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long absence from the school, must begin anew dgain; fo fome Christians, in order to their recovery, must be carried through the several steps of conversion again, as we may learn from our Saviour's words to Peter, with relation to his fall, Luke xxii. 32. I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy b:e. thren.
6. When one is under a felt and smarting defertion, Isa. xlix. 14. Zion said, The Lord hath forfaķen me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. This is a more. hopeful cafe than the former: howbeit it goes to the quick, Proy. xviii. 14. The spirit of a man will suftäin, his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear? There are many bitter ingredients in it, which make it a forrowful case, exquisitely painful
to the soul, like that of a woman forsaken, and : grieved in Spirit, even a wife of youth, Ila. liv. 6.
To one thus deserted, wrath appears in the face of Csod, and impressed on every dispensation, Pfalm lxxxviii. 7, 8. To his sense and feeling, his prayer is shut out, Lam. iii. 8.; and Halhes of hell come into his soul, Pfalm lxxxviii. 15, 16. Under the pressure hereof, some very grave and solid persons have not been able to contain themselves, Job xxx. 28. I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried in the congregation. This smarting defertion, in greater or lesser measure, has often been the fear. ful outgoing from the dead desertion, as it was in the experience of the spouse, Cant. v. 3,-7. And it is a loud call to personal fasting and humiliation, Matth. ix. 15. When the bridegroom shall be taken from them, then Mall they fast.
7. When one is pressed with some outward afflic. tion, whether in his body, relations, name, substance, or otherwise. In such a cafe, Job rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, Job. i. 20.; and David's Z
knees were weak through fasting, Pfalm cix. 24. A time of affliction is a special season for fasting and prayer. The Lord often lays affliction on his people, on purpose to awaken them to their duty, and as it were to necessitate them to it: even as Abfalom who, having in vain sent once and again for Joab, obliged him at length to come unto him, by causing set his corn-field on fire. This is the way to get affliction fanctified, and in due time removed, James iv. 10. Humble yourselves in the fight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. We ought therefore to take heed, that we be not of those who cry not wher he bindeth them; but that in this case we do as Benhadad's servants, who, upon a signal defeat of his army, put fackcloth on their loins, and ropes on their heads, and went out, as humble fupplicants, to the king of Israel, who had smote them, 1 Kings xx. 31.
8. When, by the aspect of providence, one is threatened with some such affliction. It is an uno gracious hardness, not to be affected when the Lord is lifting up his hand against us. He was a man of an excellent spirit, who said, My Aest trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments, Pfal. cxix. 120. Though he was an hero that feared the face of no man, he laid aside that bravery of spirit when he had to do with his God. Wherefore, when the Lord was threatening the removal of a child of his by death, tho' the continuing of that child in life would have been a lasting memorial of his reproach, yet the impression of the Lord's anger on that threa. tening dispensation, moved him to betake himself to personal fasting and humiliation before the Lord, for the life of that child, 2 Sam. xii. 16, 22.
9. When one would have light and direction in fome particular matter of special weight. It is much to be lamented, that men profeffing the belief of a divine providence in human affairs, should, in confidence of their own wisdom, take the weight of their matters on themselves, without acknowledging God in them; aiming only to please themselves therein, and not their God; as if their fancy, conveniency, or advantage, and not their conscience, were concerned in their determinations and resolves. Hence it is, that wise men are often left to lignal blunders in conduct, and feel marks of God's indig. nation justly impressed on their rash determinations. Thus Joshua and the princes of Israel, in the matter of the league with the Gibeonites, finding no need of the exercise of their faith, but of their
wit, vainly imagining they could see well enough with their own eyes, took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord, and were egregiously overreached by them, as they saw afterward, when it was too late, Josh. ix. 14, 22.
