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that “ He is able to do for you exceeding abundantly above all that you can ask or even thinko.” Go to him, then, and "pray to him with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit;" yea, pray without ceasing,” and “ give him no rest” till he has answered your requests. But be not hasty to imagine that he will not hear; because he may already have heard and answered in the way most conducive to your good, whilst you are doubting whether he will so much as listen to your petitions. Of course you cannot expect to receive, unless
ask according to his will d; but, with that reserve only, I assure you, that
ye may ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." Only “ ask in faith,” and “according to your faith it shall be done unto you.”] Eph. iii. 20. 1 John v. 14.
e John xv.
ир. : THE history of the Jews is not a mere record of times and persons far distant from us, but a display of the Divine procedure towards others, as a pledge of a similar procedure towards us. The Jews were intended as examples to the Church of God in all ages : their prosperity whilst serving God, and their adversity when they had departed from him, were designed to shew us what blessings we may expect at God's hands, if we serve him acceptably; and what judgments, if we rebel against him”. In this view it will be profitable to consider the words before us; and, I. The perverseness complained of—
Nothing could exceed the kindness of God towards his people of old[How tender and affectionate is his address to them!
He entreats them not to look to any strange god, since he alone has an exclusive right to their regard He assures them also, that whatsoever they shall ask at his hands, he will do it for them d
And is it not precisely in the same way that he addresses us? a See 1 Cor. x. 1–11. and Heb. iii. 16-19. and iv. 1. b ver. 8. c ver. 9, 10.
ver. 10. with Deut. iv. 7.
He invites us to look to him, and to come unto him', and to ask of him whatsoever we will, with an assurance that we shall not be disappointed of our hope. There is no limitation or exception, provided only the things we desire be agreeable to his holy will. If we plead with him in earnest, there is no sin that shall not be forgiven", no corruption that shall not be mortified', no want that shall not be suppliedk. He engages, that, to whatever temptation we may be exposed, his grace shall be sufficient for us!.] But their obstinacy was incorrigible
[The Jews, with but few exceptions, “ would not hearken to his voice.” His precepts, his promises, his threatenings, were alike disregarded by them. “They would none of him;" but said to his messengers whom he sent to reclaim them,“Make the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us”
And is it not thus with us? Is not his authority trampled on by us? and are not both his mercies and judgments almost universally despised? We will have other objects of our affections in preference to him --- We will not open our mouths in prayer, though we know that nothing is to be obtained without it
The language of our hearts and actions is, “We will not have this man to reign over us
Notwithstanding all that he has done to “redeem” us from death and hell, we will not take upon ourselves his light and easy yoke.]
While we thus imitate the perverseness of the
(He would have preserved them in Canaan, and loaded them with all imaginable blessings, even as he had done in former times
But this was a very faint shadow of what he would do for us. What victory would he have given us over all our spiritual enemies! What a fulness of consolation and joy also would he have bestowed upon us, in the communications of his grace, and the manifestations of his love! Surely his Spirit, as “ a Spirit of adoption,” should have “ witnessed with our spirits that we were his," and should have “ sealed us unto the day of redemption" -1
2. What misery they incurrede Isai. xlv. 22. and lv. 1-3.
f Matt. xi. 28. 6 John xiv. 13, 14. and xv. 7.
h Isai. i. 18. i Mic. vii. 19. k Phil. iv. 19. 1 2 Cor. xii. 8, 9. m Luke xix. 14.
n Deut. xxxii. 29. VOL. VI.
[God gave them up to idolatry, and to their own hearts ' lusts; and left them to a walk in their own counselso"
And this is the curse which he denounces against us also. “ His spirit will not always strive with us.” If he see that we are bent upon our evil ways, he will abandon us to our own delusions P, and will say, “ He is joined to idols, let him alone 9”
A greater curse than this God cannot inflict, because our remaining days will be occupied only in augmenting our guilt and aggravating our condemnation' - Were the judgment only to deliver our bodies to Satan now, that might lead to our final salvation : but to give us over to the uncontrolled influence of self, is a certain prelude to our everlasting damnation. It is, in fact, the very beginning of hell, where it will be said to the unhappy souls, “He that is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is unjust, let him be unjust stills."] Hence it APPEARS, 1. Whose will be the fault, if any be lost
[None can lay it to the charge of God that he is unwilling to save them. He has sworn with an oath that he willeth not the death of any sinner. And in the psalm before us he takes up a lamentation over those who obstinately compel him to give them up". Thus did our blessed Lord over the murderous Jerusalem*: and thus does he over all impenitent transgressors; “Ye will not come unto me that ye may have lifey.” “ Often would I have gathered you, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings; but ye would not?." And what a bitter source of self-condemnation will this be to us, that God would have saved us, but we would not be saved by him! The language which God now uses over us, we shall then use in reference to ourselves: “O that I had hearkened to his voice! O that I had walked in his ways!" How should I have been at this instant triumphing over my cruel adversary, and feasting on all the richest fruits of paradise, instead of dwelling with everlasting burnings, without one drop of water to cool my tongue! Surely this reflection will be the bitterest ingredient in that bitter cup, which they who perish will be drinking of to all eternity.] 2. Whose will be the glory, if any be saved
[We never come to Christ, till the Father, by the mighty working of his power, draws us to him. Such is the pride of the human heart, that no man will submit to be saved by grace alone, till God has made him “ willing in the day of his power.” If therefore we have been brought to hearken to his voice, let us remember Who it is that has unstopped our ears,
o See Rom. i. 24, 26, 28.
