Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

God,' that is, the proper object of all religious worship;
' which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the
house of bondage;' which being summarily and typically re-
presentative of all divine benefits, temporal, spiritual, and
eternal, is the great motive thereunto. The want of both
these in all mere creatures, saints and angels, makes the in-
vocation of them, not only useless, but idolatrous. But they
both eminently concur in the person of Christ, and his act-
ings towards us. All the perfections of the divine nature
are in him, whence he is the proper object of religious invo-
cation. On this account when he acted in and towards the
church, as the great angel of the covenant, God instructed
the people unto all religious observance of him, and obedi-
ence unto him; Exod. xxiii. 21. Beware of him and obey
his voice, provoke him not, for he will not pardon your
transgressions, for my name is in him.' Because the name
of God was in him, that is, the divine nature, with sovereign
authority to punish or pardon sin, therefore was all religious
obedience due unto him. And no motives are wanting here-
unto. All that the Lord Christ hath done for us, and all
the principles of love, grace, compassion, and power, from
whence what he hath so done did proceed, are all of this
nature. And they are accompanied with the encourage-
ment of his relation unto us, and charge concerning us.
Take away this duty, and the peculiar advantage of Chris-
tian religion is destroyed.

We have lived to see the utmost extremes that Christian religion can divert into. Some, with all earnestness, do

press the formal invocation of saints and angels as our duty. And some will not grant that it is lawful for us so to call on Christ himself.

The Socinians grant generally that it is lawful for us to call on Christ; but they deny that it is our duty at any time so to do. But as they own that it is not our duty, so on their principles it cannot be lawful. Denying his divine person, they leave him not the proper object of prayer. For prayer without an ascription of divine excellencies, as omniscience, omnipresence, and almighty power unto him whom we invocate, is but vain babbling, that hath nothing of the nature of true prayer in it. And to make such ascriptions unto him who by nature is not God, is idolatrous.

The solemn ordinary worship of the church, and so of private believers, in their families and closets, is under an especial directory and guidance. For the person of the Father, as the eternal fountain of power, grace, and mercy, is the formal object of our prayers, unto whom our supplications are directed. The divine nature absolutely considered, is the object of natural worship and invocation ; but it is the same divine nature in the person of the Father, that is the proper object of evangelical worship and invocation. So our Saviour hath taught us to call on God under the name and notion of a father; Matt. vi. 9. that is, his God, and our God, his father, and our Father; John xx, 17. And this invocation is to be, by and in the name of the Son Jesus Christ, through the aid of the Holy Spirit. He is herein considered as the Mediator between God and man; as the Holy Ghost is he by whom supplies of grace, enabling us unto the acceptable performance of our duties, are actually communicated unto us. This is the way whereby God will be glorified. This is the mystery of our religion, that we worship God according to the economy of his wisdom and grace, wherein he doth dispense of himself unto us in the persons of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Otherwise he will not be honoured or worshipped by us. And those who in their worship or invocation do attempt an approach unto the divine nature as absolutely considered, without respect unto the dispensation of God in the distinct persons of the holy Trinity, do reject the mystery of the gospel, and all the benefits of it. So is it with many. And not a few, who pretend a great devotion unto God, do supply other things into the room of Christ, as saints and angels; rejecting also the aids of the Spirit to comply with imaginations of their own, whose assistance herein they more approve of.

But this is the nature and method of ordinary solemn evangelical invocation. So it is declared, Eph. ii. 18. • Through him we have an access by one Spirit unto the Father.' It is the Father unto whom we have our access, whom we peculiarly invocate; as it is expressed, chap. iii. 14–16. “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father

of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you,' &c. But it is through him, that is, by Christ in the exercise of his mediatory office that we have this access unto the Father ; we ask in his name, and for his sake ; John xiv. 13, 14. xvi, 23, 24. They did so of old, though not in that express exercise of faith which we now attain unto; Dan. ix. 17. *Hear, O Lord, and have mercy for the Lord's sake. All this are we enabled unto by one Spirit; through the aids and assistance of the Spirit of grace and supplication; Rom. viii. 26, 27. So that prayer is our crying, 'Abba Father, by the Spirit of the Son ;' Gal. iv. 6. This is farther declared, Heb. iv. 15, 16. x. 19, 20. Herein is the Lord Christ considered, not absolutely with respect unto his divine person, but with respect unto his office, that' through him our faith and hope might be in God,' 1 Pet. i. 20.

Wherefore it being our duty, as hath been proved, to invocate the name of Christ in a particular manner, and this being the ordinary solemn way of the worship of the church, we may consider on what occasions, and in what seasons, this peculiar invocation of Christ, who in his divine person is both our God and our Advocate, is necessary for us, and most acceptable unto him.

