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us. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me. John xvii. 21-23. If then, this was the first and is the ultimate end for which Jehovah formed the church for communion here by faith, and hereafter in open vision, will not the regenerated child of God (for it is of such only I speak) in so glorious a prospect, desire above all things for a growing acquaintance with the Lord, and by prayer and praise be as one walking on the confines of the invisible world, until faith is lost in sight, and grace consummated in glory?
It is true indeed, our knowledge and apprehension of such sublime objects is very limited. We only see as through “a glass darkly.” The present state is but the twilight of being. The church is in her minority; and every thing we meet with is suited to the education and trainment of children. But, according to the beautiful figure the Holy Ghost is pleased to adopt, in accommodation to this nonage of our present state ; he hath said, that “as new-born babes we are to desire the sincere milk of the word that we may grow thereby ; if so be we have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” And the regenerated child of God (for of such only I speak) hath tasted that the Lord is gracious, and is therefore coming unto him, not in forms of prayer of other men's composing, but in the awakened language of his own heart. His is a spiritual apprehension, and a personal knowledge; and the great design of all communion in prayer is, “ to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” i Pet. ii. 245.
It is very blessed to observe how holy men of old are described in scripture when engaged in their godly exercises before the throne. Some of the sweetest, because some of the most successful prayers recorded by the Holy Ghost contain only a few broken sentences and fragments, as if bursting from broken hearts. And indeed it will ever be a scriptural doctrine, to which the experience of the regenerated children of God in all ages fully subscribe, it is of such only I speak) that where there is the least of man there is most of God. When David (the man after God's own heart) came to review his life, and went in under that frame before the Lord, his soul was so overwhelmed in the prospect, that he cried out, “ Whom am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto. And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God, but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while yet to come.
And is this the manner of man, O Lord God? And what can David say more unto thee?” 2 Sam. vii. 18, &c. And in the relation Hezekiah gave of the goings forth of his soul in prayer when receiving abounding mercies, he tells us that he could only “ chatter like a crane, or a swallow, and mourn like a dove." Isa. xxxviii. 14. Yes, the blessedness at a mercy seat when the soul is brought into intimate communion with God, is not as much from what we say to God, as what God saith to us; not from what we can bring to the Lord, but from what the Lord manifesteth to us. I would rather on these occasions, the Lord should speak one word to me in grace, than that I should offer to the Lord ten thousand words in prayer!
What saith the child of God, I mean the regenerated child of God (for I am only having such in view) to this statement ? Many of the Lord's little ones there are, who can say but little to the Lord in a way of prayer, for whom the Lord hath done great things in a way of salvation. But if the regenerated child of God (it is such only I have in view) cannot speak much to God, doth he wait upon God. If he cannot utter words, yet it is said, “the sighing of the prisoner
cometh up before God," Ps. lxxix 11. If only tears awakened by grace fall, it is said, he putteth" our tears into his bottle.” Ps. Ivi.. 8. If he can do neither, a look unto the Lord with an eye of faith is prayer; for he hath said, “ look unto me and be ye saved!” Isa. xlv. 22. Precious Lord! let me but hear thy voice in which thou hast said, I will say, “it is my people:” and sure I am, thou wilt enable me to say, “ the Lord is my God.” Zech. xiii. 9.
THE FULNESS OF THE SCRIPTURES OF GOD, IN FURNISHING WORDS,
BOTH FOR PRAISE AND PRAYER, FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD.
An acquaintance with God, in his Trinity of Persons into which the child of God, by regeneration is brought; in which, through all the after stages of his continuance upon earth, he is daily increasing, until a life of grace is opened into a life of glory; finds ample resources for maintaining and keeping alive, this holy communion and familiarity with all the Persons of the Godhead, both in the scriptures of the old testament and of the new. And so very full is the word of God of those supplies, that it is hardly possible for the regenerated child of God, (and it is of such only I speak) to open to any part without finding somewhat immediately suited to his purpose. Let his present circumstances be what they may, either under depression, or the reverse; through all, and in all, the departments of nature, providence, and grace, with which the child of God is exercised; in this precious book of God, he will discover expressions, so exactly suited to his own personal situation, as are the most calculated of all others, wherewith he may come, and present himself and his concerns before the Lord. As
if a gracious God designed, (and which is indeed the case) that the Lord's people, should speak to the Lord, in the Lord's own words. For in truth, (and it is a truth, which can never be too often, nor too strongly impressed upon the mind) we can say nothing to God, that is profitable to us, in a way of prayer or praise, but what God hath first said to us, in a way of
grace and love. And however forgetful and inattentive our memories are, to such love tokens of the Lord, certain it is, that the Lord, in his Trinity of Persons, is continually coming forth in them, yea, abiding with his people, and for ever manifesting himself unto them, otherwise than unto the world. John xiv. 16—23. Rev. iii. 20. And these things, so plainly revealed in the new testament, are only so many confirmations of the Lord's gracious promises in the old. 66 As for me, (saith God the Father to his dear Son) this is my covenant 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.” Isa, lix. 21. Hence, in a daily conversation at the mercy-seat with God in his word, not only sweet soul-refreshing communion is carried on, and kept alive in the soul, but hereby is as continually manifested, the persons of the Lord's people, whose they are and to whom they belong. For these are the features of God's children. These are the marks of their trainment and education. These prove, that they are brought into the school of the Lord, and are of that blessed number, of whom it was said, “ all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children." Isa. liv. 13. John vi. 45. That covenant promise, so graciously recorded by the prophet, and brought to the memory of the church again and again, by the apostle, manifest that the last days are come, wherein the Lord said, " I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jer. xxxi. 33. Heb. vii. 10. and x. 16. So that by thus coming daily, yea, hourly before the Lord, in the Lord's own way, (John xiv. 6.) and speaking to the Lord, in the Lord's own words, (Prov. xvi.) 1. we grow more and more into an holy acquaintance with the Lord; and like children at home, and in their father's house, who are living always under the father's eye, we go in and out, and find access at all times, and upon all occasions, to come “ boldly to the throne of grace, and obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Heb. iv. 16.
And it is most blessed to the regenerated child of God, (and it is of such only I speak) when thus brought under divine teaching, to observe what'a profusion of the most precious things the Lord hath provided, in every part of his scriptures, for opening and keeping open unceasing communion and “ fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ," i John i. 3. For the gracious Lord hath not only said, “ take with you words, and say unto the Lord,” thus, and thus. Hosea xiv. 2, &c. but so very condescending the Lord is, that he hath both furnished words of what we are to say to him, and also recorded very often in the same scriptures, what he hath said, and will say, and is for ever saying to us. And indeed, infinitely more are the Lord's words to his people, in a way of blessing and favour, than all they can, or do say to him in a way of supplication or praise. The Lord is always before hand with his people, that “ before they call, he answers.” And as one of old said, so all now find, “the God of my mercy (said he) shall prevent me;" that is, shall be beforehand with me. He comes forth to prevent me with his grace, before that I am ready in prayer. Ps. lix. 10. And oh! how truly blessed it