by Thomas Boston
And he spake a parable unto them, to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. - LUKE 18:1.
THE time of this life is the time of trial; only in the life to come is full ease to be expected. Now is the warfare, and partial victories: the complete victory comes not till death. If we must have our portion of goods in hand presently, and cannot wait, we will soon be through it, and have nothing when we need most. If we mind for heaven then, we must be resolute, set a stiff heart to a stay brae, and hold forward whatever storms blow in our face, as we see in the words of the text. Wherein we have,
1. The Lord's insisting to teach his disciples, "And he spake a parable unto them," &c. That the relative them refers to his disciples, appears by the continued connexion of these words with the discourse from chap. 17:22. And he changes in it his manner of teaching, making a practical improvement, in a parable, of what he had before taught them in plain style. (Gr.) "Now he spake also a parable unto them," to impress the lesson the more lively, both on their minds, memories, and affections."
2. The new lesson he taught them, "That men ought always to pray, and not to faint;" that there would be a necessity of their praying always, and not fainting. The discourse whence it is inferred, among other things, bears, (1.) That their comforts should be less than they were then, ver. 22, "And he said unto the disciples, The days will come when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it." (2.) Their temptations more, ver. 23, "And they shall say to you, See here, or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them." (3.) That the world would be long in deep security, and they long in deep distress, so that they might be in hazard of giving it over; see vers. 26–33. (4.) That the Lord would come to them at length, and make all right: but when or where, they are not to know.
Now, to direct them how to carry in such a difficult situation, he speaks the following parable; the scope and sum of which comes to this, "That men ought always to pray, and not to faint." So he tells them, (1.) The course they must hold, blow the wind as it will: they must "always pray;" not that they must be always on their knees, but they must keep a habitual course of praying. (2.) What they must beware of; they must "not faint." The word signifies a succumbing or yielding under the pressure of evils or hardships, as one sinking under a burden, or giving over by reason of the badness of the way, Eph. 3:13, and is well rendered fainting; for the apostle explains it by being loosened, Gal. 6:9, because in fainting or swooning the nerves are loosened, relaxed, or unbended, and so activity is gone. So whatever hardships are met with, we must not be so outwearied with them as to give over. (3.) The necessity of this; men ought or must needs always pray, and not faint. If we give over, we are gone; if we faint, and break off our course, all is lost.
DOCTRINE. Our Lord Jesus Christ has kindly intimated to all that have business at the court of heaven the necessity of so managing themselves that they still hang on there, and not faint, whatever entertainment they meet with during the dependence of their process.
In this doctrine there are three heads to be considered.
I. Our Lord's kind intimation of this way of his Father's court.
II. The way of the court of heaven, in trysting petitioners with some hardships during the dependence of their process.
III. The duty of the petitioners, to hang on and not faint whatever they meet with.
I. The first thing to be considered, is, our Lord's kind intimation of this way of his Father's court. And here we would shew, 1. The import of Christ's making this intimation to petitioners there; and, 2. The weight and moment of this intimation.
First, I shall shew the import of Christ's making this intimation to petitioners at his Father's court.
1. The darkness that is naturally on the minds of poor sinners, with respect to heaven's management about them. We may say, as Jer. 5:4, "Surely these are poor, they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God." The obscurest shepherd from the remotest corner, would know more of the king's court, if he had business there, than the wisest mortals naturally know of the way of the court of heaven. Dark clouds are about the sovereign manager to us: "His way is in the sea, and his path in the great waters, and his footsteps are not known." Even Job, that had been a long hanger-on about the court of heaven, knew little of the way of it, and behoved to have a new lesson of it, Job 38:1, 2, "Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?"
2. Christ's good-will to the sinner's business going right there: Exod. 28:29, "And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breast-plate of judgment, upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually." He shews it by his concern for their right managing it: he knows they are unacquainted with the manner of the court of heaven, and so are in hazard of marring their own business; and therefore he is concerned to set them on the road to get a good answer. The poor soul that is sometimes at the brink of groaning and giving it over, is moved to start back from that precipice, and groan and look up again. Whence is that, but from Christ's secret making of this intimation to them by his Spirit? Rom. 8:26, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
3. That our Lord sees sinners are in hazard of fainting from the entertainment they may meet with during the dependence of their process, Heb. 12:3. He knows their frame, the hastiness of their spirits, John 7:6, how apt they are to take delays for denials, and be discouraged with what is designed only for their trial. Therefore he opens and forewarns them of the manner of the court, Is. 28:16, "He that believeth shall not make haste."
4. That they that shall hang on, and not faint, shall certainly come speed at length. Luke 18:6, 7, 8, "And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily." It is not possible that the soul, continuing resolute to go to no other door, but hanging on at his door, to make its grave there, if it be not let in, can be shut out always, John 6:37, "Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." Wilful faith, that will be forward in face of "killing" and "slaying," Job 13:15, will get all its will at length, Matth. 15:28, "Then Jesus answered, and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt."
Secondly, The weight and moment of this intimation. This will appear, if it is considered in a fourfold light.
