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stitution, it was settled long before thou wert born ; and it is an unal. terable decree, which cannot be reversed.
All this is spoken, to confute them that look upon the Gospel as true, and to be believed, till they meet with something which crosses them; and then they hope it is not so.
In short, God is true when he promises, true when he threatens, true when he commandeth.
Or thus, if the Gospel covenant be false, thou hast no ground of hope ; if true, it doometh licentious sinners to eternal destruction.
SERMON XCV. VERSE 90.-Thy faithfulness is unto all generations : thou hast
established the earth, and it abideth. These words contain a truth, which is, first, asserted; secondly, represented by a fit and lively emblem, “ Thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.” He bad before said, “ Thy word is settled in Heaven;" now he speaketh of it as manifested in the earth. Here the constancy of God's promises was set forth by the duration and equal motion of the heavenly bodies; now by the firmness and unmoveableness of the earth. God's powerful word and providence reacheth to the whole world, this lower part here upon earth, as well as the upper part in Heaven.
Doctrine.—That in all ages, God ever showed himself a true God, and faithful in all his promises. It is here confirmed by experience, and represented by an emblem.
1. God's faithfulness relateth to some promise wherein he hath engaged himself to his people : “ She judged him faithful who had promised” (Heb. xi. 11). "It is his mercy to make promises, but it is his faithfulness and truth to fulfil them. His truth is pawned with the creature till he discharge it (Mic. vii. 20).
2. His truth dependeth upon his unchangeable nature; but it is con, firmed to us by experience. His unchangeable nature (Heb. vi. 18): if a promise can be made out to be of God, we have no more reason to doubt of it, than of the nature and being of God. Yet it is confirmed by experience: “The word of the Lord is tried” (Psalm xviii. 30). We are led by sensible things, and what hath been done, doth assure us of what shall be done, or may be expected from God.
3. That, therefore, God hath been ever tender of his truth, that the event may answer the promise, and we might know that God, that hath been faithful and kept touch with the world hitherto, will not fail at last. The Heathens ascribed a double perfection to their gods, aln96VELVA Evepyetkiv. So the true God is known by his mercy and his fidelity; he never failed to perform his part of the covenant with any : I will “ praise thy name, for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth; for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psalm cxxxviii. 2). As he hath made us admirable and great promises of giving his Son, and with him all things, so he will certainly perform all to the utmost importance of them. The matter of his word is mercy and lovingkindness; and, in the performance thereof, there is great truth and fidelity; as he hath made great and ex. cellent promises, so he performeth them most punctually: so that, in ful, filling his word, God will be known above all that is named, or famed, or
believed, or apprehended, and spoken of them. Here is his great glory and excellency.
4. That the experience of all generations doth confirm God's faithfulness in his promises; for it is said in the text, “ Thy faithfulness is unto all generations ;” in the Hebrew it is, from generation to generation.
The point may be amplified by two considerations :
First, That some promises have been received by one generation, and fulfilled in another.
Secondly, That the same common promises have been fulfilled to the faithful in all ages.
First, That some promises have been received by one generation, and fulfilled in another, when the matter so required; as for instance, Israel's going out of Egypt: “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterwards shall they come out with great substance" (Gen. xv. 13, 14). Compare now Exod. xii. 41, " And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.” Thirty years were added, because of their fathers' dwelling in Canaan, but God kept touch to a day. So for the promise of the Messiah, and calling the Gentiles: that God fulfilled in due time, and sent a Saviour into the world : in the fulness of time, God sent his Son (Gal. iv 4); when the sceptre was gone from Judah (Gen. xlix. .10), when the crown was possessed by Herod, a tributary and foreigner, during the Roman monarchy, which at length Christ should utterly destroy. Nebuchadnezzar had a vision of an image of four different metals, the head of gold, arms and breasts silver, belly and thighs brass, and the feet part iron and clay : while he beheld the image, and surveyed it from head to foot, he saw a stone hewn out of the mountain without hands, which stone smote the image, not upon the head, breast, or belly, but upon the feet of iron and clay, upon which it vanished away, and the stone became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth (Dan. ï. 35).
