Page images

loving-kindness and for thy truth, for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." His love inclines him to make the promise, and his veracity induces him to fulfil it: and it would be dishonourable to God to admit for a moment, the unjust supposition that he would disappoint the hope which his promise had excited: hence it is pleaded (Ps. cxix. 49) "Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope." The word of promise is the ground of hope; and it is by the grace of God a believer is enabled to make it such, to depend upon it, and expect its fulfilment ; and will He who kindled the holy desire, and filled the soul with hope of the promised blessing, disappoint that hope? It is impossible. The Christian may humbly, yet boldly, say with David, when he pleaded a divine promise (1 Chr. xvii. 23) "Therefore, now, Lord, let the thing that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant be established for ever, and do as thou hast said." Mercy and truth have met together, and they shall never part. Mercy invites, and Truth receives the sinner. Mercy makes the promise, and Truth stands ready to fulfil it: and the union of both shall call forth the Psalmist's song "I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people; I will sing praises unto thee among the nations for thy mercy is great above the heavens, and thy truth reacheth unto the skies." Ps. cviii. 4, 5.

6. Another consideration may confirm our confidence in the faithfulness of God. The promises are made in, and to Christ, as the head of his church; and faithfulness to him, as well as to us, insures their fulfilment. St. Paul declares, in 2 Cor. i. 26, "All the promises of God in him are Yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God, by us.' Jesus Christ is the Surety of the new covenant, and he is deeply concerned in the fulfilment of the promises, for they are made to him, and to his people, in and through him. The persons who shall finally


be saved, are those of whom he says to the Father, "thine they were, and thou gavest them me ;" and again, "I in them, and they in me, that they may be made perfect in one;" he also says, "All that the Father giveth me, shall come unto me; and him that cometh unto me, I will in nowise cast out." John vi. 37. We also read of "the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began." Titus i. 2. Was not this promise made to the eternal Son of God, and to and for believers in him, their covenant head, before the earliest date of time, and of which he gave a specimen in the first promise immediately after the fall of man? All the promises then being made to Christ, the Mediator, respecting both himself and his people, shall be punctually fulfilled, "to the praise of the glory of his grace."

7. If any further consideration be needful to establish our faith in the faithfulness of God, let it be that wonderful condescension of his grace, whereby he is pleased to confirm his promise by an OATH. In this manner he was pleased to stoop to confirm the faith of Abraham, when the promise of a numerous posterity, so contrary to human appearances, was made to him. So St. Paul relates the matter (Heb. vi. 13): "When God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself," saying, "Surely, blessing I will bless thee;" in the book of Genesis it is, "By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord" (Gen. xxii. 16): and in like manner he is pleased to deal with Christian believers (Heb. vi. 17): "God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath-that by two immutable things (in which it was impossible for God to lie) we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us"-that is, upon Christ. In this most marvellous manner does the God of Truth vouchsafe to antidote our fears, and

put our unbelief to shame; by this double security does he encourage our hope, and constrain us to say, as in our text, "God is faithful."...

8. In the last place, and, if possible, still further to satisfy the most incredulous mind, let us call in to our aid the experience of the people of God in all ages. And here, what a cloud of witnesses might we summon to give their evidence in support of, what ought never to have been questioned, the the faithfulness of Jehovah !

The first promise that God was pleased to make to his apostate creature, related to the Saviour, who, under the title of "the seed of the woman,' was to "bruise the serpent's head," or, in other words, to "destroy the works of the devil." The fulfilment of this promise was deferred (we must not say delayed) for the long space of four thousand years; and then, "when the fulness of the time was come, the proper, the appointed time, neither sooner nor later, "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman," to be a Redeemer. With eager longings of holy desire, many successive generations looked forward to this grand event; and when the moment arrived, fixed in the divine decree, the Saviour appeared. Let us remember that there is nothing like distance of time in the mind of God, between the promise and its fulfilment ; a thousand years with him are as one day, and a single day is as a thousand years;" and hence some events are spoken of in the prophets as present, or even as past, which are yet to come; for God knows nothing of past or future, all is one eternal now; and if he speak, it is done.


Was the universal flood threatened, and was Noah with his family to be secured? The event corresponded with the threatening, though 120 years. intervened; and when that period of reprieve expired," in the self-same day entered Noah into the ark." The world perished; Noah was preserved; and the word of the Lord, which cannot fail, was, accomplished.

[ocr errors]

Was Abraham, when a hundred years of age, and childless, perhaps for fifty years after his marriage, to have one son, and descending from him, a vast posterity, like the stars of Heaven for multitude? Every thing like probability was against such an event; but Abraham had the fullest confidence in the power and faithfulness of Jehovah, and the promise was fulfilled; and every Jew we see is a witness of it.

Was Israel, long enslaved and depressed, to be freed from the Egyptian yoke? What though Pharaoh was proud and obstinate,-what though, after a reluctant consent, he pursued the fugitives with a mighty army, what though rocks and mountains were on either hand, and the raging sea before them, the promise could not fail!-the sea retires at God's command; it forms a wall on each side of them, and they pass through its dry channel in perfect safety; immediately after which, the waves, obedient to their Maker, resume their place, and overwhelm, with tremendous destruction, the af frighted host of Egypt. Thus Israel was taught that "God is faithful."

Pass on with these distinguished people into the deserts of Arabia, and rather than the promise of God shall fail, behold them sustained for the greater part of forty years, with food daily rained down from Heaven, and their thirst assuaged with water flowing from the flinty rock! But how are they to dispossess seven mighty and warlike nations, whose fortified cities were "walled up to heaven," and in whose eyes they thought "themselves like grasshoppers?" The terror of God fell upon these bold warriors; the walls of Jericho fell flat before the Israelites; and the land of milk and honey became an easy conquest. The overflowing Jordan recedes, and opens a ready passage into the hearts of the country, and then the faithfulness of God is thus proclaimed by his honoured servant Joshua: "Ye know in all your hearts, and in all your souls, that


not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof." Josh. xxiii. 14. Surely all the people would say, "God is faithful."

It would be easy to follow the Scripture history, and adduce a multitude of instances to the same effect, but our limits forbid, and these may serve as a sufficient specimen. We proceed to a practical


1. From hence we may learn the unreasonableness and sinfulness of unbelief. Is the blessed God uniformly faithful to his word, whether of promise or threatening? What then is the crime of unbelief, but the denial of this-the denial of his truth and veracity-the charging him with falsehood? The apostle John, therefore, expressly says (1 John. v. 10)," He that believeth not God hath made him a liar;" he who rejects the testimony of God in the gospel, who denies that "God hath given to us (believers) eternal life, and that this life is in his Son" (ver. 11) charges the truth of God with a falsehood; and can any blasphemy be more criminal? Let the example of the ancient Israelites be a warning to the world; for "unto them was the gospel (the good news) proclaimed"-the promise of the earthly Canaan; but not giving credit to the promise, God was offended, and "sware in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest;"" so then we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief." Our wisdom, therefore, is to profit by their punishment, and to hear, with faith, the voice of God in his gospel," while it is called To-day ;" for this is the solemn declaration of the God of truth: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." John iii. 36.

2. Let God be honoured in his faithfulness, by a suitable confidence in it. The life of a Christian is a

« PreviousContinue »