1. Jesus Christ, who makes it, has experienced it in his own case. The man Christ, the head of the church, had the most important business at the court of heaven that ever came before it; viz., for through-bearing in a work on which his Father's glory, and the salvation of an elect world depended. And he was often in prayer: he spent a whole night in it, Luke 6:12. But see his experience of this manner of the court, Psal. 22:1, 2, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not; and in the night-season, and am not silent." And 69:1–3. "Save me, O God, for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying, my throat is dried; mine eyes fail while I wait for my God." Now, if this was the manner with the great Petitioner, how can we expect it should fare otherwise with us? Nay, God, in his dealing with Christ the Head, set down a pattern to be followed thereafter in his dealing with the members, Rom. 8:29, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren." Compare ver. 28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
2. He is the great Prophet of heaven, whose office it is to reveal the manner of the court to poor sinners. He is fitted for it, as being on all the secrets of it, which the most favourite angel cannot dive into, John 1:18. Therefore we may be very sure this is the manner of the court; and that those who will manage their business at it otherwise will be sure to mar it.
3. He is the only Intercessor there, the Father's Secretary, the Solicitor for poor sinners there. There is never a petition received at the throne of grace, but what is presented by him; nor graciously granted there, but through his intercession, Rev. 8:3, 4; nor an answer graciously returned, or an order issued out for the sinner's relief, but it comes through his hand, John 5:22, "For the Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." Who then can doubt of the necessity by him intimated? and who must not see the kind aspect that the intercessor's hinting this to the petitioners has on their business?
4. He is himself the hearer of prayer. The angels are called to worship him, Heb. 1:6. Stephen, in his most serious moments, when he was nearest heaven, prays to him, Acts 7:59; a plain evidence that he is true God, the Father's equal, the Supreme, the most high God: for it is written, Deut. 10:20, "Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name." Compare Matth. 4:10, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Psal. 83:18, "That men may know, that thou whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth." And the Scripture condemns serving those that are not by nature gods, Gal. 4:8. Therefore Christ is God by nature, true God, necessarily existent, independent, God of himself, though not a Son of himself: but the divine essence being eternally and necessarily communicated from the Father to the Son, the Father's communicating it, and the Son's receiving it, are equally glorious. Since then he is the hearer of prayer that makes this intimation, it is equivalent to a promise that prayers so managed shall certainly come speed at length; as appears from Is. 45:19, "I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain."
II. The Second thing to be considered, is, The way of the court of heaven, in trysting petitioners with some hardships, during the dependence of their process. Here I shall give you, 1. A swatch of that way; and, 2. Some reasons of that way, whereby to account for it in a suitableness to the divine perfections.
First, A swatch of that way in a few particulars. Though the Lord sometimes gives his people very quick dispatch, (Is. 65:24, "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear"); yet it is very usual to try them another way.
1. Oft-times there is deep silence from the throne, Matth. 15:23; and that even when the petitioner is crying with the greatest earnestness, and crying incessantly, Psal. 22:1, 2, and is at the point of being overwhelmed for want of help, Psal. 143:7; yet no voice to be perceived, no motion appearing towards the petitioner's relief.
2. Oft-times they get a very angry-like answer. The woman of Canaan got a couple of them, one on the back of another, Matth. 15:24, 26, "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.—It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs." It is very ordinary for Heaven's petitioners to hear some Sinai thunders when they are on Mount Zion; to come in a low and heavy case to the throne, and to go away laid lower then they came. So going with their petitions to the throne of grace, they are teazed there to purpose, and many a foul ply of their heart and life is opened out to them, and they come back with a breast full of convictions, Judges 10:10–14.
3. Many a time, at the sight of the King on the throne, they falter, and their speech fails, that they cannot get words to tell what they would be at, Psal. 77:3, 4. Hence many broken sentences in their petitions, which yet are understood well enough in heaven, the blauks being filled up with groans, Psal. 6:3; Rom. 8:26, 27.
4. Disappointed expectations are a piece of very ordinary entertainment there, Jer. 8:15, "We looked for peace, but no good came: and for a time of health, and behold trouble." Hope may be raised, and yet be deferred, till it make a sick heart. These disappointments may meet the petitioner over and over again; Cant. 3:1, 2, "By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him but I found him not." If ye ask how long the course of them may last? I know of no term fixed for them but one, and that one is enough for faith, Psal. 9:18, "For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever." And if ye go to another door than the Lord's, the course of your disappointments will have no end.
5. Many a time, looking for an answer, providence drives a course apparently just contrary to the granting of their petition; so is fulfilled that Psal. 65:5, "By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation." And it may be so stunning, as to require much faith not to take that for the final answer, as if God had said, speak no more to me of that matter: and yet the wheel of providence may be but fetching a compass to come to the point desired. Thus the sunk spirits of the Israelites were raised in hope, Exod. 4:31, "And the people believed: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped." But the very first thing that comes after that, chap. 5, is, that they are in a worse condition than ever, their bondage is more intolerable; which made Moses' faith stagger; vers. 22, 23, "And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? for since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered the people at all.
6. Lastly, Oft-times the Lord, instead of easing the petitioner, lays new burdens on him, Jer. 8:15, "We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble." Instead of curing the old wound, there are new ones given. So that sometimes the waters come in on every side, and compass the poor soul: and yet the Lord, though he see it meet to give the sinner such a gliff, may have no mind he should drown for all that; Psal. 116:3, "The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow." Ver. 6, "The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me:" and 88:17, "They came round about me daily like water, they compassed me about together." So it was in Job's case.
USE 1. Whosoever of you would manage your business successfully at the court of heaven, on this occasion, put on resoluteness to hang on about the Lord's hand, and not to faint, till ye get it to a happy issue. And,
1st, Lay the great business of salvation close to heart, let it be your main business; the securing of your saving interest in Christ, now when you have this solemn occasion of both the word of the covenant, and the seal of the covenant together; not knowing if ever ye may have such a favourable occasion again. Time goes away, death is hastening on, it is dangerous to delay. If ye be indifferent in the business, ye will never hang on.
