« EelmineJätka »
, and dare not lay hold of, or appropriate for unspeakable a mercy: This is just the effect of diflruft, and he is called, in the strongest manner, in the text, to “trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." With how many gracious assurances for this purpose is the scripture filled. John vi. 37. “All that the Father hath
given me shall come to me, and him that cometh unto " me I will in no wise cast out." Heb. vii. 25. “Where"fore he is able also to save them to the uttermoft that
come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make in“ terceflion for them.” Rev. xxii. 17. “And the spirit " and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, • Come. And let him that is athirst come. And who“ foever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” All things, Christ excepted, are to be renounced, and the allfufficiency of a Redeemer is to be the foundation of our hope. The penitent will say with the apostle, Phil. iii. 8, “ Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the ex“ cellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord : “ for whom I have suffered the lofs of all things, and do “ count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be “ found in him, not having mine own righteousness which “is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, “ even the righteousness which is of God by faith.”
2. There is a second class of promises, the performance of which is suspended on our previous compliance with something required as the condition of obtaining them. In these we are not only called to accept of the divine mercy, but commanded to obey the divine will. T'he order in which I have placed these, will, I hope, prevent you from misunderstanding or misapplying what may be faid on them. This class includes all the promises in fcripture regarding the daily progress of a believer in his fanctification and conformity to God, as well as the increase of his comfort and peace.
I am sensible, that as the reconciliation of a finner to God, and his right to what is called in scripture the promise of eternal lise, is of free and unme. rited mercy, fo, no doubt, all the inferior or subordinate proinises fow from the fame source, nay, in a certain measure, they are entirely upon the fame' footing with
those formerly mentioned; that is to say, final perfeverance, real growth in the spiritual life, and necessary comfort, are the sure and purchased portion of every one that is born of God. Rom. viii. 29. “ For whom he did fore“know, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the " image of his Son, that he might be the first born among “ many brethren.” But in the distribution of those gifts, particularly in their measure, there is not only an un. knowa regard to the good pleasure of God, but a known and established regard to our conduct in duty. Thus the abundant supply of the spirit is the fruit and return of di. ligence in prayer. Maith. vii. 7. “ Ask and it shall be " given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be " opened unto you.” See allo Ezekiel xxxvi. 25. com. pared with the 37th. “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you,
shall be clean; from all “ and from all your idols will I cleanse you.” &c. Thus “ faith the Lord, yet for all this will I be enquired of by “the house of Israel to do it for them.” Thus also inward confolation, as well as outward security, is expressly promiled as the effect and reward of uniformity and diligence in duty. Tla. xxxii. 17. “ And the work of righteousness “ shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness " and assurance for ever." As the counterpart and illustration of this, you see, that a departure from the path of duty brings on the threatened, or perhaps I ought to call it the promised, rod of correction. Plalm lxxxix. 30-33. “ But if his children shall forsake my law, and not walk " in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep “ not my commandments; then will I visit their trani. “gressions with a rol, and their iniquities with stripes. “ Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not take from “ him, nor fuffer my faithfulness to fail.” In the fame manner, Isa. xl. 30, 31, “Even the youths shall faint and “ be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall : But
they that wait upon the Lord tball renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall “ run and not be weary—they shall walk and not faint." Agreeably to all this, you know, our blessed Lord prefcribed watchfulness and prayer as the great preservatives against temptation, and whoever expects either spiritual ftrength or confort, while he relaxes his diligence in the way of duty, is guilty of that sin, which is called in fcrip. ture, tempting God; and shall assuredly meet with a dreadful disappointment.
My brethren, as much of the daily exercise of real believers regards their progress in sanctification, and their peace and comfort, it is proper that you should carefully attend to the tenor of these promises, and to what ought to be your reliance upon them. I shall fum up, in a few particulars, what I apprehend to be of most importance,
1. Truit in these promises implies self-denial, and a deep sense of your own weakness. These promises would be unnecessary and fuperfluous, were we not insufficient of ourselves for any thing that is good. Trust in God stands directly opposed to all felf-dependance. Proverbs iii. 5. " Trult in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to " thine own understanding.” How jealous God is, if I may speak so, of the honor that is due to him in this re. fpect, may be seen from the many foul and shameful crimes into which he permitted some of his best faints to fall, when they were off their guard by sloth, or fill more provoked him by pride and presumption. Noah's drunk. enness, Moses's pallion, David's adultery and murder, and Peter's denial of his master. I Cor. x. II, 12. “ Now " all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and “ they are written for our admonition, upon whom the " ends of the world are come. Wherefore, let him that " thinketh he ftandeth, take heed lest he fall.” For this reason the apostle Paul say's with great propriety, and with great force, which is equally applicable to himfelf and other believers, a seeming paradox. 1 Cor. xii. 10. “For “ when I am weak, then I am strong."
