He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.—Isaiah 53.7.
SERMON VII.1"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."Mark 11.24.I OBSERVED the last Sabbath from this verse that sound justifying faith is a necessary and requisite qualification of acceptable prayer to God. In prosecution of this point I went through these things in your hearing.
Now I come,
- I proved from Scripture that faith is a necessary and requisite qualification of right and acceptable prayer unto God.
- I observed in several particulars what it is to pray in faith.
- I showed you what is faith's work in prayer.
- I cleared a little what is the nature and the properties of this grace of faith which is so necessary a qualification in acceptable prayer.
1. That the Lord commands absolutely that in our prayers to Him we pray in faith. He enjoins by His authority that every petition we put up to Him be put up in faith"Let him that prayeth, pray in faith, nothing wavering." And here in the text it is said, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." So that in respect of the Lord's command it is highly necessary.
- To the fifth thing in the method. And this is to show you how it appears that the grace of faith, as I described it in its nature and its properties, is required in acceptable prayer. It will appear that sound and saving faith is requisite and necessary in prayer, if we consider
2. Consider this, That there is no prayer acceptable to God, nor well-pleasing to Him, without faith. No performance nor duty that we can do, or go about, and consequently no prayer is acceptable unto God without this grace. "But without faith it is impossible to please God."
3. Consider that it is by the grace of faith that the saints repel all Satan's temptations, and quench his fiery darts, wherewith they are afflicted, especially in time of prayer. And hence it appears that faith is necessary in prayer. Persons cannot stand it out without this grace; they cannot endure his fiery darts, but must be burnt up by them. Says the apostle, "Above all things, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." This is the grace that resists when he sets upon them to divert them in prayer.
4. Consider that it is faith that prepares, fits, and disposes the Lord's people for the exercise of prayer. It puts and keeps them in a praying framefaith being a grace purifying the heart and life, and it being necessary that all that come to God be studious of holiness. "I will wash my hands in innocence; so will I compass thine altar." And this will make it appear that faith is necessary in prayer, if ye would be kept in a fit disposition for it at all times and seasons.
5. Consider that it is the grace of faith that makes the soul continue in prayer till it obtains its answer or request. It is faith that is the strength, or bone of the soul, enabling it to go on in prayer, and not to take a refusal from God till it obtains an answer, as appears in the woman of Canaan. It was her faith that would not take a refusal, but she continued praying and wrestling out her soul until she got an answer. It was faith that made Jacob refuse to let the angel go until he blessed him. Thus it appears to be requisite, because it makes the people of God continue to wrestle with God in prayer. Folk that only pray by a gift will soon take a refusal; but it is not so with faith, it will not be refused.
6. Consider that it is this grace that mainly and principally glorifies God, and therefore it is most requisite in prayer, in ascribing majesty, power, honour, and dominion unto God. And must not that be necessaryin prayer which glorifies, magnifies, and honours Him to whom we pray? And,
7. Consider that the grace of faith is the means and way to see, behold, inherit, and enjoy the glory of the Lord. And oh! but faith is necessary in prayer, as ever ye would behold His glory and power in that duty. "Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God." And is it not then very necessary that souls have faith, seeing it is the way and means of getting a view of His glory? From all these we may see how necessary faith is in all our performances, and especially in prayer.
VI. For the farther prosecution of this subject, I shall show you in what respects this grace of faith is necessary in prayer; and in clearing of this, I shall sum it up in the following particulars. And,
1st, I say, in our praying to God, faith is necessary in respect of God Himself, the object of prayer. For faith looks unto Him. "He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him." And particularly I observe,
- The grace of faith is necessary in respect of God the object of prayer, as of every other act of worship.
- It is necessary in respect of Christ Jesus the Redeemer.
- It is necessary in respect of the promises of God.
- It is necessary in respect of God's providences.
(1.) There must be in our prayer to God, faith in His omnipresence, as one that is in a manner present with us when we pray. Faith looks on God as present with us. "But will God indeed dwell on earth? Behold, the heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?" We should take heed to His omnipresence; that is, His being everywhere present. Thus faith takes Him up as present with the person wherever he prays.
