for- 
give ; his heart is still working for his sick and sorrow- 
ful church, and though he hath laid aside his feeling 
for himself, he still retains his fellow feeling, and can 
be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,:}: and 
cries. Oh ! in heaven, if his foot be trodden on upon 
earth ; hence it is that Christ pleads for his, not as a 
stranger, but as a kinsman, even as for himself with 
pathetical affection. 

7. He is courageous and magnanimous, he dares 
encounter the most potent adversaries, none can daunt 
him, or put him out of countenance. If all the devils 
in hell come roaring against a feeble soul, the Captain 
of oiu' salvation can encounter and will conquer them. 
Our David will overcome Goliath. He can silence the 
impertinent railings of reviling Rabshakehs, he hath 
conquered the proud Pharaohs, the Nimrods, Herods, 
and Antiochuses of the earth. Yea, he can quell the 
daring passions of a wicked heart, and the blasphemous 
objections foisted in, by the fiend of hell. Our advo- 
cate can even encounter and calm the thundering justice 
of an offended God, and pacify him towards the sinner, 
so God himself saith, Isa. xxvii. 4, 5, " Fury is not in 
me," that is, causeless or implacable anger against my 
church, " who would set the briars and thorns against 
me in battle ?" as if he had said, there is no opposing 
me by force, but I will direct my people to a right 
• Matt. xi. 28. t Isa. xl. 11. t Heb. iv. 15. Acts ix. 5. 

OF ClIllIST. 171 

method for reconciliation, " let each take hold of my 
strength," that is Jesus Christ who is called the 
strength or power of God,* as when one lays hold of 
the lifted up arm and keeps it from striking, " and he 
shall make peace with me." O the prevalence of the 
Son of God in his undertakings ! Well may he make 
that bold challenge, Isa. 1. 7 — 9, " Who will contend 
with me ? let us stand together : who is mine adver- 
sary ? let him come near unto me ; behold the Lord 
God will help me. — Our advocate always comes off 

8. He is faithful. It is true he is kind to his clients, 
yet he will not flatter them nor bear with their mis- 
takes or miscarriages ; our Lord will not deceive us 
by telling us our cause is good, when it is bad, no, he 
is distinguished for plain dealing. If we believe 
not, yet he abideth faithful,f he will be faithful to all 
his own, whatever becomes of hypocrites, and if his 
own miss it in any thing, he will rectify their mistakes. 
He informs us both of our state and cause. Thus he 
dealt faithfully with the seven churches of Asia,| he told 
them the best and worst of their case, he commends 
what is good, and condemns what is wrong in them, 
saying, " I have somewhat against thee." He is too 
just to undertake the patronage of a bad cause, or vin- 
dicate a hypocrite, but plainly exposes and utterly re- 
jects them, as he did the Scribes and Pharisees. When 
men are not able to discover, he easily can. ^Vlien the 
young gentleman. Matt. xix. 16 — 22, came in a good 
humour with that pertinent question, " Good master, 
what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal 
life?" om' Lord rectifies his mistake, and then discovers 
the unsoundness of his heart. He will by no means 
suffer his clients to go on under a mistake, but will 
• 1 Cor. i. 21. t 2 Tim. ii. 13. t Rev- ii. and iii. 


undeceive thera. And this he declares before all the 
world, that men may know what to expect, and to put 
us upon inquiring both what we have to say, and to 
promote sincerity in all that di'aw nigh to him. 

9. He is a constant intercessor and advocate. If he 
undertake the patronage of a person or cause, he will 
by no means desert them ; all promises or threats of 
the adverse party can neither bribe nor deter him ; no, 
nor can the unkindness or ingratitude of the client him- 
self, alienate his affections, or so disoblige him as to 
remove them altogether : he may indeed withdraw for 
a small moment in a little wrath, but with everlasting 
kindness will he have mercy on them.* He may cor- 
rect them sharply, but this is the fruit of his covenant 
love ; in faithfulness he afflicts them, but will not cast 
off for ever ; for having loved his own, he loves thera 
to the end;f he saith it with five negatives in a 
breath, I will not, no, I will never, no never leave thee 
nor forsake thee, Heb. xiii. 5. Nay, he is constant in 
his intercession when we have intermissions in our 
prayers ; he prayed for Peter when he was entering 
upon a temptation, and for his disciples when they 
were asleep. It would be a sad thing for us, if Christ 
were not more closely employed in his intercession, 
than we are in our prayers and devotions ; he is con- 
stantly pleading; he ever lives to make intercession 
for us in the com't of heaven : + he is still engaged. 

10. He is prevalent and successful ; he was never 
puzzled or baffled in any matter that ever he imdertook 
to this hour, he hath always won the day and come 
off conqueror : even when Satan seemed to have the 
advantage in the desert. Matt. iv. how did the Son of 
God baffle him? He hath laid prostrate all his and 
our enemies ; " Be of good cheer," saith he, " I have 

* Isa. liv. 7^ 8. t Ps. cxix. 75. John xiii. 1. X Heb. vii. 25. 


overcome the world;"* this he did mystically, as well 
as personally, yea for us and in us. He makes all his 
clients more than conquerors, even triumphers, always 
causing us to triumiih in Christ our head.f Here is 
a blessed advocate indeed, that always bears away the 
laurel of victory ; if he speak to 7nan, he speaks so as 
never man spake ; X if he speak to God^ it is in this 
form, " Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me, 
and I know that thou hearest me always," John xi. 
41, 42. The business is still carried forward on his 
side ; as soon as the motion is made, the request is 
granted ; let none of Christ's clients fear miscarriage 
if you have him on your side as an advocate to plead 
for you, yoiu" success is certain. 



It was proposed in the last place, in discussing the 
doctrinal part of the subject, to assign reasons why 
Christ and Christ alone, must be the intercessor for 

1. Because such is the vast distance and dispropor- 
tion betwixt the infinite God and finite man, that there 
is no approaching to God without an intercessor. Man's 
only happiness consists in union to, and communion 
with God : " It is good for me to draw nigh to God," 
saith David ; || indeed, our only happiness is bound up 

* John xvi 33. t Rom. viii. 37. 2 Cor. ii 14. 

X John vii. 46. 11 Psalm Ixxiii. 28. 


in conversing with God, Psalm Ixv. 4. But what in- 
tercourse can there be betwixt the infinite Majesty and 
finite man, without a middle person to interpose ? 
Kings on earth take such state upon them that they 
are not approachable by ordinary subjects without a 
favourite: but vast is the distance betwixt God and 
man, as we are his creatures, worms at his footstool, 
but he is " the blessed and only Potentate, King of 
kings, and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, 
dwelling in that light which no man can approach 
unto." — 1 Tim. vi. 15. The highest seraphim cover 
their faces, as not able to behold the gloiy of his 
Majesty. * O how much less is such a clod of earth 
able to draw nigh to him ? But that is not all ; man is 
a guilty sinner, a condemned malefactor before a sin- 
revenging judge, sitting on his throne. Our God is a 
consuming fire,f we are as dried stubble : and if they 
of Tyre and Sidon durst not come to Herod without 
making Blastus, the king's chamberlain, their friend, ^ 
surely there is no coming near God without our hea- 
venly Blastus. Luther was wont to say that JDeus 
ahsolutus, an absolute God, or a God out of Christ, 
is very formidable. God never conversed amicably 
with any creature since the fall, but through the 

2. Amongst the creatures intellectual and rational, 
there is none fit for this employment, to intercede be- 
twixt God and man, or for man with God. 

(1.) The elect angels cannot. It is true, they are 
holy, happy, near God, and ministering spirits under 
him, to convey his messages to the saints, and to con- 
vey their souls into Abraham's bosom ; but as there is 
not a word in scripture oi their interceding for us, so 
it is an oflfice above them, they died not for us, and ' 

* Isa. vi. 2. t Heb. xii. 29. % Acts xii. 20. 


have no merits of their own to shew for us, on our 
behalf, for their very standing is of grace. 

(2.) As for the saints departed, they cannot make 
intercession for us, because they know not our particular 
states here upon earth, neither can they hear our re- 
quests, therefore if we should pray to them to pray for 
us, we should substitute them in the room of God, be- 
cause we ascribe that to them which is proper for him, 
namely, the searching of hearts, and knowledge of what 
is done on earth, which are God's prerogati^'es. 

(3.) As for saints here upon earth, they have war- 
rant and command to pray one for another, but they 
can bring nothing of their own of suitable value to 
procure the granting of their requests, nor can they 
come in their own names, as deserving any such mercy 
either for themselves or others ; but for the merits' 
sake of Christ only. So we may say with Eliphaz, 
Job V. 1, " Call now if there be any that will answer 
thee, and to which of the saints wilt thou turn ?" 

3. Another reason is, because Jesus Christ and he 
alone is qualified every way to make intercession. He 
is qualified by his divine and human nature hypostati- 
cally joined together in one person, " He is over all, 
God blessed for ever,"* God of God, equal with God, 
distinguished by personal properties, for he is " the 
brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image 
of his person ;" f so that he hath peculiar interest in 
and prevalence with the Father, being one with him, ^ 
not only in harmony and consent, but in nature and 
essence : and then his human natm'e was assumed on 
piu-pose, that he might sympathize with us, " and be 
a merciful high priest in things pertaining to God, to 
make reconciliation for the sins of the people," Heb. ii. 
17. This is the first part of Christ's priestly office, in- 
* Rom. ix. 5, t Heb. i. 3. % Jol^n x. 30. 


tercessiori is the latter, wherein he shows the price he 
hath paid, and demands the fruit thereof for believers. 
None else were capable of being what our Lord was, 
and doing what he did. 

4. Because Christ and Christ only conies under a 
sealed commission for this office. " No man taketh this 
honour to himself, but he that is called of God, as was 
Aaron," Heb. v. 4. God gives him a peculiar commis- 
sion to be a priest, ver. 6. He hath a good warrant 
and an indisputable title to bear him out in all the 
parts of his office ; yea, he was instituted in another 
manner than other priests, even by an oath* — an oath 
of fidelity betwixt Father and Son, which as it confirms 
it, so it adds to the formality of it. Where is the per- 
son that can show such a patent, under the broad seal 
of heaven, to be agent for Jehovah upon earth, and 
solicitor for the saints in heaven ? He " hath given 
him authority to execute judgment also, because he is 
the Son of man," John v. 27- And doubtless oui' dear 
Lord will be faithful in his office, much more than 
Moses as a servant ; for Christ is a son over his own 
house, and therefore hath special care of it.f 

5. Because there is a special union and relation be- 
twixt Christ and believers. He is the head, they are 
his members I — and it becomes the head to plead for 
the members. They are children, he is their elder bro- 
ther || — it is requisite he should own them, and act for 
them that are helpless. They are his subjects, he is 
their king — they are his servants, and espouse his cause, 
and he espouseth theirs : he hath undertaken the pa- 
tronage of all his saints, and their defence against all 
the enemies of their salvation. This interposition for 
them is not occasional or accidental, but purposely, as 
one j)art of his office, and they daily need his help. 

* Heb. vii. 23, 21. t Heb. iii. 5, 6. + Eph. iv. lo. H Gal. iii. 2G. 


6. Because God designs his saints for very high ho- 
nour, namely, to be his special favourites* Abraham 
was his friend : these only shall be familiar with him ; 
he will communicate to them his secrets, M'hich he will 
not do to others. " Shall I hide from Abraham the 
thing that I do ?"f One reason is, that Abraham may 
plead with God for Sodom and the safety of Lot. Thus 
the Lord made Moses, Elijah, Noah, Daniel, Samuel, 
and many others, his secretaries, and intercessors for 
others. " This honoui' have all his saints, to be a peo- 
ple near unto him." ^ And those that are preferred to 
be courtiers in the King of heaven's palace, must have 
one or other to bring them into favour, and help them 
out at a dead lift, for they are often put hard to it ; as 
Moses, when God seems to rebuke him, and say, " Let 
me alone ;" || yet he would not, but goes on with his 
suit. And why so ? Doubtless Moses knew he had a 
friend in the cotu't that pleaded for him., and he found 
good success. Well, but by whose means are their 
prayers so prevalent ? Surely not for their own worth 
or importunity, but for Christ's sake. So Daniel pleads, 
chap. ix. 17, " Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanc- 
tuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake ;" that is, 
Jehovah, or the blessed Jesus. And thus God hath 
honoured his saints to be prevailing intercessors through 
Christ both for themselves and others ; and this hath 
been a credit to religion, and profit to m.any. 

7. Yet once more ; Christ is our intercessor that he 
may be honoured and rewarded for all his sufferings 
here on earth : so saith my text, Isa. liii. 12, "There- 
fore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he 
shall divide the spoil with the strong ; because he hath 
poui'ed out his soul unto death, and he was numbered 

* John XV. 15. f Gen. xviii. ] 7, 19. 

X Psal. cxlviii, 14. cxlix. 9. || Exod. xxxii. 10. 


with the transgressors, and he bare the sin of many, 
and made intercession for the transgressors." This, 
with the first part of the verse, seems to be a recom- 
pense of Christ's humiliation, at least a consequence 
upon it ; as if it had been said, It is most fit that he 
that interposed to die for believers on earth, should be 
exalted to God's right hand and intercede for them in 
heaven, and that authoritatively: Phil. ii. 6 — 11, which 
is a full comment on this text — " He humbled himself, 
and became obedient to death, even the death of the 
cross : wherefore God hath highly exalted him — that 
every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
to the glory of God the Father." God owns it as a 
debt due to Jesus, to be owned as Lord by all men, as 
the fruit of his sufferings and obedience. This Sun of 
righteousness was eclipsed, that he might shine with 
more resplendent glory in the heavenly horizon. It 
was always accounted an honour to be priest of the 
most high God ; thus Melchizedeck was greater than 
the patriarch Abraham, for the blessing of him speaks 
so much ; " and without contradiction the less is bless- 
ed of the better :"* Melchizedeck was higher than 
Aaron ; but Christ is higher than both, as the apostle 
there proves. Om* Lord is both king and priest, and is 
said to be a priest upon his throne ; he therefore man- 
ageth this mediatorial office in a princely manner, com- 
manding what is for the good of his church : " thus he 
bears the glory." f " For all power is given to him in 
heaven and earth."! And as God hath thus honoured, 
so doth he expect men should honour him in this high 
station, as our intercessor. But more of this hereafter. 

* Ileb. vii. 1— S. t Zech. vi. 12, 13. : Matt, xxviii. 18. 



The application of what has been advanced may be, 
first, by way of information in these four points con- 
cerning Jesus Christ. 

1. This office of Christ as intercessor, hath been of 
ancient standing, from the beginning of the world, or 
at least from the fall of man ; long before his incarna- 
tion, father Abraham saw his day ; David in spirit 
calls him Lord ;* yea, the whole ceremonial law repre- 
sented Christ to the senses of the Jews : the high 
priest going into the holy of holies, and people stand- 
ing without clearly represented this;f so our Lord 
Jesus was the true minister of the sanctuary of old, 
and now of the true tabernacle which the Lord hath 
pitched, not man, Heb. viii. 2, this is the holiest of all, 
eh. ix. 8. Signal and various were the appearances of 
Christ to the prophets and patriarchs in the Old Tes- 
tament ; every slain sacrifice spake Christ's death, and 
the sprinkling of blood, the sprinkling of conscience 
for remission of sins. " They did all eat the sj)iritual 
meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink, for they 
drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that 
rock was Christ," 1 Cor. x. 3, 4 ; not that the rock follow- 
ed them, but the water out of the rock, and Jesus signi- 
fied by that rock. Yea, how often did the blessed Jesus 
appear visibly as man to his saints of old, as a prelude of 
his incarnation ; that man with whom Jacob wrestled, 
was the angel of the covenant, even God himself, there- 
fore he calls the place Peniel, for saith he, "I have 
• John viii. 56. Matt. xxii. 43. + Luke i. 9, 10. 

N 2 


seen God and was preserved," Gen. xxxii. 24, 30. He 
had power with God.* And it was Jehovrh that 
Abraham stood before, to plead for Sodom, Gen. xviii. 
22. And all the saints in all ages of the world have 
had the same intercessor ; so that it is not a new in- 
vention, though a gospel revelation, for they of old had 
the same essentials of religion without us, that is, 
without our gospel discoveries they could not be made 
perfect,! ^^^V ^^^^"^ ^^ ^^ ^ clearer character ; so that 
Christ is always busy and never weary of his blessed 
work of intercession ; it is no burden to him, though 
he hath been constantly employed from the beginning 
of the world to this da)^, and v/ill be to the consumma- 
tion of all things, as long as the meanest saint shall 
live upon earth ; and when they are all gathered into 
heaven, he will deliver up his mediatorial kingdom to 
God the Father, and so God shall be all in all, 1 Cor. 
XV. 24, 28, in his essential kingdom as before the 
w^oild began. 

2. Christ's expiation and intercession are of equal 
extent. He intercedes for all for whom he satisfied 
justice, and none else. It is true, as was said before, 
the vine-di'esser interposeth for sparing the vineyard 
one year longer, and Christ prayed for his enemies, 
" Father, forgive them ;" but both v/ere in order to 
their spiritual and eternal good : for repentance was in- 
tended in sparing, and included in forgiveness, for we 
cannot imagine that Jesus Christ should pray for par- 
don to the murdering Jews, continuing impenitent. 
He therefore prays for sinners in order to their conver- 
sion, but for converted souls, as before described. Di- 
vines tell us of a threefold love that God and Christ 
have towards man : — 

(1.) A love of benevolence : so God hath no pleasure 
• Hos. xii. 3—0. + Heb. xl 40. 


in the death of a sinner, but rather that he should re- 
turn and live.* And Christ saith of Jerusalem, " How 
often would I have gathered thee ?" f Not willing 
that any should perish, but that all should come to re- 
pentance,:): which he expresseth many ways. 

(2.) A love of beneficence, in doing good to all, and 
*' his tender mercies being over all his works." || To 
the worst of men and heathens, " He left not himself 
without witness, in that he did good, and gave rain 
from heaven." § All partake of his general bounty. 

(3.) There is a love of complacency and delight ; 
this is what the Lord is j^leased to manifest towards 
his saints, and chosen ones ; this also is for Christ's 
sake, through his satisfaction and blessed intercession ; 
of these it is said in Eph. i. 6, " Wherein he hath 
made us accepted, eKapmoaiv, restored us to favour, in 
the Beloved." These are the persons in whom the 
great and holy God takes pleasure above all persons 
and things in the world ; they that are upright in 
heart are his delight, yea, the very prayer of the up- 
right is his delight. ^ These are they for whom 
Christ hath laid down his life, and these are they 
whom he bears on his breastplate in the presence of 
Jehovah. There are some that are not for a universal 
intercession, while they favour a universal sacrifice or 
propitiation ; because they cannot deny but many will 
perish for ever, which yet could not happen did Christ 
pray for them :** but they leave the death of Christ in 
the hand of man's free will, assisted only by general 
grace to make it effectual. We, however, believe that 
his sacrifice is as effectual as his intercession, and that 
he died for none but those for whom he prays, his in- 

• Ezek. xviii. 23. + :Matt. xxiii. 37- t 2 Pet. iii. 9. 

II Ps. cxlv. 9. § Acts xiv. 17. 

U Prov. xi. 20. xv. 8. •• Caryl on Job xvi. 21. p. 393. 


tercession being for the drawing out and bringing home 
the benefit of his sacrince, to those and to all those for 
whom he offered himself to God. But I waive contro- 

3. If Christ be the only advocate and intercessor for 
his church and souls, then it is a great affront to the 
blessed Jesus to substitute any others in this office ; it 
is arrogance intolerable to degrade the blessed Jesus, 
and ascribe this office to angels or saints departed. 
Alas, they know not our cares ; the dead know not 
any thing ; * " Abraham is ignorant of us, and Israel 
acknowledgeth us not." f Papists say, Yes : those 
heavenly inhabitants see all things in the world, in 
speado Trin'ifatis, in the glass of the Trinity ; but 
this would make them omniscient, and so gods. Now 
we read of some things that even angels themselves 
know nothing of, and that is of the day of judgment, the 
day and hour of it. X Indeed, where do we find that 
ever God deputed angels or saints departed to hear 
people's prayers, or to present them to God ? No, they 
never did nor will arrogate this office to themselves. 
When John fell down before the feet of the angel, he 
was twice forbid and rebuked, with this reason, " See 

thou do it not, for I am thy fellow-servant worship 

God." II And those glorious and glorified spirits give 
due deference to the mediator of the covenant in this 
weighty affair. None hath right by office to be advo- 
cate but Christ, none hath interest so prevalent in God 
as Christ, none hath merits to produce, none died for 
sinners but Christ. No, say Papists ; none except 
Christ is the mediator of redemption, but saints de- 
parted are mediators of intercession : however, the 
Holy Ghost asserts that Christ sustains both characters 

• Eccl. ix. .5. t Isa. Ixiii. 16. 

X :\Iatt. xxiv. 3(5. 11 Rev. xxii. 8, 9. 


— 1 Tim. ii. .5, 6, " For there is one God, and one me- 
diator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 
who gave himself for all." Observe it, it is he only 
who gave himself for all, who intercedes for transgres- 
sors : nothing but Christ's blood can plead for us. 
O what horrid blasphemy in that mad prayer : — 

By the blood of Thomas Becket, 

Which he did spend. 
Make us, O Christ, to climb 

Where Thomas did ascend. 

This needs no confutation ; but were that perfidious 
traitor a holy martyr, it savours of horrid blasphemy, 
and is no other than the doctrine of demons, 1 Tim. iv. 
1, as Mr. Joseph Mede fully proves in " The Idolatry 
of the Last Times." Read him and Mr. Perkin's " Re- 
formed Catholic," torn. 1. fol. 603 ; for I love not to 
rake in this puddle. 

4. Then high is a believer's privilege, if Christ be 
advocate and intercessor for transgressors. Penitent 
believing souls shall certainly speed in prayer, and 
come off well in whatsoever cause they engage. It is 
a comfort to us, to know that a godly friend prays for 
us. How was the Reverend Mr. Hildersham encou- 
raged, when, being daunted in the first sermon he 
preached, the thought occurred to him, such a good 
man is praying for me ? How much are God's child- 
ren quickened and comforted by the communion of 
saints ? Even blessed Paul saith, Rom. i. 12, " That 
I may be comforted together with you, by the mutual 
faith both of you and me." When a weaker Christian 
hears his particular case devoutly insisted upon by a 
stronger before the Lord, how doth it erect his hopes 
that God will hear ? but much more when by faith he 
is persuaded Christ is pleading his cause. When the 
poor Christian can hardly get out a sensible word, 


•well, he thinks, but my advocate can make good sense 
of this Sony stammering, which I call praying : for 
our advocate takes it in good part, as a father doth the 
child's broken expressions, passes over weakness, spells 
out his meaning, and bids him welcome. Thus he 
dealt with Hezekiah, Isa. xxxviii. 14, " Like a crane 
or a swallow, so did I chatter, I did mourn sore as a 
dove :" but this confused lamentation Avas prevailing 
rhetoric in the ears of God. Christ his friend in hea- 
ven, and the Spirit v/orking in the heart will prevail. 
He that hath given his Son for them, and his Spirit to 
them, how shall he not with them also freely give us 
all tilings ? * Christians have a large charter — all 
things are theirs, f Whatsoever they ask they shall 
have; our Lord rather challengeth his disciples for 
asking too little, nay, nothing comparatively, rather 
than too much. — See John xvi. 33 — 27. O who would 
not be a serious Christian ? Who would not seek for 
an interest in Jesus Christ? Nothing shall be left 
undone that may contribute to the Christian's happi- 
ness. If all the saints on earth, and all the angels in 
heaven interceded for you, it would not stand you in 
so much stead as Jesus singly, God's beloved Son ; he 
owns you as his peculiar treasure, a j)eople near unto 
him. I Clear np your title to him, prepare your hearts 
for him, remember you are the favourites of the Sa- 
viour, open your mouth wide and he will fill it ; || im- 
prove this liberty, enter into the King's palace, f come 
and v/elcome into the presence chamber, improve your 
interest in him, for your own souls, your relations, and 
the church of God ; be not shy, let not Satan discou- 
rage you, or your unworthiness damp your spirits, but 

* Rom. viii. 32. + 1 Cor. iii. 21. 

Z John XV. 14. Pyalm cxlviii. 14. 

11 Psahu Ixxxi. 10. § Psalm xlv. 15. 

OF CUllIhlT. 185 

come boldly to the throne of grace, that you may ob- 
tain mercy, and find grace to help you in time of need. 
— Heb. iv. 15, 16. 



There is reason for lamentation over poor graceless, 
Cliristless souls, who derive no saving benefit from 
Christ's intercession. Woe, ten thousand woes to that 
soul for which our Lord will not speak one good word ; 
though the eternal God comes against unbelievers as a 
roaring lion, and the wrath of this great King, the 
King of kings, is as messengers of death, yet oiu- Lord 
Jesus will leave them to the smarting stroke of divine 
justice. That I may awake the poor sinner, consider, 
1. Thou wast a transgressor from the womb, * es- 
tranged from God, going astray as soon as born, before 
thou couldst go, speaking lies, f before thou couldst 
speak, having a corrupt principle inclining to sin, and 
an imbecility to perform any good work, without 
strength ; :j: yea thy carnal mind is enmity against 
God, II thy heart secretly rising against any thing that 
is truly good, and the better it is the more thou dislik- 
est it, dead in trespasses and sins, without Christ : 5 
this is thy case by natiu-e, and dost thou expect Chi'ist 
will intercede for thee ? 

* Isa. xlviii. 8. t Psalm Iviii. 3. 

X Rom. V. a. II Rom. viii. 7- 

I Eph. ii. 2, 12. 


2. Thou hast added thousands of actual sins to thig 
thy original stock, and art daily increasing thy guilt, 
provoking God to wrath, so that innumerable evils do 
compass thee about, * stop the current of mercy, and 
may stop thy mouth in pleading for good. Any one of 
those sins is enough to ruin thy soul ; but thou art 
one of those that provoke God to anger continually, yea, 
it is to be feared thou art provoking to anger the Angel 
of the covenant,! by thy unbelief and impenitency ; 
how then canst thou think he will plead for thee ? 

3. Thou knowest that a real change doth always at- 
tend a relative change ; thou canst not be in Christ 
except thou be a new creature : :i: thy old frame and 
new state can never accord : you must be created in 
Christ Jesus to good works. || How can dead men 
perform acts of life ? and how can dead works please 
the living God ? No matter what thy professions or 
privileges are, all signify nothing without being a new 
creature ; § and do you think Christ will patronize the 
devil's slaves ? 

4. Canst thou hide thy depraved heart under the 
colour of a flattering tongue? Cannot the heart- 
searching God quickly find out thy hypocrisy ? Sup- 
pose thy conscience accuse thee on the approach of 
death, and thou begin to cry, Lord, Lord, have we not 
been so and so good ? Have I not some oil in my 
lamp ? Do I not sit among thy guests ? When the 
King said, " Friend, how earnest thou in hither, not 
having on a wedding garment ? The man was speech- 
less :" ^ so wilt thou be. 

5. Hast thou not reason to fear that our Lord Jesus 
will plead against thee, rather than for thee ? and the 

* Psalm xl. 12. + Isa. Ixv. 3. Exod. xxiii. 21. 

+ 2 Cor. V. 17. 11 Eph. ii. 10. § Gal. vi. 15. 

f Matt. vii. 22. Luke xiii. 26. Matt. xxv. 11. xxii. 11, 12. 

OF CIIllIST. ]87 

wrath of the Lamb is a scorching wrath. A woe out 
of Christ's mouth is heavier than the woe of the law : 
it is the Mediator's vengeance, and this, as one saith, is 
double vengeance. When Christ himself, who pleads 
for his own, shall say. These sinners have pretended 
friendship, but have trampled my blood under their 
feet ; and shall say, bring these men out and slay them 
before me : how terrible the result ! * 

6. Will not thy own conscience plead against thee ? 
Will not thy language be, Alas I was told of this day, 
ministers warned me, necessity urged, conscience 
sounded an alarm, I was summoned to worship the 
Father in spirit and in truth ; f I, however, took no 
notice but neglected duty or carelessly performed it ; I 
am convicted in mine own conscience, and cannot 
answer it ; and I am sure the judgment of God is ac- 
cording to ti'uth, which accuseth me, and I am not 
able to answer it ; I cannot plead not guilty, there is 
a witness against me in mine own bosom i — what shall 
I say? 

7. Will you at last fly to the throne of grace erected 
in the gospel ? This indeed would now relieve, if you 
have recourse to it in due time and in due order ; but 
if you make a mockery of it, and come but by halves, 
and not in gospel sincerity or universality, this will not 
help you, or if you put it oflf till death summon you, it 
will be too late : make sure work here — think not to 
put it off till death. He that now offers life upon easy 
terms, and swears he wills not the death of a sinner, || 
will then swear in his wrath, that you shall not enter 
into his rest : § and men's fawning or howling can 
never reverse the sentence ; you must endui'e the tor- 

* Heb. X. 29. Luke xix. 27- + John iv. 24. 

t Rom. ii. 15. II Ezek. xxxiii. 11. § Heb. iii. 18. 


You will say, God forbid, I hope better things, I 
hope Christ will make intercession for nie as well as 
other sinners, alas, I am a sinner as all others are ; I 
know I cannot answer for myself, but I hope Christ 
will answer for me, I will believe right. 

I answer. Thou mayest presume without any ground, 
and lull thyself asleep in that gospel cradle that was 
made for the ease of troubled consciences. 
But let me ask thee, 

(1.) "SVliat hath it cost thee to get possession of this 
hope ? What despair hath preceded ? Hast thou been 
kept prisoner under the law, shut up to this faith ? * 
Hast thou ever seen thyself lost and condemned, with- 
out other relief except casting thyself into the arms of 
Christ, after much struggling ? But if it be an easy 
indifferent faith, it is but a conceit of thine own head. 
Most men are not willing to take any pains to find out 
the state of their souls, but are content with a general 
notion that Christ is theirs, they are willing to believe 
it, and persuade themselves to believe it, without trial : 
this is a false faith and will deceive them. 

(2.) It is true all men are sinners, but all are not 
unconverted sinners ; sin hath not dominion over real 
saints, f they love it not, live not in it, hate it, fight 
against it. But alas, a carnal heart gathers encourage- 
ment to continue in sin, because grace abounds, t At 
least this sort of reasoning serves to excuse some while 
sinning : because all are sinners, I am but like others, 
I cannot help it, let him that is without sin cast the 
first stone, I hope God will not be severe to mark it, 
because it is natm-al. But to a good heart these are 
rather aggravations of sin. 

(3.) What haste do you make to get this matter well 
dispatched off your hands ? The wise man gives good 
* Gal. iu. 23. t Rom. vi. 14. J Rom. vi. 1. 

OF CHllIST. 189 

counsel, Prov. vi. 1 — 5, " Deliver thyself when thou 
art come into the hand of thy friend, go humble thy- 
self, and make sure thy friend — give not sleep to thine 
eyes," Oh, but how many nights do sinners sleep at 
uncertainties, and put off this great work of securing 
their interest in Christ, till it be too late ; they put off 
convictions, follow the w^orld, find something else to do, 
and so lose their opportimity and their souls. 

(4.) Most know not what a believing prayer means: 
*' Lord, have mercy upon me," or " God, forgive me 
my sins," or some such short compliment must serve 
their turn ; they know nothing of wrestling with God, 
by secret groans, sighs, and tears, and exercismg faith 
upon our blessed advocate that he may intercede for 
them. Most are too proud to humble themselves at 
God's footstool ; the wicked, through the pride of his 
heart, will not seek after God. * Others slight it, and 
think it more ado than needs ; and say, " ^Vhat profit 
should we have if we pray unto him." f They that 
come off with less, fare as well as those that make so 
much ado puling and whining. 

Well, sirs, if this be your frame, you put Christ out 
of office ; as to yourselves, you think you need him not 
to stand your friend, you can shift well enough with- 
out him, else you would take more pains, and be more 
thoughtful to engage him to be on your side. 

Ah poor graceless, Christless sinners, what will you 
do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation that 
shall come from far ? " To v/hom will ye go for help, 
and where will ye leave your glory ? Without me, 
saith God, they shall bow down under the prisoners, 
and they shall fall under the slain." — Isa. x. 3, 4. O, 
sirs, that will be an astonishing day, when the world 
shall be all in a flame, when the Judge shall descend 
* Psalm X. 4. t Job xxi. 15. 


with a shout, shall call up all nations, proclaiming, 
" Arise ye dead and come to judgment," shall set the 
goats on the left hand, and the sheep on the right, and 
part them to heaven or hell, ^^ith " Come ye blessed," 
and " Go ye cursed," without delay or debate. AVith- 
out this blessed advocate pleading for you, you must 
certainly be confounded ; one word from your Judge 
will summon you, his omniscience will detect your de- 
ceit, his justice will sentence you according to desert, 
and his power will execute that sentence, and your tor- 
ments shall continue to eternity ! And who is able to 
alter or reverse that di-eadful sentence ? O poor sin- 
ner, think and think again, of that solemn day, and fly 
from the wrath to come ; set thyself to task, examine 
thy conscience, study gospel terms, call thy sins to re- 
membrance with grief, hatred, serious confession, and 
self-condemnation ; post to the city of refuge, lay hold 
on the horns of the altar, give up thyself to the Lord. 
O that guilty malefactors condemned already by the 
gospel law, and leading to execution, would open 
their eyes, see their danger, and dread the consequences 
thereof! Think and think again, sinner, how many 
accusers thou wilt have at the great day — justice, Sa- 
tan, law, conscience, will bring in large indictments ; 
ministers, friends, creatures will be as so many wit- 
nesses, yea, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom thou now 
thinkest will plead for thee, will plead against thee ; 
his incarnation, holy life, preaching, and miracles — 
his agonies, prayers, tears, condemnation, and cruci- 
fixion — his resurrection, ascension, session at God's 
right hand, and coming to judgment, will all with one 
consent bear their testimony against thee, and how wilt 
thou be able to answer all these ? Will thy prayers, 
tears, good wishes, reformation, or alms-deeds, stand thee 
in stead to bring thee off? They are all ciphers, ex- 

or tiniisT. 191 

cept Christ, as the main figure, be set before them. 
Nothing will avail but Christ to intercede for thee. 
Consider what astonishment seized on Belshazzar, 
when he saw the hand-writing on the wall — " His 
countenance was changed, his thoughts troubled him, 
so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees 
smote one against another."* Even so will it be with 
thee, vrhen this writing is read : " Tekel," that is, 
" Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found 
wanting : TdEXE, thy days are numbered : Pehes, 
thy soul must be divided from thy body, and both from 
God." O dreadful day ! Tremble, O tremble now, to 
think of it ! The day of grace is past, the Spirit will 
strive with you no longer, heaven is shut upon you, 
hell is open to receive you, justice orders an arrest for 
you — all the world cannot secure you. ^Vlio can be 
bail for you ? as Eli said to his wicked sons, 1 Sam. ii. 
25, *' If one man sin against another, the judge shall 
judge him ; but if a man sin against the Lord, who 
shall entreat for him ?" as if he had said, If only man 
be wronged, man can right it, and reconcile the per- 
sons ; but if the offence be against the supreme Judge, 
what man will dare to interpose as moderator, or who 
shall make himself a judge for him ? No, no, that 
work has ceased for ever : none but he that is equal 
with God can be a prevailing advocate. See to this as 
you love your immortal souls. 

* Daniel v. 5, 6. 



It is a case of conscience of great importance, to know 
whether we have an interest in Christ, as our advocate, 
to intercede for us ; for unless Christ plead for us, nei- 
ther our persons nor our performances can be accepted 
now, nor will he plead for us at the last day before the 
great tribunal ; and then we are cast and lost for ever. 

In resolving this weighty case, I shall propose to 
you these ten questions : — 

1. Hath the Spirit of Christ pleaded and prevailed 
with you ? If hitherto you have stood out against the 
gracious pleadings of the Holy Ghost with your souls, 
to convince and convert your hearts, do not imagine 
Christ will plead for you ; for these run parallel, and 
answer each other. Christ will not own you as bre- 
thren, except you be God's sons by regeneration ; you 
must be members of his body, otherwise he will not 
own you. He prays not for the world, but for those 
that God hath given him by conversion.* The Spirit 
of God conquers those for whom Christ intercedes. Sin 
hath alienated us from God — grace unites us to him. 
The poor blind man could say, " Now we know that 
God heareth not sinners," John ix. 31. The loudest 
vociferations of unconverted souls, he regards no more 
than the howling of a dog, or the roaring of a bear.f 
They scorned him, and he slights them ; so he saith, 
Prov. i. 24, 28, " Because I have called and ye refused, 
then they shall call upon me, but I will not answer ; 
they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me." 
* Jolui xvii. 9. t Amos viii. 3. 

iNTnicnssioN of ciiiiist. 193 

This is a lex talioms, a just requital. Souls without 
sincerity are none of the favourites of heaven; you 
must yield yourselves to God, or think not he will con- 
descend to you. He hath sent his Spirit in his word 
to treat with sinners, and this is, to 77opa;cXi)roc, the in- 
tercessor for God, as Christ is our intercessor M'ith God ; 
and the Spirit's plea is, to " convince the world of sin, 
of righteousness, and of judgment," John xvi. 7 — 11. 
Have your souls been thoroughly convinced of your 
being under the power of unbelief, whatever your pre- 
tences have been to faith, and that you must have a 
righteousness better than your om^i, even Christ's, or 
you are undone and condemned for ever ? Deal faith- 
fully with God and your own consciences. Hath the 
Spirit of God, by conviction, taken you off all false 
bottoms ? hath it dismounted you from your conceits 
and vain imaginations, levelling every high thing that 
exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and 
bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience 
of Christ?* 

2. Are you the persons that plead against them- 
selves? Christ will be advocate for him that doth 
most censure, accuse, and condemn himself at God's 
bar : so the text, 1 Cor. xi. 31, "For if vre would judge 
ourselves, we should not be judged." This would put 
the devil out of employment, and God himself in kind- 
ness would not charge the sinner with that with v/hich 
he hath charged himself. Conscience is as a thousand 
witnesses ; it first arrests and impeacheth him before 
God's tribunal, produceth more against himself than 
all the world can accuse him of or knows of, in conse- 
quence of which he applies the threatening to himself; 
he saith, I am guilty, and obnoxious to God's wrath, I 
am silenced, and have not one word to say for m vself 
* 2 Cor. X. 4, 5. 



why sentence should nut be executed : the Lord is 
righteous if he cast me into hell this instant; my 
moutli is stopped, and I am become guilty before God.* 
Now doth the blessed Jesus interpose and plead for the 
poor sinner, and this is of divine appointment, in com- 
pliance with the order, " Deliver him from going down 
to the pit, I have found a ransom." f You will say, 
how is this consistent with 1 John iii. ^0, "If our heart 
condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and know- 
eth all things :" so that it should seem the supreme 
Judge will much m.ore condemn us ? I answer, this 
text speaks of a passive condem.nation by an accusing 
conscience, when men stifle it, and do what they can 
to avoid or evade its censures, which was the case of 
Cain, Saul, and Felix, that found out diversions, and 
were loth to attend or yield to its remonstrances ; but 
when a man is active in self-condemnation and joins 
v.ith it, when he takes the part of God and conscience 
against himself, this is a great duty and good property, 
and God will take such a soul's part, and our Lord Je- 
sus will intercede for it. "What sayest thou, soul ? dost 
thou voluntarily arraign th}'self, hold up thy guilty 
hand, ingenuously confess thy sins, own hell torments 
as the proper fruit thereof? Canst thou find nothing 
good in thyself for which God may acquit thee, and 
Vv'ilt thou justify God if he condemn thee ? Then thou 
art the person of whom Jesus Christ will undertake 
the patronage. But if thou justify thyself as the Pha- 
risee, saying, God, I thank thee I am not so bad, or so 
great a sinner as others ; then saith our Lord, Plead 
for thyself, and bring thyself off if thou canst : here is 
a poor self-condemning Publican standing afar off, not 
daring to lift up his eyes to heaven, crying out, " God 
be merciful to me a sinner !"| This, this is the man 
* Rom. iii. 10. t Job x.xxiii. 24. + Luke xviii. 13. 


that I will plead for and justify, not the other. See 
the difference of these. 

3. Art thou laid under the sense of thy wants and 
great exigencies? "The whole need not the physician, 
but they that are sick."* They that are 7^ecti in cu^ 
ria, right in God's court, need not an advocate. This 
follows on the former ; due sensibleness is the fruit of 
conviction ; and indeed " the Son of man is come to 
seek that which is lost."f All are lost, but he finds 
none savingly except those that feel themselves in a 
lost condition. The poor sinner saith, with David, " I 
have gone astray like a lost sheep f\ then Christ will 
seek and save him. And indeed none will seek for a 
sui-ety but the debtor — none desires or much cares for 
an advocate but he that is a necessitous client — none 
stands upon relief but the beggar. Let a Laodicean 
professor come in, he will say, " I am rich and in- 
creased with goods, and have need of nothing ;" j| nay, 
then, saith Christ, here is no work for me, shift for 
thyself. O, but saith the soul that is poor in spirit, 
and seeth himself in a forlorn state — woe is me, I am 
the chief of sinners, the least of all saints, if a saint, an 
ignorant, impotent, vile wretch : how am I estranged 
from God ? how long have I been the devil's vassal ? 
My fear is, that I am in the gall of bitterness, and in 
the bond of iniquity ; other lords have had dominion 
over me : J I see nothing but bare walls about me ; 
help I must have : whither shall I go ? to whom shall 
I flee ? Where is the advocate that will undertake my 
desperate cause ? that hath interest in the Judge, and 
may bring me off clear who am a condemned malefac- 
tor ? Is there any to be found that can drav/ up a 
petition to the Judge for my life, for the life of my 

* Matt, ix 12. t Matt xviii. 11. % Ps. cxix. I76. 

II Rev. iii. 17, § Acts viii. 23. Isa. xxvi. 13. 

o 2 


soul ? " Men and brethren, what shall I do ?" * are 
there any hopes ? " Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?"f 
Eternal salvation is now the great concern, all other 
things are but trifles. It is to such sensible souls as 
these that our Lord reveals himself to bring them ofl". 
4. Hast thou regarded Christ and studied his medi- 
atorial office ? Christ will not lead sinners blindfold 
into this privilege : as they know their danger, so he 
will make them know their remedy. Indeed, Christ 
crucified is the chief object of the Christian's know- 
ledge : " I determined," saith Paul, " not to know any 
thing among you, save Jesus Christ and him cruci- 
fied :" 1 and again, " That I may know him and the 
power of his resurrection." || Yea, it becomes the 
Christian also to regard Christ at the right hand of 
God, and his employment there. J But observe it, it 
is not enough to know these things notionally, but they 
should also be known experimentally and practically, 
so as to be transformed into the very nature and image 
of Christ, to be buried with him by baptism into death, 
to rise with him, and walk in newness of life : being 
dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ 
our Lord :^ so to rise with him, as in some sense to 
sit with him in hea^'enly i)laces, ** not only as he re- 
presents us, but as our hearts are vvith him, " seeking 
the things that are above," our affections there, our 
desires and delights above. -ff Our Lord bears none 
upon his breastplate in the holy of holies, but such as 
are united to him, and conformed in their measure to 
his mediatorial undertaking, for he that is joined to 
the Lord is one spirit, ^i that is, he is naturally one 
with him in love, and spiritually one by faith, as 

* Acts ii. 37. + Acts xvi. 30. J 1 Cor. ii. 2. 

II Phil. iii. 10. § Col. iii. 1. 5F Rom. vi. 4—11. 

^* Eph. ii. 5, 6. ft Col. iii. 1, 2. :*;+ 1 Cor. vi. I7. 


Christ dwells in his heart by faith ; * hence, saith the 
apostle, Gal. ii. 20, " I am crucified with Christ, ne- 
vertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me." 
Conformity to Christ is an inseparable attendant of re- 
lation to Christ ; for this is a certain rule, whosoever 
hath a true interest in one of Christ's offices, purchases, 
or undertakings, hath also a title to, and benefit from 
all: for God will not parcel out his Son's merits or un- 
dertakings as men do in selling their commodities in 
shops, that measure out as much as suits the customer's 
turn, and leave the rest — nothing in our Lord is such 
refuse commodity. You must have all or none, and 
what comes not within the reach of experimental feel- 
ing, may be gathered from what a Christian feels sen- 
sibly in his own soul : for example — he that feels the 
fruit of Christ's office, as Prophet and King, may con- 
clude he is also his Priest, that he died for him on the ■ 
cross, and intercedes for him in heaven ; when the 
soul is savingl/ illuminated, sin mortified, the heart 
quickened, then you may conclude that Jesus Christ is 
improving his sacerdotal office for you, in his interces- 
sion at God's right hand ; for our Lord saith to Peter, 
" If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." f 
Mind this, look at what you feel in your own hearts, if 
you would know what Christ doth for you in heaven. 
5. Hast thou retained Christ as thy advocate ? No 
counsellor can justly plead the client's cause, except he 
be retained and have fees. It is true, Christ takes no 
fees yet faith retains him, and he will not plead your 
cause except you act faith upon him ; it is by faith that 
the king is held in the galleries ;i sincere faith appro- 
priates Christ, it takes him aside and engageth him to 
be a friend ; " My beloved is mine," saith the believer, 
•' and I am his ;"|| I will not go to God without him, yea, 
• Eph. iii. 17. t John xiii. 8. X Cant. vii. 5. H Cant. vi. 3. 


if I have him, I have God ; " My Lord and my God," he 
loved me and gave himself for me ;* I would not for a 
world be without a title to Christ, I must have him 
or I am undone ; " what things were gain to me, those 
I count loss for Christ ;"f O that I may be found in 
him as the poor client in his advocate ! Alas, I am 
only as a briar and cannot stand before the consuming 
fire of divine justice, but I am resolved to take hold of 
thy strength, that I may make peace with thee, Isa. xxvii. 
4, 5. O for a well-grounded faith ; " Lord, increase 
my faith ; help my unbelief ;"i: if I had but faith as a 
grain of mustard-seed, I should remove mountains ; 
however, I will reach after my dear Lord, I will follow 
after, " if that I may apprehend that for which also I 
am apprehended of Christ Jesus ;"|| I will pursue 
apace, and when I have got hold of him, I will hold 
him fast, and not let him go, until I have brought him 
into my mother's house, that others may be delighted 
with him as well as I.J Lord, thou hast said, that 
those that come to thee, thou wilt in no wise cast 
out ; ^ I come to thee, draw me, draw me with cords of 
love ; surely thou dost not use to reject clients, Jesus 
Christ makes intercession for all that come to him :** I 
am not worthy to be received, but I have thy promise 
to accept me, which is thy bond, and I will sue it while 
I retain mine advocate, and renoimce all others; I 
hope it is not groundless presumption, for thou didst 
at last accept and commend that woman's faith, who 
resolutely followed thee, though she had no command, 
promise, or example in particular, yea, she had some 
checks, yet depending on thy compassionate nature, 
thou didst graciously own and commend her. Matt. 

• John XX. 28. Gal. ii. 20. t Phil. iii. 7, 8. 

t Luke xvii. 5. Mark ix. 24. || Phil. iii. 12. 

§ Cant. iii. 4. If Jolui vi. 37- ** Heb. vii. 25. 


XV. 21 — 28. Lord, it is thine office and proper work to 
be thus employed, and I will retain thee. 

6. Doth the Spirit of grace make intercession within 
you ? This is a great truth that Christ makes inter- 
cession for none in heaven, but those that pray by the 
assistance of the Spirit. These always go together, 
Rom. viii. 26. 27, "Likewise also the Spirit helpeth 
our infirmities, — it maketh intercession for us with 
groanings that cannot be uttered : and he that search- 
eth the heart knoweth what is in the mind of the 
Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints 
according to the will of God." Christ at God's right 
hand, and the Spirit in the hearts of believers, have 
the same object in view. It is not the gift of prayer, 
but the grace of prayer, that God takes notice of; it 
is not our own spirit, but the Spirit of God, which is 
the Spirit of adoption, crying, Abba, Father,* and this is 
the Spirit of his Son, namely, Christ, he knows and 
owns the least whimper of his Spirit working in his 
children's hearts, and will echo to it above. None 
can rationally expect that our Lord should plead for 
such as plead not for themselves ; nor is it any kind 
of pleading that is owned, but praying in the Holy 
GIiost,f depending upon and feeling his enlivening 
influences. The body of the sun is in heaven, its 
beams dart upon earth, and draw up sap into trees 
from the roots, and make the earth fruitful : the per- 
son of Christ is in heaven, but his Spirit is in the 
hearts of believers, actuating their faculties, and draw- 
ing up their hearts to God in duty. O what strong 
and powerful reflections God-wards doth the Christian 
feel ! he is often beyond nature, and above himself, in 
a transport of grief, desire, jo)'', and delight in God ; 
whence comes this? surely not from any power the 
• Rom. viii. 15. Gal. iv. 6. f Jade, 20. 


200 iNTEllCESSiOJi^ 

Christian can exert of himself; the third person of the 
Trinity is at work within, as the second is at work 
above, carrying on the same design. It is true, some- 
times the exercise of grace may be intermitted, and 
the Spirit's assistance suspended when Christ is em- 
ployed for the gracious soul ; but there is the habit of 
grace, where the Spirit assists and Christ intercedes for 
Jnen. Dost thou then pour out thy heart like water 
before the face of the Lord ?* dost thou groan and be- 
wail with bitter lamentations for sin, with earnest 
supplications for mercy? is thy heart lifted up in 
thankful acknowledgments of mercy ? Jacob had power 
over the angel, and prevailed.f How was that ? the 
text saitli he wept and made supplication, yea, he 
wrestled and in a sort wrested a blessing out of his 
hands. | Almighty God suffers himself to be overcome 
by weak and sinful creatures, this comes to pass by 
the Holy Ghost joining with believers in their prayers, 
and the Lord Jesus in heaven pleading their cause, 
by which they become prevalent, and have power with 
God. If the fire of God be on the altar of the heart, 
the smoke of this incense comes with the prayers of the 
saints, and ascends up before God out of the angel's 
hand, II If thy heart be carried out to God, then thou 
art upon Christ's heart. Our Aaron bears the names 
of the children of Israel upon the breastplate of judg- 
ment, when he goeth into the holy place, for a memorial 
before the Lord continually.^ 

7. Dost thou regulate thy prayers and conduct ac- 
cording to the will of God ? Do not think that Jesus 
Christ will patronize thy petitions if thou counteract 
his pleasure ; if thou study the precepts thou mayest 
plead the promise-:. The love of any sin spoils the 

• Lamb. ii. 19. t Hos. xii. 3, 4. + Gen. xxxii. 24. 

ji Rev. viii. 3, 4. § Exod. xxviii. 29. 


fruit of our prayers. If you regard iniquity in your 
hearts, God will not hear your prayers.* Disown sin 
or he will disclaim you. " God heareth not sinners, but 
if any man be a worshipper of God and doth his will, 
him he heareth."| Not that you can expect to be sin- 
less, but sincere haters of sin, fighters against it, that 
it may not have dominion over you. More parti- 
cularly, your prayers must ba regulated according to 
the will of God for matter, manner and end ; " Ye ask, 
and receive not, because ye ask amiss, to consume it 
upon your lusts."! The Pharisees prayed to be seen 
of men, they had their reward ; it was a poor reward 
to be applauded as saints, when they were arrant 
hypocrites. II Besides, you must bottom your prayers 
on scripture precept, promise, or i)recedent ; for if we 
ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us, and 
then we know we have the petitions we desired of him, 
1 John v. 14, 15, that is, we may be assured our peti- 
tions are filled up in heaven, and shall be granted in 
God's due time, for which it becomes us to wait ; for 
God's preceptive will is the rule of our petitions, his 
disposing will is the rule of our submission. He bids 
us pray, " Thy will be done,"J and Christ himself 
saith, " Not as I will but as thou wilt." ^ It becomes 
not beggars to be choosers, but we should refer our- 
selves to God, and say, the will of the Lord be done, 
God is wiser than I am to know what is good for me, 
and when is the fittest season to bestow mercy. If 
thy will be melted into God's will, thou mayest pray 
with Luther, fiat voluntas mea quia tua, let my will 
be alone mine, because it is thine, there shall not be 
two wills betwixt us, I freely resign up my will to 
thee. Then you may be assured Jesus Christ takes 

• Psal. Ixvi. 18. + John ix. 31. t James iv. 3. 

II Matt. vi. 5. § Matt. vi. 10. ^ i\Iatt. xxvi 39, 


your cause in hand, and it shall succeed — see to this in 
a special manner : for if you contradict his will, you 
invalidate Christ's intercession as far as it respects 
yourself, for Christ doth nothing but what is according 
to his Father's commandment.* 

8. Art thou an advocate for God, and the interests 
of Christ? All the saints are Jerubbaals, pleaders 
against sin and idolatry.f True Christians must earnest- 
ly contend for the faith which was once delivered 
unto the saints ; + they must not be neuters or ambo- 
dexters ; if you expect Christ should take your part, 
you must take his. When the question is asked, 
" Who is on the Lord's side ? " do you as the sons of 
Levi, "gather yourselves unto the Lord?"|| do you 
separate yourselves from sin and sinners, as David, 
who could say, " I have not sat with vain persons — I 
will not sit with the wicked ;" § God forbid I should 
be confederate with God's enemies ? Nay, do you 
resolve by God's grace to resist unto blood, striving 
against sin ? ^ do you contend hard for precious truths, 
pure ordinances, and practical godliness, wherein the 
glory of God and welfare of souls are nearly concerned? 
In indifferent things Paul will become all things to all 
men, but to false brethren in weighty cases, he saith. 
Gal. ii. 5, " To whom we gave place by subjection, no, 
not for an hour ; that the truth of the gospel might 
continue with you." The pious soul is peremptory for 
God, will not yield a hair, nor leave a hoof behind, 
where the essence of religion is concerned, and the 
honour of God. This is indeed a Shibboleth, it may 
come to this, that you must either sin or suffer ; and if 
you confess him before men, it is as certain that he 
will confess you before his Father, otherwise he will 

• John X. 18. t Judges, vi. 32. J Jude, 3. 

11 Exod. xxxii. 26. § Psal. xxvi. 4, 5. IT Heb. xii. 4. 


not, Matt. X. 32, 33. Do you sympathize with Christ 
and his members ? Dotli the care of all the churches 
lie upon you ?* Are you like minded with the saints, 
naturally caring for the good of souls ? f Do you 
prefer Jerusalem above your chief joy ? Do you pray 
for the peace of Jerusalem ? Are you the Lord's re- 
membrancers to give him no rest, till he establish his 
Jerusalem a praise in the earth ?t If you will not 
plead Christ's cause, how can you expect he will plead 
yours? Hath not Christ deserved that you should 
speak a good word for him ? not accidently or by the 
by, but purposely, and expressly ; the Psalmist saith, 
" Prayer also shall be made for him,"|| that is, not for 
Christ personal, but for Christ mystical, his church, 
cause or interests. You are no real member of Christ, 
unless you duly regard his cause ; your own concerns 
will be swallowed up in his ; but if you mind your 
own things, and not the things of Christ; J if you 
mind your trades, profits, preferments, and matter not 
whether religion sink or swim, our Lord will leave 
you out of his prayers. If men be careless of Christ, 
he will be as regardless of them, for truth hath said it, 
" Them that honour me, I will honour ; but they that 
despise me shall be lightly esteemed.^jj 

9. What experience have you had of returns to 
your prayers ? God never answers prayers, but on 
the account of his Son's intercession. Now if you 
have truly found that the Lord liath given a gracious 
answer to your prayers, you may infer your interest in 

Ques. But how may a Christian know that his 
prayers are answered in mercy? 

• 2 Cor. xi. 28. t Phil. ii. 20. 

t Psal. cxxxvii. 6. cxxii. 6. Isa. Ixii. 6, 7- il Psal. Ixxii. 15. 
§ PhiLii. 21. H 1 Sam. ii. 30. 


Ans. If thy heart be prepared or established, God 
then causeth his ear to hear.* When the soul takes 
more delight in God himself, than in the mercy solicited. 
When the soul is eased of its burden, on pouring out 
its complaint before God.f AMien the mercy is brought 
to our hands through insuperable difficulties, as in 
Abraham's having a son. t When God facilitates the 
producing of the mercy, as in Israel's deliverance out 
of Egypt, jl When God dips the mercy in covenant 
love. When God is seen in the mount of extremity. J 
When the mercy prayed for and obtained, leaves the 
soul in a more humble, fruitful, thankful frame. When 
a holy flame of love and zeal descends from the altar 
to the hearth of the heart,^ and many more evidences, 
experienced by the gracious soul, which cannot be here 
recited. And indeed I dare appeal to the praying saint, 
whether he have not found some satisfying testimonies 
coming along with the mercy prayed for, whereby he 
may perceive it comes in mercy, from peculiar love, 
either from the soul's qualification for it, the means 
and manner of its coming, the season and circumstances 
attending it, together with the effects and consequences 
thereof; all which will demonstrate this truth, that 
some mercies come in answer to prayer. And what 
then ? was it the goodness of the prayer absolute- 
ly considered, that obtained the mercy? No such thing, 
it was only Christ as the meritorious and efficient 
cause, by the Spirit's assisting the Christian in prayer, 
as the means and condition of audience of prayer: 
so that the whole praise is due to Christ, to God 
in Christ, as the object and author, and mediator, 
procuring these good things for us. What workings 

• Psal. X. 17. XXX vii. 4. t 1 Sam. i. 18. 

: Rom. iv. 17. II Exod. ii. 23. xi. 3. 

§ Psal. Ixxxvi. 1 7. Gen. xxii. 14. IT 1 Chi-on. xxi. 23. 

OF ClIUIST. 205 

of heart have you in eridearediiess of soul to him ? 
Can you truly pronounce that sweet doxology, Eph. i. 
3, " Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, 
in heavenlies, a' roT^ iirovpavioiq, in Christ ;" that is, 
places or things, more properly. Are your hearts 
more endeared to Christ for every mercy you receive 
from God, as being the fruit either of Christ's purchase 
or intercession ? 

10. Hath the grace of God kept thee humble and 
vile in thine own eyes ? You will never prize Christ, 
till you despise yoiu'selves : our Lord will not be all in 
all with you, till you be nothing at all in your own eyes : 
you must go out of yourselves in every performance, or 
you will not appear in Christ. That is a notable cha- 
racter of a thorough -paced Christian, Phil. iii. 3, " For 
we are tlie circumcision," there is heart sanctification 
— " which worship God in the spirit," there is scrip- 
tural adoration — " and rejoice in Christ Jesus," there 
is well-grounded exultation — " and have no confidence 
in the flesh," there is the bottom and top grace of self- 
denial. Indeed, let a Christian's accomplishments be 
angelical, his enlargements seraphical, his obedience 
exact and universal, yet he mars all if he boast of 
them, trust to them, and do not go out of himself to 
Christ for justification and acceptance : our Lord will 
say of such a one, he is resolved to stand upon his own 
bottom, he needs none of my satisfaction or interces- 
sion, see what he will make of it, his best righteousness 
is but finite, and will not answer the demands of infi- 
nite justice. Surely the self-condemning publican will 
speed better than the vapouring Pharisee : he that is 
of least account in his own eyes, is of highest account 
in God's. The apostle Paul knew how to stand upon 
his punctilios whilst he was a Pharisee, and was ready 


to say witli tLe proud pai)iat — cwUnn gratis non acci- 
piam, I will not have pardon and heaven at free cost, 
I will give my merits, my penny shall be in exchange 
as a valuable consideration for what I ex])ect from God, 
or else I will liave none of it ; nay, I can do more than 
God requires, and have some works of supererogation 
to spare for others that are defective. \Vell, thou 
proud l)eggar, thou needest none of my alms, go to an- 
other door, thou shalt go without from me : I will re- 
serve my gifts for them that are poor in spirit, and 
will be beholden to me. But Saul became another 
man, when divested by conviction and conversion of 
all his towering imaginations, and made a Paul, that 
is, little in his own eyes ; yea, nothing at all, though 
not behind the chief apostles : yea, less than the least 
of all saints, the chief of sinners : yea, he even at pre- 
sent accounts his best accomplishments and attainments 
but as dung and dross. * Yet mistake not, as though 
graces and duties, issuing from the Spirit of God, and 
practised by the believer in the state of grace, are such 
contemptible things in the eyes of either God or man ; 
but if set in Christ's room, they are put out of their 
place, and to be disowned. Alas, saith the believing 
soul, what are my best duties without Christ, but as a 
cipher without a figure, a body without a soul, a sacri- 
fice without fire ? I despair of access to God, or ac- 
ceptance with God without Christ : he hath said it, 
and I feel it, " without me you can do nothing :" and 
I am only accepted in the beloved : in myself I am as 
an unclean thing, and all my righteousnesses are as 
filthy rags : God may justly cast me off, and spread 
dung upon my face, even the dung of my solemn 
feasts, t When I have even fasted, prayed, obeyed, 

» 2 Cor. xii. 11. Eph. iii. 8. 1 Tim. i. 15. Phil. iii. 8. 
t John XV. 5. Eph. L 6. Isa. Ixiv. 6. MaL ii. 3. 

OF CliltlST. 207 

and done my best in acts of religion ; yet my Lord 
hath taught me, and I see need to comply, " when you 
shall have done all those things whicli are commanded 
you, say, we are unprofitable servants." — Lukexvii. 10. 
Our best works are not available to justification, nor to 
take off the guilt of one sin : my only confidence is in 
Christ, his merits and atonement must satisfy for my 
guilt, his intercession must make way for my approach 
to God : in this new and living way must I draw nigh 
to him. O for a true heart, and full assurance of 
faith. * 



These directions are, in the first place, intended to 
urge careless sinners to look after a saving interest in 
Jesus Christ, that their guilty souls may have some 
protection from the flaming sword of justice. 
Secondly, To instruct pious persons — 

1. In what cases we must employ our advocate. 

2. How we must conduct ourselves under this glo- 
rious privilege. 

I. This is a certain and solemn truth, that some 
souls are without Christ, f that is, without a saving in- 
terest in him. Ah poor sinners, how can you live, 
how dare you die, and how think you to appear before 
the tremendous tribunal at the great day without an 
advocate ? Can you defend your conduct ? No, no, 
* Heb. X. 20, 22. f Eph. ii. 12. 


how can man be just with God? If he contend with 
you, you cannot answer for one of a thousand. '^' He 
is too wise to be deceived by cunning hypocrites, he is 
too strong to be conquered by the workl's daring 
champions. Either you must take this Benjamin along 
with you, or you cannot see your sovereign's face with 
comfort. What shall I say ? What words shall I use 
to persuade you to accept of Christ as your advocate ? 
I have discovered your dangerous state in what has 
been advanced ; loth I am to leave you in this naked, 
condemned state : how can you escape if you neglect 
so great salvation ? f I beseech you in the bowels of 
Christ, as you love your own souls, and would come 
off at the great day with comfort, look after a title to 
this blessed advocate. 

I shall urge, first, some arguments ; and secondly, 
give some directions in this case. 

1. Consider that not one drop of saving mercy can 
descend to your souls but through Christ ; you are 
ready to cry, Mercy, good Lord, mercy — that is the 
thing you want, but as Jehu said to Ahab, " What 
hast thou to do with peace ?" X So, poor sinner, what 
hast thou to do with mercy till thou be engrafted in 
Christ, through whom all saving mercy flows ? God 
will not cast a propitious eye upon thee, but through a 
mediator. It is very observable in the time of the 
law, that, 

(1.) None might come into the holy of holies, where 
the mercy-seat stood, but the high priest, -which signi- 
fies, we have nothing to do with mercy but through 
Christ our High Priest. 

(2.) The high priest must not come near the mercy- 
seat without blood, 1| to show that we have no right to 

* Job ix. 2—4. + Heb. ii. 3. 

i 2 Kings ix. 18. || Lev. xvi, 14. 


mercy but through the expiatory sacrifice of Christ's 

(3.) The high priest might not upon pain of death, 
come near the mercy-seat without incense ; * for there 
is no mercy to be expected from God without the in- 
cense of Christ's intercession ; mercy swims to us only 
through the blood of Christ. You may cry, and crave, 
and be loudly imjDortunate for mercy, but you will be 
nonsuited unless you have a title to- Christ. Consider 
this, sinner, and haste to the city of refuge, lest the 
a^Tuger of blood overtake you. 

2. You are in daily need of supjilies of mercy, you 
cannot live a moment without some help from heaven. 
" In God we live, move, and have our being:"! we 
need common mercies, meat to nourish us, clothes to 
keep us warm, beds for lodging, houses to shelter us 
from the heat of summer and the cold of winter ; we 
need seasonable weather for seed-time and harvest : 
and we are daily forfeiting these mercies into the 
hands of justice, yea, and om* lives also. It is worth 
observing, that when Noah had offered his sacrifice, 
and God is said to smell a sweet savour, that is, only 
through Christ the mediator ; it is added, " I will not 
again curse the ground any more for man's sake:" 
he also promiseth seed-time an i harvest. — Gen. viii. 
21, 22. Alas, sirs, without Christ your very blessings 
are cursed ; t though they be materially blessings, yet 
they are formally and eventually curses, unless per- 
fumed with Christ's intercession : the curse of the Lord 
is in the house of the wicked, let it be never so sump- 
tuously furnished. || Nay, you are indebted to Christ's 
intercession (in some sort) for the sp:-ring of your lives, 
else you had been in hell before this day, but this is 

* Lev. xvi. 13. t Acts xvii. 28. 

+ Mai. ii. 2. I! Prov. iii. 33. 



only common intercession for the worst w ho remain on 
probation, and will not hold long. 

3. Consider therefore, you have a time, and hut a 
time, to get an interest in this blessed Jesus to inter- 
cede for you: when your short life is expired, and your 
advocate is to seek, you are lost for ever. Now is the 
accepted time, now is the day of salvation.* The great 
assizes hasten apace — as yet you may find an advocate 
— tarry till your breath be stopped, and your state is 
liopeless : he that you may now have for your advocate, 
will then be your Judge, and will be inexorable. Now 
bestir yourselves, set matters straight before you, come 
into the court, get hold of Christ : you may have him, 
you must have him, or you will be vmdoubtedly cast, 
condemned, and executed. Oh remember the foolish 
virgins that went too late to seek for oil, and found the 
door shut ; after ail their trying, " Lord, Lord, open 
to us," f they found no entrance, because they had 
missed the right door, Jesus Christ the true door of the 
sheep, i Get in at this door, or you will be shut out 
for ever. 

4. You will be every day less and less capable of 
looking after this intercesssor. You think a few words 
at last must needs oblige him to interpose for you ; if 
you have but time to say, " Lord, be merciful to me for 
Christ's sake," you conceit such a compliment will then 
charm him to be your friend. Alas, by your sinning 
you daily harden your own hearts, set God at a further 
distance from you, increase your guilt and provoke 
God against ycu. || He m.ay now say, go to the gods 
whom you have served — what right have you to call 
upon me ? Have you gratified Satan all your days, 
and do you think to take sanctuary under my Ming 

* 2 Cor. vi. 2. f IMatt. xxv. 10, 12. 

i John X. 7- II Heb. iii. 13. 

OY cnuii,T. 211 

now in a storm ? Getting a title to this blessed advo- 
cate, is not with a word by the way, it will cost you 
hard tugging to obtain this privilege. Look to your- 
selves, get this highly important affair adjusted in 
God's way and time, or take your leave of it for ever. 
Now or never. 

5. Consider the cares and griefs the Son of God un- 
derwent, that he might be in a capacity to become an 
intercessor for you ; not but that Christ could have 
spoken a good word for man, if he had not been incar- 
nate, but that he may effectually, according to divine 
ordination, undertake this office, he must put himself 
into our nature, continue a season on earth, suffer 
death for us, endure God's wrath and the curse of the 
law. " It behoved him to be made like unto his bre- 
thren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High 
Priest, in things pertaining to God, to make reconcilia- 
tion for the sins of the people : for in that he himself 
hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them 
that are tempted."* — Heb. ii. 17, 18. And shall the eter- 
nal Son of God become man, endure such contradictions 
of sinners, live a sorrowful life, be betrayed, accused, 
condenmed, spit upon, bear the cross, be nailed to it, 
and die to redeem us, rise again, ascend to heaven to 
intercede fur poor sinners, while transgressors so much 
concerned, neglect and slight him, or do not employ 
him? God forbid. 

6. Our Lord still follows the suit, using all means 
and methods to prevail with sinners to accept of him 
for their intercessor. How^ many affectionate sermons 
did he preach in tlie days of his pilgrimage ? Yea, he 
wept over Jerusalem, uttering thosa afiecting words, 
" O that thou hadst known in this thy day, the things 
that belong to thy peace !" f What bov/els of love 

* See Heb. v. 2. t Luke xix. 40, 41. 

r 2 


are yearning over poor skinners ! and since his ascen- 
sion he hath sent his Spirit to move men's consciences, 
and his ministers, as ambassadors, to beseech poor sin- 
ners to be reconciled to God* — and will not all this 
prevail ? Who ever heard of a counsellor court a 
client at this rate ? And whether is this profit to him, 
or advantage to you ? It is true, it is a pleasure to his 
heart to do you good, but you will reap the benefit by 
it. O gratify then the heart of Christ, which he takes 
as a recompense for all his pains, and show not your- 
selves ungi-ateful. 

7. The terms he requires are easy, safe, and honour- 
able, upon which he will be your intercessor, yea, such 
as nothing shall hinder but your own wilfulness. All 
that he demands is your cordial accepting of him : 
John i. 12, " But as many as received him, to them he 
gave power to become the sons of God, even to them 
that believe on his name." What can be easier ? here 
are no fees to be paid. Will you say you will have 
none of him ? Doth he call you to give him any thing 
but yoiu'selves ? and are you not his own by right ? 
Doth he bid you part with any thing but your lusts, 
which are your greatest enemies ? What say you 
now? what rational objections can you make against 
this blessed bargain ? The fault is your own if you 
be not happy : for so himself hath determined it, John 
v. 40, " And you will not come unto me, that you 
might have life." 

Object. Doth he not say, John vi. Q5^ " No man 
can come unto me, except it were given unto him of 
my Father ?" How can I believe except God give me 

I answer, God's free grace and man's duty are very 
consistent. Phil. ii. 12, 13, " Work out your own 
• 2 Cor. V. 20. 


salvation, witli fear and trembling ; for it is God that 
worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good plea- 
sure." God gives men natural faculties and lays them 
under moral obligations, and if they wilfully neglect 
God's appointed means, the fault will be charged on 
them, not on God, who is an absolute sovereign and free 
agent, and is beforehand with them : and they that 
will not do what they can, have no reason to charge 
God for not doing what they cannot ; their own con- 
sciences will be sufficient witnesses against them, since 
men will not bestow a thought upon it, but judge 
themselves unworthy of eternal life, * and seem care- 
less and unconcerned whether God show mercy, or 
Christ intercede for them or not ; they will not ask a 
question, or stir a foot towards Christ, so that their 
destruction is of themselves, and they must be con- 
demned as wicked and slothful servants, f I do there- 
fore entreat you, charge and command you, in the 
name and by the authority of my sovereign Lord and 
JNIaster, to whom we must shortly give account, that 
you put not off any longer, but immediately take 
God's mode of securing Christ, the darling of heaven at 
God's right hand, to become your friend, as you hope 
to speed now and another day in that celestial court. 

