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1. As the universal and absolute Monarch of all the creation, and the only one, i Chron. xxix. 11. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the gkry, and the vielery, and the majesty: for all that is in keavin and in the earth, is thine ; thine is the kingd:m, 0 Lird, and thou art exalted as head above all. Universal and absolute fovereignty are the flowers of the imperial crown of be ven, and belong to no other. There are many kings on carth, but they are all limited monarchs, and yaffals to the King of hcaven, who can have no competitor : Lord, thine is the kingdom.
2. As the Omnipotent, and only Onnipotent, ibid. The power of men and angels is but a shadow of power, weakness in comparison with God's. None of them all are capable to do what they are capable io will. But his power and will are of equal extent.
3. As the chief end of all things, ibid. and the only chief end. It is the peculiar prerogative of God to fay, For mine own sake, even for mine own jake, will I do it, li. xlviii. a. All persons and things are for God, God is for hiintelf; and the glory of, all redounds to him, and will do for evermore.
This teaches us, That in our prayers we should praise God, as well as petition him. Praise is a comely mixture in all the parts of divine worship. It is most directly tending to God's honour; and it is the piece of worship that will last longest ; when prayers, (c. are laid by in heaven, praise will be there
Ober. This pattern of prajer begins with praise, and ends. with it too. For it is neceffa: y in the entrance, that we have our hearts awed with the divine glory, that su wc may be the fitter to pray on': and in the end, that we may carry away high thoughts of God, for the better regulating of our life, in the intervals of duty.
Secondly, Let us consider the pleading arguments in prayer; and they are all taken from God himlelf, For thire is the krig. dom, and the power, and the glory for ever.
Cb'er. This teaches us to take our encouragement from God only in prayer, to draw our arguments from the confi. deration of what God is. This is a large field, to fill our mouths with arguments, and to furnish us with suitable pleas
Quest. May we not plead with God upon any thing in ourselves ? . Ans. (1.) We may not plead upon any worthiness in ourselves or any otirer creaiure, Dan. ix. 18. We do not present cur fupplications before thee fir our righteousnefjes, but for ihy grcat mercies. 1 Tim. ii. 5. For there is one God, and crie Alesiator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (2.) Though in our pleading we may bring in both our evil and our good, yet she force of the plea or argument is not to be laid on either of them, but on something in God himself answerable thereto. David brings in the greatness of his fin, in his plea for pardon; but the stress of the plea lies not there, but on God's own name, to be magnified greatly by the pardon of great fin, Pfal. xxv. 11. For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. Hezekiah brings in his upright walking in the plea for prolonging his life, Is. xxxviii. 3. Remember now, O Lord, says he, 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 fight. But the stress of it lay on God's faithfulness ia that promise, 1 Kings viii. 25. Therefore now, Lord God of Ifrail, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedf him, saying, There hall not fail thee a man in my fight to fit on the throne of lfrael ; so that
thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me.
Now the plea for hearing, here put in our mouths, is thrcefold.
1. The kingdom is the Lord's. The firefs of the argument from this is, Therefore thou mayît do it, thou hast full authority to grant us whatsoever thou wilt, Matth. xx. 15. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?
2. The power is the Lord's. Therefore thou canst do whatsoever we ask, over the belly of all opposition, and however hopeless it be in itself, Eph. iii. 2o. He is able to do ex. ceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.
3. The glory is the Lord's. Therefore thou wilt do it, since thou loveft thy glory, and wilt bave glory for evermore from answering our petitions, Josh. vii. 9. What will thou not do unto thy great name?
III. Let us consider the concluding word, Amen. It imports two things. (1.) Our desire to be heard. q. d. So be it, Rev. xxii. 20. Amen. Even so come, Lord Jesus. And the believer uses this word properly as a testimony of his desire, when by faith he is enabled and emboldened to plead with God, that he would fulfil his requests, 2 Chron. xx. 6. 11. (2.) Our confidence and aflurance that we shall be heard : 9.d. So certainly it shall be, Rev. i. 7. Even fo. Amen. And the fincere Christian uses the word with great propriety in the conclufion of his prayers, in testimony of his assurance to be heard, when he is by faith emboldened quietly to rest upon the Lord, that he will fulfil the desires of his heart, 2 Chron.
I conclude all with a very few inferences.
Inf. 1. Be fervent and importunate with God in prayer, and let yourselves to plead and pray, as men that are in the deepest earnest about a thing on which their highest interests are fufpended, Jam. v. 16. If earnestnels and importunity are any where required, here they are highly, nay absolutely requifite.
2. Let not complaints justle out praises from your prayers, but still remember that every day affords you as much matter of praise as of request. God's mercies are new every morning; let therefore the sacrifice of praise be a part of the daily sacrifice ye offer unto
God. Never bow a knee unto God for supplicating a mercy from him, without praising him for what mercies ye enjoy. This is a very promising way of obtaining the requests ye make at the throne of grace in the confidence of faith.
