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with three hundred men.
And fewer than ten thousand Grecians did vanquish an army of three hundred thousand Persians, in the famous battle at Marathon; as Pausanias and Valerius Maximus give the numbers.d
Now lastly, With relation unto all performances which he had, or should despatch ;--so this prayer is a petition for that gracious reward, which the Lord is mercifully pleased to encourage his servants by, in those great and difficult works whereunto he calleth them ;-whereby not his servants only, but his own Son, have been animated to endure sufferings, and to despise shame: (Heb. xi. 26, and xii. 2) for the expected promises do awaken our patience in the Lord's work. (Heb. x. 36. 2 Cor. vii. 1) The apostle pressed 'forward to the price; (Phil. iii. 14) fought his fight, finished his course, kept the faith, in pursuance of that crown of righteousness which was set before him; (2 Tim. iv. 8) for in keeping the commandments there is a great reward. (Psalm xix. 11)
And this indeed is matter of comfort and encouragement to us, that though the works which we are to do, are difficult, and we have withdrawing hearts, and weak hands, and fainting spirits, and potent enemies, and strong temptations; and having conflicted with all these, may haply lose our thanks with men, and possibly be rewarded with hatred and ill-will; yet we work for a master who remembers all, who keeps an account of but a cup of cold water, which is given to him in any of his poor servants. If a raven feed his prophet; if dogs lick the sores of Lazarus: if rotten rags h draw Jeremiah from a dungeon; if a broken potsherd stand Job in any stead in his afflictions; if a basket* be a means to deliver Paul, or stalks of flax to hide the spies of Israel; if the cover of a well m do protect David's intelligencers; if spread garments and broken boughs" contribute any thing towards the honour of Christ, there shall be a record kept, and an honourable mention made of the services, even of these inanimate creatures. O what a good Lord do we serve, who keeps a book for our sighs, a bottle for our tears, a register for but two mites cast into his treasury!
f 1 Kings i Job ii. 8. n Matth. Mark xii. 42.
keeps a record of gleaning of barley', dipping in vinegar, of a cake of meal, of a table, a stool, and a candlestick; and esteemeth himself a debtor for such poor things, as men scarce value for ordinary courtesies ;-who would not put forth all his strength in the service of such a Lord, who takes notice of the least that can be done, who rendered robes for rags, crowns for crumbs, turns out water into wine, gives a weight of glory for light afflictions, and eternal wages for a little momentary service?
Now in that this good man doth, as often as he makes this prayer, make mention of God as his God; "Remember me, O my God;" we may from thence certainly infer, that, by this consideration, he had been greatly animated in his undertakings, by which he was so much comforted in the review of them, and encouraged to pray for a merciful reward unto them. And this leadeth us unto three observations, which I shall but name.
I. That a sound faith and particular interest in God as our God, is a special principle to quicken us in great and honourable undertakings. It set Nehemiah at first to improve his relations unto the King of Persia, for the good of his people, and the city Jerusalem; (Nehem. i. 11, and ii. 4, 8) and by the same argument, he encouraged the people to valour and resolution. (Nehem. iv. 20) The church professeth, "That in the name of their God, they would set up their banners." (Psalm xx. 5) David went unarmed, in the confidence of that name, against Goliath, because God was the God of the hosts of Israel. (1 Sam. xvii. 45) In all their marches and motions in the wilderness, this was their comfort, That they had a God, which went before them as their captain, who was able to scatter all their enemies. (Numb. x. 35, 36. Psalm lxviii. 7, 8) In this confidence Asa and Jehoshaphat applied themselves to God as their God, and went on with courage and comfort against huge armies of enemies. (2 Chron. xiv. 11, and xx. 6, 7, 11, 12) By this faith, "Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, subdued kingdoms, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of the fire, escaped the edge of the
Ruth xxviii. 9, 14. iv. 8, 9, 10.
1 Kings xvii. 13, 15.
t 2 Kings
sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight," &c. (Heb. xi. 32, 34)
1. Faith is an active and working grace:" remembering your work of faith," saith the apostle. (1 Thess. i. 3) It will not let men be idle or unfruitful. (2 Pet. i. 8) It knows what a back and strength it hath in the truth and power of God, through whom it can do all things;' (Phil. iv. 13) and thereupon what it findeth to do, it doth with its might.
2. It is an heroical' grace: as the philosopher saith of wisdom ;* that it is ἐπιστήμη τῶν τιμιωτάτων, * the knowledge of the most honourable things;' so we may say of faith, that it undertaketh the most honourable things, eyeth great objects, pursueth great ends, looketh upon all things as possible; (Mark ix. 23) and therefore is not dismayed at any. What an heroic faith was that of Joshua, whereby he prevailed with God in prayer, to stop the course of the sun and moon, while Israel was avenged on their enemies! (Josh. x. 12) And though, ordinarily, faith be not a faith of miracles, yet it hath a nobleness and a greatness in it, whereby it can, in the assurance of its interest in God, set upon great actions which are conformable unto his will.
