And he spoke a parable to them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;…
Our Lord Jesus Christ, has kindly intimated to all that have business at the court of heaven the necessity of so managing themselves that they still hang on there, and not faint, whatever entertainment they meet with during the dependence of their process.
I. The first thing to be considered, is, OUR LORD'S KIND INTIMATION OF THIS WAY OF HIS FATHER'S COURT.
1. I shall show the import of Christ's making this intimation to petitioners at His Father's court.
(1) The darkness that is naturally on the minds of poor sinners, with respect to heaven's management about them. We may say, as Jeremiah 5:4, "Surely these are poor, they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God."(2) Christ's good-will to the sinner's business going right there (Exodus 28:29).
(3) That our Lord sees sinners are in hazard of fainting from the entertainment they may meet with during the dependence of their process (Hebrews 12:3).
(4) That they that shall hang on, and not faint, shall certainly come speed at length.
2. The weight and moment of this intimation. This will appear, if it is considered in a fourfold light.
(1) Jesus Christ, who makes it, has experienced it in His own case. Now, if this was the manner with the great Petitioner, how can we expect it should fare otherwise with us?
(2) He is the great Prophet of heaven, whose office it is to reveal the manner of the court to poor sinners.
(3) He is the only Intercessor there, the Father's Secretary, the Solicitor for poor sinners there.
II. The second thing to be considered, is, THE WAY OF THE COURT OF HEAVEN, IN TRYSTING PETITIONERS WITH SOME HARDSHIPS, DURING THE DEPENDENCE OF THEIR PROCESS. Here I shall give you —
1. A swatch of that way; and —
2. Some reasons of that way, whereby to account for it in a suitableness to the Divine perfections.
1. (1) Oft-times there is deep silence from the throne (Matthew 15:23).
(2) Oft-times they get a very angry-like answer. The woman of Canaan got a couple of them, one on the back of another: "But He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs" (Matthew 15:24, 26).
(3) Disappointed expectations are a piece of very ordinary entertainment there: "We looked for peace, but no good came: and for a time of health, and behold trouble" (Jeremiah 8:15).
(4) Many a time, looking for an answer, Providence drives a course apparently just contrary to the granting of their petition; so is fulfilled that Psalm 65:5, "By terrible things in righteousness wilt Thou answer us, O God of our salvation."(5) Oft-times the Lord, instead of easing the petitioner, lays new burdens on him: "We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble" (Jeremiah 8:15). Instead of curing the old wound, there are new ones given.
2. (1) This way is taken with petitioners in the court of heaven; for thereby God is glorified, and His attributes more illustrated than otherwise they would be. In this view of it, Paul welcomes it in his own case, though it was hard to sense: "And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
(2) Hereby the state of petitioners is tried, and a plain difference constituted between hypocrites and the sincere: "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13).
(3) Hereby the graces of believing petitioners are tried, both as to the reality and strength of them; particularly their faith and patience (1 Peter 1:6, 7).
(4) Hereby believers are humbled, and taught that they hold of free grace. The exalting of grace is the great design of the whole contrivance of the gospel.
(5) This way is taken for honour of the word: "Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name" (Psalm 138:2).
(6) It is taken to make them long to be home.
III. The third thing to be considered, is, THE DUTY OF THE PETITIONERS TO HANG ON, AND NOT TO FAINT, WHATEVER THEY MEET WITH. We may view it in these things following.
1. They must never lift their process from the court of heaven: "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life" (John 6:67, 68).
2. They must never give over praying, but "pray always." And Satan sometimes plies distressed souls to give up with it, as what they may see they will do no good with, for that God will not hear them. But that is a deceit of hell which ye must never yield to.
3. They must carry all their incident needs in new petitions to the same throne of grace, where the former petition may have been long lying, and still unanswered; and so pursue all together. The latter must not drive out the former, nor the former keep back the latter. It is one of the ways how the Lord keeps His people hanging about His hand without fainting, by sending them several loads above their burden; which loads He takes off soon at their request; and so makes them go under their burden the more easily. These short incident processes, that get a speedy answer, confirm their faith and hope in waiting on for the answer of the main.
4. They must continue in the faith of the promise, never quit the gripe of it; but trust and believe that it shall certainly be accomplished, though the wheels of providence should seem to drive out over it and in over it (Romans 4:19, 20).Consider —
1. If ye faint and give over, your suit is lost, ye have given up with it.
2. He is well worth the waiting on.
(1) Though He is infinitely above us, He has waited long on us.
(2) The longer you are called to wait for a mercy, ye will readily find it the more valuable when it comes.
(3) His time will be found the due time (Galatians 6:9); the best chosen time for the mercy's coming; witness the time of Isaac's birth.
(4) Ye shall be sure of some blessed of fallings, while ye wait on (Psalm 27:14).
3. They have waited long, that have lost all, by not having patience to wait a little longer (Exodus 32.; 1 Samuel 13:8, 10). Therefore "let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:4); "for in due season ye shall reap, if ye faint not" (Galatians 6:9).
(T. Boston, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;