“On the Veracity and Faithfulness of God” is taken from the August 1810 issue of the Baptist Magazine, page 422 ff. Despite some antique language, this wonderful statement of orthodox theology from an early Baptist magazine is a great encouragement and will cause you to worship.
Thy Counsels of old are faithfulness and Truth. Isaiah XXV, 1.
The Subjects of our present contemplations are the Veracity and Faithfulness of God; the former regards the Truth of his declarations, and the latter his Fidelity in all his engagements.
Veracity and faithfulness are to be ranked among the foremost of those virtues which contribute to the moral excellence of an intelligent being. Without these, whatever endowments he may possess, whatever attainments he may have made, he becomes an object of pity, or rather of contempt. A man who has eloquence without veracity, or brilliant talents without fidelity, gives a mere varnish to the hypocrisy of his heart, and instead of making his acquirements subservient to human felicity, renders them the pests of the circle that is cursed by his society.
The value of Truth is universally acknowledged. Even the most consummate hypocrite not only attempts to conceal his finesse beneath the semblance of integrity, but inwardly detests the man who may wish to delude him by artifice and falsehood. Some have carried this idea so far as to suppose that God has given us a moral sense by which we unavoidably delight in truth.
It is highly proper for us to conclude that the Being who imparts that virtuous principle to his creatures, which contributes so highly to social order, must himself possess it in the most eminent degree: it is but reasonable for us to say, Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
These virtues pour an effulgence of glory on all the properties of the divine nature. By these we are assured that God can never contradict himself; that he can never deceive his creatures; that his power can never act in opposition to his holiness; and that he is always worthy of our highest confidence and most ardent love. This is the basis on which the children of God have rested their faith in every age of the world. In their weakness they have confided in his omnipotence; in their ignorance they have sought the direction of his wisdom; in their griefs they have found refuge in the tenderness of his compassion: but their confidence and hope, which never was made ashamed, were excited by his Veracity and Faithfulness. Supported by these, they endured the hour of adversity, the shame of popular insult, the gloom of prisons, the torture of racks, and the violence of fire, not only with resignation but with triumph. Amid the roaring of the tempest, they were comforted by the soft animating declaration, I will not suffer my faithfulness to fail.
We found our views of the Faithfulness of God on the sublimity of his Being. Human virtue is exposed to temptation, and the allurements of interest and pleasure put fidelity and truth to a test too often fatal to their stability. But we turn from the trials to which every thing human is exposed, to that God whose throne is over all, whose grandeur is so sublime, that no being can influence him to deviate from the firmness of his purposes, the holiness of his designs, or the declarations of his word. Let us contemplate God as the author of all the plans that relate to our salvation; the Author of all the promises respecting our present support and future felicity; clothed with light as with a garment, whom no man hath seen or can see. He created all the varieties of being in heaven and earth; his power prolongs their existence and controls their action and their influence; the spirituality of his nature renders him infinitely superior to the impulse of passion; and his is thus placed beyond all possibility of temptation to deceive. Therefore he can have no inclination to speak any thing incompatible with truth. Contemplated in these views, we perceive that as the sublimity of the divine nature renders his felicity permanent and independent of his creatures; so he cannot feel any interest in deluding them; and as their happiness may be advanced without impairing his own, he cannot be prompted, by any unworthy motive, to violate his engagements.
We rest our views of the Faithfulness of God on the vastness of his understanding. The designs of men are frequently connected with a deplorable degree of ignorance; unforeseen circumstances arise which render them incapable or unwilling to perform their engagements. Such is the uncertainty that pervades all human affairs, that the fairest prospects may be obscured, and the best devised plans may be frustrated by unexpected events. The father, to secure his possessions to the rightful heir, collects beneath his eye all that distinguishes him from the indigent and the vulgar, has recourse to deeds and settlements, pleases himself with having secured the aggrandisement of his family: but in his midst of these elating thoughts, some irresistible providence hurls him from his pinnacle, and numbers him with the dependent; or his designed heir is given to the grave, his grandeur becomes extinct, and his wealth descends to an unprincipled spendthrift, or becomes incased in the iron coffers of a miser. Thus versatile are human things. But God is not liable to any mistake. The gifts he intends to bestow can never be wrested from his hands; no event can arise which he does not foresee, no obstacle interfere which he cannot surmount. He can never lose sight of the creature whom he intends to honour. His perfect understanding enables him to be invariably faithful and true.
The divine Being is perfectly acquainted with all the excellences of his nature; he knows all the might of his arm, and what he is capable of performing; he knows the extent of his grace, and what cases of wretchedness it can comprehend. His is always able himself to fulfill his engagements; he cannot be induced to violate them through any consciousness of insufficiency, or by an inaccurate view of his own perfections. God hath also the most perfect knowledge of all the weaknesses, imperfections, and fears of his people: at one view he comprehends all the afflictions that will depress them, and all the temptations by which they will be assailed; he is therefore able to keep his engagements with the strictest fidelity, because no new unforeseen case can arise in their experience, nor any circumstance unprovided for take place respecting them. All the events connected with his people’s adversity or with their triumph, are before him; All things are known unto God from the beginning of the world. He knows exactly all the malice of satan and the craft of every enemy of his people. He was aware of the boasting impiety of Senacherib, the cruelty of Antiochus, the murderous rage of Herod, and the madness of Nero–he knew most accurately all the tribulation, the distress, and persecution, and famine, and nakedess, and peril, which would assail the followers of the Lamb; and to secure their felicity he passed an irreversible decree, I will never leave them nor forsake them.
