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3. From Christ's looking up to Heaven before he did the Miracle, as was before observ’d, we learn to begin all our Works with Prayer, and to implore the Divine Blef sing in all our Enterprizes. This we, who have no power of our felves to help our felves, have far more Need and Reason to do, than he who had all power given him both in Heaven and Earth; and if the Son of God, in his Fulness of Power, crav' the Aid of his heavenly Father, how much more ought we, in our State of Impotence and Inability, to look up to him for Aslistance in all our Undertakings ? To this we are directed in Phil. 4. 6. In every thing by Prayer and Supplication, with Thanksgiving, let your Requests be made knoton unto God.
Lastly, From the folemn Acknowledgment here made of Christ's Power and Goodness, in curing this deaf and dumb Man, saying, He hath done all things well, be maketh the Deaf to bear, and the Dumb to speak ; let us learn to own the Hand of God in all his merciful and wonderful Works, ascribing nothing to our felves, but all to his Power and Glory. This Lesson we are taught not only here, but throughout the whole Book of Scripture. The Pfalmift especially calls upon us to magnify and extol the Works of the Lord, and in all Conditions and Necessities to have our whole Truft and Dependance upon him; and thus by beginning all our Works with Prayer, and ending them with Praise, we shall find the Comfort and Reward of both : Which God grant, &C.
The EPISTLE for the Thirteenth Sunday after
Trinity Gal. iii. 16. and following Verses. To Abraham and his Seed were the Promises made.
He saith not unto Seeds, as of many, but as of one, and to thy Seed, which is Christ ; and this I say, &c.
HE Collect for this Day teaches us to pray unto
him in this Life, that we fail not finally to attain his heavenly Promises. The Promises here meant are those of Justification and Salvation by Faith in Chrift, whereby all Mankind, who, by the Sin of our first Parents, were doom'd to temporal and eternal Death, are, by the Merits of a Saviour, happily restor’d to a spiritual and everlasting Life. These St. Peter Itiles, exceeding great and precious Promises, as proceeding from the rich inexhaustible Treasure of Divine Goodness, i Pet. 1. 4. And of these St. Paul here treats in the Epistle for this Day, which begins with the fixteenth Verse of this Chapter, Now to Abraham and his Seed were the Promises made, and so on to the 23d : In which we are taught,
First, To whom these Promises were made, and when.
Secondly, That the Law which was given after did not vacate or disannul them.
Thirdly, To what End or Use the Law serv'd, and how it was given.
Fourthly, The Consistency of the Law with these Promises, and the Conclusion of the whole. Of which particularly : And,
First, Of the Persons to whom these Promises were nade, and that the first words of the Epistle tell us, 'Twas
to Abraham and his Seed. Now this Promise was made to Abraham, long before the giving of the Law by Moses ; of which we read, Gen. 12. 3. In thee, that is, in thy Seed, mall all the Families of the Earth be blessed. He saith not of Seeds, as of many, faith the Apostle ; for Abraham's Children by the Bond-woman, viz. Ismael and his Iffue, were not included in the Promise; but in the fingular Number, as of one, that is, Isaac, born of Sarah the Free-woman, who was a Type of Christ, that descended from him : and therefore 'tis added, and to thy Seed, which is Chrift. This is more fully express’d, Chap. 4. ver. 22, &c. where we read, That Abraham had two Sons, the one by a Bond-maid, the other by a Free-woman ; the one denoting the Law, and the other the Gospel. He who was of the Bond-woman mas born after the Flesh, and so subject to the carnal Ordinances and Observances of Moses's Law; but he of the Free-woman was by Promise, and so free from those Mofaical Rites, and are justify'd not with, but without them. After which he applies this to the Christians, saying, ver. 28. Now we, Brethren, as Ifaac was, are the Children of the Promise; that is, intitled to the Grace of the Gospel, and seek not Justification by the Works of the Law; for we are not Children of the Bond-woman, but of the Free, ver. 31: The Sense of all which is, that the Promise of God's blessing all the Nations of the Earth, both Gentiles as well as Jews, was made to Abraham and his Seed not to the fpurious Brood of Hagar the Handmaid, who continu'd under Circumcision, and were Debtors to the whole Law; but to the lawful IẾ sue of Sarah his Wise, who, by an extraordinary Blessing of Heaven, conceiv'd and brought forth her only Son Ifaat, who was to be the Instrument of conveying down these great Blessings to the World. The Defcendants from him are those Ifraelites mention'd by St. Paul, Ron. 9. To whom pertaineth the Adoption, and the Glory, and the Covenants, and the giving of the Lan, and the Service of God, and the Promises; whose are the Fathers, and of whom, as concern. ing the Flesh, Chrift came, who is over all, God blessed for ever ; ver.4, 5. These great Privileges belong'd to them, as they were the Offspring of Abraham, to whom Christ was primarily, and principally promis'd and sent.