2dly, Lay it down for a conclusion, ye must have Christ, or ye perish. Pinching need makes men importunate: if ye feel not that, ye will soon weary, and never bring the matter to a good issue, John 6:67, 68, "Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." The sinner will hang on at Christ's door when he sees all others shut against him.
3dly, Embrace Christ in the great promise of the gospel, believing the promise; taking a dead gripe of it, never to part. It is held out to you, and every one of you, Heb. 4:1, "Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." It is the report from heaven to be believed, Is. 53:1. Without faith there is no eviting of fainting, Psal. 27:13, "I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
4thly, Take an eternal farewell of the vain world, and deceitful lusts,; resvolving, that, come what will, ye will hang by Christ in the promise, if ye should die there; saying with Job, chap. 13:15, "Though he slay me yet will I trust in him." None come aright to Christ but they that come resolutely.
Lastly, Be not hasty, but resolve to wait in expectation, setting no time to the Lord's comforting you, Is. 28:16,—"He that believeth, shall not make haste." Micah. 7:9, "I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness." If all thy life long should pass uncomforted, peace and comfort in the end is well worth waiting on.
Use 2. Be not surprised, nor offended at the way of God, though in your addresses to the throne ye meet with apparent harsh entertainment. They have seemed to themselves to be boasted away, who taking the buffet, have got the bit too by waiting on, like the woman of Canaan, Matt. 15:21–28. The importunity of faith, that is, a continued trust in the promise, and an incessant use of the means, will prevail.
Secondly, I shall give you some reasons of that way, whereby to account for it in a suitableness to the divine perfections.
1. This way is taken with petitioners in the court of heaven; for thereby God is glorified, and his attributes more illustrated than otherwise they would be. In this view of it, Paul welcomes it in his own case, though it was hard to sense, 2 Cor. 12:9, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." God treating his people thus, displays his wisdom, in guiding the broken vessel safely through many rocks and shelves to land without splitting; that afterwards they are made to say, None else but he could have done it, Is. 9:6, "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor;" his power, in supporting them under a pressure that otherwise they would sink under, 2 Cor. 1:8, 9, "For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: but we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead;" his grace, mercy, and goodness, in seasonable interposings thereof when their foot is ready to slip, Psal. 94:18, "When I said, My foot slippeth: thy mercy, O Lord, held me up." 2 Cor. 12:9, forecited.
2. Hereby the state of petitioners is tried, and a plain difference constituted between hypocrites and the sincere, Matt. 24:13, "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." God's petitioners in the gross are like Gideon's army, Judges 7 far more than are to be trusted. So God brings them down to these waters of trial; and there is a heap of them that must have a fill presently, or they faint, cannot go forward; so they are set on, like the men that bowed down on their knees to drink, Job 27:10, "Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call upon God?" Others are disposed to endure hardness, without fainting, like the men that lapped; and they are kept as meet to have their petitions granted at length, Luke 18:7, "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
3. Hereby the graces of believing petitioners are tried, both as to the reality and strength of them; particularly their faith and patience, 1 Pet. 1:6, 7. "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season (if need be) ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations. That the trial of your faith being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ. James 1:12, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." Our Lord takes great pleasure in the faith and patience of his people, and therefore he puts them sorely to it in these points, like the woman of Canaan, Matt. 15 that they may have occasion to exert themselves vigorously. Sometimes they meet with such a shock that they are foundered in them: anon there is a secret breathing, and they get to their feet again, and act more vigorously than before, like a giant refreshed with wine, Jonah 2:4, "Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple." Hereby they have a double benefit; they see the reality of their faith and patience better than in a calm, and the strength of them more than they could have expected, and withal that they are other things than efforts of natural abilities, no more to be their product, than roses of the desart: Rom. 5:3, 4, 5, "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
4. Hereby believers are humbled, and taught that they hold of free grace. The exalting of grace is the great design of the whole contrivance of the gospel. Therefore faith is made the turning point in it, the hinge of it as to us; Rom. 4:16, "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace: to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed. Therefore this method is used in the dispensation of Heaven's favours according to it, Deut. 8:2, "And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee, these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldst keep his commandments, or not." They that buy with their money must be served presently; but beggars must be content to wait on. There are powerful remains of a legal spirit in the best, kything in requiring supply for their needs, with little sense of their unworthieness; and in a disposition to fret, if they be not quickly answered. It takes much hewing to bring down these; to empty the man of himself, and to let him see that God is no debtor to him for any thing, great or small.
5. This way is taken for honour of the word, Psal. 138:2, "Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." There are many letters of God's name, but this Bible is the capital letter of it: and there is not one dispensation of providence, that magnifies the Bible more than this. It is even the thing that bears the head above, and keeps the heart from fainting, in this case, Rom. 15:4, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning; that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope." This treatment at the court of heaven sends the petitioner to the records, which gladden his heart, finding that it has been the ancient way of the court; and in a desert way it is no small comfort to the traveller, to find a track, and the print of some one's feet before him. It makes him mark narrowly, and greedily catch at a word; and to discover a treasure, where many a time, when he went over it before, he saw nothing.
6. Lastly, It is taken to make them long to be home. God's children are in this world, young heirs that are abroad out of their Father's country: they send their letters, and draw their bills on their Father: and while they are speedily answered, at every turn, they live at ease in the strange country, and are not solicitous to be home: but their Father cures them of that, letting them at length write over and over again, without an answer; and ceasing to answer their bills: and then they long to be home.
