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BY GEORGE BURDER
PsaJm xlviii. 14. Fortius God is our God, for ever and ever, s
THE glorious perfections of Deity form the subject of this volume ; in which, after an introductory discourse on the importance of the knowledge of God, we have made a feeble attempt to display the poxver, the wisdom^ the holiness^ the justice^ the omnipresence ^ the patience^ the sovereignty^ the goodness, the fnercy, the love, and the faithfulness of God j and now, what remains but to exult in this glorious Being, and to say, in the triumphant language of the Psalmist, " This God is our God, for ever and ever !"
These words conclude a hymn of praise, composed, probably, on occasion of some eminent victory ; but, undoubtedly, applicable to the glories of the gospel-church. Thd psalm begins with a declaration of the greatness of God, as he manifested himself in Sion. The situation of the temple, which was remarkably beautiful, afforded a suitable emblem of
the Christian church, in which true happiness may certainly be found ; there, the love of God in Christ is manifested and enjoyed, and there he presides for its infallible protection ; and the Psalmist concludes with che words of our text, exuhing in such a God, and in his interest in him, with the security it affords through life, to its termination. These words furnish us with a good conclusion to these discourses
VOL. III. O
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on the Divine Perfections, and it shall be our present business to prove that
It is the unspeakable privilege of believers, that God, in Christ, is their own GocJ, and will be so for ever.
A pious Jew, in ancient times, looking on all the nations around him, and beholding the heathen
bowing to their pretended gods of wood and stone, would pity their stupidity ; but contemplating the God that made the heavens, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Israel, glorious in holiness, venerable in praises, and doing wonders, would, with sacred joy exclaim, " This God is our God !" — " great is our God above all gods !''
The believer in Christ enjoys this privilege also ; for it is the grand blessing of the covenant of grace, as mentioned by St. Paul, in the eighth chapter of his epistle to the Hebrews (ver. 10) : " This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel," (that is, with the church of Christ) " I will put my laws in their mind, and write them on their hearts, and Ixv^li be to them a God^ and they shall be to me a people."
A covenant is either an agreement or an appohitment. Covenant, in this place, signifies an appointment — a gracious appointment made by God himself, in beh:^lf of all real Christians ; the New covenant, in distinction from the Old covenant, made with the nation of Israel at Sinai, which consisted
chiefly in precepts, prohibitions, and emblems of future bl-essings to be revealed in the gospel. This covenant was given by Moses, " but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." In the new covenant, or appointment, we have chiefly promises — promises of all spiritual blessings, in and through Chri-^t JcsiiS. One of these promises is " They shall all know me, from the least to the greatest," ver. 11. The importance of this blessing Mas shewn
in the Introductory Sermon ; and the design of all the following discourses is to promote the knowledge of God, in all his glorious perfections ; but the chief blessing of all is, — '' I will be their GodJ*^ This comprehends all good things j it includes all that can be needed or desired ; yea, infinitely more than " we can ask or think." We justly admire the perfections of God — what he is, in himself; but how much more admirable is it, to have a personal interest in him, — to know that he is ail this to, and
for his people ; so that they may boldly say, " This God is our God !"
But let it be observed, that it is only in^ and through Jesus Christy that he becomes our God, He does not transact with man immediately^ but through a Mediator : *^ No man cometh to the Father but by him ;'' and, through him, God the Father cometh to men. " God was in Christy reconciling the world unto himself." Hence the name of the Saviour is " Immanuel" — that is, " God with us.'' As Immanuel, he is God in our nature j God engaged in our behalf; and manifested for our salvation. Through faiih in his blood, the sinner comes to God, and obtains the pardon of all his sins, which is another blessing of the covenant, mentioned in ver. 12, " I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." And by the influence of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in every believer, a separation from the world is effected, and a life of communion with God commenced, which shall never end ; according to the promise recorded in 2 Cor. vi. 16, &CC. " God hath said, I will dwell in them,,
and walk in them ; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Vv^herefore, come out from among thcin, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing ; and I will receive )Ou, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." Truly happy, then, are all believers in
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Christ ; having come to God, through faith in him, they are divinely authorised to adopt the words of the text, " This God is our God !"