Some directions were next proposed to be given on 
this subject, that Christ may be chosen as intercessor 
by sinners ; and I might refer you to the marks of 
such as have interest in Christ's intercession, as helps 
also to obtain it — namely, the Spirit's pleading and 
prevailing with men. sensible sinners taking God's part 
and pleading against themselves, lying under a sense 
of want, studying Christ's mediatorial office, with ex- 
perience thereof, laying hold of him by faith, and so 
retaining him ; the Spirit helping our infirmities, rc- 
• Acts xiii. 46. t Matt. xxv. 26. 


gulating our prayers and conversation according to 
God's will, being an advocate for Christ and his in- 
terests, consciousness of acting suitably to returns of 
prayer, and denying ourselves in all. These are not 
only characters of the Christian for whom Clirist inter- 
cedes, but due qualifications necessary in thope that 
expect that our Lord should intercede for them; be 
sure you look after them, or else you miss your end. 

But besides these, I shall lay before you these seven 
considerations to help you in an affair so important as 

1. Solemnly consider what are the essentials of pre- 
vailing prayer. It is not rattling over a form of good 
words, but the main essentials of a right prayer are 
these four : — 

(1.) The subject or person praying must be a child 
of God ; " The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination 
to the Lord ; but the prayer of the upright is liis 
delight."* The person must be pious, in favour with 

(2.) The act of prayiiig must proceed from a heart 
engaged to God, with holy hands, without wrath or 
doubting;! for right ends: the primary end, God's 
glory ; the secondary, our good, according to God's 
word, with submission to his will. 

(3.) It must be praying in the S})irit, by the assist- 
ance of the Holy Spirit helpiug our infirmities, t 

(4.) That which must crown all, is depending by faith 
on Jesvis Christ sitting at God's right hand to make 
intercession for us, this is a right prayer. Now unless 
you weigh the due qualifications necessary to a right 
gospel prayer, you will slight it, and pass it over as a 
compliment. Oh, but when the Christian bethinks 

• Prov. XV. B. + Jer. xxx. 21. 1 Tim. ii. 8. 

t Rom. viii. 20. Jurlp, 20. 

or CHRIST. 215 

himself what is requisite in right prayer, he will make 
conscience of all, for he believes that if any of these be 
wanting his prayer is lost, and he is undone, for Christ 
will not intercede for those souls that do not pray 
aright, at least in the main. Consider this. 

2. Endeavour to impress on your spirits, the vast 
difference and consequences of God's accepting and 
rejecting of prayers. God disowns the prayers of a 
graceless guilty soul ; " ^Vlien you make many prayers 
I will not hear : your hands are full of blood," Isa. i. 
1.5. To the wicked God saith, "What hast thou to 
do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldst take 
my covenant in thy mouth?"* Alas, what have I to 
help me in my distress but crying to God for aid, and 
if he turn his back en me, and disown me, what will be- 
come of me ? But as for God's children, a sigh, a groan 
goes to the heart of God, being offered up in the name 
of Christ ; if the soul cannot speak out, but cry, Abba, 
God hears — Hezekiah bid but chatter like a crane or a 
?wallow,f but God heard and owned him. Whether 
company would you rather be of, in the day of your dis- 
tress, or in the hour of death ? Surely this matter is 
of some concernment now, and you will find it so then. 

3. Thoroughly examine your consciences with refer- 
ence to your spiritual state. Be not content with 
imagination or may-bes ; it may be Christ is my advo- 
cate, it may be not, and so leave the matter at utter 
uncertainties : by which you may either be continuing 
to live in a fool's paradise, and so die with a lie in your 
right hand,+ or be left upon the rack of uncertainties ; 
but as far as may be, put the question out of question. 
" Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith ; 
prove your ownselves : know ye not your ownselves, 
how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be repro- 

* Psal. 1. 16. t Isa. xxxviii. M. t Isa. xliv. 20 


bates," acoKiixoi, unapproved, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. The de- 
cisive trial belongs to God, but the disquisitive belongs 
to us. And as you would not be found under a mis- 
take at last, deal faithfully with yourselves now : lay 
judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet. 
Try by your having or wanting the conditions of the 
new covenant, by characters laid down in scripture, and 
such marks as God's children have tried themselves 
by, see whether your experience will answer theirs. 
Be not partial, but faithful ; there is deceit in general 
propositions. Will not a tradesman search his books ? 
Will not a lapidary prove his precious stones? Drive the 
matter to an issue, form this dilemma, either I am, or 
I am not a child of God, either I have Christ to be my 
advocate, or I have not; if I have, how came I by this 
privilege? What scripture evidences can I give of 
such a thing? I must be tried another day, I will 
now prove mine own work, that I may have rejoicing 
in myself alone and not in another ;* but if you cannot 
find it out this way, apjDeal to God, the searcher of 
hearts, as David did often ; " Examine me, O Lord, 
and prove me, try my reins and my heart ;"f let me 
know the best and worst of my condition ; I cannot 
deceive thee, let me not deceive myself. 

4. Get a distinct knowledge of Christ's mediatorial 
work, and of tlie manner in which all his three offices 
of Prophet, Priest and King, are concerned in his in- 
tercession, for though they be in some sort distin- 
guished, yet they are not divided. It is true, we make 
Christ's intercession the second branch of Clirist's 
priestly office, but tiiere\^'ith is joined the former part, 
ramely, his sufferings upon tlie cross, for he carries his 
blood into the holy of holies, t Thus his sacrifice goes 
to qualify him, and secure his success as intercessor. 
* Gal. vi. 4. -I Psal. xxvi 2. cxxxix. 23. t Heb. ix. 12, 24. 

or cHiiisT. 217 

Nor must we exclude his prophetical office, for all the 
promises of illumination, guidance, and direction, are 
the blessed fruits of this office of Christ, as prophet, 
whicli vet our Lord prays for, " for all the promises of 
God in him are yea, and in him amen."* As to his 
kingly office, he sits as priest upon his throne,f and all 
the good that souls receive from him descends from his 
kingly office, as power against sin, defence against 
temptation, i)rotection v.'hile we live, and deliverance 
from death : so that all the offices of Christ are insepar- 
ably connected with his intercession, at least in the 
application of the benefits accruing to souls thereby : 
so that you must not only respect the second part of 
Christ's priestly office singly in your addresses to the 
throne of grace, begging the benefits of Christ's inter- 
cession, but you must act faith on all his three offices, 
for obtaining good at God's hands. Alas, sirs, you 
have too low conceptions of Christ's intercession, if 
you look upon him in a single capacit}^ speaking a 
good word for you as one man doth for another : no, 
you must own Christ as having authority, not only as 
God equal with the Father, but acting as prophet, 
priest, and king at God's right hand, and procuring 
our good by virtue of his office ; consider this in all 
your addresses to him. 

5. Consider the vast distance betwixt the infinite 
God and you. In point of nature or being, God in his 
essential perfections is inconceivably great and glorious ; 
read and consider Isa. xl. 12 — 27, where you have a 
most elegant comparison betwixt the great God, and 
worm man : " Who hath measured the waters in the 
hollow of his hand ? and meted out heaven with a 
span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a 
measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the 
* 2 Cor. i. 20. t Zech. vi. 13. 


hills in a balance? — Behold, the nations are as a drop 
of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the 
balance : behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little 
thing. — All nations before him are as nothing, and 
they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity." 
— Row magnificently doth scripture decipher this 
glorious Majesty of heaven ? and how diminutively 
doth it speak of man ? yea, nobles, judges, princes in 
all their pomp, he makes them nothing, yea vanity. 
But how much more inconsiderable are inferior per- 
sons ? Which of us then dare presume to approach 
this King of kings without a spokesman, a middle 
person ? But then consider what further distance sin 
hath produced, betwixt the holy God and such impure 
beings as vre are ; " God is of jmrcr eyes than to be- 
hold evil, and cannot look on iniquity."* And what 
are we but masses of sin ? How can we then expect 
that God, this sin-hating God, should look towards us 
with any respoct ? surely a glance of his eye would 
confound us, there is no coming near God without a 
mediator, and this mediator must stand on even ground 
with both parties ; this is Jesus Christ and none else ; 
think of this that you rush not irreverently into the 
presence of the great God ; yea, consider Jesus Christ 
is the infinite God, though he became man, yet now 
glorified, and you cannot have slight thoughts of 
him, but adore him, as well as come to God by him. 

6. You must remove out of your souls and hands 
whatsoever is offensive to him, or a hindrance to you 
in your employment of Christ for your advocate ; 
especially away with sin, all sin, heart-sin, life-sin, if 
you expect a share in this branch of the covenant pro- 
mise, you must cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of 
flesh and spirit ;f if sin reign in you, Christ will not 
* Hab. i. 13. •♦■2 Cor. vii. 1. 


plead for you ; " Sliall the throne of iniquity have 
fellowship with thee?"* no, never expect it, if thou do 
not renounce sin, he will renounce thee. He will not 
own that soul that loves sin, if you regard iniquity in 
your heart, the Lord will not hear you.f He will not 
be a patron of sin, though he will be an advocate for 
sinners, tliat liave fallen out with sin; and hate it with 
a perfect hatred. Yea, you must abstain from all oc- 
casions of sin, and appearances of evil.| Get disen- 
tangled from the world, the men of the world, or 
things of the world that would ensnare you, and divert 
you from God. Yet one thing more, if you would 
have Christ stand your friend, renoiuice your own 
righteousness ; never think of Christ's pleading his 
merits for you, if you think to plead your own merits 
with God, these are utterly inconsistent : so saith the 
scripture, Rom. iv. 4, 5, and Gal. v. 3, 4, " Christ is 
become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are 
justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace;" some 
say it means the ceremonial law, others the moral law ; 
doubtless " Christ is the end of the law for righteous- 
ness to every one that believetli :"|| I know this point 
is much debated, but scripture leads us out of ourselves 
for justification by Christ alone, you must be found in 
him, or you are lost for ever ; " Not having your own 
righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is 
through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is 
of God by faith," Phil. iii. 8, 9, that is, by faith as the 
instrument to receive Christ only, it is the object that 
justifies, not merely the act, the rb credere, in the sense 
of Arminians, who dethrone Christ to exalt faith. 

7. Down on your knees and entreat that this blessed 
Jesus may be your advocate ; Christ is to be suppli- 

* Psal. xciv. 20. t Psal. Ixvi. 18. 

X 1 Thess. V. 22. \\ Roin. x. 4. 


cated, not bought. " If thou knewest the gift of God, 
and who it is that saith unto thee, give me to drink, 
thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have 
given thee living water." — John iv. 10. Consider, 
friends, is not Christ the eternal Son of God, and Sa- 
viour of the world, worth asking ? Why should our 
Lord charge you as he did his disciples, " Hitherto ye 
have asked nothing ?"* Indeed, you ask nothing if you 
ask not Christ, and you ask no favour if you ask not in 
the name of Christ. If you were hungry, would you 
not ask daily bread, if thirsty, would you not cry out 
for drink ? if you were prisoners, would you not ask for 
liberty ? if condemned and ready to be executed, would 
you not account your lives worth petitioning for ? 
Come, friends, fall down on your knees, and confess 
your sins, as having merited hell and damnation ; but 
since God hath lield forth Christ to be a propitiation 
for sin, tell the Lord how much you need him, humbly 
bespeak him with tears in your eyes and sorrow in 
your hearts, after this manner: Lord, I am among the 
fallen sons of Adam, condemned as soon as conceived, 
an undone creature, lost by the first apostacy, having 
added to the first sin many thousands of actual trans- 
gressions, every sin deserves thy wrath and curse, I 
deserve damnation ; but my case is not like that of the 
fallen angels, thou hast sent thy only well-beloved Son 
to redeem lost mankind, he interposed betwixt flaming 
wrath and guilty sinners, he endured that which would 
have sunk sinners eternally into torments, and I hear 
he is at thy right hand to intercede for sinners, I am a 
miserable, helpless, hopeless sinner, " with thee the fa- 
therless find mercy," t thou biddest all welcome that 
come to thee in his name, he hath successfully managed 
this work of mediation, and carried thousands of souls to 
* John, xvi. 24. t Hos. xiv. 3. 


heaven, whose case was as forlorn as mine; O give me 
Christ or else I die, give me Christ and I shall live, for 
he and none hut he can bring me off' at the bar of thy 



According to the division which I have made in 
treating this part of my design, I proceed to consider 
what concerns the people of God peculiarly, and which 
may lead to the following inquiries : — 

1. In what cases should a Christian have recourse 
to Christ's intercession ? 

2. How a Christian should conduct himself in the 
enjoyment of this glorious privilege ? 

For the first of these, I am at a great loss, not what 
to say, but what to leave unsaid, not for want of mat- 
ter, but the abundance of occasions; for there is no 
state nor occurrence of a Christian's life but affords 
fresh matter and occasion to employ Jesus in his im- 
portant character of intercessor, and our dear Lord is 
ready to help in every situation and strait. 

Only I desire this may be remembered, that Christ is 
not only a pleader for us, but an author of the mercies 
we v.^ant and crave ; he doth not only ask the Father 
to bestow such blessings upon us, but he with his Fa- 
ther communicates them to us : so that we must not 


only pray for such and such mercies for Christ's sake, 
but we must pray to Christ together \^ ith the Father, 
for he saith, " I the Father are one." — John x. 30. 

Now, though the indigencies there are in the course 
of a Christian's pilgrimage be innumerable, yet I shall 
reduce the proper occasions, on which a Christian sen- 
sibly needs our Lord's intercession, to these twenty 
heads : — 

1. In the case of original guilt and depravity of na- 
ture. Alas, saith the soul, I com.e into the world wo- 
fully stained with guilt and pollution ; " Behold, I was 
shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive 
me:"* how shall I get this taint by natural birth taken 
off? But the gospel assures me, that, " If through 
the offence of one, many be dead, much more the grace 
of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man 
Jesus Christ, hath abounded to many." — Rom. v. 15. 
Whether Christ takes off the guilt of original sin at 
our birth, I know not, but he takes it off from all true 
penitents and believing souls that sincerely embrace 
Christ, and are members of his body : blessed Jesus, 
take me into that number. 

2. In awful blindness and darkness. Alas, by na- 
ture I am wofully blind and ignorant ; I can see no 
beauty in the things of God, no excellency in Christ, 
nothing of the mysteries of grace, I am blind and can- 
not see afar off, am travelling blindfold into utter dark- 
ness ; O merciful Saviour, thou art the light of the 
world, the sun of righteousness, come dart down thy 
beams of grace into my soul, turn me from darkness to 
light ; enlighten mine eyes, that I may not sleep the 
sleep of death, give me the light of the knowledge of 
the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ ; that the 

* Psal. H. 5. 

Ol" CHRIST. '2T3 

eyes of my imderstaiidiiig may be eiiligliteiied, tliat I 
may behold spiritual objects in a gospel glass, for my 
spiritual knowledge is very imperfect. * 

3. In the case of perverseness and stubbornness of 
the Avill. Woe is me, saith the Christian, my will is 
unruly and ungovernable; some are willingly ignorant, 

1 pray God I be not so. But, however, my will is only 
imperfectly renewed ; " The good that I \\ ould, I do 
not, but the evil which I would not, that I do." Come 
then, dear Jesus, make me truly willing in tlie day cf 
thy pov/cr ; I find some poor faint wishes, some little 
inclinations towards thee, bvit feel that I cannot perform 
what I wish — thou canst work both to will and to do : 
thou blessed Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, 
carry on this happy beginning of a willing mind unto 
perfection ; that as there is a readiness to will, so there 
may be a performance, f 

4. In case of daily infirmities, and the unexpected 
breakings out of corruptions. O how many are my 
trangressions and my sins ? " Innumerable evils com- 
pass me about ;" every moment am I conunitting sin 
in thouglit, word, or deed, in omission or commission. 
Is it possible such vast numbers of sins should be par- 
doned ? Yes, I will look up to my advocate, who is 
the propitiation for our sins, and is able to save to the 
utmost ; he was never nonplussed with the multitude 
or magnitude of sins — Lord, thou canst abundantly 
pardon, or multiply to pardon as we multiply to sin; 
Lord, take away mine iniquity for it is very great : I 
will not despair, because I have a God to do with, i 

* 2 Pet. i. 9. John viii. 12. Mid. iv. 2. Acts xxvi. 18. 

2 Cor. iv. (J. Eph. i. 17, ] 8. 

t 2 Pet. iii. 5. Rom. vii. 19. Psal. ex. 3. Phil. ii. 13. 
Heb. xii. 2. 2 Cor. viii. 11. 

t Psal. xl. 12. 1 John ii. 2, 3. Heb. vii. 25. Isa. Iv. 7. 
Psal. XXV. 11. 


5. In the case of deadiiess and distractions in holy 
duties. Alas, where is the Christian that finds not sad 
wanderings from God in duty ? Vain thoughts lodge 
in us, and will not be shut out when we would be most 
serious ; such dead flies mar our best pot of ointment : 
in the best sacrifices there is more smoke than fire. 
Well, but the Christian applies himself to our New- 
Testament Aaron to take away the iniquity of his holy 
things, to perfume prayer \^'ith his much incense. At 
all times, when the soul opens to its beloved, his hands 
drop with myrrh, sweet-smelling myrrh, and God 
smells a sweet savour from it, being offered in Christ.* 

6. In slavish fears. God's children are very sub- 
ject to these: a spirit of bondage returns again ;| some- 
times the terrors of the law and the lightnings flash in 
their consciences — Job, David, Heman, had their alarm- 
ing seasons. When the spirits are agitated, especially 
when guilt is brought home, and Satan tears the 
wounds, what must a person do in this case ? He must 
run to the city of refuge, to the horns of the altar, to 
shelter him from the grounds of his fear. David 
saith, " What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee."t 
Here we may have boldness to enter into the holiest, 
by the blood of Jesus, Heb. x. 19, 22. 

7. In sad apprehensions of apostacy from God. The 
Christian having mournful experience of the treachery 
of his own heart, the violent assaults of Satan, and the 
weakness of grace, and having seen the dreadful falls 
of famous professors, cannot but fear he also may fall 
away. This fills the soul with sad apprehensions, 
which yet are a good preservative against apostacy, || 
but his only refuge and remedy is Christ's intercession, 

* Jer. iv. 14. Eccl. x. 1. Exod. xxviii. 38. Rev. viii. 3. 
Cant. V. 5. Gen. viii. 21. 

t Rom. viii. 15. t Psal. Ivi. 3. 11 Heb. iv. 1. 

or C'HHIST. 225 

Luke xxii. 31, 32, " Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired 
to have you, to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed 
for thee that thy faith fail not." See, Christ was in- 
terceding, when Peter was most in danger of apostacy: 
so that the sincere Christian may make that bold 
challenge, " Who shall separate us from the love of 
Christ ?" — Rom. viii. 34—36. 

8. In case of omission or intermission of duty. This 
is too oft the case of good men ; they slight motions of 
the Spirit, and omit waiting on God in the season of 
duty, through some worldly incumbrance, as Martha, 
troubled about many things,* or through negligence : 
and conscience is sorely afflicted with this, and judgeth 
that the Lord will not own them ; but Christ prayed for 
Peter when he was in temptation, little disposed for 
prayer ; and doubtless our Lord prayed in his agony 
for his sleeping disciples : f and we read, Isa. Ixv. 24, 
" Before they call I will answer." Mark it, here is 
sovereign grace ; God is not tied to wait his people's 
actual praying, for Christ interposeth to prevent thou- 
sands of evils, which we know nothing of. 

9. On approaches of public calamities. Such a day 
oft falls out, and prudent persons oft foresee these pub- 
lic evils, and are greatly appalled, t Alas, misery is 
coming on the nation, and we shall be involved in the 
common calamity, whither can we nui ? Who shall 
avoid or abide this approaching storm ? Surely the 
gracious soul flees to his strong hold, gets into the ark, 
and there he is safe, God looks on the rainbow and 
remembers his covenant ; |j there is a rainbow round 
about the throne, and he looks on his saints in cove- 
nant through the Mediator, Rev. iv. 3. He can hide 
them in the hollow of his hand till all calamities be 

* Luke X. 40. t Matt. xxvi. -14. t Prov. xxii. 3. i| Gen. ix. 16. 


10. In personal afflictions. These may befall the 
best of men, such as poverty, shame, censures of men, 
loss of relations, long and tedious afflictions of body, 
acute pains that may put the best of men hard to it. 
What shall I do in this case ? Is there any hope or 
help ? Whither must I go ? Why, still thou must go 
the same road, to God in Christ, this was Job's refuge 
and remedy, Job xix. 25, " I know that my Redeemer 
liveth," he is speaking a good word for me, either to 
moderate the affliction, or to remove it, or however to 
sanctify it, that it shall do me no hurt but good. Re- 
member Isa. Ixiii. 9, " In all their afflictions he was 
afflicted, and the angel of his presence," that is, Christ, 
" saved them." Fear not you have a good companion. 

11. In desertion, which indeed is the heaviest trou- 
ble that can happen to a poor soul. " When thou 
didst hide thy face, I was troubled ;" * no wonder, for 
in his favour is life, then the want of it must be death. 
David saith, his spirit was overwhelmed ; -f- Heman 
saith, " while I suffer thy terrors, I am distracted :" |; 
what must a person do in this forlorn state ? still he 
must centre on Christ the rock of ages. As terrible 
as God looks, he connnands the light to shine out of 
darkness, when you can behold the glory of God in the 
face of Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. iv. 6. If j^ou walk in 
darkness, you must stay yourselves on your God : |1 
get under Christ's wings, the wings of the cherubim, 
then you are safe, and he will malce your position 

12. In spiritual conflicts. Alas, the feeble Christian 
is in great hazard of being borne down by Satan, the 
world, and the flesh ; he is set sometimes with his 
back to the wall ; these intestine wars strike up con- 

* Psalin XXX. 7' "^ Psalm Ixxvii. 3, 4. 

1 Psalm Ixxxviii. 15. 11 Isa. 1. JO. 


trary alarms in his soul, and make him at his wits' 
end, not knowing the issue. "Whither now must the 
soul go for a reserve, but to the Captain of our salva- 
tion, * who can with a word of his mouth confoimd all 
the soul's enemies ? " For this purpose the Son of God 
was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the 
devil." f He alone can lead ca^Dtivity captive, he hath 
spoiled principalities and powers, he triumphed over 
them upon the cross, t much more when he is now at 
God's right hand. The believing soul hath benefit 
thereby, and is more than a conqueror through him 
that loved us ; this is the victory that overcometh the 
world, even our faith. || 

13. In relative concerns. How solicitous is the 
Christian for those that depend on him, or are related 
to him ? O what shall I do for my husband, wife, son, 
daughter, brother, or friend, who is as mine own soul ? 
" O that Ishmael might live before thee !" J How can 
I see the damnation of the members of my family ? 
Alas, what can I do for them? " I have great heavi- 
ness, and continual sorrow of heart, for my poor kindred 
after tlie flesh."^ Well, I know no other course I can 
tvake for them, than put them into the hands of Christ 
the mediator, to hold them up to the Father for con- 
verting and pardoning grace. O that Christ would 
take these children and bless them ! there is grace 
enough in the covenant for all. Is not my child, in a 
sense, clean by relation to a poor weak believer, and 
dedication to God ? ** 

14. In the enjoyment of privileges. I confess divine 
Providence hath cast my lot under a pleasant sun- 

' Heb. ii. 10. t 1 John iii. 8. 

.1: Eph. iv. 8. Col. ii. 15. II Rom. viii. 37- 1 John v. 4. 

§ Gen. xvii. 18. *ll Rom. ix. 2, 3. 

** 1 Cor. vii, 14. Matt, xxviii. Ii). 




shine of powerful prear-hing, lively praying, baptism, 
and the Lord's supper, dispensed according to divine 
institution, which might make me fat and well-liking, 
but alas I am barren, dead, and hard-hearted still, no- 
thing will do except the Spirit of grace breathe upon 
my heart. " Awake, O north wind, and come thou 
south, blow U})on thy garden that the spices thereof 
may flow out."* Dear Jesus that walkest in the midst 
of the seven golden candlesticks, f reach this breast of 
mine, and let my heart long after thee, bring down 
some illapses from above, as the fruits of Christ's ascen- 
sion and session at God's right hand, for the perfecting 
of the saints, for the edifying of the body of Christ. :j: 
Send thy Spirit from above, (according to thy prayer 
and promise) which may lead us into all truth, and 
bring all things to remembrance, and prepare my soul 
for glory. j| 

15. In the want of ordinances. Such a day hath 
been, and may come again, when persons shall find a 
famine of the word, when they shall run to and fro to 
seek the word of the Lord, and not find it. ^ When 
poor souls shall faint for want of the bread of life, 
what shall we then do ? Our business is to feed on 
Christ the bread of life : his flesh is meat indeed, and 
his blood is drink indeed, ^j he needs no channel of or- 
dinances, but can drop down immediate influences from 
above, that in days of famine we may be satisfied. ** 
He can feed his children in the wilderness with suit- 
able and sufficient manna : if you have the marrow 
and design of ordinances in Christ, you have all and 
in all. It 

• Cant. iv. 16. t Rev. ii. 1. 

+ Eph. iv. 10, 12, 13. II John xiv. 26. xvi. 13. 

§ 1 Sam. iii. 1. Amos viii. 12. II John vi. 48, 51, 55. 

" Psalm xx.xvii. 19. tt Col. iii. 11. 


16. In sharp divisiions and controversies amongst 
professors. This goes to tJie heart of a gracious peace- 
able Christian, who desires to live in love and unity 
with all. O it is sad to see the the seamless coat of 
Christ rent in pieces ; for the divisions of Reuben there 
are great thoughts or searchings of heart.* What 
shall a poor soul do in this case ? surely get alone and 
lament it ; " Mark them which cause divisions, and 
avoid them."f Espouse catholic principles, maintain 
a charitable spirit ; but above all have recourse to 
Jesus Christ our common Saviour, and entreat that he 
by grace would irradiate men's minds with saving 
truths, sanctify their hearts, mortify their corruptions, 
and establish their souls on a right foundation, both 
as to doctrine and principle, and Christ is the only 
foundation, 1 Cor. iii. 11—13, Eph. ii. 20, 21. 

17. In the public concerns of the church. The 
good child of God cannot but bear the state of Zion 
upon his heart; "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let 
my right hand forget her cunning."]: The pious 
man is like Eli, he sits trembling for the ark of God, 
he loves the gates of Zion more than all tlie dwellings 
of Jacob. Alas, what can such a poor insignificant 
creature as I do ? well, I will put it into the hands 
of my Lord Jesus, who dearly purchased the church 
with his own blood, and now sits at God's right hand 
to intercede for it. O God, look after thy spiritual 
Zion, " and make thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary, 
for the Lord's sake."|| that is, for Jesus Christ's sake. 

18. In great undertakings. Sometimes it is so that 
Providence calls some Christians out to unusual em- 
ployments, such as they are sensible of their own 
inability to manage, and would rather shift them off, 

• Judges V. 15, 16. f Rom. xvi. I7. 

:!: Psal. cxxxvii. 5. || Dan. ix. I7. 


as in the case of Moses to be a magistrate, and Jeremiali 
to be a prophet,* they both excused themselves ; such 
a case may frequently fall out, what then must a person 
do ? Why he must first consult the clearness of his 
call to that station, and when that is scripturally clear, 
he must have recourse to Jesus Christ, by whom kings 
rule, and who sets up officers in his church as apostles, 
prophets, evangelists, pastors and teacliers,f as the 
fruits of his ascension ; now you must go to Christ, 
both for a commission from him, and for qualifications 
to manage it to God's glory and the church's edifi- 

19. In case of God's refusing to answer your prayers. 
It hath been thus with some of God's servants; the 
church saith, " Also, when I cry and shout, he shutteth 
out my prayer:":]: Job and David sometimes complain 
of this, and this is a sore affliction, but alas, what have 
they to help them but importunate prayer ? If prayer 
have lost its virtue I am undone. But man, consider, 
the answer may be deferred, yet not denied; and withal 
reflect upon the motives, end, and manner of thy praying, 
it may be thou didst pray amiss ; thy business now is 
to put it' into the hand of thy advocate, it will not mis- 
carry if it be by faith lodged there ; look again and see 
what was absolutely necessary for such a transaction, 
and fear not as long as thou art praying and waiting, 
thou hast something of an answer in hand, and more 
in hope, which will not fail. 

20. In the soul's approach to death and judgment. 
O this is a solemn thing, for it is the statute law of 
heaven ; " As it is appointed unto men once to die, but 
after this the judgment. || Death is formidable in a 
natural sense, judgment in a moral sense ; this body 

* Exod. iv. 13. Jer. 16. t Eph. iv. 10, 11. 

:!: Lam. iii. 8. || Heb. ix. 27- 


and this soul must part, and meet again before a 
solemn tribunal ; O how shall I come off then ? tiiily, 
I have no other way than to secure my advocate to ap- 
pear for me ; it is Jesus alone that plucks out the sting 
of death ; if I can get Jesus in mine arms, I can pass 
safely through the valley of the shadow of death and 
fear no evil ;* and when I go to the grave I but lay me 
down to sleep, yea more than so, I shall sleep in Jesus,f 
and O what a soft warm bed will that be ? and as to 
judgment, I have one to answer for me, the judge of 
the coui't is my friend, and I know I shall not be con- 
demned, for when Christ who is my life shall appear, 
I shall appear with him in glory, t 

This, this is the glorious privilege of a child of God, 
a member of Christ, whether he know it or not, but 
many do know it, and have the comfort of it. 

Thus much for the the former branch of this division, 
how and in what cases believers should improve this 
great privilege of Christ's intercession. 

The second branch in reference to genuine believers 
that have interest in Christ's intercession, is to consider 
how" they should conduct themselves when enjoying 
this privilege, and I shall give these ten directions : — 

1. Get clear evidences of your interest in Christ's 
intercession. I suppose you to have interest, but la- 
bour to get it cleared up to yourselves ; your safety lies 
in the former, yoiu* comfort lies in the latter. O what 
satisfaction will it be to a pious heart to think, Jesus 
Christ appears in the presence of God for me ; he bears 
my name, my person, my prayers before the throne, 
he also bears away my failings ; I am accepted in the 
beloved. II The church prays. Cant. viii. 6, "Set me as 
a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm." My 

* 1 Cor. XV. 55 — 57- Heb. ii. 15. Psal. xxiii. 4. 

t 1 Thess. iv. 14. t Col. iii. 4. || Eph. i. 6. 


name is upon the breast and shoulders of the high 
priest, in the holy of holies ;* he acts for me, speaks a 
good word for me, as if I were the only person con- 
cerned, yet others not excluded. He is no'^v speaking 
for me, when I dare not or cannot speak for myself; he 
loved me and gave himself for me, and now he ever lives 
to make intercession for me.f O what a privilege is this. 

2, Do not in the least question the prevalence of 
your just suits ; see they be scriptural, grounded upon 
a promise, and then see that your requests be by faith 
put into Christ's hands, and fear not speeding, for our 
advocate hath the greatest interest in God the Father, 
he is his only v/ell-beloved Son, his dear Son, he always 
hears him ; i the Father was so pleased with his Son's 
undertakings on earth, that he welcomes him to heaven 
with this grant, " Ask of me and I v/ill give thee." || — 
But he asks no more of God than M'liat he hath pur- 
chased by laying down a valuable consideration for it, 
so that God's justice pleads for his suit. See your 
matters be right, and the manner of your asking be 
right as to the main, and then come with confidence, 
fear not a disappointment. 

3. Trust God for what is needful for you over and 
besides what you petition for. Have you the tree ? 
you have all the fruit growing upon that tree : " 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 ?^ Alas, we poor beggars are short-sighted 
and short-spirited, we know not what we want, and 
often fail in asking what we know, but we have an 
astonishing word for this, Eph. iii. 20, " He is able to 
do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or 

• Exod. xxviii. 9, 12, 28, 29. t Gal. ii. 20. Heb. vii. 25. 

t Matt. iii. I7. Col. i. 13. John xi. 42. 

II Psal. ii. 8. § Rom. viii. 32. 

OF ciiiiisT. 233 

think;" we can a«;k much and think more, but woe 
were to us, if we had not many preventing mercies 
that we asked not, nor knew any thing of, before they 
were received ; trust God for these, and thank God for 
them, because he has been better to us than our prayers. 

4. Remember Clirist at God's right hand who re- 
members you to your great advantage ; let your 
hearts and tlioughts be above with Christ in meditation 
and affections. Col. iii. 1, 2. Your good Joseph exalted 
forgets not you, why should you forget him ? God com- 
plains of Israel in the wilderness, that then they had his 
approbation, but when they were put into a fat pasture 
and were filled, then they forgot God, Hoy. xiii. 5, 
6, as if God should say to them, and to thee in a like case, 
time wrs when you were in a low condition, and had 
no other relief, then you and I were better acquainted, 
many a visit I had from you, but now you are filled, I 
hear no more of you, you think you need me not, but 
I will draw the veil over you again, and see then what 
you will make of it ; consider what base disingenuous- 
ness this is. 

5. Act suitably to this great privilege. O live at 
the rate of this mercy, do not disoblige God by any 
unsuitable carriage, this is his own caution, Exod. 
xxiii. 20, 21, " Behold I send an angel before thee," 
beware of him and obey his voice, provoke him not, 
for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my 
name is in him." Observe it, men might say there 
is more lenity in the Son than in the Father, if we 
offend we will fly to the Son ; no, no, you cannot 
think he will pardon those sins that God will not par- 
don, for he is the same in will and essence with the 
Father, infinite in power, holiness, justice, and truth, and 
will not humour sinners in their licentious wavs; there- 


fore you must honour Son, as you honour the Father,* 
by acting like Christians, obeying his commands, and 
living conscientiously, as under the law of a mediator ; 
though he pardon sin upon repentance, yet he will by 
no means gratify sinners in vain courses, or in ways of 
impenitency. Remember the wrath of the Lamb is 
severe,| as well as of Jehovah. 

6. Persevere in the good ways of God. Be not 
discouraged with the greatest oppositions ; remember, 
Christ ever lives to make intercession for you.:|: You 
need not fear his deserting you, if you keep close to 
duty he will stand by you ; you shall see he will hold 
with you, and he will hold you up : read and think of 
that good word, Heb. iv. 14, " Seeing then that we 
have a great high priest, that is passed into the hea- 
vens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our pro- 
fession." Here is a double ground of encouragement 
to persevere : — 

(1.) That Jesus our head is already in heaven, and 
if the head be above water, the body cannot drown. 

(2.) The business that Christ is managing in heaven, 
which is to intercede as a great high priest, carry- 
ing that work on in the behalf of believers, is in no 
danger of creating disappointment, if you fail not to 
employ him ; and if you do fail, he will still manage 
his work for others, but it will be your particular 
loss, the loss of your souls ; O tremble at this, if you 
fall away after these discoveries, your case will be de- 
l)lorable, Heb. vi. 5, 6. 

7. Be not afraid to ask great things at the hands of 
God in the name of Christ. Be not daunted with the 
greatness of your sins, or variety of your wants, but 
come boldly to the throne of grace, that you may ob- 

* John V. 23. t Rev. vi. 16. X Heb. vii. 25. 

OF CHllIST. 235 

tain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need, 
Heb. iv. 16. Christ's merits are adequate to all the 
saints' wants and guilt, and the veiy appearance 
which he discovers of having suffered is a sufficient 
plea for believers ; as it is storied of Amintas, who 
appeared as advocate for his brother iEschylus who 
was strongly accused and likely to be condemned to 
die : now, Amintas having performed great services, 
and merited highly of the commonwealth, in whose 
service one of his hands was cut off in the field, he 
comes into the court on his brother's behalf, and said 
nothing but only lifted up his arm, and shewed them 
cuhitum sine maim, an arm without a hand, which so 
moved them that, without a word speaking, they freed 
his brother immediately. And hath not our Jesus 
suffered more for us than the loss of a hand ? Yea, 
the loss of his life, whereby he hath purchased those 
things for which he prays, yea, those for which you 
pray, if you pray aright, and shall they not be granted? 
Yes, doubtless : he makes larger offers than Ahasuerus 
to Esther, " ^Vhat wilt thou, queen Esther ? and what 
is thy request ? it shall be even given thee to the half 
of the kingdom :" * but what are earthly kingdoms or 
all the world, to God's gifts of grace and glory ? Open 
your mouths wide, and he will fill them, Ps. Ixxxi. 10. 
8. Thank God for what you have met with as an 
answer to prayer, and put it altogether to the score of 
Christ's intercession. It was not your piety, parts, nor 
importunities — it was not your enlargedness, zeal, or 
fervency, that obtained those good things : no, no, you 
must say as David, Psal. cxv. 1, " Not unto us, O 
Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for 
thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake." We have no 
reason to ascribe any thing to our own worth or good- 
* Esth. V. 3. 


ness, but to God's free grace and Christ's intercession. 
Rob not our Lord Jesus of any of his glory, it is 
dear to him, and he will not give it to another ; there 
is no parting stakes betwixt our blessed Lord and crea- 
tures : no, no, exalt King Jesus only, give him the 
glory due to his name. If God have given you any 
signal mercies, as answers of prayer, let Christ have 
the credit thereof, for not one drop of saving mercy 
comes from God to souls but through Christ, and our 
business is to return our gratitude in the same channel. 
A good man never went to bed or rose, but he had that 
doxology in his mouth or on his heart, " Thanks be 
to God for his unspeakable gift," 2 Cor. ix. 15. 

9. Forgive and pray for others, though they have 
ever so much offended you. It is our Saviour's pre- 
cept, Matt. V. 44, " Love your enemies, bless them that 
curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for 
them that despitefully use you and persecute you." 
This is a hard word to flesh and blood, but Christ 
practised it, and if you be his disciples you must follow 
his example. Study 1 Pet. ii. 21—23. You will say, 
was this ever practised by any mortal man ? surely 
this goes against the grain of nature, to love them that 
hate us. I answer, as grace transcends nature, so 
sometimes it contradicts natui'e's corrupted emotions : 
but grace teacheth us to love their souls, not their 
vices, to pity and pray for those that are maliciously 
set against us. God saith concerning Job's three 
friends that wronged him, " My servant Job shall pray 
for you :" * it alludes to an advocate in court, that 
moves the judge in behalf of an offender. So did Job 
notwithstanding all their severe censures of him, yea, 
he offered sacrifices, and the Lord accepted him for 
them and for himself, for the Lord turned the capti- 
* Job xlii. 8—10. 


vity of Job. The peoi)]^ reproached Jeremiah, yet he 
stood before God to speak good for them : so Stephen, 
David, and many others — this is a piece of brave self- 
denial, following Christ's example. 

10. Especially let this be your main business, to 
plead with God for Christ's interest upon earth, the 
church of God, the success of ordinances, and the con- 
version of sinners to God. " Fray for the peace of 
Jerusalem ; they shall prosper that love thee." * A 
pious man will prefer Jerusalem above his chief joy ;t 
his comfort is bound up in the church's prosperity, and 
oh what sorrow doth he conceive upon Zion's fall ? how 
doth he give way to his feelings in the earnestness of 
prayer ? Isa. Ixii. 6, 7, " Ye that make mention of 
the Lord, keep not silence, give him no rest, till he 
establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the 
earth." O that there were greater numbers of such re- 
membrancers ! God forbid that we should be taken up 
with our own houses, while the house of God lies 
waste. O that all that love God would solenmly en- 
gage in this momentous work : you join with Christ 
herein, of whom it is said, Zech. i. 12, 13, "Then the 
angel of the Lord answered and said, O Lord of hosts, 
how long M'ilt thovi not have mercy on Jerusalem, and 
on the cities of Judali, against which thou hast had 
indignation these threescore and ten years ? and the 
Lord answered the angel that talked M'ith me, with 
good words and comfortable words." Public spirited 
men have usually peculiar privileges. Come, sirs, help 
poor Zion in her distresses. All that have a tongue to 
speak, or a spirit to breathe, stir up yourselves to keep 
with us a departing gospel. Is it nothing to you 
whether God go or stay ? have you no souls of your 
own ? have not your children precious souls ? can they 
" Psalm cxxii. 6. t Psalm cxxxvii. 5, 6. 


be saved if the gospL4 of salvation go ? Come all that 
have any sense of eternal concerns npon your heart, 
take hold of his strength, and say we are called by thy 
name, leave us not : I advise you to borrow the com- 
plaints and pleas you find in scripture, especially Isa. 
Ixiii. and Ixiv. Jer. xiv. 



And now what shall I say ? The vast distance be- 
twixt the infinite, incomprehensible Majesty, and a 
finite worm crawling on this dunghill, amazeth and 
overwhelmeth my finite faculties: how can I come near 
Jehovah ? And yet the greater distance that sin hath 
put betwixt the holy God and a guilty, polluted sin- 
ner, doth more confound me, so that I may say, How 
dare I come near him ? No, I have great reason to 
fear banishment from him into eternal torments. But 
behold, a deep mystery, a transcendent mercy, Jesus 
Christ the eternal Son of God is become man, hath 
suffered divine wrath, c|uenched the flaming sword of 
justice, and paved a new and living way to the divine 
Majesty ; so that now in Christ Jesus, we who some- 
times were far off*, are made nigh by the blood of 
Christ. * Here is a wonder of grace, heaven and hell 
meet, and sweetly converse together. Christ hath 
smoothed the face of justice, hath dried up Jordan, and 
driven back the Red Sea, that the ransomed may pass 
over ; yea, he hath shipped over this dead sea thou- 
* Heb. X. 19, 20. Eph. ii. 13. 


sands of gracious souls into a land of light, life, and 

O gracious and blessed Jesus, what hast thou been ? 
what hast thou done ? what hast thou suffered for 
Avretched man ? What an astonishing journey didst 
thou take from the empyrean heaven to this dunghill 
of earth ? "WTiat a poor tattered garment of human 
flesh didst thou put on ? Yea, what rendings, stretch- 
ings, tearings, did it bear ? What malice of devils, 
what contradiction of sinners, what effects of divine 
displeasure didst thou endure? till at last thou didst 
breathe out thy soul upon the cross, wast laid in the 
grave, as a malefactor, and all this by the malignant 
Jews, for no fault, but thousands of good deeds, healing 
the sick, casting out devils, raising the dead. But 
thou didst arise by thine own power, ascendedst to 
heaven, and sittest at the right hand of the Majesty on 
high, * which is thy proper sphere, where thou art ne- 
gotiating the affairs of thy purchased church, and 
every individual soul that is by faith united to thee. 

But will this blessed Jesus, exalted so high, stoop so 
low as to cast a propitious eye upon so vile a creature 
as I am ? Yes, he looks upon it as his interest, nay, 
as his honour to own his meanest member. Saviour of 
lost man, break through these clouds that my sin liath 
raised, shine on my soul, with the light of thy counte- 
nance, send thy Holy Spirit to plead thy cause within 
me, yea, to plead my cause w4th thee, and then I doubt 
not but thou wilt plead my cause with the Father. 
Thy chariot is paved with love, and thou makest the 
humblest believer ride with thee therein ; f and dost 
bear them on thy breastplate before the throne. I 
have been comparing my Lord's account book in the 
covenant of grace, with what counterpart I find in 
^ Heb. i. 3. t Cant. iii. 10. 


mine own breast, and dare appeal to the heart-search- 
ing God : Thou knowest wliether these workings be the 
Spirit of adoption, thou knowest that I am not wicked, 
that there is no way or undisturbed road of wickedness 
in my heart ; I have sin, yet do not regard but hate 
mine own iniquity.* It is true, old ashes of youthful 
lusts raise up new sparks in my soul, both to enflame 
and torment me : but I trust in the merit of Christ for 
pardon, and the Spirit of Christ for power against cor- 
ruption, and I hope I may say with a great man, let 
young and strong corruptions and his free grace be 
yoked together, and let Christ and my sins deal it be- 
twixt them : they are too strong for me, not for him : 
if he be on my side I shall come off victorious, and if 
he speak for me I shall prevail ; I shall be in some sort 
omnipotent through Christ strengthening me. f Yet 
my Lord alone shall be set in his own chair of state, 
for all the honour is due to him alone. If ever I speed 
in prayer, it is for Christ's sake ; if I be exempted 
from evil, it is through Christ ; if heaven come down 
to me, or if I mount up to heaven, it is through Christ. 
Christ is heaven, the best part of heaven, all heaven, 
yea, more than all heaven. 

It is some comfort to me, to reflect upon the com- 
munion of saints. O what a glorious cloud of incense 
ascends daily out of the angels' hand, along with the 
prayers of the saints ! AVhat a harmony of petitions 
breathed out by the same spirit, besets the throne of 
grace ! I am not alone, there is a sweet symphony in 
the ears of God, all pleading for the same things for 
substance : but these (as nmch grace as they have, and 
as well as God loves them) shall not prevail for one 
mercy without this advocate, the blessed Jesus. O 
then how desirable, how precious, how prevailing an 
* Psal, cxxxix. 23. Ixvi. 18. t Phil. iv. 13. 

or CHKIST. 24'1 

advocate is Christ, we need not fear him, nor be jealous 
of him ; however, I will believe good of Christ till he 
disappoint and deceive me, which is impossible, and 
will take his word for guarantee, that he will fill up all 
blanks in my prayers according to his promise, and 
obtain for me what I want, and more than I ask, yea, 
more than I can think I need ; my Lord bids me open 
my mouth wide, but his ear is more capacious than my 
lips, else I were undone. Gracious Saviour, thou hast 
kindled a live coal in my heart, which I hope all the 
waters of affliction cannot quench; I must live and 
die in thy debt, and never be able to pay the thou- 
sandth part, O that my heart were more enflamed in 
love to thee, and delight in thee ; thou hast done all this 
for me, and put an earnest within me, and wilt in due 
time make good the full bargain. My head is in heaven, 
and as he hath taken possession for me, so he is 
negotiating my affairs there, and presenting and mend- 
ing my distracted prayers ; all I can do is to bring 
a lame faith to Christ, holding out a stump instead of 
an arm, like a lame beggar, and crying : Lord Jesus, 
work a miracle, Lord mend the frame of my heart, 
raise my soul as high as heaven. O that I could send 
up the tribute of praises to my well-beloved, and receive 
back returns of prayer ! My solicitor is not tired with 
ray broken suits, but the oftener and the welcomer, so I 
be sincere, and his grace must make me so. Lord, help 
me to persevere in following hard after thee, and let 
me find a yovmg green paradise of pleasure in my 
attendance on thee. O for some first fruits before I 
reap the full harvest! and give me i3atience to wait 
thy time ; yet abundance of earnest will not diminish 
the principal sum. Let me have more of holiness, and 
I shall have more of heaven ; O that I may have a heart 
to hold intercourse with the blessed Jesus, to lay all 

VOL. III. 11 


my cares and burdens on him who is able to save to 
the uttermost ; the more I can lay on him, the easier 
shall I be. Had he not been all sufficient, he had been 
hard put to it since he undeilook to be my guardian ; 
I have oft made foul work, but he hath mended what 
I have marred, and set all straight again, and I trust 
he will do so to the end. I often lose myself, but let 
me never lose thee ; keep hold of me and I am safe, 
put my tears in thy bottle, write my prayers in thy 
book ; thou knowest what hath passed betwixt thyself 
and my soul, and wilt not deny thy own hand writing, 
and the workings of the Spirit of adoption ; weakness 
I own, thy work thou wilt not disown. I lift and lift 
again this heart, these prayers, these praises of mine 
to put them where thou wouldst have them, that thou 
mayest carry them to thy Father, and to my Father 
for acceptance. 

But O what astonishing damps are upon my trem- 
bling spirit, when I rise off my knees and think, will God 
liear such a distracted prayer of a poor hard-hearted 
wretch ? surely, conscience saith, no : but what saith 
faith ? A poor trembling faith puts it into the hands 
of my advocate, and then saith, he can make something 
of it, and my eyes are fastened upon him at God's 
right hand, and thereby faith is elevated, and despair 
gradually vanisheth. 







Christian Reader, 

Amongst all the useful treatises that the press hath of 
late exposed to public view, I have not met with any, as far as 
I remember, that hath purposely and directly treated on the 
subject of this discourse, notwithstanding it must be owned to 
be needful, seasonable, and profitable. It is a maxim to which 
men generally subscribe, and not a point of controversy, that, 
" In God's favour is Ufe :" yea, God's favour is pk a led for and 
pretended to by persons of every description, of all religions 
and persuasions. To be excluded from it, men think a serious 
and awful thing : the rich and great cannot say they are above 
it, the poor and profane will hope well, and desire to live and 
die in God's favour ; the ignorant dream of God's favour, as 
their only sanctuary, though God saith plainly, " It is a people 
of no understanding, therefore he that hath made them will not 
have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them 
no favour." * The learned Rabbies and grave sages of the 
world can discuss, and think to define the favour or gi-ace of 
God, and even to confine it to themselves, and are ready to say 
as the chief priests and Pharisees of old, " This people who 
know not the law are cursed :" j- intimating that themselves are 
blessed, as being high in God's books, and advanced into God's 
favour above their neighbours. But Christ saith to them that 
justify themselves, " That which is highly esteemed amongst 
men, is abomination in the sight of God." ^ The aspiring 
Nimrods, the flattering Absaloms of the world, judge that they 
have the flivour of God, when they have the favour of princes 
or people ; but Haman and Herod soon receive a confutatioi 

* Isa. xxvii. 11. f .Tohu vii. iU. :}: Liikc xvi. 15. 

216 THE EriSTLE 

from divine indignation, the one being hanged up like a dog, 
and worms eating the loathsome carcass of the other. The 
greedy griping sons of good old Eli, who would have the best, 
and quickly, or would take their part by force, thovigh they 
boasted of the ark and trusted to it, as having God Almighty 
in a manner engaged to them thereby, yet themselves were mi- 
serably slain, and their posterity must basely crouch for a piece 
of silver, and a morsel of bread.* Though carnal persons may 
bless the covetous rich man, yet God abhors him ;-|- if Jeconiah 
will set his eyes and heart only on his covetousncss, and build 
him an house by unrighteousness, and chambers by v/rong, and 
use his neighbour's service without wages, so he shall die unla- 
mented, and be buried with the burial of an ass ; the best part 
of his name shall be taken away, and he shall be called only 
Coniah, and though he were as the signet upon God's right 
hand, highly favoured, and advanced as ever mortal creature 
was, yet God would pluck him thence, and cast him out. :|; 
Though the king of Tyre be as the anointed cherub, and say 
he is God, and set his heart as the heart of God, yet he shall 
be brought down to the pit. || Though mystical Babylon say, 
I sit as queen, and glorify herself, and be big with hopes of 
immunity from the favour of the husband, whose spouse she 
pretends to be, yet it shall appear she is the habitation of 
devils, and her plagues shall come in one day, death, and 
mourning, and famine, and she shall be utterly burnt v/ith 
fire, for strong is the Lord God who judgcth her. § If Is- 
rael of old fill the world with the loud acclamations of " the 
temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we, the 
cliurch, the church, God's peculiar people, his portion, his 
chosen heritage,"" ^ yet God can take his leave of Jerusalem, 
as he did of Shiloh, and cast the people out of his sight ; and 
though they were to God once for a name and a praise, and for 
a glory, yet they become like a rotten girdle that is good for 
nothing; yea, God will dash them in pieces one against another, 
' and will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy 
them. ** If Chorazin and Bethsaida Iiad mighty works 

• 1 Sam. ii. \(i. iv. i. ii. 3a f Psalm x. .3. 

X Jer. xxii. 13, 17, l!i, 24, 2«. || Ezek. xxviii. II 

§ Kcv. xviii. <;. <r Ji'i'- vii. (. ** Jct. xiii. 11, 11. 


done in them, and were highly favoured with our Saviour's 
glorious miracles, yet -' it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and 
Sidon in the day of judgment than for them f and Caper- 
naum that was exalted to heaven in privileges, shall be cast down 
to the lowest, hottest hell in punishment. * The seven Asiatic 
churches may lose their splendour, and Laodicea herself that 
was rich, increased with goods, and had need of nothing in her 
own conceit, that is, was adorned with brave preachers, glorious 
privileges, sound doctrine and notable gifts of the Spirit, where- 
by she thought herself more favoured by God than all the rest, 
yet shall be so disgusting and disowned, that she shall be 
vomited out of his mouth like lukewarm water offensive to his 
stomach, f Thousands in the world are mistaken about this 
great affair of such infinite concernment. Oh what a discovery 
shall be made, and what a woful disappointment shall many 
have at death and judgment ! Some will think to plead moral 
righteousness, others common performances, others their splen- 
did professions, admission amongst, and communion with the 
saints : some will plead tlieir excellent gifts in praying, preach- 
ing and high preferment in the church, as Judas : others will 
say, have we not eaten and drunk in thy presence ? hast thou 
not taught in our streets ?l But he will answer these all alike, 
with " I know you not, I will not own you, depart from me 
ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his 
angels." Oh dreadful and unexpected sentence ! what, we de- 
part, we that were civil neighbours, good churchmen, orthodox 
believers, sober livers; mnst we depart? we that heard the 
word gladly, commended the preacher, practised many things, 
had strong convictions, hated idolatry, loved God's pure wor- 
ship, and took much delight in approaching to God, wilt thou 
not have favour for us ? must we be banished from thee ? oh 
strange disappointment. Alas, alas, what a discovering and 
dispiriting, and confounding day will that be to severaiijpersons, 
who upon false, self-flattering grounds were in this world as 
strangely conceited of their being in God's favour, as if they 
saw their names in God's book, or could look into God's heart 
and would by no means be beaten ofl' this conceit ; they shall now 
see themselves wofully deluded by Satan and their own dcceit- 
• Matt. xi. 20—24. + Kvx. iii. If), I7. % Lnkt- xiii 2(i. 


ful hearts, when it is too late to get into God's favour. Oh this 
makes lionest ministers'' hearts ache, and many good men weep in 
secret for the pride and folly of self-deceiving souls. If we tell 
them there is danger, bid them search, and deal plainly with 
their hearts, they look upon us as enemies, think we make more 
ado than needs, by affrighting them with scarecrows, and mak- 
ing false alarms ; they scorn our words, and bid us look to our- 
selves, assuring us that they are safe enovigh, and arc in God's 
favour as well as the best of us, though their inconsistent ex- 
pressions and irregular actions give ample ground of suspicion 
to intelligent observers : and alas, we are forced to leave them 
with a deep sigh, and a sad fear that we shall never see them at 
God's right hand with the saints another day. 

And as many mistake, and are in danger of miscarrying to 
all eternity; so this favour, this special favour of God must 
needs be of absolute necessity, though whilst men live in pros- 
perity, in the affluence and confluence of worldly comforts, they 
make a poor shift to enjoy themselves, drowning the noise of 
conscience, rocking themselves asleep in the cradle of case, 
running out of God's blessing into the warm sun, as we use to 
say : yet a day is coming that will burn as an oven, and all the 
proud and profane shall be as stubble, and it shall leave them 
neither root nor branch ; * their worldly wealth shall perish, 
and their hopes give up the ghost, when the heavens shall crack 
over their heads, and the earth trem.ble under their feet. Oh, 
what will God's favour and Christ's love-smiles be worth in that 
day, when he shall call the dead out of their graves, and bid 
t'nem stand forth to receive the final sentence of absolution, or 
condemnation, according to their state ? then, O then to have 
the favour of the Lord, the Judge of heaven and earth, will be 
worth a thousand worlds. When God shall summon us by his 
messenger death, and tell us that the days of our appointed 
time on t'ie earth are finished, he will remove us hence, to give 
an account of our stewardship ; oh then God's special favour 
Avill stand us in infinite stead ! In prosperity what can quiet a 
capacious sovil that is still prying and peeping beyond sublunaries 
for satisfaction ? It is he, the letters of whose name are quies- 
cent, that can give quietness, even the great Jehovah. In 
* Mai. iv. 1. 


adversity tlicrc is an apparent discovery of the necessity of di- 
vine special favour. "When God givctli quietness who then can 
make trouble, and when he hideth his face, who then can be- 
liold him ? * Then indeed in the day of calamity, God's 
favour is seen tu be seasonable, when the favour of men is lost, 
and all things look black about us. O the joy and comfort 
souls have felt in the light of God's countenance, one smile 
from heaven hath fetched the saints from death to life. 

Hence it is, that God's children have desired of the Lord 
some tokens of love, while they have been in this vale of tears. 
Let no man scoff at this, the Scripture warrants it : " Call 
unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and 
mighty things, which thou knowest not." — Jer. xxxiii. 3. So 
our Saviour, " He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, 
and I will love him, and manifest myself to him." — John xiv. 
2L This is a sufficient warrant for our prayers and expecta- 
tions in God's way, for as the word of promise encourageth us, 
so the word of precept directeth and regulateth our desires ; 
certainly God hath promised great things to believers who keep 
in his way, and hath made good his promises on all occasions, 
in all ages. 

What that token for good was which the princely prophet 
David prays for. Psalm Ixxxvi. 17, I will not positively deter- 
mine ; but sure I am, it was some evidence of God's favour to 
him, either in a miraculous or gracious way, in ordinances or in 
providence, by way of influence or evidence, for quickening or 
comforting his heart. I confess, if this holy man, this man after 
God's own heart, had some special ground to expect extraordinary 
manifestations being made to him, or for him, it becomes not 
us to follow him therein, except we had the like ground either 
as to external or internal things, lest we provoke God, and ruin 
ourselves by enthusiastic presumptions. Sleidan in his Com- 
mentaries, f gives us a large account of Thomas IMunster in 
Alstet, a town belonging to the Duke of Saxony in Thuringia, 
who exclaimed against Luther, as giving too much liberty : 
" For," saith he, " the body must be made lean with fasting, 
there should be simple apparel, the countenance must be framed 
to gravity, a man should speak seldom, wear a long beard," kc. 

' Joh xxxiv. 29. -I" Book 5, tol. 55. 

250 THE EriSTLE 

But to the purpose, he taught his followers to ask of God a 
sign, -whereby he might testify that he cared for them, and that 
they were of the true religion ; and albeit he shewed not a 
token soon, yet must they nevertheless proceed, pray still, 
expostulate, yea, complain loudly of God, that he dealt not 
well with them. Oh blasphemy ! " This expostulation and 
anger,"''' saith he, " is of God well accepted, for that he perceiv- 
eth hereby our earnest mind and zeal, and then no doubt, being 
thus urgently solicited, he will declare himself by some notable 
sign, and quench the thirst of our minds, dealing with us as 
he did in times past with the old fathers."" And then he makes 
a long speech to his followers, who were eight thousand, tells 
them they must not be afraid of their adversaries'' guns : " For 
all the bullets they shoot,''' saith he, " I will receive with my 
coat. Behold,'" saith he, " what a merciftil God we have, 
behold a sign or token of his everlasting good-will towards us, 
lift up your eves, and see the rainbow in the sky, for seeing we 
have the same painted in our ensign, God dcclareth plainly, 
that he will aid us in battle, and destroy the tyrants, wherefore 
set upon them with a liold courage." They sung a song, and 
thereby call for the help of the Holy Ghost ; but when the 
ordnance played upon them, they were amazed and over- 
whelmed, saith the historian, neither defending themselves, nor 
seeking safety by flight, trusting to ?*Iunster\s promise, and 
looking for help from heaven ; but they were miserably de- 
ceived, they were scattered, three thousand were slain, three 
hundred beheaded, Frankuse taken, and ]\Iunster put upon the 
rack. This story I mention to shew the danger of a delusion, 
and imagination of tokens from heaven, as in their case : 

1. In open rebellion against lawfril magistrates. 

2. For confirmation of their religion. 

3. Importuning and wrangling with God without a v.-ord of 

4. Charging God foolishly if he deny, Sec. 

We may call these truly flxnatics, as Calvin oft doth ; and 
whoever build their religion upon the like weak and sandy 
foundation, will find it insufficient, and themselves deceived. 
God's children own none but a Bible religion, and dare not 
expect any tiling of God, but what they have a scripture war- 

TO THE llEADEll. 251 

rant for in precept or precedent : but liow far believers in suc- 
ceeding ages may imitate the saints in scripture story, asking 
of God a sign, and enjoying it, I shall not at present discuss. 
It is true, history tells us of the nobles of Bohemia,* being to 
suffer the next day for the testimony of Christ, spent the night 
in prayer, singing the eighty-sixth Psalm, oft repeating the 
last petition, " Shew me a token for good C one of them said, 
*' Be of good cheer, for even in this God hath heard your voice, 
to-morrow he will shew some wonderful sign, whereby he will 
witness that we sufl'er for his cause." In the morning presently 
after sun -rising, a beautiful bow appeared, and compassed the 
heavens, the martyrs looked out at a window, and saw a rain- 
bow of an unusual colour, though the heavens were clear, and 
there had been no rain for two days before ; on which they fell 
on their faces, lifted up their hands and voices, praised God for 
this sign shewed from heaven, and afterwards suffered cheerfldly 
that day for the truth. Another in the Marian days cried out 
at the stake, " Son of God, sliine upon me ;'''' immediately the 
sun in the firmament shone on him, though it was a dark and 
cloudy day. Many other instances I might produce, witli 
which church histories abound, which it becomes not us to 
question, since God may grant peculiar dispensations to his 
suffering servants, in extraordinary cases, out of his usual course, 
but it is not safe for us to prescribe, or to expect that God 
should gratify our curiosity ; v/e have a more sure word of 
prophecy contained in the holy scriptures,-|- which are able to 
make us wise unto salvation, yea, to make the man of God per- 
fect, thoroughly furnished to every good v/ork. If we leave 
this scriptural way, and look for tokens from God in any other 
way, we expose ourselves to the danger of being deceived by 
lying wonders, and Satanical delusions. | The devil would 
have persuaded Augustine to seek a sign from God, but he 
would not, because he saw many deluded by such apparitions, 
and therefore saith, " He that now expects miracles, is himself 
the greatest miracle,"' that is, of unbelief Satan hath often 
transformed himself into an angel of light, and imposed upon 
credulous superstition. Gerson tells how Satan appeared to a 

• Clark's Martyr, p. 170. f 2 Pet. i. 10. Eph. ii. ?0. 2 Tim. iii. 15, 17. 
t 2 Thess. ii. 'J. 


holy man in a most glorious mannci-,* professing himself to bo 
Christ, saying, he appeared to him because he deserved respect 
before others, but he answered I desire not to see my Saviour 
in this vale of tears, it shall suffice me to see him in the hea- 
vens, *S'/7, in olio scBCtdo non in hoc, visio tua, mcrces mca, 
" let in the other v/orld, not in this, the vision of thee be my 
reward." The same we find appeared to Luther, in the form 
of a crucified Christ upon the wall, but on his solemn protesta- 
tion the apparition immediately vanished. 

It becomes God's people to adhere to the law and testimony, 
and to desire and welcome such tokens of God's favour as 
these : — 

1. God's holy ordinances. God gave the Sabbath to Israel 
as a sign of his being their God ; Exod. xxxi. 13. The ark 
was a token of his presence, so are the word and sacraments to 
us. God forbid such a day should come on us, not to see our 
signs ; Psal. Ixxiv. 9- Better, said the people of Antioch, 
want the shining of the sun, than the preaching of Chrysostom. 

2. The fi-uit of ordinances. If this and that man be born in 
Zion, it is a good sign of God's favour, and that God will 
establish it ; Psal. Ixxxvii. 5. Oh ! where is the spirit of the 
Lord ? where is the Lord God of Elijah ? It would be a rich 
mercy to see a day of his power when people are made willing. 

3. A spirit of adoption, of grace and supplication stirred up. 
When God prepares the heart, it is a sign he will cause his ear 
to hear ; Psal. x. 17. A spirit of sloth in this respect is a sad 
token of God's anger and absence ; Isa. Ixiv. 7. 

4. A penitent reforming spirit. This was a token of good 
to Israel, Hag. i. 14, also to Nineveh, Jonah iii. 8. An 
unmalleable, unframeable spirit in a people, portends greater 
blows, Amos iv. 11. 12. And in our own individual cases, let 
us be earnest with God for sanctifying grace, which is a singular 
token of his special favour, and a sign the second death shall 
not have power over us, Rev. xx. 6. His Spirit being in us is 
a sign of our interest in him, and resurrection with him, Rom. 
viii. 9, 11. Let us beg of him direction; some token for a 
way-mark to keep in God's way, tlie King of heaven's high 
road to the new Jerusalem, for this is a covenant mercy, Isa 

■ Dc Prybitliote Spiritus. 


xlviii. 17. Let us beg a special pledge for our protection and 
preservation, so far as is consistent with his heavenly pleasure, 
to be a mourner's mark in an evil day, Ezek. ix. 4. Let us beg 
of God some token of his affection for our satisfaction, some 
incomes of his grace, and sealings of his Spirit, wliich may be 
a blessed earnest of our future happiness, Eph. i. 13, 14. The 
earnest is part of the payment, so these comforts of grace are 
grapes of Canaan, morsels of the upper table, preludes and fore- 
tastes of eternal enjoyments. Suppose we were all malefactors, 
and the king offers a sealed pardon, and withal declares, that 
such as have not the great seal to shew, must suffer at the next 
assizes ; but such as have, must be received to favour, and 
honoured. The case is ours : O with what running, seeking, 
using friends, begging, enduring difficulties and trials, should 
we be content, that we may have a sealed evidence of the King 
of heaven's favour. Let the mocking ]\Iichals, and scoffing 
Ishmaels of the world say what they please, it is worth seeking, 
striving for, prizing and admiring : when God saith, " Seek my 
face,'' why should not our souls echo, " Thy face. Lord, will I 
seek," Psal. xxvii. 8. 

This is the design of the small Treatise now put into your 
hands ; and O that God would accompany our endeavours witii 
his blessing, and second our preaching and printing, to begin 
and complete the great match between Jesus Christ and jDoor 
sinners ; he hath di-awn up the articles, and proposed them to you 
by us, his holy words speak his willingness, these want nothing 
now but your consent, and the match is made. O sinners, we 
bring you letters of love and kindness from our beloved, we 
shew you his excellency, we disclose the large dowry he offers 
you, the fair house you shall dwell in with him, the pains he hath 
taken for you ; whether all this will prevail we cannot tell, but 
if this be the last sentence I must write, or you read, I do by 
these presents summon you to answer this address before the 
dread tribunal of the great Judge at the last day, when this 
amongst other witnesses shall stand on record against you. If 
you entertain not this our gospel, and be not found in God's 
favour, ministers that warned you, at that day must say. Amen 
to your just condemnation. But we would rather present you 


as chaste virgins to Christ, as accepted of God and approved 
of men. 

It is our work to preach and write, yours to hear and read, 
and God''s work to give success ; we therefore follow these poor 
endeavours with our prayers to the Father of spirits, for con- 
verting and confirming grace, that thou Reader mayest increase 
in favour with God and man, as our Saviour did, that we may 
at last give up our account with joy, and not with grief, and 
that those who sow, and those who reap, may rejoice together ; 
which is the earnest prayer of. 

Thy soul's friend, 


November m. 1678. 


Psalm xxx. 5. 
-In his favour is life. 



The title of this psalm is, " A psalm and song, at the 
dedication of the house of David." What this dedica- 
tion means, or with what ceremonies it was performed, 
or what house it was that was dedicated, I shall not 
decide ; or to what time it refers, whether his first 
inhabiting of his house, or re-possession after Absalom's 
defiling it, I shall not here determine. The psalm itself 
may well be called, A divine miscellany of christian 
experiences ; I shall enumerate a few of them. 

1. David's exalting God in praises, who had elevated 
him in mercy, verse 1, " I will extol thee, O Lord, for 
thou hast lifted me up." A good man advanced by 
God, will highly advance God : the higher our state is, 
the more elevated must be our praises : when God 
magnifies us, the more we should glorify God. This 
is a Christian's duty and practice. 

2. David's cry, and God's gracious assistance, verse 

256 I.IYE IX 

2, " I have cried unto thee, and thou hast heakd ine." 
Cheap medicine ! it was but a mournful complaint, and 
God came with a healing hand. God is a ready and 
successful physician. Pardoning grace healed his soul; 
a merciful providence healed his bod)% estate, and 

3. David's resurrection from the grave, and preser- 
vation from the pit, verse 3 : he was at the grave's 
mouth, or in a grave of banishment, but brought back ; 
and as to soul- terrors, near the pit of hell by des- 
pair or temptations, but prevented.* The grave of 
temporal afflictions, and the pit of eternal torments 
may be waiting for the saints, and they may be 
wonderfully snatched out of both. How oft is there 
but a step betwixt them and death really, and in their 
apprehension ? 

4. David's warm heart in God's praises, wherein he 
not only employs himself, but all God's people to help 
him in praising God, verse 4, " Sing vmto the Lord, O 
ye saints of his." A praying soul will be a praising 
soul ; the m.ore God's people pray, the more occasion 
have they for praise, and an individual believer cannot 
lift up God's praise high enough, a concert is fittest in 
this music : hence heaven is the proper place of praise, 
where that blessed choir of saints and angels will for 
ever echo forth God's glory. Holy souls are only fit 
to celebrate the memory of his holiness. 

5. David's tasting both wrath and love in a short 
space, verse 5, " His anger is but a moment," that is, 
endui-eth for a short space, but there are quick retui'ns 
of favour. Wrath is wont to come before love, death 
precedes life, a storm before a calm ; a strong wind, 
earthquake, and fire go before the still small voice ;f the 

* Sepulchrum, fovea, vel infernum. 
t 1 KiniTs xix. 11, 12. 

GOI)\s TAVOUR. 257 

law before the gospel ; John the Baptist before our Sa- 
viour, that God's children may by a night of darkness 
be prepared for, and learn to prize a morning of light. 

6. David's carnal confidence in a prosperous state, 
verse 6, " In my prosperity I said, I shall never be 
moved," that is, thus I talked with myself when I was 
in abundance, health, and quietness. O deceitful heart ! 
A healthful man thinks not of sickness.* God built 
him a house, he builds himself a castle, but it is in the 
air. A deceitful heart allures a good man into a fool's 
l^aradise. When things go well, secui-ity kills us ; 
when God shines in his transfiguring mount, we will 
build tabernacles, but observe it, this is David's mount 
which stood through God's favour. 

7. David's sudden reverse, verse 7, "Thou didst 
hide thy face, and I was troubled." Self-mounted, soon 
dismounted, when a frown came into God's brow, it 
soured all my pleasure. The turning away of God's 
face overturns the soid's hopes and joys, God's hand is 
at the foot of our mountain, and if his countenance 
frown, and he withdraw his supporting hand, our 
mount falls into the valley of discouragement, if not 
despair ; we are mere dependents. 

8. David's importunate expostulation, verse 8 — 10, 
" I cried to thee O Lord :" — How often do God's 
children, like our volatile children, change their note, 
alter their tune ? Singing and sighing are near neigh- 
bours. They say the limner can with one dash of his 
pencil turn a laughing into a weeping face : thus doth 
God ; David was erewhile so full of joy that he calls 
all the saints to help him in praise, now he musters 
up all his energies to complain, pray, and expostulate. 
Prayer is the language of grief, as praise is of joy. 

9. David's comfortable transition, verse 11, his 

* In aLunJantia tranqiiillitatis. 
VOL. 111. b 

258 LIFE IX 

mourning is turned into dancing, sackcloth into glad- 
ness; a sudden and wonderful change, bitter turned 
into sweet, darkness into light, hell into heaven. O 
what can God do, and what strange effects doth heart- 
joy produce ! The man that was grovelling upon the 
earth is now raised up, and exults in the sprightly 
movements of a cheerful dance,* as one set at liberty 
out of the restraint and darkness of a troublesome pri- 
son, he puts off his filthy rags, or rather, strait and 
coarse coat of sackcloth, and is clothed with the robe 
of righteousness, and garments of salvation. O what 
a metamorphosis ! 

10. David's due sense of God's chief end and design 
in all this, verse 12, " To the end that my glory may 
sing praise to thee." His glory is the best thing he 
hath, his tongue, say some, his soul, say others ; I say 
both soul and body must join to celebrate God's praises. 
Nor shall we repent of sounding God's praise : the 
more we praise God, the more occasions of praise God 
will minister to us " But I will hope continually, and 
will yet praise thee more and more." 

