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Serm. all their Successors in the Faith of Chrift: VIII. Whereupon, because the Promise is made
in the largest Terms, without expreffing any Conditions; and yet common Sense, as well as Religion, teaches that the whole Effect of it depends upon certain Conditions, which they likewife teach; I specify'd and confirm’d the same from both Authorities, and thew'd upon each of them, that the Name of Jesus Christ, which he himself hath encouraged his Church to accompany all their Prayers with, is fruitful of Reflections the most adapted and powerful to excite and compel Men to the Performing those Conditions.
They were (you may remember) first, of the Requests themselves, that they be made for Things good, and design'd to good Ends; and, secondly, that they who approach with them, lift up pure Hearts and holy Hands, sustain'd by a full Assurance of Faith in the Divine Goodness. I endeavour'd to prove, that the Resignation and Charity comprehended in the former Part, and the Repentance and Reformation in the latter, were as strongly, as perpetually,
awaken'd and inforced by that holy and SerM. reverend Name. And upon the Whole it VIII. might appear, that the Inserting of it in every Petition is a Suggestion of the Terms on which alone they can be heard, evident enough to supply the Want of their being annex'd to the Promise in Words at Length. Only as to the Duty and Limitation of Faith, how that is directed and influenced thereby, I deferred to explain, because of its Coincidence with the Ala furance of Success; which I propounded to treat of at large, as a very considerable Benefit and Effect of our Lord's Appointment in my Text; Whatsoever ye Mall ask the Father in my Name, be will give
This indeed is the direct and most obvious Use of it : But it was neceffary to treat of the Conditions upon which the Whole depends in the first Place, that we might embrace the Consolation there offer'd
upon fure Grounds, having taken the due Care that both our Petitions and our Persons fhould be such as the Promise is alone made to. After that, our Security of the Performance is built on the Con
SERM. fideration of the Truth of him that hath VIII engaged it ; (for that supposes the Power ;)
and we know that He is faithful that hath promised. But since that general Argument arises equally from many other Places of Scripture, I shall confine my
Dif course to what is more peculiar to that before us, and shew the Faith wherewith we are encouraged and obliged to plead the Name of our Lord in every Prayer that we fend
up: In order to this, let it be considered, what is the chief Ground, whereupon Mankind harbours any Distrust of averting Evil, or receiving Good at the Hand of God. We shall find it, the Conscience of Guilt. Our Nature deprav'd, and continual Transgression of his Laws, gives a Dread of his Purity and Justice : And when we would present ourselves as Objects of his Favour and Bounty, our Minds condemn us as more reasonably those of his Displeasure and Vengeance. This Fear hath lain heavy upon the Hearts of Men in all Ages of Darkness, and damp'd any chearful Confidence in approaching to God, and run them into absurd and fu
perstitious Devotions to escape from it. Serm.
VIII. Indeed, when they consider'd the Author of their own Being, and of all the good Things in the World ; when they reasoned on the Perfectness of his Nature, and entire Exemption from all Weakness, (whence alone Evil can spring ;) they were led to admire and trust in his Bounty to his Creatures. But when they reflected on the Holiness of his Laws, and Immutability of his Justice, Self-accufations and Despondency succeeded : Many Marks of his Indignation appeared in the Course of Things ; and their own Breasts perpetually suggested and acknowledged the Reason. Neither could they sufficiently satisfy their Doubts, or quiet their Fears with Repentance and Endeavours of returning and keeping to their Duty. For still it remained, that that Obedience was equally due in the Time past, when it was not paid ; as at the present, and for the future, when it might be endeavour'd. And besides, they were fadly conscious of the Imperfection of those Endeavours; and even of frequent Relapses. What Sacrifice therefore could atVOL. I. O
SERM. tone for long Habits of Disobedience; or VIII. what Merit render acceptable such im
perfect Service, and procure Grace to pardon and raise them up anew after the Provocations of repeated Backslidings ? Wherewith Mould they come before the Lord, and bow themselves before the high God? The deep Concern of Mankind on this Head exposed them to the Pretences of Impostors, who by their Devices brought them into the Condition of a still greater Guilt and juster Despair.
But no true, no full Remedy was found, till the Sun of Righteousness arose with Healing in his Wings. The great Work of Expiation was above human Power to execute, or even Capacity to propose. God alone knew what Satisfaction was sufficient and proper for the Violation of his Laws : And this he himself hath provided, and accepted in the Person and Sufferings of Jesus Christ. He made the Declaration and Promise in my Text to his Disciples, and in them to All, just before he was going to finish that great Work of Attonement and Restitution of the World to the Divine Favour. Then he shewed them