III. The third thing to be considered, is, The duty of the petitioners to hang on, and not to faint, whatever they meet with. We may view it in these things following.
1. They must never lift their process from the court of heaven, John 6:67, 68,—"Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." It was Saul's ruin, that when God answered him not, when he went to a witch; and the unbelieving Israelites when they heard of the giants of Canaan, that they would be back to Egypt again, Numb. 14:4; and it is the ruin of many, when they find not the sweet in religion that they expected, to go back to the world and their lusts, that will answer them, they think, sooner. But whatever be your sore, ye should protest that it shall run for you, till the Lord put forth his own healing hand, and that ye will not go to another for a cure, Lam. 3:49, 50, "Mine eye trickleth down, and ceaseth not, without any intermission: till the Lord look down, and behold from heaven."
2. They must never give over praying, but "pray always." They that will pray about the time of a communion, and afterwards leave it off by degrees, will lose all their pains, and prove themselves to be hypocrites, Job 27:10, "Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call upon God?" And Satan sometimes plies distressed souls to give up with it, as what they may see they will do no good with, for that God will not hear them. But that is a deceit of hell which ye must never yield to; no not though God should continue to answer you not a word; nay not though your attempting to pray, should seem to serve for nothing but to set a-raging against you; for it is God's command, that "men pray always." There is less ill in mismanaging prayer than in giving it over altogether; for that is tamely to yield yourselves to Satan's will. And though ye may be in such confusion, as to take the devil's whispers within you for your own voice, God will carefully distinguish the two, and not lay that to your charge wherein ye are pure sufferers. And continuing to pray, ye are in the way of duty, wherein ye may expect God will hear and pity at length.
3. They must insist on their tabled petitions, while their need remains, whatever entertainment they seem to meet with, as the woman of Canaan did, Matt. 15. If ye insist not, ye will be construed to have fallen from it: but importunity will speed at long-run, Luke 11:8, "I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend: yet, because of his importunity, he will rise, and give him as many as he needeth. And indeed, need continuing to pinch, and the petitioner giving over his crying for supply, is fainting with a witness.
Case. But may it not be that the Lord may say Speak no more to me of this matter? ANSWER. It is true, it may be so, as the Lord did to Moses, Deut. 3:26, "But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee, speak no more unto me of this matter. But in that case I conceive, (1.) The Lord shows his people they do not need that thing; let it suffice thee, or thou hast much, or enough. And to quiet Moses in this case, he gave him a sight of the land from Pisgah, ver. 27. (2.) The help of the Spirit as to praying in that particular is withdrawn. There is an embargo laid on them in that point, "Speak no more unto me of this matter."
4. They must carry all their incident needs in new petitions, to the same throne of grace, where the former petition may have been long lying, and still unanswered; and so pursue all together. The latter must not drive out the former, nor the former keep back the latter. It is one of the ways how the Lord keeps his people hanging about his hand without fainting, by sending them several loads above their burden; which loads he takes off soon at their request; and so makes them go under their burden the more easily. These short incident processes, that get a speedy answer, confirm their faith and hope in waiting on for the answer of the main. I believe it will be found, that the Lord's children, who have had the most tedious process before the throne, have not wanted experience of very quick dispatches in the time, Isa. 65:24, "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."
5. They must continue in the faith of the promise, never quit the gripe of it; but trust and believe that it shall certainly be accomplished, though the wheels of providence should seem to drive out over it and in over it, Rom. 4:19, 20, "And Abraham being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb. He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God." Providence is not our Bible; the works of God may be very various, but the word of promise is always the same, it is never moved. Ye have a very poetical passage, Psal. 18:7, and downwards. I think it proceeds upon this view, that though all the confusions of the universe cannot move the promise; yet if hills, earth, fire, waters, heavens, were all standing before it to hinder its accomplishment, it would move them all out of their places, and make its way through them.
6. They must keep up hope of the thing promised over the belly of all improbabilities, 2 Pet. 1:13, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Faith opening the door of the promise, hope sees the blessed answer to the petition lying at the King's hand, however long it may be ere it be transmitted. That is very pleasing to God, Psal. 147:11, "The Lord taketh pleasure in those that hope in his mercy."
7. Lastly, If at any time they begin to faint, they must wrestle against it, that they go not quite away, Heb. 10:35, "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward." If faith and hope fail, so will patience: but ye must set yourselves to believe over the belly of sense, and hope against hope.
USE. Christians, communicants, and whosoever of you would have your business go right in heaven, go from this place resolute to hang on about the Lord's hand, and not to faint, whatever ye have met with, or shall meet with from that airth. Have a horror of fainting, giving over, or going back to another door. Consider,
1. If ye faint and give over, your suit is lost, ye have given up with it. And,
1st, If your suit be the main thing, the eternal wellbeing of your soul, which is what we all pretend to; then your soul is lost, Heb. 10:38, "If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." Be resolute in religion, as ever ye would not be eternally lost; for none will get to heaven but those that have a brow for a bargain, to yoke with difficulties in the way, and go through them. It is a concerning word, Rev. 21:8, "But the fearful, and unbelieving,—shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone which is the second death." I think it has a view to the fearful and unbelieving disposition that kept the Israelites out of Canaan, Numb. 13:33, and 14.
2dly, If it be a temporal mercy, ye may get it, but the substance will be out of it, at least till ye repent of your fainting, Psal. 116:15, "He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul."
