Page images
PDF
EPUB

ble tempeft will be rained on their heads. Go,then, ye finners, repair with penitent heart and fuppliant voice to the throne of God, while the inviting emblem of mercy furrounds it.

4. The rainbow is a token of God's faithfulness to his covenant. In allufion to its appointment as a fign of God's covenant with Noah, John fays, he faw it around God's throne in heaven.

From the beginning of the world God has dealt with men in the way of a covenant. He has promised them bleffings, to be bestowed on their performance of certain conditions. To this covenant he has always annexed fome visible symbol of his faithfulness. To our first parents there was an implied promife of immortality on condition. of abftinence from the interdicted fruit. As a token of this immortality stood the tree of life in the midst of the garden in which they were placed. Alluding to this John fays, "Bleffed are they who do God's commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradife of God."

After the apoftacy there was the promise of a Saviour, who by his own death fhould redeem men from the death brought into the world by the first tranfgreffion, and who fhould procure for the faithful'a refurrection to a glorious immortality. As a token of this covenant, facrifice was inftituted. The coats of fkin, with which our progenitors, after their lapfe, were cloathed, were doubtless taken from beafts flain for facrifice; for, as flesh was not then permitted for food, there could be no purpose, but facrifice, for which beafts fhould be flain. And we find, that the fons of Adam brought, one the fruit of his field, and the other the firftling of his flock, an offering to the Lord.

The covenant with Noah and his fons, and with all flesh, that the earth should not again be depopulated by a flood, was confirmed by the fign of the bow in the cloud.

When God renewed the covenant of grace with Abraham and his feed, he appointed circumcifion as its feal. To this, under the Mofaic difpenfation, the paffover was added. In the place of thofe feals, baptifm and the Lord's fupper are inftituted under the Chriftian difpenfation. These refer to the blood of Chrift, called "the blood of the covenant ;" and to the fanctifying grace of the fpirit, called "the wafhing of regeneration, and the renewing of the holy ghoft, which is fhed on us through Chrift." The defign of these institutions is, that we may remember God's gracious promife, and his faithfulness to perform it.

God fays to Noah, "when I bring a cloud over the earth, I will fet my bow in the cloud, and I will remember my covenant." This was an intimation to the patriarch and his fons, that, when they faw the bow, they should remember God's promife, and believe the fulfilment of it.

Senfible fymbols are intended, not to remind God, but to remind us, of his holy covenant. When John fays, he faw a rainbow round about God's throne, he fignifies, that God is faithful to his word, and remembers the mercy which he has promised.

The covenant of God with men is founded in the blood of Chrift. This has procured all the bleffings, which the covenant contains. The inftituted fymbols are to lead our minds to this blood. Accordingly the elders, who fat around the heavenly throne, beholding the grace and glory there difplayed, are faid to fall down before the Lamb, and to fing a new fong, faying, "Thou

waft flain and haft redeemed us unto God by thy blood, and haft made uskings and priests unto him."

David fpeaks of God's covenant as ordered in all things and fure. The prophet calls it "the fure mercies of David ;" or the mercies promised in Chrift the fon of David. This stability of the covenant is indicated in the rainbow around God's throne.

The fame mercy, which conftituted the covenant, will make it good. "The promise is by grace, to the end that it may be fure to all the feed, even to them, who are of the faith of Abraham."

"The Lord is a God of truth." Men make promises, and fail of performing them; but "he is not a man, that he fhould lie, nor the son of man, that he should repent." "He is faithful he cannot deny himself."

;

"He is the only wife God." All his counfels are formed in wisdom, and none of them will mifcarry, like human counfels, through ignorance, incaution or want of forefight.

"What he has promised, he is able to perform." Yea, "he is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think."

"With him is no variableness or fhadow ofturning." "His gifts and calling are without repentance;" or without change of purpose.

To make his promise fùre," he has confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things," a promife and an oath," in which it is impoffible for God to lie, we might have a ftrong confolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope fet before us."

The death of Chrift confirms the covenant; for "it is a remembrance of the holy promife, the oath fworn to Abraham."

Chrift's blood has purchased the bleffings, and ratified the promises of the covenant. Hence this is called the blood of the New Teftament. Hence all God's promises are faid to be yea and amen in Christ.

For the ftronger confirmation of the covenant, God has fet his own feal upon it. Of old there were types prefiguring, now there are ordinances representing the Saviour's death, in which the covenant is founded. In our obfervance of thefe we are to remember the faithfulness, and trust the promifes of God.

Reflections.

1. How wonderful is God's condefcenfion in treating with us by a covenant? He not only lays us under obligations to him by his commands, but himself under obligations to us by his promifes. If, in his abfolute fovereignty, he had given us a law, required our obedience, and left us in a state of uncertainty, whether he would forgive our fins, help our infirmities, and remunerate our fervices, ftill there would be great reafon why we fhould study to approve ourselves in his fight. But he has not placed us in fuch a doubtful and anxious fituation. He has dealt with us, rather as a father, than as a fovereign. He has not only inftructed us what is his acceptable will, but ftated to us the different confequences of obeying, and of oppofing it. While he injoins duty, he promises favour. Though we are unworthy of the fmalleft, he gives us a claim to the richest re

ward.

2. How happy is the condition of those who by faith are interested in God's covenant.

They are entitled to every bleffing, which they can defire, for every bleffing is promifed by a faithful God. Though they may feem to have

nothing, yet they have all things either in poffeffion, or in promife. They are now in peace with God, free from condemnation, led by the Spirit, and entitled to heaven. Afflictions work for their good, death will be their gain, glory their reward, God is, and ever will be their portion. They inherit all things.

3. We fee how we are to judge, whether the bleffings promised are ours. We must enquire, whether we have confented to the conditions of them. God is faithful to his promises; but his faithfulness is no fecurity to thofe, who reject the terms on which the promises are made. Have we repented of our fins? Have we put ourselves under the law to Chrift? Do we bring forth the fruits of repentance, and perform the works of faith? Then pardon and life are ours. Thus we are to feek for glory; thus we may appropriate the comforts of hope. But if under confcious guilt we seek relief by applying the promises without attending to the conditions, we heal our hurt flightly, and the wound will break out again with enraged pain and augmented danger.

4. The mercy difplayed in the gospel teaches us to put on humblenefs of mind.

Between the conditions and the promises of the covenant there is a fure connection; but this is founded, not in the merit of the conditions, but in the gracious conftitution of God. He forgives our fins on repentance, not because repentance deferves forgiveness, but because he is abundant in goodness. He gives his fpirit to them who afk it, not because prayer deferves the favour, but be caufe he pities unworthy and helplefs creatures. Where is boating then? It is excluded. Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord.

Come then, let us repair to the throne of God,

« PreviousContinue »