THE BELIEVER'S CONFIDENCE.
This is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.1 John, v., 14, 15.
IN the preceding verse, the Apostle informs us, that his object in writing this Epistle was, to impart to believers a knowledge of the fact, that they have in Christ eternal life, and to induce in them the continued exercise of faith in the Son of God. "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." In the text he imparts to us a knowledge of the nature of that faith which we are required to exercise in Christ. "This is the confidence that we have in Him;" that is, this is the nature of that confidence or faith which the true believer exercises in Christ. It is the assurance, that whenever we ask of God any thing "according to His will, He, will hear us," and bestow upon us the blessings which we desire of Him. This is true faith, as it looks to God, through Christ, for the supply of all real necessities. In discussing this subject, I propose to elucidate the following propositions:
I. THE MEANING OF THE PHRASE, "ACCORDING To HIS WILL," AS USED IN THE TEXT.
II. THE RELATIONS, or CHRIST To THE BELIEVER WHEN HE ASKS FOR BLESSINGS "ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD."
III. THE NATURE OF THE CONFIDENCE REFERRED TO IN THE TEXT.
IV. THE INFINITE OBLIGATIONS RESTING UPON US TO EXERCISE SUCH CONFIDENCE.
I. " The meaning of the phrase " According to His will," as used in the text.
The term "will," as applied to God, is used in various and quite different senses in the Bible. Sometimes it is applied to the divine purposes or determinations. "Even so, it is not the will," that is, purpose, determination, or intention, of your Father which is in heaven, "that one of these little ones should perish." It is also applied to the commands of God"doing the will of God," that is, obeying the commands of God, "from the heart." It is sometimes used in a sense still different, to designate that which corresponds with the promises of God, or with the benevolent feelings of his heart. Thus the Spirit is said to "make intercession for the saints according to the will of God;" that is, for objects which correspond with the divine promises, and with the benevolent feelings of the divine mind. That the phrase "according to His will" is used in this last sense in the text, including, of course, that which is conformable to the commands of God, I argue, from the following considerations:
1. The absurdity of understanding the phrase, as applied to the secret purposes of God. The meaning of the phrase would then be, "If we ask any thing according to His will," that is, which God had previously determined to bestow upon us, we shall be heard, and have the blessings which we desire. But such blessings we shall enjoy, whether we ask for them or not. Prayer would thus be utterly useless. The question, also, whether our prayers would be according to the divine will, would be accidental, and not depend at all upon the question whether prayer, in respect to its spirit and object, corresponds with the divine will, as expressed in the commands and promises of God.
2. Christ was not appointed as Mediator between God and man, that we, through Him, may secure the accomplishment of the secret purposes of God. Faith can never fasten upon Christ for any such object. He was appointed as Mediator, however, that through Him the believer may secure in himself the accomplishment of the "exceeding great and precious promises." Whenever, therefore, the prayer of the believer fastens upon any blessing proffered to our faith through the promises, he then asks for that which is "according to the will of God," as the phrase is used in the text. Such prayer is everywhere represented in the Bible as pleasing in the sight of God, and of course as corresponding with the divine will, as expressed, not only in the promises, but also in the divine requirements.
But an important question here arises: What are the blessings which are "according to the will of God," in the sense in which the phrase has now been explained? I answer, any blessing, whether temporal or spiritual, the possession of which would be to us, in our circumstances, a real good. Whenever we ask for any such blessing, we ask for that which is "according to the will of God." This is evident, from two considerations:
1. All such blessings are proffered to our faith in the promises. "They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing;" that, is, any thing whatever, the possession of which would be to them, in their circumstances, a real good. "My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus."
