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(2d) He has promised to preserve his people from, or de fend them in, a time of trouble, in Gen. xv. 1. 'Fear not Abram: "I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.' And, in Ezek. xi. 16. Thus saith the Lord; although I have cast them far off among the heathen; and although I have scattered ' them among the countries, yet will I be to them a little sanc'tuary in the countries where they shall come.'
(3d) He has promised to moderate their afflictions, in Isa. xxvii. 8. In measure when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it; he stayeth his rough wind in the day of his east 'wind.' - And, in Jer. xlvi. 28. Fear thou not, O Jacob, my 'servant, saith the Lord, for I am with thee, for I will make a • full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee, but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; ' yet I will not leave thee wholly unpunished.'
(4th,) He has also promised, that if need be, he will shorten the affliction, in Psal. cxxv. 3. The rod of the wicked shall 'not rest upon the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put 'forth their hands unto iniquity.' And, in Mark xiii. 19, 20.
In those days shall be affliction such as was not from the be❝ginning of the creation : And except that the Lord had short'ened those days, no flesh could be saved; but for the elect's 'sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
(5th,) God has also promised his people that he will enable them to bear those afflictions which he lays upon them, in Psal. xxxvii. 24. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; 'for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.' And, in 2 Cor. xii. 9. He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.'
(6th.) He has promised to shew his people the particular sin that is the cause of the affliction, that they may be humbled for it, in Job xxxvi. 8, 9. If they be bound in fetters, and 'be holden in cords of affliction; then he sheweth them their work and their transgressions that they have exceeded.'
(7th.) He has promised to bring good to them out of their afflictions, in Isa. xxvii. 9. By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit to take away his sin. And in Psal. xcvii. 11. light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. And in Zech. xiii. 9. I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: They shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, that it is my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.' Thus concerning the promises that more especially respect outward blessings which God bestows on his people. [2.] There are other promises contained in scripture, that
relate more especially to spiritual blessings, which are of great use to us, when we are asking them of God in prayer.
1st, There are promises that relate more especially to the ordinances or means of grace: These are various,
1. Some respect the duty of prayer, and also the event and success that shall attend it, in God's giving gracious returns, or answers thereof, in Psal. xci. 15. He shall call upon me, ⚫ and I will answer him.' And in Jer. xxix. 12, 13. Then • shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and "I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.' And, in Psal. I. 15. Call upon me, in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.'
2 Another ordinance to which promises are also annexed, is meditation about spiritual things, in Prov. xiv. 22. Mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.'. And, in Josh. i. 8. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou ⚫ mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; " for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.' There are also promises made to those who read the word of God, to wit, that he will make known his words to them, so that they may understand them, Prov. i. 23. Turn you at my reproof: Behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.'
3. There are promises made to those who attend on the public worship of God, in Psal. xxxvi. 8, 9. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.' And, in Psal. cxxviii. 5. The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion; ⚫ and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy • life.'
4. There are promises made to religious fasting on special occasions, as in Mat. vi. 17. When thou fastest, anoint thine ⚫ head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to • fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father ⚫ which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.'
5. There are promises made to alms-giving, in Prov. xi. 25. • The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall 'be watered also himself.' And, in Eccl. xi. 1.' Cast thy bread • upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days.'— And in 2 Cor. ix. 6, 7, 8. He which soweth bountifully shall ⚫ also reap bountifully: God loveth a cheerful giver, and is ' able to make all grace abound, &c.'
6. There are promises made to believers, when they appear in the behalf of truth, at those times when it is opposed and
perverted, that by this means it may not be run down, nor they confounded, or put to silence by its enemies, Luke xxi. 15. I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your ad' versaries shall not be able to gainsay, nor resist.'
7. There are promises made to the religious and strict observation and sanctification of the Lord's day, Isa. lvi. 2. • Blessed is the man that doth this; that keepeth the Sabbath 'from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.'
2dly, There are promises, contained in scripture, which respect God's giving his people special grace, together with that joy, peace and comfort that flows from it, which will be of great use to them, in order to their engaging aright in the duty of prayer.
1. There are promises of the grace of faith, and others that are made to it; as it is said, in John vi. 37. All that the Fa'ther giveth to me shall come to me; and him that cometh to 'me I will in no wise cast out.' And, in Eph. ii. 8. By grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves; it 'is the gift of God.'
2. There are promises of the grace of repentance, in Rom. xi. 26. There shall come out of Zion the deliverer, and shall ' turn away ungodliness from Jacob.' And, in Ezek. xx. 43. 'Ye shall remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein 'ye have been defiled, and ye shall lothe yourselves in your ' own sight, for all your evils that ye have committed.'
