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purpose that it might be known, that there is forgiveness in him. And shall not we now be made partakers of it? Will he now deny that unto us, which he hath given such assurance of, and raised such expectations concerning it? Nothing can here wrong us, nothing can ruin us but unbelief, Lay hold on this covenant, and we shall have pardon. This God expresseth, Isa. xxvii. 4,5. Will we continue on the old bottom of the first covenant? All that we can do thereon, is but to set thorns and briers in the way of God, to secure ourselves from his coming against us and upon us with his indignation and fury. Our sins are so, and our righteousness is no better. And what will be the issue? Both they and we shall be trodden down, consumed, and burnt up. What way then, what remedy is left unto us? only this of laying hold on the arm and strength of God in that covenant, wherein forgiveness of sin is provided. Therein alone he saith, fury is not in me;' and the end will be that we shall have peace with him, both here and for ever.
Ninthly, The oath of God engaged and interposed in this matter is another evidence of the truth insisted on. Now, because this is annexed unto the covenant before-mentioned, and is its establishment, I shall pass it over the more briefly. And in it we may consider,
First, The nature of the oath of God. The apostle tells us that he sware by himself.' And he gives this reason of it,
because he had no greater to swear by ;' Heb. vi. 13. An oath for the confirmation of any thing, is an invocation of a supreme power that can judge of the truth that is spoken, and vindicate the breach of the engagement. This God hath none other but himself; · Because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.' Now this God doth, first, By express affirmation that he hath so sworn by himself, which was the form of the first solemn oath of God, Gen. xxii, 16.
By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord.' The meaning whereof is, I have taken it upon myself as I am God, or let me not be so, if I perform not this thing. And this is expressed by his soul, Jer. li. 14. The Lord of hosts hath sworn by his soul,' that is, by himself, as we render the words. Secondly, God doth it by the especial interposition of some such property of his nature, as is suited to give credit and confirmation to the word spoken ; as of his ho
liness, Psal. lxxxix. 35. 'I have sworn by my holiness.' So also Amos iv. 2. Sometimes by his life; “As I live,' saith the Lord. 'JB'n I live saith God,' it shall be so. And sometimes by his name; Jer. xliv. 26. God as it were engageth the honour and glory of the properties of his nature for the certain accomplishment of the things mentioned. And this is evident from the manner of the expression, as in that place of Psal. Ixxxix. 35. Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David;' so we; in the original the words are elliptical: 'If I lie unto David,' that is, let me not be so, nor be esteemed to be so, if I lie unto David.
Secondly, For the end of his oath. God doth not give it to make his word or promise sure and steadfast, but to give assurance and security unto us of their accomplishment. Every word of God is sure and certain, truth itself, because it is his; and he might justly require of us the belief of it without any farther attestation. But yet, knowing what great objections Satan and our own unbelieving hearts will raise against his promises, at least as to our own concernment in them, to confirm our minds, and to take away all pretences of unbelief, he interposeth his oath in this matter. What can remain of distrust in such a case? If there be a matter in doubt between men, and an oath be interposed in the confirmation of that which is called in question, it is 'an end,' as the apostle tells us, “unto them of all strife ;' Heb. vi. 16. How much more ought it to be so on the part of God, when his oath is engaged? And the apostle declares this end of his oath, it is to shew the immutability of his counsel ;' Heb. vi. 17. His counsel was declared before in the promise; but now some doubt or strife may arise whether on one occasion or other, God may not change his counsel; or whether he hath not changed it with such conditions as to render it useless unto us? In what case soever it be, to remove all doubts and suspicions of this nature, God adds his oath, manifesting the unquestionable immutability of his counsel and promises. What therefore is thus confirmed, is ascertained unto the height of what any thing is capable of. And not to believe it, is the height of impiety.
Thirdly, in this interposition of God by an oath, there is unspeakable condescension of grace, which is both an
exceeding great motive unto faith, and a great aggravation of unbelief. For what are we, that the holy and blessed God should thus condescend unto us, as for our satisfaction and surety, to engage himself by an oath ? One said well of old; • Foelices nos quorum causa Deus jurat; O infælices, si nec juranti Deo credimus.' It is an inestimable advantage that God should for our sakes engage himself by his oath. So it will be our misery, if we believe him not when he swears unto
What can we now object against what is thus confirmed? What pretence, colour, or excuse can we have for our unbelief? How just, how righteous, how holy must their destruction be, who upon this strange, wonderful, and unexpected warranty, refuse to set their seal that God is true.
