Again, consider the Christian as addressing himself to any duty of God’s worship, still his strength is in the Lord.

[1. Prayer.] Would he pray? Where will he find materials for his prayer? Alas, he ‘knows not what he should pray for as we ought,’ Rom. 8:26. Let him alone, and he will soon pray himself into some temptations or other, and cry for that which [it] were cruelty in God to give; and therefore God puts words in our mouths: ‘Take with you words and say,’ Hosea 14:2. Well, now he hath words put into his mouth. Alas, they will freeze in his very lips, if he hath not some heart-heating affections to thaw the tap. And where shall this fire be had? Not a spark to found on his own hearth, except it be some strange fire of natural desires, which will not serve. Whence then must the fire come to thaw the iciness of the heart, but from heaven? The Spirit, he must stretch himself upon the soul, as the prophet on the child, and then the soul will come to some kindly warmth and heavenly heat in its affections. The Spirit must groan, and then the soul will groan. He helps us to these sighs and groans which turn the sails of prayer. He dissolves the heart and then it [i.e. prayer] bursts out of the heart by groans of the lips by heavenly rhetoric, out of the eyes as from a flood-gate with tears. Yet further, now the creature is enabled to wrestle with God in prayer, what will he get by all this? Suppose he be weak in grace, is he able to pray himself strong, or corruption weak? No, this is not to be found in prayer, as an act of the creature; this drops from heaven also: ‘In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul,’ Ps. 138:3. David received it in duty, but had it not from his duty, but from his God. He did not pray himself strong, but God strengthened him in his prayer.

[2. Hearing the Word.] Well, cast your eyes once more upon the Christian, as engaging in another ordinance of hearing the word preached. The soul’s strength to hear the Word is from God. He opens the heart to attend, Acts 16:14, yea, he opens the un­derstanding of the saint to receive the Word, so as to conceive what it means. It is like Samson’s riddle, which we cannot unfold without his heifer. He opens the womb of the soul to conceive by it, as the understanding to conceive of it, that the barren soul becomes a ‘joyful mother of children.’ David sat for half a year under the public lectures of the law, and the womb of his heart shut up, till Nathan comes, and God with him, and now is the time of life. He conceives presently, yea, and brings forth the same day, falls presently into the bitter pangs of sorrow for his sins, which went not over till he had cast them forth in that sweet 51st Psalm. Why should this one word work more than all the former, but that now God struck in with his word, which he did not before? He is therefore said to ‘teach his people to profit,’ Isa. 48:17. He sits in heaven that teacheth hearts. When God’s Spirit, who is the headmaster, shall call a soul from his usher to himself, and say, —Soul, you have not gone the way to receive by hearing the word. Thus and thus conceive of such a truth, improve such a promise —presently the eyes of his understanding open, and his heart burns within him while he speaks to him. Thus you see the truth of this point, ‘That the Christian’s strength is in the Lord.’

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