13 MARCH (PREACHED 1770)
Get above the world
‘And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.’ Luke 9:28
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: 1 Kings 19:1–18
The exercise of secret prayer is as a retired mountain where the Lord promises to meet and shine upon his people. Satan knows that he cannot greatly prevail against those who are frequent and fervent in prayer, and therefore he bends his chief strength and subtlety to divert or discourage them from it. And indeed, so to speak, this hill of prayer is steep. It is pleasant when we can reach the top, but the ascent is wearisome to the flesh. But there are happy seasons when the Lord, as it were, leads them by the hand; then they mount up as with eagles’ wings [Isaiah 40:31]—they get above the world and he causes his goodness to pass before them [Exodus 33:19].
Sometimes afflictions answer the purpose of this mountain. Perhaps a believer has imperceptibly given way to a worldly spirit, is hurried about many things, multiplying cares and burdens without necessity; another is seduced into wrong compliances, to mix with unprofitable company and waste the time—that time that might be better employed. When either of these is the case, the soul cannot thrive. And as there is no medium, not to go forward is to go back. There are some who need not be asked by those who know them, Why art thou lean from day to day? [2 Samuel 13:4]. They are ensnared by easy, besetting temptations, and mix their food with ashes. Many have suffered this way and have reason to bless the Lord that he sent some affliction—perhaps a fit of sickness—which put a stop to their worldly pursuits, gave them leisure to consider their ways, and proved as a mountain to them, where they sought and obtained a new blessing.
With joy they hasten to the place,
This favoured lot, my friends, is ours,
Where they their Saviour oft have met;
May we the privilege improve;
And while they feast upon his grace,
And find these consecrated hours,
Their burdens and their griefs forget.
Sweet earnests of the joys above!
SERMON SERIES: ON THE TRANSFIGURATION, NO. 2 [2/5], LUKE 9:28