But did the Proniise of these great Blessings belong to all that descended from the Loins of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?. No, faith the Apostle, for they are not all Israel that are of Israel, neither, because they are the Seed of Abraham,
are they all Children; but in Ifaac Mall thy Seed be calld: meaning, that they shall be reckon'd the Seed of Abraham who are born after the manner of Isaac's Birth, that is, by the Word or Promise of God; for they which are the Children of the Flesh (faith he) these are not the Children of God, but the Children of the Promise are counted for the Seed; ver. 6,7,8. The Sense whereof is, that the Promise made to Abraham and his Seed, was not made to his carnal, but his spiritual Seed, to Believers begotten after the Image of his Faith, and born by the Word of God, as was Isaac.
Now Abraham's Faith is describ'd to us in fundry places of Scripture : Abraham believ'd in God, and it was counted so him for Righteoufness; Rom. 4. 3. Gal. 3. 6. He stagger'd not at the Promise of God through Unbelief, but was strong in Faith, giving glory to God, being fully persuaded, that what he had promis'd he was also able to perform. Again, the fanie Apostle affirms, That be was not weak in Faith, but against Hope believ'd in Hope, that he might be the Father of many Nations ; according to that which was spoken, So fall thy Seed be : Rom. 4. 18, &c. Moreover, the Author to the Hebrews tells us, that by Faith Abraham left his own Country, obeying God's Call, not knowing whither he went: by Faith he trusted in God's Promise that he should have a Soo, tho he was old, and Sarah paft Age for the natural Courfe of Conception. By Faith' he offer'd up his only Son Isaac, the Son of his Love and of his Hope, that he should be comforted, and all Nations bleffed in him still believing that of him, tho as good as dead, should Spring as many as the Stars in the Sky for Multitude, and as the Sand on the Sea-shore innunierable : judging him faithful that had promis'd thefe things, and counting that God was able to raise up Isaac again from the dead, to accomplish his Purpose ; from whence he receiv'd him in a Figure. Heb. 11.8-20 .
These are some of the many noble Acts of Abraham's Faith, so often recorded, and so much celebrated in Holy Scripture : all which were counted to him for Righteous. ness, that is, they justify'd him before God, and procur'd Acceptance with him.
Now they that tread in the fteps of his Faith, and imis tate his stedfast Belief of the Promises, they are the fpiritual Seed of Abraham, to whom these Promises of Juftification and Salvation were made: in respect of these it is, that he is callid the Father of the Eaithful, and the Father of
them that believe ; Rom. 4. 16. They that attain to this Faith, are the Children of Abraham, and Heirs of the Pro. mise : and these will obtain the same Privilege with their Father Abraham, to have their Faith counted to them for Righteousness, that is, their Sinş, shall not be imputed to theni, but their persons shall be accepted, and counted righteous before God, which are the greatest Bieslings that can be bestow'd on any People : which yet are not absolute, but conditional, being founded on the Condition of Faith in Christ, and a firm Reliance upon his Merits.
This then is the Promise, which contains in it the Pardon of Sin, and the Acceptation of our Persons as righteous, and these are the Persons to whoin it is made, even the Seed of Abraham, that adhere to the Promise as he did, and walk in the steps of his Faith.
But did not the Law, after given by Moses, any ways alter or abrogate the Prontise made to Abrahain, and bring in new Terms of Justification by the Works of that Law? No, in no wise: fo the Apostle in the next Verse of our Text solemnly declares This I Say (faith he) that the Covenant that was confirm'd before of God in Christ, the Lam that was four hundred and thirty years after could not disannul, that it should make the Promise of none effet : meaning, that the Covenarit of blessing all Nations in Abraham, and the Promise of Mercy made to his Seed in the Melliah, were long before confirmi'd by God to them, and made art everlasting Covenant, that should not be broken. And it cannot reasonably be imagin'd, that the Law deliver'd by Moses 430 Years after the Ratification of thát Covenant, Thould frustrate or invalidate that Covenant made with Abraham, and in him with all Believers so long before ; or that the Goodness of God would perniit him to impose harder, and indeed imposible Terms of Justification, by the Observation of the Law; when in his Promise to Ábridham and his Seed he had granted it long before upon the inilder and better Terms of Faith in Christ which would be not only to alter, but to destroy the Promise of God, and niake it of no effecti This he farther argues in the following Verse: For if the Inheritance (faith he) be of the Law, it is no more of Promise ; but God gave it to Abraham by Promise that is, the asserting of Justification by the Works of the Law,' will quite alter the method of God's dealing with Abraham, and of his Proceedings with all lils Volly, Part 2