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himself hath suffered being tempted, he is touched with a feeling of our infirmities, and knows how to have compassion on them that are out of the way; Heb. ii. 18. iv. 15. v. 6. So is he also, as he alone who is able to succour, to relieve, and to deliver them. He is able to succour them Hereon are they drawn, con
that are tempted; Heb. ii. 18. strained, encouraged to make applications unto him by prayer, that he would deal with them according to his compassion and power. This is a season rendering the discharge of this duty necessary. And hereby have innumerable souls found consolation, refreshment, and deliverance. A time of trouble is a time of the especial exercise of faith in Christ. So himself gives direction, John xiv. 1. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.' Distinct actings of faith on Christ, are the great means of supportment and relief in trouble. And it is by especial invocation whereby they put forth and exert themselves.
An instance hereof as unto temptation, and the distress wherewith it is attended, we have in the apostle Paul. He had a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him. Both expressions declare the deep sense he had of his temptation, and the perplexity wherewith it was accompanied. For this cause he besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from him ;' 2 Cor. xii. 7, 8. He applied himself solemnly unto prayer for its removal, and that frequently. And it was the Lord, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ unto whom he made his application. For so the name Lord is to be interpreted if there be nothing contrary in the context, as the name of God is of the Father, by virtue of that rule, 1 Cor. viii. 6, 7. To us there is one God the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ.' And it is evident also in the context. The answer he received unto his prayer was 'My grace is sufficient for thee, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' And whose power that was, who gave him that answer, he declares in the next words, 'Most gladly therefore will I glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me,' that is, the power of him on whom he called, who gave him that answer, My power is made perfect in weak
-(2dly.) Times of gracious discoveries either of the glory
of Christ in himself, or of his love unto us, are seasons that call for this duty. The glory of Christ in his person and offices is always the same. And the revelation that is made of it in the Scripture varieth not. But as unto our perception and apprehension of it, whereby our hearts and minds are affected with it in an especial manner, there are apparent seasons of it, which no believers are unacquainted withal. Sometimes such a sense of it is attained under the dispensation of the word, wherein as Christ on the one hand is set forth evidently crucified before our eyes, so on the other he is gloriously exalted. Sometimes it is so in prayer, in meditation, in contemplation on him. As an ability was given unto the bodily sight of Stephen, to see upon the opening of the heavens, the glory of God, and Jesus standing at his right hand;' Acts vii. 56, 57. so he opens the veil sometimes, and gives a clear affecting discovery of his glory unto. the minds and souls of believers; and in such seasons are they drawn forth and excited unto invocation and praise. So Thomas, being surprised with an apprehension and evidence of his divine glory and power after his resurrection, wherein he was declared to be the Son of God with power, Rom. i. 4. cried unto him, My Lord and my God,' John xx. 28. There was in his words both a profession of his own faith, and a solemn invocation of Christ. When therefore we have real discoveries of the glory of Christ, we cannot but speak to him, or of him. These things said Isaiah when he saw his glory and spake of him,' John xii. 41. And Stephen upon a view of it in the midst of his enraged enemies, testified immediately, 'I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.' And thereby was he prepared for that solemn invocation of his name, which he used presently after, Lord Jesus receive my spirit ;' Acts vii. 56. 59. And so also upon his appearance as the Lamb to open the book of prophecies, wherein there was an eminent manifestation of his glory, seeingnone else could be found in heaven or earth, or under the earth, that was able to open the book, or so much as to look thereon, Rev. v. 3. The four and twenty elders fell down before him,' and presenting all the prayers of the saints, 'sang a new song of praise unto him;' ver. 8-10. This is our duty, this will be our wisdom, upon affecting discoveries of the glory of
Christ; namely, to apply ourselves unto him by invocation or praise; and thereby will the refreshment and advantage of them abide upon our minds.