In ancient times, long before the brighter discoveries of the gospel were afforded, we find some eminent believers distinguished as having a special interest in God. Jehovah, who, by his sovereign grace, called Abraham from among the idolaters of Chaldea, was pleased to style himself '' the God of Abraham." B) this name he made himself known to Moses at the burning bush, when he was about
to deliver the posterity of Abraham from their l)ondage in Egypt. He called himself also, at the same time, ** the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Exod. iii. 6) ; and thus he encouraged the children of Israel to expect that the promises made to their fathers should certainly be accomplished.— In like manner. New Testament believers are more clearly taught to expect a future and eternal inheritance in Heaven ; '^ wherefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city^' (Heb. xi. 16) : as if it had been said, God would be ashamed to be called their God, if nothing more than the good things of this life were given them ; especially as it is the lot of far the greater part of them to be poor and afflicted in the present world ; but, liaving " prepared for them a city," a glorious habitation, even '^a building of God, a house ROt made with hands, eternal in the heavens;" he is not ashamed, — he thinks it no dishonour to be, and to be called their God and Father. " This," saith he, as if exulting in the relation, " this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." Exod ii. 15. God's relation to his people is what he will ever remember, let us then never for7
get it ; never neglect to take the comfort, nor to give him the glory of it. — It is God's memorial ; let it be ours.
We find Moses, the faithful servant of the Lord, glorying in his relation to God (Exod. xv. 2), '* The
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Lord is my strength and my song, and he is become my salvation ; he is 7ny Cod, and I will prepare him a habitation ; my father*s God, and I will exalt him.'* As this was part of the song composed on occasion of the Israelites passing through the Red Sea, Moses may perhaps allude to the name of God, as " the God of Abraham ;" such indeed he proved himself to be, to his posterity. Thrice happy is he who, celebrating a still greater salvation than that of Israel, can sing — ^' He is my God, and TCiy father^ s God ; I will exalt him ! '*
In the book of Psalms, we frequently meet with
this sweet appropriation of the name of God. The
Psalmist speaks thus " thou art my God, from
my mother's womb ;" — '* I trusted in thee, I said, Thou art my God ;" — " I will sing praise unto thee;" — *^ I will extol thee, my God, O King, and bless thy name for ever 1"
Daniel, also, had good reason to own his relation to God, when the king, who had caused him to be thrown into the den of lions, asked, with a lamentaable voice, " O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whona thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions ?" The praying man of God replied, ' My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lion's mouth.' Such was the impression produced by this exertion of divine power in behalf of the prophet, that Darius required that all his subjects " should tremble and fear before the God of Daniel''
We might multiply instances of this kind ; but let us rather pass on, and shew more particularly
that the several attributes of the blessed God, which have been surveyed in the preceding sennons, afford abundant occasion to the believer to rejoice in his relation to Jehovah, and triumphantly to say, " This God is my God !"
Our God is Almighty. Is any thing, then, too hard for him? Whatever he hath promised he is able to perform ; and he hath performed such wono2
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ders in the fulfilment of his pr.omises to his ancient people the Jews, and to all his believing people ever since, that unbelief may blush to suspect he will ever fail to accomplish with his hand, what he hath spoken with his mouth. Remember his mighty works in the creation of the world ; in the preservation and government of the world ; and in his marvellous interposition in behalf of his people : the waters shall not drown, the sun shall not set, the
fire shall not burn, lions shall not devour, when he forbids ; and if he give the word of command, bread shall descend from Heaven, water shall flow from the rock, devouring birds shall feed the prophet, five loaves shall satisfy five thousand people, and the dead shall come forth from their graves. What cannot he do for his friends ? and should they not say, This God is our God j and, If God be for us, who can be against us ?
Our God is wise — he is Wisdom. What a privilege then it is to be under his direction ! and this is the privilege of his people, as it follows immediately after the v/ords of our text — '^ He will be our Guide, even unto death ;" he will direct our steps through this mazy wilderness, nor forsake us when we die, but conduct us safely through Jordan to the possession of the promised rest. Well may we " cast our cares upon him," if we believe that" he careth for us."