2. When the believer, in the simplicity of faith, prays for any such blessings, he asks for that which corresponds with the benevolent feelings of God's heart. A child asks an affectionate parent for some blessing which the parent sees would be to the child a real good. That petition, of course, meets a ready response in all the deep and tender sympathies of the parental heart. So with the believer, when his prayer fixes upon any thing which God sees would, if bestowed, be a real blessing to the petitioner. Such petition corresponds with all the benevolent feelings of God's heart of infinite and boundless love. The believer, then, asks for that which, is "according to the will of God," in the sense of the text, when he prays for any thing, the possession of which would be to him, in his circumstances, a real, blessing.
II. We will now consider the relations of Christ to the believer, when he asks for things "according to the will of God."
1. In all such petitions He permits us to use his name. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you. Hitherto have yo asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If yo shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." "Yo have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you."
Christian, have you comprehended the infinite privileges and boundless influence with God, which Christ has conferred upon you, in permitting you to use His name, when you approach the throne of grace? Suppose Christ; to be now upon the earth, as he was eighteen hundred years ago. He comes to you and requests you to make known to Him your wants, assuring you that He will then "pray the Father for you," that these wants may be fully met. You comply with his request. Christ kneels with you and fervently beseeches the Father that, for the sake of his Son, He will confer these blessings upon you. Would you not feel an absolute assurance that that prayer would be all-efficacious to secure the good desired? Now, in permitting you to use his name at the throne of grace, Christ has conferred upon you all the influence there, and that in respect to all necessities, temporal and spiritual, which He himself would have in the circumstances supposed. A poor beggar calls for the supply of his wants upon a man who has great treasures in a bank. He writes a check, and directs the petitioner to go to the bank, and in his name to draw for the amount specified. How much influence has that beggar now at the bank, in reference to the sum named in that check? Just as much as the individual has whose name he is permitted to use. So, when Christ says to you, "Ask in my name," He has conferred upon you, in reference to all appropriate objects of prayer, all the influence that He himself has at the throne of grace. He has put into your hands a check upon the bank of Heaven, signed by his own name; a check covering all your necessities, temporal and spiritual, in time and eternity, and required you by virtue of His name to draw upon the Father, till every want of yours is perfectly mettill your cup of blessedness is full and overflows forever. "Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy maybe full."
2. Christ not only permits us to use His name when we approach the throne of grace, but Himself, as our great High Priest, stands in the presence of the Father and intercedes for us. "Wherefore He is able to save them to the uttermost who come to God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." Suppose the beggar in the case above referred to, says to his benefactor, I have no doubt that your name would be sufficient to gain my object, if I could secure a hearing. But they know me only as a beggar, and will at once drive me from their presence, without hearing me at all. His friend, to allay his fears, says, I will go with you, and when you present your paper, I will request them to give you a hearing, assuring them that my name is appended to the paper which you present. So, when Christ says to the believer, "Ask in my name," He adds, "I also will pray the Father for you," that your petitions may be heard and answered. Such are the relations of Christ to the believer whenever he approaches the throne of grace for the supply of any real necessity.
III. The nature of the confidence referred to in the text.
This confidence implies two things:
1. A full assurance, that the use of Christ's name, together with his intercession, will be efficacious to gain the ear and heart of God, so as to secure a hearing to our requests. "And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything thing according to his will, He heareth us." Thus, the beggar, while conscious of utter poverty, destitute of all influence at the bank, rests with perfect fixedness in the assurance that his friend's name, together with his personal influence, will secure him a favorable hearing. So of faith in Christ. Its language isThough infinitely guilty and vile in myself, and utterly destitute of all influence at the throne of grace, should I approach it in my own name, and while it would be infinitely dishonorable in God to listen to me for a moment, should I thus approach, yet I know and am assured, that the name of Christ, together with his intercession in my behalf, will reach the ear and heart of God, so that He will listen with deep and tender interest to my requests. And, Christian, what an infinite privilege is here revealed to us, the privilege of knowing, that when we pray, we are in the very audience chamber of the Most High, in the Holy of Holies of his sacred presence; that we are uttering our petitions directly into the ear of the infinite God; that He is listening, with deep and attentive interest, to all our requests, and that every want we disclose strikes a chord, which vibrates to the very center of his heart. Faith in Christ renders all this a felt reality to the believer. It enters as a fundamental element into the "confidence which we have in Him."
