Page images

2. The power is the Lord's. Therefore thou canst do whatsoever we ask, over the belly of all opposition, and how ever hopeless it be in itself, Eph. iii. 20. He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.'

3. The glory is the Lord's. Therefore thou wilt do it, since chou lovest thy glory, and wilt have glory for evermore from answering our petitions, Josh. vü. 9. - What wilt 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 assurance that we shall be heard ; 4. d. so certainly it shall be, Rev. i. 7. • Even 80 Amen. And the sincere Christian uses the word with great propriety in the conclusion 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. xiv. 11.

I conclude all with a very few inferences.

Inf. 1. Be fervent and importunate with God in prayer, and set yourselves to plead and pray, as men that are in the deepest earnest about a thing on which their highest interests are suspended, Jam. v. 16. If earnestness and importunity are any where required, here they are highly, nay, absolute ly requisite.

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, froin every divine attribute and perfection; and faith will improve these pleas in such a inanner 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, justice, truth, &c. all magnified 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 earnestness 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 senseless conceit.

And thus, by the good hand of God upon me, I have finished what I intended by way of illustration of the great doctrines of the Christian religion, with respect to faith and practice, as compendized, from the Holy Scriptures, in our Shorter Catechism. I am sensible of many defects in the prosecution of such a large work; for who is sufficient 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 standard 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 these sermons, in which I have been engaged a considerable part of several 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 become the food and nourishment of your souls, so as ye are made to esteem them more 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 effect of them the sanctification 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 desire 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 Vol. II.

3 S

these catechetical discourses have not produced some such effects upon you, or any of you, alas ! they have been all lose as to any saving benefit to your souls, 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 before you, drawn from the pure and uncorrupted fountain of the Lord's word, and let them have a suitable and lasting influence on your hearts and lives. If ye imprison the truth, and hold it in unrigh. teousness, by resisting and opposing its effect, which is sanctification, John xvii. 17. and refusing to let it rule over you, and raising up your lusts against it, and so unrighteously smothering and suppressing it, ye do so at a terrible risk': • For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness,' 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 observed in other places. But is it sanctifying saving 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 held prisoner with a witness among us, and that our lives are not answerable to our light, and I am much afraid 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 sensation 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 and unprofitable as to any salutary effect. For says our Lord, John xvii. 3. • This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.' But the further pressing of this experimental knowledge of Christ, I must defer to another occasion, with which I shall conclude this work.


Phil. iii. 10.That I may know him.


Mere speculative knowledge of Christ, and of the

great doctrines of the gospel, however laboriously acquired and extensive it may be, is of small importance in its self, and quite vain and ineffectual, if it be not sanctified, and issue in an experimental knowledge 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 scriptures, and of which we have an excellent compend in the shorter Catechism, which I have been endeavouring to explain to you for a series of years; yet if you have not the experimental knowledge of Christ, all your knowledge is in vain as to the salvation of your souls. 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 verse, the apostle speaks of the gain he received in Christianity in point of justification, flowing from the soul's closing with Christ, and renouncing all other; and here he speaks of that gain in point of sanctification. And first, more generally, That I may know him. Might not the Philippians hereupon have said, And do not you know Christ, who have preached him so long? There are two ways of knowing, one by hearing of a thing, another by sight and feeling; one by the relation of another, another by experience, as one knows honey, and all the virtues of it, by report, which he believes, another by tasting it himself. The apostle knew Christ by faith, when he first believed in him; and here he would have the spiritual feeling and experience of him, finding by experience him to be what he has heard and believed him to be. He had something of this, but he would still have more. The doctrine arising from the text is,

Doct. The experimental knowledge of Christ is the sum

of practical religion,' i Cor. ii. 2. 'flowing from faith, to be studied by all.'

In handling this point I shall, I. Shew what this experimental knowledge of Christ is, II. Confirm the point. III. Make application.

1. I am to shew what this experimental knowledge of Christ is. It is an inward and spiritual feeling of what we hear and believe concerning Clirist and his truths, whereby answerable impressions are made on our souls, Psal. xxxiv. 8, like that of the Samaritans, John iv. 42, when they said unto the woman, Now, we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. There is a sa. voury report of Christ spread in the gospel; faith believes it, and embraces him for what the word gives him out to be; and then the believing soul doth come and see. There is a glorious scheme of the lovely perfections of Christ drawn in the Bible, and faith believes that he really is what he is said to be; and then that scheme begins to be drawn over again inthe Christian's experience, and this is always drawing more and more till he come to glory. It is just as if some eminent physician should give a friend remedies for all diseases he may be liable to; and when he leaves them with him, he lets him know that such a remedy is good for that distemper, and another is good for such another, &c. Now, he knows them all; but he falls sick, and he takes the remedy fit for his disease, and it proves ineffectual. Now, the man knows the remedy by experience, which he knew be. fore by report only. Even so Christ is given as all in all to a believer, and he makes use of Christ for his case, and that is the experimental knowledge of hiin. I will illustrate this by some instances.

1. The scripture says of Christ, He is the way to the Father, John xiv. 6. Now, the man that has tộied many ways of attaining access to God, and communion with hiin, and still is denied access, and can find no way to come to God, at length comes by Jesus Christ, renouncing all things else, leans only on his merit and intercession, and he finds an open door of access to God, and communion with him. The

« PreviousContinue »