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Canaan : Joshua xxiii. 14. And ye know, says he, in all your hearts, and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spuke concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof. This is briefly the meaning of this great name of the Lord our God, a faithful God, faithful in his promises.
II. The second thing is, to give you some grounds for our faith concerning this: for it is no small matter to have a firm faith of God's faithfulness. All faith is bottomed upon the promises, and all faith in the promises is founded upon the faithfulness of the maker of them. Though the promise be never so good, yet if the maker of the promise be not faithful, it is no security to the man that gets it.
I am to shew what grounds there are that we may use, and are given us in the word of God, for the clearing our understanding, and fixing our faith on this name of God: That this promiser is faithful.
1. The first I shall name is taken from the nature of God. Faithfulness is inseparable from his nature, as inseparable as any other name that can be given him. Omnipotency is of . the nature of God; a weak God is no God, but an idol. Truth and faithfulness are in the nature of a God; a false god is an idol. Therefore, when the apostle would aggravate unbelief, gospel unbelief, he aggravates it by this ; He that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son, 1 John v. 10.
What is it to make God a liar? It is impossible for a creature to do so ; but they account him so, that is the meaning of it. When we do not take God's promise, it is to make God a liar, it is to make God a devil; for the devil is a liar, and the father of it, John viii. 44. See what rank wickedness there is in unbelief, Jer. xv. 18. Psal. Ixxvii. 7,-10.
2. We find this, the unchangeableness of God is another ground of his faithfulness: With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, James i. 17. Changing is always a creature infirmity; it is impossible for a creature but to be changeable. Unchangeableness is a divine property, and cannot be communicated to any creature. Changing is twofold,
1st, From worse to better. 2dly, From better to worse. Neither of which can be in him. Whatever there is of fixedness in the state of believers, it is not unchangeableness; but it is a communicated security by the grace of God, the giver of it. All questioning of the promises of God always charges him with being changeable. He is the same that he was, whatever the unbeliever, or the unbelieving, doubtful believer may think. He is so as to established angels, and saints in glory now, and to eternity.
3. The great room that grace hath in the promises, is one good ground for our faith, as to the faithfulness of God in the making of them. And this is twofold. 1st, Grace is the spring of all the promises. 2dly, The glory of grace is the design of all the making of promises, and performance of all the promises : Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed, Rom. iv. 16, It is by promise ; this promise is by grace, that it may be sure to all the seed. If the promise were given upon any other account, and did flow from any other spring but the grace of God, it might grow dry. If God promised to us upon the account of any condition that might be wrought by us, the promise might not be sure; but this springing from the good. will and grace of God himself, as long as that remains they must stand. The design of all the performance of promises is the glory of grace. Our Lord speaks many good words to us in the scripture, he makes these warm sometimes upon the heart of his people in their faith, and at last, when all these good words shall come to good deeds, and shall shine forth in their glory, what a wonderful sight will that be, to see every poor believer have in his face, his heart, his soul, and body, all the promises of God fulfilled to him! Then the question will be, Why hath God done all this? why hath he rescued, and scraped, as it were, a company of vile sinners out of the bottom of hell, to fill them with so much glory, and that to eternity; all to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein we are accepted in the Beloved! Therefore are we adopted, therefore are we elected, therefore are we justified, therefore are we sanctified, and therefore are we glorified, that it might be to the glory of his grace, Eph. i. 4,-!4. and ii. 7.