2. If ye hold on and faint not, be your on-waiting ever so long, it shall not be in vain. Matth. 24:13, "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." Gal. 6:9, "Let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." God will never put those away empty from him, that hang on, and will not go without the blessing.
3. He is well worth the waiting on. (1.) Though he is infinitely above us, he has waited long on us. (2.) The longer you are called to wait for a mercy, ye will readily find it the more valuable when it comes. The promise uses to go longest with the biggest mercy; witness the promise of Christ, while many lesser promises brought forth. (3.) His time will be found the due time, Gal. 6:9; the best chosen time for the mercy's coming; witness the time of Isaac's birth. (4.) Ye shall be sure of some blessed offallings, while ye wait on, Psal. 27:14, "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." and 138:3, "In the day when I cried, thou answeredst me; and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul." Ye shall be sure of some pledge of a good answer, Jer. 52:31, 32.
4. Lastly, They have waited long, that have lost all, by not having patience to wait a little longer, Exod. 32; 1 Sam. 13:8, 10. Therefore "let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing," James 1:4; "for in due season ye shall reap, if ye faint not," Gal. 6:9.
PETITIONERS AT THE COURT OP HEAVEN ENCOURAGED; OR, THE HAPPY ISSUE OF PRAYING ALWAYS, AND NOT FAINTING
Two Sermons preached, on a Sacramental occasion, at Galashiels, August 12 and 13, 1727.
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.
AT a late occasion I spoke to the scope of this parable from ver. 1. The parable itself we have vers. 2–5, the doctrine of it, vers. 6, 7. In the text we have the doctrine of it repeated, amplified, and confirmed.
1. The doctrine of the parable is here repeated, "He will avenge them." Our Lord had already laid it before his disciples, ver. 7, in very strong terms: for it is a point upon the belief of which very much depends; particularly his people's "praying always, and not fainting:" q. d. God will certainly hear them at length; therefore they must hang on about his hand crying, and not faint.
1st, Consider the parties for whom this benefit is secured; them. It refers to ver. 7; and so the parties are, they that "cry unto God night and day; and what that is, appears from the scope: it is even to "pray always, and not to faint;" which I have already explained. So they who having laid petitions for supply of their needs before the Lord, do hang on and insist without fainting and giving over, are assured of a happy issue of their process, however tedious it may be. This is good news to petitioners at the court of heaven, though their answer may have been so long delayed, that it seems as if they would never be heard: this may make them renew their suit, and pursue as a giant refreshed with wine.
OBJECTION. But it is expressly restricted to the elect; therefore, though I hang on never so long, I am, may be, none of God's elect, and therefore can have no encouragement from it. ANSWER. The scope of the parable looks to men indefinitely, ver. 1, "That men ought always to pray, and not to faint;" and the term elect is no restriction of the criers that are to be heard, as if there were some that cry day and night unto God, that are elect ones; and others that cry night and day unto him that are not elect ones. No; but the crying of the elect day and night in the sense of the text, is proposed as an evidence of eternal election: it is inferred from their so crying, that they are elect ones, and therefore shall surely be heard. Q. d. The unjust judge heard a woman he had no regard for, because she came continually to him: how much more will a just God hear those that are coming continually to him, since they are surely his chosen ones, else they would certainly give it over, and go to another door?
2dly, The benefit secured for them, "He will avenge them;" that is, agreeable to the general scope, he will hear them at length to their full satisfaction; their process shall have a happy issue. But it is expressed by "avenging them," to intimate, (1.) That all the grievances that God's children labour under, and which send them crying to God for relief, arise from their adversaries, temporal or spiritual, without them or within them. (2.) That they are not able to rid themselves of their adversaries, but must grapple with their burden till another hand take it off. (3.) That God will not only deliver them, but shew them just vengeance on the springs of their grievances.
2. The doctrine of the parable amplified, "I tell you that he will avenge them speedily." Though they think they are put to wait long, yet matters being weighed in an even balance, they shall have a quick return of their prayers.
3. The confirmation of the whole, "I tell you," Our Lord Christ gives his word for it.
The doctrine from the first verse was, that our Lord Jesus Christ has kindly intimated to all that have business at the court of heaven, the necessity of so managing themselves, that they still hang on there, and not faint, whatever entertainment they meet with during the dependence of their process. And, in pursuance of the same scope, from the 8th verse compared with the first, I observe the following
DOCTRINE. To move them that have business at the court of heaven, still to hang on there, and not to faint, whatever hardships they meet with during the dependence of their process, our Lord Jesus hath expressly intimated that such petitioners shall certainly be heard to their heart's content, and that speedily, in reality, however tedious their process may seem to them for the time. Briefly, Jesus Christ has given his word for it, that such petitioners at the court of heaven, as will hang on and not faint, shall certainly be heard to their heart's content, and that speedily.
In handling this doctrine, I shall show,
I. What is that treatment petitioners meet with at the court of heaven, under which they will be in hazard of fainting.
II. Why petitioners are in hazard of fainting from such treatment at the court of heaven.
III. Wherefore the Lord gives such treatment to any of his petitioners.
IV. What is the import of this intimation made for this end.
V. The certainty of such petitioners being heard at length.
VI. How they shall be heard to their heart's content.
VII. How it shall be speedily, notwithstanding the long delay.
I. First, I shall shew what is that treatment petitioners may meet with at the court of heaven, under which they will be in hazard of fainting. I mentioned several particulars at another occasion; I offer now only three things in general.