3. There are promises of love to God: Thus in Gal. v. 2. The fruit of the Spirit is love.' And, 2 Tim. i. 7. God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love, and of a sound mind.' ́And, in Rom. v. 5. Hope maketh 'not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our 'hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.' And, in 2 Thes. iii. 5. The Lord direct your hearts into the love of 'God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.'
4. Another grace promised is an holy filial fear of God, in Jer. xxx. 39, 40. I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear them for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to 'do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that 'they shall not depart from me.' And, in Hos. iii. 5. They 'shall fear the Lord and his goodness.'
5. Obedience to God's commands, which is an indispensable duty, is also considered as a promised blessing, in Deut. xxx. 8. Thou shalt return and obey the voice of the Lord, and do ⚫ all his commandments which I command thee this day.'
Moreover, as there are promises of the graces of the Spirit, so the comforts that flow from thence are also promised: Thus
it is said in Isa. li. 12. I, even I, am he that comforteth you. And, in chap. xl. 1. Comfort ye, comfort ye my people: Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, &c. more particularly,
(1.) There are promises of peace of consciênce, which is a great branch of those spiritual comforts which God gives his people ground to expect: Thus it is said in Isa. lvii. 18, 19. I will restore comforts unto him, and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips; peace, peace to him that is afar off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord.' And, in chap. xxvi. 4. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.'
(2.) God has promised a good hope of eternal life, in 2 Thes. ii. 16. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, who hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting ⚫ consolation, and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts." And, in Rom. xv. 4. Whatsoever things were written afore<time were written for our learning; that we through patience ⚫ and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope.'
(3.) God has promised spiritual joy to his people, in Psal. Ixiv. 10. The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall ⚫ trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.' And, in Psal. xcvii. 11, 12. Light is sown for the righteous, and ⚫ gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord ye ⚫ righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holi'ness.'
Here we shall consider a believer, when drawing nigh to God in prayer, as depressed and bowed in his own spirit, and hardly able to speak a word to him in his own behalf, as the Psalmist says, in Psal. lxxvii. 3, 4. I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed. I am so troubled that I cannot speak; and how he may receive great advantage from those promises which he will find in the word of God; as,
(1st,) When he complains of the wickedness, hardness and perverseness of his heart; in this case God has promised, in Ezek. xi. 19. 'I will put a new spirit within you, and I will take the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you an ' heart of flesh.' And, in Jer. xxiii. 29. Is not my word like a fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the • rock in pieces.'
(2d) When a believer is sensible of his ignorance, or, at least, that his knowledge of divine truths bears no proportion to the means of grace, which he has been favoured with, and that he is often destitute of spiritual wisdom, to direct his way, and carry him through the difficulties he often meets with, as to what concerns his temporal or spiritual affairs: There are promises suited to this case, in Prov. ii. 36. If thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her, as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord; ' and find the knowledge of God.' And in James i. 5. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth 'to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given ' him.'
(3d) If they complain of the weakness of their memories, that they cannot retain the truths of God when they hear them; Christ has promised, in John xiv. 26. that the Holy Ghost shall teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance.
(4th,) If they complain of their unthankfulness, or that they have not hearts disposed to praise God for the mercies they receive, he has promised, in Isa. 21. This people have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise. And, in Psal. cxl. 14. Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name, the upright shall dwell in thy presence.
(5th,) There are many who are not altogether destitute of hope that they have the truth of grace, but yet are filled with trouble, as apprehending that they do not make those advances, in grace, as they ought, but seem to be at a stand, which they can reckon little other than going backward, and they dread the consequences thereof; such may take encouragement from those promises that respect a believer's growing in grace; as it is said, in John viii. 7. Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end shall greatly increase. And, in Isa. xl. 29, 31. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might, he increaseth strength. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint. And if they complain of their unprofitableness under the means of grace, and not receiving any spiritual advantage by the various dispensations of providence which they are under; there is a promise adapted to this case, in Isa. xlviii. 17. Thus saith the Lord thy Redeemer, the holy One of Israel, I am the Lord thy God, which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.
(6th) Are they afraid that they shall fall away after having made a long profession of religion? There is a promise which our Saviour himself took encouragement from, though never liable to any fear of this nature, which a believer may apply to himself, as affording relief against these fears and discou 'ragements, in Psal. xvi. 8. I have set the Lord always be'fore me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.' And there is another which is more directly applica ble to this case, in 1 Cor. i. 8. Who shall also confirm you ' unto the end that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord