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having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, 2 Peter, i. 4. They are great and excellent; whether we consider the nature and variety of the blessings contained in them, the manner in which they are expressed, the certainty with which we may depend upon them, or their happy influence upon the mind.
They contain blessings of all sorts, of the most excellent nature, and suited to every circumstance. As man is made up of body, as well as spirit, and the necessities of this present life must be provided for, as well as his happiness secured in the next; in the Promises abundant care is taken of both, and provision is made for the peace, comfort, and welfare of the Christian, both in this, and in the other world. He is assured of the several necessaries and conveniences of this life, in such a measure as Infinite Wisdom sees best for him. And since we are exposed to various troubles and calamities, there are many Promises made with relation to them; either that we shall be preserved from those afflictions, or, if it be necessary we should be ex. ercised with them, that we shall be power. fully supported under them, and in the best time and way, delivered from them, after that they have been made to answer the most excellent ends upon us. Nor is it easy to say, what a vast variety of consolations are provided for our relief in those twals. But, how.
ever valuable, considering the eircumstances of our present state, the Promises relating to temporal enjoyments and afflictions, may be, they are not to be compared with the excellency and glory of those spiritual and eternal blessings, with which we are blessed in Christ Jesus, and of which we have the most clear, full, and express Promises in the gospel. Therein, how great, how particular a regárd is had to the condition of fallen, sinful man! What care is taken to ease the conscience under the burden of guilt, and the apprehensions of divine wrath, by the most gracious promises of pardon and mercy! What assurances given of reconciliation and acceptance with God, through the blood and intercession of the Redeemer! To what glorious privileges and high honours is the Christian advanced! Such as the adoption of children, a kind regard to all ais prayers, the ministry of angels, and an interest in the grace, love and fellowship of God the Father, and of his eternal Son and Spirit. In the Promises is contained all that grace which is requisite to refine and ennoble our natures, to enlighten our understandings, to regulate our wills, and purify our affections; to preserve us from sin, and all the contrivances and snares of the devil and the world, and to exalt us to the highest perfection of holiness and happiness.
The manner in which these blessings are
promised, still further adds to their value. They are not expressed in general or ambiguous terms, but with the greatest clearness and perspicuity. God would not leave his people at an uncertainty, concerning his kind intentions towards them. If the meaning of the promise seems doubtful in one place, it is abundantly cleared up in several others. Nor is it only here and there in some few passages, or in a cold and reserved manner, that God has signified his good will; but, upon the account of our dullness and slowness to believe what God has promised; he has both made use of the strongest words and phrases that language could furnish out, and has over and over, in great variety of expression, often repeated the assurances of his favour. He has contrived his Promises so, as to meet with all our objections, and remove all our doubts and fears: and herein he has been pleased to show an affection, tenderness, and condescension, which could not be expected from an earthly prince to his subjects; much less from the great and glorious majesty of heaven and earth, to sinful dust and ashes.
But what doth in the highest degree en. hance the worth and excellency of the Promises, is, the evidences we have, that they shall certainly be made good; since, as the Apostle argues, Heb. vi. 17, 18, we have for them both the word and oath of that God that cane not lie, that so we might have strong consola
tion, who have fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before us. And of the covenant thus confirmed, Christ the Son of God is made the Surety, Heb. vii. 22; having ratified it by his own blood. And that all the ever blessed Trinity might concur in establishing our faith upon the strongest foundation, the Holy Spirit of God witnesses to the truth of the Promises, by his miraculous operations, when first poured forth upon the Apostles, and by his sanctifying influences upon the hearts of all true Christians, both then, and ever since. Hereby he inspires into them a lively hope, and furnishes them with well grounded evidences of their interest in the Promises; and their hope makes them not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto them, Rom. v. š.
The Promises therefore of the gospel be. ing of so`excellent a nature, and confirmed to us by such authority and evidence, cannot but have very great and happy influences upon the mind, when seriously attended to, and applied with faith; especially as they are the means by which the Spirit of God carries on his work upon the soul. They are the strongest arguments to persuade the sinner to turn to God, the greatest encouragements to an humble, believing dependence upon the grace of Christ in the gospel, and the most powerful motives to sincere and uni
versal obedience; since by them we are ase sured, that every penitent sinner shall find the most gracious acceptance; that from the grace of Christ we shall derive sufficient strength and capacity for every duty; and that in keeping God's commands there is great' reward. So that would we but duly consider the several Promises made to every exercise of grace, and every performance of duty, what a spur would this be to quicken our slow pace in the ways of holiness! What an encouragement to be steadfast and immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as we know that our labour is not in vain in the Lord, 1 Cor. xv. 58.
A fixed, constant attention to the Prom. ises, and a firm belief of them, would prevent solicitude and anxiety about the concerns of this life. It would keep the mind quiet and composed in every change, and support and keep up our sinking spirits under the several troubles of life. In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul, Ps. xciv. 19. Christians de. prive themselves of their most solid comforts by their 'ınbelief, and forgetfulness of God's Promises. For there is no extremity so great, but there are Promises suitable to it, and abundantly sufficient for our relief in it.
A thorough acquaintance with the Prom. ises would be of the greatest advantage in prayer. With what comfort may the Chris.