1. The weight and pressure of their heavy case itself, whatever it is, may be long continued, notwithstanding all their addresses for help, Jer. 8:20, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." They may come again and again to the throne of grace, with their burden on their back, and as often carry it away with them. And that is faintsome work. A short trial, though it be sharp, is but "running with the footmen;" but a long continued one is "contending with horses," apt to run one out of breath, Psal. 6:3, "My soul also sore vexed: but thou, O Lord, how long?
2. There may be no appearance of relief, Psal. 74:9, "We see not our signs, there is no more any prophet, neither is there among us any that knoweth how long." A glimpse of an appearance of relief, though yet afar off, would be like a cordial to the weary attendants, howbeit their night may have been long and dark, and yet no sign of day-break to be discerned. The petitioners are apt to faint, who though they often listen, can hear no voice; though they look oft to the throne, can discern no moving toward their relief, Psal. 119:123, "Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness."
3. They may get incident weights laid on them, as a load above their burden, Psal. 69:26, "They persecute him whom thou hast smitten, and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded." These are like drops poured into a full cup, ready to cause it run over; like smart touches on a broken leg, inclining one readily to faint.
II. The second thing to be spoke to, is, why petitioners are in hazard of fainting from such treatment at the court of heaven. Four things concur to it.
1. Natural weakness, Is. 40:6, "All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. On this very view the Lord "pities his children," Psal. 103:13, 14. We have weak backs, easily bowed down under a heavy burden, Psal. 38:6; weak hearts, Soon damped, where God shews himself our party; weak heads, and are soon brought to our wits end; weak hands, that can do little for ourselves at a pinch; and weak knees, ready to bow, and let us go to the ground, after long hanging on.
2. Conscience of guilt, Psal. 38:5, 6, "My wounds stink, and are corrupt; because of my foolishness. I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long." Guilt is a mother of fears, and fears cause fainting. The sinner goes to God with his pinching case, he is not answered: presently there is a quarrel apprehended, the man knows he is a criminal, and the guilty conscience whispers in his ear, "There is no hope."
3. Unacquaintedness with the methods of sovereignty, Psal. 77:19, "Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known." The mysteries of the management of providence have perplexed saints of the first magnitude, as Asaph, Jeremiah, &c. We are apt to measure God's ways by our own, which occasions much fainting in trials: whereas they differ as far as heaven and earth, Is. 55:8, 9.
4. A strong bias to unbelief and walking by sense, quite contrary to our duty and interest, 2 Cor. 5:7. We are apt to be impressed more with what we see and feel in providence, than what we hear from the word. And whereas we should expound providence by the promise, the word being our rule, and so get the cordial virtue of it; we expound the promise by providence, and so put ourselves in hazard of fainting: Luke 24:20, 21, 25, 26, "The chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to-day is the third day since these things were done. Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
III. The third thing to be considered is, wherefore the Lord gives such treatment to any of his petitioners.
1. It is not for mere will and pleasure. Satan will be ready to suggest this, and pose the party with such questions as these, for what use is all this delay? what glory comes to God by it? what profit comes to you by it? Good folk may listen overmuch to it. But it is a lie, that it is for mere will and pleasure, Lam. 3:33, "For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men."
1. It is not because he has no pity on you, nor concern for you under your burden; though Zion, by the suggestion of Satan, may entertain that jealousy of her God, which he flatly refuses, Is. 49:14, 15, "But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." Whatever the Lord's way be with thee, it is an eternal scripture truth, "God is love," 1 John 4:16, "gracious and full of compassion," Psal. 111:4. And it is apparent even in this case, in that it is not worse with thee, Lam. 3:22, and that thou art always getting new supports under thy burden, ver. 23.
3. It is not to signify to you that you should give it over, and trouble him no more with your petition; as the hasty unbelieving heart is ready to take it, and to give over duty because there is no sensible appearance of success, Jer. 20:9. "I said I will not make mention of him nor speak any more in his name." He has signified his will to be the quite contrary, 1 Thess. 5:17. "Pray without ceasing;" and our Lord spoke this parable to prevent that misconstruction.
4. Lastly, It is not because he is resolved not to hear you at any rate, cry as long as ye will. Satan will interpret it that way to you, and there is too much listening to it, Hab. 1:2. "O Lord, how long shall I cry and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of of violence, and thou wilt not save!" He has promised the contrary Psal. 50:15, "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." Our Lord assures you of the contrary in the text.
Secondly, But positively, in general,
It is for holy, wise, becoming ends; it is necessary for his glory and your case. Believe that on the credit of the word, Deut. 32:4, "He is the rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he." There is not one random step in his whole way, Lam. 3:33. There is a necessity for what he does.
OBJECTION. I cannot see how my case requires it, or what glory God can have by it. ANSWER. You are no competent judge of what your case requires, and therefore you should leave that to the Lord, Psal. 47:4, "He shall choose our inheritance for us;" Jer. 10:23, "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." If you are sick, you leave it to your physician how to order your case: if your affairs are perplexed, and you have a plea at law, you leave it to your lawyer: and when you have a process at the court of heaven, will you not leave it to your God?
Ye are as little competent judges of what glory God can have by such and such a management. God can raise glory to himself, where ye can see nothing but dishonour to him: and he will have it, Rom. 11:36, "For—to him are all things." Believe that, and leave the way of raising it to himself. The seed of glory to God in Job's trial, neither he nor his friends generally saw for a long time: yet it sprung up fair at length, and flourishes to this day.
