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“ but I am a poor man, unworthy of this favour.” But is he unwilling to receive Christ's grace: No; he was far from thinking so; the poor man had a mind to Christ's grace; Lord, speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. This faith is commended in the nobleman, John iv. 50. Go thy way, saith our Lord, thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. You may be sure he went believing all the way, till he came near home, till his servants came and told him, Thy son liveth; then he believed over again, and believed better. There is a great failing in the faith of the people of God in this point, That they offer sometimes, in the vanity and pride of their hearts and unbelief, to tell God which way he should engage his faithfulness. The least hint of Christ's faithfulness should serve, if you have a mind to glorify the faithfulness of God.
3dly, Faith is to answer God's faithfulness in the full extent of it; that is, in believing in length and breadth, according to the largeness and wideness of the promise. Now, here is a great duty that we are very dark and ignorant about. When a believer believes rightly, he is to believe every thing God says. A great many things we believe, we do not know what they are; we are to believe them notwithstanding. When thou dost believe eternal salvation through Christ Jesus, dost thou know what weight there is in the crown of glory? what entertainment is with them that behold the face of God, and of the Lamb ? what is done? what is fed on? and what is enjoyed? what is said within the veil? We know none of these things; but we must believe them notwithstanding. We are to believe the full extent of the promise ; that there shall be a performance, though we do not know yet what it shall be. Now we are the sons of God, but it does not yet appear schat we shall be. But does that shake their faith? No, says the apostle; we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like liim; for we shall see him as he is, 1 John iii. 2. And with the apostle's leave, for as great a divine as he was, what seeing him as he is, and what being like him as he is in heaven, the good divine John did not know on earth, and tells us that he did not know; only in these general words he tells
us, in Christ's words, That he should be with him, and beheld him; and his faith goes forth accordingly.
4thly, Answering God's faithfulness by our faith, is to lay all our weight upon the promise of God, and upon it only; every thing that concerns us for our suuls and eternal salvation, for our cutward concerns, for Zion, for the church and people of God; it is to glorify divine faithfulness, to lay all these burthe!s upon the back of the promises, not doubting but it shall bear them; laying it upon the promise alone. It is a great matter for a believer to think God's faithfulness security alone, that there needs nothing to prop it and hold it up. We
many times sinfully crave props oí sense to support our faith; but the matter indeed is to support the promise ; therefore we would fain that God should give something to support us; all this, like Naaman, 2 Kings v. is unbelief. We must lay all our weights and burthens upon the faithfulness of God: so says dying David, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. Although
house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; for this is all my salvation, and all my desire. As if David, in his last words, had left this his legacy to all believers in after ages, that now when a dying man, “ I have,” says he, " seen a great deal of “ sin and wickedness in my family, in my heart and life, “ and in the land of Israel: in the cases of Uriah, Absalom, “ Amnon, Camar, Adonijah; but I now die satisfied with “this only, He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, &c. " Here is all my salvation, and all my desire.”
5thly, The answering God's faithfulness by our faith, is in the avowing our faith to God and men. God avows his
promise publicly, Ija. xiv. 19. It is not enough that we believe, but we must not be ashamed to own it. How frequently do we find the saints owning it to God? Psal. lvii. 1, 2, 3. Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me, for my soul trusteth in thee. I will cry unto God most high; unito God that performith all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and snve one from the reproach of hiin that would sevallow me up; Selah. God shall send forth his merry and his truth. 01, what a blessed song is this! He prays for mercy, because he trusts in it: and he adds this, God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.
If I may so speak, these two messengers, mercy and truth, are enough to pluck a man out of the jaws of death and hell itself; if God send them, they come; and if they come, they save one, that is certain. The psalmist complains most grievously of their reflecting upon his God; it was as a sword in his bones, while they reproached him for trusting in his God. Psal. xi. he is so confident he will reproach them for it, ver. 1. In the Lord put 1 my trust : how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain ? « Are ye not ashamed,” would David say, to look upon me as a forlorn person, and tell me to “ flee to the mountains for help, when I have a refuge in my 66 God?"
Lastly, God's faithfulness should be answered by our faith, in our constant keeping upon this foundation. Faith and patience is required in order to the inheriting of the promise. Performance comes not immediately as the promise is made, nor as soon as it is believed, Acts vii. 17. Psal. xxxi. 15. Be. lieving must be drawn forth God's full time, till performance ripen the ground. Why we should believe God's faithfulness, is, because God's faithfulness is a constant thing itself. If the Lord's faithfulness did change, a believer's faith might change lawfully; if there were any shaking in the word of God, it were no sin for a believer to doubt in that word. The aggravation of unbelief is, because we change in our faith, when God is unchangeable in his faithfulness.