(2.) In our prayers, faith is necessary in respect of His omniscience, by which He is intimately acquainted with our case and ways,acquainted with the sighs and groans of the soul. Jeremiah, in praying to God, says, "For thine eyes are open unto all the ways of the sons of men, to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruits of his doings." Faith looks unto Him as one to whose eyes all things are naked and bare. Christ says, "Pray to your Father in secret, and your Father who seeth in secret, shall reward you openly." So that there must be faith in His omniscience in one praying to Him in an acceptable way.
(3.) In our prayers, faith in His all-sufficiency is also necessary. There must be faith in Him, as one who hath to supply our needs and necessities to the utmost. His supply and help is broader than all our wants. He hath a sufficiency to help our need, without any mean or instrument. There He holds out His all-sufficiency, as one who needs neither bullock nor goat. "For," says He, "every beast of the forest and cattle on a thousand hills are mine. I need none of these. I have enough for thee; only call thou on me. But look by faith unto my all-sufficiency." So that there must be faith in God's all-sufficiency in prayer. And oh! but it is necessary to take Him up in prayer as one who hath to serve our turn; as one who hath mercy to pardon us; life to those that are dead; healing to those who are sick and diseased; righteousness unto those whose righteousness is as filthy rags; peace unto them that are confused; light to them who are in darkness; and strength to them that are weak, and not able to go about duty.
(4.) Faith, while we pray, must be exercised in His omnipotence and almighty power, in respect of which there is nothing we stand in need of but He is of power to give it, and able to perform it for us. He can do it without the concurrence of second causes; nay, His power can do it above natural causes. "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there any thing too hard for me?" What is it He cannot do? What is it thou standest in need of that He cannot do? What evil is there that a soul is under that He cannot take away? What evil is it that ye are troubled with that He cannot remove by His power?
(5.) It is also necessary and requisite in our prayers that we exercise faith in His gracious nature, as one that is gracious and merciful to pardon poor sinners, be their guilt what it will. "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, and who healeth all thy diseases." Sinners, ye should look unto God by the exercise of faith in His gracious nature, as one ready and willing to forgive and pardon all your sins. Oh, but that is necessary in prayer.
(6.) In our prayers faith should be exercised in God's simplicity and spirituality, as He is a Spirit invisible and cannot be apprehended by our outward senses, and therefore one that requires to be worshipped in spirit and in truth. "God is a spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." Ye must be spiritual in your worship, that so ye may not have gross and unsuitable conceptions of the Lord whom ye worship.
(7.) In our prayers faith must be exercised in His eternity, as He is an eternal and everlasting majesty, without beginning or end; as one who was from all eternity contriving the salvation of sinners; as one who had time enough to do good to His creatures: as one who endures for ever to be their happiness. Says Habakkuk, "Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God?" We are to look on Him as one with whom a thousand years are but as one day. The faith of this might damp all the perplexed thoughts of our hearts, as if He were long in performing His promises.
(8.) In prayer we must exercise faith in His unchangeableness, as He is unchangeable in all that He is in His nature; in His goodness. "He is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever: without variableness or shadow of turning." The Psalmist looked upon God as one who changeth not. "But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end." There is great need of faith in this respect, that the soul may be fixed on God as one that hath done such things and can yet do such things for them.
(9.) Faith should be exercised in Him in prayer, as He is holy and of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, that with all due reverence the soul may draw near unto Him. "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look upon iniquity. Wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?" Think ye that men and women durst wallow in sin if they exercised faith in God as a holy one, as one who cannot look upon iniquity.
(10.) In prayer faith must be exercised in His justice, as He is a just and jealous God, and will by no means acquit the wicked; that the sins persons are guilty of may be the more grievous unto them, considering that God will not let them go unpunished if they get not true repentance.
(11.) Faith in prayer must be exercised in the relative titles that God hath come under unto His people, as that He is their Former and Maker. "We are the clay, and thou art the potter;" as if the prophet had said, "Lord, destroy us not, for we are the works of Thy hands." Faith looks to Him as a Father. "Though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not, thou, O Lord, art our Father." And they should look on God as in covenant with them. "O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us, neither know we what to do, but our eyes are upon thee." How sweet the relation faith looks to in prayer! They should look to Him in prayer as their Husband, considering themselves as His married people, called by His name, and having His name put upon them. "I will be their God, and they shall return unto me with their whole heart." This then is the first thing in regard of which faith is necessary.
