Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed…
1. God's eminent children are men of like passions with us (1 Peter 5:9); they are all troubled with a naughty heart, a busy devil, and a corrupt world. When we partake of the Divine nature we do not put off the human; we ought to walk with care, but yet with comfort.
2. It is no injury to the most holy persons to look upon them as men like ourselves. There is a double fault; some canonise the servants of God, not considering them in their infirmities, make them half gods, who were by privilege exempted from the ordinary state of men, and so lose the benefit of their example. Others reflect only upon their infirmities, and instead of making them precedents of mercy, make them patrons of sin.
3. In the lives of God's choicest servants there was some considerable weakness. Elias, in the midst of his miracles, was encumbered with many afflictions. Paul had "abundance of revelations," but "a thorn in the flesh." In the life of Jesus Christ Himself there was an intermixture of power and weakness; of the Divine glory and human frailty. And all this to show that in the highest dispensations God will keep us humble, and in the lowest providences there is enough to support us.
4. Grace is not impassible, or without passions and affections. The stoics held no man a good man but he that had lost all natural feeling and affection. Elijah was a man of like passions. Grace doth not abrogate our affections, but prefer them; it transplanteth them out of Egypt that they may grow in Canaan; it doth not destroy nature, but direct it.
5. All that God wrought by and for His eminent servants was with respect to His own grace, not to their worth and dignity. God did much for Elijah, but he was a man of like passions with us; though his prayers were effectual, yet he was, as every believer is, indebted to grace. When we have received a high assistance, yet still we are unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10).
6. Where the heart is upright our infirmities shall not hinder our prayers. Elijah was a man of like passions, yet he prayed, and it rained not; imitate his faith and earnestness, and your infirmities will be no impediment (2 Chronicles 30:19). Those that do not allow their infirmities may pray with hope of success. God knoweth the voice of the Spirit; our fleshly desires meet with pardon, and our spiritual with acceptance.
7. From that "he prayed earnestly," or prayed in prayer. This is our duty, to pray in prayer. .Not only to say a prayer, but to pray a prayer (Romans 8:26). Let not the heart be wandering while the lips are praying; lip-labour doth no more than a breathing instrument, make a loud noise; the essence of prayer lieth in the ascension of the mind.
8. It is sometimes lawful to imprecate the vengeance of God upon the wicked.
(1) There is a great deal of difference between public and private cases. In all private cases it is the glory of our religion to bless them that curse us, to pray for them that despitefully use us.
(2) In public cases we must not desire revenge directly and formally; so our prayers must respect the vindication of God's glory, and the avenging of our own case only as it doth collaterally and by consequence follow thereupon.
(3) God's people do not desire vengeance against particular persons absolutely, but in general against the enemies of the Church, and expressly against such as are known to God to be perverse and implacable.
(4) Their ordinary prayers are against the plots rather than the persons of their enemies. They can love the nature, though they hate the sin.
9. God may continue judgments, especially that of unseasonable weather, for a long time. Second causes do not work by chance, cannot work at pleasure. This is the bridle which God hath upon the world; the ordering of the weather is one of the most visible testimonies of His power and goodness.
10. Lastly, observe how sad it is for any to provoke the prophets of the Lord to pray against them. There is much in their messages, and there is as much in their solemn prayers.
Parallel VersesKJV: Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.