GOD hath strewed all the way from the gate of hell where thou wast, coming sinner, to the gate of heaven whither thou art going, with flowers out of his own garden. Behold how the promises, invitations, calls, and encouragements, like lilies, lie about thee. Take heed thou dost not tread them under foot.
You say you believe the Scriptures to be the word of God. I say, Wert thou ever quickened from a dead state by the power of the Spirit of Christ through the covenant of promise? I tell thee from the Lord, if thou hast been, thou hast felt such a quickening power in the words of Christ, that thou hast been lifted out of the dead condition thou before wert in; and that when thou wast under the guilt of sin, the curse of the law, the power of the devil, and the justice of the great God, thou hast been enabled by the power of God in Christ, revealed to thee by the Spirit through and by the Scripture, to look sin, death, hell, the devil, and the law, and all things that are at enmity with thee, with boldness and comfort in the face, through the blood, death, resurrection, and intercession of Christ, made mention of in the Scriptures.
On this account, O how excellent are the Scriptures to thy soul! O how much virtue dost thou see in such a promise, in such an invitation! They are so large as to say, Christ will in nowise cast me out. My crimson sins shall be as white as snow.
I tell thee, friend, there are some promises through and by which the Lord has helped me to lay hold of Jesus Christ, that I would not have out of the Bible for as much gold and silver as can lie between York and London piled up to the stars; because through them Christ is pleased by his Spirit to convey comfort to my soul. I say, when the law curses, when the devil tempts, when hell-fire flames in my conscience, my sins with the guilt of them tearing of me, then is Christ revealed so sweetly to my poor soul through the promises, that all is forced to fly and leave off to accuse my soul. So also when the world frowns, when the enemies rage and threaten to kill me, then also the precious promises do weigh down all, and comfort the soul against all.
The grace of God and the Spirit of grace are called or compared to a river, to answer those unsatiable desires, and to wash away those mountainous doubts, that attend those who indeed do thirst for that drink. The man that thirsteth with spiritual thirst, fears nothing more than that there is not enough to quench his thirst: all the promises and sayings of God's ministers to such a man, seem but as thimbles instead of bowls: I mean, so long as his thirst and doubts walk hand in hand together. There is not enough in this promise, I find not enough in that promise, to quench the drought of my thirsting soul. He that thirsteth aright, nothing but God can quench his thirst. |My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.| Psalm 43:2; 63:1; 143:6. Well, what shall he done for this man? Will his God humor him, and answer his desires? Mark what follows: |When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none| -- when all the promises seem to be dry, and like clouds that return after the rain -- |and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.| Aye, but, Lord, what wilt thou do to quench their thirst? |I will open rivers,| saith he, |in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.| Behold, here are rivers and fountains, a pool and springs, and all to quench the thirst of them that thirst for God.
What greater argument to holiness, than to see the scriptures so furnished with promises of grace and salvation by Christ, that a man can hardly cast his eye into the Bible but he espies one or another of them? Who would not live in such a house, or he a servant to such a prince; who, besides his exceeding in good conditions, has gold and silver as common in his palace as stones are by the highway side?
It sometimes so falleth out, that the very promise we have thought could not reach us to comfort us by any means, has at another time swallowed us up with joy unspeakable: Christ the true prophet has the right understanding of the word as an Advocate, has pleaded it before God against Satan; and having overcome him at the common law, he has sent to let us know it by his good Spirit, to our comfort and the confusion of our enemies.