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staff would not raise up the dead son, 2 Kings iv. 31. So, unless we address ourselves to God by prayer for the performance of his promises, which cannot be done without trusting in him, we cannot expect to receive any real advantages by the promises : But if we do make our supplications unto him, we shall undoubtedly partake of the promised rewards.
3. There is this in the covenant, that the promiser and fulfiller is the same. God does not intrust the fulálling of his promises to any body else; we are not to take God's promise as a bill, and call upon another man to pay it: no, we are to bring them all to himself, he is the fulfiller. What a blessed saying is that of good Hezekiah, Isa. xx: 14. 15. What shall I say? He hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it? I got the word from him, and I got the died from him; the words were the words of his mouth, and the deeds were the work of his hands: He hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it. Here is a remarkable emphasis, a spiritual eyeing that this godly man had of the eminent hand of God in fulfilling his gracious word to him.
Lastly, The great Mediator of this covenant obliges us to faith mightily. I defy a believer to take a look on Christ Jesus by faith, but in and by that look he will find ground for better believing. Look on him which way you will, so it will be found.' I will name a few things concerning this, how our faith should be strengthened in the expecting of all good things, according to God's covenant, because of Christ's interests in it.
[1.] The promises are in the hand of Jesus Christ; this covenant is established in the hand of a Mediator, he gets the promises. You think this strange; the promise of the forgiveness of your sins, of the sanctifying of your nature, of the bringing you safe to the kingdom of glory, are first Christ's promises; they are made to him for us, and he is first intrusted with them; but the covenant is confirmed before of God in Christ. The promise is made unto the same Christ personal and Christ mystical, the head of the body, as the apostle saith of it, Gal. iii. 17, 18, 19. [2.] Our Lord is not only the receiver of the promises, but Vol. III.
he hath already fulfilled the grand condition of the covenant, the proper strict condition of the covenant, whereupon, without any more, an immediate access to all the blessings is given to every believer upon his pleading. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, that is the condition, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied, Isa. liii. 10, 11. So that now when you are to believe the promises, you are to exercise your faith thus: “ This “ promise hath a great blessing, that I stand greatly in need “ of; our Lord Jesus Christ hath fulfilled the grand condi« tion of the promise, and all the blessings that are in the pro« mise, are now pode over to me in the last will and testa. « ment of our Lord Jesus Christ, confirmed by his blood; " that as sure as Christ was dead and is alive, so surely is the “ New Testament and all the blessings of it confirmed and “ sealed already.” Our charters for heaven are sealed by our Lord's blood, we have no seal to put to them, but the seal of
faith. (3.) Our Lord is ministering in the sanctuary above. If Christ were not interceding in heaven, a poor Christian would have a comfortless work in believing on earth : but our poor believing and his grand intercession, when they chime, if I may so speak, make wonderful music above. He sends his Spirit to work in us those desires after covenant-blessings, that he is pleading for in the virtue of his blood, in the highest sanctuary. Let your faith then argue thus : “ Jesus Christ « is at the Father's right hand : I am a poor pleader at the " footstool, but there is a strong pleader at the King's elbow, - if I'may so speak, in the highest court, and it is his busi“ness to mind my affairs.” How strongly would believers plead, how believingly would they send up their broken desires to heaven, if they did duly kuow, that all their petitions must be sent up to God through Christ, and be perfumed with another kind of incense than they can give ! So much for this, on what ground believers should expect all good from God by the way.
Secondly, What are the cases wherein this believing and glorifying God's faithfulness is to be acted ? The answer is,
in every thing. I shall only name a few particulars, which as they are the great crying of faith, wherein believing is most difficult, so they are triumphs of faith, and believing is most noble, when in these cases.
Ist, In case of great affliction from the hand of God. That is a case wherein believers are called to expect good from God, when things to sense and reason, and to common observation, seem to go against us; we say such an one is in affliction., They are called evil things sometimes by saints themselves : Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? says patient Job, chap. ii. 10. But believers should learn to name things as God names them, and as the covenant names them ; we are to learn to name God's works by his word, and not to name his word by his works. Amictions are very common, and they are very many; the heads of them are many, the various sorts of them are innumerable: I will only name a few things concerning them, that are commonly most trying to faith, and name them to press believing the more earnestly.
