Page images

privileges and high honours is the Christian advanced! Such as, the adoption of children, a kind regard to all his 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 seem 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 enhance the

worth and excellency of the Promises, is, The evi dences 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 cannot lie, that so we might have strong consolation, 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. 5.

The Promises therefore of the gospel being 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 universal obedience, since by them we are assured, 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 he 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 Promises, 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 deprive themselves of their most solid comforts by their unbelief, 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 Promises would be of the greatest advantage in prayer. With what comfort may the Christian address himself to God in Christ, when he considers the repeated assurances that his prayers shall be heard? With how much satisfaction may he offer up the several desires of his heart, when he reflects upon the texts wherein those very mercies are promised? And with what fervour of spirit and strength of faith, may he enforce his prayers, by pleading the several gracious Promises, which are expressly to his case?

Further, Great assistance and encouragement

may the Christian derive in his spiritual warfare, when he takes a view of the many Promises of grace and strength, to mortify sin, and to resist the devil; of success, and a final victory in his conflicts with the enemies of his salvation; and of an incorruptible crown of glory, to be given him as the reward of his firmness, constancy, and perseverance. A great deal more may be said, but that I would not too much enlarge this Introduction, to show of what excellent use the Promises would be, if duly attended to, to promote all the exercises of the divine life, and to inspire into a good man comfort and joy in every state of life.

That the Christian might have before him, in one view, the many great and precious Promises scattered up and down in scripture, and in such a method, as easily to find what is suitable to his case, I have drawn up the following Collection. The occasion, indeed, of my first entering upon it, was to assist some young persons, who very commendably, and to their great advantage, are employed in improving themselves, and one another, in the knowledge of the scriptures; one of their exercises being to treasure up in their memories, and question one another upon the Promises, under their several heads. At first I intended to put together a small number, upon some principal subjects; but, upon searching the scriptures, more and more texts still offering themselves, which I thought equally to my purpose, the Collection at length grew so large, that the taking so many copies as were wanted, would have been a tedious work: for which reason, and in hopes it might serve the same useful end to others, I at last gave way to its being made public. Since I completed it, I have examined some other Collections I have met with, and have added

out of them those few texts, which I had not before observed; so that, I believe, this is the fullest collection of the kind of any extant, at least that I

have seen.

I have endeavoured to put them together in such a method, as might be easiest and fittest for common use. I have not increased the heads to so great a variety of particulars, as some may expect; both because too many divisions rather confound, than assist the memory; and also the applying of the Promises to cases too particular, would have too much confined their use, when capable of a more extensive application. If any therefore want the Promises for some case they do not find here mentioned, they may meet with them under some more general head, within which that case is comprehended. And for the same reason, some of the Promises may seem not so properly to belong to the head under which they are ranged; but as they are near akin to it, I chose rather to put them together, than to multiply heads. There are also other texts, which some may think should have been placed elsewhere. For instance, some of the Promises under the head of Temporal Blessings are by some understood in a figurative sense of spiritual, and so on the contrary. I have taken them in the sense that appeared to me most agreeable to the design of the Spirit of God; though sometimes, where I thought the words were capable of both senses, I have written them in both places. Many other texts also might be ranged under different heads; for example, either in the First Part, among the Blessings promised; or in the Second, containing the Graces and Duties to which Promises are made; and sometimes under either of those heads, which being nearly related, follow one another; as

« PreviousContinue »