Thus much for the context. In all this we may 
discern what ups and downs God's servants are subject 
to in this weary world, like a seaman's tossing, or a 
traveller's road that lies up hill and down. And what 
variety of affections are excited upon several occasions 
in the hearts of God's children, joy and sorrow, fear 
and boldness, desu'e and aversion, take their tm'ns, 
and act their several parts in a Christian's breast. 

But to come to the words, in which we have night 
and day, thunder and lightning, the dark and the bright 
side of a Christian's cloud, law and gospel, wrath and 
love set opposite to each other, and compared, wherein 
consider : — 

* In chorum, i. e. gaudium solenne intimum ac maximum. 

r";()D's KAVoriJ. 259 

First, How the words are introduced. 
Secondly, Wherein the comparison lies. 
1. The words come in as a satisfying answer to a 
tacit objection thus formed : Alas, saith the gracious 
soul, how should I help in this blessed duty of praise, 
as is required, verse 4, for alas ! I feel God's anger 
upon me, I lie under tokens of displeasure, how can I 
sing and give thanks ? 

(1.) He answers this by a concession, be it so, yet it 
is fit there should be an interchanging succession of 
joy and sorrow, as of day and night. 

(2.) Sorrow like an unwelcome guest will lodge all 
night, but a blessed morning is coming, which will 
dispel the thick clouds of a sad night. 

(3.) It is but a short night, his anger endureth but 
a moment, it is but short, though sharp ; it will not 
be always, nor long. 

(4.) It is worth waiting for, his favour will recom- 
pense poor afflicted expectants, for in his favour is 

2. The comparison lies, betwixt God's wrath and 
his favour, in reference to the nature and duration 
of both, 

(1). In the nature, properties, and effects. God's 
wrath begets night, that is, sorrow, sadness ; for night 
in scripture oft imports sorrow. How can the afflicted 
soul refrain from weeping sore in the night,* when the 
sun of righteousness is withdrawn. If the wrath of a 
king be as messengers of death, surely God's wrath 
must be death to the soul ; but now in God's favour 
there is life; a man, a believer lives by the bright 
shining of God's face. 

(2.) They are compared in their duration. God's 
wrath is but for a moment, for a night, that is, there 
* Lam. i. 2. 
5 2 



is a season of God's frowning and scourging, which at 
longest can only endure, with respect to God's people, 
the term of their natural life ; whilst his favour con- 
tinues not only as long as natural life, but runs parallel 
with the life of the soul and line of eternity. 

This former part of the verse appears intricate, 
because brief and concise, the latter part seems an 
illustration thereof by an excellent rhetorical allusion. 
Ills anger, his rod or whip ; for when God is angry 
lie inflicts punishment ; anger is short, indignation 
more severe, yet both do not reach hatred. God's anger 
is manifested by its effects ; when he scourgeth, as men 
do when angry, it is the fruit of vindictive or punitive 
justice, for he is not angry as men are. 

But the words lie thus, a moment in Jiis cmger,* it 
is only momentary ; in his favour life, his love is last- 
ing, yea, everlasting : so life is opposed to a moment. 
The sense of the words is this : although for our sins 
God may sometimes be angry with us, yet in due time 
he manifests Iiis good pleasure, which calls us back from 
death to life, wherein otherwise we should die witli 
liorror and despair here, and eternal shame and con- 
fusion hereafter. 

Some indeed read the words thus,f making life refer 
to the former sentence, and his favour to the latter, life 
or lives, that is, the longest, sweetest life of men is a 
moment in his anger, or is momentary ; in his good 
will, that is, when his favour sweetly breathes on us, 
weeping may lodge with us in the night, but joy comes 
in the morning. The former part is parallel to that 
complaint in Psal. xxxix. 5, " Behold, thou hast made 
my days as a hand-breadth." And that expression 
is like it, Psal. xc. 5, "For all our days are passed 
away in thy wrath." But the reading which we have 
* IMomentum in ira sua. t Vid. Mr. Pool's Syn. Critic, in loc. 

god's favour. 261 

in our Bibles is generally preferred for several good 
reasons. I shall wave further explication, and also 
raising observations, and propose this as the doctrine to 
be treated of in the words of the text, which is an 
entire proposition, that, " In God's favoiu' is life." 

There is life in God's love, or God's love is a Chris- 
tian's life. 

It is a scripture truth asserted by David here, being 
inspired by the Holy Ghost ; and Moses saith the 
same, Deut. xxx. 20, "For he is thy life, and the 
length of thy days," that is, not formally, but effec- 
tively, by mentioning the effect, he is the cause of thy 
life, or herein consisteth thy life to obey and enjoy 

In prosecution of this doctrine I shall confine myself 
to the following inquiries : — 

1. "What this favour of God is, and what this life ? 

2. In what respect God's favour is life ? 

3. To whom, and in what seasons it is life ? 

4. Why God's people account his favour life ? 
And so come to an application. 



I. We are to inquire, what is God's favour ? and what 
is life ? I shall put both these together, and so ey« 
plain the terms briefly. 

The word in the first language signifies, will, good 

262 LIFE 15^* 

will, good pleasure;* Dent, xxxiii. 23, "O Naphtali, 
satisfied with favour, full with the blessing of the 
Lord." The latter sentence explains the former; when 
God is pleased to bless persons, they have his favour, 
and it is that which will satisfy them. It also signifies 
acceptance, Isa. Ix, 7, " They shall come up with accep- 
tance," or favour, ov good will,j " on mine altar." It is 
the same word as here. Once more, sometimes our 
English version renders it desire, Psal. cxlv. 19, " He 
will fulfil the desire," good will, " of them that fear 
him." But as applied here to God, it imports God's 
great regard for his creatures, and it is fourfold. 

1. God's favour is his goodness in the ordinary 
course of his providence towards all, even to the worst 
of men, Isa. xxvi. 10, " Let favour be shewed to the 
wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness." And 
this is our natural life, both as to the origin and main- 
taining of it, good and bad have their dependence upon 
God's providence ; for he holdeth our soul in life, Psal. 
Ixvi. 9. God doth not do as workmen that make an 
artificial engine, and set it a-going, and so leave it to 
itself, but his favour preserves our being and well- 
being ; Job x. 12, "Thou hast granted me life and 
favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit." 
By favour is meant either that life is a favour, or that 
beneficence whereby we are supplied with all needful 
accommodations. The heathens knew this,± and their 
poets sung it, as Paul quotes Aratus and others. Acts 
xvii. 28, " For we are also his offspring." So that 
the stoutest champion and proudest emperor on earth 
depend upon God's favour and courtesy, whether they 
shall live another moment ; so Daniel informs a 

* Voluntas, benevolentia, beneplacitum. t Ad beneplacituni. 
X Vid. Pool's Syn. Critic, in loc. 

god's favour. 265 

mighty monarch, chap. v. 23, " God in whose hand 
thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways." O that 
all men did but live under a sense of this great truth, 
that in God's favour is their life. 

2. By God's favour are meant some signal acts of dis- 
criminating Providence. Thus God shewed favour to 
Israel his peculiar people, Psal. xliv. 2, 3, God drove 
out the heathen, that is, the seven nations of Canaan, 
and planted his people in their room. Why did he so ? 
The Psalmist answers, "not by their sword or arms, but" 
positively, " by thy right hand and thine arm, because 
thou hadst a favour unto them." God's favour was their 
armour and artillery, this produced weapons for them, 
both offensive and defensive: hence Psal. v. 12, "For 
thou Lord wilt bless the righteous, with favour wilt 
thou compass* him as with a shield." This produceth 
our comfortable, safe, happy life, which is emphatically 
called life : so 1 Sam. xxv. 6, " Thus shall ye say to 
him that liveth," that is, that lives prosperously, joy- 
fully, comfortably. And 1 Thess. iii. 8, "Now we 
live, if ye stand fast in the Lord," that is, we live a 
life of joy; for as Rebecca said of her sad and sorrowful 
life. Gen. xxvii. 46, "I am weary of my life because of 
the daughters of Heth, if Jacob take such an one, what 
good shall my life do me ? " For a life of sorrows is 
a dying life, scarce worth the name of life in the ac- 
count of one bitter in soul. But now God's favom* pro- 
duceth deliverances, comfortable provisions, resurrec- 
tion from death to life, and all accommodations. Thus 
God raised Hezekiah from a mortal disease, thus he 
lighted David's candle,f and thus he prevents a thou- 
sand dangers, and loads us with multitudes of blessings, 
whereby our lives are rendered comfortable. And 
what is the ground of all this ? why, God's favour. 

* Coronabo eum. Heb. crown. t Isa. xxxviii. Psal. xviii. 28. 

264 LIFE IN 

Consult PsaJ. xci. 4, 14—16. Psal. Ixxxv. 1—3. O 
consider this, it is by God's favour that our life is not 
a hell, but so near akin to paradise. 

3. By God's favour, the scripture often means the 
special fruits of God's distinguishing grace, vouchsafed 
to his own children, and to none else. Psalm cvi. 4, 
" Remember me, O Lord, with the favour of thy peo- 
ple ;" that is, the favour thou bearest to thy people, as 
our translation explains it : then it follows, " O visit 
me with thy salvation." This is peculiar grace flowing 
from the spring of everlasting love, producing all the 
streams that feed spiritual life in the soul. From the 
fountain of God's favour flows converting grace, which 
puts a seed of spiritual life into the heart, whereby we 
live unto God, 2 Cor. v. 14, 15. It is the favour of 
benevolence, whereby God first makes us his people, 
1 Sam. xii. 22. It is the favour of complacency, where- 
by God takes delight in his people, Zeph. iii. 17, and 
here originate all the precious fruits of gospel grace, 
the giving of his Son,* the preaching of the gospel, the 
sanctification of souls, their justification, their commu- 
nion with God, and eternal salvation. All the privi- 
leges that saints enjoy on this side heaven, and in hea- 
ven, proceed from the favour of God, and so God's 
favour is our life spiritual and eternal, yea, a living 
faith, and the life of faith is God's gift, and a fruit of 
this favour, f This is life eternal begun, this indeed 
is a life worthy of being called life, without which 
we are but dead men morally, and must die eternally. 
But the good v/ill or favour of God gives such water 
to his saints, as shall be in them a well of water spring- 
ing up to everlasting life, John iv. 14. No wonder 
then if David so earnestly desires this favour of God, 
\%4thout which he was not a saint, nor accepted : Psal. 
■* John iii. IG. t Eph. ii. il John xvii. 3. 

cod's rAVouii. 265 

cxix. 132, " Look thou upon me," that is, with a pro- 
pitious, favoui'able aspect, " and be merciful unto me, 
as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name." 
All have mercies, but all have not tender mercies, 
of which David makes great account : * this distin- 
guishing kindness and especial favour create a spiritual 

4. There is one thing more which this favour im- 
ports, namely, the sense and feeling of this favour of 
God in the soul, produced by a delightful and satisfying 
manifestation of it to the soul. This David intends, 
Psalm cxix. 58, " I entreated thy favour f with my 
whole heart," that is, David longs not only for the 
fruits of God's favoiu* in his soul, but the shining of 
God's face upon him, the sweet assurance of God's 
special love : Psahn xxxi. 16, " Make thy face to shine 
upon thy servant," which elsewhere is called the beauty 
of the Lord. ± This David makes the reason of that 
one thing begged, that he might dwell in God's house ; 
and all God's servants have sought for it, and looked 
upon it as their life, light, help, and health. Psalm 
Ixxx. 3, " Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to 
shine, and we shall be saved." And Psalm Ixvii. 1, 2, 
*' God be merciful to us, and bless us, and cause his 
face to shine upon us, that thy way may be known upon 
earth, thy saving health among all nations." It is an 
expression borrowed from men, that when they are 
well pleased with their friends, they look cheerfully 
upon them, which begets joy and comfort in their 
drooping acquaintance : Pro v. xvi. 15, " In the light 
of the king's countenance is life, and his favour is as a 
cloud of the latter rain." Even so when God beholds 
his children with a cheerful countenance, it animates, 
exhilarates, and revives their drooping spirits. So 
* Psalm Ixix. Hi. t Heh. face. X Psalm xc. 16, 17- xxvii. i. 

266 LIFE IN 

saith David, Psalm iv. 6, 7, " Lord, lift tliou up the 
light of thy countenance upon us : thou hast put glad- 
ness in my heart more than in the time that their corn 
and wine increased." David opposeth God's favour to 
the vast multitudes of his enemies, and instead of 
armies, he begs God's favour may be lifted up on his 
soul as a banner, for so the words import ; as if he 
had said, men have their friends and confederates to be 
kind auxiliaries to them, but I desire no other comfort 
than thy favour for me, * and the sense and assurance 
of thy love to me ; shew that thou hast a regard for 
me, and the brightness of thy smiling face will scatter 
mine enemies as a mist, or at least dispel those black 
clouds that sit upon my benighted spirit, and will 
bring day-light. O the joy that this creates ! not in 
face, but in heart, true, full, intimate, and satisfying : 
this is the only reviving aqtfa vifcs to the fainting 
spirits, that fetcheth a soul from death to life ; the 
storms of God's wrath kill the soul's comfort, and nip 
the buds of our hopes, but the sweet beams of divine 
love in the spring-time of God's gracious return, put 
life into the disconsolate soul ; even as a child is thun- 
derstruck by his angry Father's frowns, but revived 
by friendly, affectionate smiles. This favovir of God 
begets another life of divine joy, pleasure, and satisfac- 
tion: this is the life of heaven, a feeding upon the 
grapes of Canaan ; this is a blessed paradise, a little 
corner in the heavenly Jerusalem ; this is with the be- 
loved disciple to lie on Jesus' bosom; this is to have the 
joys of his salvation. It is true, this is not every one's 
privilege, but sometimes God doth graciously indulge his 
servants with the comfort of these sensible foretastes of 
heaven. When that eminent Scotch divine, Mr. Robert 
Bruce, in his dying moments, was asked by his friends 
* Attolle in vexillum lucem vultus tui. 

god's favour. 267 

how it was with him, he answered, " Wlien I was young 
I was diligent, and lived by faith in the Son of God ; 
but now I am old, and not able to do much, yet he 
condescends to feed me with sensible enjojTiients." 
And indeed this kind of life is, as it were, a kind of 
life of spiritual sense: Psalm Ixxxix. 15 — 17, " Blessed 
is the people that know the joj^ul sound : they shall 
walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. — In 
thy name shall they rejoice all the day : and in thy 
righteousness shall they be exalted. — For thou art the 
glory of their strength : and in thy favour oui* horn 
shall be exalted." These two things, I suppose, are 
meant in this text,, namely, the favour of distinguishing 
mercy which begets spiritual life in real saints, and the 
favoiu* of God manifested to the soul, which creates a 
comfortable, joyful life : both these David intends here, 
especially the latter. If you ask further, whose favour 
this is in which is life ? I answer, the favour of all the 
persons in the sacred Trinity, God the Father, God the 
Son, God the Holy Ghost : you have them all men- 
tioned in the valedictory benediction prescribed for the 
Priests, Numb. vi. 24 — 26. The JLord hless thee and 
keep thee : " Let God the Father, the fountain of bless- 
ings, the preserver of his creatures, bless thee with 
spiritual blessings, give thee grace, and preserve it in 
thee." The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and 
he gracious unto thee : " Let God the Son, the Sun of 
Righteousness irradiate thy soul with beams of gospel 
light and love, and shine into thy heart with the light 
of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of 
Jesus Christ."* The Lord lift up his countenance 
upon thee, and give thee peace: " Let the good Spirit 
of God the Comforter bring the report of God's love to 
thee, make thy calling and election sure, apply to thee 
* 2 Cor. iv. 6. 

268 LIFE IN 

redeeming grace, and give thee the comfort thereof." 
The apostle expresses himself thus : " The peace of 
God that passeth all understanding, shall keep your 
hearts and minds through Christ Jesus ; and the grace 
of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the 
communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. 
Amen." * This New Testament benediction answers 
to that in the Old, and both imply the peculiar bless- 
ings proper to these persons of the Trinity, and which 
are distributed to God's people. Yet withal we must 
take that rule which divines have laid down, that the 
works of the Trinity ad extra, with respect to things 
without, are undivided, and common to all the persons 
of the Trinity ; f because the essence is common to all 
the persons, so are essential works. Hence creation is 
ascribed to the Son, redemption to the Father, sancti- 
fication both to Father and Son, as well as to the Holy 
Ghost. Hence divines lay down another rule, that one 
and the same operation in reference to the creature, in 
different respects may be either personal or essential ; 
so Christ's incarnation inchoatively is an essential ope- 
r..tion common to the Trinity, but terminatively, it is 
the personal operation of the Son alone. But how we 
may conceive of God in worship, or how to expect 
good from the persons of the Trinity, I shall say no 
more ; but refer you to that choice man of God, and 
great instrument of good, Mr. Diu'ham, in his Exposi- 
tion of Revel, on ch. i. fol. 9 — 20. 

One thing more I must add, that there is no saving 
favour shown by God to men, but only through Jesus 
Christ the sole mediator of the covenant. It is only by 
Christ that God is reconciled to sinners, Christ is the 

* Phil. iv. 7. 2 Cor. xiii. 14. 

+ Opera Trinitatis ad extra sunt indivi^sa, sen omnibus personis 

(rODs FAVOl'R. 26'9 

great propitiation by whom an atonement is made : * 
God is through his sufFerings and intercession pacified, 
and now at last shews himself friendly and favourable 
to believing souls ; for he saith, " This is my beloved 
Son, in whom I am well pleased." — Matt. iii. 17. In 
whom, not only with his person, actings, sufferings, 
but through him, with all that come to God by him ; 
Eph. i. G, " To the praise of the glory of his grace, 
wherein he hath made us accepted, or acceptable, in 
the beloved," that is, in Jesus Christ the Son of his 
love. Never did one stream of grace issue out for sin- 
ners since the fall, but in this channel ; never did any 
beam of God's favour savingly enlighten, enliven, or 
rejoice a believer's heart, but in the face of Jesus Christ. 
Man having lost God's favoiu' by the fall, he will not 
act propitiously towards him again or receive him into 
favour, but in this gospel way of atonement. 



II. How is the favour of God said to be life ? As his 
favour and life have been already described, I proceed 
to observe, that his favour is 

The cause, the object, the rule, and the end of life. 

1. God's favour is the cause of life ; for " every 
good thing comes down from the Father of lights." — 
James 1. 17. Every good gift of nature, accomplish- 
ment or accommodation, owns God's favour for its 
author, and every perfect gift of special grace, comfort 
* 2 Cor. V. la Col. i. 20, 21. Rom. iii. 25. 

S70 i-iFi: IX 

or glory is the blessed product of divine distinguishing 
love : grace and peace proceed from God the Father, 
and the Lord Jesus* — grace to make us good, and 
peace in the sense and feeling of this good ; grace to 
make our souls acceptable to God, peace whereby we 
may be comfortable in ourselves. See this fully in 
Psalm xxxvi. 8, 9, " They shall be abundantly satis- 
fied with the fatness of thy house, and thou shalt 
make them drink of the river of thy pleasures." Why 
so ? " For with thee is the fountain of life." Natural, 
spiritual, joyful, eternal life, all that is connected with 
our being or well-being is in God as in a fountain, 
whence the streams flow ; for this fatness of God's 
house, and river of pleasure is nothing else but the 
sense of God's love, which depends on God as the author, 
" in whose presence is fulness of joy, and at whose 
right hand are pleasures for evermore.' — Ps. xvi. 11. 

2. God's face or favour is the object of life, and in- 
deed thus becomes the cause ; the sight of God in 
Christ is the soul's spiritual life. " And this is life 
eternal, that they might know thee the only true God> 
and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent." — John xvii. 3. 
By faith a soul sees him that is invisible, and faith is 
the soul's life, the just live by faith.f All our present 
life of comfort consists in viewing the light of God's 
countenance. When God hides his face poor David 
is troubled, Psalm xxx. 7 ; but when God shews his 
reconciled face, the drooping soul, like the sun-flower, 
begins to open, cheer, and revive. O the comfort 
this sight of God's face and favour creates in the soul ! 
And indeed heaven is nothing else but the beatific 
vision, or the seeing of God's blessed countenance. 
When the heavenly courtiers get into the chamber of 
presence, and behold the King of Heaven's face, they 
* 1 Cor. i. 3. t Heb. xi. 27- Hab. ii. 4. 

god's favouu. 271 

shall need no more to complete their happiness. So 
Scriptm-e testifies, Psalm xvii. 15. 1 Cor. xiii. 12. 

3. God's favour is the rule of life, especially of a 
Christian's life. * A real saint acts according to this, 
squares his joys, sorrows, cares, fears, desires, delights, 
according to the sense or manifestations of God's fa- 
vour, or his withdrawing from the soul : if the King 
smile he is cheered, if he frown he is cast down. So 
David expresses himself, " He hideth his face, I am 
troubled :" but Acts ii. 28, " Thou wilt make me full 
of joy with thy countenance." This is the regulator 
of a Christian's actions, duties, and graces, for God's 
favour influences all, actuates all. Nay, further, God's 
providential favour is the rule and measure of the 
natural life of creatures, Psalm civ, 29, " Thou hidest 
thy face, they are troubled, thou takest away their 
breath, they die and return to their dust." 

4. But especially God's favour is the end of life; the 
destined end of all creatures' lives and actions is God's 
pleasure. Rev. iv. 11. They are subordinate to his 
will : Rom. xi. 36, " For of him, and through him, 
and to him are all things." All the creatures tend to 
God, as the lines to the centre ; but as all a man's la- 
bours in his calling tend to uphold a frail natural life, 
so all a Christian's undertakings are for this, to main- 
tain or obtain God's favour ; his attending on God's 
ordinances is for this. Psalm xxvii. 4, " To behold 
the beauty of the Lord ; " to see his power and glory 
in the sanctuary," Psalm Ixiii. 1, 2. Why so ? why, 
ver. 3, he saith, " Because thy loving-kindness is better 
than life :" my life is in it, but that is not all, for it is 
better than the life I live, my life would do me no good 

* He dares do nothing but must have God's favour upon him 
therein. See Exod. xxxlii. 13, 16. Psalm xc. 16, 17- So it ia 

his rule. 

272 LIFE IN 

without it. therefore I would travel far to gain it. When 
the church had lost the sense of God's favour, see what 
pains she takes, Cant. iii. 1 — 5. She seeks him upon 
her bed, then she riseth, goeth about the city in the 
streets and broad ways, public and private ordinances, 
then inquires of the watchmen, faithful ministers. At 
another time, her soul failed when the sense of liis fa- 
vour was withdrawn, and she bids them tell him, by 
earnest prayer for her, that she was sick of love, she 
was fainting away, * Oh ! what would the gracious 
soul do, be, endure, or lose, in order to enjoy God's 
favour. Why doth he pray, read, obey, give, but that 
he may comply with God's mind, and please the Lord. 
He would rather have God's favour than the favoui* of 
all the world besides. But more of this hereafter. 



HI. To whom, and at what times and seasons is 
God's favour life ? I may say as to the preservation 
of natural life, God's providential favour is necessary 
every moment ; but here I speak of God's special fa- 
vour to the souls of his people, and of the manifesta- 
tion thereof. Now there are some special seasons 
wherein persons lie under a strong conviction and im- 
pression that in God's favour is life. It is true, a 
* Cant. V. 6—8. 

god's favour. 27ii 

Christian ought to lie, and will lie under a conviction, 
that in God's favour is life, both in religious duties 
and solemn ordinances, in the enjoyment of creature 
comforts and friendly relations. But I shall pass 
these, and pitch upon the following seasons, namely. 

On first conversion, — in returning after backslid- 
ings, — in an afflicted state, — and on near approaches 
of death. 

1. Young converts on the soul's first change and 
conversion to God, feel that his favour is life, and that 
in four respects. 

(1.) In discovering God's way to the troubled soul. 
As soon as the secure sinner is pricked at the heart, 
and thoroughly awakened, he begins to cry out with 
the Jews and the jailor, " Men and brethren, what 
shall we do ? Sirs, what shall I do to be saved ?"* I 
want a friendly guide to set me into the right way, I 
have lost myself, and know not what to do, or which 
way to go ; I have been so used to wander, that I 
know not which way to steer my course ; I am now 
set fast, and see that if I step forward in my old track 
I am undone, another way I must take, and which way 
I cannot tell ; my soul with weeping inquires the way 
to Zion; to heaven I would go, but know not the 
patli.f For God's sake, ye ministers of Christ, give me 
your best advice what I must do ; and O that God 
would favour me so much in this howling wilderness 
as to direct me in the right way to a city of habitation.]: 
I have gone astray like a lost sheep upon the moun- 
tains of sin and error, and the way of peace I have not 
known ; O that the Lord would make all his promises 
good to my soul for counsel and direction. Now God's 
favour in this work of guidance is expressed in such 
promises as these, which the bewildered soul must 
• Acts ii. 37. xvi. 30. t Jer. 1. 4, 5. J Psal. cvii. 6, 7- 


274 i-iFE IK 

make grounds of encouragement and matter of prayer : 
Psal. xxxii. 8. Isa. xxx. £1. xxxv. 8. xlviii. 17. Psal. 
XXV. 12, 14. Isa. xlii. 16. Luke i. 79- 

(2.) A convinced sinner wants God's favour, and 
esteems it his life. If the Lord would give him a pe- 
nitent heart, a heart to turn from all sin to God, he 
would be thankful, knowing that repentance is God's 
gift* The poor soul is convinced of its necessity, 
difficulty, yea, iis own inability to turn itself, and cries 
out, Lord, thou hast commanded me to turn myself, 
but that must be only to use the means wherein thou 
hast appointed me to obtain conversion, for thou art 
solely the proper efficient cause of this great work. 
Alas ! I can no more convert myself than I can create 
myself; I cannot make one hair white or black, much 
less m.ake my heart new or holy : this perfect gift 
comes from the Father of lights, and is a blessed eftect 
of sovereign grace. Alas ! though I see my way 
chalked out I cannot walk in it, I have a rebellious 
will ; Lord, I fear thou hast not given me a heart to 
perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear imto this 
day. f Now Lord fully awake me, thoroughly change 
me, renew my soul. O what a favour would I take a 
mourning, a repenting heart to be. I see the word 
will not do it; the rod will not do it ; I have been " as 
a biillock unaccustomed to the yoke, turn thou me, and 
I shall be turned;":): and when I am savingly turned, I 
shall kindly repent : and I am the more encoiu-aged to 
desire and ask this favour, because thou hast graciously 
made these precious promises — Deut. xxx. 6. Jer. 
xxiv. 7. Ezek. xi. 19. xxxvi. 25, 20. 

(3.) He wants an interest in Jesus Christ. The 
poor convinced sinner sees nothing in the whole world 
that can do him any good ; and as for his own righte- 
* 2 Tim. ii. 25. t Deut. xxix. 4. + Jer. xxxi. 18, 19. 

god's rAVOuii. 27 Tt 

ousness, alas it is but as filthy rags, that rather defile 
than justify him;* and thus he cries out, Lord, now 
at last I see my own nakedness and wretchedness, I 
abhor myself, and all I am and have, therefore thou 
mayest justly abhor me ;\ I must have a righteousness 
better than my own to justify me ; as for my own, the 
bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on 
it, and the covering narrower than that a man can 
wrap himself in it4 When I think of my past wicked 
life, and this wicked heart within me, and God's strict 
justice against sinners, and that I have nothing to 
screen and shelter me from it, I then say with David, 
" If thou. Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, 
who shall stand ?" || But I hear good news of a Sa- 
viour who is become a surety, an advocate, a propitia- 
tory sacrifice for sinners : § O that God would give me 
Christ ! O for an interest in his Son ! None but 
Christ, none but Christ, what would I give for him ? 
Lord, shew me this favour, and I will ask nothing 
else ; if I had Christ, I shall have enough, but how 
shall I come by him ? only by believing, receiving the 
favour is the condition of receiving benefit by the 
favour. O but faith is the gift of God;^ I cannot 
believe, my unbelief kills me ; I sometimes think I will 
embrace Christ, but I want arms ; I would run and 
come to him, but I want feet; I cannot reach him, 
many things beat me off my hold of him, I am not 
able to believe ; the Spirit hath fully convinced me of 
my unbelief, hath broken down all my own faith, and 
told me I must have another manner of faith, even the 
faith of God's elect, an unfeigned faith, for without 

* Isaiah Ixiv. 6. + Horreo quicquid de meo est. — Lulh. 

i Isaiah xxviii. 20. || Psalm cxxx. 3. 

§ Heb. vii. 22. 1 John ii. 2. Rom. iii. 25. 
IT John i. 12. Eph. ii. 8. 

T 2 

276 LIFE IN 

such a faith, no Christ, without Christ, no hope of 
pardon, or heaven. O that God would graciously work 
this work of faith with power,* it is only an almighty 
power that can do it. O Lord, draw my unbelieving 
heart to thee with the attractive beams of thy favour 
and grace. I adhere to these promises for thy grace 
in this case, Jer. xxxi. 33. Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27- John 
vi. 37, 40, 44, 45. Rom. viii. 32. 

(4.) One thing more a penitent wants of God on his 
first retiu'n to him, which is a favourable entertain- 
ment, a kind reception of the soul into favour. O ! 
this would be worth all the world. Here the poor 
returning prodigal is at a loss, and dares not approach, 
but being conscious to himself of many misdemeanours, 
trembles to draw near to so glorious and dreadful a 
IMajesty ; with the publican he stands afar off, smiting 
his breast, saying, " God be merciful to me a sinner ;"f 
or with the prodigal, when returned to himself, his 
language on approaching God is, O Lord, guilt appals 
me, wi'ath alarms me, Satan and my own misgiving 
heart would drive me from thee, but the sense of my 
necessity puts me on to look for a remedy, and there 
is no help but in thyself; but how can such a wretch 
expect any relief from provoked Majesty ? "I have 
sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more 
worthy to be called thy son, yet make me as one of 
thy hired servants ;" :|: let me but be taken into thy 
favour and family, and I am well pleased, though I be 
thrust down into the lowest place and office. O ! what 
shall I say ? Is there yet any mercy for a poor sinner? 
Will God ever look towards a rebel? Shall I ever 
obtain favour in his eyes ? There is yet a possibility, 
there is yet room for a may be ; it may be I shall be 
hid in the day of the Lord's anger, it may be the Lord 

• Eph. i. 19; 20. t Luke xviii. 13. + Luke xv. 17—19. 

god's favour 277 

will he gracious to me ; who knoweth but God will 
return to me in mercy ? yea, who can tell but he will 
return and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, 
that I perish not?* who can tell but that God hath 
thus long kept me out of hell that he may at last do 
my soul good, and bring me to heaven ? Christ died 
for sinners, I am a sinner, he hath even had mercy on 
great sinners, Manasseh, Mary Magdalene, and Saul 
obtained mercy,f as patterns of future grace to others, 
I am much tossed betwixt hopes and fears, and cannot 
tell how it will be ; if I look at myself I see nothing 
but grounds of despair, for I have grievously sinned ; 
to me belongeth confusion of face, but to the Lord my 
God belong mercies and forgivenesses.! Here is all 
my hope, this is the only groimd of my expectation. 
And is there any hope for a forlorn wretch ? O ! the 
very possibility of obtaining his favour, raiseth my 
soul into an extacy, the least hint of hope is worth a 
world. But will God be pacified towards me ? Is not 
this too good news to be true ? Have I any warrant 
from God for this hope ? O yes, I read in the scrip- 
tures of truth, abundance of gracious promises, upon 
which I will venture my soul's everlasting state, and 
while I have a word of promise from heaven to seciu'e 
God's favour and pardon to a penitent sinner, I can- 
not, I must not consider it presumption to entertain 
hope. The promises are these, Isa. Iv. 7, 8. Jer. xxxi. 
34. Isa. xliii. 25. xliv. 22. Psal. xxv. 11. Luke xxiv. 
46, 47. Matt. xi. 28. Acts x. 43. xiii. 38, 39. Rom. 
iv. 5 — 7. Titus iii. 5. — 

2. I proceed to another class of persons and seasons 
wherein God's children feel the truth of this text, 
"That in God's favour is life;" and that is returning 

* Zeph. ii. 3. Amos v. 15. Joel ii. 14. Jonah iii. 9. 
t 1 Tim. i. 15, l(j. J Dan. ix. 8, 9. 

278 LIFE IN 

backsliders, when the souls of God's children have fallen 
into acts of open scandalous sinning, or a secret course 
of remissness, unwatchfulness, and decays of grace ; 
in such a day God usually hides his face from the soul, 
and leaves it in a woful plight, under a measure of 
desertion, and alas the soul is now under a convinc- 
ing sense of the importance of God's favour in four 
respects : — 

(1.) The poor backsliding soul wants and longs for a 
gracious reception into God's favour again. Ah ! saith 
the poor humbled penitent, my case is sad and des- 
perate ; when I first entered into covenant with God, I 
promised constancy, I said, " Come, and let us join our- 
selves to the Lord, in a perpetual covenant that shall 
not be forgotten ;"* but alas, how soon have I forgotten 
it ! how soon have I forsaken the Lord ! how quickly 
am I turned aside after vain things that cannot profit I 
woe is me, ungrateful wretch that I am ! my unkind 
dealing with God is unparalleled ! who ever returned 
unto folly as I have done ? O my wanderings from 
God ! my guilty conscience accuseth me, God frowns 
on me, all my former sins stare me in the face, even 
the sins of my unregeneracy ; I may even question, 
whether ever there was a saving change, for did ever 
any of God's children go on at this rate ? surely 
my spot is not their spot ? May not such a backslider 
in heart and life expect to be filled with his own ways? 
Am I not bordering upon the unpardonable sin against 
the Holy Ghost ? Seeing I have been once enlightened, 
and now fallen away at this rate, is it possible that 
ever I should be renewed again to repentance ? may I 
not rather fearfully look for fiery indignation, f than a 
gi-acious acceptance into favour ? yet, if my sin have 
not reached to that degree, of this I am sure, it hath been 
* Jer. 1. 5. t Heb. vi. 4. x. 27. 

GOiVs i-AVouii. 279 

fearfully aggravated by light and love received, by 
frequent relapses, striving of the Spirit, and conscience 
resisted and stifled, which makes my ^-ery heart ache, 
and fills my face with shame and blushing, so that I am 
not able to look up ; I have no ground to expect God's 
favour, as I cannot expect such favour from men ; but 
what saith God? I will study and plead these en- 
couraging texts, Jer. xxxi. 12, 14. Hos, xi. 7 — 9- 
xiv. 4. 

(2.) The backsliding soul wants God's favour for 
reviving the dying graces of the spiritual life. Alas ! 
saith the Christian, by my carelessness or sinning I have 
not only lost God's favour, but have defaced his image 
in my soul, I feel sensible decays of grace, my faith 
flags, my love cools, my repentance is arrested, all the 
springs seem to be dried up, or the streams run faintly, 
the fire of grace is bui'ied under the ashes of sloth or 
corruption, and I would fain have stirred up the gift of 
Crod in me, but I cannot, I see it will not be, all my 
rubbing will not fetch heat into my benumbed joints, 
jny heai't is smitten and withered as grass,* nothing 
but a shower of God's grace, and the sunshine of his 
countenance can again renev/ the face of my soul. In 
the spring I see the Lord alone renew the face of the 
earth ; f O that he would renew his v/ork in my heart, 
and cause the fruits of righteousness again to bud 
forth. By idleness of the hands the house droppeth 
through, by my cai'elessness and sloth I have made 
wounds in my conscience, and by the same opening 
by which sin hath come in, grace hath gone out, and 
now God's wrath drops into my heart, and follows me. 
O that God would again recruit his own work in my 
heart, which is almost dwindled away to nothing ! O 
that his Spirit would restore my decaying graces, and 
• Psal. cii. 4. t Psal. civ. 30. 

280 LIFE IN 

revive my drooping heart ! Do, O Lord, according to 
thy word, and remember for me these quickening pro- 
mises, Hos. vi. 3. xiv. 6 — 8. Isa. xxxv. 1 — 4. xliv. 

(3.) The troubled backslider wants peace and comfort. 
O, saith he, for a sense of God's favour again; alas, this 
I have lost, my soul is far off from peace, I forget 
prosperity,* yea, for peace I have great bitterness, and 
when comfort is offered, my soul refuseth to be com- 
forted. I even remember God, and am troubled, reflect- 
ing what joys I have had, which are now lost, and 
questioning my interest in him ; will the Lord cast off 
for ever? will he be favourable no morePf O what 
a long while it is since I saw his blessed face! his 
visits are grown very rare, there is a great and sad 
strangeness between God and my soul. Alas, what 
shall I do to recover his smiles? I am sensible now 
and then of his quickening presence, but his comfort- 
ing presence is utterly gone ; I must justify God, and 
condemn myself; though he should banish me from 
his blessed presence for ever, yet is there not hope in 
Israel concerning this thing ? May I believe that God 
will return ? O it would be delightful to behold the 
light of his countenance ! to feel those joys that once I 
had, but now have lost ! O that it were as in months 
past, as in the days when God preserved me ! when 
his candle shined upon ray head, and when by his 
light I walked through darkness l^ Lord, restore unto 
me the joy of thy salvation, || hide not tliy face from 
me. " Lord, why castest thou off my soul ? why 
hidest thou thy face from me?"§ what would my soul 
give for one of thy wonted smiles ? shall I never re- 
gain the sense of thy favour? wilt thou suffer thy 

* Lam. iii. 17. + Psal. Ixxvii. 2—10. I Job xxix. 2, 3. 
II Psal. 11. 12. § Psal, Ixxxviii. 14. 

god's favour. 281 

child to pine away in discoiisolateness for want of his 
Father's love? O that I might again lie in that 
blessed bosom ! how well shall it be with me upon my 
retiu'n to my first husband !* Lord, remember these 
words of promise to thy servant, on which thou hast 
caused me to trust; Isa. Ivii. 16 — 19. liv. 6 — 8, 13. 
xxxii. 16, 17. Ixvi. 12 — 14. 2 Cor. vii. 6. 

(4.) All this will not fully content the returning 
backslider, without God's favour to secure him from 
falling for time to come. Alas, saith the restored 
wanderer, I have a backsliding heart, and though I be 
brought back now, I shall again go astray, without 
new supplies of assisting grace : I feel my heart declin- 
ing, and it will return unto folly after peace spoken,! 
unless God speak an effecting as well as commanding 
word, " Go thy way and sin no more." God's special 
favour must maintain this work fresh in my heart: 
"Turn us again, and cause thy face to shine, and we shall 
be saved, so will not we go back from thee. Quicken 
us, and we will call upon thy name." — Psalm Ixxx. 3, 
7, 18, 19. Lord, unless the Sun of Righteousness keep 
still shining on me, and elevating me, I shall fall to the 
earth like a mere vapour or exhalation; if thy favour 
put not thy right hand under me, I fall and break my 
bones, dishonour thy name, undo my sou], and never 
recover. Fain would I hold out, O suffer me not to 
fall or fail ; crown thy grace in me with perseverance, 
for suffering and perseverance must be the bottom and 
top of all graces, or they are counterfeit ; I have many 
enemies within and without, I discern how apt I am to 
fall upon a very slight occasion, I have had too long 
experience of this treacherous spirit, and I dare not 
trust it, but I dare trust thee to keep that which con- 
cerns thee in me.:j: Establish me, strengthen and set- 

* Hos. ii. 7- + Psalm Ixxxv. 8. + Psalm cxxxviii. 8. 

282 LIFE IN 

tie my soul :* thou hast by thy favour set my feet on 
the Rock that is higher than I, O keep me there, my 
mountain may soon be removed, but maintain me upon 
thy mountain, till I come to the mount of God. If 
God be my defence, I shall not be greatly moved, yea, 
I shall get strength that I shall not be moved at all. f 
I beg no more than what I have under thy hand in a 
promise : Psalm i. 3. xxxvii. 23, 24. cxii. 6, 7. Isaiah 
xli. 17. liv. 10. Jer. xxxii. 38—40. Hos. ii. 19, 20. 
Phil. i. 6. 

3. Another season in which God's favour is valued 
by his people as life, is, when they are under some 
pressing, harassing affliction; then they feel a necessity 
of God's favour. Now these afflictions are of two sorts : 
first, outward ; secondly, inward. A hint of both. 

(1.) In outward troubles relative to temporal circum- 
stances, God's favour is precious as life itself. Suppose 
a Christian be poor, and hath little or nothing to be- 
take himself to, even then he may make a shift to live 
upon God's favoui' : as the good woman said, " I have 
many a time made a good meal of a promise, when I 
have not had a morsel of meat in the house." And 
indeed the godly poor have a double advantage : first, 
to live by faith ; secondly, to enjoy God's peculiar pa- 
tronage, Psalm cxl. 12. Prov. xxii, 22, 23. We use 
to say, he is rich, whom God loves; and it is true, 
for om- livelihood consists in God's favour — a little 
will go far when we have God's favour with it. A 
saint is not content merely to have God's leave to use 
the creatures, but his love therewith. Lord, saith the 
soul, I have little in the world, but let me have thee, 
thy grace in my heart, thy blessing with what I have, 
and I have more than worldly rich men ; though I be 
poor in the world, let me be heir of thy kingdom.:}: So, 
* 1 Pet. V. 10. t Psalm Ixii. 6. t James ii. 5. 

god's FxVvour. 283 

(2.) In the troubles that affect our good name : the 
poor soul saith, Alas, I see I have lost the favour of 
men, they reproach me, they are a terror to me, but be 
not thou, O Lord, a terror to me, thou art my only 
hope ; men set themselves against me, be thou for me, 
then may I bid defiance to all the world ; thy appro- 
bation is a sufficient fence against all men's censures.* 
Let men report what they will of me, let me have a 
good report of the truth, and I shall less matter men's 
verdict; but if I be reproached for Christ, I look upon 
that as a singular favour from God, and honom* to me : 
the reproach of Christ is my riches. — Heb. xi. 26. 
1 Pet. iv. 14. Acts v. 41. Isa. li. 7, 12, 13. 

(3.) In bodily pains. When the Christian lies sick, 
or pained upon his bed, among all the visiters that 
manifest favour to him, he would have the Lord's 
company, and the Lord doth condescend to come to 
him, and not only visit him and speak to him, but puts 
his arm under him, and strengthens him uj^on his bed 
of languishing, yea, he tarries with him, and morning 
and evening makes his bed for him. Psalm xli. 3. O 
happy favourite of heaven that is thus attended ! such 
a person knows, that if God sees good, he will favour 
hjm with removal from his bed, and his love bring him 
out of the pit, Isa. xxxviii. 17. 

(4.) In relative troubles. Alas, saith the Christian, my 
relations are not only poor, but profane, yea, the greatest 
enemies I have in my religious course, and that Scrip- 
ture is fulfilled, " A man's enemies are the men of his 
own house ;" in this case, " I will look unto the Lord," 
Mic. vii. 5 — 7. I am content to venture to lose, and 
even actually to lose, the favour of brother, sister, 
father, mother, to gain and maintain the favour of God, 
and when all is gone I do not repent the bargain, I 
* Jer. xvii. 17. 18. xx. 10—12. 

284 LIFE IN 

have made a saving resolution, I am an infinite gainer. 
But how sad will it be to lose men's favour for appearing 
religious, and not being so? If you ask for what end, 
and upon what account, a Christian would have the 
sense of God's favour ? I might shew this largely, by 
proving that affliction would be sweetened, coming 
to him as a token of special love from God as his 
Friend and Father ; though it be a bitter pill, yet if it 
be sweetened with God's favour, the Christian's stomach 
will not rise against it, but take it cheerfully ; if God 
send it in favour, he tastes honey upon the rod ; the 
best fruit grows upon this tree. A father will correct 
his children in love, therefore in wisdom, in pity, in due 
measiu'e, for a short season, for their good to take 
away sin, and fit them for heaven ; therefore the rod 
is adopted to be as a genuine offspring of the covenant 
of God's grace, Psalm Ixxxix. 32, 33. O, saith the 
soul, if I can but see God's heart towards me when his 
hand is on me, I am very well satisfied; let him wound 
me, so it be a wound of a friend ; let him cut me, so 
he will cure me ; let him do what he pleaseth with 
me, so he will but discover favour to me : and all this 
God promiseth. — Heb. xii. 8 — 10. Isa. xxvii. 8, 9- Jer. 
xlvi. 28 Prov. iii. 12. Isa. Ixiii. 9. Zech. xiii. 9- Rom. 
V. 3—5. 

Secondly, So for spiritual troubles which arise, 
(1.) From the guilt of sin. O, saith the soul, what 
shall I do ? whithersoever I go my sin always is before 
me, sin is upon me; ah, what can a guilty malefactor 
desire, but the Judge's favour? this God promiseth, 
and Christ purchaseth, as has been shown : see also, 
Exod. xxxiv. 6—8. Job xxxiii. 26—28. Mic. vii. 18. 

(2.) From God's displeasure ; in this case, when the 
poor soul feels God's anger, the only remedy is God's 
favour. O that God would remove from me the stroke 

god's FAVOUll. $^85 

of his hand, Psahn xxxix. 10. Lord, rebuke me not 
in anger, I cannot bear thy disjDleasure, it is a death to 
me, but in thy favour is life. 

(3.) The corruptions of the heart are a heavy afflic- 
tion to a pious man, and make him bow down heavily, 
crying out with Paul, " Oh wretched man that I am !" 
these sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me, these Ca- 
naanites are thorns in my eyes, these mother's children 
put me to hard servitude, and what is the remedy ? 
nothing but God's favour to mortify corruption, accord- 
ing to the promise of his word, Rom. vi. 14, " Sin 
shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under 
the law, but under grace." O, saith the soul, that the 
Lord would come with succour and relief to my cry- 
ing, bleeding heart, and rescue me from these intestine 
foes ; what a favour should I look upon it ! 

(4.) The temptations of Satan cost the troubled 
heart many throes and pangs, that are ready to over- 
power it and lead it captive. When shall it once be, 
saith the Christian, that the God of grace will tread 
Satan under my feet ? Rom. xvi. 20. Many a time 
my soul prays against these messengers of Satan :* O 
that at last his grace might be sufficient for me to van- 
quish them, or to maintain the conflict : f Lord, I beg 
thy favour against the roaring lion, he terrifies me, do 
thou interpose powerfully, or at least fortify me against 
these his fiery darts : gracious Lord Jesus, thou wast 
tempted to be able or qualified to succour such as were 
tempted, \ thou seest how I am hurried and harassed. 
Lord, thy favour only will set me at liberty. 

4. The last description of persons to whom God's 
favour is life, are dying persons ; at the. approach of 
the king of terrors, when flesh and heart fail, then it is 
time for the believer to look after God as the strength 

* 2 Cor. xii. 7—9. t 1 Cor. x. 13. :j: Heb. ii. 18. 

286 LIFE IN 

of his heart, and his portion for ever. * It is true, he 
hath chosen God's favour before, but now he feels it 
more sensibly to be his life in these four respects : — 

(1.) To satisfy him respecting the safety of his state. 
The poor Christian hath been often doubting and dis- 
puting his interest in Christ and title to heaven, but 
now he cries out, Alas ! what shall I say or do ? my 
soul is in a dangerous state, I am passing into another 
world, and I know not whither ; I am at great uncer- 
tainties about eternity, it is a great journey, the matter 
is of infinite concernment, heaven or hell, salvation or 
damnation depends upon it; the guilt of many sins 
comes fresh into my remembrance, I am doubtful of 
the genuineness of my repentance, my heart is very 
deceitful, the work is difficult, there are many mistakes, 
it is easy to miscarry, thousands are shipwrecked un- 
awares. Shall I say with that dying emperor,| Oh 
my poor wandering, trembling, fluttering soul, whither 
art thou going? thou must converse no more with men, 
nor jest it out as thou wast wont : oh, whither art 
thou going? Or shall I say with another, I have 
lived anxiously, and die doubtingly. ^ Alas, I am 
afraid to go out of the world, not knowing whether 
God be my friend or my enemy; oh for a sense of recon- 
ciliation ! Now the fruits of God's favour to my soul 
would be worth all the world ; if God would smile 
upon my soul in Christ, I should not be ashamed to 
live, because I have a good conscience, nor afraid to die, 
because I have a good God to go to. Let me have 
faith, that I may die in the faith ; 1| let me live in the 
Lord, that I may die in the LovA,§ so I shall be happy 

"• Psalm Ixxiii. 26. 

t Animula vagula, blandula, qui nunc abibis in loca, &c. 

J Anxius vixi, dubius morior. 

11 Heb. xi. 13. § Rev. xiv. 13. 

god's favour. 287 

with the Lord for ever. One smile, O Lord, vouchsafe 
to me, a cluster of the grapes of Canaan, a foretaste of 
heaven before I go hence, for I cannot live, and I dare 
not die without thy favour and the sense of it. 

(2.) To take away the sting and fear of death. God's 
favour and the sense of it will alone remove fears from 
the soul, going to conflict with the king of terrors. 
Death is indeed terrible in itself, and often jn'esents it- 
self in a formidable shape, and when it looks so ghastly, 
the poor Christian is affrighted, unless the Lord look 
cheerfully upon him. Now he thus expresseth himself: 
Lord, sin brought death into the world, his voracious 
jaws swallow up all mankind, and I am going the way 
of all the earth, I see his pale face, I feel his fangs 
fastening on me, the graves are ready for me, but God's 
smiles will dismay death, and put this tyrant out of 
countenance, God's favour will remove obscurity from 
my eyes, and open for me a prospect into eternity ; and 
O how happy is it to look above the grave to God, and 
beyond death at heaven ! My Lord Jesus tasted death, 
and thereby conquered death, and wrested its destruc- 
tive weapons out of its hands, destroying him that had 
the power of death which is the devil ; and so deliver- 
ing them, who through fear of death, were all their 
life time subject to bondage;* hence the christian 
champion under a sense of God's favour and Christ's 
conquest may triumph over death, and say, " O death, 
where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory ?"f 
O that my soul could see my Saviour laid before me 
in the grave, perfuming it for me, preparing me for 
it, bidding me follow him who broke the ice, and 
drunk of the brook in the way, siu'ely I would then 
follow my Captain without fear, I should shoot this 
gulf without danger, and say with David, " Though 
• Heb. ii. 14, 15. t 1 Cor. xv. 55, 56. 

288 ' LIFE IN 

I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I 
will fear no evil, for thou art with ine, thy rod and 
thy staff they comfort me." Psah xxiii. 4. 

(3.) To receive the soul immediately upon dissolu- 
tion ; this must be by God's favom% for the soul cannot 
enter into heaven without God's leave and approbation ; 
they must be special favourites that are admitted into 
his presence chamber. It is true we cannot expect that 
peculiar privilege, which the good thief upon the cross 
had, to whom Christ said, " To-day shalt thou be with 
me in paradise."* That audible encouragement was 
a peculiar dispensation, yet God speaks satisfactorily 
in scripture promises, and the soul's faith therein may 
produce that blessed result, Psal. xlix. 15, " God shall 
redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for he 
shall receive me," that is, receive me by his special 
favoui" into safety. O with what comfort might I look 
through death, when I see the crown in my Saviour's 
hand ready to be set upon my head as a conqueror, 
when the blessed Jesus will put the palms of victory 
into my hand, and place my immortal soul among the 
spirits of just men made perfect, with what confidence 
may I commend my soul into his hands, and trust him 
that he will keep that which I have committed to him 
until that day.f Lord, now shine upon this soul of 
mine that is taking its long leave of the body, send a 
guard of angels to be its convoy through the devil's 
territories into the heaven of heavens, and lay it soft 
and secure in Abraham's bosom. | The rich man's 
pompous funeral is an insignificant ceremony compared 
with this transportation ; let what will become of my 
body, if only my soul be safely lodged with God ; then 
would I desire to be dissolved, that I might be with 
Christ ; then would my soul take the wings of a dove, 
* Luke xxiii. 43. t Psal. xxxi. 5. 2 Tim. i. 12. t Luke xvi. 22. 

GOD'ti I'AVOUU. 289 

nnd fly away above the reach of hellish fiends,* or ra- 
ging lusts ; Lord, grant me thy favour. 

(4.) The expiring Christian wants the sense of God's 
sj^ecial favour, that he may lie down in hopes of a 
blessed resurrection. ^Vlien the soul, the better part, 
is thus secured, he then takes thought for the case, the 
body ; this goodly fabric must be taken down, I must 
be unclothed ; this frail, tender piece is now dissolv- 
ing, must be turned to dust and rottenness, and shall 
be a companion to worms and corruption ; well, I am 
content, but let my soul have a sense of God's favour, 
and I may be well assured my body shall sleep in Jesus, 
as redeemed dust which shall be gathered up at the last 
day ; and O what a blessed meeting shall there be of 
soul and body ! what a lovely reuniting of this glorious 
pair, the soul descending with its triumphant Lord in 
the air, where Satan shall be dispossessed of his 
regency, and the body raised up out of the grave by 
the power of Christ's resurrection, both for ever to be 
with the Lord ; f O blessed day, soul and body married 
together, never to part more, both solemnly married 
to the Lord. Here our souls are espoused, there pre- 
sented to Christ as chaste virgins ; ^ O happy soul, O 
resplendent body, which shall shine forth in glory, 
activity, spirituality, brilliance, and immortality, |j there 
my body shall need neither food nor physic, nor sleep, 
nor marriage, but I shall be as one of the angels of 
God; J this mean, diseased, distressed body of mine 
^hall be wonderfully changed, that it may be fashioned 
like to the glorious body of my Lord Jesus ; ^ then shall 
I be set upon a throne among the blessed, to judge de- 
generate Israel, yea, to judge angels. "'•'* O for that 

* Phil. i. 21. Psal. Iv. 6. t 1 Thess. iv. 16, IJ. 

t 2 Cor. xi. 2. II 1 Cor. xv. 42— 44. § Matt. xxii. 30. 

IT Phil. iii. 21. ** Matt. xix. 28. 1 C<?r. vi. 3. 


290 LIFE iX 

(lay, that blessed day of refreshment that comes from 
the presence of the Lord,* what then Avill it be worth 
to have the favom* of the Judge ? no matter then who 
be friends, or who enemies, if I may ha^^e Christ on 
my side, blessed be God I have now a friend in the 
court, Jesus Christ my Saviour, my advocate, he it is 
that then shall be Judge, who will own his members, and 
not forget his brethren, but will proclaim that joyful 
welcome into his Father's kingdom, " Come ye blessed 
of my Father,"! come up hither, and sit with me in 
my throne, even as I overcame and sat with my Father 
in his throne,! welcome my dear saints, ye have been 
faithful to death, I will also give you a crown of 
life ; you owned me on earth, I will also own you in 
heaven ; you chose my favour above the world, you 
shall have my favour, and not the world ; you shall be 
placed on my right hand, but others on my left ; you 
were once in favour with me, and you are now in 
favour, and shall continue so for ever ; come into my 
everlasting embraces, this is the state I purchased for 
you, promised to you, these are the mansions I went 
before to prepare for you, || this is the kingdom 
which I told you, it was your Father's good pleasure 
to give unto you, it is God's gift, J not your desert, it 
is the fruit of God's favour, not your labour. I know 
it, Lord, I know it, saith the soul, this could not be 
from my earning, for it is by grace and mere favour 
that I am what I am, and what can such a one deserve; 
therefore am I now seeking thy favoui% now at the 
last struggle, that I may lie down in my grave in peace, 
sleep in the dust as on a bed of spices, and rise with 
thy saints into glory. ^ In the mean time being 
fortified with thy favour, I can bid adieu to this weary 

* Acts iii. 19. t Matt. xxv. 34. + Rev. iii. 21. 

II John. xiv. 2. § Luke xii. 32. Rom. vi. 23. ^ Isa. Ivii. 2. 

god's favour. 291 

world, welcome death, hope for life, and therefore my 
heart is glad, my glory rejoiceth, my flesh also shall 
rest in hojje,* " For I know that my Redeemer liveth, 
and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the 
ear(;h. And though, after my skin, worms destroy 
this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God : whom I 
shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and 
not another: though my reins be consumed within 
me." Job xix. 25 — 27. 



There is one thing more in the doctrinal part of 
this subject, of which I shall briefly speak, before I 
proceed to the application, which is, the reason why a 
Christian's life is in God's favoui' : to illustrate and 
confirm this point, I may shew. 

First, Wha,t life proceeds from God's favour. 

Secondly, Why saints esteem God's favour to be 
their life. 

First, What is the nature of that life which is in God's 
favour ? Besides what was spoken in explication of a 
natural, comfortable, and spiritually joyful life, all 
which depend on God's favour ; I shall more particu^ 
larly open a fourfold life of the Christian, which is 
contained in, and flows from the favoiu' of God, namel}', 

A life of justification, sanctification, covenant sup- 
plies, and glory. 

* Psal. xvi. 0, 10. 
U 2 

292 LIFE IN 

1. Of justification ; a justified state is life. As a 
man condemned is dead legally, so pardon brings him 
a new life in a legal sense ; thus the just shall live by 
faith, Rom. i. 17, that is, by applying the righteous- 
ness of Christ to sinners by faith, for their justification, 
which is the gospel way of justification : now this 
work is of grace and favour, not of debt, Rom. iv. 4. 
Mere favour that God would appoint and accept satis- 
faction from the sm-ety, and not demand full payment 
from the debtor ; so that " to him that worketh not, 
but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his 
faith is counted for righteousness," Rom. iv. 5. This 
is the stupendous contrivance of free grace ; poor sin- 
ners that cannot pay a farthing in order to satisfy 
justice, yet are reckoned clear upon accepting Christ 
by faith, and that faith also a free gift, a fruit of cove- 
nant grace ; here is favour upon favom*, favour with- 
a witness. Surely, a poor arrested debtor accounts 
it a great favom-, if a friend v/ill be bound for him, 
much more if he pay the whole debt, most of all, if he 
furnish him with means to perform the conditions ; 
God hath done all this for believers. O what astonish- 
ing mercy is this ! what an admirable contrivance of 
grace ! God just still, the law in force still, sin hateful, 
the poor soul siiming, and can do nothing to satisfy, 
yet accepted as righteous in God's sight, as if he had 
fully answered the demands of the law. This is the 
proper result produced by infinite grace and wisdom. 

2. A life of sanctification originates in divine favour. 
This in scripture is called life also, Gal. ii. 20, " I live, 
yet not I, but Christ liveth in me," by his image, and 
his Spirit working in my heart, bringing forth vital 
acts, eternal life within, and a spiritual grace with- 
out, in holy performances and new obedience ; all this 
is from covenant love, and fa^'Our as scriptiu'e assures 

god's favour. 293 

lis,* God's favour is the proper cause of the being of 
grace, "it gives grace and renders souls acceptable."! 
Grace were not grace, if not freely given. Paul saitli, 
" By the grace of God I am what I am," 1 Cor. xv. 10. 
It is God's favour that draws out the habits of grace 
into exercise ; " For," saith our Saviour, " without me 
you can do nothing, John xv. 5, and " it is God that 
worketh in you both to will and to do," Phil. ii. 13. 
All that spring of grace in the heart, and those rivers 
of living waters which flow from believers, proceed 
from covenant favour, John vii. 38. The very God 
of peace must sanctify wholly, and he alone fills with 
fruits of righteousness, he gives progress in sanctifica- 
tion, power to perform religious duties, and fresh 
assistance for new undertakings.:}: Let none say we 
deny holiness, because we exclude it a place in a sin- 
ner's justification, for these are inseparable companions; 
we allow it the place which scripture assigns it, though 
we dare not put it into the room of Christ's blood, it is 
certain where Christ is a Saviour he will be a sovereign, 
his benefits and his person cannot be divided, the virtue 
of his death and resurrection, goes along with their 
value ; newness of life and heart is as necessary in its 
place, as freedom from wrath and condemnation. Now 
Christ is made sanctification as v/ell as righteousness ;|| 
and no question but a sincere saint pursues after holi- 
ness, and blesseth God for knocking off his fetters, as 
well as paying his debts. Though a prisoner be set at 
liberty, yet he is not satisfied, unless he have his 
mortal disease healed. Spiritual health and strength 
of soul to serve God are unspeakable favours, as well as 
deliverance from guilt and wrath ; God is the author, 

* Jer. xxxi. 33. Ezek. xxxvi. 25—27- 

+ Gratia gratiam dans, et gratiam faciens. 

t 1 Thes?. y. 23. Col. i. 10. Ii Rom. viii. 1,. 2. 1 Cor. i. 30. 

294 LIFE IN 

and Christ the purchaser, while a believing soul is the 
possessor of both. 

3. A life of covenant supply is from God's favour. 
God's blessing makes our comforts effectual to attain 
the end designed in their use ; for " man lives not by 
bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of 
the mouth of the Lord." — Deut. viii. 3. Alas, how can 
dead things preserve life in us ? God's blessing is the 
staff of our bread, the support of our lives, and the 
ground of all our hopes ; what have we to depend upon 
but this ? But that which we mean here is covenant 
supply, by virtue of a promise, and when all things 
come as tokens of God's favour. Phil. iv. 19, " My 
God shall supply all your need according to his riches 
in glory by Christ Jesus." O blessed word ! 

(1.) " My God." 

(2.) " Riches in glory," or glorious riches. 

(3.) " By Christ Jesus." 

No wonder now if wants be supplied, all wants of 
soul and body, and that in a covenant way. It is an 
admirable text, hath much marrow in it, which an ac- 
tive faith will fetch out. The word of God is full of 
expressions to this purpose, that there is no want to 
them that fear him, and that God gives the desire of 
the saint's heart.* Nor do these come as common 
mercies, but as tokens of special favour ; hence Jer. 
xxxii. 41, "Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them 
good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly 
with my whole heart, and with my whole soul." Here 
is favour with favour. Sometimes God gives gifts, 
that may in a sort be called giftless, when he gives not 
himself or his special love, so he gave Israel quails in 
wrath ; f for it is one thing for God to give a mercy, 

* Psal. xxxiv. 9, 10. xxxvii. 3, 4, 11, 22, 26. Ixxxiv. 11, 12. 
cxxviii. 1, 2. cxxxii. 15. Matt. vi. 33. t Psal. Ixxviii. 29, 31. 

god's favour. 295 

and another to give in mercy ; but a child of God hath 
his mercies in mercy, as tokens and testimonies of 
special favour, which adds an accent and emphasis to 
every mercy, and makes it come doubly laden with 
peculiar interest ; shall I call it double gilt ? Nay, it 
is gold throughout as Xenophon relates of Cyrus's 
gifts, he gave a cujj of gold to Artabanus, and a kiss 
to Chrysantas, the former complained that his cup 
was not such good gold as the other's kiss, because the 
latter was a sign of special favour. So truly, God's 
favour to his people hath more real worth in it, than 
wicked men's golden comforts which are but gilded 
outsides of empty boxes, but every comfort a Christian 
hath is full charged with blessing, and whatever it be 
in point of quantity, yet in point of quality it is like 
Benjamin's mess, five times larger than the men of 
the world's. 

4. A life of glory and salvation doth proceed from 
God's favour : John x. 28, "I give unto them eternal 
life, and they shall never perish." So that this eternal 
life in heaven, which only deserves the name of life, is 
God's special gift, the gift of his favour and peculiar 
love, Rom, vi. 23. God freely gave Christ, Christ freely 
gave himself for us, and accordingly God gives eternal 
life to all his members. * It was dear to Christ, but 
free to us ; the manner of God's procuring it for us, 
and conveying it to us, is something wonderful indeed, 
yet doth not lessen, but rather augments the favour, 
as so much must be done and suffered, which makes it 
so costly a thing to bring our souls to heaven. Well 
may we write this word favom- in capital letters upon 
all the steps we take towards glory, and upon every 
link of that golden chain that draws us from earth to 

* John iii. 16. Ileb. ix. 15. 2 Tim. i. 10. 1 Pet. i. 3, 4. 
Tit. iii. 7. 1 John iii. 1, 2. 

296 LIFE IK 

heaven, from the dungeon of our natural state into the 
paradise of God's immediate presence. " Thou wiit 
guide me by thy counsel," saith David, " and afterwards 
receive me to glory." — Psalm Ixxiii. 23, 24, " Fear 
not little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give 
you the kingdom." — Lid<:e xii. 32. If ever we come to 
heaven, we must be carried thither in the bosom of 
God's distinguishing favour; no man that ever entered 
those pearly gates could say, I have paid a valuable 
price for this heavenly city. It is an inheritance which 
comes by favour, not by purchase. Let the proud Pa- 
pist say, I v/ill not have heaven at free cost, * we, for 
our parts, must v/ith the four and twenty elders cast 
down our crowns before the throne, saying, " Thou art 
worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and 
power." — Rev. iv. 10, 11. v. 12. 

Secondly, A word or two may be advanced in an- 
swer to the inquiry, Why Christians esteem God's fa- 
vour to be their life ? I shall not need to enlarge here. 
It may be so, 

1. Because they have enlightened minds to see the 
difference betwixt God and the creature. There is such an 
excellency in God, and such vanity in the creatm'e, that 
they must needs think highly of God, and lowly of the 
world ; God is the chief good, others are inferior good, 
inconsiderable, or false and flattering: a Christian 
through grace is able to judge of things aright, and as 
they are. The difference betwixt a pious man's judg- 
ing, and a sinner's. Dr. Ames sets forth thus : " An in- 
fant is much affected with a picture or image of meat 
and drink, or an apple, or any thing desirable, but a wise 
man knows how to distinguish betwixt the mere picture 
and the substance, especially having tasted the good- 
ness of those things." Thus the believing Christian 

• Calum gratis non accipiam. 

(iOD'.S TAVOrK. 297 

hath tasted that the Lord is gracious,* and hence longs 
for more of him, and this is that whereby he lives, so 
that it is death to be without God or his grace. 

2. Because the gracious soul hath a sanctified will 
and affections. These are changed from what they 
were originally by nature; the heart l)y nature savour- 
eth not the things that be of God, but those that be of 
men ;t but a sincere Christian is born from above, and 
hath a noble principle, a heaven-born soul. Those 
heavenly courtiers in the palace above, the holy angels 
and glorified saints, take little notice of crowns, scep- 
tres, mitres, or treasures ; one smile of God's face is of 
more worth than all the monarchies, glittering pagean- 
tries, or honours of the earth. So the saints' hearts 
are transformed into their likeness, have the same 
grace for quality, though not for quantity, with the 
saints in heaven, and have the like thoughts (so far as 
spiritualized) with those <ibove, for they are clothed 
with the sun, and have the moon under their feet. — 
Rev. xii. 1. 

3. Because the true Cliristian hath felt the bitterness 
of sin, and God's displeasure for it, and the impossibi- 
lity of other things quieting his conscience, without 
God's favoui'. A poor guilty malefactor at the bar 
may have many persuasives to put off his grief, but 
nothing will trancjuilize him, when condemned, but his 
prince's favour and pardon : just thus it is with the 
converted sinner, that was lost in himself, and lay un- 
der the curse of the law, | dead in himself, |j and per- 
ceiving that nothing could compose his spirit, and 
quiet his heart but God's favour- in Christ. Tell the 
guilty conscience of honours, pleasures, or treasures of 
the world, you sing songs to a heavy heart ; these 
things make the Christian more sad, rather than still 
^ 1 Peter ii. 3. t Matt. xvj. 23. t Gal. iii. 10. 1| Rom. vii. 9. 


the clamours of conscience : no, no, nothing will serve 
but God's favour. 

4. Because the sincere Christian is a genuine be- 
liever, he views things with the eye of faith ; with 
Paul's perspective, 2 Cor. iv. 18 ; like Moses, Heb. xi. 
26, 27. The eye of faith can throw obsciu-ity upon all 
the world's glory, and lay its honours in the dust : it 
can draw a veil over the w^orld's painted face, and 
withdraw the world's veil from before heavenly objects, 
and represent them in their native lustre. Faith can 
realize the things of God, and set them off with some 
advantage to sense : it can overlook present objects, 
and obtain a view of God's countenance. Faith can 
take the dimensions of heavenly and earthly things, 
and engage the soul to a proportionable valuation. A 
Christian's life is a life of faith, we walk by faith, not 
by sense : faith quickly discerns how little sense, or 
objects of sense can help him in straits ; the hope of 
heavenly things springing from God's favour, must 
bring him relief, and cheer his drooping spirits : faith 
fetcheth all down from God to the soul, and accordingly 
begets a high valuation of his favour as the only source 
of life. Thus much for the doctrinal part. 



The subsequent particulai*s may be detailed as con- 
veying information : — 

1. It follows that life is a rich mercy. Why so ? 

god's favour. 299 

Because it is the proper result of God's favour, " in his 
favour is life." It is also that good which David takes 
and makes use of to illustrate and .exemplify God's 
favour: he doth not say in God's favour is wisdom, 
learning, riches, health or relations, though these are 
mercies, yet they are but such as are produced under 
God by the tree of life. Natiu'al life is a foundation- 
mercy ; if life be gone, all the comforts of life cease : 
hence nature desires a perpetuating of its being, and 
abhors a dissolution. The devil was orthodox in the 
doctrine, though perverting it in the use ; Job ii. 4, 
" Skin for skin, all that a man hath will he give for 
his life." Divines dispute whether a miserable being, 
or no being be better ? It is tnie, no being is better 
than a being in misery, in respect of the individual 
person : hence Christ said of Judas, " It had been 
better he had never been born :"* but yet in respect of 
the whole creation, of which this miserable being is a 
part and branch, and in respect of God's will and glory, 
such a miserable being is better than none at all ; it is 
a favour from God that we have any being with any 
mercy attached to it, and we should praise God while 
he continues it, Psalm civ. 33. A wretched being in 
the lowest rank of God's creatures, is a favour God 
doth not owe us, and we owe him praise and service 
for it. 

2. That outward comforts of life are fruits of God's 
favour. If God's favour is life, it is also our livelihood, 
it is of the Lord's mercy that we are not consmned, 
and it is also rich favour that his mercies are new every 
morning,! ^^^^ every moment ; God's favour is the life 
of our mercies, and the mercy of our lives ; our out- 
ward comforts depend on divine pleasure, and God's 
.special favour. When David was blessing God for his 
* Mark xiv. 21. t Lam. iii, 22, 23. 

300 LIFE IN 

mercies, he saith, Psalm cili. 4, " Who redeemeth thy 
life from destruction," there is the mercy of life; " who 
crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mer- 
cies," there is favom* imparting the supplies of life. 
And indeed we do not use to make om* acknowledg- 
ments and express our obligation to the hand that 
gives, but the mind that inclines the hand to bestow 
the gift ; the favour and good will of the giver is the 
spring of the benefit : all our supplies come of mere 
favour, godly and wicked have forfeited them into the 
hands of justice : Jacob acknowledged he was not 
worthy of the least of God's mercies,* so may we say ; 
one sin forfeits temporal enjoyments, bless God for 
their undeserved continuance. 

3. It follows, that wicked men have many fruits of 
God's favour, and we must still distinguish betwixt 
God's common and his special favour. As to the latter, 
no man knows either love or hatred by what is before 
him, for all things come alike to all, Eccles. ix. 1, 2. 
Riches of themselves do not evidence God's peculiar 
favour ; for both Scripture and experience testify, that 
the worst of men oftentimes have the greatest share of 
the best things of this world. By what tenure they 
possess these things, I shall not dispute, or whether 
they be properly usurpers of God's creatures ; as to 
true covenant title in Christ they have none, but a 
right before men they have, and some right in God's 
sight as from his royal bounty: as thus, suppose a 
malefactor is condemned to die, the sentence is not ex- 
ecuted, in the interval before the execution, he hath 
bread and water, or something still more nourishing 
given him to keep him alive till the execution, he hath 
broken the law, and forfeited his life and livelihood, yet 
it is the king's pleasure and favoiu* he shall be main- 
* Gen. xxxii. 10. 

god's FATOUll. 301 

tained, he is no usurper in using that meat ; thus God 
endureth with much longsufFering the vessels of wrath 
fitted to destruction. * 

4. The last inference is this, that God's favour is 
infinitely better than all worldly enjoyments. There 
were endless disputes amongst heathen philosophers, 
to decide wherein consisteth man's chief good ? this 
text determines the controversy, the chief good of man 
consists in the favour of God. It seems tliis was the 
great inquiry, and a subject of eager investigation in 
the days of David ; Psalm iv. 6, 7, " There be many 
that say, who will shew us any good ?" Let David 
answer the question, he will clearly transfer it from 
the creature to the Creator : " Who will shew ?" they 
meant, who among men ? but God alone must answer 
David's diligent inc^uiry, let him have a propitious 
smile from heaven, and he is satisfied ; let others make 
their best of the world's markets, David looks for his 
profit from another mart and quarter : God's shining 
countenance is better to him, than their plentiful har- 
vests of corn and wine, and no wonder if we compare a 
little, worldly enjoyments with God's favoiu*. 

