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men, it is a thing of some hazard and consequence, for any to have any offer made them of the favor, love, and kindness of potentates or princes; for they do not take any thing more unkindly nor usually revenge more severely than the neglect of their favors; though their favor be of little worth, and not at all to be confided in; Psalm cxlvi, 3, 4. And what shall we think of this amazing tender of all this grace, love, and kindness exhibited in the promise! Everlasting blessedness, or everlasting woe will be the inevitable issue.
$12. Obs. 3. The failing of men through their unbelief doth no way cause the promise of God to fail
Those to whom the promise here mentioned was first proposed, came short of it, believed it not, and so had no benefit by it. What then became of the promise itself? did that fail also and become of none effect? God forbid; it still remained and was left for others. This our apostle more fully declares elsewhere, Rom. ix, 4–6. For having shewn that the promises of God were given to the posterity of Abraham, he foresaw an objection that might be taken from thence against the truth and efficacy of the promises themselves, which he anticipates and answers; ver. 6. “Not as though the word of God," that is, the word of promise, “hath taken none effect;” and so proceedeth to shew, that whosoever, and how many soever, reject the promise, yet they do it only to their own ruin; the promise shall have its effect in others; "for what if some did not believe, shall their unbelief make the faith of God of none effect? God forbid.” The faith of God, that is, “his glory in his veracity," as the apostle shews in the next words, “Yea, let God be true and every man a liar," he is engaged for the accomplishment of his promises. Men by their unbelief may dissappoint themselves of their expectation, but cannot bereave God of his faithfulness. And the reason on the one hand is, that God doth not give his promise to all men to have their gracious effect upon them, whether they will or no, whether they believe or reject them: and on the other hand, he can and will raise up them, who shall through his grace mix his promise with faith, and enjoy the benefit of it. If the natural seed of Abraham prove obstinate, he can out of stones raise up children unto him, who shall be his heirs to inherit the promises. And therefore, when the gospel is preached to any nation, or city, or assembly, the glory and success of it depend not upon the wills of them to whom it is preached; neither is it frustrated by their unbelief: for the salvation contained in it, shall be disposed of to others, but they and their house shall be destroyed. This our Savior often threatened upon the obstinate Jews, which accordingly came to pass. And God hath blessed ends in granting the outward dispensation of the promises even to them by whom they are rejected; hence our apostle tells us, that those who preach the gospel are "a sweet savor of Christ unto God, as well in them that perish, as in them that are saved,” 2 Cor. ii, 15. Christ is glorified and God in him in the dispensation of it, whether men receive or reject it.
$13. Obs. 4. Not only backsliding through unbelief, but all appearances of tergiversation in profession, and occasions of them in times of difficulty and trials, ought to be carefully avoided by professors: “Lest any of you “should seem.” Not only a profession, but also the beauty and glory of it is required of us. Now there are two parts of our profession that we are to heed lest we should seem to fail when times of difficulty attend us: the one is personal holiness, righteousness, and universal obedience; the other is the due
observance of all the commands, ordinances, and institutions of Christ in the gospel. Therefore, we should have an equal respect always to both these parts of profession, lest failing in one we be found at length to fail in the whole. For example, lest while we are sedulous about the due and strict observance of the duties of instituted worship, a neglect or decay should upon us, as to holiness or moral righteousness. For whilst the mind is deeply exercised about those duties, either out of a peculiar bent of spirit towards them, or from the opposition that is made to them, the whole man is oftentimes so engaged, as that it is regardless of personal holiness and righteousness. Such persons have seemed like keepers of a vineyard, but their own vineyard they have not kept; whilst they have been intent on one part of the profession, others far more important have been neglected. Corrupt nature is apt to compensate in the conscience, the neglect of one duty with diligence in another; and if men engage in a present duty, a duty as they judge exceeding acceptable with God, and attended with difficulty in the world, they are apt enough to think that they may give themselves a dispensation in some other things; that they need not attend to universal holiness and obedience, with the strictest circumspection and accuracy, as seems to be required; yea, this is the ruin of most hypocrites and false professors in the world. The other part of our profession consists in our adherance to a due observance of all gospel institutions and commands, according to the charge of Christ; Matt. xxviii, 20; and the necessity of this part of our profession appears from its comparative importance, for the visible king.' dom of Christ in this world depends upon it.
$14. Obs. 5. It is a signal privilege to be evangelized. This the prophet emphatically expresseth; Isa.
ix, 1, 2, “Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulon, and the land of Naphtali, and afterwards did most grievously afflict her by the way of the sea beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations; the people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light; they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Christ in the preaching of the gospel is called the “Sun of rightcousness," as he who brings righteousness, “life and immortality to light by the gospel.” Now what greater privilege can such as have been kept all their days in a dungeon of darkness under the sentence of death be made partakers of, than to be brought out into the light of the sun, with a tender of life, peace, and liberty made them? And this is in proportion as spiritual darkness, inevitably tending to eternal darkness and death, is more miserable than any temporal darkness; and in proportion as spiritual light, the "light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ,” excelleth the outward light which directs the body. Hence Peter expresseth the effect of the gospel by God's calling us "out of darkness into his marvellous light,” 1 Pet. ii, 9. It is the gospel alone that brings the light of God, or life and blessedness, to men, who without it are under the power of darkness here, and reserved for everlasting darkness and misery hereafter.
$15. Obs. 6. The gospel is no new doctrine: it was preached to the people of old, as well as unto us. The great prejudice against the gospel at its first preaching was, that it was generally esteemed (neovn Sidaxn) a new doctrine, Acts xvii, 18, a matter never known before in the world. And so was the preaching of Christ himself charged to be, Mark i, 27. But we may say of the gospel, what John says of the commandment of love; it is both a new commandment, and it is an old one, which was from the beginning, 1 John ii, 7, 8. In the preaching of the gospel by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, and his apostles, it was new in respect of the manner of its administration with sundry circumstances of light, evidence, and power; and so it is in all ages, in respect to any fresh discoveries of truth from the word, formerly hidden or eclipsed: but whatever new declarations have been made of it, whatever means have been used to instruct men in it, yet the gospel itself was still the same throughout all times and ages. What John the Baptist said of Christ and himself, may be accommodated to the law and the gospel, as preached by Christ and his apostles; though it came after the law, yet it was preferred above it, because it was before it. It was, in the substance and efficacy of it, revealed and promulgated long before the giving of the law, and therefore in all things was to be preferred before it. It appears then from first to last, the gospel is, and ever was, the only way of coming to God; and to think of any other way for that end is both highly vain, and exceedingly derogatory to the glory of God's wisdom, faithfulness, and holiness.
$16. Obs. 7. The great mystery of profitable believing consists in the mixing, or incorporating of truth and faith in the minds of believers. Truth, as truth, is the proper object of the understanding: hence, as it can assent to nothing but under the notion of truth; so what is so indeed, being duly proposed, it embraceth and cleaveth to necessarily and unavoidably. For truth and the understanding are as it were of the same nature, and being orderly brought together, do absolutely incorporate. It implants a type and