2. As we are to put no trust in ourselves, so we are to exercise the most unshaken confidence of our being able to discharge any duty or undergo any trial by the help of the Almighty-Oh! how ready are we to fin on both hands? How often do we presume upon our own strength and forget the necessity of applying for divine aid ?-And on the other hand, how prone arc we to timidity or de. spondence in difficult cases? When corruptions have long kept their ground, we are ready to dread their influence, and to make but little out of the promises in scripture, that we shall be made “ more than conquerors through “ him that loved us.” We have learned, by fad expe. rience, that in us dwelleth no good thing, and yet it is long before we will attend to the lesson that follows hard upon it,
“ My grace is sufficient for thee, and my strength “ shall be made perfect in weakness.”
3. As these promises are expressly made to the diligent, you must still remember that your own attention and application to duty is essentially necessary, and that the assistance promised froin on high, is always represented in scripture as an argument and encouragement to diligence, and not a warrant or excuse for sloth. Philip. ii. 12. “ Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, “ for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of " his good pleasure.” It is also well worthy of notice, that the same prophet Ezekiel, who says, chap. xxxvi. 26. " A new heart also will I give you, and a new “ spirit will I put within you," changes the form of his expression; and in another place, chap. xviii. 31, 32, speaks in the following terms; “ Caft away from you all
your transgressions whereby ye have transgressed; and “ make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will
ye die, O house of Israel ? For I have no pleasure in " the death of him that dieth, faith the Lord God; where. "fore turn yourselves, and live ye." In consequence of this,
4. In the last place, trust in God will make us ready to acknowledge, that when we fail in duty, when we forget or break our resolutions, the fault is certainly in ourselves. It is impossible to excuse or justify ourselves in any degree, without laying the blame, in the same proportion, upon God, and calling in question his faithfulnels and truth. But whatever our treacherous hearts may finfully suggest, we are not straitened in God, but ftraitened in our own bowels. We find him pleading his own cause, in this respect, in many passages of scripture. lla. lix. 1. Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, Vol. II.
" that it cannot save ; neither his ear heavy, that he can. “ not hear ; but your sins have separated between you and
your God, and your iniquities have hid his face from “ you, that he will not hear," Upon the whole, trust in these promises is no other than an humble and diligent. application to duty, under a deep sense of weakness, and dependance on promised strength, accompanied with a firm persuasion, that " in the name of the Lord we shall “ tread down our enemies," and go on from firength to. strength, “ till we appear before God in Zion.”
3. Another class of promises are those that are sufpended, not only on the same conditions with the two former, but upon some other circumftances in themselves uncertain, or to us unseen. These are temporal mercies or rather temporal prosperity, deliverance from prefent distress, and abundance or affluence of outward enjoyments.. Perhaps we may also add spiritual consolation, and sensible joy in God. I find no temporal promise precisely fixed to the servant of God but this : “ Bread « shall be given him, and his water shall be sure ?" and it is certainly his duty, in the most straitening circumstana: ces, to maintain a confident dependance on the power and wisdom of Providence for necessary supply. I do not condemn those, who, when reduced to extremity, have actually pleaded this divine promise, and against hope, have believed in hope; and I am persuaded, instances have not been wanting, of relief furnished in a manner. next to miraculous. But as to every other degree of tem. poral prosperity, God hath reserved it in his own land to give or with-hold it at his pleasure, that is, as he fees it will be most for his glory, and the benefit of his people. It is lawful then, my brethren, for you to endeavor to procure, by honest industry, the increase of your substance, to look well to the state of your flocks and your herds, and to ask by prayer the blesing of God upon your labors. It is lawful, and it is your duty, by regularity and care to preserve life and health, as well as to ask of the Father of your spirits, recovery from fickness, or deliverance from any other kind of distress. But you are not warranted to believe that these petitions shall be granted in hand, or in