"All his ways are judgment," both the ways of his commandments and the ways of his providence, both his word which he hath given as a lantern to men's paths, and his works among men. And this were the blessedness of men, to be found walking in his ways, and waiting on him in his ways, having respect to all his commandments, and respect to himself in all his works. We all know in general that he doth all well, and that all his commandments are holy and just. Nay, but our practice and affections belie our knowledge; and for the most part, we stand cross in our humours, and affections, and conversation, both to his word and providence, and this is our misery. "Great peace have they that love thy law." What peace then can keep that heart and mind that is daily at variance with his statutes and judgments, when the heart would wish such a command were not, when it is an eyesore to look upon it? "Blessed are the meek." "It is good for a man, both quietly to wait, and hope, and keep silence." How then must that spirit be miserable, that stands cross unto God's dispensations, and would limit the Holy One! Do not our hearts often say, "I do well to be angry, why is it thus with me?" But, "who hath hardened himself against him and prospered?" His counsel must stand; and you may vex yourself, and disquiet your soul in the mean time, by impatience, but you cannot by your thought add one cubit to your stature. You may make your case worse than providence hath made it, but you cannot make it better by so doing, so that at length you must bow to him or be broken. Oh then that this were engraven on our hearts with the point of a diamond! "All his ways are judgment;" that ye might be overcome with the equity of his command and dispensation, and your heart and tongue might not move against them. It was enough of old with the saints, "It is the Lord, let him do what seems good in his eyes." God's sovereignty alone pondered, may stop our mouth; but, if ye withal consider, it is perfect equity that rules all, it is divine wisdom that is the square of his works; then how ought we to stoop cheerfully unto them! One thing, ye would remember, his ways and paths are judgment, and if you judge aright of him, ye must judge his way and not his single footsteps. Ye will not discern equity and judgment in one step or two; but consider his way, join adversity with prosperity, humbling with exalting; take along the thread of his providence, and one part shall help you to understand another. There is reason in all, but the reason is not visible to us in so small parts of his way and work.
"A God of truth." Strange it is that his majesty is pleased to clothe himself with so many titles and names for us. He considers what our necessity is, and accordingly expresses his own name. I think nothing doth more hold forth the unbelief of men, and atheism of our hearts, than the many several titles that God takes in scripture. There is a necessity of a multitude of them, to make us take up God; because we staying upon a general notion of God, rather frame in our imaginations an idol than the true God. As there is nothing doth more lively represent the unbelief of our hearts, than the multitude of promises; men that consider such frequent repetitions of one thing in scripture, so many divers expressions of one God, may retire into their own hearts, and find the cause of it, even the necessity of it. But while we look so slightly on these, we must judge it superfluous and vain. Needed there any more to be said, but, "I am your God, I am God," if our spirits were not so far degenerated unto atheism and unbelief? Certainly that word Jehovah holds forth more to angels than all the inculcated names and titles of God to us, because we are dull and slow of heart. Therefore wonder at these two when ye read the scriptures, God's condescendency to us, and our atheism and unbelief of him: they are both mysteries, and exceeding broad. There is not a name of God, but it gives us a name, and that of reproach and dishonour, so that for every one, some evil may be written down. And it is to this purpose Moses draws them out in length, that in the glass of his glorious name, the people might behold their own ugly face. This name is clear, "he is a God of truth," not only a true God, but truth itself: to note his excellency and eminency in it. It is Christ's name, "I am the truth," the substantial truth, in whom all the promises are truth, "are yea and amen." His truth is his faithfulness in performing his promises, and doing what his mouth hath spoken: and this is established "in the very heavens," Psal. lxxxix.2. His everlasting purpose is in heaven where he dwells; and if any man can ascend up to heaven, if any creature can break through the clouds, then may his truth be shaken. His word comes down among men; nay, but the foundation of it is in heaven, and there is his purpose established; and therefore, there is nothing done in time can impair or hinder it. Ye think this world very sure, the earth hangs unmoveable, though it hang upon nothing. All the tumults, confusions, and reels which have been in the world have never moved it to the one side. Heaven goeth about in one tenour perpetually, keeping still the same distance. Nay, but his truth is more established than so. Heaven and earth depend but upon a word of command, he hath said, "Let it be so," and so it is. Nay, but his word is more established. Of it saith Christ, one jot or tittle of it cannot fail, though heaven and earth should fail. He may change his commands as he pleases, but he may not change his promise, this puts an obligation on him, as he is faithful and true, to perform it, and when an oath is superadded, O how immutable are these two! -- when he promises in his truth and swears in his holiness. Is there any power in heaven and earth can break that double cord? Matth. v.18, Heb. vi.18. There is no name of God but it is comfortable to some, and as terrible to others. What comfort is it to a godly man that trusts in his word, he is a God of truth! An honest man's word is much, his oath is more. What shall his word be who is a God of truth? Though