« AnteriorContinuar »
their use, when capable of a more extensive application. If any therefore want the Promises for some case they do not find here mentioned, they may meet with them under some more general head, within which that case is comprehended. And for the same reason, some of the Promises may seem not so properly to belong to the head under which they are ranged ; but as they are near a-kin to it, I chose rather to put them together, than to multiply heads. There are also other texts, which fome may think should have been placed elsewhere. For instance, fome of the Promises under the head of Temporal Plessings are by some understood in a figurative fense of fpiritual, and so on the contrary. I have taken them in the sense that appeared to me most agreeable to the design of the Spirit of God; though sometimes, where I thought the words were capable of both senses, I have written them in both places. Many other texts also might be ranged under different heads ; for example, either in the First Part, among the Blessings promised ; or in the Second, containing the Graces and Duties to which Promises are made ; and sometimes under either of thofe heads, which being nearly related, follow one the other ; as the heads of San&tifying Grace in general, and Converting Grace. If, therefore, what you look for be not in one place, you may expect to find it in the other. For which purpose the references in the Table of Contents will be useful ; for I have generally endeavoured to avoid repetitions. Sometimes, indeed, the fame text may be met with in different places, but then it is applied to different purposes ; as when feveral bleffings or duties are comprized in one text, as Prov. xxii. 4.
Though all the scriptures here collected under the name of Promises, are useful for the comfort and encouragement of Christians, in the cases fpecified ; yet.
they are expressed in different forms. Some contain direct Promises and Asurances of such and such bleliu. ings. Of these some are made to all in general, ace. cording to the rules and limitations of the gospel, as. Pfal. lxxxiv. 11. p. 37. and Pfal. xxxiv. 9, 10. P. 39. But others are addressed to particular good men in scripture, which yet every Christian may take comfort in. So that Promige made to Joshua, chap. i. 5.. I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, is by the apostle, applied to Christians in general, Heb. xiii. 6. In the same manner, Promises made to particular churches, are applicable to the church of God in general ; as those in the Old Testament to the Jewish Church, Isa. xxvii. 3. and Zech. ii. 5. and those. to the churches in the New Testament, Phil. iv. 19. p. 39. Rom. xvi. 20. and many more. The rule in both these cases is, that whatsoever Promises are made in fcripture to particular persons, in cases, and for reasons, that equally concern other good men, they are applicable to the comfort of all, and may be pleaded with faith in prayer. The words of the apostle afford a. sufficient foundation for this observa, tion, Rom. XV. 4. What foever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience, and comfort of the scriptures might hava hope.
The Promises also made in particular cases to persons in fcripture, may be applied to the encouragement of others, so far as the case and circumstances agree; though not absolutely, and in their whole extent, Thus the Promises made to Solomon, (2 Chron. i. 11, 12.) of wisdom, and also of riches and honour, beyond all that were before him, because he asked of God wisdom rather than riches, &c. is applicable to Solomon only, in its whole extent ; but yet gives encouragement to every good man to hope, that if he reek of God wisdom above all other things, he fhall
obtain a large, measure of it, according to what his station requires, and also much of other worldly advantages as God fees best for him, according to those more general Promises, Prov. viii. 17, 18. In the same manner the Promises made by Christ to his apostles, of the Holy Spirit, to teach them all things, and bring all the things he had said to them to remembrance, John xiv. 26. and to guide them into all truth, chap. xvi. 13. though they are not to be applied to others in the same degree as to the apostles, who were by the Spirit extraordinarily inspired, and instructed in the whole revelation of the gospel, and infallibly secured from error, this being peculiar to their character as apostles ; yet they encourage all other Christians to expect from the Spirit all that il. lumination, instruction, and guidance, which is nea cessary for them in their several circumstances, upon the diligent use of all appointed means, so that they shall be preserved from all dangerous and fatal miltakes and errors, according to those Promises, 1 John ï. 20, 27. Pfal. xxv. 12. and others made to good men in general.
Besides those seriptures, that run in the form of Promises, there are others, which are observations or de. clarations of the blessings that generally attend the sea veral exercises of piety and holiness ; as Psal. cxi. 5. in p. 39. and Prov. xviii. 10. in p. 41, and most of those collected out of the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. But as these are observations made under the inspiraa tion of the Spirit of God, they give the fame encouragement to expect the blessings mentioned in them, as if they were in the form of Promises.
Some of the texts do only express the experiences of good men in scripture, or their expectations from God; as Pfal. xvi. 6. in p. 37. Psal. xxiii. throughout, p. 38. and Pfal. lxxi. 20. Of which fcriptures the same may be said as of those above that as
holy men therein spake under the direction of the Spirit of God, and what they say of themselves is recorded for our instruction and comfort, consequently other good men may assure themselves, in like circumstances, of the like favour and mercy. Thus whereas the Psalmist expresses his confidence in God's help, against all his enemies, Psal. cxviii. 6. the apostle applies it to all Christians, Heb. xiii. 6. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man can do unto me.
Some of the texts are petitions put up by Christ for his church ; as those taken out of John xvii. These give the same encouragement as the Promises do ; for we are assured, that whatever Christ aiks for his people, is certainly granted.
The same may be said, in some degree, of the prayers put up by other faints in scripture, for themselves and others ; especially the prophetical prayers, Gen. xlix. Deut. xxxiii. and in other places. Since thofe prayers were delivered under the inspiration of the Spirit, we know they were agreeable to the will of God; and so far as circumstances are the same, all other good men may hope to be heard in asking the same blessings of God. But of this fort I have taken but few, both because it is more difficult rightly and with judgment to apply them, and left I should too much swell this collection. · The Blessings promised, are either of a temporal, or of a spiritual and eternal nature : It may be necessary to lay down some rules, to direct the serious Chriftian in the right application of these different sorts of Promises.
As to the Promises of temporal bleflings, and those that relate to temporal evils, it is acknowledged by all, they are not to be understood absolutely or uni. . versally, but with the limitation, as far as may be for God's glory, and our good ; both which are, in
erciese greates his afte man be, and or of his
effect, one. Nor will these limitations lessen their value, with any thinking serious person. For all outward things are of such a nature, as to be capable of being either good or evil to us, as circumstances vary. Riches, though in some circumstances they may be very useful and valuable, in which case God will bestow them according to the tenor of his Promises ; yet in others they may be, and often prove, very pernicious : No wise man in that case, would desire them. Thus afflictions in some instances, may be of the greatest advantage to us. Then they are mercies ; the inflicting them is a token of favour, and the preventing them would be a judgment, instead of fulfilling a promise. Now it must be allowed that of all these circumstances, the infinitely wise and good God is the best judge ; since he has before him in one view, the whole compass of every case, in all its circumstances, and is more concerned and watchful for our good, than we can be ourselves. The Promises therefore relating to these things, should not lie by neglected ; but we should fix our faith upon them for the mercies we want, with a firm dependance upon the power and faithfulness of God, though with an entire submission to his superior wisdom, to choose what is best for us. I verily believe, Christians of. ten deprive themselves even of temporal favours from God, for want of a more frequent stedfast exercise of faith upon the Promises, relating to these things. They either ask not, or not in faith, and therefore receive nothing from God, Jam. i. 6, 7. Or, they defire and ask, but not for right ends (to take notice of another limitation hinted at by the same apostle, Jam. iv. 3.) not for God's honour, but to consume it upon their lufts; and so they ask amifs, and therefore receive not. This collection therefore will give great assistance to the faith of Christians, when they observe how full and express the Promises are, and how