« PreviousContinue »
do very often represent, that when this shall be accomplished, the whole inanimate creation shall greatly rejoice : That the heavens shall sing, the earth be glad, the mountains break forth into singing, the hills be joyful together, the trees clap their hands, the lower parts of the earth shout, the sea roar and the fulness thereof, and the floods ciap their hands, Isa. xliv. 23....xlix. 13. Psal. Ixix. 34, 35...xcvi. 11, 12, and xcvič. 7, 8.
All the intelligent elect creation, all God's holy creatures in heaven and earth, are truly and properly waiting for, and earnestly expecting that event. It is abundantly represented in scripture as the spirit and character of all true saints, that they set their hearts upon, love, long, wait and pray for the promised glory of that day ; they are spoken of as those that prefer Jerusalem to their chief joy, Psal. cxxxvii. 6. That take pleasure in the stones of Zion, and favor the dust thereof, Psal. cii. 13, 14. That wait for the consolation of Israel, Luke ü. 25, and v. 38. It is the language of the church of God, and the breathing of the soul of every true saint, that we have in Psal. xiv. 7.“ O that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion ! when the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad." And Cant. ii. 17.“ Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn my beloved, and be thou like a roe, or a young beart upon the mountains of Bether.” And chap. viii. 14.“ Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.” Agreeable to this, was the spirit of old Jacob, which he expressed when he was dying, in faith in the great promise made to him and Isaac and Abraham,that « in their seed all the families of the earth should be blessed, Gen. xlix. 18. “I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord." The same is represented as the spirit of his true children, or the family of Jacob, Isa. viii. 17. “ I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth himself from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him." They that love Christ's appearing, is a name that the apostle gives to true Christians, 2 Tim. iv. 8.
The glorious inhabitants of the heavenly world, the saints and angels there, that rejoice when one sinner repents, are earnestly waiting, in an assured and joyful dependence on God's promises of that conversion of the world, and marriage of the Lamb, which shall be when that glorious day comes ; and therefore they are represented as all with one accord rejoicing and praising God with such mighty exultation and triumph, when it is accomplished, in Rev. xix.
5. The word of God is full of precepts, encouragements, and examples, tending to excite and induce the people of God to be much in prayer for this mercy.
The Spirit of God is the chief of the blessings, that are the subject matter of Christian prayer ; for it is the sum of all spiritual blessings ; which are those that we need infinitely more than all others, and are those wherein our true and eternal happiness consists. That which is the sum of the blessings that Christ purchased, is the sum of the blessings that Christians have to pray for ; but that as was observed before, is the Holy Spirit : And therefore when the disciples came to Christ, and desired him to teach them to pray, Luke xi. and he accordingly gave them particular directions for the performance of this duty, the conclusion of his whole discourse in the 13th verse plainly shews that the Holy Spirit is the sum of the blessings that are the subject matter of that prayer about which he had instructed them. “ If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?” From which words of Christ, we may also observe, that there is no blessing that we have so great encouragement to pray for, as the Spirit of God; the words imply that our heavenly Father is especially ready to bestow his Holy Spirit on them that ask him. Of the more excellent nature any benefit is that we stand in need of, the more ready God is to bestow it in answer to prayer : The infinite goodness of God's nature is the more gratified, and the grand design and aim of the contrivance and work of our redemption is the more answered, and Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, has the greater success in his undertaking and labors ; and those desires that are expressed in prayer for the most excellent blessings are the most excellent desires, and consequently such as God most approves, and is most ready to gratify.
The scriptures do not only direct and encourage us in general to pray for the Holy Spirit above all things else, but it is the expressly revealed will of God, that his church should be wery much in prayer for that glorious outpouring of the Spirit that is to be in the latter days, and the things that shall be accomplished by it. God, speaking of that blessed event, Ezek. xxxvi. under the figure of “ cleansing the house of Israel from all their iniquities, planting and building their waste and ruined places, and making them to become like the garden of Eden, and filling them with men like a flock, like the holy Hock, the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts,” (wherein he doubtless has respect to the same glorious restoration and advancement of his church that is spoken of in the next chapten, and in all the following chapters to the end of the book) he says, ver. 37. “ Thus saith the Lord, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them.” Which doubtiess implies that it is the will of God that extraordinary prayerfulness in his people for this mercy should precede the bestowment of it.