all men should be liars, yet God is true. Ye who have ventured your souls on his word, ye have an unspeakable advantage, his truth endures for ever, and it is established in the heavens, the ground of it is without beginning, the end of it without end. Ye are more sure than the frame of heaven and earth, for all these shall wax old as a garment. We speak of a naked word of truth, indeed it is no naked word that is God's word. His works of providence, and his dispensation to you, is a naked and bare foundation, nay, a sandy foundation, and ye who lean so much to them, is it any wonder ye so often shake and waver? All other grounds beside the word are uncertain, unstable, this only endures for ever. The creature's goodness and perfection is but as the grass, and the flower of the field. Venture not much on your dispositions and frames, thou knowest not what a day may bring forth, but his truth is to all generations, and it is well tried as gold seven times, -- all generations have tried it and found it better than pure gold. His dispensations are arbitrary -- no rule to you. He loveth to declare his sovereignty here and to expatiate in the creature's sight beyond its conceiving, but he hath limited himself in his word and come down to us, and laid bonds on himself. Will he then untie them for us? Give him liberty where he loves it, take him bound where be binds himself. How may God expostulate with this generation, as those of little faith? "How long shall I be with you?" saith Christ. How long will Christians tempt the Lord in seeking signs, and will not rest upon his only word and promises? "O adulterous generation, how long shall I be with you and ye will not believe?" Is it not righteousness in him, either to give you no sign at all, or to give you a sign darker than the thing itself, as he did to the Pharisees? Ye will give credit to a man's word, and will ye not believe God's? An honest man will get more trust of us, than the true and living God! Shall he not be offended with this? We declare it unto you, that he is truth itself, and will not fail in his promise, let that be your castle and refuge to enter into. Mercy and truth are two sweet companions to go along with you in your pilgrimage. David prayed for them Psal. lxi.7. "O prepare thy mercy and truth to preserve me." Who will not be safe within these everlasting arms? What power can break through them? And this he promised to himself, (Psal. lvii.3.) God shall send them out. Mercy made so many precious promises, and truth keeps them. Mercy is the fountain and source of all our consolation, and truth and faithfulness convey it to us, and keep it for us. It is these two that go before his face when he sits on a throne of majesty, and makes himself accessible to sinners (Psalm lxxxix.14,) and so they are the pathway he walks in towards those who seek him, Psalm xxv.10.
But this sweet and precious name, that is as ointment poured forth to those who love him, how doth it smell of death to those who walk contrary to him? "He is a God of truth" to execute his threatenings on those who despise his commands, and though ye flatter yourselves in your own eyes, and cry, "Peace, peace," even though ye walk in the imagination of your own heart, yet certainly "he is a God of truth." I pray you read that sad and weighty word, that will be like a millstone about many men's necks to sink them in hell, Deut. xxix.20, 21, ye who "add drunkenness to thirst," whose rule of walking is your own lust, and whatsoever pleaseth you, without respect of his commands, and yet flatter yourselves with a dream of peace, know this for a truth, "the Lord will not spare thee, he that made thee will not have mercy on thee. His jealousy will smoke against thee, and all the curses written in this book shall be upon thee, and thy name shall be blotted out from under heaven." It was unbelief of God's threatening that first ruined man, it is this still that keeps so many from the remedy, and makes their misery irrecoverable. The serpent brought them to this question, "Hath God said ye shall die." And then presently the question entertained becometh a conclusion, Ye shall not surely die. Thus ye see how the liar, from the beginning, was contrary to the God of truth, and he murdered us by lying of that God of truth, and it is the same that shuts out all hope of remedy. Ye do not as yet believe and consider that curse that was pronounced against Adam, but is now also inflicted upon us, therefore, there is no solid belief can be of the promises of the gospel, and ye who think ye believe the gospel, do but indeed fancy it, except ye have considered the true curse of God on all flesh. But if any man have set to his seal that God is true in his threatening, and subscribed unto the law, then, I beseech you, add not the unbelief of the gospel unto your former disobedience. He is "a God of truth," in promises and threatenings. It is strange how untoward and froward we are, -- a perverse generation. We do not believe his threatenings, but fancy we receive his promises, or else, believing his threatenings we question his promises. But know this for a truth, his last word is more weighty, and the unbelief of it is most dangerous. Ye have not kept his commands, and so the curse is come upon you? Do ye believe that? If ye do, then the gospel speaks unto you, the God of truth hath one word more, "He that believes shall be saved," notwithstanding of all his breaking of the law. If ye do not set your seal to this also, then ye say he is not a God of truth, ye say he is a liar. And as for you who have committed your souls to him, as to a faithful keeper, and acquiesced unto his word of promise for salvation, think how unsuitable it is for you to distrust him in other lesser things. Ye have the promise of this life, whoever hath the promises of the life to come. Therefore do not make him a liar in these. He is "a God of truth," and will let you want no good thing. "Say to the righteous, it shall be well with him, whatever be." Let heaven and earth mix through other, yet ye may be as mount Sion unmoved in the midst of many floods, because of the promises.