2ndly, I told you faith is necessary in respect of Christ the Mediator; for in going to God in prayer we must have an eye to the Mediator, for His sake, not for our own sake, looking to be heard. There are particularly these things in Christ that faith looks to in prayer:
(1.) It looks unto Him as one in and by whom the person praying gets access to the Father. It is in and through Him that we ever had nearness to God; no coming unto this holy God but in and through Christ the Mediator.
(2.) It looks upon Him as one in and by whom the supplicant finds acceptance, and not only access. One may, in some cases, get access and not get acceptation; but says the apostle, "He hath made us accepted in the Beloved."
(3.) Faith looks upon Him as one who offereth up incense with the person's prayers, that the value of Christ's sufferings may make the prayers acceptable to God. Faith looks much unto the obedience and sufferings of Christ, through which it gets acceptation before God and remission of sin.
(4.) Faith looks on Him as one who intercedes with the Father. The praying person finds there is this and that he cannot say to God, and in what he says there is this and that wrong. "But," says he, "I have all my dependence on Christ's intercession in my prayer, therefore do I look to Him that is at the Father's right hand interceding for sinners."
(5.) It looks to Him as one who is the agent or advocate with God for the person praying, seeing he cannot plead his own cause in the court of heaven. "And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
(6.) Faith looks upon Christ as one appearing before God for sinners, and presenting the person unto God; as praying like the high priest who had the twelve tribes upon his breast when he went in unto the holy of holies, that he might present them unto God. "Such is this person's case, and such is that person's case," says he to God. "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, to appear in the presence of God for us."
(7.) Faith in prayer looks upon Him as a cautioner substituted for sinners to pay their debt, and to answer for them when the principal debtor hath nothing to pay. "By so much was Jesus made the surety of a better testament." God substituted Him as their Cautioner and Surety. What they could not do for themselves He did for them. Faith looks upon Him as satisfying justice and responsible for the believer.
(8.) Faith looks on Him as compassionate, merciful, and pitiful to poor sinners; He having our nature, and so a fellow-feeling with us. Hence He is held out and typified by the high-priest as one compassionate on the ignorant and those who are out of the way. Thus there must be a mystery of the exercise of faith in God, the object of prayer, and in Christ the Mediator and Redeemer, otherwise ye are not the wetting of your finger in water the better for your prayers. They will never ascend above your heads. He will regard them no more than the barking of dogs, or the offering of swine's flesh, or the cutting off a dog's neck. The Lord rejects all these; and so without this grace of faith folk "spend their labour for that which profiteth not, and their money for that which is not bread." How very necessary is it to exercise faith in Christ the Redeemer; and oh! if many would reflect how they have gone about this duty, they would look with black countenances, and they may say, "That in effect all our prayers are lost; we have not taken the right way in it."
3rdly, I told you that faith was necessary in prayer in respect of the promises of God. We have examples of the exercise of it in many places of Scripture, as in 2 Sam. 7.28, David makes much use of God's promises by faith in his prayer to God; and 2 Chron. 20.7, Jehoshaphat is praying, and in this exercise he makes much use of the promises by faith. Now in prayer faith is requisite in respect of the promises.
(1.) Because faith gathereth the promises that are interspersed here and there in the revealed will of God, as a hungry man his food, or a thirsty man his drink, or as a naked man his clothing to keep him from the chilling cold.
(2.) Faith not only gathers God's promises, but it makes application of them to the heart of the person in particular, as if the person had been set down particularly by name and surname. Faith makes the promise directed to sinners in general one's own in particular.
(3.) Faith chooses promises suitable to the ease and condition that the soul is in; for such a case such a promise, and for another case another promise. If the soul be dead, it looks to the promise God hath made of life; if it be under the sense of guilt, it looks to the promise God hath made of the pardon and remission of sin; if it be ignorant, it looks to the promise of giving light and knowledge; if it finds its own righteousness as filthy rags, it chooses a promise holding out the perfect and complete righteousness of Christ; if it finds its heart hard, it chooses a promise of softening the heart and giving a heart of flesh, taking away the stony heart. Thus faith chooses suitable promises to the man's case and condition, as a hungry man chooses meat, and a thirsty man drink, and a sick man physic, &c.
