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chooses his words and sets them in order, how he winds up his spirit to the very highest pitch of zeal and fervency and can you doubt of success? Can such a Father deny the importunity and pleading of such a Son? Oh, it can never be! he cannot deny him: Christ has the art and skill of prevailing with God. If the heart or hand of God were hard to be opened, yet this would open them; but when the Father himself loves us, and is inclined to do us good, who can doubt of Christ's success! "That which is in motion, is the more easily moved." The cause Christ manageth in heaven for us is just and righteous. The manner in which he pleads is powerful, and therefore the success of his suit is unquestionable. Oh think of this, when dangers surround your souls or bodies, when fears and doubts are multiplied within; when thou art ready to say in thy haste, All men are liars, I shall one day perish by the hand of sin or Satan; think on that encouragement Christ gave to Peter, "I have prayed for thee." Luke, 22:32.
2. Again, hence we learn that argumentative prayers are excellent prayers. The strength of every thing is in its joints; there lies much of the strength of prayer also. How strongly jointed, how nervous and argumentative was this prayer of Christ! Some there are indeed, that think we need not argue and plead in prayer with God, but only present the matter of our prayers to him, and leave Christ (whose office it is) to plead with the Father; as if Christ did not present our pleas and arguments, as well as simple desires, to God; as if the choicest part of our prayers must be kept back, because Christ presents our prayers to God. No, no, Christ's pleading is one thing, ours another: "His and ours are not opposed, but subordinate; his pleading doth not destroy, but makes ours successful. God calls us to plead with him, "Come now, let us reason together." Isa.
1:18. God (as one observes) reasons with us by his word and providences outwardly, and by the motions of his Spirit inwardly and we reason with him by framing, through the help of his Spirit, certain holy arguments, grounded upon allowed principles, drawn from his nature, name, word, or works." And it is condemned as a very sinful defect in professors, that they did not plead the church's cause with God; "There is none to plead thy cause that thou mayest be bound up." Jer. 30: 13. What was Jacob's wrestling with the angel, but his holy pleading and importunity with God? and how well it pleased God, let the event speak, "As a prince he prevailed, and had power with God." Gen. 32:24. Hos. 12: 4. His name was no more called Jacob, but Israel, a prince with God.
By these holy pleadings "the King is held in his gal leries." Cant. 7:5. I know we are not heard either for our much speaking, or our excellent speaking; it is Christ's pleading in heaven that makes our pleading on earth available: but surely, when the Spirit of the Lord shall suggest proper arguments in prayer, and help the humble suppliant to press them home believingly and affectionately, when he helps us to weep and plead, to groan and plead, for, says one, "The heart cries to God more by groans than by words, and more by tears than by speaking," God is greatly delighted with such prayers. "Thou hast said, I will surely do thee good," said Jacob. Gen. 32: 12. It is thine own free promise; I did not go of myself, but thou badest me go, and encouragedst me with this promise. Oh this is pleasing to God, when by his Spirit of adoption we can come to him, crying, Abba, Father; Father, hear, forgive, pity, and help me. Am I not thy child, thy son, or daughter? To whom may a child be bold to go, with whom may a child have hope to prevail, if not with his father? Father, hear me. The fathers of our flesh are full of compassion, and pity
their children, and know how to give good things to them when they ask. And is not the Father of spirits more full of compassion, more full of pity?
3. What an excellent pattern is here, for all that have the charge and government of others committed to them, whether magistrates, ministers, or parents, showing how to acquit themselves towards their relations when they come to die!
Look upon the dying Jesus, see how his care and love to his people broke out, when the time of his departure was at hand. Surely, as we are bound to remember our relatives every day, and to lay up prayers for them in the time of our health, so it becomes us to imitate Christ in our earnestness with God for them when we die. Though we die, our prayers do not die with us: they outlive us, and those we leave behind us in the world may reap the benefit of them when we are turned to dust.
For my own part, I must profess before the world that I have a high value for this mercy, and do, from the bottom of my heart, bless the Lord, who gave me a religious and tender father, who often poured out his soul to God for me: he was one that was inwardly ac quainted with God; and being full of love to his children, often carried them before the Lord, prayed and pleaded with God for them, wept and made supplications for them. The prayers and blessings left by him before the Lord, I esteem above the fairest inheritance on earth. Oh it is no small mercy to have thousands of fervent prayers lying before the Lord in heaven for us. And Oh that we would all be faithful to this duty! surely our love, especially to the souls of our relatives, should not grow cold. Oh that we would remember this duty in our lives, and, if God give opportunity and ability, discharge it fully when we die; considering, as Christ
* Mr. Richard Flavel, a faithful and laborious preacher of the Gospel.
did, that we shall be no more, but they are in the midst of a defiled, tempting, troublesome world; what temptations and troubles may befall them we do not know. Oh imitate Christ your pattern.
4. Hence we may see what a high esteem Christ has of believers: this was the treasure which he could not quit, he could not die till he had secured it in a safe hand: "I come unto thee, holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me."
Surely believers are dear to Jesus Christ; and with good reason, for he has paid dear for them: let his dying language, this last farewell, say how he prized them.
The Lord's portion is his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance." Deut. 32: 9. "They are a peculiar treasure to him, above all the people of the earth." Exod. 19:5. Whatever is much upon our hearts when we die, is dear to us indeed. Oh how precious, how dear should Jesus Christ be to us! Were we first and last upon his heart; did he pray for us, did he so wrestle with God for us, when the sorrows of death compassed him about? How then are we bound, not only to love him, and esteem him, whilst we live, but to be in pangs of love for him when we feel the pangs of death upon us! The very last whisper of our departing souls should be, Blessed be God for Jesus Christ.
SECOND PREPARATIVE ACT OF CHRIST FOR HIS OWN DEATH. THE LORD'S SUPPER.
"The Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me." 1 Cor. 11: 23-25.
Christ had no sooner recommended his dear charge to the Father, but (the time of his death hastening on) he institutes his last supper, to be the memorial of his death, in all the churches, until his second coming; therein graciously providing for the comfort of his people, when he should be removed out of their sight. This his second act manifests no less love than the former. It is like a man's plucking off the ring from his finger when about to die, and delivering it to his dearest friends, to keep as a memorial of him.
In the text there are four things noticed by the apostle respecting this last and lovely act of Christ, namely, the Author, time, institution, and end of this holy, solemn ordinance.
1. The Author of it, the Lord Jesus: it is an effect of his royal power and authority; "And Jesus came, and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and earth: go ye therefore." Matt. 28:18, 19. The government is upon his shoulders. Isa. 9: 6. He shall bear the glory. Zech. 6: 13.
2. The time when the Lord Jesus Christ appointed this ordinance. In the same night in which he was betrayed:" it could not be sooner, because the passover must first be celebrated; nor later, for that night he was