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casions! But alas! where were you, temporizers, Nicodemuses, timorous souls? Where have you been? it is now a fortnight since you appeared before the Lord your God, to renew your covenant with him. Ah! degenerate men, worthy of the most pointed and mortifying reproof, such as that which Deborah addressed to Reuben: Why didst thou stay "among the sheep-folds, to hear the bleating of the flocks," Judges v. 16. You were with your gold, with your silver, sordid objects, to which you pay in this nation the homage which God peculiarly requires in climates so happy. You were, perhaps, in the temple of superstition; while we were assembled in the house of the Most High. You were in Egypt, preferring the garlic and onions to the milk and honey of Canaan; while we were on the borders of the promised land, to which God was about to give us admission.
Poor children of those unhappy fathers! Where were you, while we devoted our offspring to God who gave them; while we led those for admission to his table, who were adequately instructed; while we prayed for the future admission of those who are yet deprived by reason of their tender age? Ah! you were victims to the indifference, the cares, and avarice of those who gave you birth! You are associated by them with those who are enemies to the reformed name; who, unable to convince the fathers, hope, at least, to convince the children, and to extinguish in their hearts the minutest sparks of truth! O God! if thy justice have already cut off those unworthy fathers, spare, at least, according to thy clemency, these unoffending creatures, who know not yet their right hand from their left; whom they would detach from thy communion, before they are acquainted with its purity!
Would to God that this was all the cause of our complaint! Oh! where were you, while we celebrated the sacrament of the Lord's supper? You, inhabitants of these provinces, born of reformed families, professors of the reformation! You, who are married, who are engaged in business, who have attained the age of forty or fifty years, without ever participating of the holy eucharist! There was a time, my brethren, among the Jews, when a man who should have had the assurance to neglect the rites which constituted the essence of the law, would have been cut off from the people. This law has varied in regard to circumstances; but in essence it still subsists, and in all its force. Let him apply this observation, to whom it peculiarly belongs.
III. Moses required the Israelites, in renewing their covenant with God, to consider what constituted its essence: which, according to the views of the Lawgiver, was the reciprocal engagement. Be attentive to this term reciprocal; it is the soul of my definition. What constitutes the essence of a covenant, is the reciprocal engagements of the contracting parties. This is obvious from the words of my text; that thou shouldst (stipulate or) enter. Here we distinctly find mutual conditions; here we distinctly find that God engaged with the Israelites to be their God; and they engaged to be his people. We proved, at the commencement of this discourse, that the covenant of God with the Israelites, was in substance the same as that contracted
with Christians. This being considered, what idea ought we to form of those Christians (if we may give that name to men who can entertain such singular notions of Christianity,) who ventured to affirm, that the ideas of conditions, and reciprocal engagements, are dangerous expressions, when applied to the evangelical covenant; that what distinguishes the Jews from Christians is, that God then promised and required; whereas now he promises, but requires nothing. My brethren, had I devoted my studies to compose a history of the eccentricities of the human mind, I should have deemed it my duty to have bestowed several years in reading the books, in which those systems are contained, that I might have marked to posterity the precise degrees to which men are capable of carrying such odious opinions. But having diverted them to other pursuits, little, it is confessed, have I read of this sort of works: and all I know of the subject may nearly be reduced to this, that there are persons in these provinces who both read and believe them.
Without attacking by a long course of causes and consequences, a system so destructive of itself, we will content ourselves with a single test. Let them produce a single passage from the Scriptures, in which God requires the acquisition of knowledge, and engages to bestow it, without the least fatigue of reading, study, and reflection. Let them produce a passage, in which God requires us to possess certain vir tues, and engages to communicate them, without enjoining us to subdue our senses, our temperature, our passions, our inclination, in order that we may attain them. Let them produce one passage from the Scriptures to prove, that God requires us to be saved by the merits of Jesus Christ, and engages to do it, without the slightest sorrow for our past sins,-without the least reparation of our crimes,-without precautionary measures to avoid them,—without the qualifying dispositions to participate the fruits of his passions. What am I saying! Let them produce a text which overturns the hundred, and the hundred more passages which we oppose to this gross supralapsarian system, and with which we are ever ready to confront its advocates.
We have said, my brethren, that this system destroys itself. Hence it was less with a view to attack it, that we destined this article, than to apprize some among you of having adopted it, at the very moment you dream that you reject and abhor it. We often fall into the error of the ancient Israelites; frequently forming as erroneous notions of the covenant which God has contracted with us, as they did of that he had contracted with them. This people had violated the stipulations in a manner the most notorious in the world. God did not fulfil his engagements with them, because they refused to fulfil their engagements to him. He resumed the blessings he had so abundantly poured upon them; and, instead of ascribing the cause to themselves, they had the assurance to ascribe it to him. They said, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord," Jer. vii. 4. We are the children of Abraham; forget not thy covenant.-And how often have not similar sentiments been cherished in our hearts? How often has not the
same language been heard proceeding from our lips? How often, at the moment we violate our baptismal vows; at the moment we are so far depraved as to falsify the oath of fidelity we have taken in the holy sacrament; how often, in short, does it not happen, that at the moment we break our covenant with God, we require him to be faithful by alleging-the cross-the satisfaction-the blood of Jesus Christ. Ah! wretched man! fulfil thou the conditions to which thou hast subscribed; and God will fulfil those he has imposed on himself. Be thou mindful of thy engagements, and God will not be forgetful of his. Hence, what constitutes the essence of a covenant is, the mutual stipulations of the contracting parties. This is what we engaged to prove.
illustration of the original terms which our versions render "gall and wormwood." They include a metaphor taken from a man, who, finding in his field weeds pernicious to his grain, should crop the strongest, but neglecting to eradicate the plant, incurs the inconvenience he wished to avoid.
The metaphor is pertinent. In every crime we consider both the plant and the root productive of gall and wormwood; or, if you please, the crime itself, and the principle which duced it. It is not enough to crop, we must eradicate. It is not enough to be exempt from crimes, we must exterminate the principle. For example, in theft, there is both the root, and the plant productive of wormwood and gall. There is theft gross and refined; the act IV. Moses required the Israelites to consider, of theft, and the principle of theft. To steal in renewing their covenant with God, the ex- the goods of a neighbour is the act, the gross tent of the engagement: "That thou shouldest act of theft; but, to indulge an exorbitant enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, wish for the acquisition of wealth;-to make and into his oath; that he may establish thee enormous charges;-to resist the solicitations to-day for a people unto himself; and that he of a creditor for payment;-to be indelicate as may be unto thee a God." This engagement to the means of gaining money;-to reject the of God with the Jews implies, that he would mortifying claims of restitution, is refined fraud; be their God; or to comprehend the whole in or, if you please, the principle of fraud produca single word, that he would procure them tive of wormwood and gall.-It is the same a happiness correspondent to the eminence of with regard to impurity; there is the act and his perfections. Cases occur, in which the at- the principle. The direct violation of the tributes of God are at variance with the hap-command, "thou shalt not commit adultery," piness of men. It implies, for instance, an in- is the gross act. But to form intimate conconsistency with the divine perfections, not nexions with persons habituated to the vice, to only that the wicked should be happy, but also read licentious novels, to sing immodest songs, that the righteous should have perfect feli- to indulge wanton airs, is that refined impurity, city, while their purity is incomplete. There that principle of the gross act, that root which are miseries inseparable from our imperfections speedily produces wormwood and gall. in holiness; and, imperfections being coeval with life, our happiness will be incomplete till after death. On the removal of this obstruction, by virtue of the covenant, God having engaged to be our God, we shall attain supreme felicity. Hence our Saviour proved by this argument, that Abraham should rise from the dead, the Lord having said to Moses, "I am the God of Abraham; God is not the God of the dead, but of the living," Matt. xxii. 32. This assertion, "I am the God of Abraham,' proceeding from the mouth of the Supreme Being, was equivalent to a promise of making Abraham perfectly happy. Now he could not be perfectly happy, so long as the body to which nature had united him, was the victim of corruption. Therefore, Abraham must risements, and his statutes, which I command thee from the dead. this day, then all these curses shall come upon thee. Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field; in the fruit of thy body, in the fruit of thy land, in the increase of thy cattle. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall send upon thee cursing and vexation, in all thou settest thine hand for to do, until thou be destroyed; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me. And thy heaven, that is over thy head, shall be brass; and the earth that is under thee shall be iron. The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies, thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them; and thou shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in dark
V. Moses lastly required the Israelites to consider the oath and execration with which their acceptance of the covenant was attended: "that thou shouldest enter into covenant," and into this oath. What is meant by their entering into the oath of execration? That they pledged themselves by oath, to fulfil every clause of the covenant; and in case of violation, to subject themselves to all the curses God had denounced against those who should be guilty of so perfidious a crime.
When God engaged with the Israelites, the Israelites engaged with God. Their covenant implies, that they should be his people; that is, that they should obey his precepts so far as human frailty would admit. By virtue of this clause, they engaged not only to abstain from gross idolatry, but also to eradicate the principle. Keep this distinction in view: it is clearly expressed in my text. "Ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold." Take heed, "lest there should be among you man or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away from the Lord, to go and serve the gods of these nations." Here is the gross act of idolatry. "Lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood." Here is the principle. I would not enter into a critical VOL. II.-39
And, if you would have an adequate idea of those curses, read the awful chapter preceding that from which we have taken our text, "If thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and do all his command
ness. Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people. Thine eyes shall see it; because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things. Therefore thou shalt serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, nakedness, and want. The Lord shall bring against thee a nation swift as the eagle; a nation of fierce countenance. He shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst. And thou shalt eat the fruit of thy own body, the flesh of thy sons and thy daughters, in the siege, and in the straitness. So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil towards his brother, and towards the wife of his bosom; so that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat," Deut. xxviii. 15, &c.
These are but part of the execrations which the infractors of the covenant were to draw upon themselves. And to convince them that they must determine, either not to contract the covenant, or subject themselves to all its execrations, God caused it to be ratified by the awful ceremony, which is recorded in the chapter immediately preceding the quotations I have made. He commanded one part of the Levites to ascend Mount Ebal, and pronounce the curses, and all the people to say, Amen. By virtue of this command, the Levites said, "Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother; and all the people said, Amen. Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, the fatherless, and widow; and all the people said, Amen. Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbour secretly; and all the people said, Amen. Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them; and all the people said, Amen;" Deut. xxvii. 17-26.
The words which we render, "that thou shouldest enter into covenant," have a peculiar energy in the original, and signify, "that thou shouldest pass into covenant." The interpreters of whom I speak, think they refer to a ceremony formerly practised, in contracting covenants, of which we have spoken on other occasions.
On immolating the victims, they divided the flesh into two parts, placing the one opposite to the other. The contracting parties passed in the open space between the two, thereby testifying their consent to be slaughtered as those victims, if they did not religiously confirm the covenant contracted in so mysterious
The sacred writings afford examples of this In the fifteenth chapter of Genesis, Abraham, by the divine command, took a heifer of three years old, and a ram of the same age, and dividing them in the midst, he placed the parts opposite to each other: "and behold, a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp passed between those pieces." This was a symbol that the Lord entered into an engagement with the patriarch, according to the existing custom: hence it is said, that "the Lord made a covenant with Abraham."
In the thirty-fourth chapter of the prophecies of Jeremiah, we find a correspondent pas
sage. "I will give the men that have transgressed my covenant, which have not performed the words of the covenant, that they made before me, when they cut the calf in twain, and passed between the parts, the princes of Judah,-I will even give them into the hands of their enemies." If we do not find the whole of these ceremonies observed, when God contracted the covenant on Sinai, we should mark what occurs in the twenty-fourth chapter of Exodus; "Moses sent the young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt-offerings, and sacrificed peace-offerings of oxen unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins: and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar; and the other half he sprinkled on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, all that the Lord hath said, will we do, and be obedient. What is the import of this ceremony, if it is not the same which is expressed in my text, that the Israelites, in contracting the covenant with God, enter into the execration oath; subjecting themselves, if ever they should presume deliberately to violate the stipulations, to be treated as the victims immolated on Sinai, and as those which Moses probably offered," when it was renewed, on the confines of Palestine.
Perhaps one of my hearers may say to himself, that the terrific circumstances of this ceremony regarded the Israelites alone, whom God addressed in lightnings and thunders from the top of Sinai. What! was there then no victim immolated, when God contracted his covenant with us? Does not St. Paul expressly say, that "without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins?" Heb. ix. 22. And what were the lightnings, what were the thunders of Sinai? What were all the execrations, and all the curses of the law? They were the just punishments every sinner shall suffer, who ne glects an entrance into favour with God. Now, these lightnings, these thunders, these execrations, these curses, did they not all unite against the slaughtered victim, when God contracted his covenant with us;-I would say, against the head of Jesus Christ? O my God! what revolting sentiments did not such complicated calamities excite in the soul of the Saviour! The idea alone, when presented to his mind, a little before his death, constrained him to say, "Now is my soul troubled,” John xii. 17. And on approaching the hour; "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death. O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me," Matt. xxvi. 38, 39. And on the cross; "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" Matt. xxvii. 46.-Sinner! here is the victim immolated on contracting thy covenant with God! Here are the sufferings thou didst subject thyself to endure, if ever thou shouldest perfidiously violate it! Thou hast entered, thou hast passed into covenant, and into the oath of execration which God has required.
APPLICATION. My brethren, no man should presume to dis
guise the nature of his engagements, and the high characters of the gospel. Because, on the solemn festival-day, when we appear in the presence of the Lord our God;-when we enter into covenant with him; and after the engagement, when we come to ratify it in the holy sacrament;-we not only enter, but we also pass into covenant, according to the idea attached to the term: we pass between the parts of the victim divided in sacrifice; we pass between the body and blood of Christ, divided from each other to represent the Saviour's death. We then say, "Lord! I consent, if I should violate the stipulations of thy covenant, and if after the violation, I do not recover by repentance, I consent, that thou shouldst treat me as thou hast treated thy own Son, in the garden of Gethsemane, and on Calvary. Lord! I consent that thou shouldst shoot at me all the thunderbolts and arrows which were shot against him. I agree, that thou shouldst unite against me all the calamities which were united against him. And, as it implies a contradiction, that so weak a mortal as I should sustain so tremendous a punishment, I agree, that the duration of my punishment should compensate for the defects of its degree; that I should suffer eternally in the abyss of hell, the punishments I could not have borne in the limited duration of time."
Do not take this proposition for a hyberbole, or a rhetorical figure. To enter into covenant with God, is to accept the gospel precisely as it was delivered by Jesus Christ, and to submit to all its stipulations. This gospel expressly declares, that "fornicators, that liars, that drunkards, and the covetous, shall not inherit the kingdom of God." On accepting the gospel, we accept this clause. Therefore, on accepting the gospel, we submit to be excluded the kingdom of God, if we are either drunkards, or liars, or covetous, or fornicators; and if after the commission of any of these crimes, we do not recover by repentance. And what is submission to this clause, if it is not to enter into the execration oath, which God requires of us, on the ratification of this covenant?
Ah! my brethren, wo unto us should we pronounce against ourselves so dreadful an oath, without taking the precautions suggested by the gospel to avert these awful consequences. Ah! my brethren, if we are not sincerely resolved to be faithful to God, let us make a solemn vow before we leave this temple, never to communicate, never to approach the Lord's table.
thing awfully solen. The oath, the oath of execration which God tenders, is, I farther allow, very intimidating. But what constitutes the fear, constitutes also the delight and consolation. For what end does God require these engagements? For what end does he require this oath? Because it is his good pleasure, that we should unite ourselves to him in the same close, constant, and indissoluble manner as he unites himself to us.
Let us be sincere, and he will give us power to be faithful. Let us ask his aid, and he wil not withhold the grace destined to lead us to this noble end. Let us say to him, "Lord, I do enter into this oath of execration; but I do it with trembling. Establish my wavering soul; confirm my feeble knees; give me the victory; make me more than conqueror in all the conflicts, by which the enemy of my salvation comes to separate me from thee. Pardon all the faults into which I may be drawn by human frailty. Grant, if they should suspend the sentiments of fidelity I vow to thee, that they may never be able to eradicate them." These are the prayers which God loves, these are the prayers which he hears. May he grant us to experience them! Amen.
THE SEAL OF THE COVENANT. (For the day of Pentecost.)
2 COR. i. 21, 22.
He which establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
How distinguished soever this sabbath may be, it affords a humiliating consideration to us. How glorious soever the event might be to the church, whose anniversary we now celebrate, it cannot be recollected, without deploring the difference between what God once achieved for his saints, and what he is doing at the present period. In the first Pentecost, the heavens visibly opened to the brethren; but we, we alas! are unable to pierce the vaults of this church. The Holy Spirit then miraculously descended with inspiration on those holy men, who were designated to carry the light of the gospel throughout the world; but now, it is solely by the efforts of meditation and study, that your preachers communicate knowledge and exhortation. The earth shook; the most abstruse mysteries were explained; languages the least intelligible became instantaneously familiar; the sick were healed; the dead were raised to life; Ananias and Sapphira expired at the apostles' feet; and such a multitude of prodigies were then achieved, in order to give weight to the ministry of the first preachers of the gospel, that no one among us can be unacquainted with those extraordinary events. But good wishes, prayers, entreaties, are all we can now exert to insinuate into your hearts, and conciliate your attention.
What! never approach his table! never communicate! Disdain not to enter into the covenant which God does not disdain to make with sinners! What a decision! Great God, what an awful decision! And should this be the effect of my discourse! Alas! my brethren, without this covenant, without this table, without this oath, we are utterly lost! It is true, we shall not be punished as violators of vows we never made: but we shall be punished as madmen; who, being actually in the abyss of perdition, reject the Redeemer, whose hand is extended to draw us thence. Let us seek that hand, let us enter into this covenant with God. The engagements, without which the cove
What then! is the Holy Spirit, who once de
nant cannot be confirmed, have, I grant, some-scended with so much lustre on the primitive
Christians, refused to us? What then! shall we | dowments for the adequate discharge of their have no participation in the glory of that day? duty. Under this idea, St. John represents the shall we talk of the prodigies seen by the in- gift of the Holy Spirit, granted to the whole fant church, solely to excite regret at the dark-church: "Ye have an unction from the Holy ness of the dispensation, in which it has pleas- One, and ye know all things," 1 John, ii. 20. ed God to give us birth? Away with the By the seal, of which the apostle here says, thought! The change is only in the exterior" God hath sealed us," the sacraments may be aspect, not in the basis and substance of Chris-understood. The metaphor is derived from tianity; whatever essential endowments the the usages of society in affixing seals to cove holy spirit once communicated to the primitive nants and treaties. Under this design are the Christians, he now communicates to us. Hear sacraments represented in the Scriptures. The the words we have read, "He which stablish- term is found applied to those exterior institueth you with us, in Christ, and hath anointed tions in the fourth chapter of St. Paul's episus, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given tle to the Romans. It is there said that us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." On "Abraham received the sign of circumcision, these operations of the Holy Spirit in the as a seal of the righteousness of faith. By the heart, we now purpose to treat, and on which institution of this sign, to Abraham and his we shall make three kinds of observations. posterity, God distinguished the Jews from every nation of the earth; marked them as his own, and blessed them with the fruits of evangelical justification. This is the true import, provided the interior grace be associated with the exterior sign; I would say, sanctification, or the image of God; purity being inculcated on us in the Scriptures by the symbol of a seal. This, in our opinion, is the import of that fine passage, so distorted by the schoolmen; "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his: let every one that nameth,” (or invoketh) “the name of Christ depart from iniquity," 2 Tim. ii. 19. What is God's seal? How does God know his own?" Is it by the exterior badges of sacraments? Is it by "the circumcision which is in the flesh?" No, it is by this more hallowed test, "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
In fine, by the EARNESTS of the Spirit, we understand those foretastes of heaven which God communicates to some of those he has designated to celestial happiness. An earnest (or earnests as in the Greek,) is a deposit of part of the purchase money for a bargain. St. Paul says, and in the sense attached to the term, "We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burthened: not that we would be unclothed, but clothed, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God; who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit," 2 Cor. v. 4, 5.
I. It is designed to develope the manner in which this operation is expressed in the words of my text.
II. To explain its nature, and prove its reality.
III. To trace the disposition of the man who retards, and the man who farthers the operations of the Holy Spirit.
This comprises the outlines of our discourse. I. We shall easily comprehend the manner in which St. Paul expresses the operation of the Holy Spirit, if we follow the subsequent rules.
1. Let us reduce the metaphor to its genuine import. St. Paul wishes to prove the truth and certainty of the promises, God had given the church by his ministry; "All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen," 2 Cor. i. 20. These are Hebrew modes of speech. The Jews, in order to designate deceitful speeches, say, that there are men with whom yea is nay, and nay is yea; on the contrary, the yea of a good man is yea, and nay, is nay. Hence the maxim of a celebrated Rabbi, "Let the disciples of the wise, give and receive in fidelity and truth, saying, yea, yea; nay, nay." And it was in allusion to this mode of speech, that our Saviour said to his disciples, Let your yea be yea, and your nay be nay; whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil," Matt. v. 37.
St. Paul, to prove that the promises God has given us in his word, are yea and amen; that is, sure and certain, says, he has established them in a threefold manner: by the anointing, the seal, and the earnests. These several terms express the same idea, and mark the diversified operations of the Holy Spirit, for the confirmation of the Evangelical promises. However, if another will assert, that we are to understand different operations by these three terms, I will not controvert his This is the idea, my brethren, one should opinion. By the unction, we may here under-attach to the metaphors in our text. In order stand, the miraculous endowments afforded to to comprehend the Scriptures, you should althe apostles, and to a vast number of the pri- ways recollect that they abound with these mitive Christians, and the inferences enlight-forms of speech. The sacred writers lived in a ened men would consequently draw in favour warm climate; whose inhabitants had a natural of Christianity. It is a metaphor taken from vivacity of imagination, very different from us the oil poured by the special command of God, who reside in a colder region, and under a on the head of persons selected for grand cloudy sky; who have consequently a peculiar achievements, and particularly on the head of gravity, and dulness of temperature. Seldom, kings and priests. It implied that God had therefore, did the men of whom we have been designated those men for distinguished offices, speaking, employ the simple style. They borand communicated to them the necessary en-rowed bold figures; they magnified objects;
Whether, therefore, each of these terms, unction, seal, earnest, express the same thing; as I think could be proved, by several texts of Scripture, in which they are promiscuously used; or whether they convey three distinct ideas;-they all indicate that God confirms to us the evangelical promises in the way we have described.