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sake; we ask nothing of you but your reception of our message and prayers for our persons; we spend our time, and strength, and lungs for you, and will not you pray for us? If God help us, will not this turn to your advantage? Your prayers will return into your own bosoms. We have been serving almost three apprenticeships in our divorcement from public places and employments, yet our God hath not forsaken us, but secured our persons, and some liberties; he hath delivered us, doth, and will deliver us, 2 Cor. i. 10-12, “ You also helping together in prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf; for our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience,” &c. Having obtained help of God, we continue to this day at great uncertainties; as Melancthon said, so we may say, we have continued by divine bounty and care of us twenty years, and could never say assuredly, nor upon any probable grounds, that we should abide one week to an end : much of this may be ascribed to the effectual prayers of the church, as a means under God. Who can tell but in a short time your prayers may fetch us back again: howsoever, we are persuaded that these things shall turn to our and your salvation, through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, Phil. i. 19: only see that your prayers be such as God will accept. I cannot enlarge on this point, but shall glance at the due qualifications of such a prayer as will undoubtedly prevail.
1. Your persons must be in covenant, John ix. 31.
2. You must exercise faith upon the mediator Christ, John xvi. 23.
Ego jam sum hic, Dei beneficio, quadraginta annos, et nunquam potui dicere, aut certus esse, me per unam septimanam mansurum esse.—Melch. Adain, vit. Melanct. p. 357.
3. You must pray in the Holy Ghost, Jude, 20. 4. Ask what is according to God's will, 1 John v. 14. 5. Aim at God's glory as your main end, 1 Cor. x. 31. 6. Cast away all sin in heart and life, Psal. lxvi. 18. 7. Live in the daily exercise of repentance, Heb. x. 22.
8. Maintain a holy awe of God in your hearts, Psal. ii. 11,
9. Set your hearts in order for the duty, Job. xi. 13. 10. Pray with understanding, minding the object, 1 Cor. xiv. 15. 11. With fervency and importunity, Luke xi. 8, 9. 12. Forgiving others that have offended you, Mark xi. 25. 13. Watching against temptations, Col. iv. 2. 14. Living up to your prayers, John xv. 7. 15. Maintaining communion with God, Luke ii. 37. 16. Coming with hopes to succeed, James i. 6. 17. Be sincere as to frames and intentions, Matt. vi.5, 6. 18. Be daily sensible of wants and weaknesses, Matt. v. 6. 19. Wait patiently for returns of prayer, Psal. v. 3. 20. Be thankful for any incomes after prayer, Phil. iv. 6, 7.
Such dispositions as these you must have and bring into your exercises in the duty of prayer, and then you shall prevail for yourselves and others. This is the third general head.
ENCOURAGEMENT TO PERSEVERANCE IN LA
MENTING AFTER THE LORD.
IV. The last thing at which I shall briefly aim, is to suggest some considerations which may serve as cordials to support and bear up our hearts till our souls find our dear Lord, or he turn again to us, in our lamentations after him.
1. Souls lamenting after the Lord are most likely to be the remnant who shall escape in approaching calamities: these have the mourner's mark on them, and ordinarily are left, Ezek. ix. 4, 6; and Ezek. vii. 16, “But they that escape of them shall escape, and shall be on the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them mourning every one for their iniquity.” If landdestroying calamities come, you are likeliest to survive and be a holy seed, for storing the church in future times.
2. You may be the instruments to prevail with the Lord to keep in the midst of us: yet there is a possibility; “Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him ?” Joel ii. v. 14. There is yet a may-be in it, Amos v. 15, “ Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate; it may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.” God hath condescended to hearken to his people's supplications, why not to yours? The poor wise man hath delivered the city:* the innocent may deliver the island.f Lot succeeded for Zoar, Abraham for Lot, yea, very far for the cities of the plain. Make a trial; and what com* Eccl. ix. 15.
+ Job xxii. 30.
fort will it be to you, if your prayers in the tone of lamentation turn the scales for God's stay with us !
3. However, you may stay him with your own souls; is that nothing ? God is as willing to be friendly with us, as we can be to desire it, and much more, Isa. xxvii. 5, “Or let him take hold of iny strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me;" and is this nothing ? Oh what is God's presence worth ? How have David, Job, Heman, and all the saints prized it? Do you not want it? 6 Follow on to know,” and own and acknowledge, “the Lord, and you shall find his going forth is prepared as the morning, and he will come to you as the rain,” Hos. vi. 3. Your fleece shall be wet when others are dry. If you cannot obtain mercy for others, yet as Noah, Daniel and Job, you may deliver your own souls by your righteousness.
4. Yet the Lord hath not forsaken us; he is still in the midst of us by his gracious providences and influences; he hath been hitherto prevailed with, though he has threatened to leave us, and we had cause to fear the event; his candlesticks are fixed, and candles are shining, though not all in their proper sockets, but under a bushel : this is an encouraging mercy, that our God hath not forsaken us. “Even now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage,” Ezra ix. 8, 9. It was not our deservings that hath kept him with us; no, no, “ Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel,” Jer. li. 5. What is the reason then that God is not quite gone? See 1 Sam. xii, 29,
* Ezek. xiv. 14..
* The Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake, because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people.” The argument holds for us, and it is still in force; blessed be God he hath not cast us off as yet, and the covenant with our ancestors still holds good, as in 2 Kings xiii. 23.
5. God seems to be in suspense whether he should leave us or not, to draw us on in our lamentings after him ; just as he expresseth himself, Hos. xi. 8, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah ? How shall I set thee as Zeboim ?” Strange language as spoken by the infinitely wise and immutable God; as though he were perplexed and knew not what to do. Surely this is spoken after the manner of men, and speaks God loth to punish, for indeed it is his strange work; as if he had said, the severity of my threats call on truth to carry them into execution, but how shall I prevail with myself to do it ?* The glory of my name, my free grace, and constant love to my covenanted people, arrest my wrathful hand when ready to strike the fatal stroke—the righteousness of the judge saith, strike; the bowels of a father say, hold; and when God thus deliberates, it is to stay and see if his people will get hold of him, by faith and prayer; is not this his carriage towards us in his providence ? certainly the Lord comes and goes as if he were loth to punish us, and is not this a very great encouragement to us to lament after him? Since he looks back as a mother to her child, with a wishful eye, as if he had not the power to go, as if he should say, call me back and you shall have my presence, my heart is towards you, though I am forced to turn my back on you,
* Sed quomodo hoc á me impetrabo?