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of God are holy, just, and good. His threatene ings are designed to guard us against transgression, and to evince his abhorrence of iniquity. His pronrises also, as we learn in the text, are given us with the express intention of rescuing us from the corruption of the world, and making us partakers of a divine nature. This latter point is the more remarkable, because it might at first sight be thought, that the promises of God were rather calculated to promote our consolation than our obedience. But these are in fact inseparable. In communicating joy, they increase our willing subjection to the divine precepts. This will appear as we consider the passage to which our attention is now to be directed. In doing this, we shall point out,
I. The excellency of the divine promises.
We will consider,
I. THE EXCELLENCY OF THE DIVINE PROMISES.
The promises of Scripture are generally declarations which God has made of his intention to bestow blessings upon his faithful people. Under the Old Testament dispensation, to which the Apostle refers, the promises mainly related to the future advent of the Messiah. All other blessings pointed to this, or were included in it. The promises, collectively taken, were fre
quently spoken of as centering in Christ. To the Israelites pertained the promises. Our Lord came to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. To Abraham and his seed were the promises made. In each of these, as well as in numerous other instances, the coming of Christ, and the blessings connected with his advent, are chiefly, if not exclusively, intended. St. Peter, in our text, has an especial regard to those gracious engagements, which assured the church of the divine mercy through the advent of the Messiah, and the sacrifice and atonement he should make for sin, to those Scriptures which predicted the establishment and general diffusion of his Gospel, and described the full pardon which would flow from bis sufferings and death, the larger effusion of the Holy Spirit ; the abundant measures of light, liberty, confidence, peace, holiness, and joy which would follow his resurrection; and the final extension, glory, and permanence of his kingdom. These promises were in part fulfilled by the coming of Jesus Christ, and the descent of the Holy Spirit, They included, as our Apostle speaks in the verse preceding the text, all things pertaining to life and godliness, every blessing needful for our spiritual and eternal felicity-for enabling us to act suitably to our relation and obligations to God in our passage through life, and for our attaining endless happiness in heaven ;-all the
pardon, strength, and consolation, all the instructions, motives, and encouragements, all the means, principles, and assistances which a truly godly life can require; in a word, all the blessings of that better covenant established on better promises, which the Messiah was to introduce, and with the expectation of which the prophets had repeatedly consoled the church.
This Covenant is, in fact, one comprehensive promise, and contains all the provisions of God's grace, which the separate promises, whether of the old dispensation or the new, scattered throughout the Scriptures, amplify and confirm. The terms of it are these : After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them to do them good; .but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. Jer. xxxi, 33, 34; xxxii. 40; Heb. viii. 6-12. So that illumination, pardon, holiness, and union with God; that is, all imaginable mercies and benefits, are
included in this one rich and overflowing promise.
It will serve, however, to give a more distinct and powerful impression of the extent of these blessings, if we briefly exhibit a specimen of those particular promises of the Old Testament (for to these the text requires us to confine ourselves; though its terms are obviously still more applicable to those of the Gospel), which spring from this evangelical covenant, and which are designed to relieve the various necessities and to console the hearts of the faithful: and we cannot trace them out better than by considering the various occasions on which a true penitent would naturally be led to have recourse to them.
One of the first blessings which an awakened sinner perceives himself to need is, DIVINE TEACHING. He becomes sensible of his natural blindness as to spiritual things. How appropriate, then, is the promise, All thy children shall be taught of the Lord! Good and upright is the Lord, therefore will he teuch sinners in
He is prone to doubt whether God will ReCEIVE SO GUILTY AND UNWORTHY A CREATURÉ ; but he is encouraged with the promise, Seek ye the Lord—for with the Lord there is
and with him is plenteous redemption. As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of
a sinner, but that the sinner should turn from his ways and live. He that confesseth and forsaketh his sins, shall find mercy.
He perceives his extreme need of PARDON AND JUSTIFICATION before God; and he learns at the same time, that God abundantly pardons ; that he is ready to forgive; that though our sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool; that by his knowledge his righteous servant justifies many; that the Messiah finished transgression and made an end of sin, and made reconciliation for iniquity and brought in everlasting righteousness.
The penitent feels the power of his passions and corruptions, and his inability, with all his efforts, to change his own heart and attain real
What encouragement, then, does he derive from the promise: Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you; a new heart also will I give unto you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you,
and cause you to walk in my statutes; and
shall keep my judgments and do them!
If, again, he needs CONSOLATION ander his various affilictions, he may rejoice in the divine