HOW TO PLEAD WITH GOD.

THE REV. C. SIMEO, M.A.
Jer. xiv. 20, 21. IVe acknowledge, Lord, our wickedness, and
the iniquity of our fathers; for we have sinned against thee.
Do not abhor iis, for thy name's sake ; do not disgrace the
throne of thy glory : remember, break not thy covenant tuitJi us,
•' LORD, teach us to pray," was the request of
the Apostles to their Lord and Master : and may
Ahnighty God teach us to pray, whilst we consider
the passage we have just read. Here is prayer in-
deed, such as it becomes us all to offer ; and such as
we shall surely offer, if ever we be duly sensible of
eur state before God. It was offered by the prophet
in a season of great affliction. The whole land was
in the utmost distress by reason of a drought, which
put a total stop to vegetation, and destroyed all the
fruits of the earth : and the prophet was assured,
that that distress would speedily become extreme
by means of the Chaldeans, who would invade the
country, and desolate Jerusalem with the sword and
famine. Under these circumstances, he was com-
manded not to pray for the people, since the mea-
sure of their iniquities was full "". But, like Moses
of old ^ the prophet could not forbear : he first in-
deed warned the people of the judgments which God
was about to inflict upon them ', and then, in a most
earnest and humble manner, pleaded with God in
their behalf ^
We
* ver. 10, 11. '' Exod. xxxii. 10, 11.
*^ ver. 15 — 18. ** ver. 19 — 22.
558.] HOW TO PLEAD WITH GOD. 55
We propose,
I. To explain this prayer of the prophet^ —
His acknowledgments are plain and easy to be itn-
derstood —
[He confesses, as he might well do, the sins of the whole
nation ; as well those contracted by their ancestors, as those
which they had themselves committed: and he intreats God "not
to abhor them" on account of their extreme wickedness. ow
this expression, whilst it marked his sctfse of their vilcness, had
particular reference to what God himself had threatened by
Moses, and to what he had promised also in the event of their
humbling of themselves before him*. Hence, in the verse before
the text, the pr(»phet asks, " Hast thou utterly rejected Judah?
hath thy soul lotked Zion r""]
His pleas require some explanation —
[Being exceedingly earnest in his petitions, he offers the
most powerful pleas that could possibly be urged : he intreats
God to have mercy on them for hih own sake, and to shew regard
to the honour of his name, the glory of his administration ^ and
the sanctity/ of his engagements.
The first of these pleas, the honour of God's name, is fre-
quently urged in the Holy Scriptures *^, and is particularly accep-
table to God ; who " is jealous for his hoiy name V and delights
to " sanctify it" in the sight of an ungodly world"*.
The second of the^e pleas involves in it somewhat of greater
difficulty. The words, " Do not disgrace the throne of thy
glory," are generally interpreted as importing no more than
this ; " Do not give up thy city and temple into the hands of
the enemy." The words will undoubtedly bear this sense : for
both the city and the temple aie represented as God's throne*}
and he threatens to give them up into the hands of his enemies
to be polluted and defiled by them''. But, if we attend to the
manner in which this petition is introduced, we shall see that it
is, like that which precedes, and that which follows it, a plea; in
which view its sense will be, " Thou art our King, who art en-
gaged to provide for and protect thy people ; and if thou give up
the city and the temple into the hands of our enemies, as thou
hast threatened, thy government will be dishonoured ; and they
will say, that thou art not able to afford them the succour which
thou hast promised them." In this view the passage exactly
accords with the plea urged by Moses ^, and with that also
which
* Lev. xxvi. 10 — 12. with 27 — 30.; in both of which passages espe-
cial mention is made of famine as connected with God's abhorrence.
' Jo^h. vii. g. Ps Ixxix. 9, 10. ^ Ezek. xxxix. 25,
' Ezek.xxxvi 21 — 23.
' Jer. iii. 17. & xvii. 12. See this latter in particular.
^ Ezek. vii. 21, 22. ' umb. xiv. 13—16,
56 ' JEREMIAH, XIV. 20, 21. [558.
which Jeremiah himself has urged more fully, and in the very
same connexion, in the preceding part of this chapter'".
The last of these pleas reminds God of his covenant, which he
cannot, and will not, break. 'I'his must doubtless refer to the
covenant of grace, which God made with Abraham and with all
his believing people to the end of time". The national cove-
nant that was made with Moses was broken, and annulled ; be-
cause all the conditions of it had been violate i : but " the better
covenant " which was made with God in Christ, is " ordered in
all things and sure °;" and by it " the promise is made sure to all
the seed P." That covenaiit is " confirmed by the oath of Jehovah,
that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God
to lie, tue might have strong consolation who have fled for reluge
to lav hold on the hope set before us^^." I'his covenant God had
engaged never to break ""; and therefore the prophet urged the
inviolabilitv of it as a motive with God to fulfil to his people,
notwithstanding their unworthiness, all which of his own grace
and mercy he had promised to them. In this view God himself
had promised to regard his covenant^: and in this view the plea
in our text may be considered as expressing what is more dif-
fusely stated by the prophet Isaiah*.]
