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and important souls must lie down by, waiting for the moving of the waters, as those that know there is a healing virtue in them, which we may experience benefit by, as well as others. Here, therefore, we must set ourselves, expecting and desiring the effectual workings of God's grace in us, attending at Wisdom's gates for Wisdom's gifts, and endeavoring to improve the ordinance to this end.
From the fulness that is in Jesus Christ, in whom it pleased the Father that fulness should dwell, we are here waiting to receive grace, (John i. 16.) that is, abundance of grace, and the gift of righteousness.... Rom. v. 17. Where there is true grace, there is need of more, for the best are sanctified but in part; and there is a desire of more, forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, pressing towards perfection ; and there is a promise of more, for to him that hath shall be given; and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger : : Therefore, in a sense of our own necessities, and a dependance upon God's promise, we must, by faith, receive and apply to curselves the grace of
What things soever we desire, according to the will of God, if we believe that we receive them, our Saviour hath told us, we shall have them--Mark xi. 24.... According to thy faith be it unto thee.
Reach forth a hand of faith, therefore, and receive the promised grace, both for the confirming of gracious habits, and for the quickening of gracious acts.
(1.) Let us here receive grace for the confirming of gracious habits, that they may be more deeply rooted, We are conscious to ourselves of great weakness in grace; it is like a grain of mustard seed...as a bruised reed, and smoking flax; we are weak in our knowledge, and apt to mistake-weak in our affections, and apt to cool-weak in our resolutions, and apt to waver. How weak is my heart? But here is bread that strengthens man's heart, siguifying that grace of God, which confirms the principles, and invigorates the
powers of the spiritual and divine life in the souls of the faithful. Come, my soul, come eat of this bread, and it shall strengthen thee ; though perhaps thou mayest not be immediately sensible of this strength received, the improvement of habits is not suddenly discerned, yet through this grace thou shalt find, hereaf. ter, that thy path hath been like the shining light, which shineth more and more.
We find there is much lacking in our faith...in our love...in every grace ; here therefore we must desire and hope, and prepare to receive from Christ such gifts of the Holy Ghost as will be mighty, through God, to increase our faith, that its discoveries of divine things may be more clear and distinct, and its assurances of the truth of them more certain and confident; that its consent to the covenant may be more free and resolved, and its complacency in the covenant more sweet and delightful. And that which thus incraseth our faith will be effectual to inflame our love, and inake that strong as death in its desires towards God, and resolutions for him. We must here wait to be strengthened with all might, by his spirit in the inner man, unto all patience in suffering for him, and diligence in doing for him, and both with joyfulness... Col. i. 11. We here put ourselves under the happy influence of that exceeding great and glorious power, which worketh mightily in them that believe....Eph. i. 19.
(2.) Let us here receive grace for the quickening of gracious acts, that they may be more strongly exert. ed. We come to this throne of grace...this mercy seat...this table of our God, that here we may not only obtain mercy to pardon, but may find grace to help in every time of need.... Heb. iv. 16-grace to excite us...to direct us in, and thoroughly furnish us for
every good word and work, according as the duty of every day requires. It was a very encouraging word which Christ said to Paul, when he prayed for the remoral of that messenger of Satan which was sent to
buffet him, (11 Cor. xii. 9.) My grace is sufficient for thee : and all true believers may'take the comfort of it. What was said to him is said to all, whatever the exigence of the case is : they that commit themselves to the grace of God, with a sincere. resolution in every thing to submit to the conduct and government of that grace, shall be enabled to do all things through Christ strengthening them.
Let a lively faith here descend to particulars, and receive this grace with application to the various occurrences of the Christian life. When I
go duty of solemn worship, I find I am not sufficient of myself for it-not so much as to think one good thought of myself, much less such a chain of good thoughts as is necessary to an acceptable prayer...to the profitable reading and hearing of the word, and the right sanctífication of a Lord's day; but all our sufficiency for these services is of God, and of his grace. That grace I here receive according to the promise, and will always go forth, and go on in the strength of it.
