« AnteriorContinuar »
ed, in our translation, as a supplement; but it is strongly implied in the inspired original *, And a deed is made more permanent by writing; it stands to futurity for praise, in case of performance, and to their shame, in case of violation.
2. It was a SE À LED covenant. It was written that it might be sealed : And the covenanters actually appended their sign-manual unto, testifying their hearty approbation of its contents. Subscribing with the hand was now become an usual rite in ratification of covenants. Laws, and letters patent, were sealed with the king's seal, and contracts with the fign-manual; .as appears from the instance of Jeremiah: Said he, “And I subfcribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses t." This history adds light to that prediction of Isaiah's, 6 And another shall subscribe with the hand unto the Lord I.”
3. It was a SWORN covenant : “ They entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God's law.” An oath implies a curse, in case of violation; as it is an appeal unto God in the character of a judge. Though every sinner who violates liis oath may not be finally accursed, yet this fin deserves it in an eminent degree; and all who continue under this guilt shall be eternally accursed. The practice of ratifying covenants with God by folemn oath was as ancient as the days of Moses, at least.
* There are two words used in the inspired original, 1702x07), the former of which denotes the cutting of . a covenant ; the latter a firin deed, or conftitution. + Jer, xxxii. 10, 12, 44. , $ is. xliv. 5.
It is now time to subjoin a REFLECTION or two on what has been explained:
1. The highest; as well as the lowest statious of life, may be filled to the glory of God. Courts, especially so corrupt ones as the Perfian, had many things in them unfriendly to religion. Courtiers, in such circumstances, have temptations unto almost every species of iniquity; but the grace of God can break the snare, and make his children escape.
2. PERSONS of genuine zeal for the honour of God will improve such opportunities as their station affords them for the advancement of it. While they stand upon their watch-tower, they will be disposed to observe what advantages are offered, as also what dangers are threatened. And such was the anxiety of Nehemiah's heart, in this matter, that the finiles of the greatest monarch upon earth could not footh. it, while the city of his God lay in ruins.
3. GREAT apostacy among covenanters, and fevere chastisements, either felt or feared, * SIT
should be incentives unto folemn confeflioti and serious repentance. Judah's sin brought him lów; Nehemiah made this a ground of acknowledgment, and a reason for covenantrenovation. Our case is greatly similar to theirs : When we were a kingdom, like them, we were far from ferving God in our places and stations. Now we are servants, not to a defpotic Prince, as Judah was, indeed, but to the Legislature of a neighbouring kingdom. Our land yieldeth a fund of tax for that power which God hath set over us for our sins. What is to be done in such a case? . We must halt between two opinions, say some : The times are too bad for making a surrender of ourfelves unto the Lord: But, said Nehemiah, in all this distress, LET US MAKE A SURE COVENANT.
THE practice of the Church of God, under
I the Old Testament, is so decisive in favour of covenanting, that there is no room to hesitate, If it was the ineans of reformalion under that dispensation. But, under the New Testament, not a few dispute its lawfulness, as well as the expediency of attempting it. To determine this point, I shall Enquire, -I. If the Laws, by which the Old Testament Church was bound to perform this duty, be of perpetual obligation under the New Testament. II. If the Spiritual nature of the better ecoSET 2
nomy nomy admits of fuch a duty; and if, confider: ing the peculiar genius of it, especially the pe: culiar form in which the promises of it are administered on the part of God, we are laid under particular obligations to such a practice on our part.—III. Whether the predictions of the Old Testament prophets, concerning the New Testament Church, afford foundation for
the exercise of faith in this duty in gospel days. .-IV. If this duty was taught and exemplified
in the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ. If I prove the affirmative of any of these, much more of them all, I will not hesitate to conclude, That covenanting is a duty transferred fron the Old to the New Testament Church.
FIRST, I shall enquire if the Law, by which the Old Testament Church was bound unto the performance of this duty, be of perpetual obligation in the Gospel Church. The formal reason of every duty originates in the authority of a law upon the conscience. If persons adventure upon any duty without God's pre(cription, they will find themselves at a loss to answer that important question, Who hath required tliis at your hand ? The nature of the divine law determines the specific nature of those duties which are required by it: That is, positive laws enjoin positive obedience, and moral precepts moral obedience. The queation before us refolves itself into this form, Tyas covenanting enjoined by the nioral law;