Resting on the Promises
An extract from the sermon ‘Saints should not be discouraged whatever their condition be’ in William Bridge’s A Lifting Up for the Downcast,1 published by the Trust in the Puritan Paperbacks series.
If my very resting on God doth make Him mine, I may have comfort in Him too. Now the saints and people of God may always, and do rest on God, and though Satan says by way of temptation, ‘You have not believed, you have not rested on God’; yet they may say, ‘Oh, but now I do rest on God’; and so they may always have comfort in their propriety2 and interest in God.
God always knows them and their conditions. ‘I know thy works, and thy tribulation, and thy poverty,’ says Christ to the church of Smyrna (Rev. 2:9, 10); and this Christ speaks as a relieving comfort to that church in a sad condition; for says Christ, ‘Satan shall cast some of you into prison ten days. Yet be of good comfort, Smyrna; I know thee and thy tribulation and poverty; whatever thy condition be, I do know thee in it.’ And it seems this is a general cordial, for it is given unto all the churches; ‘I know thy works, O Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia’; it is spoken as a terror, indeed, to Laodicea, for that which is most comfortable to the good is most terrible to the wicked, as the presence of God, the omniscience of God, etc. But to the godly this is a great comfort: whatever my condition be, yet God my Father knows it, and knows me in it.
God would not have His people discouraged, and if God their Father and Jesus Christ their Saviour would not have them discouraged, then there is no true reason for their discouragements whatever their condition be. ‘Let not your heart be troubled,’ said our Saviour to His disciples (John 14:1). As if He should say,
‘I am now to die, to leave you all, to go to my Father; and when I am gone, you will meet with many troubles, but I would not have you discouraged; let not your heart be troubled.’
‘But, Lord, if Thou diest, we shall then lose Thy presence, and what greater trouble or affliction can there be than the loss of Thy presence?’
‘Well,’ says Christ, ‘yet I would not have you troubled at heart; let not your heart be troubled.’
‘But if we lose Thee, O Lord, we shall lose all the ordinances, and those many sweet opportunities of receiving good for our souls which we have enjoyed by Thy presence.’
‘Be it so,’ says our Saviour, ‘yet I would not have you troubled at heart; let not your heart be troubled.’
‘But, Lord, if we lose Thee we shall be as sheep scattered; some will deny thee, all will forsake thee; and when the Shepherd is smitten, we, as sheep, shall all be dispersed, and fall into sad temptations, afflictions, and desertions.’
‘Well,’ says He, ‘however it be, yet I would not have you troubled at heart; let not your heart be troubled.’
This is Christ’s mind, will, and pleasure concerning His disciples.
But, you may say, ‘How does it appear that God the Father would have His people to be of the same mind and disposition never to be discouraged?’ I answer: It appears plainly, because God has provided promises of comfort, succour, and relief, suitable to all conditions. I dare boldly challenge all men to shew me any one condition for which God has not provided a promise of comfort, mercy, and succour suitable unto it.
Yea, and if you look upon the promises, and ponder them well, you shall find they are so laid, worded, and moulded, as that all discouraging objections may be fully answered, and taken away as they rise. For example, suppose the church of God be under persecution of enemies, ‘No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper’ (Isa. 54:17).
But you will say, ‘Our enemies, O Lord, are many; they rise up against us, and gather into bodies, and confederate against thy servants.’
He removes that objection thus, verse 15, ‘Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me; whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.’
But, you say again, ‘O Lord, they have gotten instruments of death, and the whole power of the militia and ammunition into their hands.’
‘Be it so,’ says the Lord, verse 16, ‘Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work, and I have created the waster to destroy: no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.’
‘But, O Lord, they have got authority on their side, and they rise against us in judgment.’
Mark then what follows, verse 17, ‘And every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn.’
‘But,’ you object, ‘this is a promise made unto the Jewish Church only, and not to us.’
Not so; ‘This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord’ (verse 17). So that if you be the servants of the Lord, this promise tells you that it is made to you.
‘But,’ you object again, ‘we are in an unbelieving condition, and are not able to lay hold on this promise.’
‘Well, but’ says this promise, ‘this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.’ Children shall have their inheritance, though for the present they are not able to sue for it; it falls to them in due course.
‘Oh,’ once more you say, ‘but we may sin against the Lord, and cut ourselves off from this promise and this inheritance.’
Mark then what follows, ‘And their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.’ ‘Not only is this promise of me, but the righteousness, whereby they shall believe, and lay hold on it, and walk under it, is of me,’ saith the Lord.
Oh, how graciously is this promise laid, whereby all unbelieving objections may be taken off! So it is with all the promises; do but observe and mark them, they are so moulded, ordered, worded, as that every word of the promise holds forth a distinct answer unto your objections. Now if God has so laid His promises, that all unbelieving objections may be removed as they arise, what does this argue, but that God our Father would not have His people discouraged, whatever their condition be? Therefore they have no reason for it.
- Property, possession.
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