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violate their covenant bonds and engagements. In this cafe they are threatned that their iniquity fhall be vifited with the rod. God teftifies his difpleafure by hiding his face from them, fufpending the comforting influences of his fpirit, expofing them to fhame, fubjecting them to the rod of church difcipline, and alfo vifiting them with fore outward afflictions. In fuch ways he chaftens them for tranfgreffing the covenant, though he takes not his loving kindnefs from them.
But there are much more awful and vindictive judgments threatned againft thofe who reject the covenant, and break its bonds in fuch a manner as to cut themfelves off from an intereft in its bleflings, that God will avenge the quarrel of his covenant, not only by deftructive outward judgments, but by giving them up to a blind deluded mind, a reprobate confcience, a hard heart; that the external privileges of the kingdom of heaven shall be taken from them; and that in the world to come they fhall be punished for all their fins, and particularly for rejecting or perfidiously breaking covenant, by a fentence of final excommunication from the congregation of the faints, and fuffering the pains of the fecond death with hypocrites and unbelievers.
If it be enquired, who are bound to obey the precepts of the gospel covenant, and whether all fuch may be faid to be in covenant and under its bonds?
I answer, all to whom the covenant is propofed are required and bound to confent to it, accept of it, voluntarily come under its bonds, and fo perform the covenant duties therein prescribed. It has the authority of a divine law, and needs not our confent to give it a binding force. Some precepts of the gofpel are immediately directed to all to whom the call of the gospel is fent, and demand prefent obedience. But others are immediately directed to those who are in or under the special bond of the covenant, and cannot be regularly obeyed by any but thofe who are first admitted into the number of God's people, by a reftipulation or
The call of the gospel requires all who are favoured with it to give a ferious attention to its propofal, to receive the divine teftimony on thofe fufficient evidences with which it is confirmed, and cordially confent to the gracious covenant which it reveals and offers to the children of men. When they have thus taken the bond of the covenant on them, there are further duties immediately injoined; duties which belong not to those who are not in covenant while fuch, particularly using the special ordinances, which are appropriated exclufively to the church. Briefly then, though the propofals of the covenant are of important concernment to all mankind, especially to thofe, who have offers
of divine grace made to them, yet a rejected tender of the covenant does not give one an interest in it. And though the call of the gospel lays a bond of duty on all to whom it is fent, yet the bond of the covenant, as the expreffion is commonly understood, properly lies only on those who have come under vows or engagements of obedience, either by their own personal act, or by the reftipulation of thofe who are authorifed to act for them. When those who are not under covenant bonds difobey the call of the gospel to them, requiring their confent to its propofal, they are guilty of refufing the covenant. But when those who are under covenant bonds violate them, they are guilty of perfidiously breaking the covenant. A circumftance which inhances their difobedience.
To finish this fection. The gospel contains precepts which are immediately directed to, and binding upon the confcience of those who are not in covenant, even all to whom the word of faith is fent. But it has also precepts which prescribe special duties to those who are in covenant, who are under fpecial obligations to perform these and all other covenant duties. And this special obligation arising from their special relation and engagements to God, is, I conceive, what is to be understood by the bond of the
Of the Grants or Promifes of the Covenant. Its visible and invisible
AS the chriftian law contains our whole duty, fo all the bleffings we need are contained in the covenant, grant and promise to the people of God. There are bleffings pertaining to the life which now is, and that which is to come. Without attempting to give a detail of particulars, let it fuffice to say, the bleffings, granted to the church by the covenant, are partly invifible gifts which are connected with, and iffue in the salvation of those who receive them; fuch as a faving union to Chrift, pardon of fin, reconciliation to God, and reception into the number of his children by regeneration and adoption, the gift of the holy Spirit to abide with them as a vital principle, by whofe influence they are endowed with the graces of fanctification, and made mete to be partakers of the inheritance of the faints. All who receive these gifts and bleffings of the covenant are true faints, members of the invifible church, and heirs of the kingdom of glory. But there are also outward ånd visible blessings, of which the new covenant contains a grant or promife. Such are the common gifts of Prov
idence, and especially spiritual privileges, the word of God, the outward ordinances and inftituted means of religion.
