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a clock, all the motions of the whole system of wheels and movements, tend to the striking of the hammer at the appointed time. All the revolutions and restless motions of the sun and other heavenly bodies, from day to day, from year to year and from age to age, are continually tending thither as all the many turnings of the wheels of a chariot in a journey tend to the appointed journey's end. The mighty struggles and conflicts of nations, those vast successive changes which are brought to pass in the kingdoms and empires of the world, from one age to another, are as it were travail-pangs of the creation, in order to bring forth this glorious event. And the scriptures represent the last struggles and changes that shall immediately precede this event, as being the greatest of all; as the last pangs of a woman in travail are the most violent.
The creature thus earnestly expecting this glorious manifestation and liberty of the children of God, and travailing in pain in order to it, the scriptures, by a like figure, very often show that when this shall be accomplished, the whole inanimate creation shall greatly rejoice: "That the heavens shall sing, the earth be glad, the mountains break forth into singing, the hills be joyful together, the trees clap their hands, the lower parts of the earth shout, the sea roar, and the fulness thereof, and the floods clap their hands."*
All the intelligent elect creation, all God's holy creatures in heaven and earth, are truly and properly waiting for, and earnestly expecting that event. It is abundantly represented in scripture as the spirit and character of all true saints, that they set their hearts upon love, long, wait and pray for the promised glory of that day; they are spoken of as those that "prefer Jerusalem to their chief joy," (Psal. cxxxvii. 6.) "That take pleasure in the stones of Zion, and favour the dust thereof," (Psal. cii. 13, 14.) "That wait for the consolation of Israel," (Luke ii. 25. and ver. 38.) It is the language of the church of God, and the breathing of every true saint, (Psal. xiv. 7.) "O that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad." And Cant. ii. 17. "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe, or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether." And chap. viii. 14. " Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices." Agreeable to this was the spirit of old Jacob, which he expressed when he was dying, exercising faith in the great promise made to him, and Isaac, and Abraham, that "in their seed all the families of the earth should be blessed," Gen. xlix.
* See Isai. xliv. 23.-xlix. 13. Psal. Ixix. 34, 35.-xcvi. 11, 12. and xcviii. 7,8
18, "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord." The same is represented as the spirit of his true children, or the family of Jacob, Isai. viii. 17. "I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth himself from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.-They that love Christ's appearing," is a name that the apostle gives to true christians, 2 Tim. iv. 8.
The glorious inhabitants of the heavenly world—the saints and angels there who rejoice when one sinner repents-are earnestly waiting, in an assured and joyful dependence on God's promises of that conversion of the world and marriage of the Lamb, which shall take place when that glorious day comes: and therefore they are represented as all with one accord rejoicing, and praising God with such mighty exultation and triumph, when it is accomplished, Rev. xix.
Precepts, Encouragements, and Examples.
The word of God is full of precepts, encouragements, and examples, tending to excite and induce the people of God to be much in prayer for this mercy. The spirit of God is the chief of blessings, for it is the sum of all spiritual blessings; which we need infinitely more than others, and wherein our true and eternal happiness consists. That which is the sum of the blessings Christ purchased, is the sum of the blessings christians have to pray for; but that, as was observed before, is the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when the disciples came to Christ desiring him to teach them to pray, (Luke xi.) and he according ly gave them particular directions for the performance of this duty; he adds ver. 13. "If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" From which words of Christ we may also observe, that there is no blessing we have so great encouragement to pray for, as the Spirit of God. The words imply that our heavenly Father is especially ready to bestow his Holy Spirit on them that ask him. The more excellent the nature of any benefit is which we stand in need of, the more ready God is to bestow it, in answer to prayer. The infinite goodness of God's nature is the more gratified, the grand design of our redemption is the better answered, Jesus Christ the Redeemer has the greater success in his undertaking and labours; and those desires which are expressed in prayer for the most excellent blessings, are the most excellent desires, and consequently such as God most approves of, and is most ready to gratify.
The scriptures do not only direct and encourage us in general to pray for the Holy Spirit above all things else; but it is the expressly revealed will of God, that his church should be very much in prayer for that glorious outpouring of the Spirit, which is to be in the latter days, and for what shall be accomplished by it. God, speaking of that blessed event, Ezek xxxvi. under the figure of "cleansing the house of Israel from all their iniquities, planting and building their waste and ruined places, and making them to become like the garden of Eden, and filling them with men like a flock, like the holy flock, the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts," he says, ver. 37. "Thus saith the Lord, I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them.” Which doubtless, implies it is the will of God, that extraordinary prayerfulness in his people for this mercy should precede the bestowment of it.
I know of no place in the bible, where so strange an expression is made use of to signify importunity in prayer, as is used in Isai. lxii. 6, 7, where the people of God are called upon to be importunate for this mercy: "Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth," How strong is the phrase! And how loud is this call to the church of God, to be fervent and incessant in their cries to him for this great mercy! How wonderful the words used, concerning the manner in which such worms of the dust should address the high and lofty one that inhabits eternity! And what encouragement is here, to approach the mercy-seat with the greatest freedom, humble boldness, earnestness, constancy, and full assurance of faith, to seck of God this greatest favour that can be sought in christian prayer!
