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COVENANT BETWEEN GOD AND JUDAII,
IN THE REIGN OF ASA.
LTERE I shall attend-. Unto the Parties 11 Covenanting.-11. The Matter of the Covenant.-III. The Manner of Covenanting. IV. The Punishment of Idolaters. –V. The Occasions of this Transaction.--VI. The Confirmations of it.-Deducing some Inferences from the whole.
FIRST, I must attend unto the PARTIES Covenanting:
1. THE Party unto whom they engaged is, « The Lord God of their Fathers.” As their fathers covenanted for their feed, as well as for themselves; so these covenanters looked back into that covenant-relation in which God' Ggg 2
stood unto them. And when they took up this character, as that on which they believed, and to which they vowed, their deed amounted to an explicit renovation of all those covenants into which their fathers had entered. As they had covenanted with this God in the loins of their fathers, so they also make a solemn recognition of all those fæderal engagements in their own persons. The Party unto whom they vowed is also denominated, “ The Lord God of Israel ;' i. e. of the congregation of Ifrael, from its first erection until that time, as well as lsrael their father. The God of all who are Ifraelites indeed. He also bears this name in opposition to the gods of the nations round about, as well as the calves of Dan and Bethel, which Jeroboam had set up in Ilrael itself. The intent of this character was, to teach them, that, though Jeroboam had said of his calves, “ These be thy gods, o Ifrael!” yet Jehovah had the sole claim unto that honour.
2. The Party vowing is Judah and Benjamin, with strangers out of Ephraim, Manasseh, and the tribe of Simeon. Judah and Benjamin continued in the worship of the true God, when the greater part of the ten tribes revolted from it, as well as from their allegiance to the house of David. Many of the ten tribes, however, fell off again from the worship of the calves to
that of the true God, on this occasion ; and took part in this Covenanted Reformation.
SECONDLY, The MATTER of this Covenant falls under our consideration in the next place. The bond is not inserted at length, indeed, but the scope of it is easily gathered from what is declared. The comprehensive duty to which they engaged is, to " SEEK the Lord God of their fathers.” This includes the internal motions of the soul towards God, as the chief good ;--the search of the understanding into the mystery of his truth, and the glory of his perfections ;—the notions of the affections in following hard after God: “ When thou didst say, SEEK YE my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I SEE K." -“ With my fpirit within me will I SEEK THEE early.”— This duty also includes an observance of all divine institutions, and that with the utmost care : For God can neither be fought nor found but in the way of his own inftitutions. The original word, expressive of duty, is the same in this Covenant as in the . foregoing one; the object is a little diversified, in a suitableness to their peculiar circumstances. It was fit to inention the COMMANDMENTS of the Lord in David's days, heçanse some new ones had been given unto the Church by his ministry: It was fit to mention the Lord God of their fathers at this time, because Jeroboam had introduced strange go is in his room.
THIRDLY, The MANNER in which they covenanted is the next branch of our subject:
1. THEY did it WITH ALL THE HEART. That is, they did it in sincerity, in opposition to feigned professions of faith and obedience. 'Their duty corresponded with the divine role; for it required them to love God with all their heart and with all their soul; the former denoting the understanding, that governing faculty; and the latter the will*. The law extended to all the people, and to all of the man; to each faculty and power of the soul, and to every member of the body. Hence we may conclude, that this was not a state covenant in the commonwealth : For matters of state can only affect the outward man. It is
* Some learned men explain the terms HEART and SOUL otherways. Mr Romaine, for example (Sermons on Mark xii. 28-31), understands the first of the affections; but it is taken for the understanding, Job ix. 4. Pfal. xcv. 10. If. vi. 10. STOCKIUS : And, when placed before foul, it is most natural to explain the former of the intellectual powers ; fee Ainsworth on Deut. vi. 5. " Dr Pocock on Hofea, p. 307. Mr Romaine also insi. muates, that “the term rendered Soul never denotes the immaterial and immortal fpirit ; but is constantly used for the parts concerned in carrying on the circulation of the blood, and in which the appetites of the huinan frame are placed.” But though it be granted, that the word is fometimes taken in an interior sense ; yet it must also denote the immortal Spirit, Gen. xxxv. 18. And wlien placed in such a connection as in this text, it denotes the will apd affection, Gen. xxii. 3. 1 King's xix. 3.
incompetent for statefinen to penetrate into the heart.
2. THEY rejoiced at the oath of God: “ They sware unto the Lord with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets *.” These instruments were used in the duty of praise, which preceded, or followed the folemn action. This is much more natural than to suppose, that the sacred bond was announced with the found of trumpet. Times of covenanting have ever been feasons of gladness and rejoicing ; so far is it from being true, that this folemn service is dull and insipid : But this demonstration of joy was adapted to the dispensation under which they covenanted with God. It would be fallacious to a degree, however, to conclude in favour of instrumental music in divine worship,
* The instruinents of praise, under the typical difpenfation, were many. The learned Mr Foord enumerates no fewer than sixteen different kinds (Præf. ad Exposit. p. 2.); but others reckon they were not so many. Schindler mentions only seven. Probably the same inftruments had different paines: If so, Schindler's calculation will be found inost correct. But the truth is, as the whole of the instrumental music which was used in the worship of God feems to have been confined to the tabernacle and temple, and to have perished with the latter; so that we can, with certainty, deterinine little or nothing concerning it. No one thing can be more imaginary than the attempts of the Popish Churches to revive this part of the Jewish ceremonies, when in absolute uncertainty as to the nature of it; and especially after the folemn burial of tliem all in the destruction of Jerufalem.