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III. By way of improvement, to shew the influence the hope of the promises should have upon our minds. I am,
First, To open up the nature of the promises referred to in the text. The first which occurs is that made to the chosen people of God of old, in case of obedience, recorded in Leviticus, “ I will walk among you, and will be your God, “ and ye shall be my people *.” When we look back to the first period of this world, and take a survey of our grand parent in all the dignity of wisdom and innocence, qualified for the enjoyment, and actually enjoying the friendly, the gracious presence and converse of his Maker, with what humble rapture must our hearts burn within us, to view our nature in so glorious, so elevated a condition; to view God himself, the greatest and the best of beings, condescending to the lowness of his own creature, vouchsafing to be his guardian, his companion, his guide, his friend. Again, when we observe the fatal change that soon took place, and view that same Almighty Being become the enemy and the judge of his guilty creature, what dismal prospects present themselves to us, what gloomy reflections crowd upon the mind; we behold ourselves fallen . XXIV, from a heaven of bliss to an abyss of woe, till we are again raised by the glorious hope of restoration to that blissful state by the promise here addressed, not to one tribe or nation, but to all who with us are partakers of this heavenly calling, and have the gracious offers of peace, pardon, and reconciliation proclaimed in their ears.
* Lev, xxvi. 12.
The import of this promise then is, “ I will walk among you, I will be a wall round “ about you, that no enemy shall dare to ap
proach you, and the glory in the midst of you,
no plague shall come nigh you, nor any evil “ befal you. I will walk among you as your « guide, your teacher and instructor, to point “ out the way wherein you ought to walk, to “make my path plain before your face. I will “ be among you as your exceeding great reward,
abundantly supplying all your wants, and relieving you from all distresses. I will walk among you as your inspector and judge, to
encourage you in the practice of duty, and to " deter you from acting contrary thereto. And “ I will be your God, your God as at the begin“ning, your merciful creator, your almighty “ friend, your never failing support, your saviour “ and deliverer. Fear thou not, therefore, for I
am with thee; be not dismayed for I am thy “ God: I will strengthen thee, yea Į will help ss thee, yea I will uphold thee by the right-hand so of my righteousness: and ye shall be my peo
ple, my people as at the beginning, my favour“ite creatures, my beloved children, my pur6 chased, my ransomed, my chosen ones; nay, I 66 will dwell in you, take up my abode with you, “ not for a day, not for a short visit only; but no “ len gth of time, not eternity itself, shall be able ss to make a separation; neither death, nor life, « nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor " things present, nor things to come, nor height, “ nor depth, nor any other creature, shall ever separate you
The other promise, upon which I design chiefly to dwell at present, is that referred to by the apostle as contained in the book of the prophet Jeremiah*: “ I will be a father to you, and ye
sliall so be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Al
mighty. Behold, what manner of love hath “ the father bestowed upon us, that we should be “ called the sons of God.” The glory, the happiness of such a relation, what language can express, what heart conceive? This promise contains the three following particulars; 1. Fatherly affection; 2. Fatherly care; 3. Fatherly pity and compassion.
* Jer. xssi. 9.
First, Fatherly affection.- This appears in what God has already done for his people: “ God so loved the world that he gave his only
begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him
might not perish, but have eternal life. Here“ in is love, not that we loved God, but that he “ loved us, and gave his son to die for us : when “ there was no other eye to pity, no other hand “ that could help, then our God wrought deli“ verance for us, and laid our help upon one that “ is mighty to save.”—When there was nothing in us to attract his love, when, in the language of the prophet, we were “cast out into the open “ field,” like a helpless new born infant polluted in its own blood, then she passed by and saw
us polluted in our blood,” and his passing by was a time of love, and he said to us when in this deplorable condition, “ Live.” God's love to his children farther appears in what he is still doing for them, not only in bestowing upon them the common blessings of his providence, in “ giving “ them rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons,
filling their hearts with food and gladness;" but in those peculiar communications of his favour and love, that peculiar light of his countenance, whereby they are cheered in the midst of worldly afflictions and distresses, whereby they are raised above the world, and the enjoyments it affords; whereby they are assured that “God “ is, and that he will be the rewarder of them " that diligently seek him ;"—in a word, whereby they know that they are “at peace with God " through the Lord Jesus Christ,” and consequently at peace with themselves, and with all around them. Farther, God's love to his children appears in what he assuredly will do for them; he has promised to “ be their guide even
unto death, and through death;" has promised the assistance of his holy spirit, to enable them to perform every part of duty, to overcome every temptation, to surmount every danger, and every difficulty-he has prepared for them “ an inhe“ritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fa“ deth not away, eternal in the heavens,” has laid up for them stores of glory and bliss, which “ eye “ hath not seen, ear hath not heard, which it “ hath not entered into the heart of man to con“ceive,” much less is the tongue of man able to describe. This promise implies in the
Second place, Fatherly care. When we come into this world, the care of our natural parents or relations is absolutely necessary for the preservation of our life, our condition then being most feeble and helpless—for this end, nature has implanted in parents a principle of the greatest ten