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gracious mę:hod of salvation through Jesus Christ and his righteousness. Cordially accept of Jesus Christ in all his offices, and in hiin make choice of God the Fa. ther, Son, and Holy Ghost, as your God and portion : And give up yourfelves, foul and body, and all you have, to be the Lord's, to bę for him and not for another. And, in Christ's strength, eng.ge to live for God, serve him, and walk with him in newness of life. Do all this in the most folemn manner, with fincerity, hu. mility, and self denial; and, if this you be helped to do, God will accept of you at his table, and deal with you as his covenanted people.
Obje£t. “ But, faith one, I know it is my duty to come and transact with God in this manner, and renew covenant with him, conform to my baptismal vows; and sometimes I think I am willing to do it, but I much suspect my fincerity in this matter ; and it is highly dangerous to deal falsly with God, in pretending to covenant with him, when the heart is not right with God?"
Ans. You have just cause to suspect your own hearts, and therefore thould be at all pains to search and try yourselves ; and, for your help, I shall give some characters of those who aim fincerely to transact and renew covenant with God.
1. They are such who are throughly convinced of their mifery under the first covenant, as being wholly unable to fulfil its condition, or pay its penalty ; and therefore see they cannot abide in this case, without being undone to all eternity.
2. They are heartily grieved for their natural e strangement, and long living at a distance from God ; and are made to say, Oh, how long have, I dwelt in Mesech, far from the fountain of my happiness!
3. They are troubled for their long slighting of Christ's gracious calls and offers of mercy in the gospel, and for the backwardness of their hearts to leave fin and satan, and come and enter into covenant with God. Oh, how long have I preferred fatan's drudgery and service, to God's friendtrip and favour; lived in league with my soul's enemy, and at war with my best friend! 3 N 2
4. They have something of a soul affecting view of the new covenant, and the new way and method of falvation contained therein. They see there is no righteousness of man or angel that can justify them, none but the righteousness of Christ alone, nothing but an infi. nite satisfaction can do their turn; and it is their cry, None but Chrift.
5. They are fully resolved on a rupture and breach with all the enemies of God, and to break all leagues and covenants with fin, satan, and the world ; and that they will never be slaves to them as formerly: They heartily agree with the Pfalmift, Psal. cxix. 115. “ Depart from me, ye evil doers, for I will keep the commandments of my God."
6. They are sensible of, and humbled for, the former treachery and falfe.dealing of their hearts with God. Are there not many who have formerly entered into covenant with God, have sworn allegiance to him as their Sovereign, and that not only at baptism, but have renewed this deed at the Lord's fupper? But may not the Lord take up the same complaint against them, as against Israel ? Pfal. Ixxviii. 36. 37. “ They lied to him with their tongues; for their hearts were not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant.” Well, if you be deeply affected on this account, the Lord will not reject you.
7. They sincerely accept of Christ as their Surety and Cautioner before God; they esteem him altogether lovely, and infinitely precious. They renounce their own righteousness in justification, and their own strength in sanctification, and look to Christ for both, saying, as those, Isa. xlv. 24. “ In the Lord have I righteouiness and strength.” I have not sufficiency of myself, either to make or keep covenant with God, but my confidence is entirely in Christ my all-fufficient Surety
8. They are content to give themselves to the Lord, and all they are and have. Faith hath two hands; by the one it receives Jesus Christ, and by the other it gives the soul to him. Now, if your faith want either of these, it is lame. 9. They feel in dwelling fin as a grievous clog; they
desire heart-holiness more than any earthly thing, and resolve, through grace, upon more care and watchfulness against sin than formerly.
Now, try your sincerity in covenanting with God by these marks, and if you can lay claim to one or more of them, then you are not hypocrites, nor of the number of those who give God the hand without the heart; who pretend to make a covenant with God, and yet keep a secret league with the devil, the world, and the flesh, who profess a great outward respect to God and his ways, and yet keep a secret antipathy to Godliness, as, alas, many do, who come to the Lord's table.