I know of po place in the Bible, where so strong an expression is made use of to signify importunity in prayer, as is used in Isa. Ixii. 6, 7, where the people of God are called upon to be importunate for this mercy : “ Ye that make mention of the
Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, until he estabį lish, and until he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth."How
strong is the phrase! And how loud is this call to the church of God, to be fervent and incessant in their cries to him for this great mercy ! How wonderful are the words to be used, concerning the manner in which such worins of the dust should address the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity! And what encouragement is here, to approach the mercy seat with the greatest freedom, boldness, earnestness, constancy and full assurance of faith, to seek of God this greatest thing that can be sought in Christian prayer !
It is a just observation of a certain eminent minister of the church of Scotland, in a discourse of his, lately published on social prayer, in which, speaking of pleading for the success of
the gospel, as required by the Lord's prayer, he says, “That notwithstanding of its being so compendious, yet the one half of it, that is, three petitions in six, and these the first prescribed, do all relate to this great case : So that to put up any one of these petitions apart, or all of them together, is upon the matter, 10 pray that the dispensation, of the gospel may be blessed with divine power.” That glorious day we are speaking of is the proper and appointed time, above all others, for the bringing to pass the things requested in each of these petitions ; A's the prophecies every where represent that as the time, which God has especially appointed for the hallowing or glorifying his own great name in this world, causing his glory to be revealed, that all flesh may see it together, causing it openly to be manifested in the sight of the heathen, filling the whole porld with the light of his glory to such a degree that the Moon shall be confounded and Sun ashamed before that brighter glory : The appointed time for the glorifying and magnifying the name of Jesus Christ, causing every knee to bow, and every tongue to confess to him. This is the proper time of God's kingdom's coming, or of Christ's coming in his kingdom : That is the very time foretold in the 2d of Daniel, when the Lord God of heaven shall set up a kingdom, in the latter times of the last monarchy, when it is di: vided into ten kingdoms : And that is the very time foretold
in the 7th of Daniel, when there should be given to one like to the son of man, dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages should serve him ; and the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the Saints of the most high God, after the destruction of the little horn, that should continue for a time, times, and the dividing of time. And that is the time wherein Cod's will shall be done on earth, as it is done in heaven ; when heaven shall as it were be bowed, and come down to the earth, as God's people shall be all righteous, and holiness to the Lord shall be written on the bells of the horses, &c. So that the three first petitions of the Lord's prayer are in effect no other than requests for the bringing on this glorious day. And as the
Lord's prayer begins with asking for this, in the three first petitions, 'so it concludes with it, in these words, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen. Which words imply a request that God would take to himself his great power, and reign, and manifest his power and glory in the world. Thus Christ teaches us that it becomes his disciples to seek this above all other things, and make it the first and the last in their prayers, and that every petition should be put up in a subordination to the advancement of God's kingdom and glory in the world.
Besides what has been observed of the Lord's prayer, if we look through the whole Bible, and observe all the examples of prayer that we find there recorded, we shall find so many prayers for no other mercy, as for the deliverance, restoration and prosperity of the church, and the advancement of God's glory and kingdom of grace in the world. If we well consider the prayers that we find recorded in the book of Psalms, I believe we shall see reason to think, that a very great, if not the greater part of them, are prayers uttered, either in the name of Christ, or in the name of the church, for such a mercy : And undoubtedly the greatest part of that book of Psalms, is made up of prayers for this mercy, prophecies of it, and prophetical praises for it.
The prophets, in their prophecies of the restoration and advancement of the church, very often speak of it as what shall be done in answer to the prayers of God's people. Isa. xxv. 9.....Xxvi. 9, 12, 13, 16, 17, to the end. Chap. xxxii. 2. Psal. cii. 13.....22. Jer. iij. 21. Isa. Ixv. 24....xli. 17. Hos. v. 15, with vi. 1, 2, 3, and xiy. 2, to the end. Zech. x. 6..... xii. 10, and xiii. 9. Isa. Iv. 6, with verse 12, 13. Jer. xxxiä. 3. The prophecies of future glorious times of the church are often introduced with a prayer of the church for her den liverance and advancement, prophetically uttered ; as in Isa. B. 9, &c. Chap. Ixiii. 11, to the end, and lxiv. throughout.
In order to Christ's being mystically born into the world, in the advancement and flourishing of true religion, and great increase of the number of true converts, who are spoken of as having Christ formed in them, the scriptures represent it as