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out much entreaty. Therefore he says, Matt. vi. 7, “ When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do. For they think to be heard for their much speaking.” Again, ver. 31, 32, “ Therefore take no thought,” be not anxious “ for your life, saying, What shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or wherewithal shall we be clothed ? - -For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye bave need of these things.”
This trust in God, this assurance of being heard, is also recommended by Christ's apostles. James i. 5, 6, 7, “ If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavereth, is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind, and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” They who waver in their profession of christianity, and are doubtful in their fidelity to Christ, will receive nothing. But they who are stedfast in their profession, and in the general tenour and course of their life act as christians, and sincerely strive to behave in all things as such, when they seek for wisdom, will obtain it, and ought to be persuaded that God giveth liberally and upbraideth not.
And Heb. iv. 14-16, “ Seeing then, that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession; for we have not an High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities ; but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every
time of need.” 5.) Another direction of our Lord is, that we persevere in prayer, and, as occasions require, renew our addresses to
, God, and pray with importunity, hoping he will at length hear us, and vouchsafe a gracious answer to our requests.
Luke xviii. 1–7, “ And he spake a parable unto them, to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint, saying ; There was in a city a judge, who feared not God, neither regarded man. And there was a widow in that city, , and she came unto him, saying ; Avenge me of my adversary. And he would not for a wbile. But afterwards he said within himself; Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said; Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall
not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you, that he will avenge them speedily.
There is also somewhat to the like purpose in Luke xi. 5-9; after the evangelist's account of our Lord's teacbing the disciples to pray, or delivering to them what is called the Lord's prayer. “ And he said unto them ; Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves. For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him. And he from within shall answer, and say ; Trouble me not. The door is now shut, and
my children are with me in bed. I cannot rise, and give thee. I say unto you; though he will not rise, and give him, because he is his friend; yet because of his importunity he will rise, and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you; Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye. shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
Agreeable to this doctrine of our Saviour, are various directions of the apostles in their epistles. Eph. vi. 18, Praying always, with all prayer and supplication, in the spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance, and supplication for all saints.” And 1 Thess. v. 17, Pray without ceasing."
Of such prayer, for himself, and others, we can perceive from his epistles, that St. Paul was an example. Yea our Lord himself in the time of his ministry has given us an example of frequent, renewed, believing, importunate, persevering prayer to God.
That is the second thing which we have supposed to be included in praying in the name of Christ, even according to his directions, and agreeably to the nature of his institution. Several of which directions have been now mentioned.
3. In praying in the name of Christ may be included, that always, or at least oftentimes, we should present our addresses to God through him, as by our high priest, and intercessor with God.
This particular may be illustrated by several things in the Acts, and the Epistles.
Eph. iii. 14-16,“ For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,--that he would grant you to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” That is, he worships God in the character
a If any find this sermon too long to be read at once, here may be a proper pause.
as we are.
of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. So in the Old Testament the pious among the Jews often worshipped God in the character of the God of Abraham, and the other patriarchs. 1 King's xviii. 36, “ And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, let it be known this day, that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant.” See also 1 Chron. xxix. 10, and 18.
Moreover it is a respect due to Jesus Christ, by whom we have been brought nigh unto God, and through whoin God dispenseth blessings to us, not only that our prayers, but our praises also, and all our sacrifices and services should be presented to the Father, as by his means, and through his hands.
In Heb. iv. 14--16, before quoted, the apostle says, Seeing then, we have a great High Priest, who is passed into the heavens- -let us hold fast our profession; for we have not an High Priest, which cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Having such an High Priest, we have encourageinent in all our pressures and difficulties, especially in the cause and service of true religion, to offer up prayers, through him, with hopes of obtaining all needful aid and succour.
