« AnteriorContinuar »
glory to God, and God gives grace to him and makes his faith stronger, by which he finds more of the sweetness and riches of the promises. My brethren, I wish you were all in possession of this happiness, and it is my present design to direct and to encourage you to seek it. The scripture which I have chosen for this purpose affords us some very power. ful motives: may the Lord God render our present consideration of them useful and profitable to all our souls, that we may know clearly,
First, the nature of the promises of God. Secondly, the character of those to whom the promises belong; and, Thirdly, their exceeding greatness and precious
And while we are considering those particuJars, may we have the Lord's presence with us! We have a promise of it. 66 Wherever two or three,” says he, are met together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." O that he may be present with us at this time! May he send the Holy Spirit of promise into all our hearts to teach us !
First, the nature of the promises of God. I define a promise to be an act of God's free grace, whereby he has engaged in his word to bestow upon believers all the blessings which were purchased by the obedience and sufferings of Jesus Christ. The promise can spring from no other cause than from free grace. God had no motive to induce hin, but what arose from his own abundant and unmerited love, and there was no power to compel him to make any promise to fallen man. He had broken the law, and was subject to all the pains and penalties threatened to transgression; and if God had left him in this state, without any promise, he would have dragged on a miserable life, under the terrors of his guilty conscience, until the executioner came to call him to God's awful bar, and being there, and found guilty, how conld he escape the damnation of hell? 'Io tallen man, thus subject to the present and eternal punishment of sin, God was pleased to make a promise
of mercy. He took compassion on him, and provided for his salvation, by the covenant of grace, which is a covenant of promises. Such is the exalted grace of God, that he has made a free promise of deliverance from all the miseries of sin; and that convinced sinners might be enabled to rely upon the promise, and to find comfort in it, God revealed it in his word, which cannot be broken. There it is written, and entered upon record; and what he has there engaged to bestow upon believers shall be made good to them for ever and ever. To them he will freely give without money and without price, both in time and in eternity, all the blessings which were purchased by the obedience and sufferings of Jesus Christ. To them he gives freely what cost him an infinite sum. The merit of all that he did and suffered is made theirs by faith, and faith is one of the blessings which he purchased among the rest: for it is one of his precious gifts, which he bestows upon his people by the operation of his good Spirit, who works with, and animates the incorruptible seed of the word, rendering it the means of forming faith in their hearts. The word of promise begets faith in them, by the Holy Spirit's enabling them first to rely upon it, and afterwards to experience its sweetness and richness, and then they know the truth of the forementioned definition, namely, that a promise is an act of God's free grace, whereby he has engaged in his word to bestow upon believers all the blessings, which were purchased by the cbedience and sufferings of Jesus Christ.
Now, since this is the nature of the promises, there is but one point to be cleared up, and it is this-what security has God given for the fulfilling of the promises? The Lord knew what power unbelief had over careless sinners, and how hard it was to bring convinced sinners to believe, and how believers would be tempted by their remaining corruptions to entertain doubts and fears, and therefore he provided the most full and perfect evidence that the case will admit of.
First, every promise stands confirmed in his revealed word, which word is the mind and will of God made known to his creatures, and which is therefore as perfect and unchangeable as God himself is. His word cannot be broken. It is impossible to break it. What weapons would you use? Force of arms? What force can you use against the Almighty God? His mind cannot alter or change, and thereby suffer bis word to be broken : for with God there is no variableness or shadow of turning. And since nothing from without and nothing from within can cause any variableness in him, his word therefore will stand fast for ever and ever. God is not a man, that he should lie, neither the son of man, that he should repent. Hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? What should hinder him? Is not his hand almighty to fulfil what he hatlı spoken with his mouth ? Here then is safe ground for faith to stand upon. You can rely upon one another's word: when a man has a fair character, and is known to be of good principles, you can trust him; and you have a saying among yourselves, that an honest man's word is as good as his bond : and may you not give better credit to God's word ? For what suspicion can you entertain of its ever being broken? He, who is truth itself, has said, “heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away;" they shall not pass away, because my almighty power shall establish them in time and in eternity. And is there not then sufficient reason to rely upon those words, which God declares shall not pass away
? And is there not abundant evidence to encourage the convinced sinner to trust to that word of promise, which can never fail, but shall stand fast, when heaven and earth shall pass away, and the place of them shall no more be found ? Even then, when all things else shall fail, the promises will be receiving their full completion. Surely then, the word of God, which cannot be broken, is a good security for our relying upon the promises.
But, secondly, God, who knoweth our hearts, out of tender compassion to our infirmities, has been graciously pleased to confirm his promises, not only by his word, but also by his oath. The oath was the obligation which the persons of the ever-blessed Trinity entered into, to fulfil their distinct parts and offices in the covenant of grace, and they entered into this obligation for the sake of those who should flee to Christ for refuge, that they might see the immutability of God's counsel to save them; because he had confirmed it by an oath, and had thereby given them two immutable things to rely upon. The apostle has reasoned thus upon the subject: “ When God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself: for men verily swear hy the greater : and an oath, for confirmation, is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it was impos. sible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us." In which words we have a clear account of the nature of the oath—“God sware by himself;” and of the persons for whose sakes he sware, namely, “ the heirs of promise;" and the design of his swearing, namely, to put an end to all strife in their consciences concerning his faithfulness to fulfil his promises to them. And the apostle's argument stands thus. When there is any dispute or strife among men, and the matter comes to be tried in a court of justiee, the cause is finally determined by examining the parties and their witnesses upon oath. And there being a strife between God and sinners, on his part he offers to be reconciled, promises them pardon, if they seek it through Christ, binds himself to give it by his word, and confirms his word by his oath. And ought not this oath for confirmation of the word of promise to put an end to all strife in the sinner's conscience ? for how can God's oath be bro
ken? Here are two immutable things, which cannot possibly fail--the counsel of God, to save the heirs of promise, and the oath of God, to carry his counsel into execution. His counsel is what he decreed in the covenant of grace, when all his attributes determined to bring many sons unto glory by Jesus Christ. This divine counsel revealed to his creatures in his word was sufficient evidence, and ought to induce them to believe; but he was willing more abundantly,” more than was needful, if they had not been very faithless and unbelieving, to convince them, and therefore confirmed his counsel by an oath; so that here are two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, and which consequently ought to make the faith of the heirs of promise immutable. The foundation upon which faith stands can never fail. It relies upon the unchangeable word of promise, and the promise is confirmed by the counsel of God, of which he says himself, “ My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure."- Isaiah, xlvi. 10. “ Yea, the counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, and the thoughts of his heart to all generations." - Psalm, xxxiii. 11. And the promise is also confirmed by the oath of God, which is immutable and cannot be broken, “ The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent.” He will not repént of bis oath, unless he could cease to be wise, or could be perjured, which to suppose possible, would be the highest blasphemy. Oh what full security then bas a gracious. God given to the heirs of promise ! He would not have them to doubt of his love, or of his power to save them, and therefore he condescends to give them two immutablo things for the support of their faith: but knowing whereof they were made, and how slow of heart they were to believe, he has been pleased to exalt his free and sovereign grace by giving them a
Third iinmutable thing to enable them to rely still more steadfastly upon his promises, and that is the unchangeable covenant. The ever blessed Trinity, moved by mere love and rich mercy, contrived the