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$6. 3. Some promises of God, as to their full accomplishment, may be confined to some certain time and season, although they have their use and benefit in all seasons; until this is come there can be no failure charged, though they be not fulfilled. Thus was it with the great promise of the coming of Christ before mentioned, it was given out from the foundation of the world, Gen. iii, 15; and in the counsel of God confined to a certain period of time, determined afterwards in the prophecies of Jacob, Daniel, Haggai, &c. This all the saints of God were in expectation of, from the first giving of the promise itself. So did God order things, that they should depend on his absolute sovereignty; and neither make haste nor despond. And yet, doubtless, through the delay they apprehended in the accomplishment of the promise, some of them fell into one of these extremes, and some into the other; but there was no alteration in God or his word all this while.-Now what shall men do in reference to such promises, when they know not by any means the set time of their accomplishments? Let them believe and pray; and take the encouragement given, Isa. Ix, 22, “I the Lord will hasten it in his time." It hath its appointed time, which cannot be changed; but if you consider the oppositions that lie against it, the unlikelihood of its accomplishment, the want of all outward means for it; upon faith and prayer it shall be hastened. Thus, in the days of the gospel, there are signal promises remaining concerning the calling of the Jews, the destruction of antichrist, the peace and glory of the churches of Christ. We know how some have precipitately antedated these things; whose disappointments, and their own unbelief and carnal wisdom, have brought the generality of men to look no more after them; and either to think that the promises of them have failed, or that indeed such promises were never made; wherein unbelief have found many learned advocates. It is certain, however, that there are periods of time asfixed to these things; the vision of them as yet is for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie; though it tarry, and be delayed beyond the computation of some, and the expectation of all; yet wait for it, because it will surely come; it will not tarry one moment beyond the time settled in heaven.
87. 4. There are many promises, whose signal accomplishment God hath not limited to any special season; but keeps it in his own sovereign will to act according to them, towards his church, as is best suited to his wisdom and love: only there is no such promise made, but God will at one time or other verify his word in it, by acting according to it, or fulfilling it. And God hath thus disposed of things, that he may always have in readiness wherewith to manifest his displeasure against the sins of his own people,—that he may have wherewith to exercise their faith, and to encourage them to prayerful expectation, and cry. . ing to him in their distresses.
$9. 5. Some concerns of the glory of God in the world may suspend the full and outward accomplishment of some promises for a season. Thus there are many promises made to the church of deliverance out of afflictions and persecutions, and of the destruction of its adversaries. When such occasions befall the church, it may and ought to plead these promises, for they are given for that purpose: but yet it often falls out, that the fulfilling of them is for a long time suspended; God hath other ends to accomplish by their sufferings than are yet effected; it is needful, it may be, that his grace should be glorified in their patience, and
the truth of the gospel be confirmed by their sufferings, and a testimony be borne against the world. It may be also, that God hath so ordained things, that the straits and persecutions of the church shall tend more to the furtherance of the gospel and the interest of Christ, than its peace and tranquillity would do; and in such a season God hath furnished his people with other promises which they ought to mix with faith; and which shall undoubtedly be accomplished.
89. And we may learn hence,
1. In any condition wherein we judge ourselves to be called to plead any promises of God, and to have an expectation of their accomplishment, not to make haste. We see how many occasions there may be of retarding the actual accomplishment of promises; our wisdom and duty therefore is, to leave that to his sovereign pleasure, and to live upon his truth, goodness, and faithfulness in them. They shall all be hastened in their appointed time.
2. Again: when the accomplishment of promises seemeth to be deferred, we are not to faint in our duty. The benefit we have by the accomplishment of promises, is not the sole end why they are given us. God intends to exercise all our graces; our faith, patience, obedience, and submission. Something of this nature befell the “father of the faithful” himself; he had received the great promise that “in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed;" many years after this he was childless, until his own body (as well as Sarah's womb) was in a manner dead; his remaining hope was above hope, or all rational apparent grounds of it. This once put him so to it, that he cried, "Lord, what wilt thou do for me, seeing I go childless?" All this while God was bringing him “to his foot,” training him up to obedience, submission,
and dependence upon himself. When therefore we consider any promises of God, and do not find ourselves actually possessed of the things promised; our duty is to apply ourselves to what in our present station is required of us, and not to faint, or charge the Lord as unjust, all whose ways are mercy and truth, and whose promises are firm and steadfast.
Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, to-day, after so
long a time; as it is said, to-day, If ye will hear his voice, hat. den not your hearts.
$1,2. (C.) The words explained. 93. (II.) Observations. 1. In reading ang
hearing the scripture, we ought to consider that God speaks to us. $4. & The holy scripture is an inexhaustible repository of spiritual truths. $5. 3. Many important truths lie deep and secret in the scripture, and therefore require a very dirigent search. Fo. Use of reproof and direction,
şi. (I.) «AGAIN, he limiteth a certain day.” (Iladv) Again; it may denote either the repetition of an old act, or the introduction of a new testimony; but it rather expresses here the repetition of the thing spoken, and is to be joined in construction with "he limiteth,” or “he limiteth again.” -(Oʻpíšeo) “He limiteth;” that is, absolutely, God doth so, whose authority alone in these things is the rule of our faith and obedience, particularly the Holy Ghost; this limitation being made in the scriptures which were given by his immediate and peculiar inspiration, 2 Pet. i, 21. “Limiteth;" that is, either describes, or defineth it in a prophetical prediction, or determineth and appoints it by an authoritative institution. He describes it in itself, and appoints it unto us. The word may comprise both; and we have no ground to exclude either.
(Tive altepen) A certain day; that is, another determinateday, in answer to the days before-mentioned, and
whose season was now elapsed. It is certain that the apostle doth principally intend to evince, the new rest of God under the gospel, and to persuade the Hebrews to secure their entrance into it, and possession of it. But he here changeth his terms, and calls it not a rest, but proposeth it from the psalmist under the notion of a day, and this he doth because he had before proved and illustrated the rest of God, from the day that was set apart as a pledge and means of it, as also because he designs to manifest that there is another day determined, as a pledge and representation of this new rest, or as an especial season for the enjoyment of its privileges.
$2. (Zyliepov) To-day; the day he intends is that which in the psalmist is called (arn) to-day, the former day he called (ebdoumu) the 'seventh day, but this new spiritval rest in Christ by the gospel, is to have another day to express it. Thus is 'to-day' in the psalmist left at liberty to be any day in the prophecy, but limited to the first by the resurrection of Christ. "Speaking in David, who was the person by whom this matter was revealed to the church, in a psalm that he composed, by divine inspiration, for that purpose: for the scripture is the voice of God, and he always speaks to us thereby; and itself is said to speak, because of God's speaking in it. After so long a time;' the date of this time is to be taken either from the coming of the Israelites out of Egypt, or from the second year after, when the spies were sent to search the land; a space of about five hundred years; so that our apostle might well call it, “after so long a time;' or so great a space of time.
33. (II.) The remaining words of this verse have been opened before; we shall therefore proceed to some improving observations:
Obs. 1. In reading and hearing the scripture, we ought to consider that God speaks to us in and by it.