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I have already faid, that our expectation is from the power and wifdom of God. May we then reasonably expect, and is it our duty to believe, that we fhall receive all that we defire, and that is within the reach of divine power and wisdom? Thefe have no bounds at all. We know that nothing is too hard for the Almighty. He doth according to his will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. This fuggefts to us that there is fomething more neceffary, in order to lay a proper foundation for truft, viz. his goodness, to make our expectation probable, and his promife to make it certain. Even created beings can often do what they will not. This holds particularly with regard to God, whofe power is directed in its exercife by his goodnefs, and limited by his wifdom. His goodnefs, in general, encourages us to go to him with a peradventure, or who can tell whether he may not be gracious? But in order to make our truft both diftinct and ftrong, we must go to his promife, “for "he is faithful and keepeth covenant and truth for ever." Truft then, my brethren, refts ultimately on the promise. It must be precifely commenfurate, or of the fame extent with the promises. Whoever doubts or calls in queftion the certainty of what God hath promised, is chargeable with distrust; and whoever expects to receive, in kind or degree, more than he has promifed, is fo far guilty of prefumption. This is the general rule, and I think it carries fuch evidence with it, that every one must be fenfible it is juft, who hath heard it with any measure of attention.

But the great difficulty yet remains, which is, to apply this rule to the various cafes that occur in the fpiritual life, and to tell any particular person what it is his duty firmly to believe, and hope he fhall receive from God, and what it would be prefumptuous and finful in him to fix his expectation on. This is plainly of the greater importance, that the more particular our truft is, as to the object of defire, it is the more powerful a fupport to the mind. At the fame time it frequently happens, that the more particularly our defires are formed, the foundation of our hope appears the more uncertain and queftionable. On this account you may obferve, that it is of the greatest moment VOL. II.

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to understand the nature and tenor of the promises; or rather, indeed, to explain the foundation of truft, and to explain the nature and tenor of the promises is one and the fame thing.

For this end, it may be proper to diftinguish the promises of God, as to futurity, into two heads, abfolute and conditional. By abfolute promifes, in this place, I understand only those that are fo in the most unlimited fenfe, that is to fay, revealed as a part of the fixed plan of Providence, fufpended on no terms but what all, of every character, may expect will certainly come to pass. Such are the promises after the flood, that fummer and winter, feed time and harvest should not fail-the coming of Chrift in the flesh at the fulness of time, to the ancient Patriarchs, and to us-the downfall of Antichrift--the preservation of a church on earth, let its enemies be or do what they will-the calling of God's ancient people, the Jews, and the coming of Chrift to judge the world at the laft day. Thefe are all called promifes in fcripture, and fo far as they can be of any ufe to the people of God, either for direction in duty, or reftraint from fin, or confolation under trial, they are to be depended on, in the most abfolute manner, for they reft upon the certainty of the holy fcriptures, and the truth of the unchangeable God, who “is "not a man that he should lie, nor the fon of man that he fhould repent."



ISAIAH 1. 10.

Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon

his God.


AVING, in a former difcourfe, opened the character and state of those who are called upon, and exhorted to truft in the name of the Lord, and entered upon the second thing proposed, which was to explain the duty of truft in God, and to point out its foundation; and having in this view confidered the nature of abfolute promifes-I proceed,

2. To confider the nature and use of conditional pro. mifes. These I am obliged, for greater diftinctness, to divide into three different heads.-1. There are promises made to persons of fuch or fuch a character, or in fach or fuch a ftate.-2. There are promises, the performance of which is fufpended on our compliance with fomething previously required, as the condition of obtaining them.— 3. There are promises, not only suspended on both the preceding terms, but upon the fuppofition of fome circumftances in themselves uncertain, or to us unknown. Let us confider each of these with care and attention.

1. There are promises made to perfons of fuch or fuch a character, or in fuch or fuch a state, which are, therefore, to be applied, and rested on, according as the evidence of our being of this character, or in this ftate, is clear or obfcure. In this I have particularly in view, the bleffings of falvation, the pardon of fin, peace with God, the fpirit of fanctification, and a right to everlafling life. Thefe all lie in an unbroken chain and infeparable connexion, and might have been more briefly expreffed, by an intereft in Chrift the Saviour, who is the author, fource and fum of these bleffings; "for all the promises of God "in him, are yea, and in him amen, to the glory of God "by us." Let no judicious attentive hearer be surprised or diffatisfied, that I have ranked these among conditional promises, for you may obferve that I have expreffed my. felf thus, they are promifes made to perfons of fuch or fuch a character, or in fuch or fuch a flate. In this, they certainly differ from the promises properly abfolute, mentioned above. It is far from my intention to do injury to that fundamental truth, that falvation is by grace. I esteem that doctrine which proceeds upon a felf-righteous fyftem, to be contrary to the word of God, and moft pernicious to the fouls of men. There is nothing at all required in fcripture to be performed by us, as a purchasing or meriting condition. Every gracious act of the divine government in our favor, is the fruit of the Redeemer's purchase, and every holy difpofition wrought in us, is the effect of his almighty grace. But it is certain, at the fame time, that in order to our accepting thofe bleffings, we must be truly and deeply humbled, and fee ourselves to be incapable and helplefs. We mufl be unfeignedly willing to renounce all claim of merit, and accept of falvation as it is offered in the gofpel; that is, in its full extent, and in the free and fovereign manner of its communication. So far, furely, we must fay, the promifes of the gospel are conditional, or wholly pervert the word of God. I know of no promises then to the unbelieving and impenitent, unless you call that a promife, that they fhall have "their portion in the lake of fire that burneth with brimftone; and that "the fmoke of their torment afcendeth up for ever and 44 ever."

Hear it, my dear brethren, it is the needy, thirfty, fenfible foul, that is invited to come and find reft. "Ho! "every one that thirfteth, come ye to the waters; and he "that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come “buy wine and milk without money and without price. "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, "and I will give you reft." If any fhall think fit further to fay, that the very deftination of the veffels of mercy, is of God's fovereign pleasure, that conviction itself is by a day of his power, and that faith which interefis us in Chrift's righteoufnefs is his gift: I agree to the whole, but obferve that it is improperly introduced here. No ufe can poffibly be made of the divine decree in the application of the promises. It is inverting the order of things. Can any man fay, I truft in the mercy of God, because I have been ordained to everlafting life? No man can derive comfort from this, till by his effectual calling it is published, and begins to be accomplished; and then he may look back with wonder and gratitude to that everlasting love, by which he was chofen in Chrift, before the foundation of the world. Can you judge of the fruit of a tree by looking upon the root? No, but you judge of the ftrength and deepnefs of the root, by the fulnels of the fruit, and the vigor and verdure of the branches. From an improper mixture of what belongs to the fecret will of God, and what belongs to us, as our duty, much error and confufion arifes.

Now, my brethren, as to the application of these promifes of pardon and peace, the humbled finner, the man among us who walketh in darkness and hath no lightwho is burdened with a fenfe of guilt, and difcouraged by the threatenings of the law, the accufations of conscience, and the pure and holy nature of God; who perhaps has all this aggravated by diftrefs and trouble, is called to truft in the name of the Lord, and ftay himself upon his God. He is invited to confider and reft on the extent of the call, the immutability of the promife, and the riches of divine grace. If he is fo far from pleading any merit in himself, or being diffatisfied with the plan of falvation laid down in the Gospel, that he is making every thing an argument

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