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fome tacit condition implied in them; and this doth not derogate either from the truth, or sincerity, or constancy of God in his word. Not from his truth; for he speaks what he intends really, if something did not intervene to prevent the judgment threatened upon which he was resolved, when he threatened, to be taken off, and stop his judgments: Nor doth it derogate from his fincerity and plainness ; for he hath told us, that his threatenings have such conditions implied in them : Nor doth it derogate from the conitancy and immutability of God; because God doth not mutare consilium, sed fententiam ; he doth not change his counsel and purpose, but takes off the sentence which he had passed with reserved conditions.
2. As to the instances, that I may give more particular satisfaction to them, I shall consider the threaten. ings of God with this double respect, either with relation to a law, or with relation to the event ; with rela. tion to a law, as they are the sanction of it; or with relation to the event, as they are predictions of fomething to come.
(1.) Some threatenings have only relation to a law, as they are the sanction of it. And thus confidered, they differ from promises; for promises confer a right, Omne promissum cadit in debitum'; but a threatening doth not convey any right, nor, if forborn, can the party complain of wrong done to him ; and therefore, in this case, it can only signify what the offence against the law deserves, and what the offender may expe& ; for the end of threatening is not punishment, but the avoiding of it. And this may answer the first instance. God
Adam a law; and, by way of sanction, not of prediction of an event, he threatened the breach of it with death : Now God did not execute the punishment threatened at the time threatened, but deferred it, and this without any impeachment of his justice or truth, because this threatening was only the sanction of the law.
(2.) We may consider threatenings with relation to the event, and as predictions, and as to the accomplishment of these, there seems to be a greater
degree of neceflity, because the honour of God's knowledge and power and truth, seems to be concerned in them; for it his word be not fulfilled, it must either be for want of knowledge to foresee e.vents, or power to bring them to pass, or conttansy to his word. Now if we consider, threatenings with respect to the event, as they are predictions of future judgments, I think all the other instances may be satisfied, by laying down this rule for the understanding of them, viz. “ That all prophetical “ threatenings or predictions of judgments are to be “ understood with this tacit condition, if there do
not intervene the humiliation and repentance, and prayer of the persons against whom the judgment
is threatened, and if so, God may, upon repen. “ tance, without any impeachment of the honour of “. his truth, or knowledge, or power, either defer, or “ abate, or remit the punishment.” And that the predictions of judgments are to be understood with this condition, appears clearly from that known text, Jer. xviii. 7, S.
I come now to the last thing I proposed, to make some use of this doctrine.
First, If God be a God of truth, then this gives ụs assurance, that he doth not deceive us, that the faculties which he hath given us are not false; but when they have clear perceptions of things, they do not err and mistake. Were it not for the veracity of God, we might, for any thing we know, be under a constant delusion; and no man could demonstrate the contrary, but that this is our make, and our temper, and the very frame of our understandings, to be then most of all, deceived, when we think our selves to be most certains, I say, no man could be assured of the contrary, but from hence, because veracity and truth is a divine perfection; and therefore God cannot be the author of error and delusion. Therefore we may be assured, that the frame of our understanding is not a cheat, but that our faculties are true, and, unless it be our own fault, we need not be deceived in things that are necessary :o our happinefs.
Secondly, If God be a God of truth, then there is reason why we should believe and assent to whatever we are satisfied is revealed to us by God. A divine revelation is a sufficient ground for the most firm affent; for this very thing, that any thing is revealed by God, is the highest evidence, and ought to give us the most firm assurance of the truth of it. Hence it is, that the word of God is called the word of truth, yea, and truth itself, John xvii. 17. Thy word is truth.