And, if you would manage this weighty tranfaction aright, you must be very deliberate in it : Take many a view of the nature and frame of the covenant of grace, and confider what God offers and promises therein, and what he doth require of us; and endeavour to get your hearts wrought up to a chearful compliance therewith. Your souls are at the stake, and a mistake here ruins you eternally ; but, if once it be well done, it is done, for ever. This bargain is not for a short term, but for life, nay, for eternity; and therefore you should count the coft of it, and consider it duly; and be resolved, whatever trouble or perfecution shall arife, or whatever temptation you may meet with to leave Christ, to say to them, like Ruth. to Naomi, when fhe was stedfastly resolved to go with her, Ruth i. 16. Intreat me not to leave Chrift; for where he goes, I will follow him, though it were into banishment : Where be lodges, I will lodge, thougb it were in a prison : For neither death nor life pall part Christ and me.
And, again, beware of delays of making or entering into covenant with God. It is a work for eternity, and therefore requires present dispatch. The time of youth is a rare reason for this work, and ought carefully to be improven, and no time loft. And here I shall address myself to the young.
. O young people, and ye that never communicated be. fore, fet about this work of personal covenanting, before you approach to the Lord's table. Do not delay er put off to another year, or till old age or, fickness
come on: For, what do you know but God may be provoked to harden your hearts so in old age (though ye should live till that time) that ye shall have no liking to religion and the ways of God ? Must it not be highly displeasing to God, to reserve for him the refuse and dregs of your strength and time? Will you give your Creator and Redeemer only so much of your time and strength as the devil and the world have left? O, what is this, but to offer the blind and the lame of the flock in facrifice to God, Malachi i. 7. which is an abomination!
O young folk, can you dispose of yourselves better in the days of your youth, than give up yourselves to the Lord ? When you are ready to chuse callings and settlements in the world, can ye take a wiser course, than first chuse a settlement in Chrill's family, which would make all other conditions and circumstances of life the more comfortable to you? Now, the way to be made a member of this family, is by the covenanting with God : Without this, you have no right to the childrens bread, nor the feals of the covenant. It is not enough that you were baptized, and are Christians by your parents dedication, unless you be Chriftians by your own free choice and consent. Renember, you are now to enter into the state of adult church membership, and to be admitted to thare of the childrens privileges sealed to you in baptism; and, therefore, now ye must act as rational men and women, and make a choice for yourselves : You ought personally and explicitly to renew your baptismal covenant, and ratifying your parents deed, now when you are of age ; otherwise your baptism and pa. rents dedication will not profit you. I call you to engage to no more here, than what you are already oblige ed to by your baptism; for it is just the same covenant you are to enter into now, that ye have already con, sented to by your baptism : Only, by your personal refignation, voluntary confent, and taking the second seal of the covenant, you are to bind yourseives the faster to it; the which if you neglect to do, your baptism will be so far from profiting you, that it will be a witness against you, and cry for vengeance on you, and you will
in no better condition than the heathens that never were baptized
() young communicants, take heed to your first communicating; for very ir.uch doth depend upon it. You are now as it were to lay the foundation stone of your salvation-work, and this ought to be done with much fpiritual skill and knowledge, if you would have a fure building. Othen dig deep, and found your house, your salvation, your hopes of heaven, upon the rock Christ, by personal covenaning, and express closing with him upon the terms of grace : For it you do it not, but approach to the Lord's table in ignorance, unbelief, or hardness of heart, you may provoke God to smite you with judicial blindness and obduration, and give you up to such heart-hardness and formality in duty, as may cleave to you all your lives long, and so you are ruined for ever. The time of your first communicating, is a most critical juncture for your souls; for, according to the state, frame, and disposition of peoples souls, at their first communicating, so it very often fares with them in some measure at all the rest of the communions they partake of. Many have found this, fome to their sweet, others to their fad experience. Some, by their care e fs approach at firit, and neglecting expressly to covenant with God, have drawn down the plagues of heart.halco ness and formality upon themselves, and provoked God to leave them to wander in the dark all their days, without any folid assurance, or comfortable view of their intereft in Christ and the covenant of grace. But others, by means of their sincere preparacion and covenanting with God at this time, have got a feal of their conversion, and a view of their interest in Christ, which hath proven very useful and comfortable to them all the rest of their lives, and especially in the cime of distress, and when on a death-bed. Then they have remembered, how that at such a time and place they joined themselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant, and then and there God spake with them, intimated their pardon, and owned them as his covenanted children. As their souls were helped to say to the Lord, Thou art my God: So God said to them, I am your salvation. And hereby many have