(1.) God's favour is the spring and fountain, the 
original cause of all favours ; and surely, the cause 
hath more in it than the effect. God's favour is abun- 
dant and plentiful ; hence it is called, " The fountain 
of living waters."! It is true, the streams of God's 
favom' do i*un through God's covenant people as their 
proper channel, yet many rich drops sprinkle over 
mountains of Gilboa, and the heath of the wilderness ; 
but these are only drops, ciTimbs cast to dogs, or showers 
of outward mercies at the best, while saints lie at the 
spring-head of grace. 

(2.) God's favour alone satisfies a rational soul, 
- Rom. ix 22. t Jer. ii. 13, 


other things cannot; this only brings solid peace and 
quietness to our minds, and satisfaction to our desires.* 
God made the soul for himself and it cannot be at rest 
till it return to God ; Psal. cxvi. 7. Other things are 
bread which fills not, nay, no bread at all, but he that 
obtains divine favour may eat that which is good, 
and his soul shall delight itself in fatness ; Isa. Iv. 2. 
As a natural body out of its place is not at rest, so the 
soul must enjoy God ; as no quantity of any thing can 
fill a vessel when its capacity is larger than that quan- 
tity, so no earthly thing can fill a heavenly soul, for 
the soul is more capacious than the world. 

(3.) God's favour is spiritual, therefore can extend 
to souls and spirits, which carnal corporeal objects can- 
not do, they adhere to the outside, to the members and 
senses. Hence said that rich man, " Soul, take thine 
ease, thou hast goods laid up." But what were those 
goods to his soul ? it was his sensitive, not his rational 
soul that was the better by them ; there is no propor- 
tion betwixt outward things and spiritual faculties, 
but God's favour in Christ is adequate and suitable to 
the soul, it can pierce and penetrate through all the 
senses to the inward man, and there unite itself by 
intimate conjunction with our minds, for it doth not 
lightly tickle the outward or inward senses, but even 
possesseth the soul and spirit. One compares the joy of 
God's favour to an abundant drenching of the earth 
with seasonable rain, while favour from the world, 
resembles a light sprinkling of the earth with an even- 
ing dew ; God's favour waters thoroughly, the world's 
drops are but like the sprinkling of water on the 
smith's fire, making it burn hotter. 

(4.) God's favour is to be desired for itself, as the 
ultimate object of our desires. Other things are only 
* Psalm xxxvi. 8. 

god's favour. 303 

desirable for inferior ends in their secondary re- 
spective places, as physic to recover health, meat to 
satisfy hunger, &c. but there is no other end for which 
God can be rightly desired, except for himself, and 
all other things in subordination to this end, for all 
things must be referred to God, as the efficient cause and 
chief end of all ; when a man is travelling, if he be 
arrested in any part of his way he cannot perfect his 
journey, or reach to the end thereof; but created 
things are intended as steps to conduct the Christian 
forward on his journey. 

(5.) God's favour is independent, and needs not to 
be indebted to the creature, as a means to effect the 
end ; it can satisfy souls immediately, and so indeed it 
doth those in heaven, for they have neither creature 
vsupplies, nor positive institutions, through which God's 
favour is communicated to them, his blissful presence 
is their heaven ; so it is in this world, God can, and 
often doth refresh the hearts of his children in the 
absence of means, not only of creature comforts, but of 
his own ordinances ; a Paul could feel enjoyment,* 
whether in the body, or out of the body, he could not 
tell ; but however, as it was abstracted from the crea- 
ture, so it was above the creature to effect. 

(6.) God's favour is an infinite good, because it can, 
at one and the same time, supply all the creatures in 
heaven and earth, whose necessities are so various ;f 
the sun can only give light to one hemisphere at once, 
but the sun of God's favoiu' shines through the visible 
creation into men's souls, and to the saints and angels 
in heaven in a glorious radiant manner; these live more 
directly under the benign influences of God's bliss-mak- 

* 2 Cor. xii. 2. 

t Quod totum omnibus simul communicatum debet esse infini- 
tum — Ames. Cut. Sec 7- 

304 LIFE IX 

ing presence, yet Ave feel tlie virtue and comfort of it 
more reflexly through the glass of ordinances. I dis- 
pute not whether that which satisfies a soul must needs 
be infinite, since a soul is but finite ; but this is certain, 
that which satisfies all souls at once must be infinite. 

(7.) God's favour is unmixed, pure, and perfect, 
there are no dregs in this cup, it is a pure river of 
water of life, clear as crystal ; Rev. xxii. 1. There is 
light and no darlmess at all,* life and no death, bless- 
ing and no cm-se, fulness of joy and no sorrow, f hea- 
ven and no hell; his blessing makes rich, and he addeth 
no sorrow with it as to outward comforts ; and for 
spiritual joys, so far as God's favour shines upon the 
soul, and is not obstructed and intercepted with the 
thick mists of sin, fear, or ignorance, there is no defect 
in it, no sadness attends it, but the spiritual Jews 
have light and gladness, and joy and honour,:]; while 
in worldly enjoyments there is not only vanity but 

(8.) God's favour is eflfectual, it can cure the soul of 
all its fears, and sad thoughts, and scatter all clouds. 
Psalm xciv. 19, " In the multitude of my thoughts 
within me, thy comforts delight my soul." Alas ! the 
top and cream of worldly joy from outward comforts 
is soon fleeted, or skimmed off by means of affliction ; 
when God emptieth from vessel to vessel, he spoils mirth, 
but his favour can elevate the heart from earth, yea, 
from hell to heaven ; it can make the Christian bear 
up against storms in the midst of the most furious en- 
counters, yea, it causeth joy not only in them, but for 
them. II 

(9.) God's favour may be made sure, but the enjoy- 
ments of the world cannot ; all outward comforts are 

* 1 John i. 5. t Psal. xvi. 11. 

t Esther viii. 10. || 2 Cov. xii. 10. James i. 2. 

god's favour. 305 

but as liquor in a brittle glass, soon cracked, soon lost. 
A great man once boasted of three things that he could 
not lose, his riches, his learning, and the king's favour; 
but in seeking a blessing on his meat he could not 
speak sense, he was forced to solicit charity, and before 
he died, professed, he was sure the king did care more 
for the worst of his dogs than for him. But God's fa- 
vour is constant, permanent and everlasting ; truth and 
mercy go hand in hand to all eternity. * 

(10.) God's favour always ends well: it begins in 
good-will, it ends in good-will ; it begins in benevo- 
lence, it ends in complacency ; it begins in grace, it 
ends in glory ; it is so far from ceasing, that it is in- 
creasing ; it is like Solomon's sun that shines brighter 
to the perfect day of glory, like Ezekiel's waters that 
grow deeper till the soul arrive at the unfathomable 
depth of eternal felicity. But alas ! the comforts of 
this world, if the soul have no interest in God's favour, 
like the sweet and clear streams of Jordan run down 
into the dead sea of never-ending, boundless misery. 



In making application of the subject for the purpose 
of producing conviction both with respect to sinners 
and saints, I commence with th former. 

Is God's favour a Christian's life ? Then, O what a 
fearful case are those in that are not in God's favour ? 

* Psalm c. 5. 

306 LIFE IN 

Woe, woe, woe to that soul which is out of God's fa- 
vour, and continues so, and is found so at death and 
judgment. O what a sad and deplorable state ! better, 
ten thousand times better never to have been born. 
How canst thou live, soul? how darest thou die? 
Who dost thou think will take pity on thee, if God 
disown thee ? How canst thou make a shift to keep 
up thy heart from terror ? How canst thou eat and 
drink, sleep or work, as long as thou art not sure thou 
art in God's favour? Or if thou mindest not these 
things, but puttest off thoughts of soul affaii's a while, 
how canst thou bear up thy head at the approach of 
death ? Dost thou dream of a reprieve or exemption 
from it ? or dost thou imagine thou must die like a 
beast, and so feel neither weal nor woe when life is 
gone ? or dost thou think to arrive at heaven without 
God's love or leave ? Canst thou be so sottish as to 
hope to be happy whether God will or not ? Is not 
life bound up in, and issuing from God's favour ? I 
may say to that soul that hath not an interest in God's 
favour, as the Lord to Abimelech, " Thou art but a 
dead man. * 

1. Thou hast no true spiritual life, but art dead in 
sins and trespasses : f whatever vital acts thou pre- 
tendest to, thou hast no more spiritual life in thee than 
a dead carcass ; though thou mayest have a name to 
live, thou ai't dead, t thou art but the picture of a 
Christian ; adorn a dead corpse, you cannot put life 
into it, but make it more offensive ; thy graces are but 
dead graces, thy duties are dead duties, thy gifts, com- 
forts, and acts all are dead, and thy soul a dead soul, 
ready to be put into the grave of eternal perdition. 
How canst thou be otherwise than dead, when thou 
wantest the sun of God's favour to put life into thee ? 
• Gen. XX. 3. t Eph. ii. 1. + Rev. iii. 1. 

GOlVs FAVOUll. 307 

£k Thou art under the sentence of death which the 
law has passed upon thee, the gospel declares thee con- 
demned already, thou hast forfeited thy right to all 
creature comforts, canst not truly call one morsel of 
bread thine own by a true covenant title, though God 
in his general bounty casts such crumbs to dogs : and 
for all thy bearing up so confidently with thy prayers, 
hearings, and hopings, all is abomination in his sight, 
nothing thou dost can please God, thou canst find no 
acceptance with him. Poor soul, thou toiiest and 
trudgest hard to no purpose ; if thou be not in favour 
with God, he will say, who required these things at 
thy hands ? Alas, all thou art or doest is rejected. 

3. Thou art every moment exposed to a natural 
death, thy life hangs in doubt, and depends upon the 
courtesy of an offended God, who hath thee in his 
power, and can strike thee dead any moment of thy 
life: if thou sawest a giant stand over thee with a 
drawn sword, being thy sAVorn enemy, and ready to 
take away thy life, thou wouldest take but little rest in 
thy bed; God is thine enemy, stronger than all 
the men on earth, and he is just and true, and hath 
bound himself by an oath to destroy all the workers of 
iniquity ; he is angry with the wicked every day, if 
thou turn not, he will whet his sword, he hath bent 
his bow, and made it ready, he hath prepared for thee 
the instruments of death. Psalm vii. 11, 12. How 
canst thou sleep quietly ? surely thy pillow is very 
soft, or thy heart very hard, else thou wouldest never 
be thus quiet under so much guilt, when thou knowest 
not that thou shalt live another hour, when thou canst 
not tell but death may meet thee at thy board, in thy 
bed, in the field, on the road ; God hath the advantage 
of thee, and can soon hurl thee out of this world into 
another — a stamp of his foot, a word of his mouth, a 

308 LIFE IN 

frown of his countenance will do it, for thou must 
perish at the rebuke of his countenance. How canst 
thou evade the arrest of his grim sergeant, death ? the 
grave is ready for thee, yield thou must. And, 

4. ^Vhat is worst of all, when thou diest a natural 
death, thou enterest upon the bitter pangs of eternal 
death, which consists in a separation of the soul from 
God, and tormenting pains of soul and body under divine 
wrath.* Alas, soul ! dost thou know what an everlasting 
banishment from the favourable presence of God means? 
this the hell of hell, and though here thou canst be 
content to live without God's favour, yet it will be an- 
other manner of thing to be in hell without the benefit 
of God's favour; here thoumayest be content, there the 
loss of it will be tormenting, then thine eyes will be 
opened to see what is in God's favour, to know the worth 
of it by the want of it. If the withdrawing of the sense 
God's favour have filled saints' hearts with intolerable 
pangs, near akin to those of the damned in hell, oh 
what an inexpressible horror and anguish shall the 
hearts of the lost feel, when they see all their fond 
and groundless hopes frustrated, having given up the 
ghost, and in the room of their self-made comforts, 
weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth ; instead of 
wine and mirth, sensual delights and pleasures, to drink 
of the wine of the wrath of God, poured out without 
mixture into the cup of his indignation, where soul and 
body must be tormented with fire and brimstone, in 
the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of 
the Lamb, f Ah, dreadful disappointment ! ah, wo- 
ful state of graceless sinners ! poor soul, what a heavi- 
some case art thou in, there is but a step betwixt thee 
and death, but a hair-breadth betwixt thee and hell, it 
is but stopping thy borrowed breath, and thou art in 
* 2 Thess. i. 7—9. t Rev. xiv. 10, 11. 

god's iavour 309 

endless misery ; God hath ways enough to dispatch 
thee, and Satan, whom thou art serving, is waiting for 
a commission to seize thee ! he pusheth thee forward 
into sin apace, that thou mayest hasten into the same 
condemnation with him ; God also leaves thee to thy- 
self, and glad thou art of it, that thou canst pass on 
undisturbed to the pit of destruction. Now, thou canst 
laugh at death as a fable, slight the thoughts of dam- 
nation as unconcerned therein, despise the way of ob- 
taining God's favour as unimportant ; thou art now 
ripening for iniin, sin hath made thee as stubble fully 
dry, and justice is upon the road to tear thee up, and 
cast thee into the fire of eternal wrath, and though 
thou art sleeping upon the bed of carnal security, yet 
thy judgment of a long time lingereth not, and thy 
damnation slumbereth not * Oh couldst thou have a 
look into hell, and see what is become of those grace- 
less souls that were once as careless and confident as 
thou art, it would affright thee out of thy wits, or 
wickedness ; and indeed it is a wonder that guilty 
consciences discovering v/ratli over them, and hell 
flaming beneath, do not run mad, and lay violent hands 
on themselves, like Judas, or at least roar out like tor- 
mented fiends as Spira did. I often think of what 
Augustin said, " I would not for all the world be in 
an unregenerate state one horn*, lest in that hour death 
should snatch me away, and thnist me into hell." Oh 
that thy heart, poor sinner, did meditate terror ! Oh 
that the sinners in Zion were but afraid, and would be- 
think themselves how they are able to dwell with de- 
vouring fire, with everlasting burnings ! f or rather, 
that you might inquire some way of escaping that 
wrath to come, those everlasting torments. But there 
is np hope, sinners will not fear, till they feel what 
« 2 Pet. ii. 3. t Isa. xxxiii. 14, 18. 

310 LIFE IN 

God's favour means by the want of it, and what his 
wrath means by painful experience. It seems it must 
be the sad fate of poor ministers still to labour in vain, 
and to cry out, who hath believed oiu' report ?* Well, 
poor sinners will feel what now they will not believe ; 
though we die, yet God's word of threatening will take 
hold of them ; and though now they will not lay it to 
heart, yet at last they shall consider it perfectly, the 
time is coming when it shall be known whose words 
shall stand, God's or theirs ;f death and judgment will 
determine the controversy. You will say, perhaps, 
why so much said about God's favour ? are we not all 
in God's favour ? we hope God will not be so severe as 
you are : will God disown us ? we trust not, God is 
more merciful than to consign us to miseiy. 

Answer. Do you think all men are in God's special 
favour ? that is contrary to Scriptvu-e and reason ; or 
do you think God will cast none into hell for ever ? If 
you will not believe God's word, you shall have yoiu- 
confutation another way, but it shall be a costly con- 
viction. Do I need to tell you again, that God will not 
be merciful to any wicked transgressors ; and that it is 
a people of no understanding, therefore he that made 
them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed 
them will shew them no favour ? That man is in a 
sad state indeed, who cannot be saved unless God be 
false to his word, who must be eternally lost if God be 
true. The Scriptures inform us, that unregenerate, 
unholy, unconverted sinners cannot be saved, that they 
are not in God's favour, yet very many hope it may be 
otherwise, that is, they hope that God is not God ; for 
if he is God, he must be true, righteous, and holy, not 
indulging men in sin to gratify their lusts, nor yet sav- 
ing their souls to please their selfish humours. They 
* Isa. xlix. 4. liii. 1. t Zecli. i. 5, 0. 

cod's I'AVOUK. 311 

will find it fall out far otherwise ; be they great or 
small, they shall find that God will cast them out of his 
favour if they have slighted his love. 

But that I may discuss this conviction more fully, 
and bring it home to the conscience, I shall speak to 
four classes of persons : namely, 

Presumers, abusers, neglecters, and rejecters of God's 

1. Presumers on the favoiu* of God, who imagine 
they are in God's favour, and yet have no true Scrip- 
ture warrant for it ; for he that hopes without solid 
ground from the word of God is a presumer, and alas, 
many do so. Suppose a poor beggar please himself with 
imagining that such a rich man would give him a 
thousand pounds, but hath no promise nor encourage- 
ment from him of any such kindness, will not all per- 
sons laugh him to scorn for such a fond delusion ? 
Was that madman at Athens any richer for claiming 
every ship that came into harbom* for his own ? Who 
so confident as those that have least ground ? I have 
observed the following, palpable differences betwixt a 
presuming hypocrite, and a true child of God. 

(1.) That mere professors of religion are fond of ap- 
plying God's favour to themselves, but genuine Chris- 
tians are very jealous, are troubled with many doubts 
and fears about it, you can hardly persuade them of it ; 
while you cannot keep oflf the former from grasping at 
it by misapplication. 

(2.) Mere formalists dream of God's favour without 
the consideration of his justice, truth, and holiness ; 
whereas a penitent child of God is very apt to pass 
over the thoughts of mercy, being much exercised with 
dreadful apprehensions of his justice : Alas, saith he, 
how shall I escape the terrible justice of a sin- 
avenging God ? and he is never quieted till he see how 

312 LIFE IN 

justice and mercy embrace each other in Christ's me- 

(3.) Presumptuous nominal Christians run all upon 
justification by God's grace and favour, but forget 
sanctification, and their own duty ; whereas a gracious 
eoul, longing after holiness in heart and life, is discou- 
r iged because so little is visible. 

(4.) The poor presuming soul dreams of God's fa- 
vour absolutely, but studies not gospel conditions, to 
which God's favour with all the effects thereof are pro- 
mised ; and a pious Christian dares not apply pardon, 
reconciliation, &c. because he finds not that faith and 
repentance which he knows God requireth, and to 
which he annexeth the effects of his special favour in 
Christ. Oh what damnable delusions are built upon 
these mistakes ! Alas, how many are gulled and be- 
guiled with misinformations and misconstructions in 
these fundamental cases ! 

Here I might reckon up the many pleas and pre- 
tences men bring to persuade themselves that they are 
in God's favour, I shall but glance at them, I need not 
stand to confute them. — One hopes he is in God's 
favom- because he is prospered in the world, as it res- 
pects estate, friends, health, and honour ; but if so, the 
Turk can boast of success and favour as much as any. 
— Another on the contrary thinks he is in God's favour 
because afflicted, then souls tormented in hell might 
plead God's favour. — Some plead they hear the best 
preachers, enjoy pure ordinances, but Christ cashiers 
those who on this account pleaded his favour, Luke 
xiii. 26. — Others God hath honoured with notable 
gifts of discourse, prayer, and knowledge, but Saul 
and Judas, yea, the devil himself might infer God's 
favour from gifts with as much reason as they can 
have. — Som€ plead a change in their course, and some 

god's favour. 313 

visible reformation of life ; but this of itself will not 
evidence God's favour, 2 Peter ii. 20. — Others plead 
that they are merciful, forgiving, mild to such as 
offend them, and they hope for favoui' from God ; but 
Saul was destitute of piety, and out of favour, notwith- 
standing this good property, 1 Sam. xi. 13. x. 27. — 
Some think they have God's favour, because they beg 
it in every undertaking, and would not set about any 
enterprise without it ; but Saul a hypocrite, and at last 
cast off did as much, 1 Sam. xiii. 12 ; also if God an- 
swered not, he examined the reason to find out the sin 
that hindered God's favour, 1 Sam. xiv. 37, 38 ; besides 
he shewed great dislike to sin, and zeal to punish it, 
and effect a reformation, ver. 33. 39 ; he even con- 
tinued his duties after he heard that God had cast him 
out of favour, see 1 Sam. xv. 23 — 31 ; yet for all this, 
he was not in God's favour and quite rejected. — Others 
plead their love to God, and respect for his people, but 
there is such a love to God and his people as doth not 
evidence special grace ; thus even a Saul, a Balaam, 
and wicked men may not be altogether void of love to 
God and his saints. — Some plead convictions of con- 
science, terrors, fears, humiliations, deep foretastes of 
another world, which is no more than Aliab, Felix, 
Judas,* and those described in Heb. -vi. 4. 5, could 
plead. — Others imagine their soundness in the faith, 
harmless conversation, hearing the word gladly, doing 
much in compliance therewith, will at least evidence, 
if not procure God's favour; but the following passages, 
Rom. ii. 18—24. Phil. iii. 6. Mark vi. 20, will over- 
turn this conceit. — Some will presume to argue them- 
selves into God's favour from their diligence in duties, 
their inquires after the will of God and salvation, but 
those mentioned in Isa. Iviii. 2, and the young man, 
* 1 Kings xxi. 2/- Acts xxiv. 25. 

314 LIFE IN 

Matt. xix. 20, were as fit to plead this as they, yet 
were not in special favour. — Others hoi)e God favours 
them because they are much affected under ordinances, 
enlarged in duties, and continue long in fasting and 
prayer, but the Pharisees and stony-ground hearers had 
as much reason to plead in this manner as they, Luke 
xviii. 11, 12. Matt, xxiii. 14. xiii. 21. — And others 
can go along with the foolish virgins in having lamps, 
trimming them, keeping company with wise virgins, 
desiring grace, using some endeavoui-s to obtain it, yet 
alas, cast out of the chamber with " I know you not," 
Matt. XXV. 2 — 12. 

I say not but these things are good so far as they 
go, however they are defective in their consequences, 
and not sufficient evidences of God's favour, or special 
love in Christ ; you must look out for more satisfjdng 
grounds. Observe it, there is nothing wherein persons 
are more apt to be mistaken, and more endangered by 
mistaking than imagining they are in God's favour. 
Men are apt to flatter themselves with hopes of im- 
munity in sin, from a conceit of the mercy of God, and 
though they live sinfully, yet they say, " Is not the 
Lord among us ? none evil can come unto us," Micah 
iii. 11, 12. Alas, poor sinner, it is not thy confidence, 
but scriptural evidence that will carry it. It is a sad 
overwhelming consideration to hear deluded sinners 
expressing high hopes of God's favour, but when you 
examine their reasons, they have not one that will 
carry water, or have any weight in the balances of the 
sanctuary. Art thou in God's favour when thou hast 
never been sensible of his displeasure, and hast not yet 
been brought through the pangs of regeneration ? Art 
thou in God's favour, and canst not produce as evidence 
a gospel repentance, justifying faith, labour of love, or 
any one saving grace in sincerity ? Canst thou imagine 

god's TAVorR. 315 

thou art in God's favour, when thou never didst give 
up thyself to God in covenant to be ruled by his laws, 
and comply with his will ? Art thou in God's favour 
that either makest no conscience of worshipping God, 
or dost it but formally, and knowest not what it is to 
pour out thy soul before him, or enjoy communion 
with him ? Nay, but, man, how canst thou judge thy- 
self in God's favour, when thy conscience tells thee of 
a delicious sin in which thou takest pleasure, and with 
which thou art loth to part, which is totally incon- 
sistent with God's favour? For if thou regardest iniquity 
in thy heart, God will not hear tliy prayer,* nor respect 
thy person. Men may flatter thee, and say. Peace, 
peace ; good men may be deceived with thee, and ap- 
prove of thee; thou mayest have quietness in thine 
own conscience, and sing thyself asleep on the bed of 
security ; but all this while God may thunder out 
threatenings against thee, and hate thee as his enemy, 
and cast thy soul into torments for ever. Alas, poor 
souls, how we poor ministers could weep over you that 
are enemies to the cross of Christ ! O that you did but 
see your danger before it be too late ! O that God in 
mercy to youi* souls would deliver you from everlast- 
ing burnings ! 

2. Another class to be reproved, are abusers of 
God's favour. Now men abuse his favour two ways : 
first, by invalidating it ; and secondly, by perverting 

(1 .) By rendering the favour of God null, or ineffectual 
to accomplish his designs thereby. God's favour should 
leave a sweet savour upon men's spirits, and lead their 
souls to him. Rom. ii. 4, " Despisest thou the riches 
of his goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering, 
not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth to re- 
* Tsai. Ixvi. 18. 

316 LIFE IN 

pentance?" that is, should lead to repentance and new 
obedience. Alas, that these silken, silver cords of love 
and favour, should draw our iron hearts no nearer 
God !* since God's goodness is such an attractive load- 
stone, and hath won so many hearts ! Alas, sirs, what 
are you made of? where is your ingenuousness? If men 
had expressed the thousandth part of favour to you ; 
O what tenderness of heart would it have wrought ? 
and shall God's kindness be lost ? will you always go 
on to receive the grace of God in vain ? will you go 
on to return evil for good, hatred for his good-will ? 
Alas, that you should still depart from your best 
friend, and forsake your own mercies ; you may be sure 
that the more favours are conferred on you, the more 
coals of fire are heaped on your heads, if you attain 
not God's end ; besides, you do evidently demonstrate 
that you are among the wicked ; for of them it is said, 
Isa. xxvi. 10, " Let favour be shewed to the wicked, 
yet will he not learn righteousness." Wilfulness under 
kindnesses is a black brand of a wicked heart ; repro- 
bates are usually hardened by that which softens others; 
when word, rod, love, light, convictions, and all dis- 
cussions rather make worse than better, it is fearful. 
Lord, pity that soul upon which all likely means are 
lost ; cursed ground, which neither shower nor sun- 
shine, human diligence nor heavenly influences make 
fruitful, in reference to which thou hast said, Lay it 
waste, throw it to the common with a gospel curse 
upon it, let no fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever ; 
if after all it bear thorns and briars it is rejected, nigh 
unto cursing, whose end is to be burned, Heb. vi. 8. 

(2.) By perverting God's favours, and turning them 
to a wrong use and end. Those are ungodly men that 
turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, Jude, 4. As 
* Hosea xi. 4. 

god's TAVorR. 317 

when men do pervert the outward comforts of life, 
which are God's favours, and use them as provisions 
for the flesh, weapons of unrighteousness, incentives to 
sin, and instruments to serve Satan, by gluttony, 
drunkenness, pride, or lust. Oh how ill doth God 
take this, yea, the very creature groans under this evil; 
and the usual fruit thereof is either plucking that person 
from the world, or pulling that abused mercy out of 
his hands : see Hos. ii. 8, 9. But oh that God's indul- 
gence should be abused by wretched sinners, as a pil- 
low to lay their heads and sleep upon ! yet thus it oft 
proves : Eccles. viii. 11, " Because sentence against an 
evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of 
the children of men is fully set in them to do evil." The 
better God is to them, the worse they will be, desperate 
antipodes to heavenly bounty, like marshy earth, when 
the more it is manured the more barren it grows, or 
a bad soil that produceth weeds instead of herbs under 
the droppings of heaven. But O what prodigious 
monsters are those that argue from kindness to self- 
murdering cruelty, from God's mercy to a lawless 
liberty to sin, from the abounding of gospel grace to 
the abounding of iniquity : such diabolical reasoners 
as these, the apostle Paul repels with an ahsif, " God 
forbid :"* Rom. vi. 1,2, " Shall we continue in sin that 
grace may abound? God forbid." Far be that from us to 
make such a lawless inference ; let it never be spoken 
or done in Christ's school ; let no man that pretends 
to be a saint shew himself so irrational and illogical, as 
either wilfully to commit a sin in hopes of pardon, as 
if God's pardons were like the Pope's disi)ensations to 
break God's laws, or else to return unto folly after 
peace spoken, and presume that God is gracious, 
and will not punish or finally condemn him : it will 

* Ml] yivoiTO. 

318 LIT E IN 

appear tliat as God hath favours to bestow, he hath 
also justice to execute, and when mercy goes off the 
stage, severity shall enter, and act a dreadful tragedy 
in reference to the poor sinner ; these favours will be 
converted into faggots to scorch the sinner in hell for 
ever ; this sweet oil of love will, when kipdled into 
flame, be like melted lead poured upon his naked soul 
with addition of multiplied tortiu'es. As the sense of 
unkindness torments awakened consciences, under great 
kindnesses, so the fruits of unkindnesses are incensed 
wrath and indignation; abused mercy turns into fury; 
the more of heaven here, if men are regardless of it, the 
more of hell hereafter. Justice will be most glorified 
where grace hath been most magnified and vilified ; if 
God's justice enter an action against us, the appeal is 
to God's throne of grace in Christ ; but if grace and 
love itself commence a suit against us, whither can we 
flee for relief or remedy ? 

3. Among those persons that fall under the lash of 
conviction may be reckoned neglecters of God's favours, 
refusers of his kindnesses, that prefer, first, men's fa- 
vour ; or, secondly, sensual pleasui-es to the favour of 

(1.) How many, alas, are there that ambitiously de- 
sire the favour of the great men of the Avorld ! many 
will entreat the favour of tlie prince, and every man is 
a friend to him that giveth gifts. This ambitious hu- 
mour of pleasing men to obtain or maintain their 
favour and good- will, is a great obstruction to faith, 
and destruction to sinners : John v. 44, " How can 
you believe, which receive honour one of another, and 
seek not the honour that cometh from God only?" 
Sometimes, it seems, men's favour is inconsistent with 
the favour of God, and true believers find it a hard 
matter to abandon their credit, or venture upon dis- 

god's FAVOUll. 319 

grace or tlie world's disfavour, for Christ ; a Moses 
could do it, but many fail here ; it is a very tender 
point, a man's good name is himself, and what good 
will his life do him when reputation is gone ? How can 
men live in the world, when out of all men's favour ? 
This is hard to pass, few come to a decision, and say, 
Lord, let me have thy favour with the forfeiture 
or loss of all men's favour. But alas, what good will 
the favour of great men do you in the hour of death, 
or day of judgment ? then the light of their counte- 
nance shall be cast down ; alas, they cannot relieve 
their own aching heads or condemned souls ; ask them 
to befriend you, that God may not be angry, see if 
they can bail you from the arrest of death, or bring 
you off at the bar of God, yea, try in lesser matters 
now, make the experiment in your pangs of conscience, 
or pains of body, and see if their favour or friendship 
can drive away either; no, alas, they cannot help 
themselves in these cases, in God's favour alone there 
is life, yet almost all men slight the favour of God, and 
make no great reckoning of it. God may reserve his 
favours for whom he pleaseth, for their parts they 
stand in need of no such thing in their vain imagina- 
tion, but when death and judgment come their eyes 
will be opened, and their hearts roundly convinced of 
this truth, that " in God's favour is life." 

(2.) Many prefer the gratifications of appetite and 
sensual pleasures, esteeming them more highly than 
God's favour ; they observe lying vanities, and so for- 
sake their own mercies, Jonah ii. 8. Poor wretched, 
sensual creatures, that matter not God's favour, that is, 
his special distinguishing kindness and love, if they 
may enjoy what gratifies the flesh. Alas, can the en- 
joyment of sensual delights, or worldly profits any 
way compensate for the loss of God's favour ? meats 

320 LIFE IN 

for the belly, and the belly for meats, but God will 
destroy both it and them.* Alas, both pleasures and 
body will be removed in a little time, and all gratifica- 
tions will vanish away, as if they had ne^^er been; but 
God's favour will endure for ever, yea, will make per- 
sons both perfectly and perpetually happy ; 1 John ii. 
17, "The world passeth away, and the lust thereof; 
but he that doth the will of God abideth for ever." 
Ah, sinner, when thou shalt see those gracious souls 
that longed, panted, prayed, and endeavoured for the 
favour of God above their lives, made happy in God's 
immediate presence, and thy miserable soul (which took 
the world for its portion, and was well satisfied, if thou 
hadst so much of the fruits of God's common bounty, 
as to gratify sense, while thou slightedst God's special 
favour,) at last banished from his face and favour for 
ever; oh how will this add new wounds to thy despair, 
thou wilt be ready thus to bemoan thy soul : Ah 
wretched creatui'e that I am, woe unto me ! time was 
that God's favour might have been had, Christ pro- 
cured it, the new covenant contained it, the gospel 
promised it, ministers offered it, many looked after it, 
and now possess it in yonder glorious mansions, but I 
poor careless sinner slighted it, did not judge it worth 
a sigh, a prayer, or an inquiry for obtaining it, I pre- 
sumed that I had it, would not be beat off that fond con- 
ceit, I judged them fools, or my enemies that would 
have me question it, or I was taken up with other 
matters, and was contented with the common enjoy- 
ments of this world ; but alas, now I see, now at last, 
now too late, I am forced| to discern both worth and 
want together; I am now banished from what I slighted, 
and that punishment of loss of God's favour is both 
equitable and what might have been expected ; woe is 
* 1 Cor. vi. 13. 

r.OD's FAVOT'R. 321 

me, I shall never see his reconciled face, my former 
sensual pleasures are gone, as if they had never been, 
but the sting still remains and pierces my soul, and 
will gnaw my conscience for ever. O that I had con- 
sidered this betimes ! O that I had read, and heard, 
and prayed, and examined conscience, and asked ques- 
tions for the purpose of discovering my real state, and 
a way to obtain assurance of God's favour ! O that I 
had wallowed in dust and ashes with a broken heart, 
and weeping eyes all my days ! O that I had made it 
my business to lay open all my sins by confession, to 
condemn myself at the bar of justice, and to make a 
timely appeal to the throne of grace ! O that my soul 
had had a true, lively, saving faith, instead of this 
fancied faith that now undoeth me, by deceiving me ! 
I thought faith was nothing but a belief that I was in 
God's favour, that my sins v/ere pardoned, and my 
soul should be saved, that is, that I must believe a lie; 
for now I feel by sad experience it was not so, there 
was no reality in these things. O that I had made 
diligent inquiry into the nature, properties, and actings 
of true justifying faith; possibly I might have escaped 
these torments, and have sat down with yonder blessed 
souls at God's right hand in his immediate presence ! 
but my day is gone, the gulf is fixed, my hopes are 
lost, the day of grace is over, my soul is lost, and must 
for ever, for ever be banished from the- presence of the 
Lord, and punished with everlasting destruction from 
the powerful hand of a sin-avenging God ; this is the 
dreadful fruit of slighting the special favom' of the 
eternal God. But you will say, are there any such 
men as slight the favour of God ? and who are they ? 
I answer, yes, scripture and experience tell us of many 
instances ; there are but too many Esaus that for a 


322 LIIE IN 

morsel sell their heavenly birth-right ; * the time 
would fail me to reckon up a cursed Ham, a mocking 
Ishmael, a stupid Saul, a treacherous Judas, an apostate 
Julian, and all tlie rabble of profane wretches that 
are gone down to hell for slighting the favour of God : 
and I may say to every graceless sinner, how canst 
thou escape, that neglectest so great salvation?! Alas, 
it is plain enough thou dost not mind nor matter this 
affair; thy language, thy caiTiage, thy whole conversa- 
tion declare to thy conscience and others, that thou 
hast neither part nor lot in this matter::}: alas, poor 
creature, where are thy cares, fears, teai's, and soul 
exercises about this business ? didst thou ever examine 
thyself about it ? what time dost thou spend daily in 
seeking God with thy whole heart ? how doth it take 
up thy thoughts, what thou must do if death should 
arrest thee? ai't thou at uncertainties in this case? 
canst thou spend days, and weeks, and months, and 
years, and never think of this, as though thou wert 
totally unconcerned in it ? does any thing rather than 
this take up thy mind ? the God of heaven pity thee, thy 
case is sad, thou art out of God's favour. But more of 
this in another place. 

4. The last description of persons that are exjiosed 
to reproof, are rejecters of the favour of God ; such 
there are that do not only turn their backs upon the 
favour of God, but trample the pearls of religion under 
their feet : these are of two sorts, first, gi'oss offenders ; 
and secondly, hot persecuters. 

(1.) Gross sinners, brutish spirits, that like atheists 
put far off the evil day, and cause the seat of violence 
to come near — that lie upon beds of ivory, and eat the 
lambs out of the flock — that drink wine in bowls || — 

* Heb. xii. 16. t Heb. ii. 3. 

+ Acts viii. 21. || Amos vi. 3—7. 

GOD'i FAVOUR. 323 

that spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go 
down to the grave, yea, to hell, who are these? the 
text brands them for atheists, therefore they say unto 
God, " depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge 
of thy ways : what is the Almighty, that we should 
serve him ? and what profit should we have, if we 
pray unto him ? * This is not only the heart and life 
language, but even the lip language of the atheists of 
our days : " what matter is it whether people pray or 
not ? for ought we see it goeth as well with such as 
make no great stir in religion, as those that keep up 
such a mighty noise ; men make more ado than needs ; 
if there be a God, (putting it in doubt as the devil to 
Eve at first) yet this God hath an equal respect to all 
his creatures, he is all goodness, and surely would not 
make creatures to damn them, and it is but a fond thing 
for men to torment themselves with melancholy conceits 
of another world, which is uncertain ; we know what 
we are, or have been, but we know not what we shall 
be hereafter : therefore let us live a merry life, cast 
away cares, and skim the cream of creature enjoyments ; 
let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die, and there 
is an end of us." And indeed no wonder such hogs as 
these live a swinish life, since they have the atheist's 
belief; and when they are full of the husks of these 
low creature comforts, no wonder that they lift up 
their snouts against heaven, f and scorn the dainties of 
the upper table. I must leave these incarnate devils, 
(nay, worse than the devil, for he cannot be an atheist, 
though it is his work to make atheists) to the dis- 
appointments they shall meet with, being confident 
that those that despise divine favour shall feel the 
anger, and lie under the insupportable displeasure of 

* Job xxi. 13—15. 

t Plenu8 porcorum siliquis non desiderat banc suavitatera. 
2 Y 

324 LIFE IX 

that God, whose friendship they wilfully reject. In 
the mean time, let those wretched sinners that choose 
death before life, yea, that practically judge themselves 
nnworthy of God's favour, and of eternal life, consider 
but that one affecting heart-melting text, Psal. Ixxxi. 
8 — 12. See the pathetic oratory God useth to win 
his people's hearts to him, enumerating his relation to 
them, promises, former providences, and willingness to 
do for them as much as they can ask : " Open thy 
mouth wide, and I will fill it ;" yet after all this, 
listen to God's complaint, " But my people would not 
hearken to my voice, Israel would none of me ;" as if 
he had said, alas, my people thought me not worth 
OAvning, they supposed my favour would do them no 
good, I was not at all prized by them, they imagined 
they could shift well enough without me. The God 
that made them and upholds them offered them his 
grace and love, yea, himself to make them happy. 
But I was rejected, they would have none of me for 
their husband, Lord, and Saviour, I must leavi? them 
unconquered, not prevailing on them tliat I might do 
them good, my Spirit must go away grieved from them, 
it seems they and I must part ; \^'ell, I will turn them 
loose, I will leave them to themselves. I have given 
them over to their own heart's lusts, and now they are 
filling up the measure of their sins, and when they 
have come to the height, I will hide my face from them, 
and take away the hedge of my common providence, 
and I will see what their end shall be.* It will be 
seen what poor shift they can make to secure their 
hearts from terror, and their souls from torments ; to 
whom now will they flee for help, and where will they 
leave their glory ? without me they shall bow down 
* Deut. xxxii. 20. 

god's favour. 325 

under the prisoners, (chained devils) and they shall 
fall down under the slain with the rest of lost souls in 
everlasting confusion. ^'' Oh then there shall be weep- 
ing, wailing, and gnasliing of teeth, then I will laugh 
at their calamity, and mock when their fear cometh ; 
then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer, for 
that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear 
of the Lord, they would none of my counsel, they des- 
pised all my reproof, Prov. i. 24 — 33 ; read Jer. xvi. 
5, 13, 17, 18. 

(2.) There are some so desperate in rejecting God's 
favour, that they reject all that have it, and like those 
the worse that are in favour w^ith God ; they only con- 
sult to cast him down from his excellency,! who is in 
high favour with God ; the more God expresseth his 
love, the more they express their hatred, as Ishmael 
did mock Isaac, or as the patriarchs their father's 
darling Joseph. There is a spirit of envy that swells in 
the hearts of the wicked against such as are higher in 
God's books than themselves ; what envy wrought in 
the hearts of the Pharisees against our Saviour, because 
he said he was the Son of God ? what bedlam rage 
possessed the frantic Jews against Stephen when he 
said he saw the heavens opened? they cried v/ith a 
loud voice, stopped their ears, ran upon him like mad- 
men. 1 The like do malignant villains ag-ainst the 
saints at this day, if they hear any speak, though with 
words of truth and soberness, of their experience, in- 
terest in God, communion with him, evidences of his 
special favour, &c. Alas, because these sottish beings 
relish not these things, though it be in scripture lan- 
guage, and according to the warrant of the word, yet 
they are ready to mock them, and call them in scorn 
the godly, holy brethren, or holy sisters ; but indeed 

• Isa. X. 3, 4. t Psal. Ixii. 4. + Acts vii. 56, 57. 

326 LIFE IN 

accounting them a pack of canting hypocrites, that are 
worse than others, because they will needs be better 
than others, and will take upon them to censure their 
neighbours, as low, carnal, and wicked, because they 
talk not at the same rate of high flown nonsense, (as 
they deem it) with themselves ; thus sober gracious 
Christians are branded as fools, fanatics, enthusiasts, and 
scoffed at with hellish disdain, as Pharisees, Separatists, 
or those the prophet speaks of, that say, stand by thy- 
self, come not near to us, for we are holier than thou * 
But alas, these wi-etched adversaries of the truth, know 
not how to distinguish betwixt an empty ostentation 
of holiness, and a sober profession of the power of 
godliness, and so speak evil of the things tlie)^ know not, 
and dash themselves upon the rock of persecution, 
both as to the sin and punishment, undoing themselves 
for ever. O that men would be wise at last, and not 
strike at Christ through the loins of his members, nor 
kick against the pricks. Think with thyself, man, 
when thou art abusing professors, such a one is either 
a hypocrite, or a saint ; if a hypocrite notwithstanding 
this fair show, then woe to me that have not gone half 
this length, never wept and prayed, and lived as he 
hath done ; he hath far out-gone me, and yet he is 
short of grace and heaven. O then, how far short am 
I, that am so far short of him? woe is me, I must mend 
my pace, or I shall come far behind ; shall he perish 
with all those experiences, and what shall become of 
me that have none at all ? I had need give over mock- 
ing, and fall a working for my poor soul. Or if he be 
indeed no hypocrite, but a real saint, (as for ought I 
know he is, for it is too great a work for me to judge 
the heart contrary to words or actions) O what a fear- 
ful case am I in, who am fighting against God, and 

* Isaiah Ixr. 5. 

god's favour. 327 

scorning those whom God is pleased to own? better a 
inJUstone were hanged about my neck, and myself be 
cast into the depth of the sea.* How dare I look that 
God in the face whose favourites I have despised ? 
Will not their master take his servants' part ? What 
good can I do in opposing them who are approved by 
the great God ? Let my soul be in their soul's case, 
both now and at the great day ; Lord, have mercy 
upon my soul, and be favourable to me. 

Secondly, I shall now briefly address the children of 
of God, that are indeed really under the cheering beams 
of divine favour, but are such as deserve reproof also 
on these four accounts : — 

Slighting, doubting, mistaking, and misusing God's 

1. Slighting God's favour. Alas, how few of us do 
esteem God's favour as life ? ah, where is a holy 
David that could say, thy loving-kindness or benignity 
is better than life ? Psalm Ixiii. 3. Objects of sense 
are near us, and usually more affect us, seldom are our 
hearts taken up v/ith the thoughts of it, or have any 
endearedness to it How few of us do stir up ourselves 
to lay hold upon God, and stimulate our hearts to la- 
bour, and lay out ourselves to obtain an assui-ance in 
our hearts, that we are indeed in the favour of God? 
nay, cannot we be often without the feeling of God's 
favour a long time ? at best do we not prize the gift 
more than the Giver ? It is a piece of egregious folly 
to look at the hand more than the free mind in a gift. 
Do not outward comforts please us more than the com- 
forts of grace, left-hand more than right-hand bless- 
ings ? Ah, sirs, are the consolations of God small to 
you ? are you afraid of being happy ? Is the favour 
of men worth seeking, and is God's favour of no value? 
* Matt, xviii. 6. 

328 LIFE IN 

Shall God propound and promise the mercy, shall 
Christ purcliase it, shall the Spirit offer and convey it, 
yea, assure us of it, and shall we still make light of it? 
And shall the Lord wait to be gracious, and our hearts 
be loth to entertain the fruits of his grace ? Will not a 
day come, when we shall have need of the assurance of 
God's love? Will not slight thoughts of God's fa- 
vour wound deep at death, or in soul-trouble ? Ah, 
that we could be ashamed of our own egregious folly. 
O Lord, how lamentable that thy children should prize 
their Father's smiles no more ! What is of worth, of 
use, if God's favour be not? what can do you good 
without it ? how can you desire to go to heaven, it' you 
desire not that Avherein heaven doth consist ? Lord, 
pardon this woful senselessness, ingratitude, and se- 

2. Many of God's children are much dispirited, dis- 
couraged, and dejected in this case ; full of fears, jea- 
lor.sies, and misgivings of heart; when they remember 
God they are trou]:;led, as David saith, Psalm Ixxvii. 3. 
thinking, oh but this God is none of my God, I have 
no title to his special favour. How many such poor 
crest-fallen saints are there, that are ready to groan 
out their souls in sad complaints, with deserted David? 
Psalm vii. 8, 9. Hence proceed the soul's sad and 
slavish fears on approaching God, or rather, when the 
soul comes not to God : and observe it, the less you 
come to God, the less willing will you be to come to 
him ; guilt and fears breed strangeness. " Oh, I have 
conducted myself in such a way that I dare not look 
God in the face, his justice aftrights me, his mercy hath 
taken its leave of me, my soul is in darkness, and 
darkness begets terror ; I am afraid God will call my 
sins to remembrance, I have little ground to expect his 
fcivour, but rather may fear his froAvns, yet dare not 

cod's i-AVor:ii. 329 

but come though dragged into God's presence, as though 
he would rather hurt than help this self-condemning 
spirit." Oh how unbecoming a saint is this uncomfort- 
ableness of mind ! where is a sense of God's love, trust- 
ing in his mercy, delighting in God, rejoicing in his 
praise ? Alas, by this means legal terrors prevail in- 
stead of evangelical tenderness, a heart full of fears 
takes the place of a soul full of love : thus true religion 
degenerates intoa spurious servility; instead of amicable 
approaches to God as a friend, desponding souls are 
ready to remain at a distance from him, as though he 
were an enemj^ or to imagine by duties they shall 
bribe or flatter the infinite Majesty to treat them gen- 
tly, Alas, sirs, this is not that reverence and godly 
fear of which the Scripture speaks, but a base-born 
cowardice of spirit, or unbecoming trembling that vents 
itself in superstition or apostacy ; for either such per- 
sons v/orship God according to their fancies, to please 
him, and pacify his anger, or quite fall off to atheism, 
for men will soon leave what they love not ; and if 
such could cast off this fear, they would cast off this 
care of religion, but Christianity engageth to a fearing 
of the Lord and his goodness, and approaching to him, 
and conversing with him from a persuasion of his 
forgiving grace. * Alas, sirs, is not God infinitely 
good and gracious ? is not his favour towards them 
that fear him? doth not the Lord take pleasure in 
his people,! and should not his people take pleasure in 
God? Is not the joy of the Lord our strength ? doth it 
become God's own cliildren to serve him grudgingly? 
Have we not been undone by our criminal jealousies 
and unbelief? The Lord humble us for the peevish- 
ness, sourness, and untowardness of our wicked hearts, 
and help us for the future under a sense of his favour 
* Hos. iii. 5. Psalm cxxx. 4. t Psalm cxlix. 4. 

330 LIFE IN 

to serve the Lord with gladness, and to come before his 
presence with singing.* 

3. The ground of all this discouragement is mistak- 
ing God's favour. Alas, there is much misjudging be- 
twixt man and man, that bi'eeds much unkindness : 
but oh how sad is it for Christians, God's dear children, 
to mistake God's dispensations, first, in point of correc- 
tion ; and secondly, as to evidences of peculiar regard 
in spiritual things. 

(1.) Though God over and over again tell his children, 
that his heart may be towards them even then when 
his hand is upon them ; nay, that whom the Lord 
loves he chasteneth : yet how hard is it for a child of 
God to read love on the rod, even covenant love and 
faithfulness ? How few can see divine favour in tak- 
ing as well as giving a mercy ? Few of us know how 
to rejoice in God with Habakkuk on the world's disap- 
pearing ; j- and fewer that can rejoice in tribulation. :j: 
But under affliction we cry out of wrath, nothing but 
wrath, — he comes to call my sins to remembrance, he 
comes to kill me, this is one of God's arrows of ven- 
geance, now he is beginning his controversy, which 
will not end till my soul be in hell. When God 
snatches away child, estate, or name, oh, say you, I am 
undone, this is a fruit of God's displeasure ; but have 
you not as good reason to say, O what love is in this 
stroke? God is removing my idol of jealousy, this 
child I prized at too high a rate, it is fit that that 
should go which interposeth betwixt my affections and 
God ; I grew extravagant with my estate, or secure, 
and was saying my mountain stands strong, I shall 
never be moved ; blessed be God that would not suffer 
my soul to take any rest in the creature ; O what a 
mercy is this, that God hath dried up that stream 

* Psalm c. 2. t Hab. iii. 17. t Rom. v. 3. 

god's favour. 331 

from which I was in danger of having a surfeit, that I 
might drink more freely of the fountain of the water of 
life ; it is rich favour that he v/ill take the pains to 
scourge me, and bring me home by weeping-cross, ra- 
ther than suffer me to wander from him by wayward- 
ness of spirit. — This were indeed becoming a child of 
God ; but how few of God's children thus reason, and 
how seldom can the best taste honey on the rod of cor- 
rection ? 

(2.) The children of God are too apt to mistake the 
very smiles of God's face, and the true genuine tokens 
of his favour, though conveyed to them by the hand of 
the Spirit : surely it is a sad thing to father God's 
gracious impressions upon the father of lies, as well as 
to lay the devil's brats at God's door. When God 
communicates gracious intimations as evidences of his 
love, it is an unworthy thing to call these delusions, or 
sparks of our own kindling ; this must go to God's 
heart, he must take it very unkindly. It is true, Satan 
can transform himself into an angel of light, but the 
Spirit's sealings carry their own evidence along with 
them, and the Scripture touch-stone tries both sa- 
tanical delusions, and the Spirit's manifestations ; 
God's cordials are of another nature, and produce 
different effects from Satan's kickshaws. O how 
often. Christian, God hath shone upon thy soul ? how 
sweetly and seasonably have the patisnts of divine 
love been confirmed ? how many a kind welcome hast 
thou had from God ? what a line of love hath been 
drawn through all God's conduct towards thee ? and 
yet dost thou question this favour, or believe the infer- 
nal spirit rather than the God of truth, or thy un- 
doubted experience? Ah, how unworthy a thing is this? 
Will a father who hath borne a tender affection for his 
child, and who daily cares for him, take it well to have 

332 LIFE IN 

his love questioned by every base whisper of an ill- 
willed adversary? That is an vmhandsonie retort, 
Mai. i. 2, " I have loved you, saith the Lord : yet ye 
say, wherein hast thou loved us ?" they put him to 
prove his love upon every slight occasion. It is hard 
when the constant tenour of a husband's carriage to- 
wards his wife is full of tenderness, that every seeming 
slight must be construed as a withdrawment of affection, 
by a jealous wife. How ill doth God take it when 
Zion said, " The Lord hath forsaken me, and my 
Lord hath forgotten me ?" Isa. xlix. 14. And what 
tender expostulations doth he use to satisfy her, that it 
is not according to her surmise, vers. 15, 16. Alas, 
whence comes it to pass, that if evidences be not fairly 
written and legible, (though our own neglects and mis- 
carriages often blur them) all is lost, the poor Chris- 
tian questions all ? Ah, sirs, may not money be in the 
sack's mouth, and you not see it? May not the Lord of 
the land be your dear brother Joseph, though you do not 
know him ? yea, may not he be carrying on designs of 
love, though you have hard thoughts of him ? it may 
be thy soul is grievously harassed with blasphemous 
thoughts, which thou hatest as the devil their author ; 
well, must not God be thy friend, because Satan is thy 
adversary ? because the devil doth tempt, doth not God 
love ? Who more favoured of God than Christ, and 
who more violently assaulted than he ? Doth the hus- 
band love the wife the less, because she is sorely 
tempted, but is vexed, tormented, burdened with im- 
petuous solicitations to infidelity ; nay, doth he not 
pity her, and love her the more for her faithfulness. 
The God of heaven knows and hears thy groans and 
griefs, prayers and fears, and will both succour and 
pardon, because he favours thee. Let the devil say 
what he will, and do what he can, for he is a maker of 

god's FAVOt'R. 333 

differences, and the great tale-bearer to separate very 
friends. O, but what clear proofs might you produce 
of divine favour to confute Satan's slanders 7 You may 
be assured he is what his word represents him, and 
not what Satan misrepresents him. Muster up thy 
experiences, Christian, which have been a lively com- 
ment upon the promises, and oppose them to Satan's 
base insinuations, that from henceforth thou mayest 
not belie the Lord, nor deny his graces in thy heart, or 
his special favour to thy soul. 

4. Misusing or abusing God's favours and kind- 
nesses, by unthankfulness and unfruitfulness. 

(1.) An unthankful heart is the grave of many fa- 
vours, and shall there be no resurrection of mercies out 
of those graves ? Israel's ingratitude was a prodigy, 
and Deut. xxxii. is a song to perpetuate the remem- 
brance thereof to all generations ; many receipts, no 
returns. O how astonishing is this ? how unsuitable 
to the ingenuous spirit of a believer ? David * could 
rise at midnight to give thanks, when God's favours 
came into his mind, and thus he calculates : " Surely 
the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name," Psalm 
cxl. 13. Paul was a man of many mercies, and a man 
of many praises, Deo gratiasf was always in his 
mouth. Ingratitude is a heathenish sin, and leads to 
many vain imaginations and brutish abominations : 
Rom. i. 21 — 24. It is that foul sin that breaks out in 
the last times, and makes them hard and perilous, and 
is yoked with unholiness, 2 Tim. iii. 1, 2. It is a 
sin that renders men worse than brutes, even the 
most stupid of brutes, Isa. i. 2, 3. Ah, Christian, 
shame wdth thy ingratitude ; what a base, unworthy, 
disingenuous spirit hast thou, who canst so easily pass 
by such great favours ? Dost not thou thank God for 
* Psalm cxix. 62. t Thanks to God. 

334 1.1 1'K IN 

a meal's meat, and wilt not thou take notice of spiritual 
food? Canst thou deny that God hath visited thy 
soul with many real favours ? what mean all these 
convictions, impressions, supports, and consolations 
that thou hast had ? are all these small to thee ? Do 
not they deserve thy praises ? Is not thankfulness the 
tribute thou owest him ? Canst thou do less than ac- 
knowledge what God hath done for thee ? Shouldest 
thou not call upon others, and say. Come all you that 
fear God, and I will tell you what he hath done for my 
soul ? * and should you not desire them to help you in 
praising God, as David, Psalm xxxiv. 3, " O magnify 
the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together?" 
Ah, Christian, if thou be not thankful for God's fa- 
vours, God loseth his glory, thou losest the comfort of 
mercies, and thou wilt have a sad account to give an- 
other day. The God of heaven raise up thy heart to 
a thankful frame, otherwise as thou buriest former, so 
thou preventest future mercies; for thankfulness for 
past favours, is a secret solicitation for more, but God 
will not trust thee with what thou wantest, unless 
thou be thankful for what thou hast. Therefore rouse 
up thy dull heart to this great and pleasant duty, as 
David did. Psalm ciii. 1 — 3, and study what to render 
to the Lord for all his kindnesses. Psalm cxvi. 12. 

(2.) Unfruitfulness betrays deficient improvement. 
When God's favours have been showered dow^n upon 
us plentifully, how barren often are our hearts ? how 
apt are we to return to folly after peace spoken ? * It 
is a sad thing that any should sin against God, when the 
more kindness God expresseth, the greater the aggra- 
vation of sin. Hence it is, that the sins of God's peo- 
ple are so great, that God saith, Jer. xxxii. 30, " The 
children of Israel, and the children of Judah have only 
* Psalm Ixvi. 16. t Psalm Ixxxv. 8. 

god's favour. 335 

done evil before me, they only have provoked me to 
anger," as if the world beside were comparatively in- 
nocent. For besides that we sin against greater pro- 
fessions and engagements on our part, so against 

The greatest advantages, and obligations laid upon 
us by God. 

(1.) The principles God hath planted in the saints' 
hearts are the fruit of divine favour, and a great 
help against sin, and to sin notwithstanding doth ag- 
gravate sin. Ah, to sin against an enlightened mind, 
renewed will, sanctified affections, awakened conscience, 
and a divine nature, renders the sin more grievous, and 
the sinner's case more dangerous, at least in his own 
apprehension upon a thorough conviction : thus David 
mentions as an aggravation of his sin. Psalm li. 6, " In 
the hidden parts thou hast made me to know wisdom ;" 
therefore this sin is worse in me than another who 
wanteth such a corrective princijile to restrain sin, and 
promote holiness. 

(2.) God's people's sins are committed against the 
greatest, the most endearing obligations that God lays 
on us, both as to light and love, mercies and means of 
grace. God rates the heinousness of his Israel's sin in 
proportion to his special kindness : Hos. xi. 4, " I 
drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love." 
Hos. vii. 13, 15. viii. 13. Jer. xxxi. 32, "Which my 
covenant they brake, although I was a husband to 
them ;" there is great emphasis in that : see also Isa. 
V. 4. Jer. ii. 2 — 5. Mic. vi. 3, 4. Other men's sins 
displease God, the sins of his people grieve and vex 
him, because he calculated that they would behave 
themselves after another manner: Isa. Ixiii. 8 — 10. 
God even complains of his own children, that he was 
broken with their treacherous hearts,* and pressed 
* Ezek. vi. 9. 

336 T-IFE IN 

down as a cart pressed witli sheaves ; * and indeed it 
pierces a man's heart when a child, or a friend, or a wife, 
upon whom he hath heaped many kindnesses shall be- 
have basely or disingenuously to him ; when he may 
say as David did, f " If it had been an enemy I might 
have borne it ;" and as Caesar said, it " What, thou my 
son, to lift up thy hand to strike me." So may God 
say : what my son, my child, upon whom I have con- 
ferred so many favours, whom I have taken into so 
near relation with myself, whom I have effectually 
called and sanctified, to whom I have forgiven so many 
and such great sins, on Avhom I have conferred so 
many honours, with whom I have been so familiar, 
from whom I expected so much glory, in whom I have 
taken so much content ; oh that thou, even thou 
shouldest deal after this manner, to break my laws, 
grieve my Spirit, dishonour my name, abuse my fa- 
vours ; oh this runs to my heart, I know not how to 
bear it, if it were a wicked man I could be avenged on 
him in another world, I could ease me of my adversa- 
ries, and avenge me of mine enemies, || I can tell how 
to come even with them ; but for you, my children, I 
have an everlasting kindness for you, my design is to 
save your souls, and you put me to it to know what 
course to take with you, which makes me say, " O 
Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee ? O Judah, 
what shall I do unto thee ?" } I have tried gentle 
means, and sought to win thee by love and kindness, 
but I see it will not do, my lenity is abused, my love is 
slighted, thou art hardened, I must take another course, 
I will do my strange work to which I am so averse, I 
will now use severity ; " Behold I will melt them, and 
try them, for how shall I do for the daughter of my 

^ Amos ii. 9—13. t Psalm Iv. 12, 13. + Ku\ (rh tUvov. 

II Isa. i. 24. § Hos. vi. 4. 

god's FAVOfll. 3J7 

people?"* I must not lose my children, and I see 
fair means will not bring them in, I must use sharper 
arguments, that may distress and nonplus them, and 
drive them to straits, that they may not know what 
other course to take, but to run to me for shelter. 
And all this is in covenant faithfulness, and pursuance 
of God's gracious designs of good to souls, as he sailh, 
Hos. ii. 6, " Therefore I will hedge vip thy way with 
thorns, and make a wall that she shall not find her paths." 
This is love and favour, for it is far better to be 
pricked with thorns, and kept in the right way ; than 
wander into dangerous pit-falls by easy paths in an 
uninterrupted course. Ah, soul, thou that hast abused 
God's favom'S, may est thank thyself for the rod, yea, 
and thank God that he will take the pains to scoiu'ge 
thee, rather than suffer thee to go on to abuse his 



Is it then a truth, that God's favour is a believer's life? 
and does it not become us all to ascertain whether we 
be in God's favour or not ? O that this were well 
cleared up to the satisfaction of every heart. You 
will say, how shall I know that I am in God's favour ? 
I will ask you four plain questions, and desire you to 
search yom- hearts for answers. 

1. Hath the sense of God's anger been the death of 
* Jer. ix. 7- 


338 LIFE IN 

thy legal hopes arising from any supposed good in 
thyself? Have your souls been laid under deep con- 
victions that God is angry with you, and that his 
anger is just? Have you searched for Avhat sin God 
is angry? Have your hearts been deeply afflicted 
with that sin ? Hath the guilt of sin lain upon your 
consciences, as an intolerable weight? Hast thou, 
reader, cried out with Isaiah, *' Woe is nie, I am undone 
because I am a man of unclean lips?" chap. vi. 5. 
Have thy bones been broken with penitent David ? * 
Have God's arrows stuck fast in thee? Is there no 
soundness in thy flesh, because of God's anger, nor 
rest in thy bones because of thy sin? Hast thou 
even roared by reason of the disquietness of thy s})irit ? 
Psal. xxxviii. 1 — 11. Hast thou ever complained 
under the guilt of sin, and God's wrath, as a soul weary 
and heavy laden ? j What sayest thou, hast thou ever 
with holy Job felt the arrows of the Almighty within 
thee, and the poison thereof drinking up thy spirits ? 
Have the terrors of God set themselves in array against 
thee ? :!: Hast thou been pricked at the heart under the 
guilt of sin, as the Jews, |1 or with holy Paul hast thou 
found the commandment to be unto death? J Hast thou 
been slain in thy comforts, hopes and helps, under the 
sense of guiltiness? Ah, soul, thou didst never ex- 
perience favour, till thou hast felt terror. The law is 
our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ; sense of wrath iu 
some degree usually precedes sense of love ; thou must 
sail from earth to heaven in the port of hell ; sin must be 
bitter before Christ will be sweet to thee; thou wilt never 
know the benefit of God's favour, till thou hast lain 
under the sense of his anger, both in first conversion, 
and oftentimes in after desertions, as Heman and 

• Psal. li. a f Psal. xxxix. 10—12. + Job vi. 4. 

II Acts ii. 37- § Rom. vii. 9, 10. 

god's FAVOLTi;. 339 

otliers of God's children have had experience :* yet 
with all this, the poor soul under all this displeasure, 
dares not but justify God, and condemn himself, f even 
if God should cast him into hell and eternal perdition ; 
he still confesseth that God punisheth him less than 
his iniquities deserve, looking upon it as of the Lord's 
mercy that he is not consumed, t and were it not that 
hell consists in the want of God's favour, a submission 
to the power of sin, and blaspheming God's name, the 
soul would willingly subject itself to what punishment 
the Lord should think fit to inflict upon him, that God 
may have the glory of his vindictive justice ; however 
the sinner looks upon himself as deserving it, and 
therefore judgeth himself worthy of death, and must 
shut his mouth for ever, if God should cast him into 
hell. II O, saith the poor convinced soul, what a 
dreadful malignity is there in sin ; O that abominable 
thing which God's soul hates ; § what prodigious, in- 
finite, endless evil there is in every sin ! it strikes at 
God's glory and Being, dishonours his name, crucifies 
Christ, grieves the Spirit, robs me of God's favour, 
darkens the sun, corrupts the air, ruins souls ; woe is 
me, what will become of me, my soul is in danger by 
reason of the Lord's anger. 

2. Art thou convinced that the whole world cannot 
restore tliee to God's favour ? Alas, all the angels in 
heaven, all the men on earth, all creature comforts, or 
created accomplishments and endeavours cannot by 
any means restore the soul to the favour of God ; no 
graces, duties or actings, can reconcile the soul to God, 
or conciliate his favour. Will the Lord be pleased 
with thousands of rams, or ten thousands of rivers of 
oil ? will the fruit of our brain or body atone for the 

* Psal. Ixxxviii. 15, 10. t Psal. li. 4. t Ezra ix. 13. Lam. iii. 22. 
II 1 Cor. xi. 31. Rom. iii. 19. § Jer. xliv. 4—7- 

Z 2 

340 LITE IX 

sins of our souls ?* No, no; when poor creatures have 
offended God, will he take a bullock out of their house, 
or he-goat out of their fold ? No, he desires not 
sacrifice. f Well then, can holy men on earth inter- 
pose ? No, though a Noah, Daniel, and Job, though 
a Lot, a Moses, and Samuel should stand up to speak good 
for an offending people,! yet they cannot turn away 
God's wrath, or work upon God's heart to favour a 
people. Nay, suppose an angel in heaven should 
intercede for a sinner, he could not bring him into 
God's favour again, his interest with God is not suf- 
ficient to interpose betwixt an offended God, and the of- 
fending soul ; he chargeth the angels with folly, to which 
of those holy ones then will men turn? for God's wrath 
will kill the foolish, |1 notwithstanding all that they can 
do for them ; but even suppose these poor oftending 
sinners should return to God with prayers, tears, and 
groans ; alas, all their sweet incense may be abomina- 
tion to him. § But what if they fast ? if they do, yet 
God will not hear their cry.^ But suppose they re- 
form their lives, obey God's commands, live holily? 
that is good, and absolutely necessary, yet that will 
not make God amends, pacify wrath, or purchase re- 
conciliation with God ; no, no, they that are in the 
flesh cannot please God ;** yea, though the soul be con- 
verted, and in a state of grace, yet their best righteous- 
ness is defective, and but as filth}' rags ; f f and with- 
out faith in Christ, the mediator, it is impossible to 
please God. it A penitent sinner is convinced, that if all 
the holiness of all the saints in heaven and earth cen- 
tered in one soul, it could not make satisfaction to justice 

* IMicah vi. 7. + Psal. 1. 9, 10. li. 16. 

+ Jer. XV. 1—3. Ezek. xiv. 14. || Job iv. 18. v. 1, 2. 
§ Isa. i. 13, l.'j. IT Jer. xiv. 12. 

•* Rom. viii. 8. tt Isa. Ixiv. 6. tt Heb. xi. 6. 

god's favour. 341 

for the least sin, for sin is in a sort infinite, because the 
object oifended is infinite; therefore the satisfaction 
must be commensurate with the evil that is in sin, and 
the infiniteness of God. God is a consuming fire to 
souls out of Christ ; the soul dares not approach God, 
but through a mediator ; we are accepted only in the 
beloved;* God is well pleased no way but in his be- 
loved Son;f he has no friendly intercourse with sin- 
ners any way but over the mercy-seat ; there is no 
fellowship with God in an amicable way without a 
mediator. | Alas, saith the soul, I am born out of 
God's favour, thus have lived, and thus must die, ex- 
cept infinite mercy pity me; and I see as God is infinite 
in mercy, so in justice, and justice must be satisfied, 
and I see nothing in the whole creation that can satisfy 
it ; all the creatures are insignificant ciphers ; my own 
righteousness is a covering too narrow to wrap myself 
in, or to secure my naked soul from the lashes of sin- 
avenging justice ; what course must I take ? what 
means nuist I use to obtain the favour of God, or to be 
delivered from the vv rath to come ? 

3. Hast thou made it thy main business to get an 
interest in Jesus Christ ? This is indeed the only way 
of accommodation : suppose a king is offended with his 
subjects, and he hath declared that there is no way of 
, reconciliation with him, but employing his son to 
mediate foi* them ; if those subjects prize their sove- 
reign's favour, they will make use of the means he hath 
prescribed to regain it. Thus we find. Acts xii. 20, 
" Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and 
Sidon : but they came with one accord to him, and, 
having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their 
friend, desired peace ; because their country was Jiou- 

* Eph. i. 6. t Matt. xvii. 5. 

X Exod. XXX. 6. Deut. v. 5, 27- 

343 tAVE i^ 

rished by the king's coiuitiy." The case is ours, God 13 
displeased with sinners ; we cannot subsist here safely, 
nor be happy in heaven without the King of heaven's 
favour, it becomes us therefore to sue for peace ; but 
no peace can be had, except the Lord Jesus, (our 
heavenly Blastus) be our friend to mediate for us, and 
the way to interest in Christ, is faith alone ; Christ's 
satisfaction and intercession ha^'e smoothed the brows, 
and quenched tlie vv^-ath of God Almighty, and rendered 
God approachable by sinners ; he is the way, the truth, 
and life; he delivers from the wrath to come; he makes 
peace by the blood of his cross ; he alone brings us to 
God * God saith to us, as Joseph to his brethren, 
" You shall not see my face except you bring your 
brother."! Now the old man hinders our closing with 
Christ, yet the poor soul wants supplies, and dares not 
go without Jesus Christ ; O what contests and strug- 
glings are there to lay hold on Christ Jesus. One while 
the humble penitent is as John weeping, sadly weeping, 
because there is none in his view found to open the 
sealed book, and interpret what is in the Lord's heart 
towards sinners : but when he is satisfied that Jesus 
Christ the lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed, ^ 
these despairing tears are wiped off his clouded face, and 
he conceives some hopes, just as Elihu describes it in Job 
xxxiii. 19 — 24, " He is chastened with pain upon his 
bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain," 
and so on : at last A^'heii the ransom is found, then ver. 
26, " He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable 
unto him, and he shall see his face with joy:" this 
indeed is the only way of obtaining favour with God ; 
we shall behold God's reconciled face in the face of 
Jpv'us Christ. || Let men mock on, saith the poor soul, 

* John xiv. 6. 1 Thcss. i. 10. Col. i. 20. 1 Peter iii. 18. 
t Gen. xliii. 3. X Rev. v. 4, 5. \\ 2 Cor. iv. (5. 


this is my only way for God's favour, and my chief 
care is to get a title to Christ, this the word tells me 
is by believing, O that I had this faith ! Lord, begin 
and carry on the work of faith with power ; farewell all 
for Christ ; I count all things but dung that I may win 
Christ and be found in him;* let all go, riches, honours, 
the friendship of the world, and favour of dearest re- 
lations for Christ ; I will venture upon the displeasure 
of men, but I must have God's favour, whose favour so- 
ever I lose; therefore I must have the blessed Jesus, he 
is the chief of ten thousand. But a carnal heart loves 
the favour of men more than God's, as the Pharisees 
of old, John xii. 43. 

4. "What is God's conduct towards thee, and thy 
behaviour towards God ? This mutual, reciprocal 
conduct, will be the best discovery of favour, as it is 
amongst friends. 

