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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 promiso ing 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 God, unless you do know God in Christ; unless your determinate knowledge of God, be of that God that shines in his glory to us in the face of Jesus Christ. We must look upon no God out of this face; for there is no eye that can perceive God, but as he shines this way, 1 John v. 20. says the apostle, We know, that the Son of God is come, and hath given us' an understanding, that we may know him that is true: and
we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life, 1 John v. 20.
3. If you do not know God as a promising God, you know nothing of the marrow and substance of the Bible. Take away God's promises out of the Bible, and there is nothing left in it, but bones, and stones, and poison, and darts for poor man.
do not see God as promising, you do not know the marrow of the scripture; for the heart and marrow of the will of God lies there.
Lastly, If you do not know God as a promising God, you cannot deal with God about salvation. Pray now, which way is it that men deal with God about their salvation? I do acknowledge, that there are some people that make a fashion of dealing with God about their salvation, who do not understand the way of God's dealing with them about salvation. Such kind of dealers spend their time to no purpose.
All right dealing with God about our salvation, is in answering of God's dealing with us in that matter. Now, all the Lord's way
of dealing with us about salvation is by his promises; he promises eternal life, he sends this promise to us in the gospel; we must lay hold on this, or we cannot deal with God, as he deals with us, Psalm xxvii. 8. Eph. iv. 32. Rom. iv. 13. Hos. ii. 23.
Secondly, I would add an exhortation or two unto Christians. Is the Christian's God a promising God? Keep always this name of God in your heart and eye. You will find ‘no great ease in this work; it is a hard work to keep God as a promising God still in the eye, but it is very needful.
1st, Do not you find God began with you this way, and you began this way with God? You that are true Christians, that have been born again, that have been transplanted out of the old stock into the new, do not you know something of this, that as long as God was known to you only as a commanding God, and as a threatening God, there was nothing but death, and ruin, and damnation in your eye? but when he was revealed as a promising God, then light, and life, and hope, and liberty began to arise. Was there ever a distressed conscience in the world truly pacified without a promise ? If
it were without a promise from God, the devil was the doctor, and the disease is worse than ever it was. If ever thou hast been afraid of the wrath of God for thy sin, if thy mind has · been quiet without a promise of God through Christ Jesus, you are but dreaming still; such a cure is worse than the disease. The apostle tells how it was with him: When the commandment came, says he, sin revived, and I died, Rom. vii. 8, 9. There was woful work when the commandment came. When God is only known to you as a commanding God, sins grow greater, and appear exceeding sinful: but when grace comes, when the promise comes, the matter is altered, the prisoner is rescued. Before faith came, says he, we were kept under the law, Gal. iii. 21,424. We were prisoners till Christ came, and the promise came, and faith came; for they are all three come together. Christ comes by the promises, and the promises are received by faith, and the prisoner is made whole by faith.
2dly, You must mind this constantly, for all believers must live by faith; and if so be we are called to live by faith, surely we must remember that God is a promising God; this is necessarily implied. To live by faith, implies these fourthings. (1.) That a poor believer in himself is a poor empty creature; he hath nothing at home to live by in his house, Isa. iii. 7. And since there is no bread within, he must live abroad. (2.) It implies, that the stock that a believer is to live upon is elsewhere; it is without him, it is with God in Christ, Col. iii. 3. (3.) It implies, that there are ways, issues, vents, by which he may go out for it, or it may come in to him; passages by which communication of this fulness in Christ comes in to the actual possession of the believer. There were no living by faith, unless the stock that is in Christ had ways of venting itself, of being brought down unto the hand, unto the use and benefit of the poor believer; and this is by the promise.
And therefore it follows, (4.) That the daily and constant work of a believer, is to be pleading these promises for his supply. I live, saith the apostle, yet not l, but Christ liveth in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who
loved me, and gave himself for me, Gal. ii. 20.
Lastly, He finds the good of it, Psal. xxvii. 3. and xxviii. 7.
Lastly, Mind this frequently, that God is a promising God; for as you must live by faith on a promising God, so you must die and go before him under this name. appearance must be ventured upon under this name. There are few folks, Sirs, that are so happy, as to make their approaches to God by faith, with that dread, and reverence, and awe, that the last approach requires : we should then act firm faith frequently; we must die in this, with this God in our eye, as a promising God. We have a remarkable instance of this in those two good men, the father and the son, good Jacob 147 years old, and good Joseph 110 years old : Behold, saith Jacob to Joseph, I die, but God shall be with you, Gen. xlviii. 21. and xlix. 25. with Luke ii. 30. and as if Joseph had learned it of his father, he tells his brethren that survived him, when he came to die, Gen. 1. 24. I die, says he, and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land, unto the land which he sware to Abraham, &c. As if these two holy patriarchs had said, “ Now we die, but our promising God lives " still, and the promise lives, and will have its accomplish“ ment in due time.” It is upon this, that David amongst his last words spake that great word, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure. An ill-ordered house, but a well-ordered covenant; many things amiss in the one, but nothing amiss in the other, said the believer. So must you die, breathing out, 1. Your soul, Psalm xxxi. 5. 2. Leaving your body in the dust, Psalm xvi. 9. 3. Your present enjoyments, 2 Sam. xxxiii. 5. 4. All your sinful infirmities.
The second exhortation is this, Make use of this name of God as a promising God, carefully and wisely. How you should use this name of God, I would instruct you in a few things.
1. In all your extremities mind this name only.
1. In all your extremities mind this name of God only; there is no other name then to be minded. There are two
sorts of extremities that Christians feel; and it is their great wisdom, when in them, to use this name. 1st, There are extremities of conscience. 2dly, Extremities of distress and dispensations. In extremities of conscience, people must be
very careful to remember no name of God, but the name of the promising God; all is terrifying but only this. I hinted but just now, that the promise of the gospel is the only plaister for a wounded conscience, and when God lays it on and blesses it, it is marvellous what a sudden cure it will do. Health and peace quickly will follow this application. In extremities of distress, it is to be only minded, when people are borne down quite, and know not what to do. Saith Jehoshaphat, if when evil cometh upon us, we cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help, 2 Chron. xx. 9. Good Hezekiah was a follower of him in this practice, Isa. xxxviii. 14. O Lord, says he, I am oppressed, undertake for me. I may allude to the meaning of the word; undertaking there is undertaking as a surety; I may compare it with the same his great-grandfather David useth, Psalm cxix. 122. Be surety for thy servant. O what a prayer is that! The good man is in deep distress; as if he should say, “ My word signifies “ nothing before God, nor men, nor devils ; it will not paci“ fy God, nor quiet conscience, nor stop the devil's mouth “ Lord, be surety for thy servant, speak a good word for me, “ thou art a promising God.” It is great boldness of faith for a believer to come to God to pass his word for him, to be Surety for him.
2. In ordinary cases, we must mind this mainly: There are several other names of God by which he is kuown to us in the word; and in his dealings with us, we must give them their due room; but this must be the main still. As for instance, God is known to us as a commanding Lord and God, that reveals his will about our work and duty, hath proclaimed his mind, and calls for our obedienae. Your duty with respect to this is, Ist, Take the commands of God out of the hand of a promising God: This is not a bare commanding God, but it is a promising God that does command
And unless you look thus on God's law, you may quickly over-stress yourselves in your endeavours after obe