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fuitable to their feveral exigencies, even in things concerning this life.
It may be objected to many of the texts, that they are taken out of the Old Testament, and were Promifes made to the Jews under a difpenfation wherein a greater ftrefs is laid upon temporal bleffings, than under the gospel; and confequently, that Christians cannot expect so much from thofe Promifes.
I anfwer, That it is true, the gospel has a much greater tendency to draw our affections from, and leffen our regard to our outward felicity and profperity, than the law; fince it has brought in a better hope, and gives more clear discoveries, and more full affurances of fpiritual and eternal bleffings, and recommends these as our main concern; and therefore our defires and expectations of temporal bleffings, ought to be very moderate, and bear no proportion with our concern for fpiritual. But yet that Christians may take comfort. in, and apply to themselves the Promifes of the Old Testament, and in things relating to this life, is evident from that declaration of the apostle, 1 Tim. iv. 8. Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promife of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. Where the apostle affirms, not only that godlinefs is profitable to this, as well as another life, but that it has Promifes relating to both; by which it is probable he meant thofe of the Old Testament, a great part of the New being not then committed to writing, or not published among the churches. Besides, as was observed before, the Promifes made in the Old Teftament, the apostle applies to Christians, and that upon the principle above mentioned, Rom. xv. 4. an inftance of which we have, among others, in his preffing obedience to parents on Chriftians, Eph. vi. 2, 3. from the temporal Promife annexed to the fifth commandment, delivered to the Jews. To which may be added, that there are many Promifes
Promifes of temporal bleffings to be found in the gofpel, as full and as expreffive as thofe in the Old Testament, as will appear upon the perufal of this Collection.
Nor do I think the cafe of good men under the law fo different from that of Christians, with relation to outward bleffings, as fome may apprehend. It is plain, thofe Promifes were not to them abfolute or univerfal, but to be understood with the fame limitations as now; and that in those times, as well as fince, the righteous were frequently exercifed with fevere afflictions, and the wicked had many times a greater fhare of outward prosperity than even the best of men ; the want of a due attention to which, was the reason of the heavy cenfures Job met with from his friends. The fentences therefore, which in Job, in the Proverbs, and other places, exprefs the earthly advantages attending righteoufnefs in its feveral branches, and the ill confequences of vice, are not to be looked upon as universal positions, but rather as obfervations of the proper tendency of virtue and vice, and their natural connection with fuch, and fuch benefits and mifchiefs, though liable to some exceptions in particular cafes, as most general obfervations and maxims And there is now the fame connection established by God, in the courfe of things between moral good and evil; and several advantages and mischiefs, though fubject to fuch variations as God in his wife providence fees fit to make from his more fettled rules.
As to the Promises of spiritual and eternal bleffings, they are to be applied according to the tenor of the gofpel. It is to faith, repentance, love and fincere obedience, that the Promifes in general, are made of pardon, grace, and glory; as appears from a great multitude of texts here collected. And indeed with
out thefe difpofitions, none can juftly lay claim to any of the temporal Promifes. But because in many cafes, a ferious perfon may be doubtful whether he is converted or not, whether there be in him that faith, repentance, and holinefs, which may be a proof that he is in a state of favour with God, and fo entitled to the Promifes; I observe, that as there is a difference between grace begun, in its first exercises, and when it is arrived to a confirmed habit; fo many of the Promifes are made to the first beginnings and exercises of grace, in praying and feeking after God, in the use of appointed means, in turning from fin, and coming to Chrift. Thus the Promises of a new heart are made to those who enquire after God, Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 37. of wisdom to them that search for it, Prov. ii. 4, 5. of the Spirit to them that ask it, Luke xi. 13. and of reft in Christ to them that being weary and heavy laden, come to him, Matth. xi. 28. Which therefore every one who finds in himself those beginnings of grace, may apply to himself, as an encouragement to go on.
It is alfo to be obferved, that the other Promifes of divine influences, of the increafe of grace, of prefervation from fin, of grace to persevere to the end,
c. and fo of everlasting life and glory, though every fincere Chriftian may apply them, and depend upon them, yet they all fuppofe the diligent ufe of all the means of grace, watchfulness, a conftant application to, and dependance upon, the ftrength of Christ, and the grace of his Holy Spirit, and a fincere regard to all the other duties of the gofpel; as appears from John xv. 4, 10. and many other paffages to be found in this Collection, especially in the latter part.
To obtain the comfort of the Promifes in the fecond part, every one must see that they be in a good
degree poffeffed of the graces, and that they diligently perform the duties, to which the Promifes are made; and that from a principle of faith in Christ, and love to God, expressed in an habitual care and endeavour to please him. For whatever duty we do, without a real regard to God therein, depending upon Chrift for acceptance, in whom all the Promifes are yea and amen, we can expect no reward from him. God may justly reject fuch a claim, with, Did ye it at all to me, even to me? And for the fame reafon, the obferving of fome duties, while we know. ingly allow ourselves in acts of difobedience to other commands, will not fupport our claim to the Promifes; because if we acted with a fincere respect to God, we fhould fhew the fame regard to all his known laws, Jam. ii. 10, 11.
As a Christian ought to be concerned not only for himself, but for the whole church of God, and the intereft of Chrift's kingdom here on earth, I thought it very neceffary to lay before him what the fcripture affords for the raifing of his hopes, and encouraging his prayers upon thofe important fubjects. And this is the defign of that Collection of texts, in the Appendix. But this I found more difficult than any other part whatsoever; for in fearching the fcripture upon thofe fubjects, I met with fo many paffages that had a relation to the ftate of the church, that a complete collection of them was inconfiftent with my intended brevity; and many of the prophecies were fo difficult to be understood, that it could not be expected, that the generality of Chriftians fhould know how to make ufe of them. I have, however, endeavoured to avoid both these inconveniences, by fe lecting those texts which are moft full to my purpose, and most easy to be apprehended by an attentive reader; hoping that thofe fcriptures being here laid to
gether, which treat of the fame fubject, they would mutually illuftrate and explain one another.
I am fenfible that many of the texts I have brought, which foretel the enlargement and glory of the church, have already had, in fome degree, their accomplishment in the converfion of the Gentiles to the Chrif tian faith; but upon a thorough confideration of feveral of the prophecies, concerning the fpreading of the gofpel throughout all nations, the fubjection of all kings to the authority of Chrift, and the glorious state of the church in the latter days, as Pfal. lxxxvi. 9. Ifa. lxvi. 18. Dan. vii. 27. Zech. xiv. 9, &c. it appears to me, there is ftill to be expected a fuller accomplishment of them, than has yet been. But which have been already fulfilled, and which ftill remain to be fo, I leave to every one's judgment, upon confidering and comparing the texts.
Some of the texts I have applied to the church in general, are by fome interpreters understood of the church of the Jews, when converted to Christ in the latter ages of the world as Isa. iv. 3. and xxvii. 6. and lx. and lxii. Nor do I deny but it is probable, that people is more immediately pointed at in those prophecies. But as the Gentile and Jewish church will then be one, there will be a communication of privileges and glory; and confequently in whatever measures the Spirit of God is poured out, and the glory of God manifefted among the Jews when converted, the Gentile church will enjoy their fhare of the benefit for, if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness? Rom. xi. 12.
As to the converfion of the Jews, it has indeed been the opinion of many learned men, that nothing more is to be expected, than what has already been done in the feveral, but efpecially the firft ages of Christianity; bnt I do not fee what sense can be made of