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suitable to their several 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 Promises made to the Jews under a dispensation wherein a greater stress is laid upon temporal bleflings, than under the gospel ; and consequently, that Christians cannot expect so much from those Promises.
I answer, 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 prosperity, than the law ; since it has brought in a better hope, and gives more clear discoveries, and more full assurances of spiritual and eternal blessings, and recommends these as our main concern ; and therefore our defires and expectations of temporal blessings, 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 Promises 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 promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. Where the apostle affirms, not only that godliness is profitable to this, as well as another life, but that it has Promises relating to both i by which it is probable he meant those of the Old Testament, a great part of the New being not then committed to writing, or not publithed among the churches. Besides, as was observed before, the Promifes made in the Old Testament, the apostle applies to Christians, and that upon the principle above mentioned, Rom. xv. 4. an instance of which we have, among others, in his pressing obedience to parents on Christians, Eph. vi. 2, 3. from the temporal Promise annexed to the fifth commandment, delivered to the Jews. To which may be added, that there are many
Promises of temporal blessings to be found in the gospel, as full and as exprellive as those in the Old Testament, as will appear upon the perufal of this Collection.
Nor do I think the case of good men under the law so different from that of Christians, with relation to outward blessings, as some may apprehend. It is plain, those Promises were not to them absolute or universal, but to be understood with the same limita. tions as now; and that in those times, as well as since, the righteous were frequently exercised with severe afflictions, and the wicked had many times a greater share of outward prosperity than even the best of men; the want of a due attention to which, was the reason of the heavy censures Job met with from his friends. The sentences therefore, which in Job, in the Prov. erbs, and other places, express the earthly advantages attending righteousness in its several branches, and the ill consequences of vice, are not to be looked upon as universal positions, but rather as observations of the proper tendency of virtue and vice, and their natural connection with such, and such benefits and mifchiefs, though liable to some exceptions in particular cases, as most general observations and maxims
And there is now the same connection established by God, in the course of things between moral good and evil ; and several advantages and mischiefs, though subject to such variations as God in his wise providence fees fit to make from his more settled rules.
As to the Promises of spiritual and eternal blessings, they are to be applied according to the tenor of the gospel. It is to faith, repentance, love and sincere obedience, that the Promises in general, are made of pardon, grace, and glory; as appears from a great multitude of texts here collected. And indeed withс
out these difpofitions, none can justly lay claim to any of the temporal Promises. But because in many cafes, a serious person may be doubtful whether he is converted or not, whether there be in him that faith, repentance, and holiness, which may be a proof that he is in a state of favour with God, and fo entitled to the Promises ; I observe, that as there is a difference between grace begun, in its first exercises, and when it is arrived to a confirmed habit ; so many of the Promises are made to the first beginnings and exercises of grace, in praying and seeking after God, in the use of appointed means, in turning from sin, and coming to Christ. 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 rest 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 also to be observed, that the other Promises of divine influences, of the increase of grace, of prefervation from sin, of grace to persevere to the end, &c. and so of everlasting life and glory, though ev. ery sincere Christian may apply them, and depend upon them, yet they all suppose the diligent use of all the means of grace, watchfulness, a constant application to, and dependance upon, the strength of Christ, and the grace of his Holy Spirit, and a lincere regard to all the other duties of the gospel ;' as appears from John xv. 4, 10. and many other passages to be found in this Collection, especially in the latter part.
To obtain the comfort of the Promises in the second part, every one must see that they be in a good
degree degree possessed of the graces, and that they diligently perform the duties, to which the Promises are made ; and that from a principle of faith in Chrift, 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 Christ for acceptance, in whom all the Promises are gea and amen, we can expect no reward from him. God may justly reject such a claim, with, Did ye it at all to me, even to me? And for the same reafon, the observing of some duties, while we know. ingly allow ourselves in acts of disobedience to other commands, will not support our claim to the Promi. fes ; because if we acted with a sincere respect to God, we should shew the same 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 interest of Christ's kingdom here on earth, I thought it very necessary to lay before him what the scripture affords for the raising of his hopes, and encouraging his prayers upon those important subjects. And this is the design of that Collection of texts, in the Appendix. But this I found more difficult than any other part whatsoever; for in searching the scripture upon those subjects, I met with so many passages that had a relation to the state of the church, that a complete collection of them was inconsistent 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 Christians should know how to make use of them. I have, however, endeavoured to avoid both these inconveniences, by felecting those texts which are most full to my purpose, and most easy to be apprehended by an attentive reader , hoping that those fcriptures being here laid to
gether, gether, which treat of the fame subject, they would mutually illustrate and explain one another.
I am sensible that many of the texts I have brought, which foretel the enlargement and glory of the church, have already had, in some degree, their accomplishment in the conversion of the Gentiles to the Christian faith ; but upon a thorough confideration of feveral of the prophecies, concerning the spreading of the gospel throughout all nations, the subjection of all kings to the authority of Christ, 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 still to be expected' a fuller accomplishment of them, than has yet been. But which have been already fulfilled, and which still 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 some 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 consequently in whatever measures the Spirit of God is poured out, and the glory of God manifested among the Jews when converted, the Gentile church will enjoy their share 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 conversion 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 several, but especially the first ages of Christianity ; bnt I do not see what sense can be made