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we call upon and believe in. Since sin hath come into the world, there is an absolute necessity of our having to do with a promising God, and of God's dealing with us as a promising God, otherwise there can be nothing but ruin on our part.
t. Because God cannot be savingly known but as a promising God. The promise of God is both a veil, and a glass that we perceive God in. It is a veil upon his inconceivable, unapproachable glory: it is a glass wherein we may perceive, and may get near to him.
We cannot possibly take up any comfortable, saving, right apprehensions of God, but as he is clothed and veiled to us in a promise. His own glory is unapproachable; his justice, his majesty, these great attributes of his, are all amazing and confounding to poor creatures. But when God comes near to us, and promises great and good things to us, then we come to know him.
It is remarkable how Moses dealt with God, and God dealt with Moses, Exod. xxxiii. from ver. 13. to the end. The man is there praying for Israel under their great sin, and under God's great wrath for it: Shew me now thy ways, says he, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight. At last he arises, Shew me thy glory, ver. 18. Whether Moses was led or left unto any unbecoming desire, to his desiring more than his present state coula permit, we cannot peremptorily say. He was in a high degree of communion with God, as any mere man in this worid ever was. The Lord answered him most graciously, and Gitly to our purpose. Moses prays that he may
behold God's glory. What! had he not seen enough already? He saw, with all the people, the glory of God in the giving of the law; he saw a great deal more in his more near approaches to God; he saw it yet more in his staying with God forty days in the mount; he saw the pattern of the temple in the mount. Moses yet, for all this, cris, I beseech thee shew me thy glory, as if he had never before seen any thing of the glory of the Lord. Says the Lord, I will make all my guodness 10 pass before thee, (my greatness would confound thee), and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracions, and quill shew mercy on whom I will sheru merey. Accordingly the Lord
proclaimed it, chap. xxxiv. 6, 7. Will you take in now this that I drive at from this quotation, that a clear perceiving by faith of the sovereign grace and goodness of God in his promises of grace and compassion to poor sinners, is the most beneficial and highest discovery of divine glory that sinners can arrive at, and that believers should desire in this world. When we pray that God would shew us his glory, the Lord will understand it thus, and answer it thus: I will cause all my goodness to pass before thee. The more we see of his goodness, the more wê see of his glory.
2. God cannot be worshipped acceptably, but as a promising God. Says the apostle, It is required that every man that comes to God to worship, must believe that God is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Heb. xi. 6.; that he is a gracious God, not only great in his being, but good, and bountiful, and kind, and gracious to them that seek him.
3. God cannot be trusted in, unless he be known as a promising God. Trust in God, faith in him, is a special point of worship; it is not a duty of worship so much as it is a grace that should accompany every duty. Now, whence can faith in God arise unless God speak some good to us ? Faith arising from any other spring, is a dream and vain imagination of our own minds, not bottomed upon the single, sole word of God. They that know thy name will put their trust in thee : for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee, Psalm ix. 10. · In Jacob's pleading, Gen. xxxii. 9, 13. see how exactly he stands upon God's word. He not only calls God, the God of his father Abraham, and the God of his father Isaac, that was a promising God; but the God that said unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee, ver. 9. And thou saidst, I will surely da thee good, ver. 12. See how Jacob's wrestling stood, how, if I may so speak, the man behaved himself in his mighty wrestling with God, all with the force of his word; upon that word of his; saith he to the Lord, “ Lord, thou bidst “me, I am in the way thou bidst me go in; and thou saidit, « I will surely do thee good.”
4. God cannot be loved but as a promising God. Love
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APPLICATION. The first use is this. That the Christian's God is a promising God. I therefore call you to enquire and determine, before God and your consciences, whether you do know God under this name. Do you know God as a promising God? A great many Christians there are that know no such thing; they are called, but are not really so. The acquaintance that most Christians have with God, (poor it is), is with him as a commanding God. But if this does not settle and fix ordinarily in your thoughts, and in all your dealings with God, I have now to do with a promising God, all you do is worth nothing.
1. If you have not to do with a promising God, you do not know God's mind. There is a great difference, you know, , betwixt knowing a man's face, and shape of his body, his estate, and garb, and house, &c. and knowing his heart and thoughts, and how he stands affected towards us. All other speculations about God are tolerable pieces of philosophy to them that have no better; but the grand inquiry that should possess our hearts is, What does this God think of me? What does he intend to do with me? This cannot be known but by the promise. Unless I have some good word from this God to show his good-will towards me, what do I know more than the devils do? for the devils know God better than any men in this world, saving that they know God's wrath is against them to eternity. But this name, a promising God, they know nothing of. A great mercy it is that ever God should be known as a promising God to sinful men. God was never revealed as a promising God to fallen angels, but he was so to fallen man.
2. Unless you know God as a promising God, you cannot know God in Christ; and you do not know the true Pod, unless you do know God in Christ; unless your deiminate knowledge of God, be of that God that shines in
glory to us in the face of Jesus Christ. We must look on no God out of this face; for there is no eye that can rceive God, but as he shines this way, 1 John v. 20. says ne apostle, We know, that the Son of God is come, and hath given ui' an understanding, that we may know him that is true: and VOL. III.
to God is promised, and love to God arises from the discoveries of God's goodness to us : and the clearer these discoveries be, love still increases.
5. All the enjoyment we have of God in this life, is enjoying of him as a promising God. Pray now which
Pray now which way is it that there is that intercourse, and that familiarity, that mutual dealing between God and us, that is called by those blessed names in the word ; fellowship with him, enjoyment of him, finding of him ? All stands in this; we approach to God by the warrant of his promise, he draws near to us according to his promise, and in the fulfilment of it. The promise is as it were Jacob's ladder, by which God comes down to us, and we rise up to him again. The communion which believers have on earth is with God as a promising God; and the communion the glorified have with him above, is with God as a performing God; and, if I may so speak, until God has performed all he has promised, he must never lose the name of a promising God to a believer.
Lastly, in the great wisdom of God, this name of God is appointed to be the great name wherein he will be glorified. The greatest glory that is given to God, is given under the Tiame of a promising God. What is the reason that Abraham is especially said to give glory to God ? He was strong in faith, giving glory to God, Rom. iv. 20. Believing is but thinking, it is no more ; but it is a rare thing, it is a great thought; and a great many things seem far bigger than believing. Doing seems to be a great deal greater than believing. Abraham's offering his son Isaac was a great act ; ay, but the excellency of it lay in the faith he did it by. The reason why believing is specially said to give glory to God, is, because the Lord hath a special mind and design to have himself glorified in the soul, under the name of a promising God: and all good things shall come to his people, to make them happy by virtue of the promise. But the maker of the pro. mise, and the keeper of the promise, and the performer of the promise, must have all the glory. All that is in the promise is ours, but all the praise of making it is bis; it is made by grace, k pi by grace, performed by grace; all this glory is to be given to hin.