« AnteriorContinua »
concerning him revealed, but an earnestness to obviate every doubt and ambiguity, and create a full assurance of un-derstanding, and an unshaken persuasion of mind concerning that truth. I will select, and set before you, a few of these passages. May he by them disperse our doubts, strengthen our faith, and increase our joy and peace in believing. Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, "and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God." "Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee; O Isra"el, if thou wilt hearken unto me. There shall no strange "god be in thee, neither shalt thou worship any strange "god: I am the Lord thy God." "They shall be my "people, and I will be their God." "I will say, It is my "people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God." How great is his goodness, and beauty, and faithfulness! He hath laid in his word the ground of faith, and undertakes for his people that they shall stand and build on it-They "shall say, the Lord is my God.".
Thirdly, In the exercise of faith there is a conviction that every one, to whom it is revealed and known in the word of truth, is warranted and commanded to believe and receive it. This conviction is clear, and, in believing, appears and operates in the mind with all the force and beauty of truth. The tens of the grant are without limitation. None is excepted, or excluded from the benefit of this sovereign deed of grace in favour of sinners, but those who finally scorn and reject it through unbelief. Its address by the God of all grace, with whom, through the Mediator, there is forgiveness and reconciliation, is to men, and the sons of men, even as many as he shall call. The stout hearted, who are far from righteousness, are commanded to hearken to his voice, when opening the treasures of his mercy before the world; and the wicked and unrighteous to forsake their ways and thoughts, and receive forgiveness.— "Go ye," saith our Saviour to his ambassadors, "into all "the world; and preach the gospel to every creature. He "that believeth and is baptized shall be saved."
Fourthly, The exercise of faith includes the trust, or rest of the heart in the grant, both as it is faithful and true, and worthy of all acceptation. In believing, the restlessand troubled mind, after much tossing and fluctuation, perceives the Object in the grant all-sufficient and gracieus, wanting nothing to give rest and comfort, and says,
The Lord is my God, according to his word.' Doubts disperse, fears flee away, the storm in the conscience calms, and peace and joy spring up in the heart, which pass all understanding. Resting themselves on these gracious and faithful words, "I am the Lord your God;" and probably recollecting their enlargement and application by Isaiah, "When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt "not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee: "For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy "Saviour," the illustrious witnesses were not confounded. Undismayed at the fury of the king and the heat of his furnace, they trusted their God was able to deliver them, and yielded their bodies to the flame, that they might not serve nor worship any god except their own God.
From these discussions concerning the Object, the Ground, and the Exercise of faith, we infer, First, That believing God is warrantable and authorised exercise in all extremities. Warrantable, because it is allowed; authorised, because it is commanded. The ground of believing in the grant he makes of himself is firm and broad. None is chargeable with presumption in venturing on it, and all who stand off and take other ground are guilty of disobedience. In the first commandment, which, like all the rest, issues from the grant in the preface, the authority of the Lawgiver is interposed, commanding all to know and acknowledge him as God and their God; and, by bélieving the gospel and doing the law, to worship and glorify him accordingly. The hour of extremity is an hour of believing. Abram, going childless notwithstanding the promise of a seed, believed in the Lord. David, greatly distressed for the burning of Ziklag, and the captivity of his household, encouraged himself in the Lord his God; and believed to see his goodness in the land of the living. Paul, after all hope of the preservation of himself and his. company was taken away, believed God, that it would be even as it was told him. And when the three witnesses were sentenced to be bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace, they believed their God, whom they served, was able to deliver them.
We infer, Secondly, That the gratuitous deed, which is the ground of believing, proceeds upon a ransom found,
ând an atonement made. Grace reigns in it. The reign of grace however is a righteous administration. Under its reign, it becomes the God of all grace, "for whom are all "things, and by whom are all things," to provide for the glory of his holiness and the honor of his law; and this he hath done effectually, by issuing from his throne a gratuitous deed of favour to us guilty sinners upon a propitiation. Our exercise, therefore, concerning it should carry us to the last Adam, who is the Lord from heaven, and Mediator between God and man, through whom the everlasting Jehovah is our God, and we are his people; and every view of it should kindle our gratitude, and constrain us to say, Now thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift, Christ Jesus, in and through whom he gives himself to be our God, commanding us to say, "This God is our God, and "he will be our guide even unto death."
We infer the immorality of unbelief. By many in the visible church unbelief is not held to be an immorality. Discipline cannot lay hands upon it, nor are ministers able to do any thing but cry against it. It is, notwithstanding, a crying immorality, denying the truth of God in his word, despising the loving kindness of the Saviour of the world, resisting the Spirit of holiness, and drowning in destruction and perdition multitudes of precious souls. In believing, we acknowledge the only living and true God to be our God. By unbelief, we deny it. In believing, we honour the grant which he makes of himself, and count it a faithful saying. By unbelief, we treat it as a lie, and unworthy of credit. "He that believeth not God hath
made him a liar, because he believeth not the record "that God gave of his Son."
Exhortations to believers and unbelievers shall con clude our discourse at present.
Believers, the only living and true God, through the obedience and death of his beloved Son, hath made a grant of himself in free promises and gracious declarations, saying, "I am the Lord your God," and ye have taken hold of it in believing. Our exhortation, therefore, is, Keep a firm hold of it. Hold it firm in every trial, in every temptation, in every affliction, in every enjoyment, in every duty, and in the conflict with the last enemy. In every trial hold it firm, and ye will wrestle through with advan
tage: "Be not dismayed, for I am thy God." In every temptation, and a way of escape will open: "The Lord "knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations."In every affliction, and ye will be helped: "I the Lord thy "God will hold thy right-hand, saying unto thee, Fear not, "I will help thee." In every enjoyment, and the relish of it will be sweeter: "Then si.alt thou delight thyself in "the Lord; suck honey out of the rock, and drink of the "brook in the way." In every duty, and it will be easy and pleasant: "My yoke is easy, and my burthen is light." In the conflict with the last enemy: "I know whom I have "believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that "which I have committed unto him against that day."Finally, brethren, Add to your faith virtue, and adorn it with good works. "This is a faithful saying; and these "things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they who "have believed in God might be careful to maintain good "works."
Unbelievers, the revealed grant, as it stands in the record, is addressed to you; and if ye do not receive it, ye make the God of truth a liar. O beware of deceiving yourselves, by receiving it with the mouth and denying it with the heart! "With the heart man believeth unto right"eousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto "salvation."
THE PROMISE OF PLENTY A MOTIVE TO GRATI
JOEL ii. 26.
And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you.
THE Lord of Hosts had levied an army, and quartered it upon his people. That numerous and formidable body of forces, which marched by his orders, and under his command, took possession of the country in four divisions. Palmer-worms, canker-worms, locusts, caterpillars, committed, as troops of Omnipotence alway will commit, great devastation. They wasted vines, barked fig-trees, and devoured all that was green: "Before them "the land was as the garden of Eden, and behind them a "desolate wilderness."
While these enemies lay in the country, and rioted on all that was vegetable, the atmosphere, heated to an uncomA mon degree, became suddenly like a fiery oven. drought, penal, and, in a lower sense preternatural, exhausted the moisture of the earth, devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and dried up the rivers of water. Corns rotted under the clod, beasts groaned, herds of cattle were perplexed, flocks of sheep were made desolate; priests mourned, husbandmen covered their faces, vinedressers howled, fig-trees, pomegranate-trees, palm-trees, apple-trees, even all the trees of the field withered, desolation sat on every threshold, and famine entered the sanctuary of the Lord.
In this extremity a prophet came forth, in the name of the Lord God of their fathers, and summoned the sanctua