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The apostle Jude requires us to build up ourselves in our most holy faith. Faith is on the promises ; and our building ourselves upon our most holy faith, is building on the promises by faith. The promise of God can bear every thing, any thing, and we must lay all upon it; we must lay every thing whatsoever upon the promise of God, all our desires, all our cares, all our weights, all our burthens, but especially of eternal life, which, as you know, we cannot bear ourselves ; let the promise of God bear them; and in this matter of our eternal salvation, we know we cannot bear it of ourselves. This burthen we must lay upon the promise, since it must be borne, or we are undone utterly. If this great affair of our eternal salvation be not laid upon a solid and good foundation, we are gone for ever ; there is no foundation, but the foundation of God, that standeth sure, that of his faithful word.
4. You must learn to reason and argue upon the promises. A blessed way of exercising faith is to be reasoning by faith. There are faith's reasonings that have a great deal of excellency in them, a great deal of use. If I may so speak, it is a sort of pity that such good words should ever come out of so wicked a mouth as Balaam's; the man spoke words of faith, that he knew nothing of; Numb. xxiii. 19. God is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of man that he should repent : hath he said, and shall he not do it? or he hath spoken, and shall he not make it good? With a better heart use these blessed words. The Spirit of God over-awed the man's tongue to speak them, and the Spirit of God guided Moses's pen to write them; therefore, though they are spoken by a false prophet, it is a part of precious scripture, it is of the arguings of faith : Hath God said, and shall he not do it? There is never a man nor all the devils in hell shall be able to say, Here is a word of God which he did not make good. See also, I Sam. xv. 29. I would only help you to a few of these reasonings of faith, that you may think of and use at any time, as God inclines
1st, God knew what he promised, when he promised. Though God promised me eternal life, I do not know what is in this eternal life, but God knows full well. We are
puzzled, we are darkened in the studying the doctrine of grace, and the great prize of our cailing; but God knows it well; he promises no blessing unknown to himself, though it be unknown to us.
2dly, He knew to whom he gave the promise, he knew what they were, he knew what they would be, he knew what they would prove. When God delivered to me, saith a poor believer, the promise of eternal life in the gospel, he knew what I was, in the day I laid hold of it, John xiv. 18. xvi. 31. xiii. 36, 38.
3dly, This is arguing of faith, when the promise and promiser hath engaged our trust and confidence in any case, we may argue upon that; he hath not only promised, but he hath begotten expectations in our hearts concerning the thing he hath spoken of, and will he fail in the word upon which he has caused us to hope? Hast thou added the power with the word, so as to make me hope in it, and wilt thou not perform it? Psal. cxix. 49. 2 Sam. vii, 20, 27.
4thly, Has not God begun to perform his promises to us; and should we not argue by faith, that we should trust in them more and more? The promise of eternal life is begun to all believers : He hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together in regeneration, and made us sit together in heavenly places in him as our head; and will not the rest come on then? Being confident, says the apostle, of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ, Phil. i. 6. 1 Thess. v. 23, 24.
Lastly, This is an arguing of faith, God's design in making, keeping, and performing his promise, is the same with the believer's design in receiving and resting on the promise ; the same thing that God designed in the making, and keeping, and fulfilling his word; the same thing the believer designs in his taking, and trusting, and waiting for the performance of the word. What is God's great design? God's great design is to glorify the exceeding riches of his kindness towards us in Jesus Christ, as the apostle tells us, Eph. ii. 7. What does the believer design? He designs the same thing. God promises us eternal life to the praise of the glory of his grace in
Christ Jesus; what more would the believer have? In the day that he lays hold on the promise by faith, he means nothing else but this; he seeks nothing else, but that he may have eternal life, to the praise of God's grace in Christ Jesus. Hath God designed, in making the promise, to glorify his faithfulness? 1, in believing the promise, design the same thing. Now, whenever God and a poor believer jump in the same design, it is impossible that it should miscarry. Indeed, if God designed one thing, and we another, God would reach his end, and we should lament our folly ; but if we intend the same thing in all our faith in the promises, that God intends in making them, a disappointment is impossible. See Phil. iii. 12. I Peter y. 10.
