Page images

through the anguish of thy spirit speak much, yet the Holy Spirit stirs up in thy heart groans and sighs so much the more vehement.


God has given thee his Son's righteousness to justify thee; he has also, because thou art a son, sent forth the Spirit of his Son into thy heart to satisfy thee, and to help thee to cry unto him, Father, Father! Wilt thou not cry? wilt thou not desire? Thy God has bidden thee open thy mouth; he has bid thee open it wide, and promised, saying, "and I will fill it ;” and wilt thou not desire ?

Oh, thou hast a license, a leave, a grant to desire ; wherefore, be not afraid to desire great mercies of the God of heaven.

OBJECTION. But I am an unworthy creature."

ANSWER. That is true; but God gives to no man for his worthiness, nor rejects any for their sinfulness, that come to him sensible of the want and worth of mercy for them. Besides, the desires of a righteous man, and the desires of his God, agree. God has a desire to thee, thou hast a desire to him. God desires truth in the inward parts, and so dost thou with all thy heart. God desires mercy, and to show it to the needy ; that is what thou also wantest, and what thy soul craves at his hand.

Seek, man; ask, knock, and do not be discouraged; the Lord will grant all thy desires. Thou sayest thou art unworthy to ask the greatest things, things spiritual and heavenly : well, will carnal things serve thee, and answer the desires of thy heart? Canst thou be content to be put off with a belly well filled and a back well clothed ?

“Oh, better I never had been born."

See! thou wilt not ask the best, and yet canst not make shift without them.

“Shift ? no; no shift without thern; I am undone with. out them, undone for ever and ever,” sayest thou.

[ocr errors]

Well tnen, desire.

So I do,” sayest thou.

Ah, but desire with more strong desires ; desire with more large desires ; desire spiritual gifts, covet them earnestly; thou hast a license too to do so. God bids thee do so, for he hath said, “The desire of the righteous shall be granted."


" The desire of the righteous shall be granted." But I find it not so, says one ; for though I have desired and desired a thousand times upon my knees, for something that I want, yet I have not my desire; and indeed, the consideration of this has made me question whether I am one of those to whom the promise of granting desires is made.

ANSWER. What are the things thou desirest; are they lawful or unlawful ? for a Christian may desire - unlawful things.

But we will suppose that the thing thou desirest is good, and that thy heart may be right in asking, as, suppose thou desirest more grace ; yet there are several things for thy instruction may be applied to thy objection : as,

1. Thou, though thou desirest more of this, mayest not yet be so sensible of the worth of what thou askest, as perhaps God will have thee be before he granteth thy desire,

2. Hast thou well improved what thou hast received already ?

3. When God gives to his people the grant of their desires, he doth it so as may be best for our advantage : as,

(1.) Just before a temptation comes; then if it rains grace on thee from heaven, it may be most for thy advantage. This is like God's sending plenty in Egypt just before the years of famine came.

(2.) Christians, even righteous men, are apt to lean too much to their own doings; and God, to wean them from thern, ofttimes defers to do, what they by doing expect, until in doing their spirits are spent, and they, as to doing, can do no longer. When they that cried for water, had cried till their spirits failed, and their tongue did cleave to the roof of their mouth for thirst, then the Lord did hear, and then the God of Israel did give them their desire. The righteous would be too light in asking, and would too much overprize their works, if their God should not sometimes deal in this manner with them.

(3.) It is also to the advantage of the righteous, that they be kept and led in that way which will best improve grace already received, and that is, when they spin it out and use it to the utmost ; when they do with it as the prophet did with that meal's meat that he ate under the juniper-tree, “go in the strength of it forty days and forty nights, even to the mount of God." Or when they do as the widow did—spend upon their handful of flour in the barrel, and upon that little oil in the cruse, till God shall send more plenty.

A little true grace will go a great way, yea, and do more wonders than we are aware of. If we have but grace enough to keep us groaning after God, it is not all the world that can destroy us.

4. Perhaps thou mayest be mistaken. thou prayest for may in a great measure be come unto thee.

Thou hast been desiring of God, thou sayest, more grace, but hast it not.

But how, if while thou lookest for it to come to thee at one door, it come to thee at another ? And that we may a little inquire into the truth of this, let us a little consider what are the effects of grace in its coming to the soul, and then see if it has not been coming unto thee almost ever since thou hast set upon this fresh desire after it.

(1.) Grace, in the general effect of it, is to mend the

The grace

[ocr errors]

his mercy,

soul, and to make it better disposed. Hence, when it comes, it brings convincing light along with it, by which a man sees more of his baseness than at other times. If, then, thou seest thyself more vile than formerly, grace by its coming to thee has done this for thee.

(2.) Grace, when it comes, breaks and crumbles the heart in the sense and sight of its own vileness. A man stands amazed and confounded in himself; breaks and falls down on his face before God; is ashamed to lift up so much as his face to God, at the sight and apprehension of how wicked he is.

(3.) Grace, when it comes, shows to a man more of the holiness and patience of God; his holiness to make us wonder at his patience, and his patience to make us wonder at

that yet, even yet, such a vile one as I am should be admitted to breathe in the land of the living, yea more, suffered to come to the throne of grace.

(4.). Grace is of a heart-humbling nature; it will make a man account himself the most unworthy of any thing, of all saints. It will make a man put all others before him, and be glad too if he may be one beloved, though least beloved because most unworthy. It will make him with gladness, accept of the lowest room, as counting all saints more worthy of exaltation than himself.

(5.) Grace will make a man prize other men's graces and gracious actions above his own; as he thinks every man's candle burns brighter than his, every man improves grace better than he, every good man does more sincerely his duty than he. And if these be not some of the effects of the renewings of grace, I will confess I have taken my mark amiss.

(6.) Renewings of grace beget renewed self-bemoanings, self-condemnations, self-abhorrences.

And say thou prayest for communion with, and the presence of God. God can have communion with thee and grant thee his presence, and all this shall, instead of comforting thee at present, more confound thee and make thee see thy wickedness.

Some people think they never have the presence and renewings of God's grace upon them, but when they are comforted and when they are cheered up—when, alas, God may be richly with them, while they cry out by these visions, My sorrows are multiplied ; or, Because I have seen God, I shall die.

And tell me now, all these things considered, has not grace, even the grace of God which thou hast so much desired, been coming to thee and working in thee in all these hidden methods ? Thus therefore thy desire is accomplishing, and when it is accomplished will be sweet to thy soul.

5. But we will follow thee a little in the way of thy heart. Thou sayest thou desirest, and desirest grace, yea, hast been a thousand times upon thy knees before God for more grace, and yet thou canst not attain.

I answer, (1.) It may be, the grace which thou prayest for is worth thy being upon thy knees yet a thousand times

We find that usually they that go to king's courts for preferment, are there at great expenses, yea, and wait a great while, even until they have spent their whole estates, and worn out their patience too.

Yet they at last prevail, and the thing desired comes ; yea, and when it is come, it sets them up anew and makes them better men, though they did spend all they had to obtain it, than ever they were before. Wait, therefore, wait, I say, on the Lord; bid thy soul cheer up and wait. “ Blessed are all they that wait for him.”

(2.) Thou must consider that great grace is reserved for great service. Thou desirest abundance of grace; thou doest well, and thou shalt have what shall qualify thee for the service that God has for thee to do for him, and for his name in the world. The apostles themselves were to stay for great grace until the time their work was come.


« PreviousContinue »