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he feared not God, nor cared for man, by reason of her importunity, granted her desire. Mark the other thing in the apostle, he bids us pray with the Spirit, and with perseverance; and he that cometh thus hath a promise made to it: "He that calleth on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Call on me in the day of trouble, and I will hear thee;" it is set down fully: " Ask and you shall have, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you; for every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." One would think this were idem per idem, but it is not so. He bids us "ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find." There is a promise annexed to asking, seeking and knocking, but it is also proved by universal experience; for every one that asketh, &c. It is every man's case, never any man did it yet, that hath lost his labour, in not attaining what he asked. If thou hast it not yet, thou shalt have it in the end; it is so fair a petition to ask, to have thy sins pardoned, that God would be friends with thee, and that Christ would make thee love him and that God would be thy God, that God delights in it. This is the point then; suppose God answer not presently, yet knock still, seek still; that is perseverance, the thing whereby it is distinguished from temporary asking. The hypocrite will pray in a time of need and adversity, but his prayer is not constant: "Will' the hypocrite always call upon God?" If they come and seek God, and he will not answer, as Saul did, they will try the Devil. God would not answer Saul, and he presently goes to the Devil. It is not so with God's children; they pray, and pray, and wait still; they pray with the Spirit, and with perseverance; God deals not always alike with his children, but differently, sometimes he makes them wait his leisure. "Im said I would confess my sins," says David, "and my transgressions, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin." So Daniel, chap. IX. ver. 21. "When he set himself to seek God, even while he was speaking
1 Job, chap. 27. ver. 10.
k Matth. chap. 6. ver. 7.
m Psalm 32. ver. 5.
Gen. chap. 32. ver. 26.
and praying, the man Gabriel appeared unto him, and touched him about the time of the evening oblation." Before the word was out of his mouth God was at his heart, and presently sends him a dispatch. The like we see in Isaiah, chap. LXV. ver. 24. mark what a promise there is; "It shall come to pass that before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." This is a great encouragement; but it may be God will not always do this, and what is the reason? Why, he hath a wonderful great delight to be wrestled withal, and to hear the words of his own Spirit; nothing is more delightful to him than this, when the Spirit is earnest, and will not give over. "In will not let thee go, unless thou bless me." It is said in the Canticles, "honeyo is under the lips of the Church." Why so? it is because there is no honey sweeter. to the palate, than spiritual prayer to God. And therefore God delays to answer thee, because he would have more of it. If the musicians come and play at our doors, or windows, if we delight not in their music, we throw them out money presently, that they may be gone; but if the music please us, we forbear to give them money, because we would keep them longer, for we like the music. So the Lord loves and delights in the sweet words of his children and therefore puts them off, and answers them not presently: but God's children, let him deny them never so long, yet they will never leave knocking and begging; they will pray, and they will wait still, till they receive an answer. Many will pray to God, as prayer is a duty, but few use it as a means to attain a blessing. Those who come to God in the use of it as a means to attain what they would have, they will pray, and not give over; they will expect an answer, and never give over petitioning till they receive it.
o Cant. chap. 4. ver. 11.
ROM. CHAP. V. VER. 1.
Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
HAVING declared unto you the nature of faith, and that point which concerns the practice of it in our near approach unto God; I am now come to show unto you the fruits and benefits Christians receive from this mothergrace; and that the apostle sets down in these words.
He sets down,
1. The mother-grace itself, together with its principal benefit, justification, or reconciliation with God: that whereas we were afar off, we are made near; and of enemies, made friends of God. Then,
2. There are the daughters or handmaids of this grace. For when we are justified by faith, then,
1. We have peace with God; the peace of conscience, which passeth all understanding; then,
2. We have free access by faith unto the throne of grace, so that we need not look for any other mediators. Christ hath made way for us to God, so that we may go boldly to the throne of grace, and find help at any time of need.
3. There follows a joyful hope, that a Christian hath by it, a taste of heaven, before he come to enjoy it. "We rejoice in hope," saith the apostle; hope being as firm a thing as faith, faith makes things absent as present; hope hath patience with it, and would have us wait. We shall be sure of it, but yet we must wait patiently.
4. Not only rejoicing in hope, but even in that which spoils a natural man's joy, as in crosses, troubles, afflictions;
for even these are made the matter of this man's joy, not delectable objects only. Not in time to come after afflictions, but in afflictions; so as that which spoils the joy of a natural man, is fuel to kindle this man's joy.
Now concerning justification by faith; though it be an ordinary point, yet there is nothing more needs explication, than to know how a man shall be justified by faith. It is easily spoken, hardly explicated; therefore in this mother-grace, I shall shew you,
1. What faith is, that doth justify. And,
2. What this justification is. For it is not so easy a matter neither.
1. Concerning the nature of faith, I have spoken sufficiently already wherein it consists; but yet notwithstanding, there is a certain thing as like this faith as may be, and yet comes short of it. Many there are who are like the foolish virgins, that thought they were well enough, and thought they should come time enough. So many think verily that they have faith; yea, and perchance go with such a persuasion to their very graves, and think they have grace, and that they labour after Christ, and lay hold on him, and are free from worldly pollutions, so as that they have a taste and relish of the joy of the world to come, and yet are carried all this while in a fool's paradise, and think there is no fear of their safety; never knowing that they are castaways, till they come to the gates of hell, and find themselves by woful experience shut out of heaven. And their case is woful, that are thus deceived. Know then, that it is not every faith that justifies a man; a man may have faith, and yet not be justified. The faith that justifies, is the faith of God's electa. There is a faith that may belong to them that are not God's elect, but that faith does not justify. In the epistle of Timothy, that faith which justifies must be a faith unfeigned. Now here is the skill of a Christian to try what that faith is, which justifies him. Now this justifying faith is
a Tit. chap. 1. ver. 1.
b 1 Tim. chap. 1. ver. 5. 2 Tim. chap. 1. ver. 5.
not every work of God's Spirit in a man's heart: for there are supernatural operations of the Spirit in a man's heart, that are but temporary, that carry him not thorough, and therefore are ineffectual: but the "end of this faith is the salvation of our souls." We read in the Scripture of apostacy, and falling back. Now they cannot be apostates, that were never in the way of truth. This being an accident, we must have a subject for it; now there is a certain kind of people that have supernatural workings; some that are drawn up and down with every wind of doctrine; these are they that have this cold and temporary faith; temporary, because in the end it discovers itself to be a thing not constant and permanent. We read in John, chap. XI. ver. 26. that "they that are born of God," that is, that live and believe in Christ, never see death," shall never perish eternally; but yet we must know withal, that there may be conceptions that will never come to the birth, to a right and perfect delivery. And thus it may be in the soul of a man, there may be conceptions that will never come to a ripe birth; but let a man be born of God, and come to perfection of birth, and the case is clear, he shall never see death. "He that liveth and believeth in me, shall not see death." is made a point of faith: believest thou this?
There is another thing called conception, and that is, certain dispositions to a birth, that come not to full perfection. True, a child that is born and liveth, is as perfectly alive as he that liveth an hundred years: yet I say, there are conceptions that come not to a birth. Now, the faith that justifies, is a living faith: there is a certain kind of dead faith; this is a feigned, that an unfeigned faith; "The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God." Dost thou think a dead faith can make a living soul? It is against reason. A man cannot live by a dead thing, not by a dead faith. Now a dead faith there is. A faith that doth not work is a dead faith". "Seest thou how faith wrought with his works and by his works was
c 1 Pet. chap. 1. ver. 9.
d James, chap. 2. ver. 22.