(4.) Faith makes persons urge in prayer all the promises of God, that He would perform and accomplish them unto them. It looks through the Scriptures, and chooses such and such promises: and goes to God with them, and begs God that He would make them out unto them. "For thou, O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house." What does David with the promise? Why, he goes unto God with it. "Now therefore, let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue before thee for ever; for thou, O Lord God, hast spoken it." Faith having found out the promise, goes to God with it, and puts Him to it; turning the promises into petitions to God. There is no grace in the soul besides faith, that can put it upon wrestling and pleading earnestly with the Lord, that He would make out His own word, even His gracious word of promise.
(5.) Faith having gathered the promises, chooses them, applies them, and urges them; and then it will make the soul patiently wait on, without fretting, or wearying, till God make out His promises to it. Thus in respect of the promises of the gospel. Oh! but faith is requisite in prayer, if ye consider these five things already noticed.
4thly, I told you that faith is requisite in prayer, in respect of God's providences. This ye may see in Psalm 22.4, where David prays earnestly, and his faith is exercised in reference to the dispensations of providence. There are three or four things that faith does under providences. And,
(1.) It makes the person wisely observe every passage of God's providences, to himself, or others. "Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord." And "Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it." Faith makes a person careful to observe God's providences.
(2.) Not only doth faith make them carefully observe God's providences, but it makes them have errands to God as to all the occurrences of providence. If it were but something happening one's beast, or one's child, nay if it were but a forefinger, forehead, or the toothache, it goes to God with every such passage of providence, whether it be of mercy, or of judgment; nothing else than faith can or will do this effectually.
(3.) Not only doth faith observe and make errands of occurrences of providence to God, but it also puts good constructions on providences though they should seem to contradict the promises. It will make Abraham say, when he is commanded to offer up his son Isaac, "Here is the wood, there is the fire, but where will we get the sacrifice." But says he, "God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt-offering."
(4.) It makes this of providence, that it refuseth to make it the ground of the person's walk, when it comes to contradict the promises. For the Lord's providences are not the ground of our walk. Oh! but faith is necessary in prayer. Without it, folk will never observe God's providences, nor make errands of providences, nor shall they wisely interpret providences; nor shall they refuse providences to be the rule of their walk. But those that have faith and look to the object of prayer; to Christ the Mediator, to the promises, to the occurrences of providence, know certainly that this grace of faith is highly necessary in prayer; even so necessary that persons cannot make a right use of God, of Christ, of the promises, and of providences without it.
VII. But say ye, "What shall they do that have not found saving faith, it being so absolutely necessary that without it they cannot pray one word acceptably to God? Now what shall we do, who think we have it not?" Now, that I may answer this, ye must consider that those who have this question; scruple, or doubt, are,
1st, Either such as have no sound saving faith at all; or,
2ndly, Such as have it, and cannot yet discern it. Or,
3rdly, Such as do but make a question, or scruple about it in words, to fill the field (as we sometimes say) but use not the right means to get it. Or,
4thly, Such as in sincerity are making the doubt, or scruple, whether they have faith or not, and are using the means for it, and would gladly have it.
First, For the first of these, I would have them that have no faith, consider these two things; 1. The danger of such a case. 2. Consider that they are yet in the place of hope, and therefore ought to use the means to attain it. I say, those who have not true faith, as there are many who have it not, should consider the case they are in. And what is that?
(1.) They are a prey unto the devil, to do with them what he pleases. "Who are taken captive by him at his will." They curse, they swear, they debauch, they profane the Sabbath-day, they lie and deceive; for it is impossible to resist the devil, that is "going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" without this grace of faith.
(2.) And not only are they a prey to the devil, but they are prey to their own lusts. "My people would not listen to my voice; and Israel would have none of me." But what comes of it? "So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lusts; and they walked in their own counsels." Oh! but that is a dreadful thing, for men to be given up unto the lusts of their own hearts. Know ye not, that sound faith is evidently awanting in our days, when almost all ranks of men are given up to profanity; to their own hearts' lusts; to all sorts of wickedness. Scotland, since any can remember, was never so full of abominations as it is at this day. And,
(3.) It deprives them of fellowship with God, and with Jesus Christ. They that have no faith, can have no communion with God. For it is by faith that Christ dwells in us. And is not this a doleful thing to be without God, and without Christ in the world? One is without God, while he lives without that precious grace.
