TIME FOR SECRET PRAYER
The times wherein we live call aloud for secret prayer. Hell seems to be broken loose, and men turned into incarnate devils; land-destroying and soul-damning wickedness walk up and down the streets with a whore’s forehead, without the least check or control, Jeremiah 6.15, `Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush.’ They have sinned away shame, instead of being ashamed of sin. Custom in sin had quite banished all sense of sin and all shame for sin, so that they would not suffer nature to draw her veil of blushing before their great abominations. The same words are repeated in chapter 8.12. How applicable these scriptures are to the present time I will leave the prudent reader to judge.
But what does the prophet do now that they were as bold in sin and as shameless as so many harlots? That you may see in Jeremiah 13.17: `But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore and run down with tears.’ Now they were grown up to that height of sin and wickedness, that they were above all shame and blushing; now they were grown so proud, so hardened, so obstinate, so rebellious, so mad upon mischief, that no mercies could melt them or allure them, nor no threatenings nor judgments could in any way terrify or stop them. The prophet goes into a corner, he retires himself into the most secret places, and there he weeps bitterly, there he weeps as if he were resolved to drown himself in his own tears. When the springs of sorrow rise high, a Christian turns his back upon company, and retires himself into places of greatest privacy, that so he may more freely and more fully vent his sorrow and grief before the Lord. Ah, land, land, what pride, luxury, lasciviousness, licentiousness, wantonness, drunkenness, cruelties, injustice, oppressions, fornications, adulteries, falsehoods, hypocrisy, bribery, atheism, horrid blasphemies, and hellish impieties, are now to be found rampant in the midst of you! How are the Lord’s Sabbaths profaned, pure ordinances despised. Scripture rejected, the Spirit resisted and derided, the righteous reviled, wickedness countenanced, and Christ many thousand times in a day by these cursed practices afresh crucified! Land, land, were our forefathers alive, how sadly would they blush to see such a horrid degenerate posterity as is to be found in the midst of you! How is our forefathers’ hospitality converted into riot and luxury, their frugality into pride and prodigality, their simplicity into subtlety, their sincerity into hypocrisy, their chastity into chambering and wantonness, their charity into cruelty, their sobriety into drunkenness, their plain-dealing into dissembling, their works of compassion into
works of oppression, and their love to the people of God into utter enmity against the people of God! And what is the voice of all these crying abominations, but every Christian to his closet, and there weep, with weeping Jeremiah, bitterly, for all these great abominations whereby God is dishonoured openly.
Oh weep in secret for their sins who openly glory in their sins, which should be their greatest shame. Who knows but that the whole land may fare the better for the sakes of a few that are mourners in secret? But however it goes with the nation, such as mourn in secret for the abominations of the times, may be confident that when sweeping judgments shall come upon the land, the Lord will hide them in the secret chamber of His providence; He will set a secret mark of deliverance upon their foreheads that mourn for the crying sins of the present day, as He did upon theirs in Ezekiel 9.4-6.