2. The confidence here referred to, implies the certain assurance that the name of Christ, together with his intercession, will he efficacious, not only to reach the ear and heart of God, so as to secure a favorable hearing, but also to secure the bestowment of the blessings which we desired of Him. "If we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him." The beggar, as he contemplates the name of his benefactor, together with his personal influence now excited in his behalf, says, with joyful assurance, I know that I shall not only be heard, but that I shall also obtain the object I am seeking. So faith, in the heart of the believer, uses the name of Christ, and rests in his intercession, with the fixed assurance that his name and intercession will be all-influential to secure the supply of every real necessity, whatever it may be. In Christ "all fullness dwells." Faith recognizes itself as "complete in Him," in respect to every real want, here and hereafter. The believer, in the exercise of faith, under the deepest sense of his own infinite vileness and ill-desert, uses the name of Christ, and rests in his intercession, with the fill assurance, that in so doing, he shall realize in his own experience the entire fulfillment of the promise, "They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." When his mind fixes upon any blessing, temporal or spiritual, and is assured that the possession of it would be to him, in his circumstances, a real good, he feels the most perfect assurance that, through the name and intercession of Christ, he can obtain that blessing from God.
Such, Christian, is the nature of faith in Christ and let me ask you, Is this the character of the "confidence which you have in Him?" You never pray without assuring your heavenly Father, that you present every petition in the name of Christ. With what feelings do you use that dear and venerable name? Is it with the peaceful assurance that it will be efficacious to secure "the petitions which you desire of Him?" So far as you are destitute of this felt assurance of the efficacy of his name to secure a full "supply of all your need," so far you are under the influence of cruel unbelief. Let me repeat the question, ChristianWhat is the character of the "confidence which you have in Christ?" Do you feel in your heart, that the privilege of using the name of Christ and availing yourself of his intercession at the throne of grace, has placed you in such relations to God that, from this time forth, you need not "want any good thing," that you may now "ask and receive, till your joy is full," till your cup of blessedness overflows forever? This is true faith, as it uses the name of Christ at the throne of grace.
IV. The infinite obligations resting upon us to exercise such confidence.
1. You know, absolutely, Christian, God's power to bestow. You know, perfectly, that He is able to meet, fully and entirely, every want of yours, in time and eternity. Now, when Christ has told you to go in his name to his Father, and draw upon Him till "your joy is full," when He has promised Himself to intercede for you, when you thus approach the throne of gracewhat excuse have you for not going with the fullest assurance that every want will be met, and that "no good thing will He withhold from you?" Do you feel the pressure of some special want? You know that that particular necessity God is perfectly able to meet. Christ has told you to carry that want to his Father, and in the name of the Son of his love, ask Him to meet it. Why, then, should you not comply with the injunction of Christ, with the most perfect assurance that you will "have the petition which you desired of Him?"
2. The appointment of Christ as Mediator, has removed all obstacles, so far as God is concerned, to the bestowment of any blessing in his power to bestow. As soon as you are ready by faith to receive the good thus provided for and proffered to you, no reason in the universe exists why any real blessing should be withheld from you. Of this you are aware. Why, then, should you not use the name of Christ, and rest in the efficacy of his intercession, with perfect assurance that, when you "ask, you will receive till your joy is full," that "whatsoever you ask of the Father in Christ's name He will give it you?" Where is the excuse for unbelief?