But the great queftion with fome is, who have a right to these external privileges, the grant of which is contained in the covenant? and whether they belong to all true faints, or to them only-To which I would fay, that the new covenant, I conceive, contains no grant or promife claimable by any one till he is firft in and under it.
But yet many who are not in covenant, have a lawful and good right not only to receive, poffefs and use the common bleflings of Providence, but also fome of those spiritual privileges which the covenant promises and grants to the church. The outward means of converfion, the ordinances appointed for this purpose, and a special bleffing to render them effectual, are covenant bleffings, promised and granted to the church: Nor have any who are not of the church a covenant-right to them; that is, they have no right arifing from or founded in a covenant grant or promife to them. But yet God in fovereign, unpromised bounty, grants these outward bleffings and spiritual privileges to many who are not in covenant; yea, and grants a fpecial bleffing with them, whereby they become the effectual means of bringing them into the church and covenant. When the call of the gospel is fent to those who are without, it is not only their right but duty to attend on those ordinances, whether public or private, which are the ordinary means of converfion; fuch as the reading and hearing of the word, and prayer. And churches of the faints, in which these ordinances are statedly adminiftered, should admit all who defire in an orderly manner to attend on the means of inftruction. But it is the church only to whom thefe ordinances are granted by covenant. God has not promised this privilege to any others; or that he will continue it another day; or that the means of grace fhall be bleffed for the faving good of thofe to whom, in uncovenanted favour, they are vouchfafed. The means of converfion may be granted to those who are not in covenant. But the church does and fhall enjoy the ordinances. They are a part of its inheritance, fecured by a covenant grant. The oracles of God are committed to them: They are the keepers of them. They are the candlesticks in which the light of the gospel is fet up, whence it shines abroad in the world. It is in the church alone that the ordinances appointed for the converfion of unbelievers, as well as those which are to be úfed only by the people of God, are statedly administered. And as these outward means may be granted to thofe without, fo they may be, and we have reafon to think ufually are bleffed for faving good to fome wherever they are fent; though this fpecial bleffing is an uncovenanted
of the world. And ever thofe privileges in which those who are not in covenant are allowed to fhare with them, the church holds by a special and firmer tenure, even a covenant grant or promise. But fome are entitled to, and endowed with more ample and important privileges than others. For inftance.
Every true faint is undoubtedly interested in the covenant; a member of Chrift's myftical body; a partaker of thofe bleffings of divine grace which fhall iffue in his eternal falvation. But if he has not, or exhibits not fuch evidence of godliness as the gofpel rule makes necessary to give one a right of admiffion and access to the privileges of outward communion in an inftituted church, he has not then a covenant right, nor can regularly or warrantably come, or be admitted to them.
Again, the minor child of a regular member of an instituted church is confeffedly in covenant, a member of the church, and according to the gofpel rule is a proper fubject of baptifm, with other fpecial privileges: Yet we have no reason to think that all fuch children are the fubjects of fpiritual regeneration, or entitled to the promife of eternal life. And however we may hope charitably concerning individuals, yet they may not be admitted to full communion till they appear to be regularly qualified for it; tho' their right of membership remains, till according to gofpel rule they are cut off and uncovenanted.
As every true faint is not entitled, according to the rule of the gofpel, to the external privileges which belong to regular members of inftituted churches; fo the members of inftituted churches are not all entitled to the peculiar privileges of true faints. Nor is there a neceffary connection, or implication of the respective qualifications, or privileges which according to the covenant belong to each refpectively. Tho' all covenant bleffings, external and internal, are granted or promised to the church, yet every member is not entitled to all. There are special privileges which belong only to the members of inftituted vifible churches as fuch. There are other gospel bleffings which belong only to the invisible or myftical church. Though every true faint is in covenant, and of the church; yet many fuch belong not to any vifible inftituted church; and fo have no right to use the special ordinances which are appropriated to vifible faints. And though every visible saint is in covenant, and has a right to fpecial external privileges; yet many fuch are not true faints, and fo belong not to the invifible church of true faints, nor are entitled to thofe fpecial and important benefits which are granted or promised to fuch alone.
The evangelical charter, which forms the church, contains feveral articles or branches. Some of the privileges it grants are outward and visible; others are inward and invifible. The form