(4.) The want of this grace brings on more obduracy and hardness of heart. In Mark 16.14 ye will find that unbelief and hardness of heart go hand and hand together. Is it not a sad case to be bound up in stupidity and hardness of heart. But so is it with those who are destitute of faith.
(5.) They not only cannot pray acceptably; but unbelief also takes away the gift of prayer, and the mouth, so that they cannot speak to God. "Behold thou shalt be dumb, and not be able to speak until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season." It makes the person a slighter of prayer in secret, and if they have a family, in their families; so that there is never a day goes over their head that they pray a word to God. "Thou shalt be dumb, and not be able to speak," &c.
(6.) They that want faith cannot bring forth fruit unto the glory of God. No more than these branches broken down can bear fruit, no more can a man without faith bring forth good fruit unto God. What is that which makes folk like briers and thorns? Whence their profanity, ungodliness, and throwing out oaths for every trifling matter? Is it not owing to their unbelief? And,
(7.) This is the woefulness of their case that want faith, that whatsoever they do is sin. "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Everything that people do is sin, if they believe not. The very work and labour they are about is sin. Their plowing, their eating, their drinking, their walking, their sitting, their sleeping, and all that they do is sin. Their hearing, their reading, their praying is sin. And is not that a deplorable case, to have all that a man doeth looked upon as sin? And so it is with such as are destitute of the grace of faith.
(8.) This is also a branch of the woefulness of that case, that they are obnoxious, and liable unto the wrath and curse of God, here and hereafter. "He that believeth not, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." God's wrath and curse are on their soul, on their body, on their means, honour, wealth, poverty, &c. Oh, but this is a dreadful case; and it is the case of those that want faith. And,
(9.) This is their case; they shall irrecoverably die, and perish eternally, that do not believe. "For if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."
They that have not found faith would do well to consider that they are yet in the land of the living. Your case, however deplorable it may be, is more hopeful than that of those who are already in hell. The means are therefore to be gone about, such as reading, hearing; and be busy in prayer to God for it, and say, "Lord, increase our faith." Be convinced of the want of this grace, and of the evil of the want of it, if ever ye would attain unto it. So that this is the answer to the first sort, viz.: Those who have not found faith (1.) They should sincerely consider their case and condition. (2.) They should consider with themselves, "Iam yet in the land of the living, and in the place of hope." Those who find it to be so with them, should seriously say unto themselves, "I will set to now, as if I had but one night or one day to live in the world. I will not take rest, until, in some measure, I get it made out unto me, that I have faith."
Secondly, For the second sort, viz.: Those who have it, and yet do not discern it. To such I may say these few things:
1. Consider that the having of faith is sufficient security for folks happiness and well-being, though they know it not; seeing the having of it interests them in God as their own, in heaven as their own, in the promises as their own, and in the righteousness of Christ as their own; in justification, adoption, and sanctification as their own. I say, the having of faith is sufficient to secure salvation, though ye know not that ye have it. Although their not having the knowledge of it tends much to the sorrow of such, yet the having of sound saving faith is a great matter. It is true they have most comfort that know that they do believe, and can say, "I know in whom I have believed."
2. Consider that the Lord in His revealed will hath laid down several signs or marks of true faith; and therefore the Lord's people should try and examine themselves by those signs, marks, and evidences of faith set down in Scripture, whether they have them or not, so that ye may not only have it, but know that ye have it, and take the comfort of it. There are these marks and evidences of sound faith in Scripture, which I shall briefly mention here. And,
(1.) Those excellent graces, gifts, and fruits of the Spirit are where this grace of faith is. See Gal. 5.22,
(2.) Where those Christian virtues and graces are linked together as in a chain. "Add to faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness." I say, where those virtues are linked thus together there is faith.
(3.) Wherever there is true faith there is love to the object of faith: for if He hath begotten any, they cannot but love Him that begat. "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
(4.) Wherever faith is, there is sincere love to all the saints of God. "Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints." So that faith and love go hand in hand together.
(5.) Wherever faith is, there is a patient waiting for the promises. Faith makes no haste, but waits for the performing of the promises. It is by faith and patience that the glorified and redeemed have obtained possession of the promises. "Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh."