3. The mediation of Christ renders it in the highest sense honorable in God to bestow the richest possible blessings, in answer to requests presented in the name of Christ. Whatever blessings are bestowed on Christ's account, even upon the chief of sinners, no injury results to the character of God, or to the interests of the universe; but infinite glory results to Christ. The richer the blessings thus bestowed, the higher the honor conferred upon him. When it is known, that the bank always meets the drafts of an individual, whatever the amount may be, and by whomsoever the draft is presented, this is the highest honor which such an institution can confer Upon such an individual. The individual presenting the draft is not honored at all, but the individual on whose account it is met. So when God bestows blessings upon us on Christ's account, and in answer to requests presented in his name, He honors not us, but Christ. And when it is known that the name of Christ, even when presented by the chief of sinners, is efficacious to secure the richest blessings in God's power to bestow, and an all-sufficient reason why they should be conferred, then it is, that the highest conceivable glory results to Christ. In the presence of such truths, Christ says to you, Go to the Father in my name, and "ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you." What excuse then, have you for not using the name of Christ, and resting in his intercession, with the most perfect confidence that "God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus?"
4. In the gift of Christ for our redemption, God has given the most perfect demonstration of the feelings of his heart toward us. He has shown, clearly, that there is no blessing in his power to bestow, nothing in existence, the possession of which would be a blessing to us, which He does not desire to confer upon us. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Now, to doubt the efficacy of Christ's name, to open the ear and move the heart of God, so as to secure a supply of any necessity which He is able to meetwhat is it, but to call in question the love of God, as manifested in all the mysteries of redemption? Christian, are you not under obligations infinite to exercise this confidence?
5. To doubt, under such circumstances, is to call in question the efficacy of Christ's name and intercession with God, to secure the blessings which we need, and which are promised to all who ask in reliance upon the efficacy of his name and intercession. Suppose the beggar above referred to, while on the way to the bank with the check of his friend in his hand, and that friend himself by his side, manifests great fears and apprehensions, lest he shall not be heard and obtain the good he is seeking. Suppose he expresses such fears and apprehensions to the multitude around him, as he passes along. What is he doing but dishonoring his friend and benefactor, by proclaiming a distrust of the efficacy of his name and influence to secure the good which he has promised? The injured man, after hearing his name dishonored a while, says to the object of his compassion, "Sir, please return me that check. I do not choose to have my name thus dishonored. You may now obtain a supply of your necessities elsewhere." Christian, dare you, by unbelief, by doubting, when asking in the name of Christ, and when you know that He stands before his Father to intercede for you, whether you "shall have the petitions which you desire of Him," dare you thus dishonor your Savior? Can you expect, that He will ever allow you to use his name again? Is not this the most grievous and aggravated sin of which you can possibly be guilty?
6. Once more. To doubt, under such circumstances, is to question the word of God. Christ has said, "Ask, and ye shall receive." "If ye ask any thing in my name, I will do it." To use the name of Christ without expecting to receive the "petitions which you desire of Him," what is it but to call in question the word of Christ? Christian, can you endure the thought of doing it? Unbelief does this. To ask in the name of Christ, doubting whether you will obtain the good you ask, does this. Shall your soul, Christian, be cut off from the infinite blessedness prepared for you, in consequence of doubting not only the efficacy of Christ's name and intercession, but also his positive word? No, take the name of Christ, and in reliance upon his intercession, "come boldly to a throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
1. We are now prepared to contemplate one of the great mysteries of redemption. It is this:In himself the Christian has nothing. No being in the universe is poorer, more "miserable, and blind, and naked, and in want of all things." Yet, in Christ, and in consequence of his relation to Him, "he has all things." No being in the universe is richer. No being has greater "power with God," or can obtain greater blessings from him. And all this takes place on principles perfectly honorable to God, and equally consistent with the interests of the universe.
A man in one of our eastern cities had failed for a large amount. His credit was gone. His family was reduced to poverty, and himself involved in liabilities amounting to several hundred thousand dollars. He delivered his whole estate into the hands of his creditors, and stood penniless, and worse than penniless, before the world. He had a brother, however, who was known in that city as possessed of great wealth. From this brother he received a power of attorney to transact business in his name. On the authority of that brother, through the influence of his name, which he was permitted to use, he at once commenced business as one of the most efficient and prosperous merchants in the city. "In myself;" said this individual to a friend of mine, "I have no credit at all. No man will trust me with a single bale of goods; yet I am really worth all that my brother is worth. I can make any purchases, and upon the same terms that he can. I sometimes illustrate this fact, by first offering to purchase of an individual on my own credit. He will not trust me a farthing. I tell him that I wish to obtain the goods on my brother's account. I can then purchase every article in his store."