This vision Daniel expounded of four Gentile kingdoms, which should succeed one another with great extent of dominion.
The first, of the Babylonians, which then was.
The fourth, of the Romans, which subdued all the other, and became possessed of the riches and glory of the former. During this last kingdom, was the stone hewn out of the mountain, and smote the iron feet : this stone was the kingdom of the God of Heaven, which Christ set up. But, not to trouble you with mysteries and nice debates, the Apostle telleth us, “ Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers : and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy, as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles” (Rom. xv. 8—10).
The event, in all these cases afterwards, did speak for itself; so, in all that is yet to come, we should depend upon the veracity of God, as the calling of the Jews, the destruction of antichrist, a more ample effusion of gifts on the church, together with a dilation of its borders; as the
patriarchs “all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them” (Heb. xi. 13).
Secondly, That the same common promises have been fulfilled to the faithful in all ages. There is but one and the same way to eternal life in necessary things, and the dispensations of God to every age are still the same; and so in every generation the promises of God are still fulfilled, as if they were directed to that time only. God's faithfulness hath been tried many ways, and at many times; but every age furnisheth examples of the truth of his promises. From the beginning of the world to the end, God is ever fulfilling the Scripture in his providential government, which is double, external or internal.
Ist, External, in the deliverance of his people, the answers of prayer, and manifold blessings vouchsafed to believers and their seed. See Psalm xxii. 4, 5, “Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.” The godly, in former times, trusted God, and trusted constantly in their troubles; and in their trusting they cried, and did never seek God in vain; which should support us in waiting upon God, and to depend on his mercy and fidelity; for they that place their full affiance in God, and seek his help by constant and importunate addresses, shall never be put to shame.
2ndly, Internal, in conversion to God, the comforts of his Spirit, establishment of the soul in the hopes of the Gospel, as to the pardon of sins and eternal life. Certainly, God that hath blessed the word, throughout many successions of ages, to the converting and comforting of many souls, showeth that we may depend upon the covenant for pardon and eternal life. How many have found comfort by the promises ! Now, as the Apostle speaketh of Abraham, it was not written for his sake alone, but for us also (Rom. iv. 23, 24), so these comforts were not dispensed for their sake alone, but for our benefit, that we might be comforted of God; having the same God, the same Redeemer, the same covenant and promises, and the same Spirit, to apply all unto us. If they looked to God and were comforted, why should not we? His faithfulness is to all generations, he is alike to believers, as they be alike to him : “ There is no difference” (Rom. iii. 22).
5. That the experience of God's faithfulness in former ages is of use to those that follow and succeed, to assure them of God's faithfulness; for God's wonderful and gracious works were never intended merely for the benefit of that age in which they were done, but for the benefit also of those that should hear of them by any creditable means whatsoever. It is a scorn and a vile contempt put upon those wonderful works which God made to be had in remembrance, if they should be buried in oblivion, or not observed and improved by those that live in after ages; yea, it is contrary to the Scriptures: “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts” (Psalm cxlv. 4): “Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation” (Joel i. 3); “That this may be a sign among you, that, when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord” (Josh. iv. 6, 7). So, “ which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, showing to the generations to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born, who should arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Psalm lxxviii. 3—7). From all which I observe,
(1.) That we should tell generations to come what we have found of God in our time, and more especially parents should tell their children. They are bound to transmit this knowledge to their children, and they to improve it either by word or deed: by word, by remembering the passages of providences, and publishing his mercies to posterity: “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm lxxxix. 1). Or by deed, putting them in possession of a pure religion, confirmed to us by so many providences and instances of God's goodness and truth.
(2.) That this report of God's gracious works, and owning his covenant, is a special means of edification. Why, else, should God enjoin it, but that the ages following should receive benefit thereby? Surely it is an advan. tage to them, to hear how God hath owned us in ordinances and provi. dences.