We have a divine command and promise, extending to our temporal, as well as to our spiritual con. cerns; and very suitable to the necessary dependance we have on God in all things, as creatures on their Creator, Prov. iii. 5. Lean not unto thine own under. standing. Verse 6. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. We ought therefore, in all our matters, to eye him as our director ; and steer our whole course, as he directs by his word and providence. Since he hath said, I will teach thee in the way which thou shalt go : I will guide thee with mine eye, Pfalm xxxii
. 8. it is unquestionably our duty to set the Lord always before us, Pfalm xvi. 8.; to regulate our acting, and ceasing from action, by the divine direction; even as the Israelites in the wilderness removed and rested, just as the pillar of cloud and fire removed or rested before them, Num.
Sometimes indeed an affair may be in such a lie tuation, as allows not an opportunity of making an address unro God, for light in it, by splemn prayer but we are never so circumstanced, but we have ac
cess to lift up our eyes to the holy oracle, in a devou uptc ejaculation; as Nehemiah did in such a situation, obta Neh. ii. 4, 5. And there is a promise relative to us ir that case, which has been often verified, in the mak comfortable experience of the faints taking that me Mof thod to obtain the divine direction, Prov. iy. 12. When thou runneft, thou shalt not stumble. But thin Christians should accustom themselves to lay their fate matters before the Lord, in folemn prayer, for light in and direction therein, as far as circumstances do per ini mit. So did Abraham's pious fervant, with the af fair his master had committed to him, Gen. xxiv. 12, if n 13, 14. And accordingly he had a pleasurable experience of the accomplishment of the promise relative to that case ; Prov. iv. 12. When thou goef eit! thy steps shall not be straitened. And where they are the to be determined in a matter of special weight, such as the change of their lot, the choice of an employment, some momentuous undertaking, or any the mic like occurrences in life whereof serious Christians will find not a few, allowing them time and opportim tunity to deliberate on them : that is a special occa. fion for extraordinary prayer with fasting, for light the from the Lord the Father of lights, to discover what is their duty therein, and what he is calling them to in the matter. So the captives returning from Ba. bylon with Ezra, kept a fast at the river Ahava, to seek of God a right way, Ezra. viii. 21.
10. When duty being cleared in a matter of fpecial weight, it comes to the setting to; in which event one needs the presence of God with him there in, the divine blessing upon it, and success in it. Thus Esther being to go in unto the king, to make re quest for her people, there was a solemn fasting, on
fe that occasion, used by her and the Jews in Shushan, fc Elth. iv. 8, 16. And Barnabas and Saul being call- fa ed of God unto a special work, were not sent away b to it, but after fasting and prayer, Acts xiii. 2, 3.
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We need not only light from the Lord to discover unto us aur duty in particular cases; but that being obtained, we need allo his presence to go along with us in the thing, that we may be enabled rightly to make our way, which he bids us go. Therefore said Moses, Exod. xxxiii. 15. If thy presence go not with me, carry us not wp.hence. Sin hath defiled every thing to us: and however promising any worldly ftate, condition, or thing whatsoever, may appear in our eyes; yet if we have not the presence of God, in it, and his blessing upon it, to purify it unto us, we will be mired in it, and find a snare and a trap, if not a curse, therein to us.
11. When one, having some unordinary dificulty to encounter, is in hazard of being in nared either into sin or danger. On such an occafion was the forementioned fast at Shushan kept; Efter jeoparding her life, in going in unto the king in the inner-court, not called by him, Esth. iv, 11, 16. The ship has need to be well balasted, that sails while the wind blows high : and in a difficult and inínaring time, there is need of fasting and prayer for Heaven's safe conduct through it. Mens trusting to themselves in such a case, cannot miss of betraying them into snares.
i 2. lastly, When one hath in view fome special fo. lemn approach unto God; in which case a special preparation is requisite. Thus Jacob called his family to such preparation, in the exercise.of repent- . ance, in order to their appearing before the Lord at Bethel, Gen. xxxv.. 2, 3. The Israelites were called to the fame, in order to the awful solemnity of the giving of the law on mount Sinai, Exod. xix. 10, II, 15. And it is observable, that, whereas the feast of tabernacles was the most joyful of all the feasts the Jews had throughout the year, a folemn fast was appointed by God to be observed always before it, four free days only intervening, Lev.