« AnteriorContinuar »
and ground of faith : therefore, when there is a promise meet for you, and suited of God to your case, stretch out the withered hand to receive it at his call, never stopping for fear that the power of God be not enabling you; for no fooner will you essay to stretch out your hand, than the power of God will be before-hand with you, though, perhaps, in an unsensible manner: whereas, if you wait for a sensible feeling of his power, you are not believing, nor trusting in his word. If you would believe, it must be when you feel him not : for, believing is not feeling; and feeling is not believing
OBJECT. But, if I believe his word without feeling his power, I fear, I shall but prefume, and take the pro. mise only in my own strength; or, like the stony-ground hearers, receive the word with joy, by a temporary faith, which will fail.
Answ. People may indeed say they believe, and fancy they believe, and deceive themselves : but fancy is one thing, and faith is another; true, right, and solid belief, is what you need not fear can be done in your own strength! What! to take the word of a God for your security ; to quit the law-way of salvation, and flee to the gospel promise ; and to trust the faithfulness of a God pledged in his promise, for your salvation from fin and corruption, as well as from hell and damnation; to set to your seal that God is true, and to receive his record with particular application to yourself: if you do this, never fear that you are doing it by your own strength : for it is not natural, but supernatural power that is dealing, when you are acting. If you get a heart to embrace the promise, you may be sure the promise is embracing you ; for it is only virtue coming out of it, that enables you to embrace it: before your embracing of it, the virtue may be insensible and invisible; but after the embracement, you may find fenfible virtue. When the woman touched the hem of Christ's garment, sensible virtue came out of him ; but there was fome invisible and insensible virtue came first from him to enable her to touch him ; but fne never
wist of that precedent virtue, till once she touched him. A man may not know, till he believe, that it is the power of God that is dealing with him to make him believe, God's power deals and works fo wonderfully in this matter; “No man can tell whence it comes, and whither it goes,” John iii. 8. What impressions the stamp of his power hath made, and how it makes the impression, cannot be seen till on the back of it, or afterwards, in order of nature at least; even as the impression that the feal makes upon the melted wax is not seen till the feal be listed, and there the impression remains. You cannot see yourself in a glass, till you look to it; but look to it when you will, your image in the glass is before-hand with you: fo, look to God in the promise; but lo, his looking to you therein prevents you.
Your embracing the promise will flow from the promise embracing you; therefore when the
promise is set before you, and held out to you to be believed, take it in God's name, without any more ado; and then say with yourself, now there is a word for me, and it is the word of the God of truth; therefore that word and I shall never part; welcome, O blessed word, death shall not separate you and me; I will hing by this hook, I will rely upon his word, till all be made good to me. And thus you will receive the ingrafted word, that is able to save
III. The Third Head of the method was, To ftate the comparison, and run the parallel betwixt believers and Ifaac; and so to thew more particularly, how they are, as Isaac, the children of promise. And here the parallel may be stated in these following particulars.
1. As Ifaac was the child of Abraham, fo are believers children of Abraham; “ Know ye, therefore, that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham,” Gal. iji. 17. See also ver. 29. “And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's feed, and heirs ac. cording to the promise.” As Ifaac was a child of Abraham, not by natural power, for both his body and Sarah's were dead; but by a gracious promife, Gen. xvii. 19.; even fo, believers are the children of Abraham, not by VOL. IV. + Q
natural descent, such as the Jews boasted of, when they said, “ We have Abraham for our father;” but by virtue of the gracious promise made to Abraham, that, “ In his feed [i. e. in Christ], all nations of the earth shall be blessed,” Gal. iii. 8. compared with Gen. xviii. 18. To “ Abraham and his seed was the promise made: He fays not, unto feeds, as of many; but as of one; and to thy feed, which is Christ,” Galat. iii. 16. Thus, as Isaac was a child of the promife made to Abraham ; fo be. Jievers are not only children of the promise made to Abrahanı, but also the children of the promise made to Christ, the feed of Abraham ; “ In thy feed [that is, in Christ,] shall they be blessed. To Abraham and his feed were the promises made;" and as Abraham trufted God for the accomplishment of the promife of Isaac, Rom. iv. 19, 20. 31.; even so, Christ trusted his Father for the accomplishment of the promise made to him concerning his elect children, Heb. ii. 13. ; there he is brought in faying, “ I will put my trust in him;" and then, “ Be. hold I, and the children which God hath given me.”— Abrahan's confidence was strong, but Christ's confidence in his father was perfect; it was not possible that the Mediator could distrust his Father.