The last thing is, That you must take this truth of God, Faithful is he that promises, and keep it in the hand of your faith, in life and in death; hold it fast continually, keep it still as your anchor. When the body is decayed, when Satan is tempting, when the heart is misgiving, when pale death settles upon your eye-lids, when an awful judgment is staring you in the face, nothing but this, Faithful is he that promises, will support us. Weak is the believer, but faithful is the Promiser. So much for these three exhortations that I promised, and have now spoke to from these words.
There is one more, and that I would conclude with. I have been exhorting you to glorify God's faithfulness, by venturing on the promise of salvation by Christ in the gospel; to giorify God's faithfulness, by believing all covenantblessings by the way; and to glorify God's faithfulness, by believing eternal life in the end. Only one word more, and that is the greatest of all. Glorify God's faithfulness by believing the promises about Sion and Christ's kingdom, though its state be ever so low. It was a good saying of a believer, in dark and dismal times, “ Now it is time to believe." The great believer had a kind of joy in dark hours, because there was such a fair field for faith to act on God's faithfulness. I believe
do not know much of the state of the work of Christ abroad in the world, and a great many are little careful to know it that should; but, by all the little hints that we have any manner of way, it is exceeding low ac Vol. III.
this day: let us believe, notwithstanding, it shall be well; this great faithful promiser hath promised great things about Christ's kingdom, and we must believe greatly about them; the strongest faith should be put forth here.
1. The promises that we are to believe on for Christ's kingdom, are Christ's promises. My meaning is, not only that they are by Christ, for all are so: but they are made to him; so, in some sense, all are too; but they are made to him primarily, they are made to him for his body's sake, the church. Shall we not believe firmly the promises of the Father to the Son? Of the increase of his government ond peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even for ever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this, Isa. ix. 7. Let the faith of believers believe it then.
2. These great promises we are to believe about Christ's kingdom, are most free to the church, but they are most dear to Christ Jesus, and he hath already paid the price for them; be hath bought the kingdom already, and all that glory that is given him; that name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bonus of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Fa. ther, Phil. ii. 10, 11.'
3. These promises are greatly fulfilled already, and we should believe them the more firmly upon that account. Our Lord himself, the great heir of the promises, is, as well as we can wish him, and better than we can think, exalted at the Father's right hand above all his enemies. If there were a host of all Christ's enemies together, it may be, they would be as bold as ever; but if all the devils in hell, and all wicked men on earth, were conjoined against him, yet a sight of his glory would chase them into hell, Eph. iii. 20.
4. Bálieve thes: promises, for they are the largest and most comprehensive of ail. The promises of Christ's kingdom, are the stock of all the faith of God's children in all ages. Pray, whence comes thy conversion, justification, calling, or being brought heme to God? It came out of the
womb of the promises of the Father made to his Son: He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. By his knowledge shall my rightesus servant justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities. All the saving grace that we receive, comes from these promises that are made to Christ; and what we desire now, is but the fulfilling of them. What is there that we desire in all this world but this, that a great many ungodly people may be converted, and that all the godly may be eminent in grace, and at last ripe for glory? All these are contained in Christ's promises, these promises wherein the faithfulness of God is engaged: he hath promised this to David, that he will establish his seed for ever, and build up his throne to all generations, Psal. Ixxxix. 4. You have ground sure enough for your faith, and you cannot be more happy than to have faith enough for your work. The Lord furnish you with it.
HEBREWS X. 24.
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love, and in
good works. HAVING spoken so long upon the preceding verses, I thought fit, before I left this scripture, not to pass this that follows. The apostle, from these grounds that you have heard at great length, from the 19th, 20th, and 21st verses, draws three exhortations. The first is with respect to our duty, in the 22d verse, That we should draw near to him. The second exhortation is to a duty that respects ourselves, and our profession of faith, in the 23d verse, which I have stood long upon. The third exhortation is in the words read, and that is to a duty that respecteth others. This is indeed the right method, that conscience be made of what we owe to God, and care be taken of what concerneth ourselves, before