So with the Christian. If he approaches the throne of grace in his own name, God thunders eternal terrors upon him. But if he approaches in the name of Christ, God bows his ear, and listens with infinite tenderness to his request. He opens all the treasures of eternity, and bids the suppliant "ask what he will, and it shall be done unto him." No angel before the throne has a title to an estate more vast. No one, I repeat, can obtain greater blessings from God than he. "O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" In the mysteries of redemption infinite extremes meet. Yet such are the ways of God to men. Such, Christian, are your privileges consequent on your relations to Christ.
2. You may now, Christian, be ready to ask, on what conditions all this blessedness may be yours? If you would enjoy all the good provided for you through the grace of Christ, there must be, on your part, in the first place, a deep sense of need. In yourself you have nothing to recommend you to God but infinite guilt, poverty, and wretchedness. Christ expects you to feel and acknowledge this, when you appear at the throne of grace in His name. There must be implicit confidence, too, in the efficacy of Christ's name and intercession, to obtain for you any blessing you need? Christian, do you feel this, when you use the name of Christ at the throne of grace? Can you repose in that name as all-efficacious to procure for you any blessing you need? There must be, also, an actual application to God in every time of need, and in respect to every necessity, in full reliance upon the efficacy of the name and intercession of Christ, to secure a full supply of every want. On these simple conditions, "God will supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." There is not a want of yours, temporal or spiritual, during the interminable future before you, which He will leave unsupplied.
3. In the light of this subject, we may understand the kind of expectation demanded of us when we pray for spiritual and temporal blessings. In respect to the former, we know certainly that the possession of all such blessings, in all their fullness, must be a good to us. Whenever, therefore, we approach the throne of grace in the name of Christ, for such blessings, we are to expect to receive the identical blessings for which we pray. The absence of such expectation is unbelief.
But when we pray for temporal blessings, we do not, in many instances, certainly know that the possession of the particular object for which we pray would be a blessing to us. We are always to pray, therefore, for such blessings, expecting that the want which directed the mind to the particular object in view, shall be met, and met in the best possible manner. But whether it shall be met by the bestowment of the particular thing specified in prayer, or something else, here we are not to indulge any positive anticipations. This question God's wisdom is to decide.
4. A very extensive and dangerous error, into which a large portion of the church have fallen, here demands a passing notice. The error is this:There is great danger, it is thought, of raising expectation too high, especially in young converts, in respect to the amount of blessedness in Christ, which it is the privilege of the Christian to enjoy in this life. How careful many cold professors are to impress the young convert with the conviction, that the blessedness of his first love will not long continuethat however clear the light which now shines upon him may be, the "days of darkness will be many,'' and long continued. This is done to prevent the depth of gloom consequent on having previous expectation too highly raised. Now, in respect to all finite objects, this is no doubt a wise precaution. How often, for example, is the influence of a minister greatly injured, in consequence of public expectation having previously been raised too high respecting him. But in respect to the infinite and boundless grace and love of God, precisely the reverse is always true. Here expectation can not possibly equal the reality. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.'' And when we approach the throne of grace in the name of Christ, and in humble reliance upon His intercession, instead of there being any danger of our coming with expectations too highly raised, we ought to come with the most peaceful and assured expectation of obtaining "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." Who can measure the boundless love of God? Who can measure, in anticipation, the amount blessedness which the name of Christ can draw from that ocean of love, when that name is used by a strong and unwavering faith at the throne of grace? Never let us entertain a thought of raising expectation too high, while faith in the name of Christ keeps the heart and mouth open wide to receive the fullness which infinite love has prepared for us.