3. Deeply consider what a God he is with whom you have to do, to fill your mouth with arguments. Pleas in prayer may be fetched, and faith will fetch them, from every divine attribute and perfection; and faith will improve these pleas in such a manner as to procure the good things it applies to the throne for. What wilt thou not do unto thy great name? is a standing plea for faith ; which can never be rejected. Mercy, holiness, juftice, truth, &c. all magoified by the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, will be never-failing pleas in the mouth of the prayer of faith.
4. Lastly, Use not Amen superficially at the end of your prayers, but with earneftness and faith. As for those who think it superstition to say Amen, they are ignorant of the word of God; and I would recommend to them to consult their Bible and catechism, in order to cure them of that leofeless conceit.
And thus, by the good hand of God upon me, I have fi. nished what I intended by way of illustration of the great doc. trines of the Christian religion, with respect to faith and practice, as compendized, from the holy scriptures, in our Shorter Catechism. I am senlible of many defects in the prosecu. tion of such a large work: for who is fufficient for these things? but I have endeavoured, according to the measure of grace given unto me, to declare unto you what I am persuaded is truth, agreeable to the word of God, the rule and itandard of all religious truth. And I would now ask you, What entertainment have ye given to the great and important truths laid before you, from the Lord's word, in the course of thele ,fermons, in which I have been engaged a considerable part of feveral years ? Do ye now believe? Have ye embraced these doctrines with a divine faith, a faith of the operation of God ? have ye received the truths into your hearts, and are your hearts moulded into the image of them? Are they be. come the food and nourishment of your souls, so as ye are made to esteem them inore than the food that is necessary for the support of your natural life? Are they written on your hearts, and impressed on your consciences, so as to become an effective principle of new obedience? Is the effict of them the fanctification of your hearts and lives? and is the result of the whole an earnest desire to know the truth more fully and clearly, and to regulate every - motion and defire of your hearts, every word of your mouths, and every action of your lives, by the truth, so as ye may be enabled through grace to do the whole will of God? If these catechetical discourses have not produced some such effects upon you, or any of you, alas! they have been all loft as to any saving benefit to your fouls, and will be a swift and terrible witness against you in the day of the Lord Jesus. O Sirs, consider, bethink yourselves, recollect the great and important truths I have been laying bifore you, drawn from the pure and uncorrupted fountaio of the Lord's word, and let them have a suitable and lasting ii.fluence on your hearts and lives. If ye imprison the truri, and hold it in unrighteousness, by resisting and opposing is. effect, which is fanétification, John xvii. 17. and refusing to let it rule over you, and railing up your lusts against it, and so unrighteously smothering and suppresiog it, ye do fo at a terrible rik: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven a. gainst all ungodlixess, and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteo:friess, Rom. i. 18. It is very probable, that many of you at least have acquired more knowledge of the principles of religion, than ye had formerly; and I am obliged to own; that your knowledge of the truths thereof is as much generally, as ever I obferved in other places. But is it fanctifying faving knowledge, or only merely speculative, floating in your heads, without having a due and efficacious influence upon your hearts ? Alas,! I must say, that truth is lield prifoner with a witness among us, and that our lives are not answerable to our light, and I am much atraid it bring wrath on the place. I therefore earnestly beseech and exhort one and all of you to study to know the truth as it is in Jesus, to have a heart experimental knowledge thereof, a real feeling and fenfation of the sweetness, virtue, and excellency thereof, in your minds, so as ye may taste indeed that the Lord is good.
This knowledge alone will be available to your salvation, while all other knowledge is quite useless an:1 unprofitable as to any falutary effect. For fays our Lord, John xvii. 3. This is life eiernal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jefus Chri,t whom thou hast fent. But the further prefling of this experimental knowledge of Christ, I must defer to another occalion, with which I thall conclude this work.
A Discourse on the experimental Knowledge of Christ.
. 10. That I may know hin. A
MERE fpeculative knowledge of Christ, and of the great
doctrines of the gospel, however laboriously acquired and extensive it may be, is of 1.n... 'importance in itself, and quite vain and ineffectual, if it be not fanctified, and issue in an experimental koowledge of Christ, and a real feeling of the beauty, excellency, and efficacy of divine truth on the heart. A man may have a competent, nay a very extensive acquaintance with the whole doctrines of the Christian religion, as laid down in the holy fcriptures, and of which we have an excellent compend in the Shorter Catechisin, which I liave been endeavouring to explain to you for a series of years; yet if you have not the experimental knowledge of Christ, all your kaowledge is in vain as to the salvation of your fouls. I therefore come, as a conclusion of the whole, to press this experimental knowledge upon you, as what alone will be available for any saving purposes.
In the preceding verfe the apostle speaks of the gain he received in Christianity in point of justification, flowing froin the foul's clofing with Christ, and renouncing all other; and here he speaks of that gain in point of fanctification. And firit more generally, That I may know him. Might not the Philippians hereupon have said, And do not you know Chrift, who have preached him fo long? There are two ways of knowing, one bv hearing of a thing, another by fight and feeling, one by the relation of another, another by experience, as one knows honey and all the virtues of it by rep:rit, which he believes, another by talting it himself. The apostle knew Christ by faith, when he first believed in hin; ani! here he would have the spiritual feeling and experience of