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dience, and yet do nothing to any purpose. See how observable this is in the giving of the law. God's glory was displayed, Israel and Moses trembling, Heb. xii. 15, &c. yet I am your God. I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; thou shalt do so and so. Observe now the preface to the commandments, (see Deut. xxvi. 16,-19.) It is not, Thou shalt do so and so, and then I will be thy God; the Lord does not first reveal himself to them as a commanding God, and promise that, upon their obedience, he will become a promising God; but he reveals himself as a promising God, and upon that requires their obedience to him as a commanding God: Because I was thy God, I brought thee out of the land of Egypt; and after I have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, I tell thee my mind about thy duty. Oh that some Christians (if I may so speak) could find as much gospel in the preaching of the gospel, as is plainly here in the preface of the law; but some will make gospel-promises come in after obedience ' to gospel-preci pts. There is no obedience that ever was performed by man rightly, nor graciously accepted by God, but that obedience that was performed to the commands of God, as a promising God. Again, we are not only to take a command out of his hand, as a promising God, but we are to turn the commands back again, for grace to perform them, Psal. cxix. 6, 7, 8. As soon as ever God reveals his mind to us about our duty by a command, we are immediately to turn the command upon him in prayer: Lois, perform thy words; write them in my heart, that I may keep them, for that is the promise; Psal. cxliii. 10. Wh. t a great word is th:, Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God! It is not, to know or love thy will, though that is needed and begged, Psal. cxix.; it is not, Teach me to do thy will, that thou mayst be my God; but, Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God. Faith in God animates his prayer for grace to yield obedience to it. God reveals hinself sometimes to us as a threatening God. Threatenings and promises seem to be very cross to one another. It is the promising God that does threaten, and the Lord knows very well how to make his promises and his
threatenings agree together, if we were wise to make them agree together in our faith. If his children forsake my law, &c. I will visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquities evith stripes. Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, &c. Psal. lxxxix. 30,-34. It were well for us, if we were as able to believe the standing of promises, and the love in his heart, notwithstanding the threatenings and the strokes of his hand; if we could in some measure do that, as well as he can make all his ways towards us to be mercy and truth. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant, and his testimonies, Psal. XXV. 10. We cannot easily see it, but God can easily do it. Sometimes God is manifesting himself to his people as a hiding God; that is a sad discovery, if it should be properly such; but it is a name of God oft known: Verily, saith the church, thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel the Saviour, Isa. xlv. 15. I will wait upon the Lord that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him, Isa. viii. 17. Job xxiii. 3,–13. The sum of all this now is, that this name of God, the promising God, is the leading name that should mainly be minded by Christians in all his appearances. We take his commands, threatenings, rods, and corrections, we must use them all, as remembering that all these are from a promising God. If the commands were alone without a promise, who could perform them? If the threatenings were alone without a promise to sweeten them, and take away the poison of them, who could endure them? But all this is consistent with his love, and therefore should not shake the faith of a believer.
S E R M O N V.
HEBREWS x. 23.'
-He is faithful that promised. You have heard again and again, that these words are the argument by which the apostle presseth the exhortation uno the duty of Christians holding fast their profession of faith without wavering. The argument is strong in itself, and pertinent to the apostle's scope, and is an argument that has a great deal of good truth in it, with respect to its contents. I have shewn what is in these words, He is faithful that promises. I first spake last day to this truth, That a Christian's God is a promising God. The name the apostle here gives him is, He that promiseth. He promiseth like himself, like a God. He is known by his promises.
The second thing that I am now to speak to is this, That this promising God is faithful in his promises: He is faithful that promises. This is a name of God frequently given to him in the word, both in the Old and New Testament. The
Prophet hath a great word about it, Lam. iii. 23. Great is thy faithfulness. His nfercies are renewed towards us every morning. His compassions fail not. In the New Testament it is fre. quently used also: 1 Cor. i. 9. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Thess. v. 24. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. 2 Thess. iii. 3. But the Lord is faithful, who shall etablish you, and keep you from evil. And I name these rather in the New Testament, because in all these three places that I have named, the word in the Greek is the same with that in my text. This is a name of God that all believers know, and all that would be believers must study. There is never a believe er in the world but knows that God is faithful; and if they knew it better, they would be better believers : and no man can be a believer, till he know that his God is faithful. There is no tri it given to him, till his trustiness be known.