(1st.) Times of great distresses in conscience through temptations and desertions, are seasons requiring an application unto Christ by especial invocation. Persons in such conditions, when their souls, as the psalmist speaks, are overwhelmed in them, are continually solicitous about compassion and deliverance. Some relief, some refreshment, they often find in pity and compassion from them who either have been in the same condition themselves, or by Scripture light do know the terror of the Lord in these things. When their complaints are despised, and their troubles ascribed unto other causes than what they are really sensible of, and feel within themselves, as is commonly done by physicians of no value, it is an aggravation of their distress and sorrow. And they greatly value every sincere endeavour for relief, either by counsel or prayer. In this state and condition the Lord Christ in the gospel is proposed as full of tender compassion, as he alone who is able to relieve them. In that


himself hath suffered being tempted, he is touched with a feeling of our infirmities, and knows how to have compassion on them that are out of the way; Heb. ii. 18. iv. 15. v. 6. So is he also, as he alone who is able to succour, to relieve, and to deliver them. • He is able to succour them that are tempted;' Heb. ii. 18. Hereon are they drawn, constrained, encouraged to make applications unto him by prayer, that he would deal with them according to his compassion power. This is a season rendering the discharge of this duty necessary. And hereby have innumerable souls found consolation, refreshment, and deliverance. A time of trouble is a time of the especial exercise of faith in Christ. So himself gives direction, John xiv. 1. 'Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.' Distinct actings of faith on Christ, are the great means of supportment and relief in trouble. And it is by especial invocation whereby they put forth and exert themselves.

An instance hereof as unto temptation, and the distress wherewith it is attended, we have in the apostle Paul. He had a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him. Both expressions declare the deep sense he had of his temptation, and the perplexity wherewith it was accompanied. • For this cause he besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from him;' 2 Cor. xii. 7, 8. He applied himself solemnly unto prayer for its removal, and that frequently. And it was the Lord, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ unto whom he made his application. For so the name Lord is to be interpreted if there be nothing contrary in the context, as the name of God is of the Father, by virtue of that rule, 1 Cor. viii. 6, 7. "To us there is one God the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ. And it is evident also in the context. The answer he received unto his prayer was 'My grace is sufficient for thee, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' And whose power that was, who gave him that answer, he declares in the next words, Most gladly therefore will I glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me,' that is, the power of him on whom he called, who gave him that answer, ‘My power is made perfect in weakness.'

(2dly.) Times of gracious discoveries either of the glory of Christ in himself, or of his love unto us, are seasons that call for this duty. The glory of Christ in his person and offices is always the same. And the revelation that is made of it in the Scripture varieth not. But as unto our perception and apprehension of it, whereby our hearts and minds are affected with it in an especial manner, there are apparent seasons of it, which no believers are unacquainted withal. Sometimes such a sense of it is attained under the dispensation of the word, wherein as Christ on the one hand is set forth evidently crucified before our eyes, so on the other he is gloriously exalted. Sometimes it is so in prayer, in meditation, in contemplation on him. As an ability was given unto the bodily sight of Stephen, to see upon the opening of the heavens, 'the glory of God, and Jesus standing at his right hand ;' Acts vii. 56, 57. so he opens the veil sometimes, and gives a clear affecting discovery of his glory unto. the minds and souls of believers; and in such seasons are they drawn forth and excited unto invocation and praise. So Thomas, being surprised with an apprehension and evidence of his divine glory and power after his resurrection, wherein he was declared to be the Son of God with power, Rom. i. 4. cried unto him, ' My Lord and my God, John xx. 28. There was in his words both a profession of his own faith, and a solemn invocation of Christ. When therefore we have real discoveries of the glory of Christ, we cannot but speak to him, or of him. · These things said Isaiah when he saw his glory and spake of him,'John xii. 41. And Stephen upon a view of it in the midst of his enraged enemies, testified immediately,' I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.' And thereby was he prepared for that solemn invocation of his name, which he used presently after, Lord Jesus receive my spirit;' Acts vii. 56. 59. And so also upon his appearance as the Lamb to open the book of prophecies, wherein there was an eminent manifestation of his glory, seeingnone else could be found in heaven or earth, or under the earth, that was able to open the book, or so much as to look thereon, Rev. v. 3. * The four and twenty elders fell down before him,' and presenting all the prayers of the saints, sang a new song of praise unto him ;' ver. 8–10. This is our duty, this will be our wisdom, upon affecting discoveries of the glory of


« AnteriorContinuar »