First, For God's conduct towards thee, observe, 

(1.) Doth not God's word single thee out by con- 
viction ? When thou hast read a chapter, or heard a 
sermon, hath not the Spirit of God set it home upon 
thy conscience, as if he had called thee by name, say- 
ing, thou art the man ? so that as the unlearned Corin- 
thian, thou hast fallen down, and said, God is in this 
ordinance of a truth, j This hath set thy soul a trem- 
bling under the word, and it followed thee, and would 
not suffer thee to rest in sin, till it awaked thy con- 
science, and shook thee out of thy security ; though 
this was sharp, yet bless God for it, as a precious re- 
sult of his favour. 

(2.) Dost thou not find some gracious operations of 

God's Spirit in secret duties, such as prayer, meditation, 

and self-examination ? doth not God's spirit draw out 

faith, love, repentance, and desires ? doth it not some- 

* Phil. ill. 8, 9. t 1 Cor. xiv. 24, 2o. 

344 IJFE IX 

times help thy infirmities wih sighs and groans tliat 
cannot be expressed?* None can tell what warnings, 
meltings, and qiiickenings there are at some seasons in 
tliv heart ; God knows the meaning of his Spirit with- 
in thee. O, whence proceed all these operations? 
surely not from flesh and blood, nature could not stir 
up thy heart in this sort. 

(3.) Doth not God's Spirit open thy eyes to behold, 
and raise thy heart to desire, the ways of God ? Is not 
religion in its most uninviting dress to flesh and blood, 
most lovely in thy eyes, as it was in Moses's ?f Hath 
not the Lord engaged thy affections with the beauty of 
wisdom's ways ?:|: Hath not wisdom entered into thy 
heart, and knowledge been sweet to thy soul ?|| Hast 
thou not found more spiritual acquaintance with gospel 
mysteries, and more real content in holy duties, so that 
it may be said, " Flesh and blood have not revealed 
these things to thee, but our Father which is in hea- 
ven ?" Matt.xvi. 17. 

(4.) Dost thou not find sometimes a comfortable re- 
turn of thy poor prayers ? Canst thou not say, that 
some mercies which God hath given, have this im- 
pressed upon them, Prayer answered? so that thou 
canst truly call them Samuels, that is, God's hearing : 
Psalm xxxiv. 4, " I sought the Lord, and he heard 
me." And this answer of prayer is a clear evidence 
that God is with us, Psalm Ivi. 9- When God pre- 
pares the heart, and bows his ear, is not that a great 
token of his special favour? Psalm x. 17. 

(5.) Hath not preventing grace seasonably stepped 
in to keep thy soul from sin ? Just as thou hast been 
entering upon temptation, upon the brink ready to 
fall, hath not the mercy of God held thee up ? § hath 

* Rom. viii. 26. f Heh. xi. 26. X Prov. iii. 17- 

II Prov. ii. 10. § Psalm xxxviii. 15—17. 

cod's favour. 345 

not God prevented tliee with his blessings of goodness? 
Psahn xxi. 3. How oft hath God kept thy heart and 
the temptation asunder? and how many times kept 
thee from the commission of those sins to which thou 
hast been inclined and engaged ? 

(6.) Hath not assisting grace come in with secret 
and seasonable supports, according to the promise, 
" My grace shall be sufficient for thee ?" and according 
to David's experience, Psalm cxxxviii. 3, " In the day 
when I cried, thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst 
me with strength in my soul ?" How many a time 
has the Lord been ready to save thee when thy heart was 
fainting, and flesh failing ? * O what seasonable and 
satisfying incomes have fetched thee again to life ; 
surely there was rich favour in these. 

(7.) Hath not God by his Spirit sometimes sealed his 
love to thy soul ? Look into thy heart, look back 
upon experience, is there never a token of love ? Hath 
not God's Spirit brought its own evidence along with 
it, and put thy soul out of doubt, as if thou hadst 
heard an audible voice, saying, I have loved thee, saith 
Jehovah : what sayest thou ? Though thou canst not 
expect immediate revelations, yet hast thou not been 
satisfied of these divine intimations and whisperings to 
thy heart, and of the Spirit's witnessing or sealing ?f 
especially considering, 

[i.] That his favour came in the way of a promise ; 
this token of love was wrapped vip in the word : Psal. 
cxix. 65, " Thou hast dealt well with thy servant ac- 
cording to thy word." 

[ii.] That it was conveyed to thy soul in duties after 
many prayers, tears, repentings, and actings of faith. 
When the soul hath been digging in the valley of Baca, 

* Isa. xxxviii. 20. Psalm Ixxiii. 26. 
t Rom. viii. 16. Eph. i. 13. 

346 iiiE IX 

or of weeping, God's rain of love fills the pools, and so 
makes it a valley of Beracah, or blessing, Psalm 
Ixxxiv. 6. 

[iii.] The sense of God's favour came in suitably 
and seasonably : when thou wast at extremities, and 
wast saying, Will he be favourable no more ? is his 
mercy clean gone for ever ? hath God forgotten to be 
gracious ? — then comes in some help which makes thee 
say. This is my infirmity. See Psalm Ixxvii. 7 — 10. 

[iv.] The effects of God's favour do evidence whence 
it proceeds : for as it is said of the king's favour, Prov. 
xix. 12, " It is as the dew upon the grass ;" even so 
this favour of God makes souls fruitful. What kindly 
operations hath it upon the heart? These M^arm 
beams of divine love have a blessed influence upon the 
state of the mind and feelings of the breast. This 
leads me to 

The second thing, which is thy behaviour towards 
God : and this may be considered both when experi- 
encing the manifestations of God's favour, and in the 
general course of thy life. 

1. When God manifests his favour to thee, 

(1.) Dost thou gratefully welcome and hoard up the 
evidences of his love ? Our friends' tokens of love we 
lay up among our chief treasures ; sealed deeds are 
carefully deposited ; we highly value the least expres- 
sion of our friends' love, yea, we value ourselves ac- 
cording to our friends' respects for us: Cant. viii. 10, 
" Then was I in his eyes as one that found favour." 
Is it thus with thy soul ? Dost thou prize God's loving- 
kindness above life itself? Psalm Ixiii. 3. 

(2.) Art thou truly afraid of losing God's favour ? 
Dost thou charge thine own heart and others, that they 
stir not up, nor awake thy beloved, as the spouse? 
Cant. ii. 7. Dost thou feel workings of heart, as Ezi*a, 

god's VAVOl'R. 347 

chap. ix. 8, 14, after favour and grace received? Dost 
thou maintain thy spiritual watch ? Dost thou exer- 
cise a holy jealousy over thyself and estate, lest the 
Lord withdraw ? 

(3.) Dost thou draw out, and make spiritual use of 
the sense of God's favour, to thy own good, and for the 
advantage of others ? How doth God help thee to re- 
collect experience, and say as David, Psalm xlii. 6, 
" O my God, my soul is cast down within me, there- 
fore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, 
from the hill of Mizar," &c. that is, I will recollect the 
experience I have had of thy goodness and mercy ; so 
for others. Psalm Ixvi. 16, "Come all ye that fear God, 
and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul." 

(4.) Do not these favours make thy soul long for 
the manifestations of God's favour in his immediate 
presence in heaven, where thou shalt be above danger 
of offending him, or of losing his presence ? Doth not 
thy soul long for, and love Christ's appearing ? * Is it 
not thy language, O when shall my soul be with God? 
How long shall I dwell in Meshech, and sojourn in the 
tents of Kedar? when shall I be in his presence, where 
there is fulness of joy, when shall I be satisfied with 
his likeness ? f O those joys, those comforts, that 
light of the King's countenance wherein is life, true 
life, lasting life ! If God's favour be so sweet here, 
when only partially enjoyed, O what will be the full 
vision of God in glory ? when I shall see him encircled 
with the splendours of celestial majesty, not through a 
glass darkly, but face to face, and know as also I am 
known, i O blessed day ! O welcome day ! when shall 
that day dawn ? when shall my soul take her flight 
above yonder sun, moon, and stars, into my Saviour's 

* 2 Tim. iv. 8. t Psalna xvi. 11. xvii. 1.'. 

t 1 Cor. xiii. 12. 

348 MFK IN 

presence, where there will hi' no need of them, for the 
glory of God doth lighten the holy city, and the Lamb 
is the light thereof ? * O blessed day, O happy state, 
O secure and delightful place ! 

2. What is thy behaviour God-wards in the general 
course of thy life? for if God had a peculiar regard for 
thee, it will be evident from the discharging of thy duty 
towards God, both in the frame of thy spirit, and in thy 
conversation, according to this rule : you may discern 
the workings of God's heart towards you by the move- 
ments of your hearts towards God. ^Vell then, let me 
ask thee these questions, I can but briefly propound 
them, and leave them to thy meditations. 

(1.) Art thou afraid of doing any thing that may 
provoke the Lord? thou therefore hatest all sin because 
it is offensive to him, and sayest, " How shall I do this 
wickedness, and sin against God ?" f Away with oc- 
casions of sin, God forbid that I should ever meddle 
with sin again, not because it is destructive to me, but 
because it is offensive to God ; nor only as provoking 
his wrath, but as grieving his Spirit. Thus the soul 
fears the Lord and his goodness. ± 

(2.) Dost thou daily walk in all ways well-pleasing 
to God, keeping close to his commands, yielding to the 
impressions of his blessed Spirit, resolving upon new 
obedience, with full purpose of heart cleaving to the 
Lord ? Is it not thy main care and prayer that thou 
mayest walk worthy of him to all pleasing ? Thou 
dost not matter for pleasing of men, so that thou may- 
est approve thy heart to God, exercising thyself to have 
a conscience void of offence towards God and man. || 

(3.) Dost thou make it thy work to attend upon him 
where he is wont to distribute his favours, especially 

• Rev. xxi. 23. t Gen. xxxix. 9. i Hosea iii. 5. 

II Acts xi. 23. Col. i. 10. Gal i. 10. Acts xxiv. 16. 

god's FAVorii. cJ49 

in all public ordinances, hearing- the word, offering 
prayer, and receiving the seals of the covenant? Dost 
thou make it thy business to hold communion with 
God ? Thou art grieved when thou missest an oppor- 
tunity of enjojing God, yea, thou makest this thy ob- 
ject in all duties, to seek and see God's face, Psalm 
xxvii. 4, 8, 9. 

(4.) Is not thy soul troubled when God withdraws 
from thee the sense of his favour ? When thou hast 
jDrovoked him, and he goeth, doth not thy heart fail ? 
art thou not sick of love ? * how dost thou take it ? 
Dost thou carry thyself as Esau, when he had sold his 
birth-right, that ate and drank, rose up, and went 
away ? f or dost thou lay it deeply to heart, languish, 
and faint ? art thou filled with anguish and pain, and 
canst rest no where, till God's favour be regained ? 
This is a child-like frame. 

(a.) Hast thou not a regard for all those whom God 
regards ? dost thou not highly prize, and dearly lo^'e 
the saints that are excellent in the earth, in whom is 
all thy delight?! dost thou not honour them that fear 
the Lord ? Thou couldst indeed put these in thy bo- 
som, not because they are outwardly amiable by reason 
of external accomplishments, or because they are of thy 
sentiments, but because the image of God is upon 
them ; || grace is in their hearts, therefore they are 
lovely in thine eyes. 

(6.) Dost thou feel the body of sin within thee thy 
greatest burden ? Where are thy groans under it, thy 
griefs for it ? art thou weary with it, striving against 
it ? dost thou cry out daily with Paul, " Who shall 
deliver me ?" Art thou still casting off every weight, 
and that sin which so easily besets thee ? art thou still 

• Cant. V. 6, 8. t Gen. xxv. 34. 

+ Psalm xvi. 3. || 1 John iii. 13, 14. 

350 iji'i: IX 

purifying thyself as he is pure ? dost thou look at ho- 
liness as thy great happiness ? 'what care dost thou 
take to promote sanctification ?* 

(7.) I3ost tliou love God, though thou knowest not 
assuredly whether he love thee or not ? dost thou be- 
lieve in him, though thou may est have no perception 
of him by sense and experience? nay, dost thou follow 
him as the poor woman, though he seem to flee from 
thee ? and more than this, dost thou run to him, 
though he may seem to fight against thee ? Have 
him thou must, thou canst not be put off with repulses, 
thy soul foUoweth hard after him, and his right hand 
upholds thee therein. This love to God is an evidence 
that God loves thee :f 1 Cor. viii. 3. 



Some things may be pressed on the attention both of 
those who enjoy the favour of God, and of those who 
do not. 

1. Those who experience not the favour of God, 
who can claim no title to it, but who wear out their 
days under a participation of the general bounty of 
Providence, ought to attend to the following considera- 
tions : — 

(1.) Methinks God's common favours should engage 
your hearts to look after special love : if God be so 

* Rom. vii. 24. Heb. xii. 1. 1 John iii. 3. 

t 1 Pet. i. 8. Matt. xv. 23. Job xiii. 15. Psalm Ixiii. 8. 

god's favour. 351 

good to the worst, surely he will be much better to the 
good; if he give such large ciiiiiibs to dogs, he hath 
better portions for children. Doth he make his sun to 
shine upon just and unjust promiscuously?* surely 
there is a brighter sun of his love shines on them that 
fear him. If heathens have rain from heaven, and 
fruitful seasons, if he fill their hearts with food and 
gladness, then he will drop down soul-refreshing influ- 
ences into the hearts of his dear people, and much more 
refresh their hearts with distinguishing love : and can 
you content yourselves with the former when better 
may be had ? Can you be content with health, wealth, 
honours, and outward comforts, of which the great 
ones of the world have had as large a share as you 
desire, yet are now in hell ? Rather protest with brave 
Luther, that you will not be put off with these things. 
Alas, what will gold and silver, fair houses, costly diet, 
great attendance, advantage you when your souls are 
sitting upon your lips, and your heart-strings are 
breaking, and you are summoned by death to appear in 
another world before the great Judge? Will these 
things procure you favour in that court? M'ill the God 
of heaven favour you for being a person of quality, or of 
honour ? No, no, sirs ; you must be stripped of all 
these tilings, God will not respect the persons of men 
in that day, the things of this life will neither satisfy, 
sanctify, nor save. O think of those that with Naph- 
tali have been satisfied with favour, and full of the 
outward blessings of the Lord, how they have left all, 
and that, in the midst of their heaven, and like fools 
they have gone down to hell, f Alas, sirs, the things 
of this world are neither suitable nor durable, it is 
only the favour of God that will stand you in stead 
in another world, and indeed that is the only good 
• Matt. V. 45. t Deut. xxxiii. 23. Jer. xvii. 11. 

352 I.IFK IN 

for a life to come. * Now, in God's favour tliere is 
eternal life, this is life eternal thus to know God, 
this is the tree of life, the bread of life, living wa- 
ters : f nay, this favour of God will sweeten and 
season all outward favours, without wliich they will 
not be blessings, but curses. O that by these cords 
of love you might be drawn to God ! ^ O think, is not 
God, Christ, his Spirit, pardon, peace of conscience, 
heaven, infinitely better than corn, cattle, meat, clothes, 
friends ? Doth not God shame rebels with multipli- 
city of common favours ? O that I might be one of 
his friends, that mercies might melt my heart ; let me 
have such favour with God, that I may be owned in 
the great day. 

(2.) Consider the wisest and holiest men on earth 
advise you to it, and take this course themselves; they 
counsel you to nothing but what they do themselves. 
Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, 
Joshua, Samuel, David, all the holy patriarchs, pro- 
phets, apostles, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, all that 
cloud of witnesses, that army of gracious souls that are 
now triumphing in glory, made this choice, and they 
have sped well ; they scorned the favour of men, in 
comparison of God's, and God hath been found of 
them, they now enjoy the light of his countenance, and 
dwell in his immediate presence. O sirs, follow you 
them who through faith and patience do inherit the pro- 
mises. Did David repent of his choice for preferring 
the light of God's countenance to men's corn, and 
wine, and oil ? || Were not the Bereans more noble 
than others for welcoming the word ?^ will not high- 
born spirits aspire after great things ? and should not 

• Job. xxxiv. 29. Luke xii. 21, 31. 

+ John xvii. 3. Rev. xxii. 2. John iv. 14. 

i Mai. ii. 2. Hos. xi. 4. |1 Psalm iv. C. § Acts xvii. 11. 

god's fa vox u. 353 

you ? Do not all the saints in heaven speak this lan- 
guage jointly — Follow us? would they not all unite 
in this exhortation — O seek God's face and favour ? 
would not lost souls in hell, if sent to men on earth, 
urge this point, from their woful exijerience — O seek 
God's favoui", or you will be for ever banished from it 
as we are ? all Gt)d's ministers, your pious neighbour.^, 
your religious friends and relations, all dying persons, 
whose eyes are at last opened, will give you this counsel 
unanimously — If you love your souls, seek to obtain the 
favour of God. We poor ministers make it our work 
to study, to preach, to travel to you, to be in pain over 
you, and to pray for you, and what is all this for, but 
to persuade you to be reconciled to God,* if it be 
possible to bring you into the favour of God. O that 
we could accomplish this end ! we should be sufficiently 
rewarded; what would we give to win your hearts to 
God ? what joy would there be to the friends of the 
bridegroom,! if the match should be concludetl, and 
your souls mamed to Christ? We would think all 
our labour well bestowed ; nay, if we by our death 
could be iustiaunents to bring you into God's favour ; 
but what speak I of our death, Christ died to accom- 
plish it, this cost blood, yea, the blood of God. O souls, 
shall nothing prevail with you ? shall neither the ex- 
ample of the best men, nor the prayers, tears, en- 
treaties or persuasions of your ministers or best 
friends, nor the blood of Christ, nor the blood of your 
own immortal souls prevail with you to look after 
God's favour? WTiat then shall we say? we have 
delivered our message, if you be cai'eless, yoiu' blood 
be upon your own heads. 

(3.) Consider how intent the men of the world are 
to obtain the favour of men. " Many will entreat favour 
* 2 Cor. V. 20. t John iii. 29. 

VOL. III. 2 A 

354 LIFE IN 

of the jjrince ; * and every man is a friend to him that 
giveth gifts," Prov. xix. 6. What rmming, what mak- 
ing friends, base compliance, and crouching according 
to the humom's of superiors, to obtain their favour ? 
If the poor tenant be out of favour with his rich land- 
lord, what means doth he use to obtain it ? And is 
the favour of the God of heaven of no value with you, 
of him who can make heaven and earth to tremble when 
once he is angry ? of that God who can frown you 
into hell, and destroy you with a rebuke of his coun- 
tenance. Alas, sirs, who would live out of his favour 
one hour ? How darest thou eat and drink, and talk, 
and walk, and sleep, when thou art out of the favour 
of God? How knowest thou but God's wrath may 
wax hot against thee, and thou perish from the way ? 
How canst thou say, that thou shalt be another night 
out of hell ? If God be thine enemy, and angry at 
thee, he hath hourly advantage against thee : you will 
say, God forbid, I hope I am in God's favour. I 
answer, I wish it be so, but thou wast not born so, 
thou art by nature a child of wrath as well as others,f 
and the wrath of God abides still upon thee,± unless taken 
off by Jesus Christ ; thou hast no interest in Christ 
without faith, and thou hast no faith by nature, nor 
canst thou work it in thine own heart : but if faith 
be there, all other saving graces are radically there. 
And art thou indeed born again ? art thou translated 
from death to life ? liast thou experienced those painful 
feelings usually created in regeneration? All men 
have not faith, every soul is not new born ; the change 
is great, life and death depend upon it ; the heart is 
deceitful, most men are mistaken in this weighty case. 
Will the wordly wise be at uncertainties about their 
estates ? have they not a mind to make all as sure as 
* Prov. xxix. 2G. t Epli. ii. 3. $ John iii. 3G. 

Goiys lAVouR. 355 

they can ? and doth not men's practice provoke or 
condemn thee ? Suppose the men of the world ob- 
tain their ends — what is a prince's favour to God's ? 
"Put not your trust in princes — blessed is the man 
that hath the God of Jacob for his help."* What if 
the base, man-pleasing flatterer get a little popular 
favour, how soon may men's hosannas be turned into 
" crucify him ? " At what rate would the enamoui-ed 
lover purchase the favour of his mistress, and when 
obtained, it may be, purchase nothing but sorrow? 
O take shame to yourselves that you take no more 
pains to obtain the favour of God ; and now from 
henceforth let the kingdom of heaven suffer violence, 
and seek for that honour that cometh from God only : 
the matter is of infinite concernment, even as much as 
yoiu* souls are worth to all eternity. 

(4.) There is yet a possibility of obtaining God's 
favour. Poor sinner, thou art yet alive, out of hell, 
thousands that were alive as thou art are past hope, 
they shall never have offers of grace more, no terms of 
accommodation shall ever be propounded to them, but 
they are banished for ever from the presence of the 
Lord, without hopes of ever seeing his face with com- 
fort ; this may be, must be thy case shortly, if thou 
obtain not God's favour here. The devils never had 
an offer of God's favour, those high favourites in the 
coui't of heaven, upon the first transgression were cast 
headlong into everlasing chains under darkness, re- 
served unto the judgment of the last day;f but thou 
hast heard the glad tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ 
the Saviour of the world; the good news concerns men, 
*' Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good- 
will towards men."i It is to you, O men, that wisdom 
calls, and her voice is to the sons of men, || it is to you 
• Psal. cxlvi. 3 — 5. t Jude, G. t Luke ii. 14. 11 Prov. viii. 4. 

356 LIFE IN 

that are alive, this day to whom the word of his sal- 
vation is sent ; yet there is hope ; yet for aught we 
know, the door is open : we are sent to living persons, 
the living, the living may praise the Lord, yet the 
Spirit of God is striving with you; yet God holds forth 
the golden sceptre, now is the accepted time, now is 
the day of salvation ; he hath limited it to a day, this 
day of life ; in vain shall you sue for favour when life 
is gone ; the foolish virgins may stand long at the door 
and knock, and cry, " Lord, Lord, open to us ;" when 
the door is shut, when the gulf is fixed, when death hath 
done its office, then there is no hope, no help, the disease 
will he incurable, your state wretched, your souls eter- 
nally undone ; alas ! alas for you ! that ever you were 
born, if you would give thousands of pounds, yea, the 
whole world, were it yours to give, it would be in vain; 
ail your wailings and piercing cries will not move God's 
heart to favour you, you must be for ever separated 
from his presence, and from the glory of his power, 
into endless, unintermitting, remediless torments, where 
the God of mercy will never cast a propitious eye upon 
you more ; but as it were laugh at your calamity, and 
mock when your fear comes upon you ; for the scene 
of grace will be over, and justice now will act its part 
against rebellious and impenitent sinners for ever and 

You will say, but is there any hope ? I fear I have 
sinned away the day of grace, and the interposition of 
God's Spirit ; woe is me ! 

Ans. Neither thou, nor I, nor any creature breath- 
ing can tell that this is the case ; still God is holding 
thy soul in life, and who knows but he may crown thee 
also with loving kindaess and tender mercy ? it may 
be, God hath spared thee for that end thus long : who 
knoweth but he will return and leave a blessing be- 

god's favouu. 357 

hind him?* Even the poor Ninevites could thus argue, 
when they had no grounds of encouragement : Who can 
tell if God will turn away his fierce anger ? f This is 
ground sufficient for a venture : it may be, ye shall be 
hid in the day of the Lord's anger, ; or rather, it may 
be, he may turn away his anger, and be reconciled to 
you, and be favourable to your souls ; yea, be assured 
of it, if you be sincere in repenting and believing in 
Christ, you shall certainly be received into favour, 
there is no peradventure in it ; such as come to him 
he will in no wise cast out. || If the wicked forsake 
their way, and the ungodly their thoughts, and turn 
to the Lord, he will have mercy upon them, he will 
abundantly pardon ; ^ free grace will be magnified, 
their souls will be accepted, their sins will be pardoned, 
God hath said it and he will perform it. O believe 
not Satan, nor a perverse heart, against an infallible 
word of the faithful God. Say not as some forlorn 
miscreants invited to repent, there is no hope, no, for 
I have loved strangers, and after them will I go,^ as 
if he should say, it is in vain to move me to repent, I 
see my case is desperate, I lie under a curse and am 
given up to hardness of heart ; God will not pardon 
me, to hell I must go, I might as well take my plea- 
sure in sinning, and be sentenced to misery for some- 
thing, for to the devil I am going. Oh, horrible, 
dreadful frame ! God forbid that any should say, there 
is no hope at this rate ; there is certainly hope in Israel 
concerning this thing.** Sin not as one desperate, 
forsake not thine own mercies, ff confess thy sin, re- 
pent and give glory to God ; there is mercy for the 

* Joel ii. 14. + Jonah iii. 0. 

X Zeph. ii. 3. II John vi. 37- 

§ Isa. Iv. 7. IT Jer. ii. 25. xviii. 12. 

** Ezra X. 2. ft Jonah ii. 8. 

358 LIFE IN 

chief of sinners, Paul is a pattern, Manasseli an instance, 
some of the Corinthians are lively examples. O kick 
not against his tender mercy, despise not the riches of 
his grace, scorn not his favoui's ; let God's loving 
kindness lead thee to repentance, let hopes of acceptance 
be thy encouragement. When a pirate at sea, or rebel 
at land have no hopes of their prince's favour, they 
grow desperate ; but a proclamation of gracious re- 
ception, especially a promise of preferment melts their 
hearts into submission; O that gospel offers might 
iiave the like efScacy upon your hearts ! make a trial, 
put God to it, see whether he will be as good as his 
word ; the report of his merciful nature, methinks 
should make you say as Benhadad's servants, " Behold 
now, we have heard that the king of Israel is a merci- 
ful king ; let us put sackcloth upon our loins, and rojjes 
upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel ; per- 
ad venture he will save our lives ;"* the life of our jire- 
cious souls. You have even better assurance than 
they had, for the Lord our God is gracious and merci- 
ful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return 
unto him, 2 Chron. xxx. 9. You will say I am very 
desirous of God's favour ; but how shall I do to obtain 
it? what means must I use to obtain the favour of God? 
I answer, think not that you can procure God's favom*, 
or purchase it with your endeavours, or work yourself 
into it by your duties or obedience ; his love is free, 
yet he hath appointed ways for his poor creatures to 
use as means, which he. prescribes for them, in order to 
the obtaining and enjoying of this mercy, and they are 
such as these briefly : — 

1. Serious self-reflection. When God intends good 
to a person he engageth him to look into his own heart 
and state; to consider his ways, to commune with his 
* 1 Kings XX. 31. 

god's favour. 


hecart.*- There are four inquiries I entreat you to 
make relative to yourselves. 

(1.) Am I in God's favour or not? O I have great need 
to get this case of conscience clearly solved upon scrip- 
ture grounds ; every one doth not partake of this spe- 
cial favour of God, nor I by nature, for I am a child of 
wrath as I come into this world ; am I changed, is my 
soul converted ? what fruits of God's special love have 
I experienced in my soul ! O that I could prove my 
work, prove my state whether I be in Christ, and 
Christ in me or not If I must know, let the case be 
what it may, uncertainties will not serve my turn, loth 
I am to be deceived in a matter of so great moment. 

(.9.) What if I be out of God's favour ? oh fearful 
state, v/oe is me, it had been better I had never been born; 
I am as sm-e to be lost as God is true, if I live and die 
so, and I may die this night, I know not but I may be 
in hell before morning ; woe is me if I be not in God's 
favour, I am a bond-slave to Satan, an enemy to God 
and God to me, then all the creatures are my enemies, 
I am worse than the brutes, comparatively happy were 
I, if I could die as a dog or horse; woe is me, my soul is 
going into eternity, and I know not whither ; but cer- 
tain I am, I can never be happy in this world, or in 
another world, but by and in the favour of God. 

(3.) How came it to pass, that my soul lost God's 
favour? what are the grounds of the quarrel? whence 
came this distance and difference betwixt the great 
God, and my poor soul ? Adam was in favour, but 
lost it by sinning against God, in eating of the forbid- 
den fruit ; here the controversy first commenced, and 
I am guilty, and have ever since I was born followed 
tliat bad example, walked in the same steps, and so 
widened the difference : sin is only the make-bate be- 
^ Psal. cxix. 59. t Gal. vi.4. 2 Cor, xiii. 5. 

SGO i,iFE ly 

tween God and my soul, it is that abominable thing 
that hides his face, provokes his wrath, and will sepa- 
rate my soul from God for ever.* Oh what a wretched 
bging am I by reason of sin ! oh that my soul could 
lay it deeply to heart, as that which hath done me so 
inuch injury ! 

(4.) What can I do to make God amends ? will 
prayers, tears, labours, diligence in duties, resolution of 
obedience, pacify or please the Lord ? will sufferings 
and sorrow quench the fire of God's anger ? Oh, no, 
there is no created being whatsoever can make up this 
breach : if I could perfectly keep the law, and offend 
in no tittle, in thought, word or deed, that will not do 
it : performing a new duty, is no payment of an old 
debt ; if I should lie in hell for ever, that endless 
punishment of a finite creature will not satisfy infinite 
justice, and therefore the utmost farthing cannot be 
be paid ; - woe is me, is there no remedy ? yes, the gos- 
pel propounds one, and that is Jesus Christ. 

2. Sound-hearted faith in Christ. Whenever poor 
sinners are brought into God's favour, the next work 
God effects by his Spirit, is to produce a gospel faith, 
and this God doth, 

(1.) By engaging careless sinners to a diligent at- 
tendance upon the word preached, for faith comes by 
hearing, f As this is a great and important duty, so it 
is a condition to which God hath made promises : 
" Hear, and your souls shall live." i It is God's way 
and course into which he usually brings that sinner 
whom he is pleased to renew by his grace ; be sure, 
then, that thou watch daily at his gates, waiting at the 
posts of his doors ; || turn not tliy back upon God's ap- 
pointment ; attend to the most plain and piercing mi- 
nistry, it is the ])ower of God unto salvation ; who 
* Isa. lix. 2. t Ron. x. IJ. j Isa. Iv. 3. || Prov. viii. 34. 

god's I'AVorR. 361 

knows but God may send down his Spirit on the hear- 
ing of faith ? * This is the method of his grace, first 
to reconcile men to his ordinances, and so by them to 

(2.) He makes the poor soul mind the word spoken. 
The sinner was wont to disregard truths as uninterest- 
ing or unimportant, but now conviction is fastened, 
and his heart being deeply affected, he cannot but con- 
fess that God is in his word of a truth, f O that at 
last you would consider, and receive with meekness 
the engrafted word as a word of conviction, that you 
would not despise prophesying, nor quench the Spirit ! 
If God intend you good, he will pierce and break your 
hearts, and make you solicitous about salvation, and to 
cry out. What shall I do to be saved Pt Soul-concerns 
will be a leading consideration in your thoughts, and 
then you proceed on the road to further good. 

(3.) He opens the eyes of men, to see further the 
nature of true justifying faith, that it is not such a 
dead, heartless thing as it is ordinarily taken to be ; 
and that the faith which they imagined they had, is not 
the faith of God's elect ; and that the soul hath not 
indeed a gospel faith, never did savingly believe, yet 
must necessarily have that faith, or be lost for ever. 
This is that which the Scripture assigns to be one 
of the works of the Spirit, John xvi. 8, 9 ; the Spirit 
shall convince the world of sin : what sin ? because 
they believe not on me. O sirs, that you would study 
your unbelieving state ! Think with thyself : the faith 
which will bring me off at the great day, must not be 
a faith of my own coining, but God's stamping ; and 
alas, did I ever see the want of this ? have I been con- 
vinced of the difficulty of believing and its necessity ? 
what a sad thing will it be, if I go to the grave with a 
• rxom. i. \(i Gal. iii. 2. t 1 Cor. xiv, 24, 25. t Acts ii. 37- 

362 LIFE IN 

presumption, instead of a sound faith ? I see, I see I 
have been deluded with Satan's brat, rather than the 
genuine fruit of God's Spirit : oh, what shall I do for 
a grain of saving faith ? 

(4.) He engages the poor guilty sinner to struggle 
with his own heart in the exercise of believing. O 
that I could believe ! O that my heart were knit to 
Christ ! fain would I accept of Christ, but I am beaten 
off, Satan and my own heart oppose it, I am like a 
man swimming against the stream, running uphill, I 
am just laying hold, but beat oif again : I cry as the 
poor man in the gospel, " Lord, I believe, help thou 
my unbelief:"* yet I will not give up the attempt, 
guilt makes me look on God as an enemy ; yet I will 
say with Job, " Though he slay me, yet I will trust in 
him." f I have no where else to go, no course else to 
take, Christ I must have, or I am undone for ever — 
Christ's person, as God and man, in the effects of both 
estates, humiliation and exaltation, in all his offices. 
Prophet, Priest, King — Christ's merit to satisfy, and 
Spirit to sanctify — I will quit all things for him, it is 
the King's Son only that can bring my soul into favour 
with God : Prov. viii. 35, " Whoso findeth him find- 
eth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord." If 
the Lord Jesus were mine, saith the soul, I question 
not but I should obtain favour with God, his blood is 
the atonement, he is the propitiation for sins, I must 
come to God by him, as the mystical ladder of Jacob. 
Alas, what shall I do ? this heavy foot of mine will 
not step upon this ladder, this palsy hand will not lay 
hold on him ; Lord, make my foot to move that I may 
come to Christ, strengthen my hand to receive him. 
I shall briefly touch the other means of enjoying God's 
favour, which are, 

* Mark ix. 24. t Job xiii. 15. 

cod's tavour. 363 

3. Self-resignation to God. Give up yourselves to 
God in covenant ; nothing can satisfy you but God 
himself, nothing can satisfy God but yourselves ; offer 
up your bodies as a living sacrifice, instead of the bo- 
dies of dead beasts under the law — holy, instead of 
carnal ordinances — reasonable, instead of irrational 
brutes, and this shall be acceptable to God, Roin. xii. 1. 
If you vow yourselves as a free-will offering to the 
Lord, he will graciously accept of your dedication, and 
smile upon you in Christ. Study his word, under- 
stand the terms of the covenant, accept voluntarily of 
those conditions, take his yoke upon you, put your 
necks under that easy yoke, and look upon it as your 
relief and pleasure, honour and ornament. First give 
up yourselves to the Lord, and then to his ministers 
by the will of God, then be ready to profess your sub- 
jection to the gospel of Christ ; * be ready to say I am 
the Lord's, call yourselves by the name of Jacob, sub- 
scribe with your hand to the Lord, and sirname your- 
selves by the name of Israel, Isa. xliv. 5. Be ready to 
to give any pledges and testimonies of your fidelity, in 
troth-plighting to be the Lord's servants for ever; give 
all the members of thy body, and faculties of thy soul 
to his service ; receive his words, hide his command- 
ments with thee, incline thy ear to wisdom, apply thy 
heart to understanding, lift up thy voice, cry, seek for 
them as for silver, then shalt thou understand the fear 
of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God ; f for the 
Scripture saith, " He that diligently seeketh good, pro- 
cureth favour," Prov. xi. 27, that is, he that gives up 
himself to God in the way of his appointments, shall 
enjoy favour in the eyes of God and men : " A good 
man obtaineth favour of the Lord." — Prov. xii. 2 
Make it thy business to walk with God, watch over 
* 2 Cor. viii. 5. ix. 13. t Prov. ii. 1 — 5. 

364 LIFE IN 

thy heart, mortify lusts, exercise graces, perform tlu- 
ties, do all the good, avoid all the evil thou canst, and 
see what the effect will be : " Among the righteous 
there is favour." — Prov. xiv. 9. Favoiu' towards the 
cause of God, favour in God towards them ; for thou 
Lord wilt bless the righteous, with favour wilt thou 
compass him as with a shield. 

4. Earnest prayer and supplication. Psalm cxix. 
58, "I entreated thy favour with my whole heart;" 
it is worth seeking, his favour merits our petitions, O 
plead hard for it, be not put off without it ; let such 
language as this be in thy heart, or on thy lips — Lord, 
here I am a poor forlorn wretch, a guilty sinner ; once 
the first man Adam in my nature was in thy favour, 
as one of the courtiers of heaven, he walked all the 
days of his innocency in the light of thy countenance ; 
but alas, he fell, offended thy Majesty, proved a traitor, 
lost thy favour, and we in him, by breaking thy laws ; 
and now the poor, wretched human race are banished 
from the palace of the prince, into a dungeon of dark- 
ness, to lie and perish in the shades of sin, guilt, wrath 
and endless despair ; shouldst thou give me my due, 
thou mayest justly banish me amongst devils and 
damned spirits for ever : but, Lord, though I deserve 
no favour, Jesus Christ doth, he drank of the brook in 
the way, he made a passage to thyself by a new and 
living way; the sun of righteousness is risen, hath 
banished the shades of gloomy darkness caused by 
God's displeasure, hath brought life and immortality 
to light, hath removed frowns from the face of God, 
that poor sinners may behold him in the face of Jesus 
Christ ; * through the tender mercy of our God, the 
day-spring from on high hath visited us, to give light 
to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of 
* 2 Cor. iv. (5. 

god's FAVOUll. S65 

death, and to guide our feet in the way of peace. * 
Lord, smile upon me a poor sinner through thy Son, 
O for one beam of the sun of righteousness ! Lord, 
grant that my soul may be accepted in the beloved ; 
cast one eye of pity upon a poor sinner ; let thy bowels 
of compassion yearn towards thy creature in misery, 
and give me some fruits of thy grace, make me amiable 
in thy sight, put thy comeliness upon me, and then 
take delight in me as th)^ child ; and though thou 
canst see nothing in myself worthy acceptance, yet 
when thou hast adorned me with thy image and graces, 
thou wilt show favour to the work of thy hands ; thou 
hast a love, not only of pity, but of complacency to 
some of thy creatures, and why not to me ? Sun of 
righteousness, shine upon me, Lord, speak comfortably 
to thy servant ; many are a terror to rile, Satan af- 
frights me, the world hates me, my conscience con- 
demns me ; but be not thou a terror to me, thou art 
my hope in the day of evil ; | Lord, I am not fit to 
come into thy presence, for I am both polluted and 
guilty, yet have mercy upon me according to thy lov- 
ing-kindness, according to the multitude of thy tender 
mercies, blot out my transgressions, cast my sins be- 
hind thy back ; but cast not me away from thy pre- 
sence ; I for thy servant, the son of David's sake, turn 
not away the face of thine anointed ; || he is thy be- 
loved Son in whom thou art well pleased, § be well 
pleased with me through him ; O favour me with the 
favour which thou bearest to thy people ; visit me with 
thy salvation ; ^ look upon me, and be merciful unto 
me as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name. 
Psalm cxix. 132. 

* Luke i. 78, 79. t Jer. xvii. 17. t Psalm li. 1—11. 

II Psaloi cxxxii. 10. § IMatt. iii. 17- ^ Psalm cvi. 4. 



The second description of persons whom this doctrine 
instructs are saints, God's own people, the sincere pro- 
fessors of religion, that have a covenant title to, and 
interest in the favour of God, which indeed is the soul's 
life. Now concerning these, there are Christians of 
two sorts, for some want, and some enjoy a sense of 
divine favour. 

I. Those that want God's favour, at least the sense 
of it ; for as Dave]iant characterizes the favour of God, 
which he calls, "a bond of eternal good pleasure;"* 
this depends upon the discriminating grace of God : 
this bond is indissoluble, and cannot be weakened ; 
for whom he loves once, he loves to the end. But 
there is also a love of complacency, f which includes the 
sense, enjoyment, and comfort of divine love, this love 
of intimate friendshij), intercoui'se and familiarity, may 
be lost, and often is wanting, which hath made pious 
souls cry out, as though God had forsaken them, hid 
his face, dealt with them as if he were their enemy, or 
had cast them off for ever. 

Here I shall endeavour to answer first, some objec- 
tions ; and secondly, some cases of conscience. 

The objections are such as these, 

OhJ. Can I be in God's favour that am so unworthy 
of it ? none so unfit. 

Answ. 1. There is a twofold favour of God. 

* Vinculum aeternae benevolentia;. 
t Amor amicitiae. 

LIFE IX god's lAVOUR. 367 

(1.) Of benevolence, a love of good- will, from which 
he makes worthy. 

(2.) A love of complacency and delight, whereby he 
owns, accepts and receives to his bosom, and embraces 
the soul that is so made worthy by sanctifying grace. 
All the world is unworthy of God's favour by nature ; 
Rom. iii. 10, "There is none righteous, no, not one." 
Nor doth God set his love upon any, for any worthi- 
ness in them, but because he will love them ; he draws 
arguments from his own bosom to do them good : but 
then when he hath graciously renewed their hearts by 
his Spirit, then he accounts them worthy in a gospel 
sense, and so favours them, that " they shall walk with 
him in white, for they are worthy," Rev. iii. 4. 

2. None are by the Lord judged so worthy of special 
favours, as those that judge themselves most unworthy. 
Who had more of God's special favour than Abraham, 
who is called the friend of God, yet he accounts him- 
self dust and ashes ? Jacob was singularly regarded, 
as appears from visions of God, and answers of prayer 
which he had ; yet looks on himself as less than the 
least of God's mercies. So David and Paul, that 
judged themselves as beasts, less than all saints, great- 
est of sinners ; yet who had more revelations and mani- 
festations of God's favour ? Look through the Bible, 
and you will find that God's favour descends still into 
valleys, and that he honours those most that honour 
themselves least; see Psal. xxv. 14. Matt. viii. 8, 10. 
Luke i. 52, 53. xiv. 10, 11. James iv. 6. 

OhJ. But I am a depraved, polluted, sinful creature, 
a compound of vanity and wickedness : can God have 
any favour for such a one as I am ? 

Answ. 1. You must distinguish betwixt God's hav- 
ing respect to sin, and having respect to those in whom 
sin is. It is true, the righteous Lord loveth righteous- 

368 LIFE IN 

ness, and hateth iniquity; yea, he abhorretli the wicked, 
he is of purer eyes than to behold evil ; yet if God 
should have no love where corruption is, he would 
have no objects of favour among the children of men. 
He can distinguish (though men cannot, or will not) 
betwixt sinners and sinners, penitent and impenitent ; 
he knows and regards his own image, though he hates 
and rejects Satan's ; he favours his children, though all 
defiled, he respects his jewels in the mire ; Christ's 
spouse is at the same time both black and comely. 
Consider the poor soul deformed with the relics of 
sin, O how unsightly it is ! but look on the beginnings 
of grace in sincerity, O how desirable ! Sin repented 
of, and abhorred, shall not hinder God's favour. Nay, 

2. God hath greatest favour for him who has least 
favour for himself; he had most respect to penitent 
Job, who abhorred himself in dust and ashes. A self- 
loathing soul is a God-respected soul, Ezek. xvi. 63. 
God is most pacified, when the Christian's face is most 
ashamed, this self-confusion is both a fruit and evidence 
of God's favour; see Ezek. xx. 41, 4.3. xxxvi. 25 — 31. 
When thou hast least charity for thyself, God hath 
most for thee ; when thou art most vile in thine own 
eyes, thou art most fair in his ; this is no small 
mystery, grace vilifies a man to himself, magnifies him 
to God ; at the same time when a man thinks him- 
self the worst, God owns him as the best of men, and 
yet neither misseth, nor mistaketh in judging, for the 
soul's eyes being open, he sees his own vileness ; but 
God who searcheth the heart, knows that by him, 
which he can scarce discern in himself, and through 
dissatisfaction with his corrupt heart will not believe 
is in him, so " He that shall humble himself, shall be 
exalted," Matt, xxiii. 12. 

OhJ. How can I have God's favour that feel it not, 

(iOiVS FAVOUPt. 369 

cannot experience it, know it not, believe it not ? 
surely, it is not possible a soul should be in God's 
favour, and not know it ? 

Answ. 1. You must distinguish betwixt God's fa- 
vour to the soul, and a sense of it in the soul. David 
complains of broken bones, of God's hiding his face, 
withdrawing himself ; so doth Job, Heman, yea, our 
Saviour. Divines distinguish betwixt salvation, and 
the joy of salvation. Psalm li. 12, " Restore unto me 
the joy of thy salvation :" the having of grace, and the 
feeling of grace are different things; a man in asv/oon 
hath life, but is not sensible of it in some cases ; God 
doth sometimes for wise ends suspend the manifestation 
of his favour from a gracious soul, as a father will do 
from his child, and as Joseph did from his brethren. 

2. This variety of experience doth rather evidence 
God's favour, than the contrary ; sick fits are incident 
only to men alive ; they have child-like dispositions 
who understand the nature of God's withdrawings ; it 
was a David that could say, " Thou didst hide thy 
face, and I was troubled." Genuine love is accompa- 
nied with many jealousies ; ebbings and flowings are 
the attendants of sea-faring men ; uphill and down is 
the road to heaven. Think not to be always dandled 
in God's arms, or laid in his bosom ; remember you 
are on earth, not in liea^'en ; your sun may be often 
under a cloud, youi* appetites must not- be always gra- 
tified with dainties. It is natural for God's chil- 
dren in some cases to question God's love: merely 
formal presumers will hardly be brought to question 
God's favom', are ordinarily in one uniform, settled 
state, and go on di'eaming in a fool's pai-adise; or if they 
should question it, they silence a clamorous conscience 
with worldly salvos, or phantastic delusions. 

ObJ. But alas, how can I think that God favours 

VOL. III. 2 B 

370 LIFE IX 

me, when I cannot love him ? Is not God's love se- 
conded with our love to him, as the genuine reflection 
of his lovely rays ? 1 John iv. 19. 

Answ. 1. You must distinguish betwixt the direct 
and the reflex actings of grace. It is one thing to ex- 
ercise grace, another to know that this is indeed the 
genuine exercise of sincere grace : the grace of love 
may be hid in the Christian's heart, as well as God's 
favour hid under a cloud. Spiritual life may be hid. 
Col. iii. 3, even from the Christian's own view, as well 
as from others' discovery ; desertions, temptations, and 
corruptions may darken and damp a pious soul's evi- 
dences of grace. 

2. But look again and rake up the ashes, and see if 
thou canst not find some spark of love ; feel thy pulse 
again, and feel it steadily, and see if it beat not truly, 
thou"-h faintly ; thou wouldst lie still as a stone, if the 
the cords of love did not draw thee ; thou wouldst be 
as dead as a corpse, if the sun of God's favour did not 
quicken thee. What? is not God's love shed abroad 
in thy heart ? * canst thou not love him, though ab- 
sent, though unseen?! But I shall wave this, as 
having spoken to it before. 

Other objections might be mentioned, (as indeed 
there is no end of a doubting soul's querulous com- 
plaints, when Satan raiseth hard thoughts of God in 
us) such as this : if God hath any favour for me, why 
doth he not take off this affliction, or bestow upon me 
this or that good which I want ? I answer, it is be- 
cause his favour is towards thee; God may deny a 
mercy to some in favour, and give a mercy to others in 
wrath ; affliction is adopted to be a covenant mercy. 
Psalm Ixxxix. 32. But God may give wicked men 
their own desire. Psalm Ixxviii. 29 ; and mingle that 
* Rom. V. 5. t 1 Pet. i. 8. 

god's FAVorK. S71 

gift with wrath, verse 31. The Father knows what is 
good for the child better than the child himself, and if 
he give in favour, he will give every good thing, Psalm 
Ixxxiv. 11. A man in a fever would have strong drink, 
which would increase his disease, but his attendant 
is wise: God is a faithful keeper, a merciful preserver; 
it is a favour that God will ratlier deny than gratify 
our fond desires in some things; he often doth us good 
against our wills. 

O but, saith the soul, if God favour me, why doth 
he suffer me to be harassed with such violent tempta- 
tions and raging corruptions ? I answer, it is neither 
want of power or love in God towards his children, 
but for wise ends, even to make them humble and self- 
denying, and to lead them to see a daily need of re- 
course to Christ, to induce them to maintain grace in 
lively exercise, to animate them to keep up spiritual 
warfare, and finally to make the conquest more glo- 
rious, death more desirable, and heaven more wel- 

2. Cases of conscience are such as these : — 
Queri/, Doth not faith consist in the assurance of 
God's favour ? I have heard some say so, and if so, I 
have no faith. 

Answ. That is a mistake: assurance of God's favour 
is not of the essence, but a blessed effect of faith ; 
hence it is called the assurance of faith, Heb. x. 22. 
There may be sincere faith without it, as many Scrip- 
ture instances demonstrate : Psalm xxii. 1. Ixxxviii. 1, 
14. Isa. 1. 10. Sealing comes after believing, Eph. i. 
13 ; for faith consists in an assent of the mind to gos- 
pel revelations, and a consent of the will to take Christ 
upon his own terms, as he is held forth in the gospel, 
1 Tim. i. 15. John i. 12. 

Qu. But how can a soul exercise faith on God, that 
2 B 2 

372 LIFE IX 

wants assurance of God's favour ? what ground liath 
he for faith ? 

Answ. We may exercise faith without a particular 
assurance : Job xiii. 15. Psahn xiii. 1, 5. cxliii. 7, 8. 
So the woman of Canaan did. Matt. xv. 22 — 28. Be- 
cause the ground of faith is not providences, but pro- 
mises ; not sense and feeling of God's special love at 
present, but secret confidence built upon a revelation of 
God's power and willingness to save, and his gracious 
conduct towards others : so that a person knowing his 
misery and necessity, and understanding God's mercy 
and faithfulness, ventures himself on God in the way 
of believing. 

Q«. What may be the reason why the Lord some- 
times withdraws the sense of his favour from his 
children ? 

Answ. God hath many wise and gracious ends in 
this dispensation. A skilful physician gives vomits 
and purgatives, to work out bad humours, and to cre- 
ate a more healthful constitution of body : God's chil- 
dren oft grow careless and irregular, and provoke God 
to withdraw the sense of his love and favour, in conse- 
quence of which he inflicts this darkness as their 
punishment. This was David's case here, God pu- 
nished his carnal confidence by withdrawment, Psalm 
XXX. 7 ; so Isa. Ivii. 17. I might mention many gra- 
cious purposes that God hath in hiding his face, for 
promoting the good of his children, as, 

1. To awaken them ovit of drowsiness and security. 
Cant. V. 3, 4. 

2. To humble their hearts, and prevent pride, 2 Cor. 
xii. 7. 

3. To prepare them for comfort, 2 Cor. i. 5. In 
nature God works by contraries, so in grace he brings 
to heaven by the confines of hell. 

god's favour. 373 

4. To wean their hearts from the world, to which 
they are too much attached, Psahii cxix. 36. Letters 
and tokens of love are oft intercepted, that we may 
love and long more for home. 

5. To raise their hearts to a higher esteem of God's 
favour, quickening their diligence in seeking him, pro- 
moting their care and endeavour to hold him fast, 
Cant. iii. 1 — 5. 

6. That after these sad shakings, their hearts may 
be more fully settled and established upon better 
grounds, 1 Pet. v. 10. 

7. To teach them to pity, pray for, and relieve 
others in such a state of desertion, Heb. ii. 17, 18. 

Another case of conscience is, whether assurance of 
God's favour can be attained, and in what way ? 

Answ. This is a grave and extensive subject, I can 
but advert to it. There is no question but assurance , 
of God's favour is attainable, and it is a fault in those 
that think it is presumption to desire or seek for it. 
It is commanded, 3 Pet. i. 10. It is promised, Ezek. 
xxxiv. 30. John xiv. 21. It hath been attained, Rom. 
viii. 15, 16. 1 John iv. 16. The way to obtain it is not 
peculiar or restricted to some individuals, but common to 
all believers in all ages ; for it is inferred by a practical 
syllogism, thus : He that sincerely believes, repents, and 
loves God, is in God's favour ; but, saith the soul, I 
sincerely believe, repent, and love God, therefore I am 
in God's favour. The major is a Scripture assertion, 
therefore an infallible truth : John iii. 15. Acts iii. 19. 
1 John iii. l-i, 18, 19. The minor is a Christian's own 
experience, the workings of grace in liis heart : 2 Cor. 
iii. 17. Heb. x. 34. The consequence is very clearly 
drawn from the premises ; make out these, and the 
conclusion will follow evidently ; therefore I am in 
God's favour, and shall be saved. 

374 LIFE IN 

Qu. Why then do so few attain assurance of God's 
favour ^ 

Answ. It is difficult though possible, and few will 
be at the pains to use God's appointed means, or stay 
God's leisure for obtaining assurance ; many are igno- 
rant, and know not how to set about self-trial ; others 
melancholy, and are not able to distinguish aright, or 
to make rational deductions; many blur their evidences 
by sinning ; others have a defect of faith, or too much 
prevalence of unbelief in their hearts, are surprised 
with slavish fears and jealousies, and are apt to think 
it is too good news to be true ; others give way to the 
world, which interposeth between the sun of God's fa- 
vour and their souls ; Satan buffets some with sad 
temptations, and God leaves others under desertion for 
gracious ends. For we must (with most Divines) dis- 
tinguish betwixt a Christian's gradual assurance of 
God's favour, which is upon a discovery of gracious 
habits in the soul and actings of grace, and that which 
is intuitive, that is, which flows from the more imme- 
diate shinings of God's face, or sealings of his Spirit, 
wherein God as a free agent vouchsafes or suspends 
these tokens of love, as he sees good ; and though it 
be a truth that God must shine upon the graces of his 
Spirit in our hearts, or we cannot have assurance of his 
favour, yet usually the reason of our want of assurance 
is our own negligence, not using or carelessly using the 
means for attaining thereof. If you ask me, what are 
the ordinary means that a Christian must use for ob- 
taining assurance of God's favour, I shall 1)ut mention 

1. Diligent attendance upon God's ordinances, and 
looking up to God in all his appointments, such as 
hearing the word, Psal. Ixxxix. 15; religious conference, 
Cant. iii. 3. 1 Thcss. v. 14 ; earnest prayer, John xvi. 

god's favour. 375- 

24. Only use these conscientiously and constantly, 
and you will see the happy effect. 

2. Solemn self-examination. It may be there is 
something amiss in your hearts and lives, for which 
God withdraws ; O search and find it out, mourn over 
it, procure a pardon of it, and a thorough reconciliation, 
Job xiii. 23, 24. God loves to smile upon humbled 
souls, James iv. 6, 10. 2 Cor. vii. 6. Isa. Ivii. 15. 

3. Reflection on experience. Psalm Ixxvii. 5, 10, 
cxlv. 4, 5. It becomes Christians to keep a register 
of God's dealings with their hearts, and when they are 
in the dark to look it over, Psal. xlii. 6; and the 
reason is, because if ever thou wast in God's favour, 
thou art still in his favour ; see John xiii. 1. That is 
a remarkable text Jer. xxxi. 3, which some render 
thus, " The Lord hath appeared of old unto me," that 
is, say they, it is true, God formerly made many gra- 
cious discoveries of himself to our ancestors, but now 
he hideth himself, and hath forsaken us ; but, saith the 
Lord, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, as if 
he had said, it is not transient or temporal favour, but 
from, and to all eternity ; therefore with loving kind- 
ness have I drawn thee. 

4. Walking in ways well-pleasing to God, conformity 
of life and heart to God's will, a constant care to 
please God, and fear to offend him, are both means and 
evidence of God's favour. Psalm xxv. 14. Mai. iv. 2. 
Psal. ixxxv. 9. It is impossible you should have a 
right assurance of God's favour, if you favour any sin ; 
yea, let a godly man yield to sin, and presently the 
evidence of God's favour is lost and withdrawn ; for 
sin separates betwixt a people and their God, Isa. lix. 
2. This interposes as a thick mist to hide his face 
from us; if your hearts grow secure and worldly, sitting 
loose from God, letting down your watch, or remitting 

376 LIFE IN 

diligence in duty ; -precentiy, if you be sensible, you 
will find God withdrawing the light of his countenance 
from your souls ; for God will not manifest himself to 
those that make not conscience of close and holy walk- 

II. Something I should say to those that do enjoy 
the sweet sunshine of God's favour, and feel the sense 
of it in their hearts. I shall but briefly advert to 
your duty. 

1. Be very thankful, and praise God for causing his 
candle to shine upon thy head, for all men have not 
God's special favour ; thou hast no right to it by 
nature ; thou didst not deserve it for any thing thou 
hast done ; thou hast often forfeited it ; many thou- 
sands go out of God's blessings into the warm sun, and 
willingly leave our Father's table to feed upon husks ; 
most of the world are willingly put off with a few 
scraps of worldly enjojTnents. Luther calls the whole 
Turkish empire but a crumb cast to dogs. O but this is 
the children's bread, bless God, and say as Mephibosh- 
eth to David, Who am I that the Lord should look on 
such a dead dog as I am ? what shall I render to the 
Lord for this benefit ? O for a thankful heart ; Lord, 
pardon my base ingratitude. 

2. Walk worthy of this privilege, lay up experiences 
of God's favour, as Mary laid up the angel's sayings in 
her heart, or as friends lay up tokens of love carefully, 
we vise to preserve deeds of moment locked up, seals 
are put under special protection that they may not be 
broken. O look well to evidences of God's love, they 
may stand you in stead, as Tamar produced her 
pledges to Judah. O abuse not God's favour by sinning, 
turn not his grace into licentiousness ; Hanun's abuse 
of David's kindness, you know, brought forth a war, and 
truly God often reckons the abuse of his favour as a 

god's favour. 377 

matter of controversy against Israel of old, see Jer. ii. 
2, 5, 9. Mic. vi. 2 — 5 ; and indeed the abusing of his 
love goes to his very heart. Act consistently with your 
obligations to him, seeking to please, and being afraid 
to offend him, charging yourselves and others that you 
beware of interrupting your comfort, or disturbing the 
repose he hath in you, Cant. ii. 7. Observe you are in 
the greatest danger of falls immediately after the receipt 
of the sweetest tokens of favour, therefore be watchful 
daily to maintain a holy jealousy over your hearts, 
that you sin not, and that you provoke not God's dis- 

S. Improve God's favour for the good of others ; pro- 
duce instances thereof, saying, " Come all ye that fear 
God, and I will shew you what he hath done for my 
soul," Psal. Ixvi. 16. Speak to your children, servants, 
neighbom's and companions, and urge them to taste 
and see how good the Lord is ; recommend his service 
from your own experience ; tell them how sweet you 
have found the light of God's countenance, how attain- 
able and endearing God's favour is, and by what means 
they may get a share therein ; but above all, plead for 
this to all about you. A godly man being a long time 
in a secret place in prayer, when he came forth with 
an unusual cheerfulness, he told some around him that 
he had that day obtained mercy for himself and all his 
family, which was accordingly true, for all his children 
proved truly pious ; and indeed it is a fit season to 
pour out our hearts before God, that others may ex- 
perience mercy, as Abraham did, " O that Ishmael may 
live in thy sight." For a soul that is in favour with 
God can prevail much with him ; a Moses intimate with 
God in the mount, may be a powerful advocate to 
stand in the gap and prevail with God, that favour may 
be shown to the church. The famous Mr. Welsh, a 

378 LIFE IN 

godly Scotch minister, rose one night, and went into 
the garden ; his wife following him, heard a voice fer- 
vently uttered with sobs and tears, saying, " O God, 
wilt thou not give me Scotland ? wilt thou not give 
me Scotland?" Afterwards he told her, "I have en- 
dured a great fight for Scotland this night, and hardly 
could I prevail to have a remnant reserved, yet he will 
be gracious." This, this is the season in which you 
must ply the throne of grace for favour to others. 
And O what a privilege is it to have our cases upon 
the hearts of such as are thus intimate with the Lord, 
as one said, when it shall be thus with thee, then re- 
member me. * 

4. Long and hope for heaven. Let the sweet sense 
and favour of God here, make your souls restless till 
you advance to the full and final fruition of it in glory; 
let these tastes make you long for a full draught ; let 
these rivers or streams lead you to the spring; let 
these beams attract you to the glorious Sun of righte- 
ousness, to him in whose presence is fulness of joy, 
and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore. 
In the morning of the resurrection when you awake, 
you shall be satisfied with his image, you will be con- 
tent to go into your Father's palace. You are in a 
corner of heaven indeed, when you are solacing your 
souls in the divine embraces, but methinks it should be 
irksome to depart from so blessed and beautiful a place, 
and come down again into this loathsome dungeon of 
the world. However, be looking for, and hasting to 
the coming of our dear Lord, and trust him till then, 
and believe that he will preserve you to his heavenly 
kingdom. Some of God's servants have breathed their 
last in the sense and views thereof. There is a re- 
markable story of Mr. Robert Bruce, a very holy re- 
* Gum sic tibi fuerit, memento mei. 

god's kavouk. 379 

verend minister, when he was very old, coming to 
breakfast one morning, and having eaten an egg, he 
said to his daughter, " I am yet hungry, bring me 
another egg ;" he continuing in a deep meditation, said, 
" Hokl, daughter, hold, my master calls," and his sight 
failing him, when he had called for a Bible, he bade 
them turn to the eighth of the Romans, saying, " Put 
my finger to ver. 38, I^or I am persuaded that neither 
death" — now saith he, " Is my finger upon those 
words ? " when they told him it was, without any more 
he said, " Now God be with you my children, I have 
breakfasted with you, and shall sup with my Lord Jesus 
Christ this night," and so gave up the ghost. Which 
delightful death makes me think of the notion of some 
Jewish Rabbles upon Deut. xxxiv. 5, " Moses died — ac- 
cording to the word of the Lord," so we read it, but 
in Hebrew it is, "At the mouth of Jehovah," they 
say, at the kiss of the Lord ; * those sweet embraces 
brought him to eternal embraces of the Lord. He is 
there called the servant of the Lord, not before, saith 
Aben Ezra ; by this title is expressed the excellence of 
that estate at which he arrived, for the servant is still 
conversant with his master, enters into his secret con- 
clave, is still ready at his beck, so did Moses freely 
yield himself to go to God at his call, and so should 
we. They have a saying, " That the righteous are 
greater in death than in life." | When the believer is 
separated from the body, he ministers to God perfectly 
in the heights of heaven, and he is also called God's 
servant at death, because he now goes to receive the 
full reward of his work in another world, as a faithful 
servant. In both these respects God's servants are 
privileged, for oiu: SaviOiu' saith, John xii. 26, " Where 

* Ad osculum Jehovae. 

t I\lajores sunt justi in morte quam in vita. 

380 LIFE IX 

I am there shall also my servants be, and if anj' man 
serve me, him will my Father honour." And O the 
blessed reward of this service, Col. iii. 24-, " Knowing 
that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the in- 
heritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ." O faithful 
rewarder ! O bountiful benefactor ! 

I shall close all with the following meditation, by 
way of paraphrase, on the text which I have endea- 
voured to explain and enforce through the whole of 
this treatise. * 

The divine word informs me, and my own experi- 
ence bears witness to the delightful truth, that " in his 
favour there is life." To this I can set my seal ; so that 
what many others do but read, I, a poor sinful worm, 
am made to feel. Were I denied the sweet enjoyment 
of his favour, my heart would be pained ; I should 
faint and languish. Had I never tasted the precious 
benefit, I should never have known how good it is. 
But I know in whom I have believed ; I know whom 
I have loved ; and how do I long that my weary soul 
may rest in the bosom of his love ! His benignity is bet- 
ter than life. I long to have a full draught of his love, 
or rather, to be overwhelmed in this unbounded ocean. 

Absence from him, whose favour has won my heart, 
is the sharpest pain I now feel. O that the veil, which 
hides from me the bright vision of his face, were but 
once removed ! I long to see him as he is. Since his 
love has warmed my once-frozen breast, my heart is 
not my own ; I have given my warmest affections to 
him, and cannot forbear to cry, " When shall I come, 
and appear before God !" 

* Here the Editor takes the liberty of substituting Dr. Faw- 
cett's paraplirase instead of the original. This however is the 
only instance in which he has ventured to take such liberty with 
his Author. 

god's favour. 381 

Farewell, delusive world ; my heart glows with an 
ardour which nothing beneath the sun could possibly 
inspire. The brightest things below the skies have no 
charms for me, in comparison with him who is the 
chief among ten thousands, and altogether lovely. The 
favour of the great, the riches of the wealthy, and 
the delights of the vain, are mean and despicable 
things. When the light of God's countenance is lifted 
up upon me, I can look on this captivating world with 
disdain, and deem the mightiest monarch poor, who 
knows nothing of the favour of the King of kings. 

How am I indebted to the riches of infinite love ! 
The merciful Redeemer saw me, all wretched and for- 
lorn, a helpless orphan, cast out in the open field, pol- 
luted in mine own blood, to the loathing of my person; 
he pitied my helpless case, took me up in his arms, 
cherished me in his bosom, washed me from my filthi- 
ness, adorned me with his comeliness, and said unto 
me, " I have loved thee with an everlasting love." O 
how great is his mercy ! I am now ertiboldened to 
claim a personal interest in his favour, and to say, 
" My beloved is mine, and I am his." His love is ab- 
solutely free. There was enough in me to provoke his 
eternal abhorrence ; but he hath mercy on whom, and 
because he will have mercy. 

Assist me, ye divine intelligences, ye angels of light, 
assist me to admire and adore his love. Teach me, in 
strains like your own, to celebrate the height, the 
depth, the length and the breadth of redeeming grace. 

The tokens of divine favour are sweet beyond ex- 
pression. They banish the fears and disquietudes of 
the pained heart ; they alleviate the crosses and afflic- 
tions of life, and brighten the horrors of death and the 
grave. Blest with the smiles of his face, who loved 
me, and gave himself for me, I can cheerfully submit 

382 LIFE IX god's favour. 

to every chastisement of his hand ; knowing that 
whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth 
every son Miiom he receiveth. Welcome disease, wel- 
come every pain, which indicates the speedy dissolution 
of this tabernacle, and portends the hour of my release 
from tlie burdens of the flesh. These breaches in the 
walls of my prison-house admit the rays of celestial 
light, and assure me, that my longing soul shall speedily 
gain her happy dismission, and fly to the bosom of her 
Saviour. Go on, O Lord, to accomplish in me all the 
good pleasure of thy goodness, and the work of faith 
with power. Let thy light shine brighter and brighter, 
unto the perfect day. Then farewell groans, and tears, 
and complaints ; farewell darkness and eclipses of the 
Sun of righteousness ; farewell glimmering hopes and 
gloomy fears; faith itself will then be turned into 
sight, and hope into everlasting fruition. Welcome ye 
pleasures which flow at God's right hand for evermore ! 
When I partake of these I shall know, that " in his 




^fter tlje 3Lorti. 





Righteous art thou, O Lord, in all thy ways, and 
holy in all thy works, * must dust and ashes say when 
they speak to thee, or plead with thee. All our 
Israel have transgressed thy law, and despised thy 
gospel, therefore hast thou brought upon us a great 
evil, such as hath scarce ever been done under the 
whole heaven ; | not three shepherds cut off in a 
month, I but two thousands in one day, and this not 
for a day, or month, or year, but even twenty years 
already ; neither is there any among us that knoweth 
how long this sad cloud may be upon us. ]j Thy will 
be done : thou hast punished us less than our iniquities 
deserve ; but to the Lord our God belong mercies and 
forgivenesses, though we liave rebelled against thee ; 
and shall not the Judge of all the earth do right ? § 
Look down from heaven, and behold from the habita- 

* Psalm cxlv. I7. Jer. xii. 1. t Dan. ix. li, 12. 

t Zech. xi. n. )j Psalm Ixxiv. 9. 

§ Ezra ix. 13. Dan. i\. 9. Gon. xviii. 23. 

VOL, in. 2 c 


tion of thy holiness, and of thy glory. * Shall tlie 
needy always be forgotten ? shall tlie expectation of 
the poor perish for ever ? f Be not wrath very sore, 
() Lord, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, 
see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people ; though 
our iniquities testify against us, do thou this for thy 
name's sake ; for behold, for thy sake we are killed all 
the day long. | The Lord God of hosts, the Lord God 
of gods, he knowcth, and Israel he shall know, if it be 
rebellion, or transgression against the Lord. || Judge, 
O Lord, them that liave walked in their integrity : re- 
conij)ense thy servants according to the cleanness of 
their hands in thine eye-sight, that have not wickedly 
departed from their God ; or, by the grace of God 
have acknowledged their offence, and returned to thee, 
and who at last are following on to know the Lord, 
and pleading and lioping for a reviving and resurrec- 
tion after these days or }'ears of death. ^ Let thy 
dead men live, thy slain witnesses be called up, and 
ascend to heaven in a cloud ; let there be a shaking, 
that these dry bones may come together : come, O 
wind, and breathe on them, that they may live.^ 
Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary, for the 
Lord's sake: in midst of judgment remend)er mere}'', 
and at last revive thy work : give us the opening of 
the mouth : set thy light on a candlestick : hold the 
stars in thy right hand : let thy people's eyes see their 
teachers : give us help from trouble, for vain is the 

* Isa. Ixiii. 15. t Psalm ix. 18. 

X Isa. Ixiv. 9. Jer. xiv. 7- Psalm xliv 22. 

II Josh. xxii. 22. 

§ Psalm xxvi. 1. Psalm xviii. 21, 24. Hos. v. 15. vi. 3. 

H Isa. xxvi. 19. Kev. xi. 11, 12. Ezek. xxxvii. 0, 9. 

Tin: Ric.iiTEous GOD. 387 

lielp of man : purify tlie sons of Levi, tliat they may 
offer to the Lord an offering in rigliteousness.* Thou 
art Jehovah, and changest not, therefore the sons of 
Jacob are not all consumed.f Thou art the Creator of 
the ends of the earth, and therefore canst command 
deliverance for Jacob^ There is no searching of thine 
understanding, therefore thou canst devise ways for 
the banished to be restored. || Thou art a faithful 
God, and wilt perform thy promises, and confirm the 
word of thy servants. § But our God is a God of 
judgment ; blessed are all they that wait for him. ^[ 
The true and faithful witness saith. Surely I come 
quickly. Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus. **" 

* Dan. ix. I7. Hab. iii. 2. Ezek. iii. 27- Matt. v. 15. Rev. 
ii. 1. Isa. XXX. 20. Psalm Ix. 11. Mai. iii. 3. 

t Mill iii. 6. X Psalm xlii. 8. xliv. 4. 

II 2 Sam. xiv. 14. § 1 Cor. x. 13. Isa. xliv. 26. 

H Isa. XXX. 18. ** Rev. xxii. 20. 






Grace, mercy, and peace. 

1 HE sharp rebukes which divine displeasure hath laid us 
under these many years, have caused various thoughts of heart. 
Whilst profane men have shot their arrows, bitter words, it is 
becoming God's children to have many solemn searchings of 
heart, and serious inquiries after the reason of the Lord''s con- 
troversy with the daughter of Zion ; word and rod call us to 
consider our ways,*' and God's people have called on themselves 
and one another saying, " Let us search and try our ways, and 
turn again to the Lord."""!- Doubtless the occasion is given by 
us, we turned away from God before he turned his back upon 
us. Judgment is begun at the house of God ; + and he expects 
repentance should begin there, that pacification may be first 
begiTu tliere. God saith, " You only have I known of all the 
families of the earth, therefore I will punish you for your ini- 
quities ;"''|| and well he may, for the provocation of his sons and 
daughters goes nearest his heart, § as being against greater 
light, and love, means, mercies, obligations, and expectations 
than that of others. Surely it is high time for us to awake 
out of sleep. ^ The charge is drawn up, the indictment is 
read, scourges have been laid on, and of such a nature as have 

• Hag i= 5. t Lam. iii. 10. + 1 Pet. iv. 17. 