•' Since all the downward tracts of time,
God's watchful eye surveys,
O ! who so wise to choose our lot,
And regulate our ways ?*'
Our God is HOLY ; unlike the pretended deitieS of the heathen, who were abominably impure, the patrons and patterns of infamous vices ; so that we may say with exultation, " Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods ? who is like unto thee, j^Ior?nis ill fiohnt'ss P " A wicked man, wishing to iuclulge his sins, might wish that God were like him-
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self, and would wink at his impurity ; but a Christian rejoices in the holiness ot God ; it keeps him low in his own eyes j it makes him hunger and thirst after righteousness ; and encourages the hope that his holy God will, by all his ordinances and ail his dispensations, make him " a partaker of his holiness.''
Our God is JUST. Shall he not then always do right ? It is the glory of the gospel, and that which renders it peculiarly satisfactory to the mind, that therein God has manifested his justice no less than his mercy — ** he is just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." The Christian, then, has nothing to dread, but every thing to hope from this attribute. He who said to Abraham, on leaving his native land, " I am thy shield," said also, " I am thy exceeding great reward." Nothing can possibly be lost by adherence to Christ and his cause ; God is not unrighteous, so that he should forget the work of faith and the labour of love ; he that sov,'eth to the spirit shall reap of the spirit ; and God, the righteous Judge, will, at the great day, bestow the crown of righteousness on every one who was faithful unto death. How joyfully shall every conqueror, on receiving that crown, exult, This righteous God is my God !
Our God is omnipresent. Pleasing reflection to the Christian ! Wherever he is, God is there, — in the closet, in the church, in the world ; at home, abroad ; by sea or land j amongst friends or foes,
Christians or Infidels ; in prosperity or in adversity, God is there. The salutary thought bridles the unruly tongue, restrains the rovings of the eye, repels the intruding thoughts of sin, and quenches the fiery darts of temptation. It stills the rising murmur of impatience, corrects the mistakes of unbelief, and enables the soul to endure, " as seeing him who is invisible."
Our God is patient. It is well for the world, it is well for us^ that he is so. It was justly remark-
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ed, by an old divine, that if the most tender-hearted man in the world were to sit down on the throne of God, for a single hour, and behold, as God continually does, the provoking abominations committed by men during that hour, he would undoubtedly, in the next, set the world on fire and destroy it. " But he is God, and not man, therefore we are not consumed." Let us not abuse this amiable perfection
by continuing in sin, but rejoice that this patient God is our God, and learn from him to be patient too.
Our God is sovereign ; he doth as he pleaseth, among the armies of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth. Let us glorify him as such ; even when we cannot account for his sovereign proceedings. Thus did the apostle Paul, when he had contemplated the calling of the Gentiles, and the rejection of the Jews, with their fut.ire restoration — " O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God ! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out ! And how much reason has every believer to admire the divine sovereignty, for to this he ascribes his personal salvation. *' By the grace of God I am what I am.'* He alone *' made me to differ" from the most abandoned wretch on earth; O to grace how great a debtor am I ! '* bless thou the Lord, O my soul i and all that is within me, bless his .oly name!
Our God is good, and docth good. Well may man say so ; man so highl> favoured in his structture, in the powers of his mind, in his superiority
over the creatures, in his immortality, and above all, in his redemption by the Son of God. God is indeed in a vast variety of respects '^ good to all ;" *' his tender mercies are over all his works," and *' the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord." O that men, O that all m<^n, would praise the Lord for his goodness ; but let them especiallv do so, who hcive-a spv^cial interest in his favour ; let tliem shout for JDv, and say, This ^oc^ God is Qur God, for ever and ever !
Our God is merciful. — " Mercy belongeth to iiim," it is his prerogative, his peculiar excellency, one of the brightest jewels of his crown ; it is his delight, it is his glory. Now, every believer, like converted Saul of Tarsus, hath " obtained mercy ;'* and who can sufficiently prize it ? — it is great mercy, rich mercy, free mercy, manifold mercy, matchless mercy, infinite mercy, yea, eternal mercy ! O praise the Lord, for he is good j for his mercy endureth
for ever ! Well may the pardoned sinner cry, " Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage ? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy." Micah vii. 18.
Our God is love. This is the most amazing perfection of all ; the love of such a glorious and holy Being, to creatures so degraded and defiled by sin ! Surveying this, we are astonished ; and try, but in vain, to measure its vast dimensions — its breadth, its length, its depth, and its height ; it surpasses, by infinite degrees, the most advanced knowledge of saints and angels ; yet, in a sense, it is apprehended, it is enjoyed, it is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit ; and then indeed the Christian may triumphantly cry, This God is my God, for ever and ever !