I shall therefore, in handling this name of the Lord our God,
A faithful God that promises, give you, First, The meaning of is; Secondly, The grounds of it: the meaning, that you may understand it; and the grounds of it, that you may believe it the better.
I. The meaning of this word, this name of God, that he is faithful, contains these things:
1. He promiseth who purposeth, neither rashly nor hastily. All his promises are from eternity.
2. God speaks as he thinks. It is one of the greatest and worst pieces of dishonesty in promising, when people promise what they think never to do ; that is, lying. There is lying in promising, when people do not intend to perform : as well as in asserting that to be true, when they know it to be false. The wise man takes notice that there are such kind of folks in the world, Prov. xxiii. 7. But when God promises, he speaks as he thinks.
3. God is faithful in this sense, that he remembers always what he says. There are some rash folks that promise a great deal more than they perform, because they forget a great deal of what they promised. Our Lord never forgets a word of his promise. Whenever he has made a promise to a believer, it is fixed perpetually in his heart. Forgetfulness is not to be ascribed to God. I know believers sometimes, in fits of unbelief, have charged God this way: Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Will the promise fail for evermore ? So in the Hebrew, Psal. lxxvii. 7. But that is the infirmity of the speaker. We find sometimes also, the people of God putting God in mind of his promises ; yea the Lord calling them so to do: Put me in remembrance, Isa. xliii. 26. But this putting God in remembrance is required of us, and to be performed by us, not to help God's memory, but to exercise our faith: Keep net silence, till he establish and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth, Isa. Ixii. 6. Remember, says the Psalmist, the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope, Psal. cxix. 49. The Spirit of God tells us of the exactness of God's remembrance many times. His mercy towards his people is expressed this way. This is one of his names, He remembers his mercy to them that fear him. He is mindful of his covenant,
Psal. cxi. 5. Nay, as to his people, it is spoken also, Mal. iii. 16. that there was a book of remembrance written before the Lord, for them that feared the Lord, and thought on his name. from that, that if so be the Lord keeps so exact an account of the poor slender thoughts that his poor people have of him, how much more will he keep a good remembrance of all his own precious thoughts concerning them, and of all the good words he passeth to them : Psal. xl. 5.' and cxxxix. 17.
4. God is faithful in this sense, that he never changeth his mind. Poor frail men may sometimes promise with an honest mind, and they may see good reason for the changing of it. Sometimes it is lawful to change in some cases, sometimes not. There may be sin in giving a rash promise, that may be greater than the breaking of it. The Lord never changes his mind. Balaam is called a false prophet by Peter; but the meaning is, he was not a false prophet in his prophesying, but a false prophet that prophesied. The Spirit of God spake by him, but never touched the graceless man's heart: God is not a man, that he should lie, neither the son of man, that he should repent: huth ke said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Numb. xxiii. 19. Job xxiii. 13. God never changeth his mind, never comes to be in another mind, than that wherein he made his promise unto his poor children. Whatever changes there be in his dispensations, there is no change in his mind, If his children forsake my law, &c. I will visit their transgressions seith i he red, and their iniquity risk stripes. Here is a great change in God's dispensations; instead of heaping loving-kindness upon them, he is visiting them with rods and stripes. Navrikeless, my lovingkimäkess seitl I met utterly take from hin, na super my faithfulmess tfiil, die. Our hrey I sera ly my kiness, that I will un lie ant: Dad, Psalm lauxix. 30,-35.
Lusts, God is faithful in promising, because he alwars perfärrus what he promises; he always does as he says, speaks as he thinks, remembers what he says, never changes his mind, and alwars performs his mend. What the testimony was, that Joshu: eric of the consciences of the Israclites, when he posssssd the later Comen, our true Jeshua, Jesus, will exact and gott er af the true Israel, when they came to the true