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committed openly, and God sets an obvious mark upon their foreheads, seen discernibly by the destroying angel, and known apparently by the effects thereof to the world, in their exemption from the general stroke of desolation, Exek. ix. 4, 6. Jeremiah's soul weeps in secret for the pride and profaneness of Israel ; and he was strongly secured in the days of Israel's dreadful destruction. * What is recorded in Gen. xix. 29, is very remarkable-"God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow.” Why, what did Abrahamn? the former chapter tells us, that Abraham had been with God in prayer in secret, and this was the effect of it, God will snatch Lot out of that dreadful burning as a return of secret prayer. God selects a season to put a difference betwixt his praying people and others; faith and prayer are two feet of the soul, whereby the righteous run to the name of the Lord which is their strong tower and are safe :f a soul hid with God cannot be hurt by men: if any be secured in a day of danger, it is those that are most with God in secret : “ Floods of great waters shall not come nigh" to praying saints, Psalm xxxii. 6; hence saith David, ver. 7, “Thou art my hiding-place, thou shalt preserve me from trouble.” Some way or other God will attest and testify the integrity of his praying servants before the world :t, thus he did in the case of Job. God's children may be long concealed from the view of men, both as to their persons and conduct; but in God's good time he brings them out with honour, as he did Elijah. Sometimes God gives clear demonstrations of his tender affection for his despised saints in the view of the world : Rev. iii. 9, “I will make them to come, and worship before thy feet, and to know that * Jer. xiii. 17, with chap xxxix. 11, 12. + Prov. xviii. 10.
See Psal. xxxi. 19, 20, and xci. 15.
I have loved thee:” this is not a religious adoration, but a civil reverence due to real saints as an evidence of repentance, or special respect, as dogs fawn upon their masters, laying themselves at their feet, as the word imports,
Natural conscience sometimes doth homage to the image of God in the saints: however this is a well known truth, that as God hath brought forth wicked men's secret works of darkness, into open light, to their confusion in this world ; so he hath clearly discovered his saints' upright services in secret corners, to their honour and safety at the most critical time. Jaddus hearing of Alexander's approach to Jerusalem, set himself to pray; tben put on his priestly garments and met the conqueror, who fell down on his face before him. Parmenio asked him why he adored the Jews' High Priest, while other men adored himself; Alexander answered, I do not adore him, but that God whom the High Priest worshippeth ; for in my sleep I saw him in such a habit, when I was in Macedonia :t but examples of this nature are frequent every where, what strange effects prayer hath brought forth, both for defence to the saints, and injury to their enemies; so that the clear evidence hereof hath wrested from many stout opposers, that acknowledgment of the queen of Scots, that she feared more the prayers of John Knox than an arıny of ten thousand fighting men.
3. God rewards secret prayer openly by conferring upon secret wrestlers more eminent gifts and graces of his Spirit, and such as shall be taken notice of by others. They that are most constant in secret prayer shall be most eminent in public prayer: such as with Moses
* IpookuvEiv åto TOū kuvòs. Sese ad pedes alicujus subjectionis causâ provolvere ; qualiter catelli heris suis adblandiuntur.
+ See Clark's General Martyrol, fol. 5, also Rollin's Anc. Hist. Lib. 15, Sect. 7.
converse with God in the mount, shall have shining faces : the beauty of the Lord shall be upon them: when a believer hath been with his God in private, the effects are so remarkable, that others take knowledge of him that he hath been with Jesus; and it must needs be so; for, conversing with God is of a transforming nature, 2 Cor. iii. 18, “ But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” God's appointments are as glasses through which we may see the face of God. Now there are two sorts of glasses, broader and narrower; the broader glasses are public ordinances, and the narrower glasses are private duties : in both these a soul may seek and see the face of God, and so become like him; for, seeing here is assimilating, as the vision of God hereafter is glorifying. O it is a beautifying and beatifical sight to see God! Fulness of grace is the best thing in glory; peace and joy are but, as it were, the gloss and varnish of this fulness of grace : now the more a soul enjoys God the more god-like and heaven-like he is, for his graces shine brighter, and he is still mounting higher; and private or secret duties are notable ways of communion with God; yea sometimes a soul may miss of Christ in public ordinances, and find him in secret; so some interpret that place in Cant. iii. 1-4.* The church had sought her beloved in the temple-worship and public ordinances, in the streets and broad ways of synagogues and communion of saints-still she found him not; then she seeks him in conferences and occasional meetings with the watchmen, but she can yet hear no tidings of Jesus Christ; but saith she, it was but a little that I passed from them, and I found him whom my soul loveth. Observe it, this was not when she was
* See Mr. Cotton in loc.
past all means in a way of neglect of, or being above ordinances ; for she was seeking him still, which implies the use of means, only she had past such as were public without finding, and now she is in the use of private helps, the after duties of meditation, selfexamination, secret prayer, and therein the soul finds God; not that this reflects disparagement on the public ordinances, but to shew that God is a free agent, and to be a reason and encouragement for us in the use of all God's appointments : and when a believer thus finds God in private he carries away something of God that casts a sweet perfume upon his person and actions that is taken notice of by others; it may be said of such a soul, as Isaac spoke of his son Jacob, Gen. xxvii. 27,“ See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed.” So when a serious Christian comes down from his closet where he hath met with his God, () what a sweet perfume of well scented graces doth he send forth !
The savour of religion is upon him, some breathing odours of holiness break from his lips, hands, and feet; the power of godliness doth manifest itself in his expressions, actions, and conversation : where hath such a one been? Surely he hath been conversing with God; there is the living image and superscription of God upon him, and while that blessed frame continues, he is not like himself; as he excels carnal men at all times, so now he excels himself: yea observe it, a soul conversing much with God in the duties of meditation and secret prayer grows taller by head and shoulders than other ordinary Christians: as all godly men are more excellent than their neighbours, so a person that waits much on God in secret prayer, is more excellent than most of his godly neighbours ; it appears so at present by his gifts in praying, and niay appear in his support and comfort in
the day of suffering: O what a mighty man in closet prayer was magnanimous Luther! And what noble atchievements did he go through! William Gardiner, * martyr, in Portugal, sought out solitary places for prayer before he attempted that singular act of public opposition to idolatry, in taking the host out of the cardinal's hand, trampling it under his feet, when with the other hand he overthrew the chalice: which act though it may seem scarcely warrantable in an or-, dinary way; yet shewed a heroical spirit for the main, obtained by a conscientious attendance upon God in the duty of secret prayer. Take one instance more; it is Mr. George Wishart,ť or Wiseheart, one of the holiest men and choicest Reformers that Scotland ever had. One night he got up and went into a yard, where he walked in an alley for some space, breathing forth many sobs and deep groans, then he fell upon his knees, and his groans increased; then he fell upon his face. Two men watched him, and heard him weeping and praying, near an hour, on which he went to bed again: as this saint was much with God, so the Lord was much with him in preaching, prophesying, acting courageously, and suffering death cheerfully. Surely the Spirit of God and of glory rested upon this man of God, if ever upon any, the adversaries themselves being judges : this is a great truth, those have been most eminent, who have been most with God in secret prayer: let Scripture and history speak, time and room would fail me to enumerate instances : who more famous for piety and learning of late years, than the great Usher ? It was his usual practice to sequester himself in some privacy, and to spend it in strict examination, penitential humiliation,
Clark’s General Martyr, c. xxix. fol. 243. + Ibid. fol. 318.