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Ο Ν Τ Η Ε
TRANSFERRENCE OF COVENANTING
OLD TESTAMENT CHURCH TO THAT
OF THE NEW.
I S A I A II xix. 18, 21, &c.
'HE practice of the Church of God, under
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 Teitament. -II. If the Spiritual nature of the better ecoSSE 2
nomy admits of such a duty; and if, confidering 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. -]V. If this duty was taught and exemplified in the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ. If
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 Mall 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 preteription, 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, pofitive laws enjoin positive obedience, and moral precepts moral obedience. ation before us refolves itself into this form, Wys covenanting enjoined by the moral law;
or by some positive precept under the Old Tel: tament difpenfation ? To avoid ambiguity, as much as may be, on this head, it may be obferved, That laws are said to be moral which take rise from the nature of God, and from that relation in which he stands unto his lational creatures, as their moral
governor. These laws are to be found, as in miniature, in the ten commandments; and are more copiously explained in the writings of the prophets and apostles: But they were of force prior to the giving of the law from Sinai; and to the various hints which were given to the patriarchs, That the moral law, and that only, afforded warrant for covenanting under the Old Testament may be made out various ways.
1. SUNDRY precepts in that law obliged unto this duty. The first precept, for example, binds us not only to know, but also to acknowledge and avouch the only true God as our God. Now, when this avowal is focial, as well as secret, it cannot imply less than public coVenanting. The second precept of the decalogue enjoins us to receive, observe, keep pure and entire all such religious ordinances as Goch hath appointed in his word ; one of which is, vowing and fwearing unto the mighty God of Jacob. Once more, . The third precept demands the holy and reverend use of divine truth, which is a bright character of God's name, It requires not only an oath, ou pro
per occasions, in civil business; but also for the purpose of folemnizing our holy profession, If God deign to swear unto us; is it too much that we swear unto him? THOU SHALT PIRFORM UNTO THE LORD THIN E OATHS.
2. That it is the moral law, and that only, which obliged unto the duty of covenanting will appear,
if we consider that it was a law common to both Jews and Gentiles. The latter, as well as the former, were sometimes employed in this duty. The law of nature taught them, that, as they were Of God, as the first cause; so it became them to be TO him, as their last end: And, if so, it cannot rea. sonably be denied, that it became them to bind themselves to him. Now, as, in right, they ought; so, in fact, they did bind themselves unto God, and that with the folemnity of an oath. One of them reasons to the following purpose : “ Thou art his workmanship ; he hath not only made thee, but bestowed all his benefits upon thec.”_" To this God ye ought to swear, as the soldiers do to Cælar. But they, indeed, for the sake of wages do swear, that they will, above all things, study the wellfare of Cæfar; and, while you are loaded with fo many, and so
great benefits by God, -will you not fwear unto lim? Or, when
ye not perform? And what should you fwear? That ye will always obey his voice; ; that ye will never complain of him; that ye
will never complain of any thing he measures out unto you; that ye will always do, and suffer willingly, whatsoever he shall think necessary to put upon you *.” Than which nothing can be more conclusive.
3. THERE was no other law by which this duty could be bound on the Old Testament Church than the moral law. There are only three laws supposable in this case ; namely, the judicial, the ceremonial, and the moral : But as the two forner, being incompetent, must be removed, the latter must be established. There is not a fourth.-The incompetence of the ceremonial law is evident from the very nature of it; it can enjoin nothing but ceremonies. Now, What is a ceremony? Is it not
EPICTET. Lib. I. cap. xiv.
-MELANCTHON argues also, from the light of nature, in favour of this duty, when answering Osiander's objections against it. Ha. ving produced the instance of covenanting in the days of Joshua, he adds, “ Non adferam hic aliarum politi. arum exempla, etsi notum eft, in omni honesta societate aliqua elle fædera, quibus ad certorum officiorum communicationem, homines obligati funt, ut apud Xeno. phontem dicitur πανταχύ έν τή έλλάδι νομος κείται, τες πολίτας ouruve ipovahou.” The meaning of which is, in short: “I shall not adduce examples, in this place, of other states, although it is known, that there are certain COVENANTS in every lawful society, by which men are obliged to the mutual performance of certain duties, as in Xenophon, WHEREVER THE LAW OBTAINED IN GREECE, PERSONS MUST SWEAR THE OATHS OF THE STATE.' MELANCTHON Opp. Tom. III. p. 738. Orat. dc Calumniis Ofiandri,