It is a just observation of a certain eminent minister of the church of Scotland, in a discourse lately published on social prayer, in which, speaking of pleading for the success of the gospel, as required by the Lord's prayer, he says, "That notwithstanding of its being so compendious, yet the one half of it, that is, three petitions in six, and these the first prescribed, do all relate to this great case :-so that to put any one of these petitions apart, or all of them together, is upon the matter to pray that the dispensation of the gospel may be blessed with divine power." That glorious day is the proper and appointed time, above all others, for bringing to pass the things requested in each of these petitions. The prophecies every where represent that as the time, which God has espe
*In this passage the prophet doubtless, has respect to the same glorious restoration and advancement of his church that is spoken of in the next chapter, and in all the following chapters to the end of the book.
cially appointed for glorifying his own great name in this world, causing his glory to be revealed, that all flesh may see it together, causing it openly to be manifested in the sight of the heathen, filling the whole world with the light of his glory to such a degree, that the moon shall be confounded and the sun ashamed before that brighter glory; the appointed time for glorifying and magnifying the name of Jesus Christ, causing 66 every knee to bow, and every tongue to confess to him." This is the proper time "of God's kingdom coming," or of "Christ coming in his kingdom :" that is, the very time foretold in the 2d of Daniel, when the "Lord God of heaven shall set up a kingdom," in the latter times of the last monarchy, when it is divided into ten kingdoms.
And that is the very time foretold in the viith of Daniel, when there should be "given to one like the Son of man, dominion, glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages should serve them; and the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom, under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the most high God," after the destruction of the little horn, that should continue for a time, times, and the dividing of time. And that is the time wherein "God's will shall be done on earth, as it is done in heaven;" when heaven shall, as it were, be bowed, and come down to the earth, as "God's people shall be all righteous, and holiness to the Lord shall be written on the bells of the horses," &c. So that the three first petitions of the Lord's prayer are, in effect, no other than requests for bringing on this glorious day. And as the Lord's prayer begins with asking for this in the three first petitions, so it concludes with it in these words, "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." Which words imply a request, that God would take to himself his great power, and reign, and manifest his power and glory in the world. Thus Christ teaches us, that it becomes his disciples to seek this above all other things, and make it the first and the last in their prayers, and that every petition should be put up in subordination to the advancement of God's kingdom and glory in the world.
Besides what has been observed of the Lord's prayer, if we look through the whole bible, and observe all the examples of prayer that we find there recorded, we shall not find so many prayers for any other mercy, as for the deliverance, restoration and prosperity of the church, and the advancement of God's glory and kingdom of grace in the world. If we well consider the prayers recorded in the books of Psalms, I believe we shall see reason to think, that a very great, if not the greater part of them, are prayers uttered, either in the name of Christ, or in the name of the church, for such a mercy: and undoubtedly
the greatest part of the book of Psalms, is made up of prayers for this mercy, prophecies of it, and prophetical praises for it.*
In order to Christ being mystically born, in the advancement of true religion and the great increase of true converts, who are spoken of as having Christ formed in them, the scriptures represent it as requisite, that the church should first be in travail, crying in pain to be delivered; Rev. xii. 1,2, 5. And we have good reason to understand by it her exercising strong desires, wrestling and agonizing with God in prayer, for this event; because we find such figures of speech used in this sense elsewhere: so Gal, iv. 19. " My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you."-Isai. xxvi. 16, 17. "Lord, in trouble have they visited thee; they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them. Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs, so have we been in thy sight, O Lord." And certainly it is fit, that the church of God should be in travail for that, for which the whole creation travails in pain.
The scripture does not only abundantly manifest it to be the duty of God's people to be much in prayer for this great mercy, but it also abounds with manifold considerations to encourage them in it, and animate them with hopes of success. There is perhaps no one thing that the bible so much promises, in order to encourage the faith, hope, and prayers of the saints, as this; which affords to God's people the clearest evidences that it is their duty to be much in prayer for this mercy. For, undoubtedly, that which God abundantly makes the subject of his promises, God's people should abundantly make the subject of their prayers. It also affords them the strongest assurances that their prayers shall be succesful. With what confidence may we go before God, and pray for that of which we have so many exceeding precious and glorious promises to plead! The very first promise of God to fallen man, (Gen. iii. 15.) “It shall bruise thy head," is to have its chief fulfilment at that day. And the whole bible concludes with a promise of the glory of that day, and a prayer for its fulfilment. Rev. xxii. 20. "He that testifieth these things, saith, Surely I come quickly : Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
The scripture gives us great reason to think, that when once there comes to appear much of a spirit of prayer in the church of God for this mercy, then it will soon be accomplished.
*The prophets, in their prophecies of the restoration and advancement of the church, very often speak of it as what shall be done in answer to the prayers of God's people. Isai. xxv. 9-xxvi. 9, 12, 13 16, 17, to the end. Chap. xxxiii. 2. Psal. cii. 13-22. Jer. iii. 21. Isai lxv. 24--xli. 17 Hos. v. 15. with vi. 1, 2, 3, and xiv. 2, to the end. Zech. x. 6.-xii. 10, and xiii. 9. Isai. lv. 6. with ver. 12, 13. Jer. xxxiii. 3. The prophecies of future glorious times of the church are often introduced with a prayer of the church for her deliverance and advancement, prophetically uttered; as in Isai. li. 9, &c. Chap. lxiii. 11, to the end, and lxiv. throughout.