Page images

their ufe, when capable of a more extenfive application. If any therefore want the Promifes for fome cafe they do not find here mentioned, they may meet with them under fome more general head, within which that cafe is comprehended. And for the fame reason, some of the Promifes may feem not so properly to belong to the head under which they are ranged; but as they are near a-kin to it, I chose rather to put them together, than to multiply heads. There are alfo other texts, which fome may think fhould have been placed elsewhere. For instance, fome of the Promifes under the head of Temporal Pleffings are by fome understood in a figurative fenfe of fpiritual, and fo on the contrary. I have taken them in the fenfe that appeared to me moft agreeable to the defign of the Spirit of God; though fometimes, where I thought the words were capable of both fenfes, I have written them in both places. Many other texts alfo might be ranged under different heads; for example, either in the First Part, among the Bleffings promifed; or in the Second, containing the Graces and Duties to which Promifes are made; and fometimes under either of thofe heads, which being nearly related, follow one the other; as the heads of Sanctifying Grace in general, and Converting Grace. If, therefore, what you look for be not in one place, you may expect to find it in the other. For which purpose the references in the Table of Contents will be ufeful; for I have generally endeavoured to avoid repetitions. Sometimes, indeed, the fame text may be met with in different places, but then it is applied to different purposes; as when feveral bleffings or duties are comprized in one text, as Prov. xxii. 4.

Though all the fcriptures here collected under the name of Promifes, are useful for the comfort and encouragement of Chriftians, in the cafes fpecified; yet


they are expressed in different forms. Some contain direct Promifes and Affurances of fuch and fuch bleff. ings. Of thefe fome are made to all in general, according to the rules and limitations of the gospel, as Pfal. lxxxiv. 11. p. 37. and Pfal. xxxiv. 9, 10. p. 39. But others are addreffed to particular good men in fcripture, which yet every Christian may take comfort in. So that Promife made to Joshua, chap. i. 5.. I will not fail thee, nor forfake thee, is by the apoftle, applied to Chriftians in general, Heb. xiii. 6. In the fame manner, Promifes made to particular churches, are applicable to the church of God in general; as those in the Old Testament to the Jewifh Church, Ifa. xxvii. 3. and Zech. ii. 5. and those. to the churches in the New Teftament, Phil. iv. 19. P. 39. Rom. xvi. 20. and many more. The rule in both thefe cafes is, that whatsoever Promifes are made in fcripture to particular perfons, in cafes, and for reafons, that equally concern other good men, they are applicable to the comfort of all, and may be pleaded with faith in prayer. The words of the apostle afford a, fufficient foundation for this obfervation, Rom. xv. 4. Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

The Promifes alfo made in particular cafes to persons in fcripture, may be applied to the encouragement of others, fo far as the cafe and circumftances agree, though not abfolutely, and in their whole extent, Thus the Promifes made to Solomon, (2 Chron. i. II, 12.) of wisdom, and alfo of riches and honour, beyond all that were before him, because he asked of God wifdom rather than riches, &c. is applicable to Solomon only, in its whole extent; but yet gives encouragement to every good man to hope, that if he feek of God wisdom above all other things, he fhall

obtain a large measure of it, according to what his ftation requires, and alfo much of other worldly advantages as God fees beft for him, according to thofe more general Promifes, Prov. viii. 17, 18. In the fame manner the Promifes made by Chrift to his apostles, of the Holy Spirit, to teach them all things, and bring all the things he had faid to them to remembrance, John xiv. 26. and to guide them into all truth, chap. xvi. 13. though they are not to be applied to others in the fame degree as to the apoftles, who were by the Spirit extraordinarily infpired, and instructed in the whole revelation of the gofpel, and infallibly fecured from error, this being peculiar to their character as apoftles; yet they encourage all other Chriftians to expect from the Spirit all that illumination, inftruction, and guidance, which is neceffary for them in their feveral circumftances, upon the diligent ufe of all appointed means, so that they fhall be preferved from all dangerous and fatal miftakes and errors, according to those Promises, 1 John ii. 20, 27. Pfal. xxv. 12. and others made to good men in general.

