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THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD.
1 Corinthians 1. 9: God is faithful.
E ACH of the divine Perfections is necessary to
the complete happiness of a Christian ; not one of them can be dispensed with. That God is Almighty, and Wise, and Holy, and Just, and Good, is the joy of every believer's heart; but there is another perfection, in which the Christian seems to be (if possible) still more interested that is, his TRUTH, or FAITHFULNESS: for the life of every real Christian, while in this world, is a life of faith ; and as faith has respect to the word of God, his faithfulness to that word must be the principal ground of his faith and hope, and consequently of his joy, for his joy and peace are “ in believing." There is nothing, therefore, which respects the divine character, that is more immediately connected with our Christian walk, than the veracity or faithfulness of God. The assertion of St. Paul in the text, furnishes us with a short, clear, and full proposition, which it shall be our present business scripturally to illustrate, and practically to improve.
GOD is FAITHFUL.
Truth is essential to the very existence of God.It is as impossible to conceive of a God without
truth, as of a God without power. Tem
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o possess it. Hence no affront is reckoned
as being called a Liar; it is deemed disful, and so it ought to be deemed, for this is haracter of the Devil himself : “ He is a liar,
the Father of it.” Most awfully do they resemte him, who speak lies ; they “are of their father, The Devil, and the works of their father they will do.” But the blessed God is infinitely true, and it is absolutely impossible for him to lie. The heathens themselves (in civilized countries) were sensible of the value of truth. One of their wise men said, that 6 if God should render himself visible to men, he would choose light for his body, and truth for his soul.” The Romans built a temple which they dedicated to Truth, whom they called the Sister of Justice ; and the most solemn oaths were taken in her name. Indeed, an oath is a kind of sacrifice offered to Truth.
What reason thus approves, Revelation abundantly confirms, and ascribes Truth to God as an essential perfection of his nature., Even Balaam, that wicked prophet, was constrained to say, “ God is not a man, that he should lie ; neither the son of man, that he should repent” (or change his mind): “ Hath he said and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ?” Numb. xxii. 19. He is called in Scripture “ The God of Truth”-" The Lord God, abundant in Truth.” Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is also called, “ He that is true”-“ faithful and true :” and the Holy Ghost is called “ The Spirit of Truth.” The extent and glory of this perfection is expressed in these lofty terms (Ps. xxxvi. 5) “thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens ; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds (or skies)."-"I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever : with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations : I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever; thy faithful. ness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.” “O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee, or to faithfulness round about thee!" Ps. lxxxix. 1, 2, 8. The heavens and the heavenly bodies excite our admiration; we see, but cannot comprehend them ; they are above our reach, and too large for our grasp : but they are emblems of the power, the mercy, and the truth of God: we see, we admire, we adore these divine perfections ; but finite minds can never comprehend them. i
The excellency of the divine faithfulness will more fully appear, when we perceive that it results from, or stands connected with all his other perfections.
1. It is connected with his Power. Ps. cxlvi. 6. “ He who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is therein-He keepeth truth for ever." His al. mighty power enables him, without the possibility of failure, to accomplish all his promises and thrcatenings. Honest men, however desirous of keeping their word, may be prevented by the unexpected occurrences of insuperable difficulties ; but the designs of the Almighty cannot be frustrated. « With God all things are possible.” “Is any thing too hard for the Lord ?” said the reproving angel to the wife of Abraham, when her faith once staggered at the promise. Abraham himself was “strong in faith, giving glory to God”-the glory of his power and his fidelity combined, for “ he was fully persuaded that what he had promised, he was able to perform.”
Rom. iv. 21. In like manner, the apostle of the Gentiles feels perfect composure in the prospect of martyrdom, well knowing “ whom he had believed," and being “fully persuaded that he was able to keep that which he had committed unto him.” If Noah is to be preserved amidst a drowning world, if Israel is to be delivered from the Egyptian yoke, or to be sustained in a barren wilderness, or to subdue the warlike nations of Canaan, no obstacles shall prevent the promised events; infinite power and infinite faithfulness render them perfectly certain ; wisdom prescribes the means ; omnipotence makes them effectual ; and God is faithful.
2. The faithfulness of God is connected with his holiness; indeed it is a branch of it, without which he could not be holy. " There is no unrighteousness in him." "He cannot lie ; it is impossible for God to lie.” “ He is not a man that he should lie.” Lies are the wretched fruit of man's apostacy his loss of the divine image, the corruption of his once holy nature : but God is unalterably holy; therefore it is said (Ps. lxxxix. 35) « Once have I sworn by my holiness (and I will not lie unto David) his seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun be. fore me.” Well, therefore, might the Psalmist say, “ God hath spoken in his holiness: I will rejoice ;" for thus the holiness of God is a pledge of his faithfulness.
3. The faithfulness of God is necessary from his unchangeableness. . He is the only being absolutely and necessarily unchangeable. Angels have changed, and become devils ; Man is changed, and become a rebel ! but “ I am the Lord,” saith he, “ I change not ;" and it follows, as the blessed effect of his un. changeableness“ therefore, ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Mal. iii. 6. Men frequently change their minds, sometimes from good to evil, at other. times from evil to good : 'their second thoughts are best ; but God's thoughts can neither be improved nor depraved ; they are originally, perfectly, unal
terably good. It was the pride of the Medes and Persians that they would not alter their laws; it was on the proud presumption that they were so wisely framed as to admit of no improvement; but such, indeed, are the laws and the promises of God; " with him is no variableness, nor shadow of turning.” The promises and vows of men (like Jephtha's and Herod's) are sometimes unlawful in themselves, or incautiously made, so that “there may be more honour in the breach, than in the observance of them.” Not so the engagements of Heaven; they are all the product of that holy and wise mind which cannot err, and need not change. “He is of one mind, and what his soul desireth, that doeth he ; he performeth the thing that is appointed for me.” Job xxiii. 13, 14.
4. The faithfulness of God is the result of his wisdom. Among men, the non-performance of promises is frequently occasioned by circumstances, which human prudence could not foresee, nor provide against ; and therefore good men should not make promises hastily, and never without (at least a mental) reference to St. James's caution, Ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this or that.” But no provisoes are necessary when God makes a promise ; he has a perfect foreknowledge of every future event, however distant; he knows the end from the beginning, and perceives the connection of all things, though apparently trifling and casual, all which, instead of defeating his puro pose, shall conspire to accomplish it. No difficulties, no disappointments can occur to him ; his in-. struments are always at hand, and willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or ignorantly, they shall all subserve his holy designs. This affords no small encouragement to a reliance on his faithfulness.
5. The faithfulness of God may be contemplated, as connected with his mercy, his love, and his goodness. The royal Psalmist puts them together (Ps. cxxxviii. 2) “ I will praise thy name for thụ