Page images

of promises; and that whenever he loses another enjoyment, then he has a right to another promise, which makes up that loss with a redundancy of goodness.

Now, let us glance at a few of these many great promises, that in all cases and conditions we may take comfort.

If we are troubled with sin in its uprisings in our hearts, and outbreakings in our life, to us then the promise speaks, " I will take away the hard and staney heart: I am he that blotteth out your iniquities as a cloud, and

your sins as a thick cloud : he will subdue all our iniquities, and cast our sins into the depths of the sea, so that in the day when Israel's sins shall be sought for, they shall not be found : Sin shall not have dominion over you: I will heal their backslidings; I will love them freely.”—Again, with respect to temptation, hear the promise, “He will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able to bear, but will with the temptation make a way to escape.” Moreover, this promise is made by him, who being once tempted himself, knows how to succour them that are tempted. Also, if we fear lest we fall into sin, or be overcome when we are buffeted, hear what he says, “ My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness: The just shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger : The righteous shall be like the palm tree in Lebanon, always flourishing and bringing forth fruit,even in old age, when others fade.”-If suddenly attacked by the tongue of reproach, or accused at the bar of iniquity, he promises, that in that hour it shall be given how and what to speak, and therefore we should take no anxious forethoughts in the ma er.

With his saints in all their afflictions, he is afflicted, and his gracious promises measure breadth and length

[ocr errors]

to all the trouble and distress that can befal them if
poor in spirit, those he cheers, and contémns not his
prisoners. A bruised reed he will not break, nor
quench the smoaking flax; but deals very compassion-
ately with young converts, carries the lambs in his
bosom, and gently leads them that are with young:
He commands Peter to manifest his love to him by
feeding his sheep, his lambs : And says to those in the
pangs of the new birth, “ Shall I cause to come to the
birth, and not give strength to bring forth ?"-Again,
if they are poor as to this world, he not only makes
promises to them himself, but importunes others to
do them good offices; and that he may prevail with
them, promises to them, that he that considers the case
of the poor, shall not lie on a bed of languishing un-
considered, but have his bed made by God in his sick-

O poor man! he puts thee and himself on one
side, by promising to repay, as lent to him, what is
given to thee. Every where in the scripture he in-
structs us to feed the hungry, refresh the weary,clothe
the naked, receive the outcasts : “Let mine outcasts
dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them :"
To entertain the stranger and the traveller kindly, to
do justice to the oppressed, to help the widow, and
judge the cause of the fatherless.-To the afflicted
he promises deliverence in the day of trouble : “ Call
upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee: I
will be with thee in trouble to deliver thee : I will
never fail thee nor forsake thee, till I have performed
the promised good.” If exposed to calumny, says
the promise, “ Thou shalt be hid from the scourge
of the tongue :” or if reproached, “ He shall bring
forth thy judgment as the noon-day.”


[ocr errors]


Now, though the promises suit the saints in their various stations, yet, as the afflicted and needy ones have a double share of trouble and sorrow, so they have a double portion of the promises. If !hey are exposed to storms and drought, he promises to be an hiding-place from the storm, a covert from the tempest, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, and as refreshful rivers in a parched place. If they are reckoned as the refuse of the world, and the offscouring of all things, he counterbalances this, by promising them that he will honour them, set them on high, and confess their names before his Father, and his holy angels. But they may be in doubt how or where to walk, and how to act; then, says he, “ I will lead the blind by a way they know not; I will make crooked places straight, and rough places plain; these things will I do unto them, and not forsake thern.” And when they are so nonplussed as not to know what hand to turn to in their doubts and distress, he says, “ Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” Hence says the psalmist, and all saints may say it after him, “ Thou wilt guide me with thy counsel while I live."

But death may invade their family, and lessen the number of their relations. Then says he, “I am the resurrection and the life ; and the hour is coming, when all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man, and shall come forth :" Thereföre sorrow not for your dead as they that have no hope ; for they are blessed that die in the Lord, and it is better to be gone, and be with Jesus, than remain here.

If they are subject to bodily infirmity, and bowed down by disease; then says he, “ I am the Lord that healeth thee;" and be often shews himself merciful to such as sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, being bound with cords of affliction, and sends his word and healeth them. But the disease may be spiritual, and so of a more piercing and pungent nature ; yet says he, “I will restore health to his mourners :" He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds; and gives the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. If their grief be on account of the decay of religion, or the afflicted state of Zion, these promises may yield them comfort, “ That Israel shall revive as the corn, grow as the lily, and cast forth her roots as Lebanon ; that Christ's name shall endure for ever, and a seed shall serve him to all generations; and that the gates of hell shall never prevail against his church, since he is both the foundation and chief corner-stone, and will be with her to the end." But if their sorrow be about the fewness of them that seem to be saved, or that follow Christ, then the word of comfort is, “The election shall obtain, whoever be blinded," so that a great multitude of ali nations, tongues, and languages, shall compose the general assembly and church of the first-born.-If they are under glooniy shadows by di. vine hidings, yet then hear the promise, " At eveningtime it shall be light : Who among you that fear the Lord walks in darkness, and hath no light, let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God: To you that fear his name shall .he Son of righteousness arise with healing in his wings, and in the light of thy countenance shall they walk on for ever." To which promises the response of faith is, “ When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light unto me, for he shall bring nie forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.” If they are disquieted through trouble of mind, hear the kindly promise, “ As one

whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you: Though thou hast been called as a woman forsaken, and grieved in spirit, and as a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God, yet, after the few moments of my displeasure are past, with everlasting kindness will I gather thee: And, as the waters of Noah shall never return to cover the earth, so the coy. enant of my peace shall never depart from thee; for though thou seem as one altogether afflicted with *my waves, tossed with the tempests of my indignation, till thou groan under the anguish of a deserted soul, yet the day is at hand, when I will no more hide my face from you; for though a woman may forget her sucking child, and have no compassion on the fruit of her womb, yet I can never forget thee who art so dear to me.”-Again, to those that are distressed for the divisions of Reuben, the promise speaks, “ The watchmen shall see eye to eye, when the Lord bringeth again Zion. There shall be a day when the watchmen in Mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, let us go up to Zion. Judah and Israel shall be one stick in mine hand; for there shall be one Lord over all the earth, and his name one.” And the last prayer of the divine sufferer, which runs thus, “ That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us," shall be answered in due time.

To those who are called out to dangers, says the promise, “ Thou shalt tread on the lion, and adder ; the young lion and dragon shalt thou trample under foot : When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee: If ye drink any deadly thing, ye shall not be

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »