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[i.] The people of God were better companions than
[ii.] The pleasures of godliness were better than the pleasures of sin.
[iii.] Sublunary things are but temporary, divine comforts have no end.
[iv.] The worst of Christ, namely, reproach, is better than the best of the world, the highest riches.
[v.] The recompence of reward to which he had respect, counterbalanced earthly enjoyments.
[vi.] The displeasure of his heavenly Father, was of greater consequence than the wrath of all the kings of the earth.
[vii.] His eyes were fixed on him who was invisible, therefore visible dangers were nothing to him. Faith helps to such discoveries as sense and reason are strangers to; he had also faith in a mediator, whom himself typified; "for through faith he kept the passover, and sprinkling of blood," Heb. xi. 28; his own faith was the hyssop that sprinkled the blood on his soul, and so he was secured, and as a confirmation of this covenant relation, both Moses and all Israel passed through the Red Sea, as upon dry ground, † ver. 29; Moses's faith in God's omnipotence, made a bridge through the vast ocean; and this passage of the Red Sea was an extraordinary sacrament to Israel, for they were all baptized unto or by Moses, as typical mediator, in the cloud and in the sea:‡ thus good Moses covenanted, and God accepted him, and the people; but Moses's personal choice and covenant is the thing on which I insist.
9. Job saith, chap. xxxi. 1, "I made a covenant with mine eyes, why then should I think upon a maid ?” Though this refer only to a particular engagement with reference to himself, against impure inclinations;
• Exod. xii. 22. + Exod. xiv. 29.
+ 1 Cor. x. 2.
yet certainly it hath a reference to this solemn dedication of himself to God: because,
(1.) His heart and thoughts were concerned therein. (2.) Because it extends to all other sins and duties, as the context declares; for Job was a universal cultivator of piety, and covenanter for duty; and all that he did or expected was by faith in a mediator: "I know" saith he, "that my Redeemer liveth,"* which words Job would have to be written, yea, printed in a book, yea, graven with an iron pen, and lead in the rock for ever. He had a particular interest in his Goel or kinsman, who had a right to redeem him, and his Redeemer had a peculiar care of him; as the Lord of life takes hold of his flesh by incarnation, so he takes hold on Christ by a particular application; this is personal covenanting.
10. David shall be the next, who frequently renewed his vows and covenants with God, Psal. cxix. 48, "My hands also will I lift up to thy commandments, which I have loved;" this gesture of lifting up the hands sometimes imports prayer, or blessing, yet here it imports,
(2.) Vigorous acting accordingly; Abraham saith, "I have lift up my hand, that is, sworn to the Lord,"† so lifting up the hand is the posture of a man entering into action shaking off sloth and listlessness; also lifting up the hands that hang down, is opposed to discouragement; so David, first by covenant engageth himself, then sets himself to the performance of his vow with great resolution; more plainly he saith, "I have sworn and will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments," ver. 106, this oath is a solemn vow by personal covenanting to act in compliance with the will
• Job xix. 23-25.
+ Gen. xiv. 22. Exod. vi. 6.
of God; and he engageth the Lord to be surety for him in performing it, ver. 122.
11. Peter is the next instance, Matt. xvi. 16, "Thou art Christ the Son of the living God;" this is not a bare profession of his faith, but a solemn owning his Lord as the true Messiah, and his Saviour, expecting salvation by him, and resigning up himself to his conduct, according to his method of saving sinners, which is clear by comparing this with Matt. xix. 27, "We have forsaken all and followed thee," which expresses the terms of the new covenant, renouncing all and owning Christ only; and elsewhere he saith, "To whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life; we are sure, and believe, that thou art Christ the Son of the living God :"* thus Peter, as the other apostles did, resigned up himself to Jesus as his Saviour and Sovereign.
12. Thomas, poor doubting Thomas, shall be the last instance of a soul's personal covenanting; who, though he staggered in his belief of Christ's resurrection, yet upon Christ's gracious condescension to gratify his senses, cried out as in a transport of faith and affection, "My Lord, and my God," John xx. 28; as if he had said, Lord I doubted thy divinity in questioning thy power to raise thyself, I denied the great work of redemption, "for if Christ be not raised, our faith is vain, we are yet in our sins,"† but now I am not only satisfied respecting the truth of thy deity, and satisfaction to justice, but I do solemnly own thee in covenant-relation, giving up myself to thee, as entirely thine, taking thee to be my Lord, to rule me by thy word and Spirit; thine I am, and thou art mine, my God in covenant, my Lord and Saviour to order me as thou pleasest; my portion to satisfy me, my patron to defend me, my light John vi. 68, 69. + 1 Cor. xv. 17.
to conduct me, my life to crown me; thee I would enjoy, and in the enjoyment of thee I expect my only felicity, in this and in another world.
And what shall I further say? for the time would fail me to mention all the saints in scripture, that have made a personal covenant with God, directly or consequentially, expressly or implicitly. The virgin Mary saith, "My spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour."* Zacharias also, the father of John Baptist, expresseth his faith in Christ,† according to the ancient covenant with their fathers. Old Simeon was content to die with the child Jesus in the arms of his body, and Messiah in the arms of his faith:‡ but this blessed jury of covenanted souls may suffice to bring in their verdict, to confirm this truth, that real saints have been wont to enter into a personal covenant with God.
ARGUMENTS PRODUCED FOR CONFIRMATION OF THE DOCTRINE.
THUS we have presented some scripture instances to clear the point; I shall subjoin also some logical arguments to prove, that those, and those only are real saints that make a personal covenant with God; and these I shall propound syllogistically.
First argument I frame from natural religion, thus: That which the acknowledged principles of natural religion prompt to, must needs go to the constituting of a saint.
* Luke i. 47. + Luke i. 70-72. Luke ii. 28, 29.
But the very principles of natural religion do prompt men to a personal covenanting with God.
Therefore personal covenanting with God must go to the constituting of a saint.
The major proposition is clear of itself, for Christianity doth not destroy, but suppose and build upon principles of natural religion; natural religion is (in some sense) the test and touchstone of the truth of any religion, and Christianity doth so fully harmonize with it, that the sacred writers oft appeal to it, and approve or disapprove any thing according as it is consonant or contrary to principles of nature. "Judge in yourselves,** saith Paul, that is, as you are men endued with reason, --and doth not nature itself teach you?-that is, as common custom hath made the wearing of hair at length, the distinction of the female sex, so nature itself will tell you that it is a shame for a man to appear thus like a woman: confusion of sexes is against nature; and therefore the apostle saith, "That heathens do by nature the things contained in the law,"† that is, many things materially good: and unnatural sins are the worst of all sins; whether these common sentiments,|| universally owned by all mankind be the relics of God's image in man, or superadded by God's providence for the benefit of mankind I dispute not; but that there are such, all acknowledge who can distinguish between moral good and evil, and though some high points in Christianity be above the dim moonlight of nature, yet there is nothing contrary to those discoveries in the gospel revelation.
And for the minor, namely, that personal covenanting with God is some way consonant to natural religion, might easily be demonstrated, not only as the learned
1 Cor. xi. 13, 14.
Rom. i. 26, 27, 32. 2 Tim. iii. 3.
+ Rom. ii. 14.
|| Κοἶναι ἔννοιαι.