Having stated what may be considered as the
import of the prayer, we proceed,
II. To point out some important lessons contained
in it —
We shall confine ourselves to two ;
1. The true nature of a sinner's humiliation —
[othing can give us a more just idea of humiliation than
the prophet's expression of it in our text. It necessarily implies
an ingenuous confc'^sion of our sins, and of our desert on account
of them. Think of the expression, " Abhor us not :" what a
sense of extreme unworthiness does it convey ! Yet is it not at
all too strong : we are all, both by nature and practice, ex-
ceeding vile", and ought, like Job, to "abhor ourselves in dust
and ashes'*." Indeed this will be the state of every one that is
truly penitent: he willlnok upon himself as "filthy and abomi-
nabie^'," and will " lothe himself for all his iniquities, and for all
his abominations^." Every attempt to cloke or palliate our
offences argues a want of humility, and operates to the exclu-
sion of our souls from the Divine favour. We must be like con-
victed lepers in our own estimation, and justify our God in what-
ever sentence he may denounce against us*.]
2. The
"ver.;— g. " Gal. iii. 16. " 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.
P Rom. iv. Iff. "i Heb. vi. 17, 18. "" Ps. Ixxxix. 35.
* Lev. xxvi. 41, 42. 'Isai. Ixiii. 15 — \Q. " Job xl. 4.
"Jobxlii. 6. '' Ps. xiv. 3. ' Ezek. xxxyi. 31.
» Ps. li. 4.
558.] HOW TO PLEAD WITH GOD. h7
1. The proper grounds of a sinner's encourage-
ment —
[Though we may justly acknowledge the work of Divine
grace in us, and may give glory to God for whatever change he
may have wrought in our hearts, yet we mu.^t not regard any
thing of our own as aground for our confidence in God : we
must look for all our grounds of encouragement in God alone, even
in his infinite perfections, and in the covenant which he has made
with us in the iSon of his love. When David was overwhelmed
with trouble, we are told, " he encouraged himself in the Lord
his God." And this is what we are to do. In the prayer which
the prophet offered, he drew all his pleas from the honour and
fidelity of his God. And what encouragement can we want, if
we only contemplate God as he is revealed to us in the Holy
Scriptures ? As a mighty Sovereign, his grace is his own, and he
may grant it to whomsoever he will ; yea, and his sovereignty
will be the more displayed and glorified, in the communication of
his grace to the very chief of sinners, and in making " his grace
to abound, where sin has most abounded." The comfort to be
derived from the contemplation of his love and mercy need not
be stated ; because that is obvious to the most inconsiderate
mind. But even justice itself affords rich encouragement to a
repenting sinner : for, has not an atonement been made for sin ?
and has not the Lord Jesus Christ discharged the debt of all those
who trust in him ? o doubt then, the justice of God, which
has been satisfied by the ransom which his own 8on has paid for
us, will liberate us from our bondage, and restore us to all the
privileges which his own Son has purchased for us. As he can
be " a just God and yet a Saviour," so he icill be just to his
own Son, in she^ving mercy to us for Christ's sake. Above ail,
his fidelity to his covenant-engagements leaves us no ground for
fear ; for never, since the foundation of the world, did one sinner
perish who laid hold on his covenant, and rested in it as " all his
salvation and all his desire."]
Let me in conclusion be permitted to ask,
1 . Have you ever pleaded with God in this man-
ner —
[Alas ! if God were now to order those who have pleaded
thus with him to be sealed in their foreheads, and all the rest to
be smitten dead upon the spot'', what an awful spectacle would
this place exhibit! Yet such a distinction will be made m the day
of judgment. Beloved Brethren, consider this: and "judge
your.selves, that ye be not judged of the Lord" Shall it
be said, that such pleadings are not necessary ? What ! were they
judged necessary by the prophet for the avertii'g of temporal
judgments, and shall they not be for the averting of such as are
eternal f
*• Ezek. ix. 1 — Q.
58' JEREMIAH, XV. 10. [559,
eternal P Truly they are necessary for every Child of man ; nor
can we hope lo obtain mercy with God, unless we seek him thus
with our vA'hole heaits.]
2. Have you ver pleaded thus with God in vain?
[ever did God turn a deaf ear to one who sout^ht liini in
this numner : " never said he to any man. Seek ye mv face in
vain !" If any say that they have prayed, and yet not received an
answer, we reply, that eith<^r they have never pleaded in this
manner the peifections and the promises of (jod ; or, an answer
has been given, l>ut has been overlooked. God cannot refuse an
answer to a broken-hearted suppliant. He may answer in a way
that we do not expect ; or he may delay his answer with a
view to our greater good : but as he has promised to grant such
petitions as are offered up in faith, so vviil we affirm in the pre-
sence of the whole universe, that " every one that asketli, re-
ceiveth ; and he that seeketh, findeth ; and to him that knocketh,
it shall be opened *"."]
* Matt. vii. 7, 8.
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