Therefore, whoever entertains the scriptures as the word of God, and is satisfied of the divine autho.. rity of them, ought, in reason, to believe everything contained in them yea, though there be some things of which no reasonable account can be given, and: which our reason and understanding cannot give us particular satisfaction in; yet, because we are satisfied that they are revealed by God, who cannot lie, whose knowledge is infallible, and whose word is true, we ought, upon this higlier and fuperior reason, to yield a firin assent to the truth of them : If we do not, we dishonour this perfection of God, and rob him of this essential property, his veracity: ! John v. 10. He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. As, on the other hand, if we do believe what God hath revealed, we glorify this perfection of his, and set our feal to his veracity. So it is said of Abraham, Rom. iv. 20. that he was strong in faith, giving glory to God. And St. John the baptift, speaking concern. ing our Saviour, faith, John iii. 33. He that hath received his teftimony, hath set to his seal, that God is true.
Thirdly, If God be a God of truth, and faithful in performing his promise, then here is a firm foundation for our hope and trust. If God have made any promise, we may securely rely upon it, that it frall be made' goodwe may hold fast our hope without wavering, because he is faithful who hath
promised, Heb. X. 23. Hence it is, that the blef lings of God's covenant are called sure mercies, Isa.
We attribute much to the word of a faithful friend, and look upon the promise of an honest man as very good security; but men may fail us when we rely upon them: but God is true, though all men should prove liars. Men are fickle and murable, but the nature of God is fixed, he cannot fail those that trust in him. When God hath made any promise to us, we may plead it with him, and urge him with his faithfulness. So we find David did, 2 Sam. vii. 25, oc.
Only we should be careful to perform the condi, tion which is required on our part, Heb. iv. !. we hould take heed, left a promise being left us, any one should come sort of it, by not performing the condition ; for that doth release and discharge him of the promise; and he is faithful, though he doth not perform what he promised, because he did not promise, but upon condition: And this seems to be the meaning of those words, 2 Tim. ii. 13. If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful, he cannot deny himself. He said before, that it we perform the con. ditions required, God will bestow the blessings pro. mised: It is a faithful Saying; for if we be dead with him, we all also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him : But if we deny him, the curse threatened will then take place, and he will deny us; and God is not unfaithful in doing this, he does not deny himself.
Now, it we have such assurance, we may trust him with our greatest concernments, and venture our souls with him, Pfal. xxxi. 5. Into thine band I commit my Spirit ; thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. We should rely upon him, when there are the greatest improbabilities of the accomplish. ment of his promises. Thus did Abraham, Rom. iv. 17, uc
This should make us also patient in hope : If a promise be not speedily accomplished, we should not be dejected, or disquieted. David challengeth himself
upon this account, Psal. xlii. u. Why art thou cast down, O my soul ? and why art thou disquieted with. in me? hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. And so likewise in reference to the rewards of ano. ther world, though at a distance ; yet we should, as the Apostle speaks, wait for the blessed hope.
Fourthly, The truth of God is matter of terror to the wicked. All the threatenings of temporal evils may juftly be expected, because their fins deserve them, and there is no condition implied in them, upon which thou canst reasonably hope for the avoiding or abating of the evils threatened, but of humiliation and repentance: And if, notwithstanding these threatenings, thou continueft in thy fins, and bleflejt thyself, saying, I shall have peace, though thou walk in the imaginations of thy heart; by this very thing thou provokeit the justice of God, not to spare thee, and makest his wrath and jealousy to smoke against thee; and if thou continuest' impenitent, however he may defer the execution of temporal evils, his truth and veracity is concerned to infict eternal punishments upon
thee; for he hath sworn in his wrath, that such mall not enter into his reft.
Fifthly, Let us propound to our felves the truth of God for our pattern and imitation. Would you be like God? be true and faithful. Truth and faithfulness are divine perfections; but lying and fallhood are the properties of the Devil, and the predominant qualities of hell. The character of the devil is, that he abode not in the truth, and there is no truih in him: when he speaketh a lie, it is of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it, John viii. 44.
One of the first and most natural notions that we have of religion, is, That it is to imitate God, and to endeavour to be like him, so far as we are capable ; and to contradict any of the divine excellencies and perfections, is the highest sin; because it is against the clearest dictates of our mind, and contrary to those principles which are most deeply rooted in our na
No man can be cruel and unmerciful, false and treacherous, without a very high degree of VOL. VI.