"Without iniquity." Who doubts of that, say ye? What needs this be added? Who charges him with iniquity or sin? Nay, but stay and consider, and you shall find great weight in this. It is true, none dare charge him openly, or speak in express terms against his holiness, yet, if we judge of our own and other's practices and dispositions, as the Lord useth to construct of them, if we resolve our murmurings, impatience, self absolutions, and excuses to hold off convictions, into plain language, if we would translate them into a scripture style, certainly it will be found that the most part of men, if not all, use to impute iniquity to God, and accuse him rather than take with accusations laid against themselves. And therefore the Lord useth to go to law with his people. He who is the judge of the world, that cannot do unrighteousness, he who is the potter, and we all the clay, yet he so far condescends to us for convincing us, as sometimes to refer the controversy between him and his people to other creatures, as Micah vi.2. He calls the mountains and the foundations of the earth to judge between him and his people, and sometimes he appeals unto their own consciences and is content, though judge, to stand and be judged by those who were guilty, as ver.3 and Jer. ii. ver.5, and 31. All this supposes, that when the Lord would endeavour to convince them of iniquity, they did rather recriminate, and took not with their own faults. This is a truth generally acknowledged by all, "He who is the judge of the world doth no iniquity," but O! that ye considered it, till the meditation of it were engraven on your spirits, the seal of God's holiness, that ye might fear before him, and never call him to account for his matters. Who can say, I have purged my heart from iniquity? Among men the holiest are defiled with it, and so are all their actions. But here is one that ye may give him an implicit faith so to speak, he is "a God of truth," and can speak no lie, he does no iniquity, and cannot do wrong to any man. Would there be so much impatience amongst you, and fretting against his dispensations, if ye believed this solidly? Would ye repine against his holy and just ways, were it not to charge God with iniquity? Your murmuring and grudging at his dispensations is with child of blasphemies, and he who can search the reins sees it, and constructs so of it. You say by interpretation, that if ye had the government of your own matters, or of kingdoms, ye would order them better than he doth. How difficult a thing is it to persuade men to take with their own iniquity! O how many excuses and pretences, how many extenuations are used that this conviction may not pierce deeply! But all this speaks so much blasphemy, -- that iniquity is in God. Ye cannot take with your own iniquities, but ye charge his Majesty with iniquity.
"Just and right is he." Is this any new thing? Was it not said already, that he is "without uniquity, and his ways judgment?" But, alas! how ignorant are we of God, and slow of heart to conceive of him as he is, therefore is there "line upon line, and precept upon precept," and name upon name, if it be possible, that at length we may apprehend God as he is. Alas! our knowledge is but ignorance, our light darkness, while it is shut up in the corner of our mind, and shines not into the heart, and hath no influence on our practice. And the truth is, the belief of divine truths is almost no more but a not contradicting them, we do not seriously think of them as either to consent to them, or deny them. Is there any consideration amongst us now of God's justice and righteousness, though it be frequently spoken of? And what advantage shall we have if ye do not consider them? O how hard is it to persuade men's hearts of this, that God is just, and will by no means acquit the guilty? There are so many delusions drunk in in men's hearts, contrary to his truth. "Let no man deceive you," "be not deceived" with vain words, "know ye not," saith our apostle. These are strange prefaces. Would ye not think the point of truth subtile that there needed so much prefacing unto it? and yet what is it? Even that which all men grant, -- God's wrath comes on the children of disobedience, but, alas! few men consider, but deceive themselves with dreams of escaping it. Though men know it, yet they know it not, for they walk as if they knew no such thing.
Always however this is of little moment to affect our spirits now, yet in the day that God shall set your iniquities before your face, and set his justice also before your eyes. O how sad and serious a thing will it be then! If these two verses were engraven on our hearts, -- God's justice and holiness, our corruption and vileness, -- I think there would be other thoughts among us than there are.