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of those as being in covenant in some sense, who are by the golpel rule utterly cut off and uncovenanted, is such a departure from the received acceptation of the phrase as is not to be admitted. At this rate we might say that the damned in hell are in covenant, and belong to the kingdom of heaven. Nor is it to be doubted but that Korah, and those who lived in open idolatry, were, so long as they had an interest in the covenant, entitled to some of its special privileges.
Upon the whole, merely a soncitional grant of covenant blessings gives no one an interest in the covenant, as the phrase is always understood. Such a conditional grant is made to all men; and it is a matter of great concernment to all ; and is an expresfion of the mercy of God to the world. In consequence of this, all may be considered as in a salveable state. And we are to love them, to hope and pray, and use means that they may come to the knowledge of the truth, and be saved. And many blessings are daily bestowed on them; yet we are not to imagine that all are in covenant: Nor does a proposal or offer of this conditional grant, enforced with a divine command, requiring men to consent to and comply with it, give men an interest in the covenant. This indeed brings the bleflings of the kingdom of heaven near to them, and even puts them in actual poffeffion of some valuable external privileges granted to the church, viz. the word of God, and the outward means of faith. The preceptive part of the covenant then reaches, and takes hold of, and binds them to obe, dience ; yet all the hearers of the gospel, are not in the covenant. This is the peculiar privilege of the church and its members. And though all of these have not a title to all covenant blessings, yet they have a present and absolute title granted to them, in and by the covenant to some of its privileges, even such as none but the church can have a regular access to.
The Connexion between Covenant Duties and Privileges.
I SHALL now offer some obfervations on the connexion, relation, and dependance which the duties and privileges of the covenant have the one on the other. The right understanding of this seeins to be neeessary to our having a juft view of the gospel conftitution.
covenant, entitled to peculiar privileges. They are all (in fome sease) holy persons, the children and people of God; and have fome union or relation to Christ the head of the church, which those who are out of the church and covenant have not.
HE new covenant is a divine and gracious constitution ref
and administered by him, according to which the church is formed, and governed. It contains a law, or rule of duty and obedience, inforced by penalties; and also a grant of special privileges; and establishes a mutual relation and connection between the duties prescribed and the privileges granted to those who are therein interested or concerned.
Of the preceptive part of the Covenant. THE preceptive part of the Covenant contains all the laws of Christ, requiring all exercises or acts of piety towards God, of righteousness and benevolence towards men ; which are enjoined in the moral law. In addition to these it prescribes what are calle ed evangelical duties, repentance towards God on gospel principles, faith in Christ, doing all in his name, with a due regard to him in all his mediatorial offices, and for those special ends and purposes for which he requires our obedience ; with dependance on his grace to aslist our endeavours, and his merit and intera cellion to recommend us and our performances to the divine acceptance. It requires also an observance of all outward ordinances of gospel worship, and an attendance on the instituted means or instrumental duties of religion.
These laws of Christ, are enforced with penalties : which are of two kinds, corrective or vindictive. The former are fatherly chastisements, with which the children of God are visited by him for their reformation and profit, when they tranfgrefs, and
violate their covenant bonds and engagements. In this case they are threatned that their iniquity shall be visited with the rod. God testifies his difpleafure by hiding his face from them, fulpending the comforting influences of his fpirit, exposing them to fame, subjecting them to the rod of church discipline, and also visiting them with fore outward afflictions. In such ways he chastens them for transgressing the covenant, though he takes not his loving kindnefs from them.
But there are much more awful and vindi&tive judgments threatned againft those who reject the covenant, and break its bonds in such a manner as to cut themselves off from an interest in its blessings, that God will avenge the quarrel of his covenant, not only by destructive outward judgments, but by giving thein up to a blind desuded mind, a reprobate conscience, 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 shall be punished for all their sins, and particularly for rejecting or perfidiously breaking covenant, by a sentence of final excommunication from the congregation of the saints, and suffering the pains of the second death with hypocrites and unbelievers.
