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is now perfect, what was earthly is now spiritual, what was temporary is now eternal. The blessings of the promises are now exhibited in all their profusion and all their glory, since Christ has actually appeared : whilst the manner in which they are conveyed is no longer figurative and obscure, but direct and intelligible, open to every understanding and unveiled to every heart.
Such then are the promises which are GIVEN to us through the knowledge of Him who has called us to glory and virtue. The freeness with which they are bestowed, enhances inconceivably their worth. Our guilt as sinners would for ever have excluded us from the blessings they unfold, if they were to be purchased by our own merit; our alienation from God, would bave equally prevented our employing any efforts to obtain them, if they were to be sought for, in the first instance, by our own spontaneous exertions. But they are given. When God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son to die for sinners, with him he freely gave us all things. All the promises of God in Christ are yea and in him amen to the glory of God by us. They are thus set before all mankind in the Gos: pel, and every penitent sinner is invited to come and partake of the blessings comprised in them. Nay, they are actually bestowed on every true penitent. When by divine grace he inclines his
ear, and comes to Christ, the everlasting covenant, to use the language of the Prophet, is made with him, even the sure mercies of David. This covenant, as we have already seen, comprehends all the various promises of God, which are graciously fulfilled according as his circumstances and true interests require, and in the time and manner which seem best to the wisdom of God. In short, it comprehends all the blessings connected with that eternal life, which is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The greater part of the separate promises are indeed conditional, as we shall have to notice under the next head of this discourse, and can only be appropriated as we fulfil the terms on which they are suspended ; yet as these conditions are not meritorious, but are in fact the subject of other promises, and are performed by the grace of the *Holy Spirit ; and 'as the blessings conveyed by all of them, even pardon, holiness, consolation, and eternal life, are at last gratuitously bestowed, we must ascribe the praise of the whole, not in any respect to ourselves, but entirely and unreservedly to the free and unmerited mercy of God.
But it is time for us to consider,
II. THE DESIGN FOR WHICH THESE PROMISES ARE GIVEN, that by these you might be partakers
of the divine, nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
The two designs of the promises, then, are a deliverance from the corruptions of the world, and a participation of the purity of God. When the gracious promises of Scripture are rightly believed and appreciated, they prove the means of rescuing us from a sinful and worldly life; and they direct and enable us to aspire after a conformity to the divine nature. These two effects are inseparable: we must be detached from the world, if we would be followers of God. The full accomplishment of the promises is to be experienced in the entire renewal of the soul, and its resemblance of God in his holiness. This is what the text states simply and explicitly—that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
What this CORRUPTION is, need scarcely be described. All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. Men by their concupiscence and ungoverned passions corrupt each other. We have only to look into our cities and towns and villages, even in this Christian country, to be appalled at the rebellion against God, and consequent misery, which unbridled desires of various kinds occasion. From within, out of the heart of men,
proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, pride, blasphemy, foolishness; all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
THE DIVINE NATURE stands opposed to all this corruption. We are partakers of it, not as to its essence, but as to its moral qualities so far as they are communicable. There are many perfections of the blessed God to which the divine nature in us bears no resemblance-as his omniscience, omnipotence, supremacy, and independent and necessary existence. There are many parts also of the renewed disposition in us which have no counterpart in God, and which would be imperfections in him--as submission, humility, fear, and faith. But so far as the moral attributes of God are opposed to the corruption of the world, we are made partakers of them. We are to be holy as God is holy. We are to be renewed in knowledge after the image
Him that created us. We are to put on the new man which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.
We are to purify ourselves even as God is pure. We are to be followers of God, as dear children. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God and God in him. Thus, as man was originally made in God's image, after his likeness, and as he lost this image by the fall, so he is
now restored by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, to a divine temper and disposition, a bent and tendency of mind which come from God and which conduct to him, which bear the impress of his holiness, and exhibit some faint adumbration of his moral glory
It might seen at the first view surprising, that the exceeding great and precious promises of Scripture should have the effect of delivering us from this corruption of the world, and communicating to us the correspondent blessing of a participation of the divine nature. That the commands of God should produce these consequences might appear natural; and that the warnings and threatenings of God should have such a tendency, might also seem ob vious; but that gratuitous blessings should operate in this manner, is perhaps not altogether so intelligible. A very little attention, however, will be sufficient to place this point in a clear light,
But first let me caution you against considering the promises as the only method which God employs for our sanctification. The regeneration of the soul is the work of his Holy Spirit, who of his own will begets us by the word of truth. But it is not the word of promise only which the Spirit employs in this work. The terrors of his law are ordinarily the means