!| Amos. iii. 2. § Dcut. xxxii. 19. T Kom. xiii. 11. 


come nearest the licarts of the godly. Loss of gospel privileges, 
is a greater aHiiction than loss of money, goods, houses, liberties, 
relations, even of life itself. God hath said, " Woe, also unto 
them when I depart from them."* He doth not' use to depart 
till he be slighted, or thrust away. This hath been a long, 
dark and gloomy day, a day of rebuke and blasphemy, a day of 
scattering and treading down in the valley of vision. Ministers 
and their flocks rent asunder; solemn assemblies sorrowfully 
broken up ; sad and silent sabbaths, by some profaned ; ignor- 
ance increasing, conversion work suspended, sinners hardened, 
young beginners in religion discouraged, atheism abounding, 
persecution revived, and thousands of precious souls wandering 
about as sheep that have no shepherd : many public places 
being ill supplied, and guilt brought u}X)n the nation, pressing 
us down towards destruction, yea such sins as leave a people 
remediless, mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, 
misusing his prophets, till the wrath of God arise against us, 
till there be no remedy, or no healing.f This brought Israel into 
captivity out of their own land. This also hath brought on the 
final scattering of that forlorn nation to this day, killing the 
Lord Jesus, as v,'ell as their own prophets, persecuting the 
apostles, and forbidding them to speak to the gentiles that they 
might be saved, to fill up their sins always, in consequence of 
which wrath is come upon them to the uttermost ; 4 and surely 
this lies nearest the hearts of real saints, next to God's glory 
and their own souls, that poor sinners should ruin themselves 
and destroy the nation. It is dreadful indeed to see debauchery 
in the land abounding, and the basest of men vent personal 
malice against God's dearest cliildren for no other faidt than 
worshipping God, and praying for their persecutors. 

INIen write voluminous treatises of invectives against us, 
charging us with schisms, sedition, faction, and rebellion, which 
God knows, our souls hate, and we durst appeal to our worst 
adversaries in their sober intervals that they cannot but know 
the contrary; and after all these long-lasting and heavy-pressing 
evils have come upon us, one liarvest is passed, and many sum- 
mers and winters ended, and we are not saved. || " As for us, 

* Hos. ix. 12. f 2 Chron. xxxvi. 1(1. 

i 1 Thess. ii. 15, 10". il Jer. viii, 20. 


our eyes as yet failtd for our vain help : in our watching we have 
watched for a nation that cannot save us : * we looked for peace, 
but no good came ; for a time of health, and behold trouble." -f- 
And we may discern God's anger in the wrath of men. But 
after all this, shall we sit still, and be stupid under the awful 
hand of God ? Surely our work is not to complain of men, 
much less oppose them ; but to look into our own hearts and 
lives by self-examination, and to practise humiliation, and re- 
formation ; for these vapours that darken the heavens, arise 
from our polluted hearts and lives, these an-ows are winged 
with our own feathers, our destruction is of ourselves ;| it 
may be said to ever individual, thy way and thy doings have 
procured these things for thee, this is thy wickedness ; because 
it is bitter, because it reacheth vuito thine heart, even to thy 
soul, jl Salvian complained of old, that by our sins the enemies 
were strong ; this is the Aclian in the camp, the Jonah in the 
ship, the worm at the gourd. If sin abide still in us, we can- 
not be safe ; it is in vain to expect deliverance till the cause of 
the provocation on our part be discarded and purged away. It 
is true, God is the inflicting cause, wicked men the instruments, 
but our own selves are the deserving and procuring cause of all 
our woes. The protestants in queen Mary's days, lamented 
that their unprofitableness and contempt of the gospel, under 
king Edward sixth, brought on them their bloody days of perse- 
cution ; and if we do not mourn, and reform, we may conclude 
that these are but the beginnings of sorrow, as drops before the 
shower of blood ; that after this prophesying in sackcloth, wit- 
nesses shall be slain, the number of martyrs accomplished, and 
Antichrist's sins filled up, by setting up the abomination of de- 
solation, which God Almighty prevent ! 

These things considered, and often revolved in my thoughts, 
I cast about to ascertain what was the fittest course to be taken 
for preventing God's further removes, and to bring him back 
to our souls, and assemblies : — and I find ihat, 

1. God purposely removes to make us follow him, as a wise 
nurse doth by a weak child. § 

2. He stops and halts, as in suspense what to do, that he 

" Lam. iv. 17. f Jer. viii, l.'j. + Hos. xiii. 9. 

jl Jer. iv. 18, § Hos. v, 15. 


may both alarm us, aiul alTord us leisure to consider what course 
to take. * 

3. He makes a gracious promise, tliat if vrc do follow on to 
know the Lord, liis going forth shall be prepared as the morn- 
ing, -f- And 

4. He complaineth that there is none that calleth on his 
name, that stirreth up himself to take hold on God,:|; that is, 
to keep him from departing, or to fetch him back. 

Considering the premises, I was desirous in my poor mea- 
sure, to promote God's work in the souls of his people, and 
engage all that have any interest in God, to improve it at this 
day, for the preventing of his total removal, and detaining of 
God with us ; not as the inhabitants of Tyre, when Alexander 
besieged it ; and one of their diviners told them, it was revealed 
to him in a dream, that Apollo their god, was shortly to depart 
from them, on which they took the image of Apollo, and bound 
it with a chain of gold to a post, thinking tliereby to detain 
him. No, no, we cannot force God against his will to tarry ; 
but we are in obedience to God's command, in discharging of 
our duty, and in performance of the condition of his promise, 
to lament after the Lord, with prayers, tears, confessions, and 
reformation, pleading with God through the intercession of his 
Son, for his return and residence with us. While wicked 
Gadarencs are by words and v.orks bidding the blessed Jesus 
depart out of our coasts, it becomes us solemnly to invite him, 
to open the doors of our hearts to him, and give him free wel- 
come, saying, " Lord abide with us ;"" and thus he may be con- 
strained to tarry Avith us. \\ And though in this dreadful tem- 
pest, with which the ship of the church is sorely tossed, so that 
it is covered with waves, our Lord be asleep, § yet faith and 
prayer will awaken him ; and though we cannot peremptorily 
say, he will save our persons, or privileges, or his chiurch in 
England, yet we may with some confidence say, he will cer- 
tainly save Zion, and build his church some where in the 
world ; he will save our own souls, and it m.ay be, we shall be 
hid in the day of the Lord's anger ; it may be, that the Lord 
God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph. ^| 

* Hosca xi. 0. -f- Ilosea vi. 3. X Isa. Ixiv, 7. 

II Luke xxiv. 20. § Matt. viii. 24, 25. ■[ Zp])!i. ii. 3. Aaios v. Ifi. 

MoriJNEus IX ziox. 393 

Who laiowcth if he will return, and rcjicnt, and leave a bless- 
ing behind him ? * Even a heathen king took this course, and 
upon no otlier assurance, than Who can tell? there is hope in 
Israel concerning this thing ; f only it becomes us to wait God's 
leisure, and with patience, yea, with fortitude pass through the 
fiery trial before us ; wherein Papists will far exceed Protestants 
in rage. However Mr. Greenham said, " He that will suffer 
by I'apists, must learn to suffer by Protestants ; and he that 
hath M'ell passed the pikes in camp fight, may hope to pass 
safe through the fire-ordeal.'"' Integrity and uprightness will 
preeerve us, seconded by a divine supjjort in sharpest trials. 
" The God of all grace, who hath called you unto his eternal 
glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make 
you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. \ 

May it please the Lord to own these weak, though season- 
able labours, for quickening the spirits of his people to lament 
after the Lord ; it may be, he will return to the many thou- 
sands of his people in these nations ; and after we have been 
digging ex:ek and sitnah, \\ he may cause us unanimously to 
dig rehoboth,§ that the Lord may make room for us, and make 
us fruitful in the land. O for such a day ! There is a day 
coming wherein nothing shall liurt or destroy in all God's holy 
mountain ; wherein the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and 
the leopard shall lie down with the kid, &c.^ wherein his peo- 
ple shall see eye to eye, and serve him with one consent, or 
shoulder, when he will turn to his people a pure language, and 
when they shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid. ** 
It becomes God's people to make a catalogue of these and such 
like promises, and spread them before the Lord ; for he is a 
faithful God, and will perform his promise, which saith, Jer. 
XXX. IT, "I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee 
of thy wounds, saith the Lord, because they called thee an out- 
cast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seckcth after :" and 
let all that love her say. Amen. " Tlien the angel of the Lord, 
answered and said, O Lord of hosts ! how long wilt thou not 
have mercy on Jerusalem, and on the cities of Judah, against 

'* Joel ii. 1 J. t Jonah iii. "i—'-)- Ezra x. 2. J 1 Peter v. 10, 

II Strife and hatred, Gen. xxvi. 20 — 22. § Room. 

<11 Isa. xi. 0—9. ** Zeph. iii. !), 13. 

394 ADDllESS, ETC. 

which thou hast had indignation these tln-cescovc and ten 
years. And the Lord answered the angel that talked with 
me, with good words, and comfortable words.'' * 

That this may be the issue of this dispensation, intercession, 
and lamentation, is the heart prayer of. 

Thy soid's friend, 

Jug. 22. 1682. 

* Zecli. i. 12, 13. 



mux tlje Hovt). 

1 Sam. VII. 2. 

-And all the house of Israel lamented after 
the Lord. 



The whole series of the history of the times in which 
this scripture was written, may be thus briefly detailed : 
After the Judges mentioned in the preceding book, 
called by their name, God raised up Eli, who was both 
a judge and priest, and though he was a good man 
himself, yet his sons were profane, and oppressed the 
people, by requiring both boiled flesh and raw for 
roasting, and abusing the women that came to the door 
of the tabernacle ; so that their sin was very great and 
of bad consequence, for men abhorred the offering of 
the Lord. * Eli being informed of his sons' profligate 
course, too much indulged, or too mildly rebuked 
them ; " Why," said he, " do you such things ?" f too 

* 1 Sam. ii. 12—17. 

t 1 Sam. ii. 23. Defects in this reproof. — rolirii. in loc. Ser. 10. 


soft words for such hard and heinous acts : there wanted 
deeds, he being a magistrate ought to have punished 
or removed them, if not put them to death. "^Vell, 
a man of God is sent to Eli,* whether Phinehas, or 
Elkanah, or an angel, I dispute not, to rebid^e and 
threaten him and his house ; but he not reforming, 
God inspires and commissions young Samuel to give him 
a severe admonition, and warn him as immediately from 
the Lord.f The good old man falls under the admoni- 
tion though given by a child, but now the disease was 
gi'own past his curing, his counsel did no good, and 
he could not correct them ; no doubt he acknowledged 
his fault, and since it would be no better, he puts the 
matter over into God's hands : " Let him do what 
seemeth him good." \ God can by his grace curb and 
cure them, or by his power he can crush and confound 
them : let him use his pleasure, I give my children 
into his hands : let my Lord get to himself a name of 
glory by them or upon them, I freely submit. A 
speech becoming a man of God and religious priest. 
Well, God himself undertakes to deal with them : in 
the fourth chapter, H the Israelites and Philistines join 
battle, four thousand Israelites are slain, the ark is sent 
for into the camp ; the law on the tables within it had 
been broken, yet the ark must be their palladium. 
They doted on the ark, but provoked the God of the 
ark : they repent not of their corrupt manners, or pol- 
lution of God's worship ; they neither used outward 
means by recruiting their army, which was a tempting 
of God, nor do they use proper religious means, to ob- 
tain reconciliation with God ; but fondly presume upon 
God's lenity and indulgence to them, because of the 
mere presence of the ark. The ark comes, Hophni 
and Phinehas carry it, Israel shout for joy, the Philis- 
» 1 Sam. ii. 27- + 1 Sam. iii. 18. ; Ibid. || 1 Sam. iv. 2—4. 


tines animate one another, imagining, if they now pre- 
vailed, they conquered the God of Israel, looking on 
the ark to be Israel's idol, or at least, that God's 
power was restricted to it, after the conceit of idolaters ; 
they fight, prevail, and kill thirty thousand Hebrews, 
with Hophni and Phinehas, take the ark as a prize, 
the tidings whereof broke Eli's heart, then his neck, 
brought pangs on Phinehas's wife, and though she was 
a mother, yet full of grief, (which she bequeathed to 
the world in the name of her surviving child, Ichabod) 
she expired. * Well, the Philistines now lead Israel's 
God in triumph, as they judge ; they bring it to Dagon 
their god in Ashdod, for a reproach to the true God :| 
but the triumphing of the wicked is short. Though 
Israel be a loser, yet Dagon and his worshippers are 
no gainers by the ark of God's presence : Dagon falls, 
on his face, prostrate in homage thereto, beaten on his 
own dunghill ; being erected again, his head and hands 
were knocked off by another fall ; 1^ so that now he 
had neither wit nor strength to help himself — the fair 
Venus or female part was gone, the fishy part only is 
left. But this was but a sport in comparison of what 
befell Dagon's worshippers, for God's hand was heavy 
on them all : || as the Spartan boy carried the fox in 
his bosom till the animal tore his vitals, so did the inha- 
bitants of Ashdod. The ark which brought life to those 
who venerated it, brought death upon despisers ; even 
as the Lord's supper is profitable to due partakers, but 
unworthy receivers find it to turn to their judgment 
here, and eternal misery hereafter. § Carnal hearts 
pretend a fond respect for ordinances, but find the Lord 
a jealous God upon their perverting his institutions or 
unsuitable carriage. Ashdod was soon weaiy of God's 

• 1 Sam. iv. 9—21. t 1 Sam. v. 1, 2. +1 Sam. v. 3, 4. 
II 1 Sam. V. G. § 1 Cor. xi. 29. 


ark ; ihty hold a council of their lords ; tliey post it 
away to Gath, which was their metropolis, thinking 
belike, that to be a better air, or under a more benign 
influence of the stars : but here also God's hand was 
upon them with a great destiiiction, they had painful 
and incurable emerods in their secret parts. * Being 
weary of the ark, they would shift it off to Ekron, but 
the Ekronites were wise by others' calamities :f and a 
consultation was held, the result of which was that 
they should carry back the ark into its place, t for all 
the five cities of the Philistines were sharply punished, 
the seven months it had been in their country. And 
they were weary of it ; only they must consult the di- 
vinei-s how to send it back, and their advice was to send 
it with a trespass-offering, 1| namely, five golden eme- 
rods and five golden mice, upon a new cart, drawn by 
two milch kine, that thus they might give glory to 
the God of Israel ; and they signified that by the di- 
rection the cattle took, it might be known whether it 
was God's hand or a chance, and peradventure they 
might be healed. They did so : the kine went straight 
to Bethshemesh, a city of the Levitcs,^ they rejoiced to 
see it coming, but though they offered a burnt-offering 
to the Lord, yet looking into the ark, the Lord smote 
fifty thousand and threescore and ten men with death ; 
and they lamented it, and cried out, " Who is able to 
stand before this holy Lord God ?" ^ But alas, they 
lament not their sacrilege and injury to the ark, but 
the death of their people; imitating the Philistines, 
they howled for the punishment, not kindly mourning 
for their offences ; ** they reflected not on their owii 
miscarriages, but transferred the cause to God's holi- 

• 1 Sam. V. 9. t 1 Sam. v. 10. + 1 Sam. vi. 2. 

II 1 Sam. vi. 4. § 1 Sam. vi. 12. IT 1 Sam. vi. 19, 20. 

** Qui propter culpas non dolebant^ sed propter pcenas ululabant. 

AlTEll THE LOliD. 39D 

ness ; and now they also would be glad to be rid of so 
chargeable guest, and send messengers to Kirjath- 
jearim, that the peo])le there might fetch it to them, 
who came and brought it. 

Querij, Why did they not send it to Shiloh, where 
it was before ? 

Answ. 1. That was far off, this near, and they were 
in haste to get delivered of a burden. 

2. Divine providence removes its favour from Shiloh, 
for the impiety thereof, Jer. vii. 12. You see ordin- 
ances are not perpetually entailed on one place : the 
gospel is a flitting gospel ; God sometimes breaks up 
house, and is gone to another residence, Psal. Ixxviii. 
C7, 68. Matt. xxi. 43. 

Qu. ^Vhy were not they of Kirjath-jearim afraid of 
Bethshemesh's punishment ? 

Answ. Tliey probably knew that the plague was 
not for the ark's sake, but to punish irreverence and 
curiosity ; now they resolve to reform that, and take 
warning as David did, 1 Chron. xv. 13. It becomes 
persons that suffer in ordinances, not to find fault with 
God or them, but to charge it on themselves, and 
amend what is amiss ; men's own sins are the exciting- 
cause of God's indignation, the imposing cause of 
troubles. That is a good scholar, who learns these 
two lessons under God's hand. 

I shall not trouble you witli enumerating the se^'e- 
ral places in which the ark rested amongst the Israel- 
ites before it was brought by David into Obed-edom's 
house, 2 Sam. vi. 10 ; nor attempt to explain what is 
meant l)y the sanctifying of Eleazar, or ordaining him 
to the sacred ministry ; what the keeping of the ark 
is, that nothing be taken away, or no unbecoming 
thing be done to it, or about it ; nor why Eleazar the 
son, and not Abinadab the father was emi)loyed about 


it. Wliotlier xV])iiiadnb was old riiul (lccroj)i(l, or dead, 
or busy a])out some household affairs, or Elcazar was 
more holy, it is not material for us to inquire. But it 
may be asked, whether the ark was only twenty years 
there ? I answer, the ark was there all tlie days of 
Saul, which was above forty j'^ears,* but this was the 
twentieth, till the time of Samuel's giving the exhorta- 
tion recorded in the following verse ; or before Israel 
much inquired after it, or were sensible of their loss : 
so deeply were the roots of impiety and idolatry 
fastened in them. 

The text contains, first, the ark's recess ; and se- 
condly, Israel's repentance. 

Relative to the ark's recess observe, that the place 
was Kirjath-jearim, and more particularly, Abinadab's 
house, ver. 1, 2 ; and that the time or duration of its 
recess was twenty years — a long time indeed. 

Some inquiries may here be proposed : — 

1. What is meant by the ark here ? 

Answ. It is needless to explain the word p-)^i which 
signifieth a chest, or coffin for the inclosing of a corpse, 
Gen. 1. 26, or coffer for the deposit of money, 2 Kings 
xii. 10 ; but this ark was the place appointed by God, 
where the tables of the law were laid up, therefore 
called the ark of the testimony ; there God connnuned 
with Israel, hence called the ark of his presence, 
Exod. XXV. 22: here the people of Israel were to 
worship and inquire God's mind, and it guided their 
journeyings. Numb. x. 35, 36. And though the ark 
have many significations, yet good expositors think 
that what the ark of God was to the Israelites of old, 
that the gospel ordinances are to us ; which are means 
of grace, tokens of God's presence, and institutions of 

* Acts xiii. 21. 


2. What is meant by the ark's being in AbinadalVs 
house in Kiijath-jearim ? 

Answ. It imports its privacy, and solitude, that is, 
comparatively speaking, few could, and still fewer 
would frequent it, which was not the case formerly at 

(1.) Because this city was near the Philistines upon 
the borders of the land, and so the other tribes could not 
so comraodiously resort to it for devotion, or they durst 
not, lest the Philistines should set upon them, if any 
numbers came together for that purpose, as indeed they 
did, verse 7. Never is the devil and his imps more 
enraged against religious people, than when they meet 
to worship God ; for the Philistines had interdicted 
Israel to meet together, and now they suspect them of 
sedition and rebellion. 

(2.) Because the ark being but in a private house, 
few could meet there at once to worship God, or hear 
the word : some, it is possible, cared not for it, and had 
other ways of their own hearts which they followed : 
others had a month's mind to it, but being aged or in- 
firm, could not get thither, or continue comfortably 
before the Lord there, but were subject to many incon- 
veniences : others also were afraid of the scoffs and re- 
proaches of their adversaries, and few would be at the 
pains to go and attend on God in his appointments. 

3. Had the people no public ordinances or instruc- 
tions all this time ? 

Answ. It is likely that they had ordinary Levites 
and priests to offer sacrifices, and instruct the people, 
though in the time of several judges, there was sad 
work both in civil and spiritual affairs ; sometimes 
there was no king or public magistrate in Israel, and 
then every man did that which was riglit in his own 
VOL. III. 2 D 

402 lsrael's i,amentatiox 

eyes : * hence Micah gets a house of graven inrngep, 
and a Levite to be his priest, Judg. xvii. 5 — 13. Cer- 
tainly, there was sad ignorance and woful degeneracy 
into impiety and idolatry, as is apparent from many 

Expositors observe but two inspired individuals, in 
all the time of the judges, which was 450 years, Acts 
xiii. 20: the one was Deborah a prophetess, Judg. iv. 4, 
and that prophet mentioned Judg. vi. 8 ; excepting that 
angel that came up from Gilgal to Bochim, chap. ii. 1. 
So that Peter begins to number the prophets from Sa- 
muel, Acts iii. 24, and Paul mentions Samuel the pro- 
phet as not an ordinary person ; he indeed broke forth 
like a glorious sun out of the night of darkness, both 
of sin and error ; and till those days the word of the 
Lord was precious, 1 Sam. iii. 1, that is, it was rare, 
because there were few prophets to declare God's word 
to the people ; rarely did the Lord reveal himself, and 
therefore was it the more precious and highly esteemed 
by all. But that passage saith further, there was no 
open vision, this seems to be an interpretation of my 
text : no vision diffused or spread abroad, common or 
multiplied, but shut up within a fence, pale, or walls 
— so the word signifies, no broken vision, f A loaf 
that is whole, nourisheth not ; a book closed up in- 
structs not ; a fountain shut up waters not ; the open 
preaching of the word distributes it abroad to all parts, 
and micmbers of the mystical body: this is the multiplica- 
tion of seeds, this is bread distributed, as in Christ's 
miracles, amongst thousands. But alas, there was 
none to break the bread of life to souls, till Samuel 
arose, and then the word of Samuel came to all Israel, 

* Judg. xvii. 6. xviii. 1. xix. 1. xxi. 25. 

t y">DJ pin pX, ^ V^Bi erumpere, i. e. copiose producere. 


1 Sam. iv. 1. He now preached repentance to all, and 
an expedition was formed against the Philistines ; 
however, for want of reformation it proved unsuccess- 
ful, but that evil was brought on them to promote their 
humiliation : possibly Samuel foretold this fall to them 
as a punishment of their sin. 

And now Samuel renews his exhortation,* Providence 
producing an argument from their catastrophe, to en- 
force the duty of repentance ; and though this lament- 
ing after the Lord be mentioned before this sermon, 
yet it is probable it was the consequence thereupon, 
as their reformation also was, ver. 4, yea, it may be 
this is the same with their drawing water, and pouring 
it out before the Lord, ver. 6, which some understand 
of penitent tears, f 

Take some general observations from the context 
thus explained r 

1. God gives his people sensible tokens of his special 
presence; the visible ark, and an audible voice betoken 
spiritual, invisible grace. 

2. God thinks good sometimes to withdi'aw himself, 
and hide these tokens of his presence from a professing 

3. This withdrawing may be continued a long time, 
2 Chron. xxix. 8 ; as in Babylon, Zech. i. 12 ; and in 
the latter days, Hos. iii. 4. 

- 4. God takes particular notice of the duration of his 
church's affliction, in Egypt 400 years, so Rev. xi. 11. 

5. People's privileges may be long removed before 
they be penitently sensible of their loss, long before 
their restoration. 

6. When God's ordinances are but privately dis- 
pensed, it is a great loss to the body of a people, such 
as need them most, have then least of them. 

* 1 Sam. vii. 3. t \'id. Pol. Syn. in loc. 


404 iskael's lamentation 

7. Continuance in sin postpones deliverance, and 
absence of the ark or ordinances is an occasion of con- 
tinuing in sin. Men do withdraw tlieir hearts from 
God, that is, sinful ; God withdraws helps from them, 
that is, penal ; men repent not ordinarily without 
helps ; God denies helps, and is just therein. 

8. Attendance on ordinances raiseth the envy of 
wicked men. This hath been the occasion of quarrel 
from the days of Cain and Abel, successively to this 
day,* Gen. iv. 5. Exod. ix. 1. Ezra iv. 12, 13. Gal. iv. 
'29. Esther iii. 8. Dan. iii. 12. vi. 13. 

9. One stirring active instrument for God, may by 
God's blessing, promote repentance and reformation 
amongst a people. O what hurt may one sinner do ! 
so what good may one useful man do when God 
stirs up his heart. Samuel sets things forwards and 
puts them into motion, so Ezra v. 1, 2. Hag. 
i. 13. 

10. When God designs a reformation and restitu- 
tion of his ordinances, he orders a harmonious concur- 
rence of providences for that end. The accomplish- 
ment of God's threats affright and awaken. Samuel 
comes at the critical moment, and speaks words upon 
the wheel. God moves, and things go on apace, 
2 Chron. xxix. 36. xxxi. 31. 

These I pass briefly, and proceed to the main point 
in the last clause of the verse, And all the house of 
Israel lamented after the Lord. 

They did not lament so much imder their pressing 
burdens, and grievous oppressions by the Philistines, 
as after the Lord, that is, for the ark of the Lord and 
the Lord of the ark, for the recovery of God's gracious 
presence and the visible tokens thereof; they bitterly 
lamented the calamity of church and state, religion 

* J Kings xviii. 


and polity. * This, say interpreters, is a remarkable 
passage, because it informs us of the general conver- 
sion and repentance of a whole people ; we have scarce 
the like in all the scripture, except Acts ii. 

From the words then results this doctrine : — That 
when God's ark is long in obscurity, or ordinances are 
obstructed, it becomes God's Israel, or professing peo- 
ple, to lament after the Lord, 

Serious lamenting after God is well becoming those 
whom God afflicts with the loss of privileges. The 
text presents to us, 

1. The persons lamenting — God's peculiar people. 
These only love, and mind God's presence ; when the 
lords and cities of the Philistines are weary of him 
and send him away, yea and the inhabitants of Beth- 
shemesh, though a city of the Levites belonging to the 
church of God, through their ill management of matters 
send to get a release, yet God's Israel will look after 
their God. 

2. Here is the object they lament after — not peace, 
plenty, or victory over enemies, but after the Lord. 
Jehovah is the object of their affections ; it is he whom 
they love, and with whom they long for communion. 
Psal. Ixiii. 1,2, " O God," saith David, " thou art my 
God, early will I seek thee, my soul tliirsteth for thee 
to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee 
in the sanctuary." 

3. Here is the universality of the number — all 
Israel. The whole house of Israel come; they that 
had wofully degenerated, and had gone after their idols; 
what a wonderful act of God's power and sovereignty 
was this upon their spirits ? by this he manifests that 
he is the true God, and that Samuel -w^as his servant ; 

* Lachrymis deploranint suramam miseriam religionis et rei- 


something similar observe in Elijah's prayer, preaching, 
sacrifice, and success, 1 Kings xviii. 21, 37, 39. 

4. You have here the manner and nature of the 
people's repentance — they lamented after the Lord. 
Which is a very comprehensive word, and I shall ex- 
plain it presently. 



In discussing this subject I shall proceed in the 
following method : — 

1. Shew how ordinances are obstructed, become ob- 
scured or tarnished. 

2. What is implied in lamenting after the Lord. 

3. How and why God's Israel thus lament. 

4. Answer an objection, and then make application. 

First, What is it for ordinances to be either ob- 
structed, or in a state of obscurity, both of which cir- 
cumstances may be a great affliction to God's people and 
oft occasion a lamentation. 

1. For ordinances to be obstructed is a prevention 
of the liberty of dispensing them, and suppression of 
those who dispense them, by imprisonment, banish- 
ment, inhibition or suspension ; as in Aluib's days, 
Jezebtl cut off many prophets of the Lord, while the 
rest v/ere hid by fifty in a cave, and fed with bread 
and water, 1 Kings xviii. 4 ; yea such scarcity was 
there at that day, that Elijah thought he was left 
alone, 1 Kings xix. 10, such as were left were latent, 


and had indeed their lives preserved, but not liberty to 
proclaim the word, or to celebrate God's ordinances 
openly. It is true, truth seeks not corners ; yet pub- 
lishers of truth may be driven into corners. God's 
candles may be put under a bushel ; the church's 
pleasant things may be taken away; sabbaths and 
solemn assemblies may be forgotten in Zion, and the 
ways of Zion mourn, Lam. i. 4. 7. The church com- 
plains, Psal. Ixxiv. 9, " We see not oiu- signs ; there is 
no more any prophet." The church may flee into a 
wilderness of obscm'ity and persecution, her witnesses 
may be slain by a natural or civil death,* some time 
or other these prophecies ha\^ an accomplishment; 
Jeremiah and Ezekiel may both have their mouths 
stopped by their brethren, and God himself may be a 
little sanctuary to such as want the open sanctuary 
privileges, Ezek. xi. 15, 16. The gospel in its coiu'se 
may be stopped or obstructed, so that Paul puts be- 
lievers on to pray for him, that the word of the Lord 
may have free course, 2 Thess. iii. 1 ; intimating that 
it had met with hindrance ; by what ? by men's rage, 
or the devil's subtlety, or both, 1 Thess. ii. 16, the 
Jews forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles, and verse 
18, Satan hindered us. Sometimes the devil stirs up 
men to obstruct the course of the gospel. The history 
of the church in all ages will offer its service to bear 
witness to this truth, that liberty of ordinances is some- 
times infringed, and so the ark is withdrawn into some 
sequestered place ; for where God hath a people they 
must and will worship him, and attend his institutions; 
if they cannot do it openly, they act more privately, 
as Christ's disciples frequently met in houses, in the 
night, the doors being shut, and that for fear of the 
Jews, John xx. 19. And it may be that word Isa. 
* Rev. xii. 14. xi. 7. 

408 Israel's lamentation 

viii. 16, refers to such a clay, "Bind up the testimony, 
seal the law among my disciples." 

2. The ark and ordinances may sometimes be in a 
state of obscurity, as well as obstructed; the institutions 
of religion may be tarnished or corrupted. This ob- 
servation has a reference to the purity, as the former 
has to the liberty of God's appointments. The light 
may be dimmed, as v/ell as diminished. Painted glass 
obscures the light : so human inventions corrupt God's 
pure worship. Jeroboam's golden calves spoiled the 
purity of ordinances ; so that religious people, and 
priests fled to God's sincere worship at Jerusalem, 2 
Chron. xi. 13, 16. This defilement of ordinances makes 
God's poor children cry out, " Death is in the pot." 
Our Saviour saith of the Scribes and Pharisees, " Thus 
have you made the commandments of God of none 
effect by your traditions, and therefore in vain did they 
worshij) God," Matt. xv. 6, 9- God's institutions are 
ours, but men may mar and spoil them with their 
fond additions or alterations. Ezek. vii. 20, " As for 
the beauty of his ornaments, he set it in Majesty, but 
they made the images of their abominations, and of 
their detestable things therein," though they called and 
accounted them delectable things, " therefore have I set 
it far from them." JMen may be guilty of treasonable 
practices, by adulterating the king's coin,* or setting 
their own stamp thereon, or clipping it. There is a 
sad woe, both in the beginning, middle, and end of the 
Bible, against those that add to, or diminish from God's 
word or institutions.! It is a dangerous thing to think 
to mend what God hath thought good to enjoin. Anti- 
christ hath so corrupted God's worship, as well as 
truths, that they who love their souls or safety, are 

* Crimen laescp majestatis. 

t Dcut. iv. 2. Prov. xxx. G. Rev. xxii. 18, 10. 


called upon to come out of her, Rev. xviii. 4. God is 
a jealous God, and will not hold such guiltless as take 
his name in vain, that is, he will deal with them as 
guilty malefactors. Nay, God bids them rather go 
serve their idols, than pollute his holy name, Ezek. xx. 
39. Some shepherds also are said to tread down with 
their feet the residue of the pastures, and foul the 
waters with their feet ; so that God's flock is in 
danger of pining, Ezek. xxxiv. 18. God's children 
know how to avoid a sinful separation on one hand, 
and a communion that necessitates them to sin, on the 
other ; there is danger in both extremes. Poor scni- 
pulous, tender consciences are too apt to run into the 
former, and adventurous spirits are too apt to run into 
the latter, for by and base purposes ; sometimes the 
latter happens as well as the former, v/hen godly mi- 
nisters and Christians must either sin, or suffer ; and 
to a conscientious soul, the case is soon determined : 
and hence it comes to pass that their persons and or- 
dinances with them, have been forced into a state of 
privacy and seclusion. The witnesses will rather choose 
to prophesy in sackcloth with purity,* according to 
God's ^\'ill,than live in the greatest pomp and splendour, 
betraying the truths and appointments of God, by 
superstition or idolatry, to gratify flesh, or comply with 
the humoui-s of men; they judge it safer to be banished 
from the altar, than bring strange fire to it ; they think 
it safer to venture on men's displeasure, though the 
furnace be heated with seven-fold intenseness, than ex- 
pose themselves to the dreadful vengeance of the great 
God, by sinning against him, and provoking the eyes 
of his glory. They resolve to cleave to the ark, though 
in Abinadab's house, and follow the Lamb whithersoever 
lie goeth,j rather than be dragged down to sin and hell 
* Rev. xi. 3. t Rev. xiv. 4. 


with the dragon's tail :* though persecution attend the 
former, as in the Marian days, and preferment wait on 
the latter. 

The second general thing to be explained in the 
text and doctrine, is, what is implied in this lament- 
ing after the Lord ? The woixi im]'' comes from m3, 
qidescere : the same word with Noah, which signifies 
rest ; " They rested after the Lord." It is in Niphal, 
which increaseth its signification, and denotes these 
seven things : — 

1. They inclined after the Lord. They had wan- 
dered away from the Lord, and never thought of him ; 
they had turned aside after vain things, but now they 
began to hearken to Samuel's preaching, and began to 
look about them, consider what they were doing, and 
had a month's mind, as we say, after God, and his 
ways and worship. A heart to inquire after the Lord, 
is a good thing : as it is said of the men of Shechem, 
their hearts inclined after Abimelech, or to follow him, 
Judg. ix. 3. It is well so ; for when people stand still, 
and question themselves in this manner : what have 
we been doing? have we done well or ill? what course 
is best to be taken ? and begin to have some inclina- 
tions after God more than formerly, this is the first 

2. They had become settled, and established in re- 
ference to the Lord. They staggered formerly and 
were much in suspense, wavering like the apostle 
James's double-minded man,f not knowing which way 
to take, or like those referred to, 1 Kings xviii. 21 : 
Why halt ye between two opinions ? one while lean- 
ing to Baal, another while to God, reeling like drunk- 
ards, halting like lame men whose legs are not equal, 
fluctuating to and fro with divers thoughts: but now this 

* Rev xii. 4. t James i. 18. 

ArTEll THE LORD. 411 

people is firm, well resolved, with purpose of heart de- 
termined to cleave to the Lord, Acts xi. 23. The trem- 
bling needle fixeth towards its centre ; the tre^ has 
taken deep root ; tlie will is bowed ; the affections 
settled ; the conscience clear ; nothing shall obstruct 
their coui*se ; they have set down the staff, and say as 
Ruth to her mother-in-law, Ruth i. 16, 17, " Entreat 
me not to leave thee, or to return from following after 
thee; for whither thou goest, I will go," &c. So 
these : though they had been hesitating and doubtful 
what to do, yet their steps have become sure and firm 
in their motion God-wards. * 

3. They were congregated and assembled after the 
Lord : so some read it. They now begin to flock lilce 
doves to their v/indows ; they troop after him. f Jer. 
iii. 17, " All nations shall be gathered to it, to the 
name of the Lord God ;" yea, " Judah shall go with 
Israel," verse 18. See also Jer. 1. 45. They had been 
broken, now they are united. Some went after com- 
mands and examples from one quarter, some after 
others from another ; but now the great God makes an 
act of uniformity and unanimity, Zech. xiv. 9, " In 
that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one-:" 
one sovereign commander, one way, one worship : that 
great God doth not only enjoin one thing, but doth join 
them in one bond and mind. O happy day ! when the 
grace of God heals the breaches that are in men's spi- 
rits, and divisions in the church ! 

4. They groaned, complained, bemoaned themselves 
in their following the Lord, as a child followeth his 
departing father, and as Phaltiel followed his wife 
Michal, weeping behind her to Bahurim, 2 Sam. iii. 
15, 16 ; or as Micali followed the Danites who took 

* Jam in Dei obsequio gradum figunt stabilem et certum. 
t CoUecti sunt post Dominum. 


away his idols, who, when he was crying after thein, 
said, " What aileth thee ?" to which he replied, " Ye 
have taken away my gods — and what have I more ? 
and what is this that ye say unto me, What aileth thee?" 
Judg. xviii. 23, 24 ; as if he had said, you could not 
have done me a worse turn : lay your hands on your 
hearts, ask yourselves, whether any loss can parallel 
this, of losing one's God ? You need not be inquisi- 
tive for a reason of my solicitude and complaint, when 
all good is comprehended in this chief good, whether 
real or imaginary. Thus, this people lamented, laid to 
heart this great evil of God's departure, which no tem- 
poral good can compensate or countervail. 

5. They called, cried, and lifted up their voice after 
the Lord, by earnest prayer and supplication. The 
v/ord sometimes imports sighing: "Let the sighing 
of the prisoner come before thee," Psalm Ixxix. 11. 
Sometimes it is rendered lifting up the voice, as Lam. 
ii. 18, not only their hearts cried unto the Lord, but 
tears ran down like a river day and night : verse 19, 
" Arise, cry out in the night, pour out thine heart like 
water, lift up thy hand towards him :" yea. Lam. iii. 8, 
she did both cry and shout, not that God is deaf, or 
busy, or pursuing enemies, or sleeping, and must be 
awaked, as Elijah ironically twits Baal's worshippers 
with their God, * but for our own sakes, to evidence 
the honesty and zeal of our hearts, and as a gracious dis- 
position to which mercy is promised. Hence it was that 
when the children of Israel cried, their cry came up 
unto God, Exod. ii. 23. Crying is the accent of 
prayer : a crying prayer sounds loud in God's ear. 
The tender mother's bowels make her look back on her 
crying child. God loves to be called back by a fervent, 
affectionate prayer. 

* 1 Kings xviii. 27 


6. Tliej^ betook themselves to the Lord, tliat is, by- 
faith, by repentance, covenanting with God, returning 
from sin, and having recourse to God by a sincere re- 
formation ; without the last all the former were insig- 
nificant : but thus did the children of Israel, according 
to Samuel's command and supposition, in chap. vii. 
verse 3 — If ye do return with all your heart to the 
Lord, then put away strange gods, and prepare your 
hearts for the Lord, and serve him only ; and they did 
so, verse 4. Tliis was their best way of lamenting 
after the Lord. No coming after God with a lie in 
our right hand, or idols in oiu' hearts ; if we do, God 
will spurn us back into confusion, for nothing keeps 
persons at a distance from him, but sin : they that 
hold fast sin and pretend to follow God, do either nm 
from him, or follow him with a sword in their hand 
to wound him ; but such as cast away their abomina- 
tions follow the Lord aright, and shall succeed in ap- 
proaching him. This is the method prescribed by God 
himself: Jer. iv. 1, 2, " If thou wilt return, O Israel, 
saith the Lord, return unto me ; and if thou wilt put 
away thine abominations out of thy sight, then shalt 
thou not remove, and thou shalt swear the Lord liveth." 
Then, and never till then, are souls fit to join in cove- 
nant with God, when they are divorced from all be- 

7. They were acquiescing in, and fully satisfied with 
the Lord ; this is the proper notion of this word. * 
Their hearts had abundant tranquillity and peace in 
the manner of God's worship, and much more in the 
object of their worship, and in the union of their hearts 
to God, and communion with him : no satisfaction like 
this. David saith, " Return unto thy rest, O my 
soul," Psalm cxvi. 7 : no such rest, as God is, who is 

* Chald. Quieti tucrunt post cultum Domini. 

414 Israel's lamentation 

the soul's only centre and sabbath. Jer. xxxi. 25, " I 
have satiated the weaiy soul, and I have replenished 
every sorroA\'ful soul :" as God rests in liis love to his 
saints, so they are well satisfied with their choice of 
God, and look not out other ways, or beyond hini for 
any contentments to their spirits. Thus then these 
pious souls, these lamenting penitents might say: Alas, 
we have been like wandering slieep that liave gone 
astray, every one wandering in his own way, ©r as a 
bird wandering from its nest, or as prodigals from our 
father's house ; but now, now at length by Samuel's 
prophecy we are thoroughly informed that God is the 
true God, that this i>rescribed worship is of liis institu- 
tion, and the means of connnunion Avith him. At our 
first hearing this man of God, we were touched, and 
began to incline towards him; at last, we came to a fixed 
resolution to follow the Lord in this his way, we were 
assembled together for this purpose, bemoaned our 
state in the loss of so dear a friend, cried after him, 
put away our idols and lusts, returned to the Lord by 
faith and repentance, and now we see it is not in "ain, 
it is good, yea, very good for us thus to draw near to 
God ; we find full content in him ; we find the enjoy- 
ment of him a full recompence for all our pains in a 
mournful pursuit of him. We have found him, at last 
we have found him, and happiness in him; he is come 
whom we sought, we need not look for another, we 
care not for any other. We fear nothing, since we 
have found our God. 

From hence we may discern the reason why the 
same word in Hebrew * signifies both to repent and 
to comfort, to mourn and to cease mourning, to lament 
and rejoice ; for as true comfort belongs only to peni- 

* Dnj, doluit, pocnituit. CDHD, ?'<"'' nntip/iriisin, dodoliiit, 

dolore dcsiit, consolalionem inveiiit. 


tent souls, so sorrow is the porch and inlet to joy; none 
are exalted, but they that are first cast down ; none 
bring forth the blessed babe of joy, but such as travail 
in the pangs of sorrow, John xvi. 21. The painter can 
with a touch of his pencil turn a mournful into a 
smiling face : thus saith David, " Thou hast turned 
for me my mourning into dancing ; tliou hast put off 
my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness." — Psalm 

XXX. 11. 

Thirdly, Let us ascertain the reasons why it is so fit 
that God's Israel or professing people should thus la- 
ment after the Lord, when God's ark is in a state of 
obscurity or his ordinances obstructed. In confirma- 
tion of this point, I must demonstrate, that they must 
lament after the ark of the Lord ; and especially after 
the Lord of the ark. 

1. God's Israel or professing people, must lament 
after the ark, that is, the ordinances of the Lord, when 
in a state of obscurity, or obstructed. 

(1.) Because the ark or ordinances of the Lord are 
a people's greatest glory, their beauty, strength, and 
honour. Wherein is Israel better than other nations, 
but by having ordinances of God among them ; Psal. 
cxlvii. 19, 20, " He shewed his word unto Jacob, his 
statutes and his judgments unto Israel ; he hath not 
dealt so with any nation ;" as if he had said, this, this 
is that which exalts Israel above all other kingdoms, 
that they have the visible tokens of God's presence, 
which is a people's only glory ; so saith the apostle, 
Rom. ix. 4, " To the Israelites pertain the adoption, 
and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of 
the law, the service of God, and the promises." This 
is Israel's heritage, their patrimony, and a rich one it 
is: hence wdien the ark was taken, Phinehas's wife 
breathed her last, with that doleful lamentation, " The 


glory is departed from Israel, for the ark of God is 
taken," 1 Sam. iv. 21. 

(2.) Because the obsairing, tarnishing, and obstruct- 
ing of ordinances is a heavy judgment, worse than all 
other plagues, both absolutely considered in itself, and 
comparatively, if it be compared with other judgments. 
God threatens to do by Jerusalem, as he did by Shiloh, 
Jer. vii. 14 ; how that was the context shews. And 
Ezek. xxiv. 21, " I will profane my sanctuary, the ex- 
cellency of your strength." Many other threats speak 
God's hot displeasure in this case, and the evil is 
greater, because it reacheth to the soul, which is the 
best part of man. Hence Amos viii. 11, 12, "Behold 
the days come, saitli the Lord, that I will send a 
famine in the land," (which surely is a dreadful judg- 
ment, worse than the sword. Lam. iv. 9. But what 
famine?) "Not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for 
water, but of hearing the words of the Lord;" this, 
this is the sorest judgment ; this judgment on the soul 
is the soul of judgments, when poor sinners are exposed 
inevitably to die and be tormented in hell without 
means or remedy. "Where no vision is the people 
perish," Prov. xxix. 18. Hos. iv. 6, " My people are 
destroyed for lack of knowledge." 

(3.) Because there is much advantage in the enjoy- 
ment of ordinances. Herein consists the kingdom of 
heaven ; so the preaching of the gospel is frequently 
called ; and this word is the word of the kingdom, and 
gospel of the kingdom, because it is an introduction or 
means to introduce persons into the kingdom of grace, 
and then of glory. That is a dreadful threatening. 
Matt. xxi. 43, " Therefore shall the kingdom of God 
be taken from you, and be given to a nation bringing 
forth the fruits thereof." If any ask me, as Rom. 
iii. 1, 2, "What advantage hath the Jew?" or the 


professing Christian under the gospel dispensation ? 
*' or what profit is there of circumcision, or of spiritual 
privileges ? I answer, " much every way, chiefly be- 
cause that unto them have been committed the oracles 
of God, and so salvation is of the Jews ;"* as our Lord 
saith : even so those that have gospel ordinances, have 
great helps for the conversion, edification, and salva- 
tion of their souls ; for Christ hath set up his ensign 
among them for souls to flock unto.f These are wells 
of salvation, a feast of fat things, breasts of consolation, 
where souls may milk out, and be abundantly delighted ; 
here are the keys of the kingdom, by means of which 
heaven gates stand open continually ; the door of faith, 
the ministration of the Spirit, the day of salvation, &c. I 
And is not all this worth lamenting after the Lord to 
enjoy ? if not, what is ? 

(4.) Because this is the character and disposition of 
a child of God, to lament after the ark and ordinances 
of God. " I have," saith David, " loved the habitation 
of thy house," Psal. xxvi. 8. Therefore he makes this 
his unum magnum one thing, which he desires of the 
Lord, " to dwell in the house of the Lord," Psal. xxvii. 
4. Two things excite a Christian spirit to lament 
after God for the ark : — 

First, He hath a gracious principle, an enlightened 
eye to see what others cannot discern ; the Christian 
calls such a place Beer-la-hai-roi, as Hagar did. Gen. 
xvi. 14, " The well of him that liveth and seeth me." 
So the Christian sees God's way in the sanctuary ; 
there he beholds the beauty of the Lord. || The 
Psalmist saith, "Theyhsve seen thy goings, O God, 

* Rom. iii. 2. John iv. 22. t Isa. xi. 10. 

X Isa. xii. 3. xxv. 6. Ixvi. 11. Matt. xvi. 19. Isa. Ix. 13. 
Acts xiv. 27. 2 Cor. iii. 8. vi. 2. 
II Psal. Ixxvii. 13. xxvii. 4. 
VOL. III. 2 E 


even the goings of iny God, my King, in the sanctuary."* 
Yea, the devout soul hath an appetite and taste suitable 
to what he meets with in the ordinances of God, faith, 
love, desire, and joy; as new born children have a 
natural instinct directing them to their mother's milk 
for conservation of life : so 1 Peter ii. 2, the saints " as 
new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, 
that they may grow thereby." The law of God en- 
graven in their hearts, corresponds with the word they 
hear explained by ministers : Christ within them, (by 
liis Spirit and graces) as the hope of glory, prompts 
them to a love to Christ, and a longing after him in the 
holy supper, and all his other institutions. 

Secondly, Add to this, the frequent experiences the 
believing soul hath had of the sweetness of divine 
grace in ordinances, which cannot but excite in huii 
strong desires after similar enjoyments; Psal. Ixiii. 1, 
2, " My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for 
thee, in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is, to 
see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in 
tlie sanctuary." So Song ii. S, 4, " I sat dow^n under his 
shadow with great delight, and his fiiiit was sweet to 
my taste; yea, he brought me into his banqueting- 
house, and his banner over me was love." No wonder 
if she was so distressed w^hen she wanted him. 

This leads me to observe, 

2. That Christians should lament after the God of 
ordinances, or God in ordinances ; so saith the text, 
" The house of Israel lamented after the Lord." Why ? 

(1.) Because God is infinitely more worth than all 
ordijiances; his presence is prizable for itself. The 
ark is but to be esteemed for his gracious presence ; 
" In his favour is life," Psal. xxx. 5. " His loving- 
kindness is better than life," Psal. Ixiii. 3. This is the 
* Psal. Ixviii. 24. 

AFTER TlIK I.OllD. 419 

marrow of heaven, the want of this is hell. " Woe also 
be to them Avhen I depart from them," Hos. ix. 12 : 
and this the child of God knows. 

(2.) God purposely withdraws that men may lament 
after him; as when a mother steps out of a child's 
sight, and when she seems to be gone, the child raises 
a cry after her; Hos. v. 1.5, "I will go and retm-n to 
my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek 
my face ; in their affliction they will seek me early." 

(3.) Because sincere lamenting after the Lord may 
occasion his return; he purposely hovers, waits and 
expects, that his people may call him back by their 
prayers, entreaties, humiliation; not as though God 
were moved, or changed by men's mournful complaints 
and outcries, but that such an earnest lamenting 
qualifies the subject, capacitates for mercy, and puts 
souls into the condition of the promise. Jer. xxix. 13, 
13, "Then shall ye call upon me, and shall go and 
pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you, and ye shall 
seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with 
all your heart." 

(4.) God blesseth his people usually in and by ordi- 
nances, with his best blessings, Psal. cxxxiii. 3, " There 
the Lord commands the blessing, even life for ever 
more." Eph. i. 3, " Blessed be the God and Father of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all 
spiritual blessings in heavenly places,^ things, or 
means in Christ." It would be needless to reckon up 
all the blessings our dear Lord conveys to his people 
by ordinances, and for which it becomes us to lament 
after the Lord, in his appointments ; (for now I join 
them together.) 

[i,] Sometimes God gives outward blessings Vv'ith 
his ark. So the Lord blessed the house of Obed-edom, 

* 'Ey 

TOiC iTTOVgai'lOlQ. 

2 E 2 

420 Israel's LAiiEXTATiox 

and all that pertained to him because of the ark of 
God, 2 Sam. vi. 12, The gospel of peace oft bi ings out- 
ward peace and plenty, though through the corruption 
of men's hearts it stirs up opposition occasionally. 

[ii.] But the chief blessings are spiritual, as con- 
version of the soul to God, regeneration, effectual voca- 
tion ; so that it may oft be said, as of Zion, This and 
that man was born there, Psal. Ixxxvii. 5. Also in- 
crease of grace : 2 Cor. iii. 1 8, " We all with open 
face, beholding as in a glass," this broader glass of 
ordinances, and the secret glass of private duties, " the 
glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image 
from glory to glory," that is, from grace to grace, " as 
by the Spirit of the Lord," or of the Lord the Spirit.* 
Besides, ordinances discover, and help to remove those 
foul spots that are on the face of the Christian, James 
i. 23, 24. Sanctuary discoveries resolve many in- 
tricate cases in the providence of God ; see Psal. Ixxiii. 
17. Here also the hearts of God's people may be 
abundantly satisfied, Psal. xxxvi. 8 ; for here is good- 
ness from God to do it, Psal. Ixv. 4. Ordinances are 
channels,! through which divine grace and influences 
flow to the soul, Zech. iv. 12. These display Christ, 
open gospel privileges, promises, terms of salvation, 
are as the gate of heaven ; well then may, and must 
the observant believing soul, lament after both the 
ordinances of God, and God in his ordinances. 

Fourthly, An objection may be framed against all 
that I have said. You will say. What is all this cant- 
ing for ? how doth it concern us ? have we not public 
ordinances ? doth not the gospel flourish ? is there not 
excellent preaching in public places ? The generality 
have no reason to complain, since we have christian 
magistrates, a glorious church, learned preachers ; nay, 

* 'Atto Kv^iov nvevnarog + Canales gratiae. 


with respect to others that pretend tenderness of con- 
science, they complain hefore they are hurt ; have they 
not their separate meetings in a public way without 
disturbance ? Little reason have any to make this ado 
in lamenting ; what cause have you to lament ? 

I answer as Cleophas, " Art thou only a stranger 
in our Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which 
are come pass there in these days?"* If you ask what 
things ? Do I need to inform you, or rub up your 
memories by telling you, that twenty years ago two 
thousand ministers, then found in peaceable possession 
of their places of worship, were dispossessed and ejected 
by the Act of Uniformity, commencing August 24, 
1662, and shortly after in 166.5, were prohibited meeting 
together above four for religious worship, and another 
Act prohibiting them from coming or being within 
five miles of any such place where they had preached, or 
a corporation, and were severely menaced and punished 
by a second Act, against conventicles, with sharper 
penalties ; and though the king's majesty set them at 
liberty for a season, yet that was quickly retracted, and 
many could have little benefit by it. Now, whether 
the silencing of ministers be not an obstructing of the 
gospel, and of ordinances, judge you ; and if you say 
you are not concerned in this case, I shall not speak to 
you, but turn my discourse to others : only I shall 
briefly propose some questions. First, about the ordi- 
nances of God ; and secondly, about the God of ordi- 
nances, and leave it to you to judge whether there be 
not some cause to lament after the Lord. 

1. Are all congregations supplied with able, faithful 
ministers ? God forbid I should condemn all, or cen- 
sure any unjustly ; blessed be God there are some 
gracious men in public stations, whose main design is 
* Luke xxiv. 18, 19. 

422 Israel's lamentation 

to win souls to God ; but O how small is tlieir number ! 
I would rather you read an account of this in IchahocJ, 
or Five Groans of the Church, writ by a conforming- 
minister A. D. 1()63 ; in which he laments 3000 raw 
young heads, that teach before they have learned, and 
1500 debauched ministers, in which also many factious 
men, some illiterate tradesmen, simonists, pluralists, 
and non-residents are particularly described. God 
knows whether these things be true ; but it is well if 
many have not cause to complain as our Lord, Matt, 
ix. 36, who when he saw the multitudes, was moved 
with compassion on them, because they fainted and 
were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd ; 
you know what follows: if all public places wei-e 
^vell supplied there would be less need of us ; if there 
were no need, we should be glad of a supersedeas. 

2. Is there not work enough for all the ministers in 
England, if all were faithful, conscientious, and set 
themselves seriously to the work of God ? Oh how 
many thousand ignorant souls to be instructed ! ob- 
stinate, to be admonished ; careless, "to be quickened ; 
weak, to be strengthened ; wandering, to be reclaimed !* 
Surely they that know any thing of the worth of souls, 
of the work of the ministry, and of the importance of 
eternity, cannot but bitterly lament that so little is 
done for saving of sinners, and that there are so few to 
lay out themselves, or that do actually or effectually 
perform the work of faithful pastors, for the conviction 
and edification of sinners' souls. If every minister in 
England were gracious, and had a hundred persons 
under his cure and charge, he would find it as diffi- 
cult to manage, as a physician dealing with so many 
patients under several diseases. IIlc labor, hoc opus. 

3. Does not the liberty that some take in dispens- 

* See Ezek. xxxiv. 4. 

AFTEll THE LORD. 4;2j 

ing ordinances labour under many disadvantages ? 
Are they not subject to fines, confiscations, imprison- 
ments, banishments, and censures ? and all have not 
an equal opportunity of feeding Christ's flock, where 
there is the same necessity. What liberty is taken, is 
but stolen, or from courtesy ; still they are exposed to 
the rage of malevolent spirits, and under the lash of 
the law, and also under the censure of being indiscreet 
zealots, that adventure further than their more prudent 
brethren ; yet still the candle is under a bushel, and 
they that need it the most, have least share in it, they are 
glad that they are out of the way, and are furnished 
with stones enow, even by existing laws, to cast at 
such as would disturb them in their career of sin, and 
while posting down to hell; and in these circumstances, 
those Avhose eyes are opened to see the blind running 
into a pit, cannot but lament that their hands are so 
bound that they cannot stop them. 

4. Are there not sad symptoms upon us of a depart- 
ing gospel ? It would not now be seasonable to enu- 
merate the prognostics of God's taking away his ark 
and ordinances. Mr. Gurnal,* speaking of the unkind 
welcome the gospel hath foujid among us, addeth, " O 
what will God do with this degenerate age in which we 
live ! O England, England ! I fear some sad judg- 
ment or other bodes thee ! If such glad tidings as the 
gospel brings be rejected, sad news cannot be far off. I 
cannot think of less than a departing gospel. God never 
made such a settlement of his gospel amongst any peo- 
ple, but he could remove it from them. He comes but 
upon liking, and will he stay where he is not welcome? 
who will that hath elsewhere to go ?" Read the rest. 
Two words on this ; observe, 

(1.) Have there not been many great attempts made 
* Clu-istian in Complete Armour, part 2, p. 325. 

424 Israel's i-amextation 

to quench the light amongst us ? () what a combina- 
tion is there at home and abroad, of Papists and athe- 
ists, to root out the name of Israel, and to banish the 
God of Israel, and cause him to cease from amongst 
us !* O what crafty councils, and potent confederates, 
animated with devilish hatred, may we espy in this our 
native country ! Antichrist makes many furious as- 
saults, with a design to kill the poor witnesses, after 
they have been prophesying in sackcloth, Rev. xi. 3, 7- 
Even among ourselves, are there not some that are in- 
different whether the ark or mass, gospel preaching or 
dumb idols take place? Yea, some say unto God, Depart 
from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.f 
Men are scorched with the glorious rays of the gospel 
Sim, and blaspheme God, rather than kindly melted by 
its warm and benign influences. 1 How many Ahabs 
hate Micaiahs ? or Felixes at best, that adjourn the 
court of conscience, and plain preaching? or Gadarenes, 
that prefer their swine-sty to God's sanctuary, and de- 
sire the blessed Jesus to depart out of our coasts? 
God's ark is a troublesome guest to graceless Philis- 
tines. Some that received not the truth in love, || are 
in danger of being given up to Popish delusions, and 
of joining the mixed multitude that fall a lusting or 
longing for the onions of Egypt. If the gospel may be 
sinned away, surely it is in hazard now to depart. If 
monstrous lusts, defiances of heaven, unfruitfulness, 
decay of zeal, loss of first love, carnal confidence in 
privileges, and contempt of the power of godliness, 
neutrality and empty formality, have ever robbed any 
people of this pearl ; surely, without an extraordinary 
display of mercy, we cannot keep it long. 

(2.) Where are the souls that stir up themselves to 

* Psalm Ixxxiii 3—0. Isa. xxx. 10, 11. t Job xxi. 14. 

+ Rev. xvi. 0. II 2 Thess. ii. 10. 


take hold of a withdrawing God ? * Some I hope 
there are that stand in the gap, hut oh how few, and how 
faintly ! Where is there a INloses to hold up his hands, 
a Joshua to fall at God's feet, a Phinehas to execute 
justice ? God sees that there is no man, and may 
wonder that there is no intercessor, f Strange that 
there should be none to guide our Zion among all the 
sons she hath brought forth ! What ! none to take 
her by the hand, of all the sons she hath brought 
up ! t What ! is there no nail strong enough for bearing 
such a weight ? Well, this is a lamentation, and shall 
be for a lamentation. 

But may not the innocent deliver the island ? may 
not the poor wise man deliver the city? are not saints' 
prayers effectual ? Yes. But where are they ? The 
old stock is worn out, and few new ones come in for a 
supply. Strong torrents are carried through the dead 
sea into the ocean of eternity ; and new springs are yet 
rare and faint. Where shall we find Elijah's spirit 
doubled on a succeeding Elisha ? Though a kingdom 
may have much treasure in it, yet if trade cease, and 
no bullion or merchandise be imported, it will decay, 
because it lives upon the old stock. This is our case : 
aged saints are worn away, few converts fit to plead 
with God come in their room. And this is the devil's 
design, to wear out the saints of the Most High, and 
extirpate the genuine seed of Jacob. But alas ! " by 
whom shall Jacob arise ? for he is small." His face wax- 
eth pale, having of late lost so much good blood. And 
doth not our Lord sometimes withdraw the Spirit of 
prayer, which is virtually saying, " Pray not for this 
people ?" Do not stupidity and sleepiness seize on the 
disciples, even when Jesus is in his agony ? Doth not 
this bode evil ? Are there not in them, even in them, 
* Isa. Ixiv. 7- t Isa. lix. 16. |. Isa. li. 18. 

426 Israel's lamentation 

sins enow to weaken and make void their own prayers? 
Alas ! what divisions, what decays, deadness, unprofit- 
ableness ? The old Puritan spirit is gone ; we are 
wofully degenerated : professors are grown like the 
world : how unlike are we to primitive saints ? " Abra- 
ham is ignorant of us, Israt^l would not acknowledge 
us for their genuine seed." But may we not think our 
disease is grown so stubborn and inveterate, that no 
doses will conquer the disease, though the hard strug- 
glings of nature may maintain life for a season ? 
Judgments have been prorogued, upon the vine-dresser's 
interposing importunity, three years longer, but be- 
ware of the fourth : God's patience hath bounds ; his 
Spirit will not always strive. We look like a people 
ripe for ruin : however, Noah, Daniel, and Job may 
deliver their own souls (though none besides) by their 
righteousness. * God can make those few names in 
Sardis to walk in white, though he come against her 
as a thief, and leave her in Egyptian darkness : f he 
can find harbour for his children, though he pull down 
the house upon the heads of formal hj'pocrites : and if 
there be not cause of lamenting after the ark when its 
removal is feared, to be sure men will see cause to 
lament when this evil is felt. " The anger of the 
Lord shall not retm'n, until he hath executed, till he 
hath performed the thoughts of his heart ; in the 
latter days ye shall consider it perfectly." — Jer. xxiii. 

Secondly, Is not the God of ordinances much re- 
moved from amongst us ? and is not he worth lament- 
ing after ? God makes gradual removes. It is true, 
sometimes the sun sets at noon day ; ^ yet ordinarily 
the sun leaves the horizon by sensible declinings. The 
glory of the Lord goes out from the cherub, to the 
* Ezek. xiv. 14. t Rev. iii. 3, 4. t Amos viii. 9. 


threshold of the house, thence to the middle of the 
city, thence to the mountain.* 

I shall briefly mention four removes which our Lord 
hath taken from us, under the form of questions ? 

1. Is not restraining grace much gone from amongst 
us ? Some persons in former times were wont to be 
civil, orderly, and in many things conformable to the 
letter of the word ; but now God hath cast the reins on 
their necks, and they get the bits of conscience betwixt 
the teeth of sensual affections, and obstinate sinning, 
and there is no restraining them ; they run mad in 
their own ways ; petty oaths by mass or troth, are 
converted into broad curses, and full-mouthed blasphe- 
mies ; tippling into down-drive drunkenness, and open 
reeling ; wanton dalliances into defended adulteries ; 
squibbing at strictness, into open persecution of all that 
looks like seriousness ; from questioning divine Provi- 
dence, men advance to avowed atheism, and open defi- 
ance of heaven. Some men are given up to such sins 
as are not fit to be named, and which themselves for- 
merly would have blushed to mention ; and if any had 
predicted their committing them, they would have said 
as Hazael, " Is thy servant a dog ?" f Sinners that 
used to walk under a vail or mask, now go bare-faced, 
and men glory in their shame! :|: Many abhor sobriety, 
justice, and temperance. We overpass the deeds of 
the wicked ; the moral heathens would be ashamed of 
U9. Men work all uncleanness with greediness : yea, 
if they court God in a few formal prayers, they think 
they are delivered to do all these abominations ; as 
though they had got a Popish indulgence and dispensa- 
tion to sin : as Breerwood in his inquiries tells us, 
the common people think they do the priest a kindness 
to find him work by new sinning to get pardons. Yea, 
* Ezek. ix. 3. xi. 23. t 2 Kings viii. 13. X Phil. iii. 10. 


some think it strange of others, that they are not as 
bad as themselves :* and is not this matter of lamenta- 
tion, to see the earth thus forsaken by a righteous 
God, and possessed by so many bears, lions, tigers, and 
goats ? f that men are grown wolves, yea devils to 
each other ! Is it not time to lament after that God, 
that gives up men to such profligate and shocking 
courses as hasten their own damnation, and England's 
desolation ? Is it not time to seek God till he come 
and rain righteousness upon us ? Hos. x. 12. 

2. Is not converting grace much withdrawn from 
the ordinances of God ? and doth not this call sensible 
souls to lament after the Lord ? Time hath been that 
our Lord hath mounted his white horse, and hath bent 
his bow, and shot his arrows of conviction, and made 
them sharp in the hearts of the king's enemies, and 
caused people to fall under him, going forth conquer- 
ing, having had his crown set upon his head by the 
daughters of Jerusalem. ^ But alas ! now the church 
hath a miscarrying womb, and dry breasts : ministers 
cry out, " Who hath believed our report ?" I have 
laboured in vain. || God doth not go forth with his 
word as formerly. The apostles were fishers, and en- 
closed many at a draught; present ministers are hunters, 
they shout and run all day, and catch but one or two, 
and well too. It is worth a whole life's pains. Though 
it cannot be denied, God's despised servants have now 
and then seals of their ministry to God's glory, their 
encouragement, and the stopping of the mouths of 
slanderers. Jerusalem is built even in troublesome 
times : the gospel is not bound, though ministers be. 
Men civilly dead, may convey spiritual life. God hath 

* 1 Pet. iv. 4. t Terras Astraea reliquit. 

i Rev. vi. 2. Psalm xlv. 5. Song iii. 11. 
!l Isa. liii. 1. xlix. 4. 

AFTER 'I'llE LOUD, 4.'29 

not left his servants witliout some testimonies in the 
consciences and conversations of their hearers, that he 
is in his ordinances of a truth, hiit alas ! how few glean- 
ings hath our dear Lord, compared with the full vint- 
age Satan gets among men ? We take these first fniits 
thankfully, till the full harvest come. Let ministers 
and people lament after the Lord, that he would fill 
his house with glory, hasten the day of his power, to 
make i)eople cheerful volunteers in the Lord's warfare. 
Oh that more might knock at our doors with — " \Miat 
must I do to be saved ? Where is the Lord God of 
Elijah ?" Lord, clothe thine ordinances with thy 
power. When shall Aaron's rod bring forth ripe al- 
monds ? Lord, let the children of the covenant own 
the God of their fathers, and be indulged with covenant 
grace. Lord, let thy love to a world of sinners be ma- 
nifested in converting grace, as well as in the gift of 
thy Son : let sermons be seconded with power : make 
thy word the arm of God unto salvation. 

3. Doth not God much withdraw from the societies 
of his servants ? Are there to be found that sincere 
attachment and faithfulness amongst God's people to 
each other as in former days ? Is there not much 
pride, worldliness, decay of love to God, and want of 
such spiritual zeal for God, as was in the days of old ? 
Alas ! we have reason to think that the Spirit of 
prayer is much withdrawn ; and also that close walk- 
ing, that distance from appearances of sin, that devot- 
edness to God, that endearedness and usefulness of 
Christians amongst themselves which formerly pre- 
vailed. Yea, hath not God seemed to take peace from 
the earth ? Is not Manasseh against Ephraim, and 
Ephraim against Manasseh, and they together against 
Judah ?* Papists against Protestants, and Protestants 
• Isa. ix. 21. 

430 Israel's lamentation 

against Papists, and they together against zealous wor- 
shippers, and exact walkers according to pure and 
primitive institutions ? Are not some members of the 
sam.c church, tliat desire to keep close to the rule, ren- 
dered black, while the sun hath looked upon them with 
some malignant aspects and reflections of displeasure? 
even the same mother's children are angry with them * 
Their ovv^n Vv'atchmen pity them not : nay, some 
watchmen are so rigid and censorious, that they find 
them out, wound them, take away their vail from 
them,f expose the members of their own church, 
as if they were factious, traitorous, or heretical, and 
will hold no communion Mdth them, though they have 
much charity for them, and pursue them with entreaties 
to beg their consent to walk with them tov/ards heaven, 
and join in God's work for winning souls : but alas, 
they browbeat them, and seem to deny them liberty to 
worship the same God, own the same Bible, or have an 
interest in the same common Saviour : if this be not 
for a lamentation, what is ? Methinks some deal with 
their brethren, as Saul's courtiers with honest David, 
1 Sam. xxvi. 19, " They have driven me out this day 
from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord, saying. 
Go, serve other gods : or, as it is, Ezek. xi. 15, " Son 
of man, thy brethren, even thy brethren, the men of 
thy kindred, and all the house of Israel wholly, are 
they unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have 
said. Get ye far from the Lord, unto us is this land 
given in possession." Monopolies are dangerous in 
spu'itual things. What en\y hath excluding others 
occasioned in these cases ? Lamentable is the account 
given in the English history, of the haughty carriage 
of Austin the monk, and petulant behaviour of the 
British bishops, i who, because of private animosities, 
• Song i. G. + Song v. 7. % Mr. Clark's :Martyrol. part 1, p. 13. 

AVTEll Tlir: LOUD. 431 

neglected to join with the other in preaching the gos- 
pel to the idolatrous Saxons. Austin predicted and 
menaced, that if they would not have peace with their 
brethren, they should have war with their enemies. 
Shortly after Ethclbert king of Northumberland, being 
a Pagan, went with a great army against the city of 
Chester, overcame the Britons, and slew eleven hun- 
dred monks, that is, persons religiously devoted to God, 
for praying on behalf of the Britons, only fifty having 
escaped with Brockmail mayor of Chester. A spirit of 
jealousy in so good a work, hath always bad effects ; 
and pride hath dreadful consequences. Church divi- 
sions are much to be lamented, and ^'ery rarely issue 
without civil disscntions. For the divisions of Reuben 
there ought to be sad searchings, and heavy thoughts 
of heart. * Lord, when shall conscience-racking oaths 
be abolished ? How long shall entangling orders for 
decency rend the vitals of thy church ? When shall 
subscription to Christ's laws suffice ? 

It is sure a matter of lamentation that the devil 
casts the bone of contention among professing Chris- 
tians, and they snarl at each other about it. How 
long shall the pride and wrath of men make and blow 
up that spark into a flame, which Satan the great make- 
bate casts among them ? When will men see the hand 
of Joab in all this ? and discern at last that among all 
these contending clients, none is gainer but that com- 
mon barrister ? Lord, open men's eyes, heal our bleed- 
ing wounds, and bring back that ancient christian love, 
and peace, charity, and humility. 

4. Once more ; is there no cause for God's children 

to lament after the Lord for his return to their spirits ? 

Is not God much withdrawn from the hearts of his 

people ? If a child of God say as Samson, " I will go 

• Judg. V. 15, ] 6. 


out as at other times before, and shake myself; hut 
he wisteth not that the Lord is departed from him."* 
When he reflects on himself and finds it so, will he not 
see sad cause to lament ? And have not some godly- 
souls cause to say as Gideon, Judges vi. V,i, "Omy 
Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this be- 
fallen us ?" And where be all his miracles which our 
fathers told us of? But now the Lord hath forsaken 

(1.) In point of quickening, exciting, and actuating 
their graces. May not that sad tjomplaint be taken 
up, Isa. Ixiv. 7, " There is none that calleth on thy 
name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee ; 
for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumedf 
us because of our iniquities ?" Where is that flaming 
love, that active faith, that gospel repentance, that 
lively hope, that filial fear, that spirit of adoption, that 
sound mind, that tender conscience, and those operative 
affections which existed in former days ? It is much 
to be feared there is a general decay of grace, or damp 
in point of exercise on the spirits of living Christians : 
it will be well if the bridegroom find not even the wise 
virgins asleep. 

(2.) As to strength and assistance, against the as- 
saults of temptation, and out-breakings of corruption. 
Many thorns in the flesh, messengers of Satan,:}: do 
forcibly push forwards God's children to sin, and they 
find not his grace sufficient for them, as at other times, 
but stumble, and fall, and are broken, snared and taken ; 
even sometimes to the breaking of their bones, dis- 
honouring of God, scandal of their profession, and en- 
dangering of their precious souls : " O let not such 
things be told in Gath, or published in Askelon, lest 
the uncircumcised Philistines triumph over God's peo- 

* Judg. xvi. 20 ilM. melted. X 2 Cor. xii. 7, 8. 


pie, and be iiardened in their sinful ways." Alas, 
where shall God's tender-spirited children hide their 
faces, when their brethren profane God's holy name, 
and men shall say, " These are the people of the Lord, 
and are gone forth out of his land," Ezek. xxxvi. 2f\ 
These are your precisians, and scrupulous zealots, that 
will not do as others ; now they shew that they are a 
pack of hypocrites. This cuts deep, and wounds to 
the heart. 