2. As Isaac was the special feed of Abraham, of whom it was said, “ In Ifaac fhall thy feed be called,” Heb. xi. 18. Gen. xxi. 12. Rom. ix. 7.:
even fo, believers are God's peculiar people, a chofen generation ; “ To you that believe, he is precious :-You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that you should shew forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness to his marvellous light,” 1 Pet. ii.7,8. Abraham had another son, namely, Ishmael ; but the promise was not to Ishmael; but to Isaac : fo God hath other people that are his children, not only by creation, but by general adoption, and church-membership, and whose right to the promises is but general in point of access and warrant to believe, sealed in the facrament of baptism; which yet is such as renders them inexcusable, when they do not improve that right of access they have: but believers are the children of God by a special adoption, having a special interest in, and possession of the promise.
3. Isaac was the fruit of prayer, as well as the child of promise to Abraham. You may see the prayer of Abraham concerning a feed, Gen. xv. 3. “ Lord God, what wilt thou give me, feeing I go childless ?” May we not allude to this here? The children of God are not only the children of the proniise made to the Mediator, but also the children of prayer made by him ; they are the fruit of Christ's prayer, mediation, and intercession, John xvii. 20. He prayed not only for all that are believers, but for all that should believe on him ; and he prays them all to heaven, ver. 24. “Father, I will, that they also whom thou hast given me, may be with me, where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me; for thou loved me before the foundation of the world.”
4. Isaac was the child of a promise, whereof the accomplishment was long delayed ; tho' yet the delay did carry no prejudice to the certainty of the promise, as to its accomplishment, which took place in the fulness of time appointed of God, Gen. xvii. 21. and chap. xxi. 2. Thus it is with believers, the children of the promise ; there is a set time of their birth, or their being brought forth out of the womb of the promise ; and the Lord waits, as it were, for that time which he hath fet; " He waits to be gracious,” Isa. xxx. 18. And after they are actually the children of the promise, by converting grace, there is a set time for accomplishing particular promises to them, for which they are to wait ; “ The vision is for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lye; tho’ it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry,” Hab. ii. 3. It was more than twenty years after God promised Abraham a seed, that Ifaac was born. Perhaps there is a twenty year old promise, or a ten year old promise, or what you got so many years ago, not yet like to be accomplished. But, believer, the time is drawing near: as a man that is far off, every step he takes in his return, he draws nearer and nearer home ; fo the fulness of time is coming for the promise to bring forth, and the vision to speak; it does not tarry in the day, nor in the night, though it seems to tarry, but approaches every moment: the longer you live, believer, the nearer you come to the accomplishment of the promise ; “ Now is your falvation nearer than when you believed.” The promise of Ifaac, however long delayed, was as certain as the promise of Christ's coming; for Christ was to come of him: even so, the children of promise thall all as certainly be brought forth, and the promise as certainly be accomplished to them, as it is certain that Christ the promised feed is come.
Indeed, the accomplishment of that promise of his coming, is a certain pledge of the accomplishment of all the rest of the promises ; for, they are all chained to that great link : it was the leading promise, though about four thousand years before it was acconplished; yet, " In the fulness of time, God sent his Son, made of a woman," and fo accomplished that promise on which all the rest depended. God will not forget to keep his day, were it never so long betwixt the promise and the day that he hath fet, Exod. xii. 41. compared with Gen. XV. 13.
5. Ifaac was a child of the promise, born in a very unlikely, unexpected, and wonderful manner. Infuperable difficulties stood in the way; outward means did fail; and, by the course of nature, no such thing could be expected as the promised Isaac. Abraham was an hundred years old, and his body was dead and withered; Sarah was ninety years old, and her womb was dead and barren, Rom. iv. 19. Heb. xi. II. Even so it is with believers, the children of promise ; when the promise comes to its full time of bringing forth its iftuc, the birth of any of the children of promise is always surprising, wonderful, and most unlikely, to natural sense and carnal reason, when mountains of fin and guilt, and infuperable difficulties are in the way. Thus we will find the gospel coming in with the sweetest cordial, even when the law is raising the greatest diffi. culty; as in Ifa. xliii. 22,--25. “ Thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; thou hast been weary of me, O Ifrael ;-ihou hast made me to ferve with thy fis, and wearied me with thine iniquities." Who could expect