Owen - BX9315 O81

TUE NATURE AN aids of grace, for those pledges of love and mercy, for . those supplies of consolation and spiritual refreshments which their condition calls for. Wherefore in this state, the invocation of Christ is the refuge and sheet anchor of the souls of them who truly believe in him. So it was unto all the holy martyrs of old, and in lat. ter ages. This doctrine and duty is not for them who are at ease. The afflicted, the tempted, the persecuted, the spiritually disconsolatewill prize it, and be found in the practice of it. And all those holy souls, who in most ages, on the account of the profession of the gospel, have been reduced unto outwardly unrelievable distress- es, have, as was said, left their testimony unto this du- ty, and the benefits of it. The refreshment which they found therein, was a sufficient balance against the weight of all outward calamities, enabling them to rejoice un- der them with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. This is the church's reserve against all the trials it may be exercised withal, and all the dangers whereunto it is ex- posed. Whilst believers have liberty of access unto him in their supplications, who bath all power in his hand, who is full of ineffable love and compassion to- wards them, especially as suffering for his sake, they are more than conquerors in all their tribulations. 4. " When we have a due apprehension of the emi- nent actinge of any grace in Christ Jesus, and withal a deep and abiding sense of our own want of the same grace;" it is a season of especial application unto him by prayer for the increase of it. All graces as unto their habit were equal in Christ; they were all in him in the highest degree of perfection. And every oneof them did he exercise in its due manner and measure on all just occasions. But outward causes and circumstan- ces, gave opportunity unto the exercise of some of them, in a way more eminent and conspicuous than others were exercised in. For instance; such were his unspeakable condescension, self - denial, and patience in sufferings, which the apostle unto this purpose insists upon, Phil. ii. 5, 6, 7, 8. Now the great design of all believers is to be likeJesus Christ, in all grace, and all the exercise of it. He is in all things their pattern and example. Wherefore when they have aview of the glo- ry ofany grace as it was'exercised in Christ, and withal a sense of their own defect and want therein, (conformity unto him being their design),. they cannot but apply themselves unto him in solemn invocation, for a farther D CAUSES OF IS. 55 communication of that grace unto them, from his stores and fulness. And these things mutually promote one another in us if duly attended unto. A due sense of our own defect in any grace, will farther us in the pros- pect of the glory of that grace in Christ. And a view, a due contemplation of the gloriousexercise of ascygrace in him, will give us lightto discover our own great de- fect therein, and want thereof. Under a sense of both, an immediate application unto Christ by prayer, would be an unspeakable furtherance of our growth in grace, and conformity unto him. Nor can there be any more effectual way or means to draw supplies of grace from him, to draw water from the wells of salvation. When in an holy admiration of, and fervent love unto any grace as eminently exercised in and by him, witha sense of our own want of the same grace, we ask it ofhim in faith, he will not deny it unto us. So the disciples up- on the prescription of a difficult duty, untowhose due performance a good measure of faith was required; out of a senseof the all-fulness ofhim, and their own defect in that grace which was necessary unto the peculiar du-, ty there prescribed, immediately pray unto him, saying, "Lord increase our faith," Luke xvii. 5. The sameis the case with respect unto any temptation that may be- fal us, wherewith he was exercised, andover which he prevailed. 5. The " time of death, whether natural or violent, for his sake," is a season of the same nature. So Ste- phen recommended his departing soul into his hands with solemn prayer; Lord Jesus, said he, receive myspirit. To the same purpose have been the prayers of manyof his faithful martyrs in the flames, and -under the sword. In the same manner doth the faith of innumerable holy souls work in the midst of their deathbed groans. And the more we have been in the exercise offaith on him in our lives, themore ready will it be in the approaches of death, to make its resort unto him in a peculiar man- ner. And it may be, other instances ofa like nature may be given unto the same purpose. An answerunto an inquiry which may possibly arise from what we have insisted on, shall close thisdiscourse. For whereas the Lord Jesus Christ as Mediator cloth intercede with the Father for us, it may be inquired, whether we may pray unto him, that he would so inter- cede on our behalf; whether this be comprised in the duty of invocation, or prayer untohim?