1. It is for the honour of the man Christ. It contributes to it,
1st, In that thereby the petitioners are conformed to his image, in the suffering part thereof. He met with that treatment at the throne, Psal. 22:1, 2, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not; and in the night-season, and am not silent." And for a reward of his bearing it, it is appointed it should be the way of the court ever after. And therefore none of God's children shall miss to share of it, in greater or lesser measure, soon or late, Rom. 8:29, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.
2dly, Thereby he gets the more employment as the great Intercessor, and is more earnestly applied to than otherwise he would be. Longsome pleas give the advocates much ado; and longsome processes at the court of heaven bring much business to the Mediator, and so much honour.
3dly, It affords him the most signal occasion of displaying his power in combating with and baffling the old serpent, next to that he had on the cross, 2 Cor. 12:9, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." Here Satan and a weak creature is yoked, Heaven standing by and looking on. The poor creature has a burden on his back, he cries, Lord take it off, and cries again, but no answer: Satan takes the advantage, works against him to make him faint; but the combat is maintained, and Satan is baffled, through secret support conveyed to the sinner from Jesus.
2. To shew who are meet to be heard, and who not? who have a due value for the mercy petitioned for, and the God in whose hand it is? Israel wandered in the wilderness till all the despisers of the pleasant land, and unbelievers of the word, dropt off: and Caleb and Joshua, who followed the Lord fully, were brought in. The fainting petitioners either despise the mercy, by dropping it; or God himself, by carrying their process to another.
3. To magnify the promise. Satan, in man's state of innocence, bent his main force against the threatening, to shake man's faith of it. Now he bends his main force against the promise, to make poor sinners quit their grips of it. In such a case there is a solemn struggle about it; faith holds, and the devil draws. The believer sees he is gone if he quit it; it is his all; and therefore, though the floods overflow, he strives to keep the gripe.
4. Lastly, To keep up the mercy, till that time come, that, all things considered, will be the absolutely best time for bestowing it, John 11:14, 15. "Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. I am glad for your sakes, that I was not there (to the intent ye may believe); nevertheless, let us go unto him."
USE 1. Know then, that trifling and careless management will not do at the court of heaven. Deep earnest ye must be in, resolved not to take a nay-say. Be sincere, prepare, and vigorously press your suits.
2. This may encourage sinners to come to Christ, and to put their case in his hand, and hang on. Particularly back-sliders, and whosoever are fore-boding no good to themselves from him, may be encouraged by this doctrine.
IV. The fourth thing to be spoke to is, What is the import of this intimation made for this end? It imports,
1. That sinners are ready to take delays at the court of heaven for denials. Satan and their own and unbelieving hearts tell them they are so. And therefore, in opposition to this, and to prevent the mistake, our Lord expressly gives his word that it is not so.
2. That importunity and resolute hanging on, and repeated addresses for the supply of the same need, are very welcome and acceptable to Christ and his Father. There is no fear of excess here; the oftener ye come, the more resolute ye are in your hanging on, the more welcome. The intercessor will not weary of your putting your petitions in his hands, nor his Father of taking them out of his.
3. That the faith of being heard at length, is necessary to keep one hanging on without fainting, Psal. 27:13. "I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Petitioners indifferent whether they be heard or not, may continue their customary prayers without the faith of being heard: but if men be in deep earnest with their petitions, they will never escape fainting without faith, Rom. 4:18, 19, 20.
4. That the hearing to be got at length at the court of heaven, is well worth the waiting on, be it ever so long. It will more than counterbalance all the fatigue of the process, that is kept longest in dependance. And the faith of this should be kept up, to keep the petitioner from fainting.
V. The fifth thing in the method is, The certainty of such petitioners being heard at length. Here it is necessary to repeat what was said of the duty of hanging on and not fainting, that we may see who they are that are such petitioners.* Now, that such petitoners will be heard, is beyond peradventure, however long they get to wait on, if ye consider,
1. They are doubtless God's own children, elect believers, whatever they think of themselves, Luke 17:7. "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?" If they were not so, they could never take such a treatment at God's hand, and yet still hang on about it, John 8:35. "The servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever." And will not God hear the cries of his own children at length? certainly he will. The begun resemblance to their elder brother must be complete, 2 Tim. 2:11, 12. "It is a faithful saying, For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with him, &c.
2. The nature, name, and promise of God, join to insure it. He is good and gracious in his nature, Exod. 34:6–9. He has bowels of mercy more tender than a mother to her sucking child, Is. 49:15. He is the hearer of prayer, Psal. 65:2 and will he not answer that part of his name? will he not hear his own children, and hear them after they have cried long, and still continue crying? He has bound himself by promise, Psal. 50:15. "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me:" and 102:17. "He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer." And will he not perform this his promise?
3. Such prayers are the product of his own Spirit in them, and therefore he cannot miss to be heard, James 5:16. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Ye say, ye have cried so long, and no answer; and therefore your petitions appear to be the product of nature, not of the Spirit of God. But I say, according to the word, ye have cried so long and no answer, and yet continue crying, and have not fainted, and given over, but stick by it resolutely; therefore your petitioning is not the product of nature, but of the Spirit. For nature's praying is a pool that will dry up in a long drought; but the Spirit of prayer is the lasting spring, John 4:14. If thou art strengthened to hang on, and not faint, it is a token heaven's hand is at thy upholding; as was the case with David, Psal. 138:3, "In the day when I cried, thou answeredst me; and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul."
