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the time will not be long before he will raise your bodies from the grave, and make them like his own glorious body. And then he will get himself honour indeed, when he shall heal both body and soul of all the wounds of sin, and shall heal them for ever and ever. That is the glory of our Physician, he heals to eternity. He makes the spirits of just men perfect; and they stand before the throne of God without any spot or stain of corruption. And in the morning of the resurrection this corruptible body shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality. Thus he bestows eternal health and salvation upon both body and soul. Where is there, nay, where can there be such a physician? There is none like unto thee, O Lord, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders. Still thou art displaying the wonders of thy power and love, and administering thy sovereign balm for recovering the health of the daughter of thy people. O that thou wouldst display thy divine virtue among us this day! Arise, thou sun of righteousness, upon all this congregation, with healing under thy wings, and save us from every malady of sin, from the pollution, from the guilt, and from the power of it, and save us from the punishment of it, with thine eternal salvation! Hear us, thou almighty Saviour, and answer us to the glory of the Father, and of the Holy Spirit, three co-equal and co-eternal persons in one Jehovah, to whom we give honour and worship, and blessing and praise, now and for ever. Amen and Amen.
On the Promises of God.
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious Promises." II. PETER, i. 4.
WHEN the Lord first published his law in
dise, he enforced it with proper sanctions. He promised to our first parents the continuance of his favour, and immortal life, if they continued to keep the law; but if they should transgress it, he threatened them with the loss of his favour, and with the first and the second death. Upon their transgression the promises became null and void. All right and title to them was forfeited, and the sovereign lawgiver was bound to inflict the threatened penalties. His truth, his justice, his holiness, called upon him to put the sanctions of the law in force. Accordingly the offenders were arrested and brought to his bar; and being examined, they confessed their crime, but studied to throw part of the blame upon their tempters. The man could make no other defence, but that the woman offered him the temptation: and the woman had no plea to urge, bnt that the serpent beguiled her. Upon this confession they were found guilty; but the Lord God, whose mercies are over all his works, was pleased to make a discovery to them of the covenant of grace. He revealed to them his mind
and will concerning the pardon of their transgression, and promised them a Saviour, who should bruise the serpent's head, and thereby destroy his power. The serpent's poison lies in his head, and when this is bruised he can do no more mischief. The promised seed was to undertake this work, and for this purpose was the Son of God to be manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. This first promise, and all the following promises of grace and mercy, centre in Jesus Christ: for all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God; in him they are yea, he undertook to ratify and to make them good, and in him they are amen, they are confirmed and fulfilled to believers. Every promise made in Christ is an act of God's free grace, and which, being made, his perfections bind him to fulfil; for he has engaged in the promise to give the grace and blessing therein mentioned to those who believe in Jesus Christ; so that the believer's happiness consists in living by faith upon the promises. Faith apprehends and receives Christ as held forth in the promise, and thereby gets possession of the promised blessing. While faith is kept thus in act and exercise, the believer walks safely and comfortably: although he has many enemies, and is in the midst of many dangers, yet he has a promise of God's help to support him in every state and circumstance of life, and to carry him through all trials and troubles. If he rely upon this promised help, he cannot be disappointed for the promise cannot possibly fail. All the perfections of God stand engaged to see it fulfilled, and when faith calls upon God, and relies on him for the fulfilling of it, he cannot deny himself, or break the word that is gone out of his mouth. Faith brings down his almighty power, to make a way for the fulfilling of the promise, and thus the believer receives a support under all dangers, safety against all enemies, and a cordial against all troubles. This is his happiness: he staggers not at the promise of God through unbelief, but is strong in faith, giving
glory to God, and God gives grace to him and makes his faith stronger, by which he finds more of the sweetness and riches of the promises. My brethren, I wish you were all in possession of this happiness, and it is my present design to direct and to encourage you to seek it. The scripture which I have chosen for this purpose affords us some very powerful motives: may the Lord God render our present consideration of them useful and profitable to all our souls, that we may know clearly,
First, the nature of the promises of God. Secondly, the character of those to whom the pro mises belong; and,
Thirdly, their exceeding greatness and preciousness. And while we are considering those particu lars, may we have the Lord's presence with us! We have a promise of it. "Wherever two or three," says he," are met together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." O that he may be present with us at this time! May he send the Holy Spirit of promise into all our hearts to teach us!
First, the nature of the promises of God. I define a promise to be an act of God's free grace, whereby he has engaged in his word to bestow upon believers all the blessings which were purchased by the obedience and sufferings of Jesus Christ. The promise can spring from no other cause than from free grace. God had no motive to induce him, but what arose from his own abundant and unmerited love, and there was no power to compel him to make any promise to fallen man. He had broken the law, and was subject to all the pains and penalties threatened to transgression; and if God had left him in this state, without any promise, he would have dragged on a miserable life, under the terrors of his guilty conscience, until the executioner came to call him to God's awful bar, and being there, and found guilty, how could he escape the damnation of hell? To fallen man, thus subject to the present and eternal punishment of sin, God was pleased to make a promise
of mercy. He took compassion on him, and provided for his salvation, by the covenant of grace, which is a covenant of promises. Such is the exalted grace of God, that he has made a free promise of deliverance from all the miseries of sin; and that convinced sinners might be enabled to rely upon the promise, and to find comfort in it, God revealed it in his word, which cannot be broken. There it is written, and entered upon record; and what he has there engaged to bestow upon believers shall be made good-to them for ever and ever. To them he will freely give without money and without price, both in time and in eternity, all the blessings which were purchased by the obedience and sufferings of Jesus Christ. To them he gives freely what cost him an infinite sum. The merit of all that he did and suffered is made theirs by faith, and faith is one of the blessings which he purchased among the rest: for it is one of his precious gifts, which he bestows upon his people by the operation of his good Spirit, who works with, and animates the incorruptible seed of the word, rendering it the means of forming faith in their hearts. The word of promise begets faith in them, by the Holy Spirit's enabling them first to rely upon it, and afterwards to experience its sweetness and richness, and then they know the truth of the forementioned definition, namely, that a promise is an act of God's free grace, whereby he has engaged in his word to bestow upon believers all the blessings, which were purchased by the obedience and sufferings of Jesus Christ.
Now, since this is the nature of the promises, there is but one point to be cleared up, and it is this-what security has God given for the fulfilling of the promises? The Lord knew what power unbelief had over careless sinners, and how hard it was to bring convinced sinners to believe, and how believers would be tempted by their remaining corruptions to entertain doubts and fears, and therefore he provided the most full and perfect evidence that the case will admit of.