5. The great room Jesus Christ hath in the promises is one ground of our faith, that God is faithful in them, and that they shall be fulfilled. Christ's room in the covenant is so great, that in effect he is it, and he is called the covenant, Isa. xlix. 8. and xlii. 6. He is also called the promise, when the Father sent him into the world : He hath raised up an horn of salvation for us, says Zacharias, Luke i. 69. Christ's interest in the covenant and in the promise is great : they are said by the apostle to be all in him, yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God by us, 2 Cor. i. 20. God's glory wants sinners io work upon. If there were not lost sinners in this world, promises of grace could have none to work upon. If we were all perfectly holy, what hath the promise of forgiveness to do in this world. Says the apostle, They are all in him yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God by us. We in our sins, infirmities, weaknesses, are the field wherein the glory of God's promises is displayed and advanced, and all this in Christ Je
Christ's interest in the promise is threefold. 1st, Christ hath bought all the blessings in the promise, and all the heirs of the promise ; he hath bought us for the promise, and the blessings for us. His interest then must be very great. There is never a blessing that a poor believer partakes of, but Christ's blood went for it; it went for your daily bread, and for more grace and glory. He is blessed that believes, that his outward mercies and afflictions, &c. are all by promise. Whatever we have is by promise and purpose, Phil. i. 29. And never man received a promise, but he that Christ bought to be the heir of it. We are heirs of promise, because in Christ Jesus. We are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus; and if children, then heirs, Rom. viii. 17. Gal. iii. 29. 2dly, Our Lord Jesus Christ hath this interest in the promises, that his blood went for the confirming of the whole covenant. The whole book of the promises, Christ's blood sealed it all; therefore it is called the blood of the everlasting covenant. The testament of the covenant is made sure by the blood of the testator ; no man must add any thing to it. There is a curse unto them that shall add or pare any thing from the whole canon of scripture, Rev. xxii. 18, 19. How much more unsufferable to add or pare from our Lord's testament? The
covenant was confirmed before of God in Christ, Gal. iii. 17. By his mediation at last, as mediator of the covenant, he confirmed it by his blood. Sdly, A third interest that Christ hath in the covenant is, that he is the surety of it. He is to see the bargain kept on both sides, that God may not cast us off for our iniquities, and that we may not leave God by our unbelief. Christ is engaged on both ; and, if I may so speak, he has a hard task of it, to keep devouring justice from consuming stubble fully dry. It is a task only fit for him, and he only fit for it; a task he cheerfully undertook and perfectly fulfilled, and is now fulfilling.
6. The high engagements of divine truth in the promises, are great confirmations for our faith in God's faithfulness. Promises are made by the Lord so deliberately; he goes so high in them, that we must believe he is faithful, and will príorm them. See how the apostle discourses to the Hebrew, chap. 6. when he is exhorting believers to be followers of them who through faith and patience have inherited the promises: as if the apostle had said, “ Be not slothful, take pains, “ follow on; all those that have tried this course of faith and “ patience, have inherited the promises. And so will you:" why so ? because when God made the promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself; saying, Surely, blessing, I will bless thee, &c. There are several things of great consideration in that scripture, 1st, That there is double security, word, and oath. The least hint of good-will from so great a God, as our God is, should engage all the dependance of his children; nay, if it came but to only a may-be, God's may-be is enough for our reverend waiting on him. God not only speaks, but he swears. Now observe, how the apostle speaks, Because he could stuear by no greater, ke sware by himself; as if the apostle had said, “ If it had « been possible for God to have gone higher, he would have “ gone higher." How does God swear by himself? As I livr; he swers by his lir; he swears by his being; he swears by his G dhal. As true as I am God, I evil biess thee, says he to Abrahim. What is all this to us now? God testifies a singular respece unto an eminent man, upon a singular testimony of the man's riput to him; one of the most eminent
acts of faith, and of obedience that ever was performed by a mere man, to offer up freely to God his only son now grown a man. Here was a noble act of obedience ; but the Lord testifies a special regard to this man, and gives him this oath. What is that to you and me? Now, says the apostle, this concerns you and me, that have fled for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before us; he leads us to this, that every poor creature that has a mind for salvation through Jesus Christ, should say in himself, As sure as God said and swore to Abraham, so surely hath God said and sworn to me, that I shall be blessed with eternal salvation in flying for refuge to his own Son. So the apostle applies it, That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who hath fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us. Observe the vast difference. Abraham yields a grand act of obedience, and lifts up his knife to cut the throat of his own son at God's command: A poor sinner what does he ? A sinner chased by the torments of his own conscience, and the threatenings of the law; he runs to Christ for salvation: he is a self-seeker, if I may so speak; he is seeking the salvation of his own soul : nay, says the apostle, he that does so, shall get that same security for his salvation that Abraham got. It is a great point, and only fit for Paul's divinity, to spell so great a matter out of that extraordinary testimony that God gave to Abraham. Though the service that God craved of Abraham be not craved of us, yet the privilege is allowed to every believer; so that if you fly to Christ Jesus, there is not a poor believer, that hath laid hold on the horns of God's altar, but that poor creature shall be as sure of God's eternal blessing as great Abraham was, when he heard God swearing to him. This is what the apostle teaches; the Lord help us to practise it.
7. There is divine foresight of all possible and future impediments of performance, which is a great argument of God's faithfulness. That proves to us, that God is faithful in his promises. An honest man may make a promise upon his best understanding, but the providence of God may render it quite impossible to perform it. Now, there is no such thing can befal the Lord our God. Here is a great argument