If it be enquired, who are bound to obey the precepts of the gospel covenant, and whether all such may be said to be in covenant and under its bonds ?
I answer, all to whom the covenant is proposed are required and bound to consent to it, accept of it, voluntarily come under its bonds, and so perforın the covenant duties therein prescribed. It has the authority of a divine law, and needs not our consent to give it a binding force. Some precepts of the gospel are immediately directed to all to whom the call of the gospel is sent, and demand present 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 those who are first admitted into the number of God's people, by a restipulation or consent.
The call of the gospel requires all who are favoured with it to give a serious attention to its proposal, to receive the divine testimony on those sufficient evidences with which it is confirmed, and cordially consent 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 imnåediately injoined ; duties which belong not to those who are not in covenant while such, particularly using the special ordinances, which are appropriated exclusively to the church. Briefly then, though the proposals of the covenant are of important concernment to all mankind, especially to triose, 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 sent, yet the bond of the covenant, as the expression is commonly understood, properly lies only on those who
ave come under vows or engagements of obedience, either by their own personal act, or by the restipulation of those who are authorised to act for them. When those who are not under covenant bonds disobey the call of the gospel to them, requiring their consent to its proposal, they are guilty of refusing the covenant. But when those who are under covenant bonds violate them, they are guilty of perfidiously breaking the covenant. A circumstance which inhances their disobedience.
To finish this section. The gospel contains precepts which are immediately directed to, and binding upon the conscience 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 special obligations to perforın 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 covenant,
Of the Grants or Promises of the Covenant. Its visible and invisible
Privileges. Its external and internal Administration.
AS the christian law contains our whole duty, so all the blessings we need are contained in the covenant, grant and promise to the people of God. There are blessings pertaining to the life which now is, and that which is to come. Without attempting to give a detail of particulars, let it suffice to say, the blessings, granted to the church by the covenant, are partly invisible gifts which are connected with, and issue in the salvation of those who receive them ; such as a saving union to Chrift, pardon of fin, reconciliation to God, and reception into the number of his chil. dren by regeneration and adoption, the gift of the holy Spirit to abide with them as a vital principle, by whose influence they are endowed with the graces of fanctification, and made mete to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints. All who receive these gifts and blessings of the covenant are true saints, members of the invisible church, and heirs of the kingdom of glory. But there are also outward and visible blessings, of which the new covenant contains a grant or promise. Such are the common gifts of Prova
But yet many
idence, and especially spiritual privileges, the word of God, the outward ordinances and instituted means of religion.
But the great question with some 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 saints, or to them only-To which I would say, that the new covenant, I conceive, contains no grant or promise claimable by any one till he is first in and under it.
who are not in covenant, have a lawful and good right not only to receive, possess and use the common blessings of Providence, but also some of those spiritual privileges which the covenant promises and grants to the church. The outward means of conversion, the ordinances appointed for this purpose, and a special blessing to render them effectual, are covenant blessings, 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 arising from or founded in a covenant grant or promise to them. But yet God in sovereign, unpromised bounty, grants these outward blessings and spiritual privileges to many who are not in covenant; yea, and grants a special blessing with them, whereby they become the effectual means of bringing them into the church and covenant. When the call of the gospel is sent 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 conversion ; such as the reading and hearing of the word, and prayer. And churches of the saints, in which these ordinances are statedly administered, should admit all who desire in an orderly manner to attend on the means of instruction. But it is the church only to whom these 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 shall be blessed for the saving good of those to whom, in uncovenanted favour, they are vouchsafed. - The means of conversion
may be granted to those who are not in covenant. But the church does and shall enjoy the ordinances. They are a part of its inheritance, secured 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 set up, whence it shines abroad in the world. It is in the church alone that the ordinances appointed for the conversion of unbelievers, as well as those which are to be used only by the people of God, are statedly administered. And as these outward means may be granted to those without, so they may be, and we have reason to think usually are blessed for saving good to some wherever they are sent; though this special blessing is an uncovenanted