These things being premised, we may consider how variously God hath engaged his oath that there is forgiveness with him. First, He sweareth that he hath no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but rather that he repent and live; Ezek. xxxiii. 11. “As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of a sinner.' Now without forgiveness in him, every sinner must die, and that without remedy. Confirming therefore with his oath, that it is his will the sipner should return, repent, and live, he doth in the first place swear by himself, that there is forgiveness with him for these sinners that shall so repent and turn unto him.
Again, whereas the great means he hath appointed for the forgiveness of sins, is by the mediation of the Lord Christ, as we shall afterward shew, he hath on several occasions confirmed his purpose in him, and the counsel of his will by his oath. By this oath he promised him unto Abraham and David of old, which proved the foundation of the church's stability in all generations; and also of their security and assurance of acceptance with him; see Luke i. 73-75. And in his taking upon him that office, whereby in an especial manner the forgiveness of sins was to be procured, namely, of his being a priest to offer sacrifice, to make an atonement for sinners, he confirmed it unto him, and him in it by his oath; Heb. vii. 20. He was not made a priest without an oath. And to what end? Namely, that he might be 'a surety of a better testament;' ver. 22. And what was that better testament? Why, that which brought along with it the forgiveness of sin ;' chap. viii, 12, 13. So
that it was forgiveness which was so confirmed by the oath of God. Farther, the apostle shews, that the great original promise made unto Abraham, being confirmed by the oath of God, all his other promises were in like manner confirmed. Whence he draws that blessed conclusion which we have, Heb. vi. 17, 18. As to every one, saithfhe, ‘that flies for refuge to the hope that is set before him;' that is, who seeks to escape the guilt of sin, the curse and the sentence of the law, by an application of himself unto God in Christ for pardon, he hath the oath of God to secure him that he shall not fail thereof. And thus are all the concernments of the forgiveness of sin testified unto by the oath of God; which we have manifested to be the highest security in this matter, that God can give, or that we are capable of.
The name of God confirming the truth and reality of forgiveness with him.
As also the same is done by the properties of his nature.
TENTHLY, Another foundation of this truth, and infallible evidence of it, may be taken from that especial name and title which God takes unto himself in this matter. For he owns the name of the God of pardons, or the God of forgiveness. So is he called, Nehem. ix. 17. Non 1713x we have rendered the words, Thou art a God ready to forgive;' but they are as was said, 'And thou art the God of pardons, forgiveness, or propitiations. That is his name, which he owneth, which he accepteth of the ascription of unto himself: The name whereby he will be known. And to clear this evidence we must take in some considerations of the name of God, and the use thereof. As,
First, The name of God is that whereby he reveals himself unto us, whereby he would have us know him, and own him. It is something expressive of his nature or properties, which he hath appropriated unto himself. Whatever therefore any name of God expresseth him to be, that he is, that we may expect to find him; for he will not deceive us by giving himself a wrong, or a false name. And on this account he requires us to trust in his name, because he will assuredly be found unto us, what his name imports. Resting on his name, flying unto his name, calling upon his name, praising his name, things so often mentioned in the Scripture, confirm the same unto us. These things could not be our duty, if we might be deceived in so doing. God is then, and will be to us what his name declareth.
Secondly, On this ground and reason God is said then first to be known by any name, when those to whom he reveals himself, do in an especial manner rest on that name by faith, and have that accomplished towards them which that name imports, signifies, or declares. And therefore God did not, under the Old Testament, reveal himself to any by the name of the Father of Jesus Christ, or the Son incarnate, because the grace of it unto them was not to be accomplished; “God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect;' they were not intrusted with the full revelation of God, by all his blessed names. Neither doth God call us to trust in any name of his however declared or revealed, unless he gives it us in an especial manner, by way of covenant to rest upon. So he speaks, Exod. vi. 3. 'I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and to Jacob ('TV 583) in the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known unto them.' It is certain that both these names of God, Elshaddai and Jehovah, were known among his people before. In the first mention we have of Abraham's addressing himself unto the worship of God, he makes use of the name Jehovah ; Gen. xii. 7. 'He built an altar unto Jehovah ;' and so afterward not only doth Moses make use of that name in the repetition of the story, but it was also of frequent use amongst them. Whence then is it said, that God appeared unto them by the name of Elshaddai, but not by the name of Jehovah? The reason is, because that was the name which God gave himself in the solemn confirmation of the covenant with Abraham, Gen. xvii. 1. 1999 SXYJN 'I am Elshaddai, God almighty,' God allsufficient. And when Isaac would pray for the blessing of the covenant on Jacob, he makes use of that name; Gen. xxviii. 3. God Almighty bless thee.' He invocates that name of God which was engaged in the covenant made with his father Abraham, and himself. That therefore we may with full assurance rest on the name of God, it is not only necessary that God reveal that name to be his, but also that