The love of Christ is al
So is it also as unto his love. ways the same and equal unto the church. Howbeit there are peculiar seasons of the manifestation and application of a sense of it unto the souls of believers. So it is when it is witnessed unto them, or shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost. Then is it accompanied with a constraining power to oblige us to live unto him who died for us, and rose again; 2 Cor. v. 14, 15. And of our spiritual life unto Christ, invocation of him is no small portion. And this sense of his love we might enjoy more frequently than for the most part we do, were we not so much wanting unto ourselves and our own concerns. For although it be an act of sovereign grace in God, to grant it unto us, and affect us with it, as it seems good unto him; yet is our duty required to dispose our hearts unto its reception. Were we diligent in casting out all that 'filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness,' which corrupts our affections, and disposes the mind to abound in vain imaginations; were our hearts more taken off from the love of the world, which is exclusive of a sense of divine love; did we more meditate on Christ and his glory, we should more frequently enjoy these constraining visits of his love, than now we do. So himself expresseth it, Rev. iii. 20. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.' He makes intimation of his love and kindness unto us. But oft-times we neither hear his voice when he speaks, nor do open our hearts unto him. So do we lose that gracious refreshing sense of his love which he expresseth in that promise, 'I will sup with him, and he shall sup with me.' No tongue can express that heavenly communion and blessed intercourse which is intimated in this promise. The expression is metaphorical, but the grace expressed is real, and more valued than the whole world, by all that have experience of it. This sense of the love of Christ, and the effect of it in communion with him, by prayer and praises, is divinely set forth in the Book of Canticles. The church therein is represented as the spouse of Christ; and as a faithful spouse she is always either soli
citous about his love, or rejoicing in it. And when she hath attained a sense of it, she aboundeth in invocation, admiration, and praise. So doth the church of the New Testament upon an apprehension of his love, and the unspeakable fruits of it. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen;' Rev. i. 5, 6. This therefore is another season that calls for this duty.
(3dly.) Times of persecution for his name's sake, and for the profession of the gospel, are another season rendering this peculiar invocation of Christ both comely and necessary. Two things will befall the minds of believers in such a season. [1st.] That their thoughts will be greatly exercised about him, and conversant with him. They cannot but continually think and meditate on him for whom they suffer. None ever suffered persecution on just grounds, with sincere ends, and in a due manner, but it was so with them. The invincible reasons they have to suffer for him, taken from his person, love, grace, and authority, from what he is in himself, what he hath done for them, and what account of all things is to be given unto him, do continually present themselves unto their minds. Wildernesses, prisons, and dungeons, have been filled with thoughts of Christ and his love. And many in former and latter ages have given an account of their communion and holy intercourse with the Lord Christ under their restraints and sufferings. And those who at any time have made an entrance into such a condition, will all of them give in the testimony of their own experience in this matter. [2dly.] Such persons have deep and fixed apprehensions of the especial concernment which the Lord Christ hath in them as unto their present condition; as also of his power to support them, or to work out their deliverance. They know and consider, 'That in all their afflictions, he is afflicted,' suffers in all their sufferings, is persecuted in all their persecutions. That in them all he is full of love, pity, and unspeakable compassion towards them; that his grace is sufficient for them, that his power shall be perfected in their weakness, to carry them through all their sufferings unto his and their own glory. In these circumstances, it is impossible for them who are under the conduct of his spirit,
not to make especial applications continually unto him, for those aids of grace, for those pledges of love and mercy, for those supplies of consolation and spiritual refreshments, which their condition calls for. Wherefore in this state, the invocation of Christ, is the refuge and sheet-anchor of the souls of them who truly believe in him. So it was unto all the holy martyrs of old, and in latter ages.
This doctrine and duty is not for them who are at ease. The afflicted, the tempted, the persecuted, the spiritually disconsolate, will prize it, and be found in the practice of it. And all those holy souls, who in most ages, on the account of the profession of the gospel, have been reduced unto outwardly unrelievable distresses, have, as was said, left their testimony unto this duty, and the benefits of it. The refreshment which they found therein, was a sufficient balance against the weight of all outward calamities, enabling them to rejoice under them with joy unspeakable and full of glory.' This is the church's reserve against all the trials it may be exercised withal, and all the dangers whereunto it is exposed. Whilst believers have liberty of access unto him in their supplications, who hath all power in his hand, who is full of ineffable love and compassion towards them, especially as suffering for his sake, they are more than conquerors in all their tribulations.
(4thly.) When we have a due apprehension of the eminent actings of any grace in Christ Jesus, and withal a deep and abiding sense of our own want of the same grace, it is a season of especial application unto him by prayer for the increase of it. All graces as unto their habit were equal in Christ; they were all in him in the highest degree of perfection. And every one of them did he exercise in its due manner and measure on all just occasions. But outward causes and circumstances, gave opportunity unto the exercise of some of them, in a way more eminent and conspicuous than others were exercised in. For instance; such were his unspeakable condescension, self-denial, and patience in sufferings, which the apostle unto this purpose insists upon, Phil. ii. 5-8. Now the great design of all believers is to be like Jesus Christ, in all grace, and all the exercise of it. He is in all things their pattern and example. Wherefore, when they have a view of the glory of any grace as it was