If believers faith should answer God's faithfulness,
1. Then, what can the unbeliever do that has no faith? God's faithfulness is before him, the faithfulness of God is seen in his threatenings and promises :, the faithfulness of God is seen in the law, and in the gospel; the unbeliever hath faith for neither. When God threatens the unbeliever with everlasting destruction for his sin in the law, every secure sinner says, God is a liar. Fearlessness of wrath, when a man is under the lash of God's threatening, is a certain proof that he believes not what he speaks. There is no word of threatening shall come short of its fulfilment, no more than a word of "promise. The unbeliever hath no entertainment to give to the
promise of the gospel, because he hath not faith; what then must the issue of it be? A man that hath no faith, is under these two things; one at present, and the other a coming, if God prevent it not. First, Every man that is an unbeliever must blaspheme God now, whatever he does when he goes to hell. There is no greater blasphemy against God, than to say he lies. A poor lying man, through the custom and fashion of this world, looks upon it as one of the greatest provocations that can be given in words, to say in his face, he lies. Every poor sinner that hears the law and the gospel, and 'neither trembles at threatenings, nor rejoices at promises, says every day to God, he lies. He that receives not his testimony, has made God a liar, 1 John v. 10. And he that receives his testimony, hath set to his seal, that God is true, John iii. 33. People that have not faith, have great need to cry for faith, to beg that God would give it. I have nothing to entertain God's faithfulness with, I have no hand to take a word from God, if I have not faith.
2. How justly chargeable are believers themselves, if their faith should not answer God's faithfulness? How guilty are most believers in this matter? An unbelieving believer is a monster, not for the rarity of it, but for the ugliness of it; for there is nothing more common amongst believers, than to be acting unbelief. There are few believers, but do act more unbelief than faith; they unbelieve, if I may so speak, ten times for their believing once. Now, the great aggravation of this their sin is, that not only God's faithfulness is engaged for their faith to act on, but God hath wrought faith in them: therefore the guilt of believers is very great upon this account. Shall a man that is in this case be still acting unbelief? Too frequently they do so, but I will name a few things, and conclude at this time.
Ist, How many believers act their unbelief, and are convicted from this point, in their fearing to believe, when they are called to lay hold on the hope set before them, and to lay the stress of their eternal salvation upon the faithful promise of God? They are afraid they shall sin to believe. I pray now is this a mannerly question, Shall I sin in trusting God ? Is not this a fearful thing? Is there any danger of sinning in
my taking God's word ? I am sure, the greatest sin is in refusing it, and there can be none in taking of it. It is nothing but the power and strength of unbelief that makes so much fear in believers. In putting forth the hand of faith, they seem to put forth their hand to God, as he is a consuming fire, Heb. xii. 29. and not as he is in his Son reconciling us to himself.
2dly, Not only are they very fearful to believe, but very weak in believing. A great many believers (if I may use such a homely similitude) walk upon the promise at God's call in the way to heaven, even as a child upon weak ice, which they are afraid will crack under them, and leave them in the depth. What can there be but unbelief in the weak trust we have in the promise of God ? Art thou sure, that thou hast trusted thy soul upon the word of God? Do not reply, there is no more betwixt thee and eternal ruin, but a bare word of God; for can that word fail? is it possible, that it can miscarry? Why then should we not believe more firmly? There is a silly practice amongst us, I shall not speak my mind about it, I only speak of it now with respect to my present purpose: A great many believers do even venture in their believing upon the word of God, as too many idle people do upon their lotteries, they will try; but they do not know whether they shall get a blank or a benefit. Is this believing and giving glory to the flithfulness of God? 3dly, There is doubting after believing. When
When a poor believer hath once cast his burden upon the word of God, a cloud comes on, and he begins to question, whether he did well in trusting God or 110; this is the English of i:, Did I well to trust God? IV e trusted that it had been lw which should have reo deemed Israel, Luke xxiv. 21. but was it well done, thus to repent of their trust?
4thly, Believers are many times in danger, by using sinful shifts to obtain the thing promised, as in Gen. xvi. 2. David would not do so, as you may see, 2 Sam. i.
Lastly, Believers are guilty of great unbelief, in pleading the Cilise of their unbelief; they noi cnly doubt, but they will argue for their doubring. Now, all objections of unbelief are arguments agains: faith; they are all great ricctions on God's