3. It is a valiant and victorious grace; is not afraid of men or devils, when it hath made sure of God. It quencheth the fiery darts of Satan ;-it overcomes the world. One David, having God for his God, was not afraid of ten thousand of armies of men; (Psal. iii. 6, and xxvii. 3) by his God" he can run through a troop, and leap over a wall, and break a bow of steel." (Psal. xviii. 29) Nothing is invincible to faith it can level mountains: (Zech. iv. 7) it can more than conquer greatest difficulties. (Rom. viii. 35, 37) As one man by an engine may move bodies, which an hundred, without it, could not stir; so, by the engine of faith, things are many times effected, which, to sense and reason, do seem impossible.
Luth.-Est res viva, po
u Пloris egyóris ȧyabŵv Clem. Alex. Strom. lib. 5.-Per fidem Christi non sumus liberi ab operibus: sed ab opinionibus operum. tens, operosa, &c. Luther. in Gen. 12. fol. 153.
Metaphys. 1. 1. & Credenda om
Fides maxima et heroica operatur, Luth. in Gen. 29. nia sunt possibilia; fides facit ex eo quod nihil est ut sit, et ex impossibilibus facit omnia possibilia.-Figit cor in illud quod omnino eis absurdum et impossibile, contentum verbo, Luth. in Gen. 27. fol. 405.
4. It is a patient grace. It is not discouraged with every obstacle, nor dismayed with every terriculament, nor wearied with every encounter: but like box, or holly, and such other trees, retains its verdure in the winter, and holds out amidst all difficulties unto the end; knows how near the promised mercies are, and doth cheerfully press forwards towards them; says with those in the prophet, (Isa. xxv. 9) "This is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us.' Faith doth not suffer a man to draw back, but patiently to continue in well doing, that he may, after a little while, receive the promises. (Heb. x. 36, 39. Rom. ii. 7)
5. It is a praying grace: can, in every exigent and distress, call down invisible help from God. And none go with more vigour about any enterprise than they, who being backed with potent friends, and having free access unto great treasures are able, in any extremity, to attain the concurrent counsels and succours of others, to further their designs. The apostle bids us, by faith, to ask wisdom of God, that thereby patience may go through, and have her perfect work. (James i. 4, 5, 6) God hath honoured faith and repentance, in the gospel, above other graces, because they have a peculiar virtue to carry us out of ourselves in prayer unto God. And no graces do more promote great actions than self-denying graces, when men have ends and aids above themselves. Carnal ends, domestic interests, and private affections, do usually obstruct noble undertakings; because such men, as soon as storms arise, and difficulties shake them, forsake the proper and eternal merits of the business, and hold or alter their resolutions, according as their own personal hopes, or fears do dictate unto them. And therefore the best way to make strong and steady progress in any serious employment, is, to have God for our God, that, in every difficulty, we may be able to have recourse unto him for counsel, wisdom, succour, support; and may be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
II. As faith is a special principle of action in great undertakings; so it is a special ground of comfort in the reviewing of them. When we can say, "In this action, though full of many difficulties, yet faith in God as my God, hath upheld me, and carried me through it to the end: I have undertaken it, not in mine own strength, nor in the confidence of
mine own wisdom; but in a holy fear, and comfortable dependance upon God; I have aimed at his glory, and at public interest; I have not immixed nor interwoven in it, any carnal counsels, or sinful projects of mine own; I have laboured to keep a good conscience in doing of mine own duty, and have cast myself upon his holy providence for the event;" -in this case the Lord doth ordinarily return such an answer of peace, to works that are done in the fear of his name, by the rule of his word, in the comfort of his promises, and with submission to his providence, as that, one way or other, the heart shall be able to take comfort in it for faith is a successful and hath a promise of prospering. "Begrace, lieve in the Lord your God, so shall you be established; believe his prophets, so shall you prosper." (2 Chron. xx. 20) By faith, Israel passed through the Red Sea, and saw the victory of their faith in the ruin of their proud enemies. (Exod. xiv. 30, 31)
If the Lord bless the undertaking itself, with the desired success, faith hath this comfort,-that it is a blessing received from the hand of a father, an evidence of his love, an accession unto the gift of his son, with whom he freely giveth all other things. It is the portion which God hath graciously given unto his servant ;-and though the thing given be good itself, yet the favour and blessing of God which comes along with it, is much more excellent: as the money in the mouth of the fish, or the pearl in the body of the oyster, is more precious than that which was the vehiculum of it.
And, on the other hand, if the Lord suffer not our labours to succeed, yet he is our God himself still, and all desirable good is eminently comprised in him, who is a God all-sufficient to those that walk before him, and are upright. Though he answer me not in the particular wherein I waited upon him, a he ever answers secundum cardinem desiderii,' in such a way as is better for me: though the issue be not 'secundum voluntatem,' according to my will, yet it is ever ad utilitatem,' according to my profit and good. Paul had not the thing he expressly prayed for, to have the messenger of Satan depart from him; but he had a sufficiency of grace to
a Aug. Confes. lib. 5. c. 8.-Bonus Deus qui non tribuit sæpe quod volumus, ut tribuat quod malimus. Aug. epist. 34. et Tract. 73. in Johan. et Tom. 7. lib. de unita. Bocles e 19 et contr Julan. lib. 5. cap 4. et epist. 121 cap. 11.