“So I gave them up."
If it be said, We prayed for these blessings; and therefore we at least may glory that the blessings do not come to us unsolicited; we would ask, Who inclined or enabled us to pray? We should never have been inclined to pray, if God had not given us a spirit of grace and of supplication; "nor should we have known what to pray for as we ought, if He by his Spirit had not helped our infirmities.” If still it be said, “ Yet we prayed;" Be it so: but how long were you before you prayed at all? And what have been your prayers since ever you began to pray ? Are you not amazed when you review your prayers, and see how cold, and dead, and formal they have been? What if a beggar had asked of you in the way that you have but too often asked of God? Would you have granted his request? or, if you had granted his request, and not only relieved his present necessities, but conferred upon him one half of your fortune, would you not be surprised, if he, instead of admiring your unequalled generosity, were taking credit to himself for asking relief from you? Know then, that if you are partaking of God's mercy, you are no other than “ beggars, who have been taken from the dunghill, and set among the princes. Know, that ye are altogether debtors to the grace of God, and must ascribe to him “the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever."]
DIVINE ORDINANCES LOVELY. Ps. Ixxxiv. 144. How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of
Hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thine house: they will be still praising thee.
TRULY it is sweet to read of the experience of the saints, and to be able to appeal to it in vindication of our own experience. I wonder not that the world should cry out against the people of the Lord as enthusiastic and absurd; for they cannot by any means conceive how a person should lose all relish for carnal delights, and find all his happiness in employments wherein they see nothing but restraint and melancholy. But, indeed, there is a delight in communion with a reconciled God, an ineffable “joy, with which the stranger intermeddleth not.” This is well expressed in the passage before us; from whence I shall take occasion to shew, 1. The light in which we should view divine ordi
nancesCertainly the expressions here used in reference to them are exceeding strong. To a mind not conversant with the subject, they would appear rather like the flights of a poetical imagination than as the dictates of sober judgment. But they are not a whit too strong, if viewed in reference to the object respecting which they treat. Both body and soul may well unite in the feelings here expressed, feelings of intense desire, such as envies the very birds the privilege they enjoy of building their nests around the sacred edifice where God's presence is enjoyed. Truly the tabernacles of the Most High will appear amiable, if we consider that in them,
1. God's presence is vouchsafed
[Formerly God dwelt in his sanctuary by the Shechinah, a bright cloud, the symbol of his presence, which was in itself visible to the eye of sense, though it was seen only by the High Priest, and that only on one day in the year. Now, his presence is visible only to the eye of faith (for there is an eye that “ seeth Him that is invisiblea"), and by him who possesses a spiritual discernment, even though he be the least and meanest of God's children, the divine presence is both seen and felt. What else is the meaning of those words, “ If a man love me, my Father will love him; and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him?" Yes, verily, God will manifest himself to his believing people as he does not unto the worldb:" he will, in an especial manner, " draw nigh to those who draw nigh to him: “ Wherever two or three are met together in his name, he will be in the midst of them ;” and to every weeping suppliant he will say, “ Behold me, behold me!" "Here I am 4."] 2. His blessings are dispensed
[In the days of our blessed Lord, we are informed, that multitudes, labouring under every kind of malady, thronged about him; and that “virtue went forth from him to heal them alle.” Somewhat similar to this may yet be seen under the ministration of the Gospel. Multitudes, oppressed with
a Heb. xi. 27. b John xiv. 21-23. c Isai. lxv, 1. d Isai. lvii. 9. e Luke vi. 19.