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for ever. Those that are upright and fincere already, have the promise of fpiritual growth and improvement. Pfalm XCII. 12-14. The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree : he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord, shall flourish in the courts of our God; they shall still bring forth fruit in old age, they mall be fat and flourishing. Ifa. XL. 31. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they fhall mount up. with wings as eagles, they fall run and not be weary, they fall walk and not faint. There are also many gracious promises of support and comfort under trouble and affliction. Pfalm XLI.
3. the Psalmist speaking of the righteous man fays, The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing ; thou wilt make all his bed in his hckness
. Isaiah XLIII. 2. When thou pasest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee : when thou walkest through the fire, thou Jhalt not be burnt, neither all the flame kindle upon thee.
If we come to the new testament, we shall find the same promises repeated, with the addition of more and
greater ; e. g. the promise of the Holy Spirit, and of eternal life. The former of these is promised, Luke XI. 13. If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your beavenly father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him. * Indeed our Saviour doth not inform us in this place, for what end and purpose his heavenly Father would give the Holy Spirit unto them who ask it : but that may be easily collected from other places of scripture, where good works are ascribed to the Holy Spirit as their author. Galat. V. 22. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness
, temperance. Eph. V. 9. The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth? Now if these virtues be the fruits of the Spirit, we can no longer be ignorant of the end for which God bestows his Spirit upon men: it must certainly be to produce those virtues in them. But the
great promise of the gospel is eternal life ; which is most clearly revealed in various places of the new testament. I shall mention but two: John VI. 40. This is the will of him that sent me, that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may bave everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day. Rom. II. 7
* For internal peace, fee Philip. IV.6,7. John XIV. 27.
For increase of knowledge and of grace, see John VII. 17. Matt. XXV. 29. Philip. I. 6. For comfort under affliction, ses 2 Corinth. I. 3, 5. Matt. V. 4.
God will render to every man according to his deeds ; to them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory, honour, and immortality ; eternal life.
Such are the promises of God's word. How then can the man who hides it in his heart, sin against God ? who can meditate upon these promises, and not be fired with a zeal to obtain them? and who can expect to obtain them, that practises vice and wickedness ? Are they not powerful motives to virtue and goodness ? and must not that man be prodigiously stupid, who knows them, and believes the truth of them, and yet is not excited by them to the practice of religion ?
IV. And lastly: The word of God contains many severe and terrible threatnings against wicked and impious
men: and therefore he who hides it in bis heart will not sin against God. I will read you three portions of scripture to this purpose. Prov. I. 24 – 28. Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded, but ye have fet at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your colamity, I will mock when your fear cometh ; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish cometh upon you ; then they shall call upon me, but I will not answer, they shall seek me early, but they mall not find me. Matt. XXV. ver. 46. And these, (i.e. the wicked, for of them our Saviour was speaking in the verses iinmediately preceding ; and these) fall go away into everlasting punishment. Rom. II. 8. God will render unto them who are contentious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish. These threatnings are enough to deter any wise and confiderate man from the practice of Gn; and he who in despight of them will gratify his lusts, and give himself up to à vicious course, can be accounted no other than a fool or a mad man..
Thus have we taken a short view of the doctrine of the bible, and endeavoured to show that the diligent study thereof has a direct tendency to make a man abstain from all vice and wicked ness, and practise religion and virtue. The notions which it gives us of the divine being, the precepts which it enjoins, the rewards which it proposes to the righteous, and the punishments with which it threatens the wicked, are all calculated for the promoting of these ends ; and cannot fail to produce them in a serious mind.
I will now make some inferences, and so conclude.
I. Is the study of the scriptures fo excellent a means to preserve from fin? Then, hence I infer, that the scriptures are a very excellent book. This goes a great way towards the proving them to be divinely inspired, tho by itself it is not sufficient. For it cannot be denied that some of the heathen writers give us very just notions of God, deliver many excellent precepts of virtue and morality, and say many moving things about the happiness of good men, and the misery of wicked ; and