(3.) As to communion with God. God's people of 
old could assert it with an expressive confidence, fru/?/, 
said they, however carnal men scorn it now, 1 John i. 
3, " Truly our fellow^ship is with the Father, and with 
his Son Jesus Christ ;" not only in that secret, essential, 
fundamental communion, whereby grace is maintained 
in its being and life, but that sweet, sensible, soul-re- 
freshing fellowship, that gives grace its activity, and 
maintains intercourse betvv'ixt God and the soul in 
duty. But alas ! have not God's children cause to 
complain as the church, that God withdraws himself; 
she seeks him but finds liim not,* in public ordinances, 
in secret duties, or in communion of saints. God's 
children complain with Job, chap, xxiii. 8, 9, " Behold, 
I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but 
I cannot perceive him," &c. He looks east, west, 
north, and south, but in vain ; this is strange, that God 
who is every where should be found no where — but 
though the child of God be aware of God's general 
omnipresence, and experience his common providence, 
yet he is not satisfied without his presence, and gracious 
influence ; and missing this, he hath reason to lament 
after the Lord when he hides himself. 

(4.) As to assurance, settlement, and comfort. Some- 
times God's children are left to a sad unsatisfied and 

* Sopg iii. 1- V. G. 


doubting frame, they are full of fears, troubles, and 
jealousies, and are much in the dark in point of state ; 
this is a very general complaint at this day. Many 
liave blurred their evidences by sins, or carelessness, 
and cannot give any distinct account how their prin- 
ciples are established, or what condition their souls are 
in; they are damped and daunted as to their interest in 
Christ, title to t)ie promises, and hopes of heaven. 
Have not these great cause to lament after the Lord ? 
and surely they must say as David, Psal. li. 8 — 12, 
" Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones 
which thou hast broken may rejoice ; restore unto me 
the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free 
Spirit." O my God ! my soul is cast dov\'n within 
m.e;* one while I argue with my own heart, communing, 
expostulating, challenging, charging ray spirit, and 
alas, I can do no good with it; at other tim^es, I turn 
myself to God, but still I am restless, I cannot be quiet, 
but am tossed with tempests, and not comforted, f 
Well, I am determined to look towards God's holy 
temple, and cast myself at God's feet in virtue of 
that promise, Hosea vi. 3, " Then shall we know, if we 
follow on to know the Lord ; his going forth is pre- 
pared as the morning, and he shall come unto us as the 
rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. 

Thus much for the doctrinal part, and the removal 
of an objection. 

All the application I shall make of this subject, 
shall only be in the form of exhortation, tliat we may 
be induced to engage in this seasonable and needful 
duty of lamenting after the Lord, the ark of the Lord, 
and the Lord of the ark. For this purpose I shall, 

First, Propose some motives and arguments to 
enforce this duty. 

* Psal. xlii. G. t Jonah ii. 3. 


Secondly, Ascertain what description of persons are 
concerned tliiis to lament after the Lord. 

7'hirdly, Lay before you some helps or directions to 
carry on this work of serious lamentation. 

Fourthly, Offer some cordials to encourage our hearts 
till the Lord return to us. 

CHAP. in. 


L It is indeed a very sad consideration that this 
people of Israel were twenty years before they began 
to feel their situation, or come to themselves; and 
therefore in the enumeration of motives to the dis- 
charge of duty, I may observe, 

1. That a professing people may lie long under 
dreadful spiritual judgments, without a sensible per- 
ception of them : it was so with the people here ; it is 
well if it be not so with us. And this senseless frame 
is a greater evil than any other judgment. 

But you may ask, how comes it to pass that men 
may be so long senseless, and not lament after the 
Lord all this while ? 

Answ. (1.) From the nature of sin. Sin is of a 
hardening, stupifying, brutifying natui'e ; when men 
fail into sin, their hearts are hardened by it, Heb. iii. 
13. Sin is of a cold congealing nature, it freeze th the 
soul, rocketh conscience asleep ; and like the fish 
torpedo, that diffuseth its benumbing poison through 
the hand and arm, and creeping at last to the heart, 
kills a man ; so doth sin. It is not to tell how David's 


sin rocked liim asleep, and led him on to other sins, 
till it endangered his soul's sleeping the sleep of death. 

(2.) From the worldly enjoyments men have in room 
of ordinances. As the captives in Babylon being well 
settled amidst conveniencies and accommodations, for- 
get God's appointments, and Jernsalem comes not into 
their minds, while their enjoyments afford contentment. 
And though some returned, they can sleep quietly in 
their ceiled houses, while the house of God lies waste, 
Hag. i. 4. God's ark is forgotten when men's private 
coffers are full. Personal comforts thrust out spiritual, 
as the sun's bealus eat out the kitchen fire. 

(f3.) From the want of quickening means in the ab- 
sence of ordinances. AVhen the prophets are dead 
naturally or civilly, tht ir monitors to duty are taken 
away, Psal. Ixxiv. 9. "We see not our signs; there is 
no more any prophet, neither is there any among us 
that knoweth how long." ^Vhen men want a Haggai 
or Zechariah, they lie still asleep, for want of awaken- 
ing excitements. It is Samutl that promotes this lament- 
ing after the Lord. 

(4.) From the withdrawings of God's grace, Ps. Ixxx. 
18, "Quicken us, and we will call on thy name." As 
long as God turns his back on us, we shall be so far 
from kindly lamenting after him, that we shall turn 
and go back from him. " My soul followeth hard after 
thee," Psal. Ixiii. 8. How comes that to pass ? why, 
"Thy right hand upholdeth me." It is God that gives 
a repenting heart, a lamenting soul. Oh, what are we 
if God leave us to ourselves ! Let us study these causes 
of senselessness, and let our souls be ashamed. Trem- 
ble at these causes and their effects; bewail sin; settle 
not in worldly enjoyments; beg quickening means, and 
above all, divine grace for our assistance in lamenting 
after the Lord. 


2. That GoJ's professing people may and must stir 
up themselves to lament after the Lord. All men have 
rational faculties, gracious souls have spiritual princi- 
ples, sloth kills both : self-excitation is possible, and a 
furtherance to this lamentation after God. Men as men 
have consciences, and conscience is the candle of the 
Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly,* by 
self-reflection, discovering the want of God and good- 
ness, checking for evil, putting on to what is good; if 
you follow it not as far as it leads you, you wrong it, 
rebel against its master, and deprive yourselves of fur- 
ther assistance ; contradict this preacher in thy bosom 
at thy peril. Means intervene betwixt a man's can, 
and his cannot ; if thou canst not move a spiritual step, 
thou must move a natural step after the Lord ; if thou 
canst not create a new heart, yet thou canst and must 
endeavour to have a new heart and a new spirit, Ezek. 
xviii. 31. If thou be not able to do God's work, thou 
must be doing thy own work : bemoan thyself, tell him 
what an unruly bullock thou art, and desire him to turn 
thee, and then thou slialt be turned ; stir up thyself 
to take hold on God; stir up the gift of God in thee.f 
Charge thyself as David, "My soul, wait thou only 
upon God." Psal. Ixii. 5. " Awake thou that sleepest, 
arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light," 
Eph. V. 14. "Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O 
Zion ! put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem ! 
shake thyself from the dust; loose thyself from the 
bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion !" Isa. 
lii. 1, 2. Now at last God expects you should labour 
to work your hearts to a discovery of your misery, the 
necessity you have of God, of his presence and ordi- 
nances. You may rouse yourselves to this work, you 

* Prov. XX. 27. t Jer. xxxi. J 8. Isa. Lxiv. 7. 2 Tim. i. 0'. 

438 Israel's lamentation 

niiist, and if you do, God will help ; if not, your de- 
struction will bs of yourselves. 

3. This lamenting after the Lord and his ark hath 
been the practice, and is the true character of God's 
children. Eli's heart trembled for the ark of God. 
Phinehas's wife thought it not worth while to live 
when the ark M-as gone, 1 Sam. iv. 13, 21. The language 
of the prophet Isaiah is, " I will wait on the Lord 
that hideth his face, from the house of Jacob, and will 
look for him," Isa. viii. 17- This was when it was 
said, " bind up the testimony, seal the law among my 
disciples," V. 16. If you would seek and find God, seek 
not to familiar spirits, " but to the law, and to the tes- 
timony, V. 19, 20. For, should not a people seek unto 
their God ? Sirs, shew what you are, and act as you 
seem. If you be God's children, run weeping after 
your father; cry after him, and say, "be not a terror to 
me," Jer. xvii. 17. Yea, why shouldest thou be as a 
stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring m.an that tm-n- 
eth aside to tarry for a night ? Lord, art not thou in 
the midst of us ? We are called by thy name, leave us 
not, Jer. xiv. 8, 9- " Be not thou far from me, O Lord, 
for trouble is near, for there is none to help," Psal. xxii. 
11, 19. Oh! where is that ancient serious spirit of 
lamenting after the Lord ? "Where are those genuine 
workings of a child-like disposition after such a father ? 
"What is become of that sighing frame of heart, that 
spirit of adoption, with which God's children of old 
were endued ? It v/ill be well if new notions do not 
drive out that old spirit of lamentation. Shew that 
you are saints by this, as those few declared themselves 
Saul's faithful soldiers whose hearts God had touched, 
following him trembling, or trembling after him, 1 Sam. 
X. 26. and xiii. 7. So Hos. xi. v. 10. "They shall 


walk after the Lord; lie shall roar like a lion, when he 
shall roai', then the children shall tremhle from the 
west." Observe it, God's roaring in terrible threaten- 
ings or executions, drives not God's children from him, 
but to him, only they come trembling, appealing from 
God to God, from an avenging justice offended, to ten- 
der mercies through the merits of Jesus. Learn this 
mystery and christian privilege. 

4. This is no controverted point, but an acknowledg- 
ed duty on all hands, to which I am persuading ; who 
dare contradict it ? Yea, who dare dispute it ? What 
exceptions can any bring against this, of lamenting af- 
ter the Lord ? I challenge any caviller to produce any 
show of reason against either branch of it; either as to 
the ordinances of God, or God in his ordinances. I 
think all parties are agreed in the theory. O that all 
were also agreed in the practice of this duty ! whatever 
disputes men make about other rules or canons of prac- 
tice, methinks there should be none about this. " Let 
us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded, 
and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall 
reveal even this unto you; nevertheless, whereto we 
have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let 
us mind the same thing," Phil. iii. 15, 16. Whence I 

(1.) That it is a vain, preposterous thing for per- 
sons to spend time in disputing about abstruse and ob- 
scure points, v/hile they neglect momentous and evi- 
dent duties. 

, (2.) The only way to have unity in less material 
truths or duties, is a conscientious practice of 
what is necessary and indubitable. I may tnily say, 
that nothing is more likely to make us cordial friends, 
than the practice of the duty in my text; v/hen Judah 
and Israel fall a v/eeping and seeking the Lord then 

440 i^^iael's LA:\ri:xTATiox 

they go together. How amicable doth converting grace 
make those that were at deadly and desperate strife ? 
for repentance turns the hearts of parents and children to 
each other * Alas! till our faces be set towards the Lord, 
we shall rush with fury one against another: but if we 
agree in our devotedness to God, we shall agree amongst 
ourselves : lamenting together would clear our eye- 
sight, and create a harmony of hearts. 

5. Other persons in all other cases do lament after 
the objects that their hearts are set upon. David fol- 
lowed his deceased friend Abner with sorrow, and bit- 
terly lamented the death of his son Absalom. The 
companions of Jephthah's daughter yearly lamented 
her. David much lamented Saul, (though his enemy 
v/hile living,) and his sworn brother Jonathan. Jere- 
miah lamented for Josiah, and all the singing men and 
singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations : 
yea, they made them an ordinance in Israel, 2 Chron. 
XXXV. 25. And which of you are so hard-hearted, 
but you would lament a dead friend or brother, sister, 
v/ife, child, or parent ? And canst thou not find in thy 
heart to spend some mournful thoughts on thy depart- 
ing Lord, or follow the sad hearse of deceased ordinances? 
Ah carnal hearts! Ah hard hearts ! Woe to insensible 
sinners ! vShall a poor idolatrous ISIicah cry out after 
his teraphim ? And shall we let the only true God go 
with silence and dry eyes ? Is not our God worth la- 
menting after ? Will even careless women lament 
at last for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruit- 
ful vine? Isa. xxxii. 12, and shall not God's children 
lament for the full breasts of gospel ordinances ? Shall 
not children cry and long for the sincere milk of the 
word that they may grov/ thereby? 1 Pet. ii. 2. If 
you v/ere sensible, you would cry out, my father, a little 
■■'■ Jcr. 1. 4, 5. Mai. iv. 0. 


bread for an hungry soul, my motlicr, admit me to the 
breasts of consolation; I am pining, languishing, famish- 
ing to death, let me be nourished to eternal life. 

6 If we lament not after the Lord and his ark, he 
will go yet further from us, if not totally leave us. 
There were never such symptoms of God's taking away 
the candlestick, and leaving us to the idolatry, and 
cruelties of popery in this kingdom, since the Reforma- 
tion, as there are at this day : horrible abominations and 
atheism preparing for it, our ingratitude for prevention 
thus long, the general antipathy to a sound ministr)'-, 
a spirit of giddiness disposed to entertain the most 
senseless fopperies, a mincing cf some grosser Popish 
doctrines by pretended Protestants, human inventions 
coined in the darkest times of popery retained, also 
coiu'ts, fees, officers, and ceremonies ; popish names, 
places, and customs defended ; want of sympathy with 
our suffering brethren abroad; attempts for reforma- 
tion not succeeding, but opposed ; instruments reserved 
prepared for scourges ; denying plots as clear as the 
sun ; preferring Popish tyranny before Christ's govern- 
ment ; most debauchery in some that should be best ; 
popish emissaries swarming; popish families increasing; 
honest ministers much laying aside weapons and anti- 
dotes ; fearlessness in many, and unpreparedness of all 
for such a dispensation ; impressions on many of chan- 
ges ; liberty of attending on ordinances to lay in for a 
storm ; unprincipled professors must pass an ordeal- 
trial ; judgment beginning at God's house ; choice sap- 
lings taken out of the hedge, transplanted to heaven ; 
witnesses prophesying in sackcloth must be slain, the 
whore must sit as a queen, and see no loss of children; 
Antichrist must render himself more cruel and odious, 
to stir up king's hearts against the church ; indiiTe- 
rency of great potentates in the cause of religion; policy 


for outward security, the compass that most steer by ; 
Christ's interest low in Protestant countries ; God's lay- 
ing them under severe rebuke by his immediate hand : 
little notice taken of providences, no public fastings and 
humiliations, former guilt of blood unwiped off. Such 
things as these forbode a black diffusion of Popish dark- 
ness, and barbarous showers of blood ; God Almighty 
prevent : but certainly these things call for bitter la- 
menting after the Lord, either to prevent them or pre- 
pare our hearts for them, or both. I shall add, 

7. There is no way to bring our Lord or his ark 
back to us, but this course of lamenting after him. 
God hath withdrawn himself purposely to make us fol- 
low him mourning ; and he seems to stand still and 
catch what we have to say in this case, Jer. viii. 6. " I 
hearkened and heard," saith God, " but they spake not 
aright." What was that ? certainly repenting of their 
sins, and lamenting inquiries after God ; and Jer. xxxi. 
18, 19, if God can but hear persons bemoan themselves, 
follow him, desire the Lord to turn them, and turn to 
them, see what kind language he gives them, verse 20. 
" Is Ephraim my dear son ? is he a pleasant child ? for 
since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him 
still ; therefore my bowels are troubled for him, I will 
surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord." God 
doth act in this case as a loving father, who being pro- 
voked to scourge or leave his offending child, looks 
back on his sobbing, broken-hearted lamenting child, 
saying, Alas, my child, what ails thee ! what's the mat- 
ter with thee ? What wantest thou ? Dost thou want 
a heart to repent, or a smile of favour ? Dost thou 
lament so sadly after reconciliation with me, and my 
return to thee ? I am glad of it, that was all I aimed 
at ; I have attained my end ; come, come, thou art 
welcome to me, come my dear, my lovely child, let me 

AFTEll THE I.OllD. W.} 

wipe thy tear-bedowcd cheeks, and kiss thee again ; I 
am glad my rod and anger work so kindly, I will re- 
turn to thee with love and sweetest embraces. Thus 
doth our Lord return with loving-kindness and tender 
mercies, and they shall be as if he had not cast them 
off: there is no way probable or possible to bring God 
or his ark back but this, and shall v/e not take this 
course ? It is true, it is a doubtful and dangerous case, 
we are not certain he will return, but yet there is a j?iai/- 
he, a ivho-can-tell, in it : we are sure, running from 
him, and sinning against him, with a hard heart, will 
undoubtedly rob us of him, and ruin us ; but we have 
lost more labour to less purpose, therefore, let us turn 
to the Lord with all our heart, with fasting, with weej>- 
ing, and with mourning, &c. Joel ii. 12, 13 : and then 
say, as God directs them, ver. 14, "Who knoweth if 
he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind 
him, even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the 
Lord our God ? " Oh, how well doth God take such a 
conduct ! How willing is he to return back to us ! only 
he expects we should be sensible of his withdrawing, 
and bitterly lament after him. 

8. If we do not lay to heart the loss of God's pre- 
sence and ordinances, God will make us lament on other 
accounts : if he design us good, he will pinch us till we 
feel, and cry out ; if not, we shall be left to lament 
hopeless, and helpless in hell torments. If we will not 
lay to heart spiritual judgments, God threatens to send 
a curse upon us, and to curse our blessings, Mai. ii. 2. 
How ? why, if men prize not their temple privileges, 
God can blast the fruits of the earth. Hag. i. 9, " Ye 
looked for nnich, and lo it came to little, and when ye 
l)rought it home, I did blow upon it," or blow it away ; 
why ? saith the Lord of Hosts ? " because of mine 
house that is waste, and ye run every man to his oavu 

444 Israel's lamentation 

house." Self-seeking here is self-undoing ; men ruin 
themselves by neglecting God's interest ; if men will 
not lament the ark's captivity, God will make Judah 
go into captivity.* If men lay not to heart the moiu-n- 
ing ways of Zion, God hath a way to make them go 
without strength before the pursuer.f Men can well 
dispense with the loss of the pleasant things of the 
sanctuary, it shall be tried how they will regard the 
loss of their temporal pleasant enjoyments.; If nien 
lament not the gates of Zion, the gates of the city shall 
lament and mourn, and being desolate, the city in a 
widowed state shall sit upon the ground, || If profess- 
ing people lay not to heart sad and silent sabbaths, 
God may make the land to keep her sabbaths. f Great 
and fair houses must be desolate without inhabitant,^ 
because God's house is desolate, and none regardeth. 
God can tell how to meet with the selfish and heedless : 
if they regard not God's interest, God will care as little 
for theirs. He can tell how to come near you in mat- 
ters of sense,** when you make nothing of what con- 
cerns your souls ; and ordinances of God will then be 
good, when sickness, pain, poverty, or death arrest you 
— or these spiritual things will be good when out of 
your reach, and you shut up in the prison of hell, where 
there is weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, Psal. 
cxli. 6, " When their judges are overthrown in stony 
places, they shall hear my words, for they are sweet." 
Wien that sad plague of sweating sickness was here in 
England, how much were proud nobles in apparent 
love with faithful ministers ? how glad were they of 
advice from them? then ordinances were of more worth 
than purses full of gold. God can make his ministers 

* Lam. i. 3. t Lam. i. 4, 6. J Lam. i. 7, 10, 11. 

II Isa. iii. 26. § 2 Chron. xxxvi. 21. f Isa. v. 9. 

** See Micali ii. 4, 5. 

AFTER THE I.Olin. 415 

to he i)rize(l hy tlie profanest scorncrs ; yea. he knows 
how to make a wound iiii^ sword to open a way through 
their bleeding sides, for instructions to enter the most 
flinty hearts, as Bernard told his ranting brother. 

9. Plow long must the Lord wait for youi' sensible 
lamentations ^ ^Ve are soon weary of the yoke, and 
think it long ^o wander in the wilderness ; sometimes 
we are for returning back into Egypt, and then all, in 
post haste for Canaan, as Israel in the desert.* The 
captive exile hastencth that he may be loose, and not 
die in the pit ;f but then we would break prison, and 
are loth to take God's way, or stay God's time ; this 
retards rather than quickens our deliverance. God 
})uts us to our lioiv longs, because we put him to his 
/low longs ; " How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge 
within thee ?" Jer. iv. 14. " How long will it be ere 
you attain to innocency?" Hosea viii. 5. "O Jeru- 
salem ! wilt thou not be made clean ? when shall it 
once be?" Jer. xiii. 27- We were in haste for a resto- 
ration many years ago, as Moses for Miriam, " Heal 
her now, O God, I beseech thee ; " God saith, " If her 
father had but spit in her face, should she not be 
ashamed seven days?" Numb. xii. 13, 14. But our 
heavenly Father hath spit in our face in the open sight 
of the world, and we have been shut out of his house 
well near three times seven years ; yet alas, it is to be 
feared we are not evangelically ashamed. Absalom 
was three years at Geshur, and two years at Jerusalem, 
and saw not the king's face ; ^ and pretended dissatis- 
faction therewith. Oh ! but where is our real longing 
to enjoy the Lord in his ordinances ? Alas ! it is not 
length of time that will put oiu* hearts into frame. 
Vvhen at last will God raise up some awakening 

* Numb. xiv. 4. with v. 40. t Isaiah li. 14. 

:;: 2 Sam. xiii. 38. xiv. 28. 

446 isliAKi/s laMKXTatiox 

Samuel, that sliall sound the alarm in the ears of all 
Israel ? Oh ! when shall we awake out of our long 
sleep ? when shall we see our need of God in his ordi- 
nances ? when shall our souls lament after God to 
purpose ? surely it is time to bestir ourselves once at 

10. Can we lament to any else that will or can hear 
or help us ? May not kings or great oiups say as a 
king did once to a crying woman, who said, " Help, 
my Lord, O king." He said, " If the Lord do not 
help thee, whence shall I help thee ?"* Alas I we may 
say, " Truly in vain is salvation lioi>ed for from the 
hills, and from the multitude of mountains. Truly in 
the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel, Jer, iii. 23. 
The greatest princes are not to be trusted. God thinks 
fit to frustrate our expectations from men ; to dis- 
appoint our carnal confidence in man. " Surely men 
of low degree are vanity," if they have a mind to help 
they cannot ; " and men of high degree are a lie," if 
they can help ; yea, if any promise to help they will 
not ; our best coui'se then is to pour out our hearts 
before him, and say, " God is a refuge for us," 
Psal. Ixii. 8, 9: for all power is God's, ver. 11. We 
may say as David, " I looked on my right hand, and 
beheld, but there was no man would know m-e ; refuge 
failed me ; no man cared for my soul ; I cried unto 
thee, O Lord," Psal. cxlii. 4, 5. The comforter that 
should relieve our souls is far away. There is none to 
guide poor Zion, of all the sons whom she hath brought 
forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the 
hand of all the sons that she hath brought up, Isa. li. 18. 
'• As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help ; in 
our watching we have watched for a nation that could not 
save us."f We are as Naphtali, and have been sti-ug- 
• 2 Kings vi. 26, 27- t Lam. iv. 17- 

AFTER Tim I,()3in. 447 

gling as Rore, for a firm masculine j)arl lament, as the an- 
cient primitive church long travailed for a man child, a 
christian emperor ; we had one. They also struggled 
for uniting the Protestant subjects, and alleviating our 
grievances; they are broken up. We had a second 
which set themselves to help us; but the children 
were come to the birth, and there was no strength to 
bring forth, all attempts proved abortive. Since our 
Moses and Aaron (by votes or disputes) have repre- 
sented our. case, sought favour, and used means of help, 
the tale of our bricks has been doubled, the spirits of 
men more enraged, our favour abhorred, and a keener 
sword is put into some men's hands to execute the law 
with more severity ; and is it not time to have recourse 
to God ? We are not permitted so much as to petition to 
men, and make a true representation of our case ; that 
way is barred, and all other doors are locked up : what 
else can we do but lament after the Lord ? he is able 
to help, he is willing, and hath promised. Oh ! let us 
go to our God. There and there only we may ease 
our hearts, and find help : let us lift up our eyes unto 
the hills, from whence cometh our help ; " Our help 
Cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth," 
Psal. cxxi. 2. 



IL Who are the persons or people that are to lament 
after the Lord ? I answer. 


1. Unconverted i)ersons. These have the great- 
est reason to lament after the ordinances of God, 
and the God of ordinances ; for alas, those poor souls 
are " without Christ, being aliens from the connnon- 
wealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of pro- 
mise, having no hope, and without God in the world," 
Eph. ii. 12. Ah sinners ! what will become of you if 
you live and die without God ? You had better be 
without money, trade, credit, ease, house, relations, 
clothes, meat, every thing, all things in the world, 
than without God : what will yom- lives or any thing 
advantage you without God ? Alas ! have you lived 
thus long in the world without an interest in God ? 
How know you but death is at the door ? and what 
will you do in the day of visitation, and in the desola- 
tion that shall come from far ? To whom will ye flee 
for help, and where will ye leave your glory ? Isa. x. 
3, 4. Without me, saith God, they shall bow down un- 
der the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain : 
woe to you, if death the king of terrors meet you, and 
God the king of heaven be not on your side. What a 
woful case was Saul in when the Philistines were upon 
him, and God was departed from him ? * Oh when 
sickmess, diseases, death, and thy own conscience make 
war against thee, and thou hast no God to flee to, how 
sad thy case ! Alas, friends, estate, honours, or all the 
world can do for thee, will be insignificant : if thou 
live and die without God, thou must be for ever 
banished from him. And how canst thou in an 
ordinary way expect to have relation to God, without 
the means of his appointment for obtaining that 
end? The ark of the covenant is the way of 
covenanting ; the preaching of the gospel is the door 
of faith ;f saving faith, by which the soul is entitled to 
* 1 Sam. xxviii. 15. t Rom. x. 14. 


tile favour of God, comes by hearing, and if our gospel 
be liid, it is hid to them that are lost.* Little reason 
have the mad, frantic world to rejoice over the slain 
witnesses, to make merry, and send gifts one to another 
because these prophets tormented them,f that is, would 
not let them go quietly to hell, but would be jogging 
them out of their security, and summoning them to re- 
pentance. No, no, their departure may be like Ezekiel's 
book, written within and without, with lamentation, 
and mourning, and woe. | Ah poor sinners ! God seems 
to stop ministers' mouths, and saith, thou shalt not be 
to them a reprover, || my Spirit shall strive no more 
with them;§ feed them no more, that which dieth let 
it die, and that which is to be cut off let it be cut off ;*|[ 
as if he had said, I will concern myself no further about 
them, they regarded not my counsels, and slept away 
the day of grace, and refused the calls of God, now 
they shall be given up, as a branch cut off from the tree, 
I will prune it no more, but take it away, John xv. 2, 
and lay it under that gospel curse, " Never fruit grow 
on tliee from henceforth for ever." Or like the flourish- 
ing vineyard of the Jewish church, Isa. v. 5, 6, " Take 
away the hedge thereof, break down the stone wall, lay 
it waste, it shall not be pruned, nor digged, but there 
shall come up briars and thorns, I will also command 
the clouds that they rain no rain upon it." And have 
men cause to rejoice in this ? Is it not rather ground 
of the greatest lamentation, as a prologue and forerun- 
ner of damnation, and a token of rejection ? Will any 
but madmen rejoice at the approach of calamity, upon 
themselves? Or will any but frantic bedlamites triumph 
that those are gone who stopped them from running 
into a pit or a fire, or that kept them from dashing out 

* 2 Cor. iv. 3. 

t Rev. xi. 10. 

+ Ezek. ii. 10. 

II Ezek. iii. 26. 

§ Gen. vi. 3. 

^ Zech. xi. 9. 

VOL. in. 


450 Israel's lamentation 

their own brains ? We think those 3'oiing men fools, 
that are glad their parents are dead who restrained 
their vicious coui'ses. If carnal men's eyes were open 
to know the advantages of a powerful ministry, or pui-e 
ordinances, they would lay it to heart as the most 
dreadful evil that ever befel them, and lament after the 
Lord with bitter cries, for the return of the means of 
grace, and say : " O Lord, is light gone, and my soul left 
still in darkness ? is life gone, and I dead still ? are 
means of salvation departed, and my soiU left in immi- 
nent danger of perishing ? Many tears did ministers 
shed for me : O what prayers to God i what beseech- 
ings of me to be reconciled to God ! but I regarded not. 
Woe is me, these ambassadors of peace are called home, 
or have their mouths shut, what can I now expect but 
a proclamation of war ? Lord, have mercy on me, and 
send those men of God to knock again at my door, and 
I hope I shall give them and their message better 
entertainment." Thus carnal persons should say ; but 
alas, such as most need, do often least regard these 
things, God knows ; and after twenty years lying in 
the grave, we may fear they will not still believe, 
though we should arise from the dead. If however, 
after all this, there be little or no hopes of those per- 
sons laying this matter to heai-t, I will turn to another 

2. Ye gracious souls, lament you after the Lord. — 
Though Israel play the harlot yet let not Judah offend ; 
though wicked men will not understand nor lay any 
thing to heart, yet let God's people, his children lay to 
their hearts the displeasure of God, and with bitter 
cries lament after their departing Father. Oh that it 
could be said in this case, as God's own testimony is, 
Hos. xi. 12, Ephraim compasseth me ahout with lies, 
pretending to worship God, when they intend nothing 


less, and theJwuse of Israel ivitli deceit, cheating men, 
thinking to deceive God himself, hut Judah yet ruleth 
ivith God, that is, keei>s up his interest at the throne 
of grace and prevails with me, and is faithful with the 
saints, in point of communion and reputation, or with 
the most holy.* O blessed Judah ! but doth not God's 
Judah need stirring up to lament after the Lord ! Alas ! 
how senseless and slack are the best hearts in this ex- 
ercise ! Who would have once imagined that such a 
spirit of worldliness, security, and neutrality, would 
have seized upon God's own children ? Ah friends ! 
can you let God depart either from your spirits or from 
the assemblies of his people, and not stir up yourselves 
to take hold of him ? Who would have thought that 
God himself or the tokens of his presence should go 
from you without weeping eyes, or mournful com- 
plaints ? Who must hold him if you will not ? Who 
must fetch him back if you will not follow him, and 
call after him ? You that have interest in him ; you 
that have given up yourselves to him ; you that have 
had sweet experience of his presence ; and now pretend 
more love to him than any one else ; you that he hath 
drawn with cords of love, will not you lament after 
him ? Have not you some reason to say as the nation 
of Israel, Hos. ii. 7, " I will go and return to my first 
husband, for then it was better with me than now,'' 
especially considering how he hath hedged your way 
with thorns, disappointed you in your overtaking your 
other lovers; have not your souls grown lean, and 
ready to famish in other ways ? Have you not in all 
this time discerned some difference betwixt the pui'e 
and wholsome waters of the sanctuary, and tlie impm'e 
puddle water of men's traditions ? Yea, have you not 
to youi' cost discerned some difference by youi* dear- 

* ;Marg. 
2 G 2 

452 Israel's lamextatiox 

bought experience, betwixt the powerful ordinances, 
and the very same or similar formally, heartlessly, and 
lifelessly administered? Tell me, deal ingenuously 
and candidly in the case ; have not your souls been 
ready to pine for want of provision ? Have you not 
even been tempted to loath some dishes handed to you 
by blind or slovenly cooks ? have you not been in dan- 
ger of being rocked asleep by such truths as should 
have awaked you, and would, if they had been faith- 
fully managed ? Have you not been forced to eat that 
which some have trodden under their feet, and to drink 
that which some have fouled with their feet ? * Alas, 
sirs ! whatever others have, have not you some reason 
tj lament with holy David ? Psal. Ixiii. 1, 2, " O God 
thou art my God, early will I seek thee ; my soul 
thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry 
and thirsty land, where no water is, to see thy power 
and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctu- 
ary." O my Lord, time hath been that my soul hath 
been satisfied as with marrow, and fatness, and 
my doubts resolved, graces c|uickened, lusts disco- 
vered and weakened in thine ordinances, so that I 
could truly say from my own experience, God was in 
them of a truth ; but alas, for this long time matters 
have been otherwise, I have attended (as I judged) in 
obedience to thy command, and have sometimes met 
with airy notions or sapless things, or mixture of errors, 
or such complimenting of God with a dry formality, that 
methinks my soul is dried away with this light food : 
I have reason to lay the blame upon myself, and charge 
my own unprofitable heart as the proper cause ; but O 
my Lord, I long for a heart-searching, state-distinguish- 
ing, sin-rebuking word. O when shall my soul enjoy 
heart-melting ordinances ! Thou that adaptest means 
Ezek. xxxiv. 19. 


to the end, and dost use to produce conversion, conso- 
lation, and confirmation, by most proper efficient in- 
struments, give suitable means of grace, and grace by 
the means ; " O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of 
the years, in the midst of the years make known, in 
wrath remember mercy ; and let all thy children say, 
Amen." Hab. iii. 2. 

3. You that are young, of the rising generation, 
that are coming up, and coming on, in the room of your 
ancestors, it becomes you to lament after the Lord and 
his ark. Be it known to you that the piety of your 
predecessors will not be youi- sanctuary or security. — 
You may please yourselves with being the children of 
the church, but think not to say within yourselves, we 
have Abraham to our father ; * for God is not under 
any obligation to you ; you may be children of the de- 
vil, and may be cast into hell under that title :f no, no, 
you must have a faith of your own, a personal, as well 
as a federal relation to God. It is disputed at what 
age children are to stand on their own legs for personal 
faith, at five, or seven, or ten, or twelve ; to be sure, 
at years of discretion, \^'hen they can discern betwixt 
good and evil, they are to choose for themselves, and are 
not to depend on relation to their parents any longer ; 
however, they may improve their parent's covenant. 
But, O children ! begin betimes to cry after your Fa- 
ther : God loves to be followed, as with the hosannas 
once, so with the small voice, and to be held with the 
little hands of the young : try what you can do with 
him ; say not, you need him not ; you cannot set up 
without him, you cannot live safely without him ; and 
I am sure you are undone if you die without relation to 
him, and you may die young. O then make sure of 
God, you are cast upon him from yom* birth ; say to 
• ]\Iat. iii. 9. t John viii. 44. Luke xvi. 25. 

454 isiiAEL'b la:mentatiox 

liiin, thou art my God from my mother's womb, so 
shall you be a seed to serve him, and shall be account- 
ed to the Lord for a generation.* What an advantage 
will it be when your father and mother forsake you, 
by unkindness or death, if you have a God to take you 
up.f If God hath been your trust from your youth, 
he will not cast you off in old age ; | but if you run 
away from God, all your younger days, with what con- 
fidence can you lament after him in old age ? May he 
not say, go to the gods and lusts which you have serv- 
ed and gratified ? you come but to me for a reserve, 
with self-ends, and because you can follow your sensual 
pleasures no longer ; you would never have had re- 
course to me, if you had been capable still to have made 
as good a bargain of the world as you were wont : you 
followed your lusts with a young and swift foot, but 
me you can but follow with a slow snail's pace; a little 
of this lamenting more early had been more acceptable. 
It is a hard venture, an awful risk, if you go on laugh- 
ing in the devil's ways, to take it for granted that you 
will be cordial in lamenting after God in old age, and 
that the Lord will receive you : and as you would en- 
joy God, lament after the ordinances of God. Thy 
testimonies, saith David, have I taken as an heritage 
for ever. O blessed heritage ! O precious patrimony ! 
beg it, plead for it, be not content without it. What- 
ever other inheritance you have, say, Lord, mine ears 
have heard, our fathers have told us, what work thou 
didst in their days, in the times of old. \\ What provi- 
dences were arranged to settle ordinances ? what ex- 
cellent, powerful, heart-warming preaching they had? 
how God wrought wonders on the consciences of men 
by his word and Spirit? what pure worship they had, 

*. Psal. xxii. 10, 30. + Psal. xxvii. 10. 

t Psal. Ixxi. 5, U, 17- VS. \\ Psal. xliv. 1. 


communion of saints, and wholsome discipline, and 
what sweet intercourse with thyself in all ? now, Lord, 
thou hast threatened, and in part executed this spiritual 
plague, the famine of thy word, obstructing and remov- 
ing ordinances, and thy hand is still upon us ; thy end 
is not attained ; Papists threaten to darken our heaven 
and totally to put out our lights, and thyself seemest 
to menace the complete removal of our candlestick ; 
stop, O Lord! execute not thy whole displeasure. Alas ! 
shall we be that cursed generation, that must again be 
involved in worse than Egyptian darkness ? Alas ! 
who shall live when God doth this ? God forbid that 
we should outlive this bright sunshine of the gospel, 
that we should not be heirs of our fathers' spiritual 
privileges, as well as earthly patrimonies. Oh ! when 
these are lost, we must sadly sigh and say, what have 
our forefathers been doing that they have deprived us 
of the means of our soul's good ? Must they and we 
meet in hell ? they for non-improvement, we for non- 
enjoyment ? Woe is to us ! cursed children of cursed 
parents ! Lord, if we have not peace, or plenty, let us 
have the gospel of peace and true piety ; the gospel of 
grace, and grace by the gospel, and then we shall say, 
" the lines are fallen to us in pleasant places, we have 
a goodly heritage," Psal. xvi. 6. 

4. Aged persons and householders. You that are 
parents have reason to lament after the Lord of the 
ark, and the ark of the Lord, that the waters of the 
sanctuary may run both with a clear and strong current 
to your families and posterity. Alas ! we that have 
children, have been instnunental in propagating de- 
pravity and guilt, and wrath to oiu* olfspring, and 
what can we do to heal and help them ? But if the 
Lord be our God, he hath promised to be the God of 
our seed. God forbid we should entail a ciu'se on our 

4;56 Israel's i,amentatiox 

posterity, and give them occasion to curse ns to all 
eternity. What unworthy parents are those that have 
fair estates left them, and by their prodigality leave 
their chilch-en beggars or bankrupts ! But oh ! how 
sad would it be to deprive our posterity of this gospel- 
legacy? it would be both their loss and our own. 
Lord, sutler us rot to go off the stage in a snuff, and 
leave such a stench behind us. Better we had never 
been born, than to blaze and be consumed in hell 
flames, we and our descendants of following generations 
bundled up in frggots together. God thinks good to 
bind up parents and their seed in the bond of the cove- 
nant. O Lord ! we are resolved to follow after thee 
for the sure mercies of David. Be thou our God, and 
we shall have better hopes for our seed. O remember 
that word, Isa. lix. 21, " As for me, this is my cove- 
nant with them, saith the Lord, my Spirit that is upon 
thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, 
shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the 
mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's 
seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever." 
This word is full and satisfjdng : — Thy Spirit shall be 
upon me and mine in sanctification. — Thy words in 
my mouth, and children's mouths in profession, and 
solemn worship. — They shall not depart from my seed's 
seed to many generations. — No, not for ever. — God, 
even Jehovah undertakes this. — It is through Christ 
the Redeemer that is come to Sion. — It is a new cove- 
nant mercy. — And it doth concern all converts, even 
such as turn from transgression in Jacob ; and am not 
I one of these ? My dear Lord, make thou this word 
good to me and mine, thou tliat livest for ever and 
ever. I shall live in my posterity, when I shall be 
here no more, let the gospel message survive me, and 
the gospel grace li\e in theai when I am gone. Oh ! 

AFTER THE EOllD. 4.'37 

cut not off thy kindness from my seed ; let not them 
that follow me be deprived of that which I have found 
so much sweetness in. O that my Ishmaels may live 
in thy sight ! * What will become of such as are born 
in sin, if they want means of conviction and conver- 
sion ? There is much ado to awaken the sleepy con- 
sciences of our dead posterity under quickening ordi- 
nances. O what then would become of these, if such 
helps were gone ? How could I endure to see or 
foresee the destruction of my own offspring ? Oh ! it 
cuts me to the heart to think of the damnation of any, 
much more those of my own flesh : Lord prevent. 
I will pray in hope, live in hope, die in hope of the 
continuance of gospel privileges. 

.5. Ministers must make it their work to lament 
after the Lord. You, you are the persons mainly con- 
cerned ; you must sound an alarm to awake others ; 
you are appointed by the Lord as instruments to carry 
on this work ; and if ever God do retiu'n, he will excite 
his servants to rouse themselves and others to this ex- 
ercise ; as Samuel did here, "Gird yourselves, and 
lament, ye priests : howl, ye ministers of the altar : 
come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my 
God."f Yea, let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, 
weep between the porch and the altar, and let them 
say, " Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine 
heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule 
over them ; wherefore should they say among the peo- 
ple, where is their God?:}: Alas my brethren ! have 
you been so long cast out of God's public work and 
worship, even twenty long years, and have you not 
yet learned to lament ? Shall our master discard us 
from his service, and not judge us worthy to blow our 
trumpets of rams' horns, or break a pitcher, or hold 
* Gen. xvii. 18. t Joel i. 13. X Joel ii. IJ. 

458 Israel's lamentation 

a lamji for him ?* Surely he Is very sorely provoked, 
shall I say, three shepherds he cut off in one month ? f 
nay, near three thousand in one day : and hath drawn 
out his wrath to a great length, and is there no fault 
in us ? Yes, certainly our Father would not have 
fixed such a brand, or poured so much contempt upon 
us, upon us particularly, but he must have found great 
fault in us ; he hath doubtless seen much amiss in us. 
He doth not use to single out a class of men to shoot 
his arrows at, without cause ; we cannot excuse instru- 
ments, but certainly we have deserved all this at God's 
hands ; is not God punishing Eli's house for the 
iniquity he knoweth of ? | Let us, my brethren, deal 
faithfully and impartially with ourselves before God 
and the world, cast the first stone at ourselves, and at 
last justify the Lord, by taking shame to ourselves. 
Hath God set us in this office only to tell others of 
their faults ? Have we not reason to call to remem- 
brance ovu' own faults this day ? I hope such as are 
truly gracious have made this reflection many times. 
Nor is it my present design to rake in this muddy 
channel ; only it becomes us to inquire why God hath 
made us contemptible before all the people, Mai. ii. 1 
— 9. My present object is to excite our lamenting 
after the Lord, that if it be possible we may fetch him 
again. I may say as the prophet, Mai. i. 9, " And 
now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious 
unto us. This hath been by your means." O it is 
well if our people have not reason to say so of their 
ministers, (howbeit sincere repentance will not make 
men throw it off themselves by laying it on others,) 
but we may sadly echo, yes, yes, it hath been by oiu* 
means, we have put out our candles, by the thief we 
have lodged therein ; we have obscured our glory by 
* Josh. vi. 8. t Zech. xi . 8. X } Sam. in. 13. 

AFTEIl THE I, OKI). 459 

siiiiiiiig ; we have robbed our people of the ark, and 
exposed them to seduction and destruction by the abo- 
minations that have been found amongst us. Let us 
fall earnestly to our work of preaching, reforming, 
praying, and calling God again ; who knows but if we 
moiu'n among our people, they may lament also ? * 
Our watery eyes may affect the people's hard hearts. 
If the fishers mourn and such as angle at the brooks 
lament,! o^^^' people will be moved, and God will hear 
our universal cry, and awake for us. Some will needs 
have our wearing black to import our mourning ; if so, 
let us not be hypocrites, but lament indeed, not merely 
in show. Some observe, that people are much formed 
after the preaching, examples, and dispositions of their 
teachers : but it is to be feared, they will sooner dance 
after our mirth-stirring pipes, than mourn after our 
pious elegies : however God forbid the blame or blem- 
ish should proceed from us. " For Zion's sake let us 
not hold our peace, and for Jeinisalem's sake let us not 
rest until the righteousness thereof go forth as bright- 
ness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth," 
Isa. Ixii. 1. For God saith, ver. 6, 7, "I have set 
watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall 
never hold their peace, day nor night. Ye that mak» 
mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no 
rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a 
praise in the earth." 

6. Magistrates, supreme and subordinate, should la- 
ment after the Lord. It is not a work below them, 
though they may think it a work above us, to remind 
them of it ; but humble persons have been monitors to 
mighty princes. An inconsiderable page rouseth uj) 
Philip, king of Macedon with this admonition, " Re- 
member, sir, you are a man." Daniel's counsel was 
seasonable (he wisheth it may be acceptable) to the 
* ]\Iatt. xi. 17. t Isaiah xix. 8. 


Babylonian monarch, to break off his sins by righteous- 
ness, and his iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor, 
if it might be a lengthening of his tranquillity, Dan. 
iv. 27. God gives Jeremiah a commission, to say to 
the king, and to the queen, " Humble yourselves, sit 
down." * It is not unbecoming the greatest princes to 
worship at the foot-stool of the King of kings. It is 
prophesied of the gospel church, that " kings shall be 
her nursing fathers, and queens her nursing mothers," 
Isa. xlix. 23. Yea, saith the Lord, " they shall bow 
down to thee, with their faces towards the earth," &c. 
Wliich is to be understood, not in a literal. Popish 
sense, of a civil subjection of their power to the proud 
usurpations of that man of Rome; but a voluntary 
resignation of all, to the great Jehovah, and our 
blessed Jesus ; an undervaluing of their earthly ho- 
nours in comparison of spiritual privileges ; as Con- 
stantine the Great, and Theodosius, each of whom pro- 
fessed he would rather be a member of Christ, than 
head of the empire. It is not below majesty on earth 
to lament after the God of heaven. David, Asa, Jeho- 
shaphat, and Hezekiah followed the Lord with fears 
and cares, prayers and tears, and how doth God ap- 
prove and applaud the tender hearted Josiah? 2 Chron. 
xxxiv. 27, 28, " Because thine heart was tender, and 
thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou 
heardest his words against this place, and against the 
inhabitants thereof; and humbledst thyself before me, 
and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me," 
(mark the outward tokens of inward sorrow) " I have 
even heard thee also, saith the Lord." And when 
Josiah's grandfather, Manasseh, was unruly, God took 
a course to humble him, and brought him to seek God 
by earnest prayer, and great humiliation;! but when 

* Jer. xiii. 18. 

t 2 Chion. xxxiii. 11, 12, 23, 24. ch, xxxvi. 12, 13. 


his father Amon, and his son Zedekiah, did not walk 
in those mournful steps of penitent lamentings after 
the Lord, God took another course with them, and cut 
them off. God hath even brought heathen kings 
upon their knees, to lament after God in the best man- 
ner they could ; as the king of Nineveh, Jonah iii. 5, 
6; and God took it well, ver. 10. Outward humilia- 
tion also prevented Ahab's temporal destruction, 1 
Kings xxi. 27, 29- And when God threatened Re- 
hoboam by Shishak's invasion, and Shemaiah's com- 
mination, the princes of Israel, and the king humbled 
themselves, and said, "The Lord is righteous," 2 Chron. 
xii. 6, 7. And God saith, " I will not destroy them, 
but grant them some deliverance, or deliverance for a 
little while." Much more, if princes and nobles be 
sincere in humiliation for sin, and lamentation after 
the Lord and imiversal reformation : O what mercy 
doth the Lord reserve for such ! Thus in the days of 
Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, the instances are nume- 
rous and pregnant. O that God would stir up the 
hearts of the governors of his people, to say, " Surely 
we and our people have provoked the Lord against us." 
Yea, it is well if our hands have not been chief in the 
trespass. O that, as we have been exemplary in sin- 
ning, we might be exemplary in our repentance; as 
we have driven God from us and our people, so we 
might be the first to fetch him back again. God for- 
bid that we should say with Pharaoh, " Who is the 
Lord ? " or refuse to let the servants of the Lord go 
and serve him according to scripture rules, though 
they may differ from us in some modes of worship. 
Yea, it is fit the governors of Judah should say in 
their hearts, " The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be 
our strength in the Lord of hosts their God." * These, 
* Zech. xii. 5. 


these are the chariots and horsemen of Israel, a8 once- 
a king said of a prophet. * God forbid, we governors 
should arm or animate some protestants against their 
brethren, while papists are putting us on, and warming 
themselves by the fire of their own kindling ; and 
when they spy their opportunity, will take advantage 
of the conflict they have encouraged, and destroy the 
combatants. Let us rather improve our utmost in- 
terest to make them friends ; and bespeak their joint 
prayers for us. And since we need the Lord, and his 
appointments as well as others, as much as the mean- 
est of our subjects, let us also follow the Lord with 
bitter cries and lamentations: "The princes digged 
the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by the 
direction of the lawgiver, with their staves."! Why 
may not we also work hard in digging these sacred wells 
of ordinances ? and then cry out, " Spring up, O well !" 
and also put on others, saying, "Sing ye unto it?" 
May not we too pass through this valley of Baca (or 
weeping) and make a well ? the rain filling the pools ; \ 
and so this valley of Baca, will be a valley of Berach- 
ah. II Our speaking comfortably to those laborious 
Levites that teach the good knowledge of the Lord, § 
will reach their hearts, and so we shall bring upon 
ourselves the blessing of them that were ready to perish. 
May we not even call them up hither to public worship, 
and send them to the people in the fulness of the bless- 
ing of the gospel of peace. We, even we, have need of 
ordinances as well as others ; we have ignorant minds, 
stubborn wills, strong passions, violent temptations; 
and of all sorts of persons, nobles are most unwilling to 
put their necks to the work of the Lord. ^ We have 
greater hindrances in the way to heaven, and therefore 

• 2 Kings xiii. 14. t Numb. xxi. 17, 18. J Psal. bcxxiv. 6. 
II Blessing. § 2 Chron. xxx. 22. IT Neh. iii. 5. 

AFT Ell THE LOUD, 46*3 

need better helps than others. Oh ! let it never be said 
of us, that when the poor are but ignorant souls, fool- 
ish, and know not the way of the Lord, that we, the 
great men, noblemen and gentlemen, that know much 
indeed, but do less for God, nay more against him, that 
we should altogether break the yoke, and burst the 
bonds : * our interest is greater, and influence more 
upon others, therefore our sin of neglect will be greater, 
and account heavier. Lord, let us have means of grace, 
and grace by means : be thou our portion in this, and 
another world, or of all men we shall be most miserable ; 
our loss will be more dreadful, our torments more in- 
tolerable ; as we read of one of our own degree in sa- 
cred writ, who in this world was clothed in purple and 
fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day, but in the 
other world was found in hell, and being in torments, 
was denied one drop of water to cool his tongue.j O 
Lord ! suffer us not to riot and rant here, and be cast 
out from thy presence hereafter ; but let us lament af- 
ter thee now, that we may everlastingly enjoy the ma- 
nifestations of thy favour. 

7. Let christian churches, congregations, and socie- 
ties lament after the Lord. Our dearest Lord seems to 
depart from them : oh that once at last we could dis- 
cern the sad symptoms of his removal ! This is the case 
in the chapter before us, 1 Sam. vii. 5, " Gather all Israel 
to Mizpeh, v. 6. and they gathered together to Mizpeh, 
and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and 
fasted on that day ;" why they met in Mizpeh, whether 
because Samuel judged Israel there, or it had an altar 
or place of prayer, I shall not dispute : :j: or what this 
drawing out water was, whether it was the water of 
trial, or a ceremony used at such solemnities, or water 
of penitential tears, which is most likely : these tears 
* Jer. V. 4, 5. t Luke xvi. 19, 23, 24. t Vid. Poli Syn. Crit. in loc. 


riirning from their eyes, betokened and accompanied 
their affected and affectionate hearts running after the 
Lord ; one while mourning for the sins that banished 
him, another laying to heart their loss of him, and with 
an earnest eager heart breathing in prayer after him : 
this was their practice, Judg. ii. 1 — 5. where an angel 
of the Lord doth reckon up — God's kindnesses to them 
— their duty to God — their ill requital of God by dis- 
obedience — and God's displeasure against them. Upon 
which the people lift up their voice and wept ; and so 
great was that weeping, that the place received its title 
from it ; they called the name of that place Bochim, 
that is, the place of weepers ; they were baptized in 
their own tears : Oh ! cried they, one to another, bro- 
ther, neighbour, do not you hear these heavy tidings ? 
God is angry ; the Almighty commenceth a suit against 
us ; he hath sent a smumons to us, drawn up an indict- 
ment against us ; who is able to contend with him ? 
We are conscious to ourselves that we are guilty, deeply 
guilty ; we deserve to be forsaken of God, for we have 
forsaken him ; thus they looked at one another with 
grieved hearts, seeing others weep, they fell a weeping, 
and cried bitterly with a concordant outcry, Lord, come, 
come again, leave us not in the hands of these devoted 
Canaanites, who bear a mortal grudge against us ; a 
bitter and hasty nation, a people cruel and skilful to 
destroy. Another instance you have in Exod. xxxiii. 
1 — 5, where God chides them, seems to disown them, 
as if they were not his people, but belonging to Moses ; 
he tells them he will send an angel before them, but he 
will not go with them, for they are a stiff-necked peo- 
ple. The passage saitli, " M'hen the people heard these 
evil tidings, they mourned, and no man put on him his 
ornaments." Alas ! alas ! say they, doth God take his 
leave ? Will he depart, and not go with us, but substi- 


lute an angel in his room ? What can an angel do ? 
Can an angel bear our manners, forgive our sins, and 
supply our wants ? No, no, all the angels in heaven 
cannot do that for us which we need : an angel of the 
Lord may do much in opposing and destroying om* ene- 
mies, and defending us, but we are conscious to om- 
selves that we are a rebellious people, have a stiflf neck 
that none can break or bow but God ; and though it is 
a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a ein-avenging 
judge, yet there is some encouragement if we have in 
the midst of us a covenanted God ; yet, yet, we have 
hopes thou wilt be a tender-hearted Father. Lord, we 
follow thee naked,* quite stript of any aid but thine: 
our late guilt hath made us naked as to defence, and 
we make ourselves naked as to ornaments, and have no 
manner of excuse for our wicked conduct ; scourge us, 
O Lord, but forsake us not. We broke off om' ear- 
rings to make a golden calf, now we put oft' the rest of 
our garments, as not being worthy of one rag, and as 
having forfeited all our mercies : our fine attire shall 
go, we will strip ourselves in a holy revenge, that hav- 
ing put off our clothes, we may follow the faster after 
thee with sighs and tears. O that we could also put 
off our sins with our garments, and so put on the spirit 
of obedience to thy will. 

But this is what I urge, that Christians in their so- 
cieties and assemblies, do unanimously and socially join 
together to lament after the Lord. God is greatly to 
be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had 
in reverence of all them that are about him, Psal. Ixxxix. 
7. Let Christians provoke one another to this regard for 
God ; let them bring motives to quicken ; yea, let them 
hold up one another by mutual supports in tiiis holy 
pursuit of God with prayers and tears, as iron sharpens 

* Exod. xxxii. 25. 


iron, so let us sharpen one another, taking each other 
by the hand ; let us every one call his neighbour under 
the vine and under the fig-tree;* as Philip found Na- 
thaniel under the fig-tree and told him the joyful tidings 
of Messiah;! let persons in the same family get toge- 
ther in God's solemn worship, and lament after the 
Lord; husbands apart, and wives apart ;| children 
apart and servants apart, and sometimes all together; let 
Jieighbouring families get together, and humble them- 
selves and say, come neighbours, God is gone or going, 
let us lift up our voices, hands and hearts together, to 
prevail upon him to return. Alas ! we have conversed 
about our farms, oxen, sheep, and trades together, shall 
we not at last begin to converse with each other as 
Christiafts ? We have drank, feasted, played, and been 
sinfully merry trgether, and by our sins banished God, 
and shall we find no time to mourn for our sins and 
lament after the Lord together? Let villages, towns, 
and cities gather into assemblies, and christain societies, 
and do as those mentioned Zech. viii. 21, " The inha- 
bitants of one city shall go to another," not stay till 
they come to them, " saying," not being mute statues, 
but lively monitors, " let us go," let us travel to the 
place of God's solemn worship, " speedily," alas, we 
have put off such exercises too long, till God is almost 
])ast returning, " to pray before the Lord," not to go 
to such a city, to buy and sell, and get gain, but " to 
seek the Lord of hosts." Ah ! we have lost him, him 
who is the God of armies, who arms our foes against 
us. All this shows great zeal for God, and flaming 
charity to one another, as when men are converted 
they will draw others to God in his worship, and give 
a lively example of it in practice. 

But it may be objected, that this practice is uncouth, 
* Zech. iii. 10. t John i. 4.5, 48. + Zech. xii. 12. 


that this path is untrodden, few it may be said use it 
in the place where we live, we shall be laughed to scorn 
for our labour. It is answered ver. 22, " Many people 
and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts 
in Jerusalem, and to pray before him." God will 
greatly multiply converts and so take oflf the scandal of 
paucity of v/orshippers ; it is not a few giddy-headed, 
factious spirits, but it is nations, many and strong, na- 
tions rich and potent. Gentile converts flock like doves 
to the windows, not by compact and fraud, but by pe- 
culiar operations of the Spirit in the ministry of the 
word, people of divers languages, at a great distance 
from one another. The same spirit actuates all gospel 
worshippers, to make them flock to God in ordinances ; 
yea, warlike nations, and islands afar off, unapproach- 
able or invincible by men, shall be conquered by the 
gospel ; as it is said of Britain, though the Romans 
could scarce come to it, yet out Lord subdued it :* you 
need not fear want of good company ; your zeal itself 
may provoke others; one active Christian in a place 
shall have companions in God's work in due time ; and 
how dost thou know but thou wilt find some spark of 
goodness in some of thy neighbours that thy invitation 
may blow up, and draw forth ? Try them by a gentle 
call, and thou mayest find more of God in them than 
ever thou wast aware of; possibly bashfulness, sense 
of weakness, want of acquaintance with Christians, and 
want of a call and opportunity have kept some lights 
under a bushel, which if brought out of their conceal- 
ment, and a little snufied, might shine bright in the 

But it may be said, alas, I am a person of weak gifts, 
I cannot take a part in any societies, I can be of no use, 
but a buixlen. 

* Romanis inaccessa, Christo vero subdita. 
2 H 2 

40*8 Israel's lamentation 

In reply I may say, thou needest help so much the 
more ; hence it follows, ver. 23, " That ten men shall 
take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew;" like little 
children that are not able to go of themselves, being 
afraid to fall, will get hold of the hem of their father's 
garment, to hold them up, and strengthen them to walk 
more securely, or to direct them in a way that they 
have not known. Sincere proselytes will look after the 
communion of saints. The Apostle mentions fellow- 
ship in the gospel from the first day, Phil. i. 5, and 
there is great advantage from it, for Solomon saith, 
"two are better than one," Eccl. iv. 9 — 11, which 
he illustrates there in several cases, on which I shall 
not enlarge ; but it is certain you may find great help 
in the communion of saints. 

But you ask, how shall I know they are saints, or 
fit to join with? I may be deceived and misled into by- 
ways of error. 

I answer, we have heard that God was with his apos- 
tles by wonderful signs, gifts, and miracles, who were 
l)esides distinguished by holiness of conversation; and 
if there are appearances of God being for a people or 
among a people, you may safely associate with such 
as God thinks fit to own, and communicate himself 
to ; when I am convinced from the bright beams of gos- 
pel light, and from the powerful influences and con- 
victions of the Spirit, that this is indeed the way of 
God. I am then resolved to inquire after God in 
it, and join with them that travel in it heaven-wards. 



III. You may next be directed to some things which 
may contribute to your furtherance or assistance in 
lamenting after the Lord. What course should we 
take both to perform this duty aright, and to obtain 
what we lament after, namely, either the God of ordi- 
nances, or the ordinances of God ? 

Here I might repeat what was mentioned in the ex- 
plication, by way of instruction : as, 

1. They were inclined after the Lord. It were well 
if sinners would but stop their vain career, stand still, 
pause upon it, bethink themselves, and have a tendency 
God-wards ; this is the first step to repentance, see 
Jer. viii. 6. 

2. Settled after the Lord. Oh that men were as- 
sured upon good grounds, that their hearts were well 
fixed, piously disposed, and devoted to God, as our Sa- 
viour, who stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,* 
or as Paul, Acts xxi. VJ. 

3. Congregated, gathered, united together, to go 
hand in hand after the Lord, Zeph. ii. 1, "Gather your- 
selves together, yea gather together, O nation not de- 
sired !" Gather yourselves by mutual accommodation, 
and sincere repentance, to get under the v/ing of God, 
as chickens under the hen, or (as the allusion in that 
text is) that ye be not as chaff that is dissipated by the 
wind, verse 2, for there is an affinity in the words; sin- 
cere repentance unites to God and his people. 

* Luke ix. 51. 
t lU^lp coUigite a li^p palea, ide&t contrahitevos, ne sitis siciitpalea- 


4. They grieved, being full of sorrow, and complain- 
ed of themselves in seeking after the Lord, Jer. xxxi. 
18, "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself:" 
Oh that I should by my sin forfeit God's presence, and 
for sin lose it ! how miserable am I in this so sad and 
overwhelming loss ! 

5. They cried, called after the Lord, by earnest sup- 
plication, and expostulation ; as it becomes a child to 
follow his mother with bitter outcries to fetch her 
back, Jer. xxxi. 9, " They shall come with weeping, 
and with supplications will I lead them."* That is 
the best prayer that flows from love, and follows God 
with grief and tears from a sincere regard for God, 
without outward constraint, and slavish fear. 

6. They betook themselves to the Lord by faith, re- 
pentance, and reformation. O what efficacy is in this 
course ! Judg. x. 13, God saith, "I will deliver you no 
more," but bids them cry unto the gods whom they had 
chosen, v. 14. For they had cried to the Lord, v. 10, 
and confessed sin, yet God seems peremptory in deny- 
ing aid ; then they reinforce their confession and sup- 
plication, and withal added reformation, v. 16. They 
put away the strange gods from among them, and serv- 
ed the Lord, and see the blessed effect, his soul was 
grieved for the misery of Israel, and he delivers them. 
No way like this. 

7. They acquiesced in the Lord, were fully content- 
ed and satisfied with the Lord, both as to the object of 
worship, and manner of worshipping : and O for such 
a frame as that! Isa. xxvi. If], "O Lord our God, 
other lords besides thee have had dominion over us, 
but by thee only Vv'ill we make mention of thy name," 
that is, by thy precepts, according to thy institutions 

• MsLi-a;. with favours, (so the \vord C^13nnZn signifies fiompn 
misertus, gratificatus est, doluit) 


will we worship thee ; our fear towards thee shall be 
no more taught by the precepts of men ;* we will wor- 
ship thee only in thy own way ; and by thee, that is, 
in thy strength, by the assistance of thy grace, thou 
alone shalt be the author and object of our love, desire, 
pleasure and delight. " Ashur shall not save us, we 
will not ride upon horses, neither will we say any more 
to the work of our hands, ye are our gods, for in thee 
the fatherless findeth mercy," Hos. xiv. 3. These are 
the duties implied in the text before you, which are re- 
quired of us all, in this world of sin and sorrow. 

But to impress our hearts, and to assist in the due 
performance of these required duties, I shall propose 
some considerations in the form of directions, to carry 
on this work successfully. 

1. See to your state and principles ; except you be 
related to God you will not lament after him, nor be 
much concerned about him, or his ark, whether going 
or coming. Relation is the foundation of affection. 
A child will cry after his own father. Now God is 
not our father since the fall, till regeneration make a 
real, and adoption a relative change of our state ; and 
when we have received the Spirit of adoption, then and 
never till then, shall we cry, Abba, Father, Rom. viii. 
15. They only will cry after God that love him, fear 
him, and honour him, as a father, with a filial affection, 
and they only sliall be received by him : O therefore, 
examine your state God-wards ! Hath converting grace 
under ordinances changed your hearts? Hath the 
Spirit awakened your consciences, convinced you of 
your undone state by nature, transformed you by the 
renewing of your minds, translated you out of darkness 
into light ? deal faithfully with your souls in this case; 
you come into the world with your backs turned upon 

* Isaiah xxix. 13. 


God, and you will never lament after liim without a 
turn in another direction. Naturally there is an en- 
mity and antipathy in our hearts to God and his ways. 
Hath God crushed and conquered that disjDOsition, and 
planted right principles in you, to incline you to him ? 
if yet you find not a divine nature, a new nature pro- 
duced in you, flatter not yourseh-es, you will rather run 
farther from him, than lament after him. Let your souls 
be chiefly concerned for this first, then for the rest. 
Union precedes communion : a real title is antecedent to 
the laying of a claim : a principle of grace is before an 
actual exercise of it : there must be life before there 
can be any desire of, or nutrition by food. I have no 
hopes of prevailing with unconverted souls to lament 
after God, till they have life and breath, voice and lungs, 
except formally, for company, or for carnal purposes, 
which is insignificant. Oh for grace, truth of grace, 
and a reality of interest in Christ, and all the privileges 
he hath purchased. 

2. Inform yourseh'es thoroughly of the terms on 
which you stand with God. Consider how the Lord 
acts towards us, as to our individual cases, and the na- 
tion in general. ^Ve shall never lament after him till 
we see him withdrawn. Ignoranceof the state of things 
with us keeps persons in a senseless frame. What the 
eye of body or mind sees not, is never laid to heart : 
make some observations and reflections on things at this 
day : make also a comparison betwixt former and pre- 
sent times. What think you ? Hath not God mani- 
fested himself more in his providences for us, than of 
late ? Have we not reason to take up the church's 
complaint, Psal. xliv. 1, 9, or to expostulate as Gideon 
Judg. vi. 13, " O my Lord ! if the Lord be with us, 
why then is all this befallen us ? and where be all his 
miracles which oiu' fathers toid us of?" I hiiyc told 


you how much restraining grace is withdrawn from 
many ; how rare conversion is by ordinances ; how 
much God hath withdrawn both from the societies and 
spirits of his servants. I shall not trouble you with 
repetitions ; look over those things, compare them with 
what you see and observe, and if you find the Lord as 
formerly, be thankful ; if otherwise, be humbled, and 
lament after him. It is to be feared, that if you be 
observant, discerning Christians, you will yet find out 
more than hitherto hath been mentioned, both demon- 
strations of God's removal, and prognostics of future 
removes. The most excellent and eminent servants of 
God are snatched away by death from amongst us, and 
God saith, "they are taken aM'^ay from the evil to come," 
Isa. Ivii. 1. The spirit of giddiness, atheism, and ido- 
latry is spreading at a strange rate, beyond all parallel. 
Other things I might mention, but I leave them to 
your inquiry : only there is one text which methinks 
is astonishing, Zech. xi. 8, "Three shepherds also I 
cut off in one month, and my soul loathed them, and 
their soul also abhorred me." It is one of the saddest 
words in all the Bible. Whether they were good or 
bad shepherds, that were cut off, it is di-eadful that it 
had no better effect than mutual abhorrency. Oh that 
this was not our case ! We lie under woful consequences 
of God's loathing us, and it is well if men do not loath 
him. A spirit of opposition to godliness is the sad ef- 
fect of divine dereliction, which produceth greater spiri- 
tual and temporal plagues. Hence he adds, verse 9- 
" Then said I, I will not feed you, that that dieth, let 
it die, and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off, and 
let the rest eat every one the flesh of another." They 
shall have no gospel pastors to feed their souls ; that is 
a spiritual plague which fell on the Jews for rejecting 
Christ. They shall devour one another with cursed 

474 Israel's lamentation 

rage and malice, as in seditions, conspiracies, or in their 
necessity of food by the terrible famine. Thus the Jews 
were destroyed in Jerusalem's miserable ruin. The 
like prognostics are upon us. Lord prevent the same 
effects, and awake our hearts to use God's appointed 
means for prevention. 

3. Make diligent inquiry into the reason of our pre- 
sent and approaching calamities. Is there not a cause ? 
siu'ely " affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither 
doth trouble spring out of the ground."* Sin is the mo- 
ther and nurse of sorrow. Is not God bringing our ini- 
quities upon us? Doth not our own wickedness correct 
us, and oiu' backsliding reprove us ?f Doth not this rod 
say, " Thy ways and thy doings have prociu'ed these 
things unto thee, this is thy wickedness, because it is 
bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart," or soul, Jer. 
iv. 18. Let ministers and peojjle, lay their hands on. 
their hearts, and let us search our consciences and con- 
versations ? Is it not I that shut out ministers, as the 
good woman said, I broke my minister's leg. My 
pride, unteachableness, unprofitableness, formality, neg- 
lect of duty, censui'ings and uncharitableness, sensuality 
and wordliness, hypocrisy and lukewarmness, vain 
glory and miudlessness of God's glory and my soul's 
eternal good ; these, these made all the excluding, 
banishing, fining, imprisoning laws that ever came out 
against God's servants ; these chiefly have broken up 
all assemblies, scattered meetings, armed all the officers, 
retai'ded our deliverance. By our sins are our enemies 
strong,! and the hands of our friends weak. Alas ! it 
is my own iniquity that hath brought us low, put 
back a good work, banished God, and lift up the right 
hand of our enemies ; nor is it the sins of the profane, 

* Job V. 6. t Jer. ii. 19. 

t Peccatis nostris fortes sunt barbari. 


but of jwofessors, " Of the rock that begat us we have 
been unmindful, and forgotten God that formed us, 
therefore, when the Lord saw it he abhorred us, be- 
cause of the provoking of his sons and of his daugh- 
ters," Deut. xxxii. 18, 19. Oh our wretched ingratitude, 
rebellion, and covenant-breaking, our sins have reached 
to heaven ; therefore our judgments are unparaH'eled. 
We may say as Dan. ix. 13, "Under the whole heaven 
hath not been done, as hath been done upon us." It 
is well if we have not reason to add also ver. 13, 
" That all this evil is come upon us, yet made we not 
oiu' prayer,* before the Lord our God, that we might 
turn from our iniquities and understand thy truth." 
It is true, we have prayed, but it is well if we have so 
prayed. Is not the accursed thing to be found amongst 
us to this day ? We have been long in the fire, but 
are we cleansed ? Alas, alas, may not that sad com- 
plaint and charge be brought against us, Jer. vi. 28 — 
30, " They are grievous revolters, walking with slan- 
ders, brass and iron, they are all corrupters, the bel- 
lows are burnt, the lead is consumed of the fire ; the 
founder melteth in vain, for the wicked are not plucked 
away, reprobate silver shall men call them because the 
Lord hath rejected them." O that this were not our 
case, and that character also given of the same profess- 
ing people, Jer. ix. 3 — 7. But I shall leave Christians 
to this heart-searching work, beseeching, requiring and 
charging all persons to deal faithfully with their own 
souls ; find out the Achan that troubles the camp, and 
stone it ; cast lots to find the Jonah that raiseth this 
tempest, cast it overboard, confess, bewail, reform, 
supplicate pardon of sin, and who knows but v:e shall 
have a calm ? 