We found our views of the Faithfulness of God on the unchangeableness of his will. Unfaithfulness among men frequently arises from the fickleness and humour; their perception of objects is confused, and every fresh view they take of them suggests some new resolution. But God always discerns objects in the same light and in the same connections; they never vary their appearance in his view; they never make new impressions on his mind; they therefore never produce any alteration in his will. The sacred Scripture is an exhibition of the immutability of God. There are recorded promises and their accomplishment; the most gracious engagements, and there we see displayed the perfections of Deity employed in their fulfillment.
God is immutable in his will, and therefore faithful in his promises. From all eternity he planned the glories of our salvation; a thousand tender thoughts moved him to select from a ruined world a people for his praise. The records of truth announce the appointment of his Son a sacrifice for our crimes, and the medium of our acceptance; and they abound in exemplars of his grace fulfilling his engagement to renovate the human heart, and make it a fit habitation for God.
We derive our ideas of the Faithfulness of God from the greatness of his Power. An inefficiency of power may frequently render our most faithful friends unable to assist us. They may see us struggling under mental distress which they cannot remove; they may attend our torture on the bed of sickness without being able to soften the rigour of our pain; they may behold the hand of death upon our countenances, but cannot by their cries or their tears recall us from his embrace; God alone is able to perform all that his grace induces him to promise. If he determine to rescue his people from their adversaries, his faithfulness shall appear in the exercise of his power. The lions may yawn upon Daniel, but their ferocity shall be restrained; the fire may be kindled around the devoted Hebrews, but its fury shall be extinguished. If he engage to bring many sons to glory; he will soften their adversity by his presence; the weaknesses they deplore, and the griefs and fears under which they groan, shall render his gracious communications more sweet; even their terrifying misgivings shall make them walk circumspectly, and all things work together for their good under his care. Thus is the power that weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance, exerted for the fulfillment of every word of his promises.
Our views of the Faithfulness of God are founded on the rectitude of his character. There are some persons whose veracity is so doubtful, that we bind their engagements with oaths, and even with witnesses hardly think their integrity secured: but God is glorious in holiness; and is emphatically the god of Truth. He not only enjoins it in his word, but is himself the most glorious example of maintaining it inviolate. When he promises the continuance of his love, the mountains may depart, and the hills be removed, but his affection cannot change: when he will shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, he confirms it by an oath, in which it is impossible for him to lie.
Our views of the Faithfulness of God are founded on his benevolence. Veracity and fidelity among men have much oftener arisen from an idea of mutual dependence than from the general laws of benevolence. But God, who is independent in his existence and felicity, cannot feel any inducement to act faithfully from any thing out of himself. His own benevolence, which led him to make engagements with sinful creatures, lays an immoveable basis for the hopes of his people. Do we at any time hesitate respecting the faithfulness of God, respecting the benevolent engagements which he hath made on our behalf, let us reflect, how graciously he persevered in the scheme of our salvation. Where can we have a more tender representation of his love than this, He spared not his own Son? After so many, and such aggravated offences; after our whole race had rendered themselves filthy and abominable in his sight; He did not spare! The Prince of life was crucified for a world ready to perish!
Let us consider also the attention he pays to the requests of his people. What promises he has made to sinners. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon. See the poor wretch walking softly, with a heavy heart, to the house of prayer. Overwhelmed without conscious guilt, he dares not look up, but smiting on his breast, he cries, God be merciful to me a Sinner! Will God regard him? Yes, He is faithful that hath promised, he will in no wise cast out. What promises hath God made to backsliders! Return unto me, saith the Lord, and I will have mercy upon you, as at the beginning. See that disciple, retiring from the hall of judgment, he hath denied his Lord with oaths and curses! Behold him weeping bitterly; his heart is sore wounded, he wants what he dares not ask! Will God accept his sorrow, and heal his wounds? Yes, He is faithful that hath promised, he will heal his backslidings. Above all, consider what promises God hath made to his people, under all circumstances! In their weakness he will be their strength; in their fears and distresses he will uphold by the right hand of his righteousness; the best desires of their hearts shall always be granted.
What an incitement to all good fidelity does his subject afford! How shall we, who have experienced the faithfulness of God, in which also all our hopes centre, how can we indulge in that versatility, which characterises the formal, the fluctuating, and the thoughtless? How shall those who have in the most solemn manner made over their affections to Jesus, give them again to the world and sin? How shall those who live by the faithfulness of God, and have found it a most delightful subject of contemplation; how shall they give up those sacred feelings in order to draw enjoyment from impiety and sensuality? May the holy Spirit enable us to apprehend more and more of the divine Faithfulness, and change us more and more into the same likeness.