5. A question of this kind may here arise in the minds of some:if the Christian can obtain all real blessings through the name and intercession of Christ, why should he not ask for the instantaneous conversion of the whole world, expecting to secure that result? I answer, that could be obtained, were it on the whole best for the Christian, and best for the world, and were it in itself possible. But God has told us what is the best way to have the world converted. It is by the "foolishness of preaching," attended with the sanctification, and consequent perfect blessedness of the church. Through such instrumentalities, and such alone, is it proper to pray that the world may be converted to God. "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising."
6. You see, Christian, the reason why you do not possess all that fullness of joy and peace which it is your privilege to enjoy through the name and intercession of Christ. The want of this blessedness arises from one of two causes, or both combined:
(1.) A want of desire and preference of this very good. How few individuals would be satisfied to know that they will possess just that amount of temporal good, for example, and no more and no less than infinite wisdom and love sees would be best for them? Yet unless you are in this precise state of mind, it is impossible for God to bless you. You do not possess the amount of spiritual blessings which faith in the name of Christ would procure you, because you do not appreciate their value sufficiently to seek them with all your heart.
(2.) Want of confidence in the efficiency of Christ's name and intercession to secure such blessings. "Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering;" that is, doubting whether God will bestow the blessing asked. "For he that wavereth [doubeth] is like a wave of the sea, driven of winds and tossed. Let not that man think that he will receive any thing of the Lord." Nothing can grieve the heart of our Savior so much, nothing can be so offensive to God, as to have the name of Christ used at the throne of grace, expecting that it will avail little to secure the blessings we need. Christian, is not this the great cause of that deep and impenetrable gloom which covers your mind, if you are now in darknessthe long and frequent abuse of the dear name of Christ, as you have used it at a throne of grace? Have you appreciated the value of the privilege conferred upon you in being permitted to ask in his name? Have you reposed confidence in the efficacy of that name to procure the blessings you need, and especially to fill your cup of blessedness, and cause it to overflow continually? Whenever you approached the mercy-seat with due confidence in the efficacy of the name of Christ, to secure "the petitions which you desire of Him," were you sent empty away? Have you not always received "exceeding abundantly above all that you asked or thought?
7. You may now, Christian, answer the question, whether you have real genuine faith in Christ or not. You know that it is your privilege to ask of the Father, in the name of Christ, for any blessing which you need. What confidence have you in the efficacy of that name, to secure the ear and move the heart of God? Do you believe, and is this truth a felt reality to your mind, that you may now, through the name of Christ alone, secure, not only a hearing at the throne of grace, but also a full supply of every necessity, here and hereafter? Is "this the confidence that you have in Christ?" If so, you have the faith which the gospel requires. If not, you are under the influence of unbelief. If you ever present a request to God in the name of Christ, without expecting that "He will hear you," and that "you will have the petitions that you desired of Him," remember, that that prayer is put up, not in faith, but in unbelief
8. We may now understand the reason of the peace-giving power of faith. A merchant, we will suppose, on looking over his books, finds that on each of ten successive days, claims amounting to a hundred thousand dollars will be brought against him, and that each of these claims must be promptly met, or he becomes a hopeless bankrupt. He finds his own resources wholly inadequate to such exigencies. His heart sinks into utter despondency. Just at this moment he receives a letter from his father, a man of untold wealth, informing him that, in anticipation of difficulties in which he might be involved, he had deposited in the bank for his use ten millions of dollars, and that he may now draw at will any amount which he may need. How instantly does this thick gloom give place to the highest animation and joy. He is no longer appalled at the greatness of his liabilities; because he knows that he has available resources, more than sufficient to meet them. So the Chirstianas soon as his faith fixes upon Christknows, that whatever his necessities may be, he can, in the name, and through the intercession of Christ, draw upon the resources of infinite love, till at all times, and under all circumstances, his joy is full, till all his wants, however vast and multiplied, are perfectly met. The natural and necessary result is, "peace as a river, and righteousness as the waves of the sea." Faith in Christ removes every care, and keeps the mind in perfect peace, because it reveals boundless available resources to meet every possible exigency. "Therefore, will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea," Why? "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." When the believer looks only at himself, and contemplates his condition as a sinner, the greatness of his guilt, the vastness of his necessities, the strength of his sinful propensities, and the number and power of his enemies, he will be appalled. But when the eye of faith turns to Christ, all fear, and all apprehension arising from these causes, are swallowed up and lost in the boundless resources which then open upon the enraptured vision.