Our God is faithful. This crowns the whole. He is faithful to his promises ; and his promises ensure the final salvation of every believing soul. He has engaged never to " forsake the work of his own hands j" and, by putting *' his fear in the hearts of
his people," he has engaged that " they shall not forsake him." Hence, our text celebrates the permanence of the privilege enjoyed-—*' this God is our God — FOR EVER and ever" — terms which in Scripture always signify that which is positively eternal. What a portion then is that of the believer ! The landlord cannot say of his firlds, these are mine for ever and ever. The king cannot say of his crown, this is mine for ever and ever. These pos-
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sessions shall soon exchange masters ; these possessors shall soon mingle with the dast, and even the graves they shall occupy, may not long be theirs ; but it is the singular, the supreme happiness of every Christian to say, or to have a right to say, " This glorious God, with all his divine perfections, is my God, for ever and ever, and even death itself shall not separate me from his love."
It may be truly said of the wicked — They have no God. They may have wealth, and wit, and friends ; but they are without God in the world ; they are therefore miserably poor, and in the way to be miserable for ever. At present, you may contrive to fill up your fleeting moments with the business and pleasures of a transitory world, banishing God as far as you are able from your thoughts. Thus you may live ; but how will you die? for die you must, and may die soon : and remember, that after death comes the judgment. At the dread tribunal of God, what are you to expect ? From which of his divine perfections can you hope to gain advantage ? Perhaps you will say, From his mercy. But know this, that it is not at the bar of judgment that mercy is to be dispensed. This is the world, this is the time^ for Mercy ; and if not now sought, through Jesus Christ, it will be refused when sought hereafter. O seek it now ! Delay is dangerous ; it may be fatal. You have not a moment to lose. Lament your neglect of God hitherto, and cry with all your might, * God be merciful to me a sinner \ for how tremendous would be your state, if you should see all the
people of God around the throne, shouting, * This (;iod is our God, forever and ever,' while you, justly banished to an awful distance, and doomed to eternal darkness, must be constrained to say, Alas ! alas ! this God is not my God, nor will be mine for ever and ever. May divine grace prevent so horrid a condition !
THE christian's GOD. 15a
An(l now, methinks, every serious person present will be putting this question to his own conscience, Is this blessed privilege mine ? May I say, This God is my God ?
I answer, Do you consider this as the most desirable of all good things ? — do you prefer it, infinitely prefer it ? Compared with this, do wealth and pleasure, friends and relations, the whole world, appear a trifle ? Can you adopt the words of the Psalmist, ** Whom have I in Heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside (or in
comparison of) thee?" If you see the value of having God as yours, this will be your deliberate language.
Wishing that God may be yours, do you come to him, in the only way that you can come, through faith in Jesus Christ? and thus coming, can you, and do you, renounce the idol of self-righteousness, accounting all things but loss that you may be accepted in Christ ? Do you yield yourself to him, — gladly forsaking your vain companions, and sinful pleasures, and willing to part with the world for his sake ? — for you cannot have two gods ; you cannot serve God and Mammon. Do you give up soul, body, and spirit to him, as your reasonable service, determined, by divine grace, to serve him faithfully, and follow him fully, all your days ? to obey him as your God ? to submit to him as your God ? to love him, and to glorify him, as your God ? —If so, you may be permitted to say, and you will say it most humbly and thankfully, " This God is my God." Happy the man that is in such a state, hnppy is he who hath the Lord for his God, whose hope the Lord is ! Happy Christian, thou
art indeed " rich, and increased in goods, and standest in need of nothing" more to make thee happy. Divine Power protects thee, Wisdom guides ihee. Holiness sanctifies thee. Justice secures thee. Omnipresence surrounds thee, Patience will not be pro-
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yoked at thee, Sovereignty hath chosen thee, Goodness enricheth thee, Mercy forgives thee, Love delights in thee, and Faithfulness will conduct thee safely to Heaven, and place the crown of glory on thine head. Then, amidst ten thousand saints and angels, thou shalt exult in the matchless privilege, and say, " This God is my God, and he will never cease to be mine ! This God is my God, for ever, and ever, and ever !" Amen and Amen.
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