(1.) There is the surprising unexpectedness of affliction; when it comes from a quarter that people did not expect it to come from. The apostle warns Christians as to this : Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you; as though some strange thing happened unto you., 1 Pet. iv, 12. It is very observable, that there is hardly a person that is soundly afflicted, that is smartly afflicted, but he apprehends there is something special in his case, which never was in any before. A man that hath a true sight of his sins, thinks they are the greatest that ever were ; a man that rightly sees his own mercies, thinks those the most special mercies that ever were; a man that narrowly looks upon his own afflictions, sometimes thinks them so too. Surprising, unexpected, unaccountable afflictions, are commonly very trying and usually this is in them, that the man thinks them greater than have befallen others. The infinite wisdom of God can shape and frame afflictions; those which seem to be common, yet by some form, by some reason, by some circumstances of them, he shall make them as singular, as if they had never been felt by any; this is a part of the wisdom of God. Our Lord
speaks of a man taking up his cross. What, does not God give a common cross to a great many ? No; every one hath his own, and the Lord makes it, and shapes it, and fits that cross, which is fittest to be laid upon the back of his poor child.
(2.) There is an oppressing affliction, that is a great trial, that seems to threaten all things, and to cut down the very root of all. A poor creature expects that the tree will be cut down from the very root of it, and that it will be quite plucked up. Lopping off the branches is not so formidable : I am oppressed, says Hezekiah, Lord, undertake for me. Sometimes a dark and dumb affliction is a very great trial of faith, and a great many of the children of God meet with such. Says the poor creature, I have had such an affliction a long while upon me, and I have many times laid my ear to it, to hear what it says, and there is no voice, if I may so speak. If you cannot hear the rod's voice, pray hear God's voice in the word. Sometimes the rod cries aloud, and speaks God's mind in the word; sometimes we must bring the word to the rod, and see if we can put the rod upon the rack, and make it speak what God means thereby. Now, in all these cases, in any sort of affliction, let it be surprising and strange, let it be oppressive, let it be dark, let it be dumb and speak nothing, believers must believe still.
(1.) Believe that whatever changes there are in God's way to you, there is none in his heart. The Lord hath changed his countenance, the Lord hath changed his hand, only his heart remains unchangeable, still that is to be firmly believed: As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. People commonly think, as soon as Christ begins to rebuke and chasten, he begins to cease to love ; but our Lord says just the contrary, Rev. iii. 19. See also Prov. xxvii, 6. Psal. cxix. 75.
(2.) Believe this firmly, that God's wisdom is never puzzled or nonplussed, though you be. The Lord knows his matters, and he will not give you an account of them; but we are to believe he knows what he does, and he has a wise end before him. Christians do commonly imagine they are so wise, that if there were any possible good, that could be the fruit of such a dispensation, they could perceive it, but, after all their
studying, they cannot find what good this can turn to. If it. be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days, saith the Lord, should it also be marvellous' in mine eyes ? Zech. viii. 6. A severe rebuke given to an unbelieving people. Quest. Do you think God's eyes are no better than
(3.) In all the trials of your faith by affliction, believe this, that God's eye is on you, when you cannot see him : Be. hold, says Job, I go forward, but he is not there ; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: He hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him, Job xxiii. 8, 9. I take it, says he, when I am tried, I shall come forth as gold.
Lastly, In all your afflictions believe a safe issue, that you shall get well out of all: Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivereth him out of them all, Psalm xxxiv. 19. These are they which come out of great tribulation, says the angel to John, Rev. vii. 14. There is no affliction can enter heaven, but I believe the best talking of affliction that ever was, is in heaven. All the glorified in heaven understand better all God's way with them. They were, many of them, plagued every morning, and chastened every moment; their souls were filled with bitterness and sorrow all their life long; yet there is never a one there, but sees that every thing was well done, there was nothing that they could have been without; their guide guided them well, and there is nothing amiss, nothing crooked in all God's way. It is with respect to this, that the apostle calls to believers, to rejcice, though in the midst of manifold temptations; why so ? knowing that the trial of your faith shall turn to praise, 1 Pet. i. 6, 7. re are in heaviness, througl: manifold temptations, that is, as to the things of sense ; but, says the apostle, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, as Christians; and wherefore rejoice in the midst of heaviness ? Because your faith, though much exercised now, will make a glorious appearance at the last day. One of the greatest praises that can be given to the Lord by his people, is, that their faith glorified his faithfulness, whilst on earth, in the midst of their greatest distress.
2dly, People should act their faith on God's faithfulness in