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accounts, come from such quarters. They tend to confirm the divine word, concerning “the perilous times of rebuke and blasphemy,” which were to distinguish last days,” 2 Tim. iii. 1, &c. 1 Cor. xi. 19. and through grace, by the right use of them, they are made to minister to good. True Israelites now, as well as those of old, sharpen their armour on the files of the Philistines, 1. Sam. xiii. Leaving all such to the vanity of their mind, my present province is only to prove the fact itself; the clamors of professors or profane are alike indifferent to me; and no more engage my attention than the noise of a distant multitude with whom I have no concern. Happily in proof of my assertion, the Son of God himself hath said, and left it upon everlasting record, “God is a Spirit, and they who worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth,” John vi. 24. And the Holy Ghost as decidedly hath shewn the same, when declaring by Paul, that “ the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” i Cor. ii. 14. Hence it undeniably follows, that prayer being a spiritual act, cannot be performed by a mere natural man.
And consequently my assertion is fully proved, namely, that there never was, neither in the very nature of things can be, a single truly spiritual prayer to come up before God, unless that prayer first came from God. And how then shall the regenerated child of God (and it is of such only I speak) find help in prayer from the labours of men ? What can nature in her highest attainments do to give grace?
May it not be said of all such helpers, or pretended helpers to the saints of God in prayer, as Job said of his dunghill preachers, “ miserable comforters are ye 'all! physicians of no value !" Job xvi. 2. and xiii. 4.
And what renders this conduct yet the more preposterous, is, that it is only for the most part men pray
by proxy. In all the other transactions of life, of man with man, every one is led, or supposed to be led, according to the dictates of his own mind. He speaks as he thinks, and is guided in his conversation when no restraint is upon him, as his sentiments may suggest. Look at the beggar on the highway; in his going forth day by day to seek his alms of support, doth he need that any one should tell him what his wants are; or doth he study any eloquence but that which the sorrows of his own heart teach him, to make known his tale of sorrow? How would the world gaze with wonder, until the novelty of the sight ceased to attract attention, to hold men of this description begging by book? And yet, if the subject was not too serious for laughter, I would ask what would be said, if it were told us that all the beggars which swarm in our streets were doing, as too many beggars at the heavenly court do, seeking their daily alms by system, and their petitions for the most part were the production of other men's study, and not their own. And yet what comparative statement can there be between the vast object of their different statements, to give energy to their several petitions, between him who merely asketh for the things of the life that now is, and the man who is seeking for the everlasting blessings of the life to come?
Let us state the striking contrast of the two, if but in a few particulars only. The mendicant among men hath to make his application, for the most part, to an unfeeling world, who are too much taken up with their own concerns to attend to the concerns of others. But the beggar before God hath to do with the God of all grace, who both knows and regards the affliction of the afflicted; and concerning whom it is said, that the sorrowful of his people are “ to cast all their care upon him, for he careth for them," 1 Pet. v. 7. The
of this world in their suits to their fellow creatures, have no claim for what they ask, nor any promise or assur
ance that they shall be heard and answered. But the poor in spirit, in their cries to God, found their claims in Christ, and in those exceeding great and precious promises whereby they are assured of “ all things being given to them that pertain to life and godliness," 2 Pet. i. 3, 4. Hence, “ all the promises in him are yea, and in him amen,” 2 Cor. i. 20. The friendless of this world's poor are strangers to the greater part of those from whom they ask alms, and can use none of those interesting and endearing claims of relationship which arise out of the charities and connections in life. But the sorrowful of the Lord's poor are well known, and well beloved at the heavenly court where they lodge their petitions, being heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ," and the Spirit witnessing to their spirits that they are the children of God,” Rom. viii. 16, 17. The earthly suitor to his fellow creatures has seldom any to plead his cause, or make interest in speaking a word for him with any assurance of success.
But the heavenly pleader before God hath one whom the Father heareth always, and in whose high priestly office he is commanded “ to come boldly to the throne of grace, that he may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,” Heb. iv. 16. Man towards man, is not only too generally unfeeling, and regardless of each other's misery, but will sometimes add cruelty to unkindness, and return the cry of the broken in heart with frowns and punishment. But “ the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort,” comes home to his mourners under those endearing names, not only in the assurance that he hath all mercy and all comfort suited to the case of every one of his people ; but that so far from turning any away, he assures them that he will be before hand with them in their suit. The proclamation from heaven runs in these words, And it shall come to pass, that before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear,” Isa. Ixv. 34. And can the child of God, yea, the regenerated child of God, (for it is of such only I speak) can he be confident of these things, and with that conviction on his mind ever go to the mercy seat and pardon office of the Lord Jesus Christ in the words of others, and not his own? Will he desire any other preparation to prayer than “ the preparation of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, which are both from the Lord ?" Prov. xvi. 1.
One word more. As all the grace and energy in prayer, which leads the soul to the Lord, must first come from the Lord; so in every spiritual prayer thus formed by grace, there is an equal assurance given to all, that it is alike heard and will be answered in mercy. And this becomes a matter of the fullest joy to every child of God, because how weak and poor soever his prayers may appear to him, yet have they in them a sweet savour of the name, and grace, and love of all the Persons in the Godhead. Hence we find the Lord Jesus comforting his church under all her conscious weakness, and infirmities in prayer, with those sweet words; “ Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb; honey and milk are under thy tongue, and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon," Song iv. 11. What drops from the lips of a child of God in prayer and praise, when both are awakened in the soul by the Holy Ghost; perfumed by the blood and merits of the Lord Jesus Christ, and come up in his name before God our Father, are more sweet than honey, and more fragrant than all the spices of Lebanon. As the confirmation of this precious truth is very fully set forth in the scriptures, and the constant belief of it is, of all other considerations the most encouraging to the regenerated child of God, (and it is of such only I speak) to lead him, amidst all the inability he finds in
himself, before the mercy seat, in full dependence on divine strength ; I beg indulgence to state this point somewhat more particularly.
All the ways and works of God as manifested in his Trinity of Persons, towards his church and people, are one and the same. For as the whole Persons which constitute the Godhead are but one and the same in nature and in essence, so are they but one in purpose, council, will, and pleasure. There is a beautiful order observed by Jehovah in all the acts of grace which he is pleased to manifest to his church, when coming forth in holy communion. Each glorious person in the Godhead takes part in the love-tokens shewn the people. The child of God under divine teaching can, and doth receive them, in such a way and manner, as do most clearly and fully define and identify each person in the Godhead ; while no less at the same time, though the distinct acts of each prove the distinction of person,
the whole is shewn and proved to be the joint result and agency of one and the same will, of one and the same undivided Jehovah. If with profound reverence, I might presume the attempt of illustrating those sublime acts of God in his grace, by an allusion to the works of God in nature, I would say, that the personal manifestations of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, are not unsimilar for distinctness to the different colours of the rainbow. In that beautiful arch we behold in the heavens, any, and every eye can very plainly perceive, that there is a diversity of colours distinct from each other, but yet the whole is so intimately blended, that no eye can discern where one begins, or another ends; for all is but one and the same “ bow of the covenant which God hath set in the cloud,” Gen. ix. 13. In like manner, those acts of grace manifested to the church, in the love-tokens of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, are all sufficiently distinct, so as to define distinction in each person ; but yet the