4. Endeavour to impress your hearts with a sense 
* Heb. intreated the face. 

476 Israel's lamentation 

of the evil of God's departure from us : otherwise you 
will not think it worth the while to spend time in la- 
menting after him. Come to a heart, a house, a society, 
a congregation, or the nation, and make inquiry, is 
God there ? If it be answered, no, he is gone wholly 
or partially, what is then left that is good ? Surely if 
God go, all good goes, and all evil comes, 2 Chron. xv. 
3 — 6. " Now for a long season Israel had been without 
the true God, and without a teaching priest, and with- 
out law," whether this was under Jeroboam, and his suc- 
cessors, or at some other time, " and in those times there 
was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came 
in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of 
the countries — for God did vex them with all adversity." 
Mark it, when God goes, all evil comes. They were 
without the true, pure, public worship of God, and with- 
out a standing ministry, to teach publicly, plainly, and 
powerfully, but had in their places, false prophets, ly- 
ing Rabbles, or graceless loiterers, and it may be the 
people loved to have it so. No wonder if they had 
civil discords, foreign invasions, ecclesiastical dissen- 
tions, all things going to wreck ; setting up one ruler 
against another, so joining in parties and factions; 
using barbarous cruelties, embroiling all in sad con- 
tentions, and imbruing their hands in one anothers 
blood. When God goes he breaks down the hedge of 
his protecting providence, so that the boar out of the 
wood wastes his vineyard;* then it is eaten up, trod- 
den down, it shall not be pruned nor digged, but there 
come up briars and thorns ; f yea, he commands the 
clouds that they rain no rain upon it ; what then will 
become of it? Surely the inclosed vineyard of the 
church soon becomes a wild common of barbarous in- 
fidels. When God removes his candles, darkness comes, 
* Psal. Lxxx. 12, 13. t Isa. v. 6, 7- 

AFTEU THE I-OUl). 477 

but when he removes candlesticlvs also,* Mahomet fills 
up the room. The famous Asiatic churches are a 
dreadful instance. If the sun sets, night comes 
on : if the king be absent, what court can be 
kept? if Christ stay not, where is the church? 
if God should leave his glorious mansion in heaven, it 
would instantly become a dark dungeon of hell : yea, 
if God depart from a people as a friend, he comes 
against them as a dreadful foe ; if he go away he tears 
as a lion,f he consumes as a moth : if he hide his face, he 
comes in wrath, and fury to slay them, Jer. xxxiii. 5. 
Saul was in a woful plight when God was departed 
from him, and the Philistines were upon him.:}: Yes, 
if God depart the devil comes. When the good spirit 
went from Saul, an evil spirit from the Lord troubled 
and tormented him, 1 Sam. xvi. 14, 23. Satan was 
from God, as framing his nature, and commissioning 
him to punish Saul, but his wickedness and malignity 
in his designs and actings were from himself. O how 
glad is the devil to take up that room which God 
leaves! truly then saith the Lord, Hos. ix. 12, "Woe 
also to them, when I depart from them ;" there is a 
woe of sinning, and suffering which attends God's 
departure. Whither will not men run when God for- 
sakes them ? If the hand withdraw, the staff falls ; 
if the glass without foot be not held up, it falls, and 
breaks, and the liquor spills ; the very best man is no 
more daily, than as the Lord makes him; Samson, 
David, and Peter, will fall if God go; much more 
they that have no hold of God, or God of them in a 
covenant way, they will not stop till they reach the 
height of sin and fall into the depth of hell ! Hos. ix. 
17, "My God will cast them away, because they did 
not hearken to him." Hos. vii. 13, "Woe unto them, for 
* Rev. ii. 5. t Hos. v. 14. X 1 Sam. xxviii. 15. 


liiey have fled from me, yea destruction to them, be- 
cause they have transgressed against me : yea, everlasting 
destruction fi'om the presence of the Lord, and from 
the glory of his power," 2 Thess. i. 9. Were we 
kindly affected with all this, we should lament after 
the Lord. We have reason to tremble, lest it prove 
our case, and removing his ordinances is a great step 
to all this ; but if we knew vAiat it meant, we should 
with old Eli have " trembling hearts for the ark of 
God, 1 Sam. iv. 13. 

5. Study the advantages and benefit of having God 
present with us : as fear of evil is one motive to avoid 
it, so a desire of the contrary good, adds wings in seek- 
ing earnestly for it. When God goes, all good goes. 
So when God returns or continues with a people, they 
enjoy all good, inward and outward. The people that 
have God with them, have a strong guard to defend 
them, a wise guide to direct them, rich grace to supply 
them, high honour to advance them, full rest to con- 
tent them, an abundant reward in the enjoyment of 
him ; they have enough, they need no more. " Happy 
is the people whose God is the Lord." * Luther's 
Psalm, that song upon Alamoth, Psalm xlvi, is admira- 
ble for this ; for when the church can say, " God is our 
refuge and strength, a very present helj) in trouble," 
ver. 1, she builds great confidence and comfort on 
this solid foundation ; ver. 2, " Therefore will not we 
fear though the earth be removed," &c. Yea, she 
stands upon this impregnable rock, triumphing ever 
all dangers and enemies, with this word repeated, ver. 
7, 11, "The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of 
Jacob is our refuge :" and " if God be for us who 
can be against us ? " Who would net follow after 
such a God with prayers, tears, groans, and hearty la- 

* Psalra. cxliv. ult. 

AFTEll THE I,01ll). 479 

mentations, that he would return to us and continue 
with us ? Oh ! who would not have a hand in bring- 
ing back the King, such a King as by his presence can 
make us truly and eternally htippy ? See what it is 
to have God with us, Isa. xlii. 13 — 16. Yea, it be- 
comes every one to study the usefulness of God's ordi- 
nances, that their hearts may be engaged to, and en- 
larged in lamenting after tlie ordinances of God ? Both 
these are larger subjects than I can prosecute, to ex- 
plain the adA'antages coming to a people by the presence 
of the ordinances of God, or the God of ordinances. 
You must look on the ordinances as fruits and tokens 
of God's special favour, for all have not the ordinances 
of God, Psal. cxlvii. 19, 20, "He sheweth his word 
unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments, unto Israel : 
he hath not dealt so with any nation ; and as for his 
judgments, they have not known them." That this 
sunshine of gospel light is on one place, when not on 
another, proceeds from a discriminating providence, 
which sent ambassadors, for the gospel to be brought 
to it. Surely that is preventing kindness : but when it 
hath left some impressions on the hearts of men, some 
myrrh upon the handles of the lock,* such should, yea 
will lament after him, when he is gone, as the church 
did : for such have tasted how good the Lord is, and 
look on the ordinances as their heritage and highest 
privilege. O that you knew what helps ordinances are, 
to promote God's work in our hearts, in creating and 
increasing faith, repentance, love, and new obedience ; 
this is that clear crystal-glass through which we may 
see the face of God, and be transformed into his image ;f 
that glass in which we may see the face of our souls, i 
and be humbled and ashamed : here you may have 
your doubts resolved, fears dispersed, hearts satisfied, 
• Song V. 5. t 2 Cor. iii. 18. | James i. 24. 

480 istiael's i.amentatiox 

graces quickened, fellowship with God promoted, and 
your souls prepared for heaven. O that your eyes were 
opened to see the necessity, excellency, and utility of 
God's ordinances ! I am very confident, that if your 
souls be as new-born babes, you will have a desire af- 
ter the sincere milk of the word, having previously 
tasted that the Lord is gracious, 1 Pet. ii. 2, S. 
As for others that want spiritual life and light to dis- 
cover and feel the marrow of ordinances, no wonder 
if they slight or despise both the appointments them- 
selves, and such as long for them, and lament the want 
of them ; and therefore I urge this, that you learn by 
your own experience the sweetness and advantage of 
enjoying the presence of God in his ordinances. 

6. Acquire and maintain a public spirit. O beware 
of a private selfish spirit, to look only after your own 
concerns, and worldly interests ! This hath been the 
ruin of the church, and also of particular persons at 
last. Hag. i. 4, 6, " Is it time for you, O ye ! to dwell in 
your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste ? therefore 
ye have sown much, and bring in little ;" as if he had 
said, you think to secure your personal and domestic 
comforts with neglect of my concernments, but I will 
cross you in that which concerns you, because you are 
heedless in what concerns me. On the contrary, David 
concerned himself about God's house, and God built 
his house, 2 Sam. vii. 2, 11. So true is that declara- 
tion of our Saviour, whosoever will save his life shall 
lose it ; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake 
shall find it.* Self-seeking is the way to self-undoing, 
self-denying is the only way to self-advancing; scrip- 
ture and experience prove this. Well then, my advice 
is, that you chiefly mind the interest of our Lord in 
the world ; and lay as great a stress on this in your 
* INIatt. xvi. 25. 


I)rayers, as if it were your own case ; and indeed it is 
your own ; your little boat hangs on the great ship ; 
but all judge not so, therefore there are few lamenters 
after the Lord : however, if you would look on Zion's 
case as your own, and so view it as having yours really 
involved, it would be both a help and a spur in your 
lamentings. The more gracious persons have been, 
the more have they forgot themselves to think of the 
church. Upon me, saith St. Paul, cometh daily the 
care of all the churches.* Upon Moses lay the burden 
of all the people.f Uriah will sympathize and consider 
the circumstances of the ark, and Israel, and Judah in 
the camp, and not gratify himself with the delights of 
the city. I Nehemiah inquires after, and condoles with 
his suffering brethren. || Look through the bible and 
you will find this gracious public spirit breathing in all 
the servants of God, Psal. cxxxvii. 5, 6, " If I forget 
thee, O Jerusalem ! let my right hand forget her cun- 
ning : if I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave 
to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not Jerusalem 
above my chief joy ;"^ as if he had said, I profess my- 
self to be a member of that mystical body, the church, 
and how can a member rejoice when the body mourns ? 
If the touching of one string of an instiiiment make 
the rest move, how can I forbear a sad echo to the 
church's mournful elegy ? shall not her dewy eyes cause 
mine eyes to water? how can it go well with me when it 
goes ill with the church ? O that I could set self aside ! 
We have need, saith one, to be redeemed from ourselves 
rather than from the devil, or world.^ I should make 
a sweet bartering, and give old for new, if I could 
shuffle out self, and substitute Christ my Lord in place 

• 2 Cor. xi. 28. t Numb. xi. 11. t 2 Sam. xi. 11. 

II Neh. i. 2, 4 . § Marg. The head of my joy. 

IF I\Ir. Rutherford's Letters, p. 17- 

VOL. III. 2 1 

482 Israel's lamentation 

of myself. Oh wretched idol ! when shall I see thee 
entirely withdrawn, and Christ wholly put in thy room? 
Oh that I had hut gone as far now as the heatlie-ns 
Primer!* "We are not born for ourselves;" surely then 
I should not be so much taken up with my own matters, 
but think on the chiu'ch. Alas ! what is my danger 
to Zion's damage ? if it go well with Zion it shall com- 
fort my heart, whatever my personal troubles be. But 
I must hang my harp on the willows, while the church 
is in captivity. Lord, do good in thy good pleasure to 
Zion, build thou the walls of Jerusalem ;f though my 
broken bones be not set, or though my heart still keep 

7. Learn the right art of praying and pleading with 
the Lord ! this lamentation is in the way of supplica- 
tion ; a gracious promise is given, Zech. xii. 10, " I 
will pour upon the house of David, and the inhabitants 
of Jerusalem, princes and people, the spirit of grace 
and of supplications ;" and then follows a great mourn- 
ing, both in families and in closets. O that this work 
were set forward ! Surely if all the people of England, 
or only the professing people, would engage in this so 
needful an occupation, what a mercy would it be ! 
Prayer is needful at all times, in all cases, but much 
more in such circumstances as ours at present ; if any 
thing bring back a departing God, it must be believing 
prayer, 2 Chron. vii. 14. "If my people which are 
called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, 
and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, 
then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, 
and will heal their land." You see the duty ; you see 
the encouragement ; prayer is adapted to a distressing 
state of things, and a mournful dispensation : prayer is 
the channel of comfort : afflictions prompt us to seek 

*. Nobis non nati suibus. f Psal. li. 18. 

Al-TEU THE I.OUD. 483 

out promises, promises to seek faith, faith to seek prayer, 
prayer to seek and find God. What should God's chil- 
dren do were it not for this privilege of praying? 
When they cannot preach, and hear, they may pray ; 
when they cannot meet personally together, they may 
meet at the throne of grace ; when they are shut out 
from petitioning men, they may be admitted to the 
court of heaven, and the Lord's ears are still open to 
their cry.* I should think the spirit of prayer to be the 
best token for good to us ; " thou wilt prepare their heart, 
thou wilt cause thine ear to hear," Psal. x. 17. Moses 
besought the Lord, and the Lord seems as if restricted 
by his prayer ; let me alone, saith God.f The people 
here entreat Samuel not to cease to cry to the Lord for 
them;:!: and he did pray, and you see the issue. Oh 
that we could not only pray, but lift up a prayer for the 
remnant that is left !1| If God return to us, it must be 
upon the wings of such an elevated prayer. When 
Sennacherib had sent Rabshakeh to blaspheme God, 
the scripture account saith, for this cause Hezekiah 
the king, and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amos, 
prayed, and cried to heaven.^ For this cause: if any 
thing will stimulate God's children to pray, surely it 
will be the dishonour of their Father ; they would not 
ansAver them, but complain to God ; this was then, and 
is still, the most effectual course to speed. When Ne- 
hemiah was to make request to a great king, he saith, 
then prayed I to the God of heaven.^ It was an eja- 
culatory prayer, for he spoke it not, yet it was effectual ; 
he thought if by prayer he could move the main wheel, 
all the rest would move. This is the way to set to 
work all second causes. Indeed we have no other 
means in prospect : let us betake ourselves to this spi- 

* Psal. xxxiv. 15. t Exod. xxxii. 10, 11. :{: 1 Sam. vii. 8. 

II 2 Kings xix. 4. § 2 Chron. xxxii. 19, 20. IT Neh. ii. 4. 

2 I 2 

484 Israel's lamentation 

ritual annoLir, for prayers and tears are the chiircli's 
weapons, Eph. vi. 18, 19, "Praying always with all 
prayer and supplication, in the Spirit, and watchino- 
thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all 
saints, and for me, that utterance may be given unto 
me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known 
the mystery of the gospel/' This is our case, we beg 
our people's prayers for our restoration. Oh that mi- 
nisters and people could strive (or be in an agony) toge- 
ther in their mutual prayers to God for each other !* 
If you could pray more and better, we should come the 
sooner, and with a greater blessing, even in the fulness 
of the blessing of the gospel of Christ ;f and for your 
encouragement to pray for us, we hope we can truly 
say as the Apostle, Heb. xiii. 18, " Pray for us, for we 
trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing 
to live honestly." Though we suffer as evil doers, and 
are reproached as factious, seditious, and schisraatical ; 
as Paul was accounted an apostate and an enemy to the 
law ; but we conduct ourselves as subjects, as ministers, 
living orderly in our places, giving none offence, so 
that none can challenge us in any thing save in the 
matters of our God, and in that they must excuse us, 
if we cannot in all things see with their eyes, nor swal- 
low down such oaths and subscriptions as some dare 
whom we judge not, but are afraid of nothing so much 
as sin ; and as for our preaching to you, though pro- 
hibited by men, we are under obligation to preach as 
our duty, for woe to us if we preach not the gospel. 
Zeal for God's glory, and love to your souls, expose us 
to all these censures and oppositions : it is for your 
sakes that we bear all these affronts, and will not 
you pray for us? Surely youi'selves are concerned in 
our work ; we are content to endure all for the gospel's 
* Rom. XV. 30. t Rom. xv. 29. 


sake ; we ask nothing of you but your reception of our 
message and prayers for our persons ; we spend our 
time, and strength, and lungs for you, and will not you 
pray for us ? If God help us, will not this turn to 
your advantage ? Your prayers will return into your 
own bosoms. We have been serving almost three ap- 
prenticeships in our divorcement from public places 
and employments, yet our God hath not forsaken us, 
but secured our persons, and some liberties ; he hath 
delivered us, doth, and will deliver us, 2 Cor. i. 10 — 12, 
" You also helping together in prayer for us, that for 
the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many per- 
sons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf; for 
our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience," 
&c. Having obtained help of God, we continue to 
this day at great uncertainties ; as Meiancthon said,* 
so we may say, we have continued by divine bounty 
and care of us twenty years, and could never say as- 
suredly, nor upon any probable grounds, that we should 
abide one week to an end : much of this may be ascrib- 
ed to the effectual prayers of the church, as a means 
under God. Who can tell but in a short time your 
prayers may fetch us back again : howsoever, we are 
persuaded that these things shall turn to our and your 
salvation, through your prayer, and the supply of the 
Spirit of Jesus Christ, Phil. i. 19 : only see that your 
prayers be such as God will accept. I cannot enlarge 
on this point, but sliall glance at the due qualifications 
of such a prayer as Vv^ill undoubtedly prevail. 

1. Your persons must be in covenant, John ix, 31. 

2. You nuist exercise faith upon the mediator Christ, 
John xvi. 23. 

* Ego jam sum hie, Dei beneficio, quadraginta annos, et nun- 
quam potui dicere, aut certus esse, me per unam septimanam 
raansurum esse — Melch. Adam, vit. Melancf. p. 357. 


3. You must pray in the Holy Ghost, Jude, 20. 

4. Ask what is according to God's will, 1 John v. 14. 

5. Aim at God's glory as your main end, 1 Cor. x. 31. 

6. Cast away all sin in heart and life, Psal. Ixvi. 18. 

7. Live in the daily exercise of repentance, Heb.x. 22. 

8. Maintain a holy awe of God in your hearts, 
Psal. ii. 11. 

9. Set your hearts in order for the duty, Job. xi. 13. 

10. Pray with understanding, minding the object, 
1 Cor. xiv. 1.5. 

11. With fervency and importunity, Luke xi. 8, 9- 

12. Forgiving others that have offended you, Mark 
xi. 25. 

13. Watching against temptations. Col. iv. 2. 

14. Living up to your prayers, John xv. 7. 

15. Maintaining communion with God, Luke ii. 37. 

16. Coming with hopes to succeed, James i. 6. 

17. Be sincere as toframes and intentions. Matt. vi. 5, 6. 

18. Be daily sensible of wants and weaknesses. Matt. 
V. 6. 

19. Wait patiently for returns of prayer, Psal. v. 3. 

20. Be thankful for any incomes after prayer, Phil, 
iv. 6, 7. 

Such dispositions as these you must have and bring 
into your exercises in the duty of prayer, and then you 
shall prevail for yourselves and others. This is the 
third general head. 



IV. The la?t thing at which I shall briefly aim, is to 
suggest some considerations which may serve as cor- 
dials to support and bear up our hearts till our souls 
find our dear Lord, or he turn again to us, in our la- 
mentations after him. 

1. Souls lamenting after the Lord are most likely to 
be the remnant who shall escape in approaching 
calamities : these have the mourner's mark on them, and 
ordinarily are left, Ezek. ix. 4, 6 ; and Ezek. vii. 16, 
" But they that escape of them shall escape, and shall 
be on the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of 
them mourning every one for their iniquity." If land- 
destroying calamities come, 3'ou are likeliest to survive 
and be a holy seed, for storing the church in future 

2. You may be the instruments to prevail with th^ 
Lord to keep in the midst of us : yet there is a 
possibility ; " Who knoweth if he will return and re- 
pent, and leave a blessing behind him?" Joel ii. v. 14<. 
There is yet a may-be in it, Amos v. 15, " Hate the 
evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the 
gate; it may be that the Lord God of hosts will be 
gracious unto the remnant of Joseph." God hath con-- 
descended to hearken to his people's supplications, why 
not ^.o youi's ? The poor wise man hath delivered the 
city :* the innocent may deliver the island.f Lot suc- 
ceeded for Zoar, Abraham for Lot, yea, very far for 
the cities of the plain. Make a trial ; and what com- 

* Eccl. ix. 15. t Job xxii. 30. 

488 Israel's lamentation 

fort will it be to you, if your prayers in the tone of la- 
mentation turn the scales for God's stay with us ! 

3. However, you may stay him with your own souls ; 
is that nothing ? God is as willing to be friendly with 
us, as we can be to desire it, and much more, Isa. xxvii. 
5, " Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may 
make peace with me ; and he shall make peace with 
me ;" and is this nothing ? Oh what is God's presence 
worth ? How have David, Job, Heman, and all the 
saints prized it ? Do you not want it ? " Follow on 
to know," and ov/n and acknowledge, " the Lord, and 
you shall find his going forth is prepared as the morn- 
ing, and he will come to you as the rain," Hos. vi. 3. 
Your fleece shall be wet when others are dry. If you 
cannot obtain mercy for others, yet as Noah, Daniel and 
Job, you may deliver your own souls by your righteous- 

4. Yet the Lord hath not forsaken us ; he is still in 
the midst of us by his gracious providences and influ- 
ences ; he hath been hitherto prevailed with, though he 
has threatened to leave us, and we had cause to fear 
tlie event ; his candlesticks are fixed, and candles are 
shining, though not all in their proper sockets, but un- 
der a bushel : this is an encouraging mercy, that our 
God hath not forsaken us. "Even now for a little space 
grace hath been shewed from the Lord our God, to 
leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in 
his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and 
give us a little reviving in our bondage," Ezra ix. 8, 9- 
It was not our deservings that hath kept him with us; 
no, no, " Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of 
his God, though their land was filled with sin against 
the Holy One of Israel," Jer. li. 5. What is the reason 
then that God is not quite gone ? See 1 Sam. xii. 22, 

* Ezek. xiv. li. 


" The Lord will not forsake his people for his great 
name's sake, because it hath pleased the Lord to make 
you his people." The argument holds for us, and it is 
still in force ; blessed be God he hath not cast us off as 
yet, and the covenant with our ancestors still holds 
good, as in 2 Kings xiii. 23. 

5. God seems to be in suspense whether he should 
leave us or not, to draw us on in our lamentings after 
him ; just as he expresseth himself, Hos. xi. 8, " How 
shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I deliver 
thee, Israel ? How shall I make thee as Admah ? How 
shall I set thee as Zeboim ?" Strange language as 
spoken by the infinitely wise and immutable God ; as 
though he were perplexed and knew not what to do. 
Surely this is spoken after the manner of men, and 
speaks God loth to punish, for indeed it is his strange 
work ; as if he had said, the severity of my threats 
call on truth to carry them into execution, but how 
shall I prevail with myself to do it ?"* The glory of my 
name, my free grace, and constant love to my covenant- 
ed people, arrest my wrathful hand when ready to 
strike the fatal stroke — the righteousness of the judge 
saith, strike ; the bowels of a father say, hold ; and 
when God thus deliberates, it is to stay and see if his 
people will get hold of him, by faith and prayer ; is 
not this his carriage towards us in his providence ? 
certainly the Lord comes and goes as if he were loth 
to punish us, and is not this a very great encourage- 
ment to us to lament after him ? Since he looks back 
as a mother to her child, with a wishful eye, as if he 
had not the power to go, as if he should say, call me 
back and you shall have my presence, my heart is to- 
wards you, though I am forced to turn my back on you, 
* Seel fjuomodo hoc a me impetrabo ? 


you shall have me with you if you will lament evan- 
gelically after me. 

6. You have good company in your exercise, though 
there be too, too many vile atheists and libertine 
wretches that say to God, " depart from us, cause the 
Holy One to cease from the midst of us;" yet there are 
mourners in Zion who are very importunately crying 
and lamenting after the Lord, with all their might 
seeking to fetch back the ark; though they be few 
comparatively, and though despised, and possibly hid 
in corners, and as little taken notice of as those seven 
thousand in Elijah's days, that had not bowed their 
knee to Baal * But God searcheth out such retired 
worshippers, that pray, and complain to their Father 
in secret, and he will reward and answer them openly, 
with what concerns more than themselves. Oh ! it is 
good to be of the number of these hidden ones ! How 
blessed a thing is it to combine interests with this 
lovely society? There is a communion of saints in 
prayer, though unknown to one another. And I can 
say it, for your encouragement, O ye praying, moui-n- 
ing souls, that you are not alone, God hath thousands 
in these nations that have been hard at it many years, 
and present circumstances do quicken their cries. Our 
danger increaseth our pains, and those advance our 
cries ; be not discouraged, you have many assistants. 
A threefold cord is not easily broken ; God hath some 
children to cry after him from all parts of the kingdom, 
and though many of the old stock of weeping souls are 
worn out, yet some wrestling young ones are planted 
in their room, some begotten in the bonds of the 
gospel, for the word of God is not bound, though 
ambassadors be. Zion hath been built in this troublous 
* 1 Kings xix. 18. 


time. And I think it may be truly said, that as the 
ark hatli more visi])le followers, so more sincere la- 
menters after it, than when it was taken out of its 
public station ; as Tertullian of old said, so it must be 
acknowledged that the more God's field is cut, the 
more grass springs up. 

7. God hath a dear and tender regard for such as la- 
ment after him for the ark's sake, and will do them 
good upon that very account ; Psal. cxxii. 6, " Pray 
for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that 
love thee ;" they shall not only prosper and prevail for 
Jerusalem, but God will prosper them in other respects, 
in their graces, in comforts, yea oft in worldly concerns. 
A public spirit is a personal gainer ; God never suffers 
such to be losers by him, that deny themselves for him, 
Zeph. iii. 18, "I will gather them that are sorrowful, 
for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom 
the reproach of it was a burden." Such as study God's 
interest, have the Lord to study their interest. If we 
put our shoulder to bear his burden, he will bear both 
us and ours.* " Consider now," saith God, " from this 
day and upward from the four and twentieth day of 
the ninth month, even from the day that the founda- 
tion of the Lord's temple was laid, consider it, from 
this day will I bless you," Hag. ii. 18, 19. How much 
doth God value and how fully doth he reward an 
esteem for his worship ? God builds their houses that 
have but a good will to build his house ; as in David's 
case. Thus our Lord bids us prove him by our obedi- 
ence and see if he will not open the windows of heaven, 
and pour down a blessing, Mai. iii. 10 — 12. Who 
would not then own and lay Zion's cause to heart ? 

8. The ark and ordinances when lamented over in 
their absence will be the sweetest and most profitable 

* Psalm Iv. 22. 


when returned and enjoyed. None will so gladly wel- 
come the ark, and improve its return as tliey that 
most deeply laid to heart its removal. Such, like those 
who have appetites, will not come with indifference to 
this soul-refreshing food ; a thirsty person will prize 
and be glad of a little water ; David never so eagerly 
longed for God's presence and ordinances, as when he 
was in a dry and thirsty land, where no water was ; 
Psal. Ixiii. 1. " The full soul loaths the honey 
comb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is 
sweet."* O what pantings ! as the hart chased panteth 
for water brooks ; you will gain more by a day's preach- 
ing then, than formerly in many days. 

9. Souls that lament after the Lord shall enjoy him 
without medium or means at last. In heaven you 
will need no ordinances; Rev. xxi, 22, "I saw no 
temple therein, for the Lord God Almighty and the 
Lamb, are the temple of it ;" for you shall see his face 
immediately, and no more through a glass darkly ; yea 
you shall see him as he is,! which cannot but felicitate 
souls perfectly, therefore it is called the Beatifical 
Vision, O what a day will that be ! You shall not 
then need to fear any disturbance from men or devils, 
but his servants shall serve him, and his name shall be 
on their foreheads ; there is no more skulking into 
corners, nor meeting in the night for fear of men's 
laws, and persecution. Yea the more you have lamented 
after the Lord and his ark, the more shall you increase 
your joy in the Lord. The more your sorrows abound, 
the more will your comfort abound. The lower the 
ebb, the higher the tide. You that loved Jerusalem, 
shall be glad with her, yea, you shall rejoice for joy 
with her, all ye that mourned for her, Isa. Ixvi. 10 

* Prov. xxvii. 7- Psal. xlii. 1. 

t Rev. xxii. iv. 1 Cor. xiii. 12. 1 John iii. 2. 

AFTEll THE LOilD. 403 

10. In the mean time God himself will supply the 
want of ordinances ; the great God will be a little 
sanctuary when in want of other means of worship ; * 
he himself will supply that defect. David could en- 
courage himself in the Lord his God ;-|- Habakkuk re- 
joiced in the Lord, when destitute of outward comfort, 
and even in the absence of external privileges. t What 
want you from ordinances, that the all-sufficient God 
cannot supply you with? light, love, warmth, strength, 
solution of doubts, satisfaction of your hearts ; God is 
all in all, and all without all these helps. O friends ! 
though you may not chuse to be without the means of 
grace, because they are God's instituted v/ays of con- 
veying himself to us here, yet you must be content to 
be without them, when providence cuts you short of 
them, and say in this case as holy David, with which 
I shall conclude this subject, 2 Sam. xv. 25, 26, " Car- 
ry back the ark of God into the city, if I shall find fa- 
vour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, 
and show me both it and his habitation ; but if he thus 
say, I have no delight in thee, behold, here am I, let 
him do to me as seemeth good unto him." 
* Ezek. xi. IC. t 1 Sam. xxx. G. + Hab. iii. 16—18. 



^ aTuneral <$crmon, 






Job X, 7. 

Thou hwwest thai I nm not wicked^ and there is none that 
can deliver out of thine hand. 

This text contains the sum of the grand controversy 
between afflicted Job and his censuring friends, who 
would prove Job to be a wicked man. The devil and 
Job's friends speak the same language ; only Satan 
presumes upon it, that if God will touch Job's flesh he 
will curse him to his face. His friends uncharitably 
accuse him as one that had cursed God, or committed 
some scandalous sin, and therefore God did so severely 
touch his flesh. Against this charge Job makes his 
appeal to the heart-searching God, and saith, "thou 
knowest that I am not wicked." 

The latter part of the text implies, first, A concession. 
I may notv/ithstanding all my integrity be in God's hand, 
that is, in the correcting hand of God : and secondly, con- 
tains an assertion, "none can deliver out of thine hand;" 
as if he had said, I may continue long under it, and no 
power in heaven or earth can rescue me, except God 
himself set me at liberty. A word may be introduced 
relative to the fonner, though the latter be the subject 
assigned me. " Thou knowest :" the words are very 
emphatical, and signify, it is in thy knov/ledge that I 
am not wicked ; as if he had said, thou hast not this 
knowledge from without, from reports or hearsay ; no, 

VOL. III. 2 K 

498 job's APrEAi., 

thy knowledge is from thyself; it is internal, immediate, 
and therefore perfect and infallible. 

God exactly knows every man's state and frame ; 
his knowledge is not consequent but concomitant ; " all 
things are naked and open to the eyes of him with 
whom we have to do;" God's line soundeth man's 
depth ; our persons and actions are manifest to him 
now, and shall be laid open before angels and men in 
the great day. 

" Thou knowest that I am not wicked :" he saith not, 
that I am not a sinner: alas, there is too much sin in me. 
" Sin," (saith an interpreter,) " remains in the regene- 
rate, yet they cannot, or ought not to be called wicked ; 
God gives the denomination from the better part. The 
best saints are indeed sinners, yet the worst saints are 
not wicked ; they are sinners by remaining corruption, 
but are godly by renovation." The word here, corres- 
ponds with that in Psal. xviii. 21, where David says, 
" I have not wickedly departed from my God," that is, 
by a course of sinning. The phrase also imports being 
condemned and cast at God's bar, as a wicked man, 
Ps. cix. 7, " When he is judged let him be condemned ;" 
let him go forth as a condemned malefactor ; 1 dare 
appeal to the all-wise, heart-searching God, that I am 
not such a one. 

Doct. That a truly gracious soul dare appeal to God 
that he is not wicked. 

The child of God makes him witness of his integrity: 
at the time when enemies scorn, Satan accuseth, con- 
science upbraids, and God keeps at a distance, the 
devout soul can say, " Behold my witness is in heaven, 
and my record is on high." 

It may seem a paradox, but is a great truth, that 
the holiest saint on earth dares not justify himself be- 
fore God, yet he dare stand before God to justify his 

A FrXEllAL SEllMON. 499 

integrity. This must be understood in an evangelical 
and not in a legal sense ; through Christ the mediator, 
and not as in the believer ; according to the covenant 
of grace, and not that of works. A great divine saith, 
"the gospel covenant laxeth the rigoiu* of the law, 
which calleth for complete obedience, by resolving all 
into sincerity and truth. When we go upon the trial 
for our life before Christ's bar, the great inquest will 
be whether we have been sincere or not ;" he does not 
mean that sincerity is set up in Christ's room, but as 
it is an evidence of our interest in him : hence Job 
saith, chap. xxxi. 6, " Let me be weighed in an even 
balance, that God may know my integrity." He means 
a gospel balance, for " by the works of the law shall no 
flesh be justified." He does not mean that God must 
weigh him before he can know him, but he speaks 
after the manner of men. Thus David also, " Search 
me, O God, and know my heart : try me, and know 
my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in 
me," Psal. cxxxix. 23, 24. There is too much wicked- 
ness in my depraved heart God knows, but I dare 
appeal to thee, that there is no way of wickedness, no 
ordinary road, nor any uninterrupted path of sin in me. 
Sin doth not make a thoroughfare in my soul, I give 
it many a turn, and dare appeal to thee that I would 
gladly be rid of it. 

All I shall do on this point, is to propose and answer 
this weighty case of conscience : — How may a Christian 
make it out in his appeal to God that he is not wicked? 
I confess this is a great question, and hard to be re- 
solved, but I shall follow the scri})ture line, in repre- 
senting the pious soul's appeal to God. 

1. Lord thou knowest that I am not as I have been, 
that there is a great change wrought in my heart and 
life. A turn I have had — thou knowest Avhether it be 
2 K 2 

500 Jcm's APVEAT., 

saving or not, wlietlier it be from the povrer of Satan 
unto God ; but this I can say, such a one 1 was, but 
am not, I am put into a new frame, and thou kiiowest 
whether I am made a new creature or not ; the stream 
of my affections runs in another channel, thou knowest 
whether it be the channel of grace and heaven-wards. 

2. Thou knowest I have made a solemn covenant 
with thyself; thou knowest the time, place, manner, 
inducements, ends, and witness thereof. I studied the 
nature of this covenant, and felt the pulse of my soul, 
whether I was cordial in it or not, and thought I chose 
thee as my chief good and utmost end, and gave up 
myself entirely to thee, v.hen tliere was no witness be- 
sides thee and my own conscience. Thou knowest 
whether I had any reserves or evasions, in this solemn 
transaction. I have given thee the keys of my heart, 
and am glad of such a guest and Lord. 

3. Lord, thou knowest I do not regard iniquity in 
my heart, and cannot look pleasantly upon it. There 
is in me a secret dislike of every sin, not only as soul- 
damning, but as God-dishonouring. I hate every false 
way as contrary to the law of God ; yea, methinks I 
find an antipatliy to it as contrary to my new nature ; 
for though suited to my carnal palate, yet grace raiseth 
my heart against it, for the intrinsic evil in it as well 
as the consequences of it ; I hate it though delecta- 
ble and profitable, yea, I abhor what is evil, even the 
garment spotted by the flesh. 

4. Lord, thou knowest I do daily resolve and pray 
against sin, all sin of heart and life ; thyself art privy 
to my earnest supplications that I may not be led into 
temptation, nor left under the power of it. Lord, do 
thou set a watch before my mouth ; let not my heart 
incline to any evil thing ; God forbid I should do this 
wickedness and sin against him ; I am purposed that 


my mouth, hand, or foot shall not transgress. God 
hath heard my i)rayers, and known my vows against 
particular lusts to which I have been addicted, and I 
hope I can say as David : "■ I was also upright before 
him, and I kejrt myself from mine iniquity ;" so that 
it prevails not over me. 

5. Lord, thou knowest I am daily seeking not only 
to lop off the branches, but to stub up the roots of sin, 
to weaken and mortify the body of death, and to crucify 
the flesh with the affections and lusts. It is not enough 
to cease from the acts, but my soul would enfeeble the 
habits of sin. O that the old man were crucified with 
Christ, that the body of sin may be destro3^ed ! The 
sure conquest is only obtained through Christ's death 
and resurrection, and I find it is nothing but the law of 
life in Christ Jesus that makes me free from the law 
of sin and death : he only came to destroy the works 
of the devil. 

6. Lord, thou knowest I set myself against secret 
and spiritual sins; "cleanse thou me from secret faults." 
I am afraid of pride, hard-heartedness, hyprocrisy, va- 
nity, formality, and all spiritual as well as fleshly wick- 
edness. Now I understand by thy holy law that the 
least motions of sin in my heart are evil and deserve 
death. Thou knowest whether I make not conscience 
of suppressing those sins v/hich others make no reckon- 
ing of, even vain thoughts and risings of depravity. 

7. Lord, thou knowest the conflicts and combats be- 
twixt flesh and spirit; the flesh lusteth against the 
sjnrit and the spirit against the flesh : methinks I find 
within me as it were the company of two armies ; my 
corruption is not on the throne but in the field ; sin 
hath not dominion over me, for I am daily warring, 
and though I am oft foiled by it, yet fall on again. 
Sin is not a king but a tyrant in me ; I go daily armed 

502 job's appeal, 

into the field and must fight under the banner of my 
dear Lord, and shall be a conqueror. 

8. Lord, thou knowest these sins break ray heart 
as they break out within me ; they lie as a heavy 
load on my conscience, and make me weary and heavy 
laden. How oft do I cry, " O wretched man that I 
am, who shall deliver me from this body of death ?" 
Thou knowest the tears and groans my sin hath cost 
me. " Lord, all my desire is before thee, and my groan- 
ing is not hid from thee." One sin hath cost me more 
than all my other troubles ; Oh my broken bones ! 

9. Lord, thou knowest that I love not the company 
of wicked men, I bid them oft depart from me, not 
from ostentation, but for fear of infection ; for I would 
not be found with tlie wicked when my Lord calls : 
" I have not sat with vain persons ; I have hated the 
congregation of evil doers." I have often experienced 
either grief or guilt in a needless association with wick- 
ed men, and I hope thou wilt not rank me with the 
vric'ked whom I love not, 

10. Lord, thou knowest I love the society of thy 
saints and servants ; I am a companion of all them that 
fear thee, I account them the excellent of the earth, in 
whom is all my delight. I am sure wicked men love 
not thy children, and those are passed from death unto 
life that love the bretliren. I love them because they 
are like thee my heavenly Father, and bear thine image 
though they be poor in the world, and may differ from 
me in some things, yet my heart is towards them, and 
I take a pleasure in having communion with them in 
God's worship and Christian converse. 

11. Lord, I love to be admonished of m.y faults, and 
love them better that are faithful to reprove me for my 
sins; I can truly say, I love my minister better for his 
plain dealing, and the word of God for its purity : 

A FUNEllAl- SERMON. 503 

** Lord make me to know my transgressions and my 
sins." I love not palliating-, but would have my wound 
searched to the bottom that it may be safely cured. 
** If the righteous smite me it shall be a kindness;" yea, 
even Ishmael's railing shall do me good, by a solemn 
reflecting on my faults. 

12. Lord, thou knowest whether my soul doth not 
love thee and thy Son Jesus Christ. Thou hast said 
that to them that believe he is precious. I have often 
been feeling the pulse of my soul, and dare appeal to 
thee with Peter, " Lord thou knowest that I love thee:" 
thyself shalt vouch for me and make the affidavit: thou 
shalt not have this attestation at my hand, but upon 
thine own knowledge. Thou art the chief among ten 
thousand ; yea doubtless, I count all things but loss 
for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. 

13. Lord, thou knowest what a poor sorry thing I 
account the world to be and all its glory ; I esteem the 
pleasures, profits and honours of the world as a pagean- 
try. I have made Moses's choice, to suffer aflfliction 
with the people of God rather than choose the pleasures 
of sin, the honours and ofifices of Pharaoh's court. I 
can look through the best of the world and turn my 
back upon it, as an empty, insignificant thing, though 
the men of the world are content with it for their portion. 

14. Lord, thou knowest the way that I take, and 
the earnest desire and design of my soul to walk in thy 
ways, to have respect to all thy commandments, and to 
attend on all thine ordinances. I miss it in all but dare 
balk none ; my aim is, to fulfil all God's will, to stand 
complete in all the will of God. There is no flesh-dis- 
pleasing duty, no self-denying act but I attempt it. If 
God say, do it ; I will not consult flesh and blood, but 
my language is, as thou hast said so must I do ; my 

50-4 job's Al'l-E-Al., 

foot standeth in an even place, and lies square to God's 
will, at all times, in all places and conditions. 

15. Lord, thou knowest I do my best in every reli- 
gious exercise : God forbid, I should offer to the 
Lord that which costs me nothing. I must love the 
Lord with all my soul, mind, and strength : and God 
forbid that I should do his work negligently, or offer 
to him a corrupt thing. O that I could be more fer- 
vent in spirit in serving the Lord. God deserves more, 
and my best is iufiuitely below him. O that I could 
do more ! but, alas ! I am short in all. 

16. Lord, thou knowest my design in all I do is for 
thy glory and the enjoyment of thee. I dare not look 
both at thee and myself; then I lose myself in my natu- 
ral, civil, and spiritual acts; all the lines must and shall 
bend this way, that " God in all things may be glorified 
through Jesus Christ." My design is to live to the 
Lord, and to die to the Lord, that Christ may be mag- 
nified in my body, by life or death. O that I could 
enjoy communion with thee in every duty and ordi- 
nance ! thou knowest this is my heaven. 

17- Lord, thou knowest all ray dependance is upon 
thy Majesty, both for assistance and acceptance : I 
must lean on my beloved, and by the grace of God I 
am what I am. I cannot think a good thought without 
fresh supplies of grace ; but I am able to do all things 
through the strength of Christ, and can iTin in the way 
of God's commandments wlien he enlarges my heart. 
I lay all upon thy golden altar to be accepted in the 

18. Lord, thou knowest I am daily pressing towards 
perfection, for I have not yet attained what I would 
gladly reach : I would be mending what is amiss, and 
be soaring to a higher- pitch of grace, perfecting holi- 

A I'UXliUAl, SKllMOX. 505 

noss in the fear of God ; increasing with all the increase 
of God till I come to a perfect man. Alas, how much 
do I yet want of perfection ! I would still he singing 
the song of degrees, and going from strength to strength 
till I appear before God in Zion. 

19. Lord, thou knowest how much I am concerned 
for thy church, which gives me some ground to hope 
I am a lively member in that mystical body : "If I for- 
get thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her 
cunning." It raiseth my heart to see the gospel pro- 
pagated, sinners converted, saints edified, and united : 
and it runs to my heart to see Christ's interest laid low, 
the preaching of the gospel obstructed, few converts, 
scandals breaking out, and contentions breaking in : 
then I say, " AVoe is me ! the good man is perished out 
of the earth." When wickedness abounds, and love 
decays,* I make that lamentation, Isa. lix. 11 — 15. 

20. Lord, thou knowest notwithstanding all this, 
what a mean opinion I have of myself and my poor 
doings :f alas, my doings are but dregs and rags ! I am 
still an unprofitable servant, I despair of myself and 
abhor myself in dust and ashes : I am vile in mine own 
eyes. God may justly condemn me notwithstanding 
all I have done, yea, and for all I have done, for if the 
Lord mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall stand ? I fly 
to my advocate Jesus Christ, and desire the New Tes- 
tament Aaron to take away the iniquity of my holy 

I shall subjoin a few words of application. — 1. For 
instruction. If God's children thus appeal, then, 

(1.) Others do not know their hearts, for God's chil- 
dren do not appeal to men but God. No man knows 
another's heart, and should not pretend to it. Dost 
thou say : "it is a wild, groundless censure, from such as 

* Terra* Astrea reliqiiit. t Horreo quicquid de meo est. 

506 job's appeal. 

carry fair, but whose hearts are bad ?" How knowest 
thou ? Dost thou usurp God's throne ? The best men 
have been deceived with the professions of others ; as 
the church on earth with Simon Magus, Acts viii. 13, 
23 * The chiu'ch judgeth of overt acts, not secret 

(2.) The most observant persons have much ado to 
know their own hearts, and are glad to appeal to God. 
The prophet saith, who knows it ? It is a deep fa- 
thomless pit. Hazael said, " Is thy servant a dog, that 
I should do such a thing ?" Peter was confident he 
should never deny his Master, but both failed. The 
inward thought of every one is deep, and the heart 
gives deceitful answers like the heathen oracles. He 
that trusteth to his own heart is a fool, for it will cer- 
tainly deceive him. 

(3.) Yet it is possible men may know their spiritual 
state God-wards, or else Job would not have appealed 
to God. The expression speaks some confidence:! Job 
doth not doubt, but assert his integrity ; yea he saith 
" My righteousness I hold fast and will not let it go : 
my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live," Job 
xxvii. 6. It is possible men may know whether they 
be in a state of grace or not, for God hath given con- 
science for this end. " The spirit of a man is the can- 
dle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the 
belly," Prov. xx. 27- If nien were faithful and would 
light their candle at the word of God and make dili- 
gent search they might know more. 

(4.) The whole world is distributed into two sorts 
of persons, the godly and the wicked. " Two loves," 
saith St. Augustine, " built two cities ; the love of God 
built mount Zion, and worldly love built Babylon : and 

* De secretis non judicat Ecclesia. 
-f- Vox non dubitantis sed asserentis. 


the wliole race cf mankind are inhabitants of these two 
cities." Though carnal men do not believe this, and 
think men differ only i)artially and not specifically, some 
worse and others better, not in kind ; yet a time is 
coming, " when men shall discern betwixt the righte- 
ous and the wicked, betwixt him that serveth God, and 
him that serveth him not : for the sheep shall be set on 
the right hand, and the goats on the left, and receive 
their different sentences from the impartial judge of 
the v/orld. At this day discriminating grace makes a 
difference, and discriminating preaching sliows a differ- 
ence among men : for ministers must teach the people 
the difference betwixt the lioly and profane, and divide 
the word of God aright, for it is a discerner of the 
thoughts and intents of the heart. Men may see a vast 
difference, if they are not wilfully or judicially blind. 

2. Another use is, of admonition, 

(1.) To all sorts of j^ersons, to be and behave them- 
selves as those who may make their appeal to God. 
Oh that all Christians could say as the church of old : 
" all this is come upon us, yet have we not forgotten 
thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant. — 
Shall not God search this out, for he knoweth the se- 
crets of the heart?" Psal. xliv. 17 and 21. O friends, 
on what side are you ? God knows, and it is fit you 
should know. " I know my sheep, and am known of 
mine." " He needed not that any should testify of 
men ; for he knew what was in man," John x. 14, and 
ii. 25. Look to it, if you be of a holy and pious cha- 
racter, God will own you as his : if not, be sure your 
sin will find you out. Ask yourselves, what am I ? 
a sheep or a goat ? AMiose am I ? God's servant or the 
devil's slave ? What am I doing ? God's work or the 
devil's drudgery ? Whither am I going, to heaven or 
hell ? Wliat say you to the various appeals we have 

508 job's appeal, 

mentioned? Will your hearts ingenuously echo to them? 
If you say yes ; compare your hearts with scripture 
and go on safe grounds : if not, tremble under the sen- 
tence of condemnation. Be strict in this case, for you 
must be tried another day. 

(2.) If you find you are \\dcked, then woe to you, 
whether you be openly profane or secret hypocrites : 
" The light of the wicked shall be put out : a hypocrite 
shall not come before God: the ungodly shall not stand 
in judgment, for the Lord knoweth the way of the 
righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. 
The wicked must be silent in darkness and tui*ned into 
hell. lie will rain upon them snares, fire and brim- 
stone, and a horrible tempest." Upon your doors you 
may have written, Lord, have mercy upon us, but God 
M'ill not own you nor hear your prayer, but say to the 
wicked : " What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, 
or that thou shouldest take my covenant into thy 
mouth ?" Psal. 1. 16. All you do is sinful, whether 
called natural, civil, or religious acts. The very plough- 
ing of the wicked is sin ; their sacrifice or prayer is 
an abomination to the Lord. It will be bitterness to 
them in the end. " Say ye to the wicked, it shall be ill 
with him." The longer you live, the more mischief 
you do and the more misery you heap up to fit you for 
destruction. Therefore bethink yourselves, repent, and 
forsake your ways and thoughts, that God may have 
mercy on you. 

3. A further use concerns God's children especially by 
way of comfort. You that dare and do thus appeal to God 
in sincerity, whose hearts do not upbraid you, thank 
God for it : this very appeal is a good evidence of your 
sincerity, and w^il fortify you against the censures of 
men. God knows you better than men, and will clear 
you when men condemn you. How often doth Lavid 

A rvxKiiAi, :^:r.iiMox. 509 

cheer up himself with this ? Your names may be un- 
der a cloud for a season, but " God Avill bring forth 
your righteousness as the light," Psal. xxxvii. 6. Thus 
he did with holy Job. It will fortify you against Sa- 
tan's sore temptations. When he accuseth you to God 
you may say, "the Lord rebuke thee, O Satan." When 
he accuseth you to yourselves, nnd conscience condemns, 
God is greater than your hearts and will supersede all 
pleas. In the hour of sad desertion, when God hides 
his face or withdraws his grace, this will cheer you, 
that you can go to God and say, I am not wicked. Let 
God carry himself as he pleaseth to me, his favours are 
his own, he doeth me no wrong, I will cling to him 
still : " Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." 
If he carry himself strangely towards me, yet he is 
good and worthy to be followed in the dark, and I will 
stay myself on him. In a dying hour it will be a bless- 
ed reflection, to say, with good Hezekiah under sen- 
tence of death : " Remember now, O Lord, I beseech 
thee, how I have walked before thee in truth, and 
with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good 
in thy sight," Isa. xxxviii. 3. Happy soul ! tliat can 
look death in the face, and with confidence approach 
the tremendous tribunal under the comfortable sense of 
this upright and scriptural appeal. 

Yet take a caution or two. 

(1.) Beware of ostentation. Pride not yourselves 
in your integrity, for this is contrary to the nature and 
ends of this appeal. "If I justify myself my own 
jnouth shall condemn me." Alas ! I am far from per- 
fection : " I am vile what shall I answer thee ? I will 
lay my hand upon my mouth, and repent in dust and 

(2.) The Lord Jesus is to be our surety and answer 
for us. "Where is boasting? It is excluded. By 

;j10 job's A1']»EAI., 

what law ? of works ? nay, but by the law of faith." 
Roin. iii. 27. The language of the gosjDel is, " In the 
Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall 
glory," Isa. xlv. 25. 

Thus I have dispatched the former jiart of my text ; 
I procv^ed to the latter — " There is none that can deliver 
out of thine hand." What, none ? then our condition 
is as bad as fallen angels'. But none, here, must refer 
to mere creatures, for Jesus Christ can deliver out of 
the hands of justice, from present wrath, and from 
wrath to come. The hand of God, denotes the power 
of God. Deliverance is either temporal, spiritual, or 
eternal, and which way soever it may be taken it af- 
fords this doctrine: — That no means on earth can res- 
cue a person out of the hands of the infinite God. In 
opening this doctrine, I shall. 

First, show the meaning of the words. Interpreters 
take them in a twofold sense, some as {vox dolentis) the 
language of Job's sorrow, moving God's bowels of com- 
passion, as if Job should say, why Lord dost thou deal 
thus severely with me ? ^Vho can rescue me M^hen thou 
dost arrest ? Thou mayest keep me under restraint 
for ever, and take time enough to punish me, thou 
needest not put me upon such a painful rack as though 
I were in danger to be rescued or escape thy hands ; as 
princes fearing the rescue of a prisoner, send forth a 
writ of execution to dispatch him. The tormented 
prisoner that desired a dispatch from his misery by 
death was answered by the tyrant,* I am not so far 
friends with thee. It may be this text is parallel to 
chapter vii. where Job would be glad to be quit of his 
pain ; but, saith he, I cannot till God's time ; yet Lord, 
pity me, smite me not both sharply and long. 

Some make it sound as {'cox projitentis) Job's heroic 

* Nondum tecum in gratiam redeo. 

A vrxr.UAi, sr.KMox. 511 

and magncinimous profession and stout resolution to 
adhere to God and duty, tliougli he were kept under 
God's hand all his days ! as if he had said, I have ap- 
pealed to thee that I am not wicked, and I hope hither- 
to my integrity hath appeared, and, by thy grace as- 
sisting me, shall further appear, though none should 
deliver me out of thy hand : I humbly hope thou wilt 
find me holding mine integrity as long as life : do what 
'thou wilt with ine I will honour thee. I hope to prove 
the devil a liar, who said, I would curse thee to thy 
face : hitherto he has been mistaken, and I hope will 
be by the grace of God assisting me. If I never be 
delivered, God shall not be blasphemed ; I will for ever 
have good thoughts of him, whatever he may do with 
me ; if I cannot be delivered, or satisfied about God's 
proceedings, yet God shall be justified. Both these 
senses are proper enough, and we may take it either 

Secondly, what is it to be in God's hand ? God's 
hand in scripture implies several things. 

1. His eternal purpose and design. Acts iv. 28, "For 
to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined 
before to be done." This cannot be altered, for the 
counsel of the Lord shall stand for ever, and the thoughts 
of his heart to all generations. This is a truth, but 
not pertinent here. 

2. God's supreme, actual power extended and put 
forth to do good, expressed by putting forth his hand 
to heal. When God will help and heal, the devil can- 
not pluck the patient out of God's hand. But neither 
is this the proper sense here. 

3. By God's hand is meant his provision for his 
creatures, Psal. civ. 28, " Thou openest thy hand, and 
they are filled with good." Indeed none can starve 
those that God will supply ; in the days of famine they 

5121 joii's Ai'pr.Ai,, 

shall be satisfied. Vet tliis is not tlie meaning of the 

4. God's disposing and ordering providence is ex- 
pressed by his hand, Psal. xxxi. 15, " My times are in 
thy hand." No one can lengthen or shorten my days 
but thyself: man's days are appointed, and God aj)- 
points their bounds. I think Job does not mean this 
directly here. 

5. B)'^ God's hand is meant sometimes, divine assist- 
ance, Psal. Ixxiv. 11, " Why withdrawest thou thy 
hand, even thy right hand ?" this means protection or 

'help. And again, "Let thy hand be with the man of 
thy right hand." Indeed none can hinder or weaken if 
God strengthens. Yet this is not the sense. 

6. By hand, is meant God's special love and favour. 
Luke i. 66, " The hand of the Lord was with him." 
Meaning some peculiar indulgence and visible token of 
God's respect for him. This is a mercy that none can 
deprive saints of. Yet this is not meant. 

7. The operation of the Holy Spirit. Ezek. i. 3, 
"The hand of the Lord was there upon him." Whether 
this means the extraordinary or ordinary motions of the 
Holy Spirit, there is none that can hinder or obstruct 
them. This is a truth, but not the truth in the pas- 
sage before us. 

8. By God's hand is meant, any providential dis- 
pensation whether good or bad. "Shall we receive 
good at the hand of the Lord, and not evil," Job ii. 10. 
This is God's prerogative only ; he kills and makes 
alive. This idea may be included in the text, but this 
is not all. 

9. Yet more particularly, by the hand of God is 
meant, the hand of affliction. Thus David saith, " Thy 
hand presseth me sore," Psal. xxxviii. 2. Wliether 
inward or outward affliction be supposed ; as when 

A FUNEllAL SF.llMON. 513 

Job saith, " Hr.ve pity upon me, O ye my friends, for 
the liaiid of God hath touched me." 

10. By the hand of God, is meant death. To God 
belong the issues from death. If he kill, who is he 
that can preserve alive, or raise from the grave ? "I 
kill, and I make alive, I wound, and I heal, neither is 
there any that can deliver out of my hand." This last 
meaning, and that concerning affliction, I take to be 
what is meant by the hand of God in my text. Where 
■are the men or things that can secure us from death or 
trouble? What power or policy can prevent or re- 
move by force or cunning, the hand of God when he 
thinks good to lay it upon us ? Suppose God take 
away estate, friends, relations, health, peace, liberty, or 
life, who can forbid him ? If God stops the breath, 
who can hold it ? The whole world must yield be- 
fore him. 

Thirdly, "SMio, or what in men's opinion, is judged 
most likely to deliver persons out of the hand of God ? 

1. Men expect that their riches, and honours, or 
great friends should deliver them ; like that wretched 
prelate who cried out when dying, " Will money do 
nothing? Will my prince's favour avail nothing? 
Must I die, who can command the greatest part of the 
kingdom ?" No, no, riches profit nothing in the day 
of wrath. " None can by any means redeem his brother, 
or give a ransom for him." Men are mistaken if they 
think to purchase a reprieve or exemption from death, 
or any other trouble. Here money bears no mastery ; 
a golden key will not open God's prison door, and no 
bribe can be admitted in this case to preserve us from 
the stroke of justice. Alas ! if God take men away 
with his stroke, then a great ransom cannot deliver 
them. God will not esteem men's riches. 

2. Some have great confidence in an arm of flesh ; 

VOL. III. 2 L 

514 job's appeal, 

they think natural health, vigour, or fortitude will 
stand them in stead : but, aias, what becomes of the 
most vigorous spirits and constitutions ? Where is 
Xerxes' army of a million men with all their fortitude 
and magnanimity? "No man hath power over the 
spirit, to retain it ; there is no discharge in that war," 
Eccl. viii. 8. Forces of strength cannot withstand 
assaults from heaven, any more than men can prevent 
drops of rain from falling. Where is the doughty 
champion that can meet in arms with Jehovah ? Who 
hath hardened himself against God and prospered ? 
Are men, yea all men, stronger than God? " W^hen 
he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?" 
And on the contrary, he will recompense whether men 
choose or refuse : " There is none that can deliver out 
of my hand," saith God, " I will work, and who shall 
let it." All attempts are vain to prevent an evil, be it 
public or personal, whether it relate to soul or body. 

3. IMen make great reckoning of wit, parts, learning, 
or politic stratagems. Men dig deep to hide their 
counsels from the Lord, but " God disappointeth the 
devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot per- 
form their enterprise." The most learned physicians 
cannot find out an antidote against the approach of 
sickness or death. If men say, we will do thus, yet if 
God say, it shall not stand, it tumbles down as a Babel 
of men's inventions : he saith, take counsel together, 
but it shall come to nought. A whole college of 
physicians with all their art and learning cannot cure 
so much as a rheumatic pain, yea tlie most contemptible 
disease shall be a door to let in death, if God opens it, for 
he alone keeps the key. ^Vith small circumstances 
the great God can, and often does, confound the heads 
of the wisest politicians, and make their counsels of 
none effect ; " For there is no wisdom, nor understand- 


ing, nor counsel against the Lord." Caesar Borgias 
little thought of his own sickness and death, when he 
laid the design of managing all things to his own ad- 
vantage after his father's death. " Man knoweth not 
that which shall be." 

4. There is one thing which is most likely to deliver 
out of the hand of God, that is, true religion. " Right- 
eousness delivereth from death," in two respects : — 
by the prayers and piety of others ; " He shall deliver 
the island of the innocent, and it is delivered by the 
pureness of thy hands," Job xxii. 30. The poor wise 
man by his wisdom delivered the city. God would 
have spared Sodom for ten righteous persons in it : 
and he saith of Jerusalem, " Run ye to and fro through 
the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and 
seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, 
if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh 
the truth ; and I will pardon it," Jer. v. 1. Moses 
prevailed for all Israel consisting of an army of six 
hundred thousand men. Surely then such interposition 
will deliver out of the hand of God ; no, sometimes it 
will not : " though Moses and Samuel stood before me, 
yet my mind could not be towards this people ; cast 
them out of my sight," Jer. xv. 1. " Yea though these 
three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it; they 
should but deliver their own souls by their righteous- 
ness." If all the holy men on earth should interpose 
for one man, they could not deliver him in some cases. 
A man's personal holiness, piety, and prayers cannot 
deliver him out of God's hands, especially in case of 
temporal calamities ; neither Moses nor Aaron could 
prevail to go into Canaan. Some make this to be the 
sense of my text ; it is not my own integrity that can 
free me from the stroke of God's hand ; though I 
am not wicked, yet I am not exempt from affliction. 

516 job's appeal, 

All things come alike to all, and the best men may be 
the most afflicted : " Waters of a full cup are wrung 
out to them, they are chastened eveiy morning." It is 
no sign of God's hatred, but rather of his love, to cor- 
rect his dearest children ; yea, to strike them with 
death. It is true, righteousness delivereth from spiri- 
tual and eternal death, but not natural; " JMoses my 
servant is dead." " Your fathers, where are they ? and 
the prophets, do they live for ever ?" We must needs 
die ; it is the royal statute of heaven. Men's holiness 
and believing prayers cannot secure them from this 
stroke, as daily experience testifies. 

Fourthly, The reasons w^hence it is, that none can 
deliver out of the hands of God. 

1. God's vsovereignty and man's subjection. His 
kingdom ruleth over all, he is supreme Lord and Law- 
giver of the vast universe; celestial, terrestrial, and even 
infernal creatures are under his command and control. 
God put the greatest monarch on earth seven years 
apprentice to the beasts of the field, to learn this great 
lesson of the Almighty's sovereignty; "All the in- 
liabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: none 
can say unto him, what doest thou?" Dan. iv. 35. 
Things must be as God orders them. 

2. God's powder and man's weakness. God is Al- 
mighty : this is his essential property whereby he can 
do all things. He created the world, hangeth the 
earth upon nothing, and will burn it at the last day. 
He upholds all things by the word of his power, and 
can dissolve all in an instant : who then is able to 
stand before him? "Behold the nations are as the 
drop of a bucket : yea, all nations before him are as 
nothing, yea, less than nothing and vanity," Isa. xl. 
15, 17. Who then can resist him? 

3. The holiness of God and sinfulness of man. He 

A ri'XKllAL SKllMOX. .517 

is glorious in holiness. " The Lord is righteous in all 
his ways, and holy in all his works," Psal. cxlv. 17- 
Never could any of the sons of Adam challenge him 
for an irregular act, from the beginning of the world 
to this day. All that have known God have vindicated 
him, and condemned themselves ; for God is righteous, 
and man is punished for his sins. As sinners cannot 
rescue out of God's hand; so, if they judged aright 
they would not attempt to deliver themselves, but say 
as David, " I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are 
right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me," 
Psalm cxix. 75. 

4. The wisdom of God and man's foolishness. Alas, 
what would man do with himself if he were able to 
rescue himself out of God's hand ? Cannot God dis- 
pose of him, better than he can of himself? Is not his 
understanding infinite ? Cannot God extract a medi- 
cine out of a cup of poison, and make the worst things 
work the greatest good for his children ? God is good 
to all, abundant in goodness and truth, and " he doeth 
good to them that be good ;" yea, he doth good by the 
most unlikely means ; he chastens his people that he 
may " humble them, prove them, and do them good in 
the latter end." It would be madness then, for fool- 
ish man to desire a deliverance out of the hands of such 
a God, whose works are wrought in number, weight, 
and measure, and who disposeth all things for the best. 
Use first. Of instruction to inform us, 
1. That there is a God, in opposition to atheists 
who say in their hearts, there is no God ; yea, some 
say it with their tongues, but too many in their lives. 
That was a proud Pharaoh who said, " Who is the 
Lord ? I know not the Lord that I should let Israel 
go : I will not let Israel go." But God made him 
know his power and justice before he had done with 

518 job's appeal, 

him ; even the stoutest devils in hell feel his hand, and 
cannot but believe that there is a God, and that none 
can deliver them out of his hand : there are no atheists 
in hell, whatever there may be on earth. 

2. God alone is an absolute sovereign over the 
whole universe, who uncontrollably rules the world, and 
hath a chain with which he binds men and devils. 
Men may contradict his commanding will, but cannot 
contradict his disposing and punishing will; "Who 
would not fear thee, O King of nations ?" God works 
inunediately or mediately, and when he useth means 
it is not for want of power in him, but in his goodness 
to us to communicate dignity to the creatures in their 
instrumentality ; for there is no restraint to the Lord, 
to save by many or by few, by any instruments or none 
at all. 

3. It is wonderful condescension that the great God 
will concern himself about sorry man, who humbleth 
himself to behold things in heaven and in the earth. 
" What is man that thou shouldst magnify him, and 
that thou shouldst set thine heart upon him," Job vii. 
17. It is an act of God's care and faithfulness when 
he takes pains to scourge rather than forsake us ; we 
are indebted to him for a rod of love, but much more 
for deliverance out of affliction, and advancing us by 
his right hand. It was this made David twice break 
out into the exclamation, " What is man that thou 
art mindful of him, and takest knowledge of him ?" 

4. Adore the infinite gi'ace of God in Christ, in the 
blessed contrivance of the gospel. Men had sold them- 
selves to sin and Satan, but Jesus Christ came to deliver 
those forlorn captives, by price and by power, by the 
price of his blood, and power of his Spirit. He delivers 
souls from the wrath to come, he is mighty, he led 
captivity captive at his ascension ; in his lowest state of 

A FUXKllAL SEllMOX. 519 

humiliation on the cross, he spoiled principalities and 
powers, made a show of them openly, triumphing over 
them in it. All the devils in hell cannot keep a poor 
child of divine love, whom God will set at liberty ; 
none can deliver out of his hands but Christ. O admire 
this redeeming love of God, which brings along with it 
both temporal blessings and spiritual deliverance. 
"This man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall 
come into our land," Micah v. 5. 
Use second, Of conviction. 

1. As to public affairs both in church and state. 
If God deliver us over into the hands of our enemies, 
though they be but wounded men, they shall prevail. 
If men refuse to drink of this cup, yet the Lord saith, 
" Ye shall certainly drink." Valiant armies, numerous 
forces, and high fortifications cannot secure us from 
inundations of divine wrath, when God puts a people 
to shame and silence for their sin. "SVe may please 
ourselves with power and policy, but they are insigni- 
ficant things against divine vengeance. There is a sea- 
son when a nation's iniquity is full, then they will be 
destroyed and none can deliver. When the ephah is 
full, the talent of lead is put on the mouth, and the 
wings carry it into its proper jDlace of irrevocable des- 
truction. When iniquity abounds, love decays ; when 
there are few intercessions, much confidence in an arm 
of flesh, and great ingratitude for former deliverances, 
God may justly say, " I will deliver you no more ;" 
and we may have apprehensions and fears. 

2. As to particular persons. Let careless sinners 
tremble. Consider, O poor sinner, who forgettest God, 
" lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to de- 
liver." " It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of 
the living God." There are the following consider- 
ations that lock the sinner under divine wrath : — 

5^0 JOli's APl'EAL, 

Adam's sin left you prisoners in the hand of justice. 
By nature you are children of M'rath. Every act 
of sin sinks you deeper, and binds you faster in this 
low dungeon ; for the wages of sin is death. Satan 
like a jailor is dragging you to sin, and will execute 
sentence of death at last. The righteous law of God 
also confiriiis the sentence ; for we are shut up, and 
kept prisoners under the law. Hell is the jail in \yhich 
the prisoners will be kept till they have paid the utmost 
farthing. Death will open the door for a sinner's admis- 
sion into this woful state, and shut the door of hope. 
Souls in that state are reserved together with devils in 
chains of darkness, against the judgment of the great 
day. Sinners may be cast into this miserable dungeon 
unawares, and die with a lie in their right hand. None 
but Christ can deliver any out of the hands of justice, 
and translate them into glorious liberty. None will 
be finally redeemed by Christ, but such as are sanctified 
and purified for himself, as a peculiar people zealous of 
good works. O then, if all this be true, what will be- 
come of poor graceless and Christless souls. Heaven 
is shut against you, hell is gaping for you, and if once 
damned, damned for ever, for there is a great gulf 
fixed, and there is no escaping from the infernal lake. 
O that sinners in Zion were afraid, that fearfulness 
would surprise the hypocrites, that they may be pre- 
vented from falling into this devouring fire, these ever- 
lasting burnings. Lord, open their eyes, and turn 
them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan 
to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and 
eternal inheritance. 

Use third. Of admonition. 

1. To sinners. Examine your state, and consider 
in whose hands you are, either of God or the devil, of 
mercy or justice. Lord, open the eyes of these men that 


they see ; the discovery of danger is a step towards a 
remedy. Poor sinner, thou art in invisible chains, 
and Satan holds his black hand over thine eyes ; 
" Awake thou that sleepest and Christ shall give thee 
light." Observe the Spirit'^ operations. When a 
light shines into the prison, observe if the angel of the 
Lord do not smite thee on thy sides and raise thee up ; 
then follow him, and thy chains will fall off. \\1io 
can tell, but if thou wilt own the next gracious influ- 
ence, it may set thee a step nearer to God? " Quench 
not the Spirit," comply with divine calls, put your 
hand into God's, and he will bring you towards himself. 
Renounce all sin. The throne of iniquity hath no 
fellowship with God. "Wash you, make you clean, 
put away your doings out of his sights" and then come 
near to God, you shall become acquainted and be familiar 
with him, and shall be secured in the hollow of his hand. 
You cannot serve two masters. Give up yourselves to the 
Lord, first your souls, then your bodies, as instruments 
of righteousness. You cannot expect that God will take 
you into his hands till you have put yourselves there. 
David saith, " Into thy hand I commend my spirit." 
The apostle Peter enjoins it, " Let them that suffer 
according to the ^vill of God, commit the keeping of 
their souls to him in well doing, as to a faithful 

2. To saints. 

(1.) To such as are under God's hand. If you see 
n( <t how you can be delivered, do not despond. Say not 
as David, " I shall one day perish." Put on patience, 
and let it have its perfect work, and look through the 
thick cloud. After darkness comes light.* Own God's 
hand in your affliction, and lay it not on instruments. 
Job said, " The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken 
* Post tenebra? spero lucem. 

VOL. HI. 2 M 

522 job's appeal, 

away." Thus justify God in all, for it is fit it should 
be so. Desire rather tliat affiiction may be sanctified, 
than removed : pray more to be fitted for deliverance 
than released from the trouble : underrate not your 
mercies ; get faster hold of God by faith and prayer : 
say as Job, " Though he slay me, yet will I trust 
in him." Still own him as a Father, and he will 
own you as a child ; thus glorify God in the fire. 

(2.) To you that have been delivered, I may say, 
give God the praise of your deliverance : return back 
to give thanks. Love God more for himself. Benefits 
may be inducements, but God himself is the only ade- 
quate object of your deai'est affections : David twice 
professed his strong love after he had been in affliction. 
Tell others what God hath done for you, in suitable 
language and behaviour: let your lives be walking 
bibles, and live as persons raised from the dead. Long 
to be with God in heaven, not so much to be totally 
free from the Lord's hand of affliction, as to be in his 
bosom by immediate communion. 

Use fourth. Of consolation to God's children. 

Though God's hand be heavy upon you and none can 
deliver you from it, yet he is a Father still ; though 
perhaps offended, yet he is not a sin-avenging judge : 
this latter case would be dreadful, but the former eligi- 
ble. Compare 2 Sam. xxiv. 14, \\ ith Heb. x. 31. His 
scourging as a father is a branch of the gospel covenant. 
As none can deliver you out of God's correcting hand, 
so none can pluck you out of his fatherly hand : our 
Lord Jesus testifies both of himself and his Father, who 
is greater than all. While you are in his hand he ne- 
ver looks off from you. you are engraven on the palms 
of his hands, and he takes special care of you in his 
providence. Remember if you are never delivered out 
of God's hand of affliction, death will set you at liberty. 

A FUNEUAI. SKiaK^N. 523 

There are two clioice cordials, 1 Cor. x. 13, to assure 
you, that you shall be enabled to bear your affliction, 
and that in due time you shall have a way to escape. 

To conclude. Let the children of God be animated 
and encouraged in their sufferings from God and for 
God. Though they may be sharp and long, and no 
human help can avail to rescue you, God can and will, 
and you may say as the three children in Dan. iii. 17, 
" If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver 
us from the burning fiery fm-nace, and he will deliver 
us out of thine hand, O king." The Lord will deliver 
you by his hand of mercy, out of the hand of justice, yea, 
from the evil work of sin in the soul, and will preserve 
you unto his heavenly Icingdom. Study the promises, 
reflect on experience, live by faith, be much in prayer, 
sanctify God's name, and learn obedience by what you 
suffer under God's hand, and you will find all things 
work together for your good, though you cannot dis- 
cern it at present. Happy souls ! who trust in God 
and live by faith in evil times. 

Est Deus ill coelo, qui pollens omnia curat, 
Credentes nusquam deservisse potest. 

There is a God in heaven, wlio will not leave 
Such souls on earth, as to him ever cleave. 


John Vint, Printer, Idle. 


SEP 8 ^