(3.) And more particularly I observe, that this tradition is a great means and help to faith; for it is said, “ That they might set their hope in God” (Psalm lxxviii. 7).
6. That to be satisfied in point of God's faithfulness, is of great importance to believers : partly, because their fidelity to God is much encouraged by his fidelity to us. They that do not trust God, cannot be long true to him: “ Take heed, brethren, lest there be found in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Heb. iii. 12); and, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways" (James i. 8), duyuyos åvno; one that doth not stick fast to God, and is ever unresolved, being divided between hopes and fears concerning his acceptance with God. A wavering Christian that is divided between God and some unlawful course, for his safety; divided between God's ways and his own, and cannot quietly depend upon his promises, but is tossed to and fro, doth not entirely trust himself in God's hands, but doth wholly lean upon his own carnal confidence. And partly, because God is invisible, and dealeth with us by proxy, by messengers, who bring the word to us; we see not God in person : “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” (Heb. xiii. 7); their manner of living, their perseverance till death in this faith and hope. And partly, because the promises are future, and the main of them is to be accomplished in another world. Now, nothing will support us but the faithfulness of God: “The wicked worketh a deceitful work; but to him that soweth righteousness, shall be a sure reward" (Prov. xi. 18). Men think to be happy by their sin, but find themselves deceived at last; but none can be deceived that trust in the living and true God. Partly, because many of the promises contradict sense; as when the soul is filled with anguish because of the guilt of sin: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John i. 9); and the power of sin: “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thes. v. 24); supported in great distresses: “Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able" (1 Cor. x. 13); that we may be able to stand in the judgment : “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. i. 9). Here is a Christian's great security and support, God's faithfulness, testified by Christians now and in all ages, confessing they have found by their expe. rience the word of God to be true; for they have transmitted religion to us by their constant consent, and left it to us under a seal of God's faithfulness; and therefore we should persevere in our duty to God.
II. As represented by an emblem, we should consider it; for it is a help to frequent meditation, as being always before our eyes, and they are without excuse who see not God in this thing. Every time we set fout on the ground, we may remember the stability of God's promises, and it is also a confirmation of faith. Thus,
1. The stability of the earth is the effect of God's word; this is the true pillar upon which the earth standeth; for he upholdeth all things by the word of his power: “For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm xxxiü. 9). Now, his word of power helpeth us to depend upon his word of promise. God, that doth what he pleaseth, never faileth in what he promiseth. We see plainly that whatever standeth by God's will and word, cannot be brought to nought. Whence is it, how came this world to have a being? It is the work and product of that God, whose word and promise we have in Scripture. Certainly, the power of this God cannot fail; it is as easy for him to do, as to say.
2. Nothing appeareth whereon the globe of the earth and water should lean and rest: “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing” (Job xxvi, 7). Now, that this vast and ponderous body should lean upon the fluid air as upon a firm foundation, is matter of wonder; the question is put in the book of Job: “Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner-stone thereof?" (xxxviii. 6.) Yet firm it is, though it hang as a ball in the air. The globe of the earth is encompassed with the regions of the air and the celestial spheres, and hath no visible support to sustain so heavy a body hanging in the midst of so vast an expansion; yet God hath settled and established it so firm, as if it rested on the most solid basis and foundation ; fitted so strange a place for it, that, being a heavy body, one should think it would fall every moment; yet which whensoever we would imagine it, it must, contrary to the nature of such a body, fall upwards, and so can have no possible ruin but by falling into Heaven. Now, since his word beareth up such a weight, all the churches' weight, and our own burden leaneth on the promise of God, he can, by the power of his word, do the greatest things without visible means : “ But say in a word, and my servant shall be healed” (Luke vii. 7). Therefore his people may trust his providence; he is able to support them in any distresses, when no way of help and relief appeareth.
3. The firmness and stability offereth itself to our thoughts. The earth abidetb in the same seat and condition wherein God left it, as long as the present course and order of nature is to continue : “ Who laid the foundation of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever” (Psalm civ. 5). God's truth is as immoveable as the earth: “ The truth of the Lord en