4. Our Lord Jesus has given his word on it, and so has impawned his honour they shall be heard, "I tell you that he will avenge them speedily." Now, he is the Intercessor at the court of heaven, and his intercession is never baulked there: so the honour of the Mediator, and his people's being heard, are in one bottom to sink or swim together; and he is able to secure his own honour: and does not that make sure work of your being heard? I proceed to shew,
VI. Sixthly, How they shall be heard to their heart's content.
1. They shall at length see that their prayers have been accepted. I do not say they shall at length be accepted, but they shall see they have been so. Many cannot think those prayers are accepted, that do not come soon back with an answer. But that is a mistake; for the petitions of those that hang on and faint not, proceeding from that disposition, are accepted instantly, though many years should run ere the answer come back, 1 John 5:14, "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us." God doth with his wrestling children's petitions, as a father with letters sometimes from his son in a far country, he reads them with pleasure and affection always as they come to his hand, and lays them bypast to be all answered at the most convenient time: Matth. 15:28, "Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt."
2. They shall get an answer of their petitions to their heart's satisfaction, Matth. 15:28, forecited. Psal. 9:18, "The needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever." God will tell out to them according to the promise in answer to their prayers; so that they shall change their wrestling note, and say, "I love the Lord because he hath heard my voice, and my supplications, Psal. 116:1, and look on what they have met with as bearing the signature of the hand of a prayer-hearing God. Their burden shall be taken off, and they shall have their petitions in kind, or equivalent to their heart's content, 2 Cor. 12:9, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."
3. They shall be fully satisfied as to the long delay, and the whole steps of the procedure, however perplexing they were before Rev. 15:3, "And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints." Standing on the shore, and looking back to what they have passed through, they will be made to say, He hath done all things well; and they will see that there could have none of it been wanting.
4. They shall get it with increase according to the time they waited on, and the hardships they sustained during the dependence of the process. The fruit of the promise, the longer it is a-ripening, the more bulky it is. Abraham and Sarah waited for the promised child till they were coming into extreme old age, the very next step to death, Gen. 18:11; but they got with it an addition of the renewing of their ages, Gen. 21:7; and 25:1.
5. Lastly, Their spiritual enemies that flew thick and strong about them in the time of the darkness, shall be scattered at the appearance of this light, 1 Sam. 2:5, "They that were full, have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry, ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children, is waxed feeble." Formidable was Pharaoh's host while the Israelites had the Red Sea before them: but when they were through the sea, they saw the Egyptians dead upon the shore, Exod. 14:30. Such a heart-sight shall they that hang on and faint not get of Satan and all his black bands. I proceed to shew,
VII. Seventhly, How it shall be speedily, notwithstanding the long delay.
1. It shall be speedily in respect of the weight and value of it when it comes: so that the believer looking on the return of his petition, with an eye of faith perceiving the worth of it, may wonder it is come upon so short on-waiting. This view of it the apostle takes, 2 Cor. 4:17, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." And so says Zophar, Job 11:16, "Thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away."
2. It shall come in the most seasonable nick of time it can come in, Gal. 6:9 when it may come to the best advantage for the honour of God and their good: and that which comes in the best season, comes speedily. To every thing there is a season; so fools' haste is no speed. Times and seasons are in the Lord's hand, and all his works are best-timed, Deut. 32:4 and will abide the strictest examination, Eccles. 3:14.
3. It shall come as soon as they are prepared for it, Psal. 10:17. "Thou will prepare their heart;" and if it should come sooner, it would be over soon. And it may take long time to prepare for it; there may be many a lesson to learn, much working on their will may be necessary, ere they be prepared for it.
4. It shall not tarry one moment beyond the due and appointed time, Hab. 2:3, "Though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry;" it will not linger, postpone, or put off beyond that due time. Whatever way the wheel of providence be driving, it is a wheel within a wheel, and so needs spend no time in turning about.
5. Lastly, It will be surprising, as a glaring light to one brought out of a dungeon, though he was expecting it. No doubt the church was expecting the end of their captivity in Babylon toward the end of the seventy years: yet such was the change, it was surprising, they "were like men that dreamed," Psal. 126:1.
USE 1. Let all know that it is not in vain to seek the Lord. God's trust is better than the world's hand-payment. Though waiting on at the court of heaven may be longsome, yet it is a sure way to get our wants supplied.
2. All ye that have now set your faces heavenward, professing your resolution to forsake sin and the world, and to hang on about the Lord's hand for all; do not look back, turn not away from him, Heb. 10:38, "If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. Remember it is "he that endures to the end shall be saved."
3. Think it not strange if ye meet with treatment at the hand of the Lord, whereby ye may be in hazard of fainting. He loves to try his followers. But be resolute to hang on about his hand, come what will, and ye will be sure to speed at length.
4. Ye that are going away mourning from this communion because of a hiding God, and a hungry meal ye have got; do not despond; but inquire into the causes, mourn over them, and renew your addresses to the throne vigorously; and what ye missed in public, ye may get in secret.
5. Lastly, Ye that are under any pressure, who have been long tossed with tempests and not comforted, nor have any appearance of comfort shewing itself; comfort yourselves with the words of the text, believing it; while ye can have no comfort from the appearance of providence; and be resolute in hanging on, and faint not. And ye have Christ's word for it, your case shall have a happy issue, though never so desperate like.
And whoever would be kept from fainting, and animated to hang on about the Lord's hand, believe, that hanging on ye shall certainly be heard at length to your heart's content. For so hathour Lord said, "I tell you that he will avenge them speedily."