9. How reasonable the precepts, "Be careful for nothing," "Rejoice in the Lord always," &c. How practicable obedience to such precepts appears, when contemplated in the light of this subject. Who can describe the infinite sweetness that dwells in that divine declaration, "Ye are complete in Him?" Why should we not "be careful for nothing," and "rejoice in the Lord always," when every demand of our being is so perfectly met in the infinite fullness that there is in Christ? Christian:
10. We may now understand the true meaning of the command, "Let us come boldly to a throne of grace." The beggar, as he thinks of the name attached to time check which he holds in his hand, and of the friend by his side who is to be surety for him at the bank, says to himself, I know that I shall obtain my object. So the Christian, when he thinks of the name which he is permitted to use at the throne of grace, and of the Intercessor that stands to plead for him there, says, in the simplicity energy of his faith, "I know that whatsoever I ask, I shall have the petition which I desired of Him." This humble but fixed confidence which he has in the efficacy of Christ's name and intercession, to procure any blessing which he needs, constitutes the "boldness with which he approaches the throne of grace."
11. It may be important for us to contemplate the doctrine of Christian Perfection and the opposite doctrine, as they appear in the light of this subject. The former doctrine maintains that in Christ, through faith in his name, there are available resources to the believer, to meet every demand of his being throughout his endless existence. It is simply a reflection of the great truth, '' Ye are complete in Him." The opposite doctrine, on the other hand, maintains that a state of entire sanctification in this life would be a real good, the richest blessing that God could bestow; that for this blessing we are to approach the throne of grace, and, in the name of Christ, ask the Father to confer it upon us. At time same time, it maintains that it is a dangerous error for us to indulge the expectation that the name and intercession of Christ will be efficacious to obtain this blessing. We may use the name of Christ in respect to any other blessing, expecting to receive it; but in respect to the positive promise of God, to "sanctify us wholly, and preserve us blameless, unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," it maintains that we are to use the same dear name with the certain expectation of not "having the petitions which we desired Him."
Christian, when nearest my God, in time most hallowed moments of all my Christian experience, I know that that doctrine can not be true. And may I not say, that in the depth of your soul, you know it also? Are these the "good tidings of great joy," which He who was anointed of God to bind up all that are broken-hearted, has to proclaim to those who are bound in servitude to sin, that He will never break from their necks the yoke of Satan, till He takes them out of the world? Christian, the gospel "speaks better things" to the weary and tempest-tossed believer. It says to him, "Ask and receive, that your joy may be full." "Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
12. A few words to my impenitent readers will close this discourse. Sinner, your necessities are infinite; and if you long remain under them, they will sink you down into eternal death. Provisions now, exist, in the gospel, to meet all those necessities. You also may approach the throne of grace, in the name of Christ, and obtain eternal redemption. But if you refuse to "seek the Lord while He may be found," and "to call upon Him while He is near," how changed must your condition soon be! Soon there will be a" great gulf fixed" between you and all that is pure, and holy, and blessed, in the universe. Soon you may to all eternity call for the least conceivable blessing, and it will not be granted you. Shall that time, reader, ever come with you? Shall this be your fearful doom; and shall that doom receive an infinite aggravation from the recollection of what you might have been, had you availed yourself of the present opportunity? "He that is wise shall be wise for himself He that scorneth, He alone shall bear it."