When an opportunity offers itself of doing good to others...to their bodies, by relieving their necessities, or contributing any way to their comfort and support, or to their souls, by seasonable advice, instruction, reproof, or other good discourse, we must depend on this grace for ability to do it prudently, faithfully, and successfully, and so as to be accepted of God in it. I find I want wisdom for these and such like services, and for the ordering of all my affairs; and whither shall I go for it but to Wisdom's feasts, whose preparations are not only good for food, and pleasant to the eye, but greatly to be desired to make one wise: Here, therefore, I receive Christ Jesus the Lord, as made of God unto me wisdom; wisdom dwelling with prudence; wisdom to understand my way; that wisdom which, in every doubtful case, is profitable to di. rect. Having many a time prayed Solomon's prayer, for a wise and understanding heart, I here receive the sealed grant in answer to it : Wisdom and knowle
edge are given thee so much as shall be sufficient for thee in thy place and station, to guide thee in glorify. ing God, so as that thou mayest not come short of enjoying him.
When we are assaulted with temptations to sin, wę find how weak and ineffectual our resistance hath often been; here, therefore, we receive grace to fortify us against all those assaults, that we may not be foiled and overcome by them. All that in this sacrament list themselves under the banner of the Captain of our salvation, and engage themselves as his faithful soldiers in a holy war against the world, the flesh, and the devil, may here be furnished with the whole armor of God, and that power of his might, as it is called, (Eph. vi. 10.) wherewith they shall be able to stand and withstand in the evil day.... Eph, vi. 10, &c I now receive from God and his grace strength against such a siu that hath oft prevailed over me.... such temptation that hath oft been too hard for me, Now, therefore, O God, strengthen my hands. Through God I shall do valiantly.
When we are burdened with affliction, we find it hard to bear up; we faint in the day of adversity, which is a sign our strength is small; we grieve to much, and are full of fears in a day of trouble ; our hearts many a time are ready to fail us ; hither, there; fore, we come to receive grace sufficient for our sup. port under the calamities of this present time, that, whatever we lose, w may not lose our comfort...and, whatever we suffer, we may not sink-grace to eba: ble us, whatever happens, to keep possession of our own souls, by keeping up our hope and joy in God; that, when flesh and heart fail, we may find God the strength of our heart; and, if he be so, as the day is, 80 shall thy strength be.... Deut. xxxiii. 25. Such as surances are here given to all believers of God's
press ence with them in all their affictions, and the çon. currence of all for their good, that, being thus encouraged, they have all the reason in the world to say,
Welcome the will of God; nothing can come amiss.
We know not how we may be called on to bear our testimony to the truths and ways of God in suffering for righteousness' sake; we are bid to count upon them, and to prepare for them. We must in this ordinance faithfully promise, that, however we may be tried, we will never forsake Christ, nor turn from fol. lowing after him : though we should die with him, yet will we not deny him. But we have no reason to confide in any strength of our own, for the making good of this promise : nor can we pretend to such a degree of resolution, steadiness, and presence of mind, as will enable us to encounter the difficulties we may meet with. Peter, when he shamed himself, warned us to take heed, lest we fall, when we think we stand:
Here, therefore, we must receive strength for such -trials, that we may overcome them by the blood of
the Lamb, and by not loving our lives unto the death, and that the prospect of none of these things may
Lastly, How near our great change may be we cannot tell....perhaps nearer than we imagine : we are not sure that we shall live to see another opportunity of this kind ; but this we are sure of, that it is a serious thing to die....it is a work we never did, and when we come to do it, we shall need a strength we never had. In this sacrament, therefore, from the death of Christ, we must fetch in grace to prepare tis for death, and to carry us safely and comfortably through that dark and dismal valley. I depend not only on the providence of God, to order the circumstances of my removal hence for the best to me, but
grace of God to take out the sting of death, and then to reconcile me to the stroke of death, and to enable me to meet death's harbinger, and bear its agonies, not only with the constancy and patience that becomes a wise man, but with the hope and joy that becomes a good Christian.
Fifthly, Here we may receive the earnests of eter