(6.) Where faith is, there is a patient enduring of affliction. What God carves out unto them, the apostle tells them they were to endure in faith. Faith keeps patience in the soul where it is.
(7.) Where it is, it weans the heart and affections from the earth and earthly things; they are not desirous of them. "I glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world." It is by faith in the cross of Christ that the heart is taken off the earth and earthly things, where it is real.
(8.) Faith, where it is in exercise, resists temptations to sin, whether from men or from the devil. The grace of faith cannot enter into any communication with the devil. It is not good communicating with him, lest ye give way. Therefore faith rejects all his temptations with this, "Get thee behind me, Satan."
(9.) It is serious and studious of holiness in the heart, life, and conversation. Believing will not tolerate sin in the heart or conversation. It makes the soul say, "Should such a man as I yield to sin, should such a man as I go on with the world in their corrupt courses, who am an adopted child of God." "Be ye holy, for I am holy." Faith purifieth the heart.
(10.) Again, where faith is, oh! but it puts folk upon being serious and fervent in prayer to God. "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." Now, are ye bowing your knees to God and confessing your ill-spent time, your ignorance, and the plagues of your corrupt hearts?
(11.) Where faith is, persons are very sensible of the unbelief of their hearts; and gladly would they have their unbelief cured. "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."
(12.) Faith leads the person in whom it is to make conscience of yielding obedience to God only in Christ's strength. It sets about every commanded duty, and has a respect to all His commandments, in the way of looking to Christ as made unto us sanctification. Therefore the obedience of the saints is called the "obedience of faith," and there are none that have this grace that are not studying to keep His commandments. And,
Lastly, Wherefore it is they are longing for Christ's second coming, that they may be in His company never to be out of it again, as ye may see in 2 Cor. v. 1. There is a great longing to have the house or tabernacle of clay dissolved, and to be possessed of that "house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Take a believer in his right frame, you would find he does not care if the day of judgment were ere he slept; he does not care if all the world were in a red flame, as it will be when that day comes; he does not care if the sound of the last trumpet were going through the four winds of heaven. Therefore, believers are described to be those who are hasting unto the coming of Jesus Christ. They are waiting for His appearing in the clouds. Where faith is not, they cannot endure to think of the judgment, because the Judge and they are not friends. The sight of the Judge shall be the saddest sight that ever they saw. Then they shall cry out, "Hills and mountains fall on us, and cover us from the face of the Lamb." But where faith is, there is a crying of the soul, "Haste, Lord." The Spirit says "Come," and the Bride says "Come." So much for the second sort, viz., those who are not clear, and cannot discern it. I daresay that it is folks lying in their sins that makes them uncertain of their faith.
Thirdly, For the third sort, viz., those who make some words or noise about the want of it. Say they, "What shall I do without faith? Why should I pray since I want faith? My praying will not be acceptable to God." Such are Gallio-like, indifferent whether they do it or not. To these I would say these two things:
1. To make words of that kind, and not to have any hearty concern for the want of it, is altogether unprofitable.
2. While folk continue in that case, they cannot see the Lord, heaven, or eternal happiness. "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death"that is, all that are such shall be excluded the kingdom of heaven. But,
Fourthly, For the fourth sort, even such as seriously think that they want faith, and would be glad to use the means of getting it. To these I would only say:
1. Consider that faith is the gift of God.
2. Consider that the way to draw this faith from God is by prayer; for whatsoever they need, let them seek it by prayer.
3. Consider that as it is God's gift, and that which we should seek from Him by prayer, the Lord hath promised to give whatsoever we ask in the name of Christ. Ye would rest in saying ye cannot believe! But mind that God hath promised to give what ye ask in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is His gift, and He hath appointed us to seek it by prayer; and promised to give whatever we ask agreeably to His will. As this is so, I shall add no more. But remember the absolute necessity of faith, and the good and desirable case and condition they are in that have it; and the woeful condition those are in who want it. Remember that He is both the Author and Finisher of faith, He hath promised to give it, if ye seek it. Continue in so doing, and ye shall receive it according to His own promise.
N.B.It appears that the author preached another sermon upon this subject, as the last head and the application are not discussed.
1. The second sermon on this text.