Befides those scriptures, that run in the form of Promises, there are others, which are obfervations or declarations of the bleffings that generally attend the feveral exercises of piety and holiness; as Pfal. cxi. 5. in p. 39. and Prov. xviii. 10. in p. 41. and moft of thofe collected out of the Proverbs and Ecclefiaftes. But as thefe are observations made under the infpiration of the Spirit of God, they give the fame encouragement to expect the bleffings mentioned in them, as if they were in the form of Promifes.

Some of the texts do only exprefs the experiences of good men in fcripture, or their expectations from God ; as Pfal. xvi. 6. in p. 37. Pfal. xxiii. throughout, p. 38. and Pfal. lxxi. 20. Of which fcriptures the fame may be faid as of thofe above that as


holy men therein fpake under the direction of the Spirit of God, and what they fay of themfelves is recorded for our inftruction and comfort, confequently other good men may affure themselves, in like circumftances, of the like favour and mercy. Thus whereas the Pfalmift expreffes his confidence in God's help, against all his enemies, Pfal. cxviii. 6. the apostle applies it to all Christians, Heb. xiii. 6. So that we may boldly fay, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man can do unto me.

Some of the texts are petitions put up by Chrift for his church; as those taken out of John xvii. Thefe give the fame encouragement as the Promifes do; for we are affured, that whatever Chrift afks for his people, is certainly granted.

The fame may be said, in fome degree, of the prayers put up by other faints in fcripture, for themselves and others; efpecially the prophetical prayers, Gen. xlix. Deut. xxxiii. and in other places. Since thofe prayers were delivered under the infpiration of the Spirit, we know they were agreeable to the will of God; and fo far as circumftances are the fame, all other good men may hope to be heard in asking the fame bleffings of God. But of this fort I have taken but few, both because it is more difficult rightly and with judgment to apply them, and left I fhould too much fwell this collection.

THE Bleings promifed, are either of a temporal, or of a fpiritual and eternal nature: It may be necessary to lay down fome rules, to direct the ferious Chriftian in the right application of these different forts of Promifes.

As to the Promifes of temporal bleffings, and those that relate to temporal evils, it is acknowledged by all, they are not to be understood abfolutely or univerfally, but with the limitation, as far as may be for God's glory, and our good; both which are, in effect,

effect, one. Nor will these limitations leffen their value, with any thinking ferious perfon. For all outward things are of fuch a nature, as to be capable of being either good or evil to us, as circumstances vary. Riches, though in fome circumftances they may be very ufeful and valuable, in which cafe God will bestow them according to the tenor of his Promifes; yet in others they may be, and often prove, very pernicious: No wife man in that cafe, would defire them. Thus afflictions in fome inftances, may be of the greateft advantage to us. Then they are mercies; the inflicting them is a token of favour, and the preventing them would be a judgment, inftead of fulfilling a promife. Now it must be allowed that of all thefe circumftances, the infinitely wife and good God is the best judge; fince he has before him in one view, the whole compafs of every cafe, in all its circumstances, and is more concerned and watchful for our good, than we can be ourselves. The Promifes therefore relating to these things, fhould not lie by neglected; but we should fix our faith upon them for the mercies we want, with a firm dependance upon the power and faithfulness of God, though with an entire fubmiffion to his fuperior wisdom, to choose what is beft for us. I verily believe, Chriftians often deprive themselves even of temporal favours from God, for want of a more frequent ftedfaft exercife of faith upon the Promifes, relating to these things. They either ask not, or not in faith, and therefore receive nothing from God, Jam. i. 6, 7. Or, they

defire and afk, but not for right ends (to take notice of another limitation hinted at by the fame apostle, Jam. iv. 3.) not for God's honour, but to confume it upon their lufts; and fo they afk amifs, and therefore receive not. This collection therefore will give great affiftance to the faith of Chriftians, when they obferve how full and exprefs the Promifes are, and how


« PreviousContinue »