In the same epistle the apostle gives a like direction concerning praise. "And it may be applied to every part of worship, and to every kind of religious and spiritual service. Heb. xiii
. 15, 16, “ By him let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. But to do good, and to communicate, forget not. For with such sacrifices God is well pleased. ”
Agreeable hereto is what St. Peter says: “ Ye also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, a royal priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ," 1 Pet. ii. 5, Which words, I apprehend, might be more properly rendered thus: “Ye are a royal priesthood, to offer up through Jesus Christ spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God." Denoting, not that they are acceptable through Christ, but that those spiritual acceptable sacrifices, should be offered up to God through Christ. St. Peter exactly agrees with the apostle Paul, Rom. xii, 1. Spiritual sacrifices are such as God requires, and are in themselves acceptable to him. This interpretation is also confirmed by the text just quoted from the epistle to the Hebrews : 0 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually.”
And it is frequent with the apostle Paul, to address praise or thanks to God in or through Jesus Christ. Rom. xvi. 27, “ To God only wise be glory through Jesus Christ for ever.
Amen." And near the beginning of that epistle, i. 8, “ First, I thank my God, through Jesus Christ, for you all; that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”
And it is fit that our spiritual sacrifices should be offered to God through Christ, who has taught us to offer such sacrifices, and through whom God has bestowed upon us invaluable blessings and privileges. As it is said by the apostle, Rom. v. 1, 2, “ Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace. Acts x. 43, St. Peter preaching to Cornelius, and the Gentiles assembled at his house, says: “ To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name," or through him, 56 whosoever believeth in him should receive remission of sins.” And Eph. i. 3–5, “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ; according as he hath chosen us in bim before the foundation of the world--having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will.” See likewise Eph. ii. 4–7, and iv. 32, and Rom. vi. 23, and 1 Pet. v. 10, and 2 Pet. i. 3.
It may then be thought fit and reasonable, that as all the distinguishing spiritual benefits and advantages, which we enjoy, have been conferred upon us through Christ; so our services and sacrifices, which we are enabled to perform and offer, should be presented to God the Father, in and through him.
Moreover Christ is spoken of as our intercessor and advocate, now he is in heaven.
Rom, viii. 34, “Who is he that condemneth? Christ that died? yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us?”
Heb. vii. 24, 25, “ But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost,” or for ever,
« that come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." And St. John, 1 Ep. ii. 1, speaks of Jesus Christ as our
“ advocate with the Father.” St. Paul, 1 Tim. ii. 5, says, he is “ the one mediator between God and men.
Some therefore have supposed, that this is the principal thing, or all that our Lord intends in those places of St. John's gospel, where he speaks to his disciples of “ asking in his name:” that all their addresses should be presented to God through him, as bigh priest, mediator, and intercessor or advocate.
And indeed, I think it appears, from the directions and examples, just alleged, to be very proper frequently to offer up our prayers to God through him, and in his name, expressly. And, it is highly becoming us to worship God in the character of the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Moreover, for certain, Jesus Christ, now in heaven, intercedes for his people. Of which his prayers for the disciples, when with them, 'especially those recorded by St. John, ch. xvii. may help us to form some idea.
Nevertheless I think that is not all that our Lord means by“ praying,” or “ asking the Father in his name:" nor
" the principal intention of it. But he teaches his disciples to take care to pray, according to the directions, which at divers times and often he had given them; and in a manner suited to the spiritual and heavenly doctrine, which they had received from him.
That asking through his intercession is not the only or principal thing intended by asking in his name, may be argued from this very context: ver. 25, 26, " At that day ye shall” or will" ask in my name.
And I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you. For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.”
Therein he assures them, that soon, meaning after his resurrection, or, rather, after his ascension, where the Spirit should be poured down upon them, they would be able, and actually would pray to the Father in his name; and when they did so, there would be no absolute necessity that he should pray the Father for them. For when they prayed in his name, as his disciples, God would hear them, though he did not intercede.
This plainly shows, that praying in his name does not necessarily imply, desiring to be heard and accepted through bis intercession.
Moreover our Lord seems to attribute more virtue to praying in his name, thản can be ascribed to praying to he heard through his intercession. For he says to the disciples : “ Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will