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promise be made, but unto the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Representative of his Church and people? Some divines have called this the covenant of Redemption, as contra-distinguished from the covenant of Grace; the one being made with Christ only, and the other with man. But this appears not founded in Scripture. There is one covenant only; and that was made with Christ personally, and with him as the federal Head and Representative of his elect people: as made with him personally, it promised him a seed, if he would lay down his life for them; and as made with him federally, it promised salvation to all who should believe in him, and become members of his mystical body d.
Now this covenant is "everlasting;" it has existed from the beginning, and shall exist to all eternity. No human being ever has been saved but by virtue of it; nor shall any child of man ever be admitted into heaven, but agreeably to its provisions. We say not that no person ever has been, or shall be, saved without a distinct acquaintance with it: for we believe that many heathens who never heard of it, and millions of children who have been incapable of understanding any thing about it, have been saved; but not a single soul has ever been accepted of God the Father, but as redeemed by the blood of his only-begotten Son. And perhaps we may say, that this circumstance gives to the glorified saints an advantage over angels themselves: for angels, though confirmed, we trust, in their happiness by the power of God, do not hold that happiness by so sure a tenure as the saints hold theirs: they cannot boast of holding it by the promise and oath of Jehovah; they cannot shew a covenant securing to them the everlasting possession of their inheritance, and that covenant confirmed and ratified with the blood of God's only dear Son: but we can refer to such a covenant, as the sure ground of all our expectations, and as the pledge that nothing shall ever separate us from the enjoyment of our God.]
2. Its fulness
[It may truly be said to be "ordered in all things." There is not any thing that can conduce to our happiness either in this world or the next, that is not comprehended in it. Every thing is prepared for us both in a way of providence and of grace. All our comforts, and all our trials, are therein adjusted for our good. All earthly things are secured to us, as far as they are necessary; and even afflictions themselves are promised, as the appointed means of fitting us for the realms of bliss. Whatever grace we stand in need of, it shall be given
c Isai. liii. 10, 11. f Matt. vi. 33.
d Gal. iii. 16, 17.
e 2 Cor. i. 20.
at such times, and in such a measure, as shall most display the glory of God. It is true that God requires of us many things, as repentance, faith, and holiness; but it is equally true that he promises all these things to us: he has "exalted his own Son to give us repentance;" he also gives us to believe in Christ; and he promises that he will, by the influence of his Spirit, cause us to walk in his statutes, and to keep his judgments and do them. We cannot place ourselves in any situation wherein God has not given us promises, "exceeding great and precious promises," suited to our necessities, and commensurate with our wants: nor is so small a thing as the falling of a hair of our head left to chance; it is all ordered by unerring wisdom: and though there may be some events which, separately and distinctly considered, may be regarded as evil, yet, collectively taken in all their bearings, they shall "all work together for our eternal good'."]
3. Its certainty
[It is "sure" to every one who trusts in it. In this it differs widely from the covenant of works which was made with man in innocence: for that depending on the fidelity of the creature, was violated, and annulled: whereas this, depending altogether on the fidelity of God, who undertakes to work in us all that he requires of us, and who engages not only not to depart from us, but not to suffer us to depart from him", shall never fail in any one particular: "The mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but the covenant of my peace shall not be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on us"." True it is that, as under the Jewish dispensation many were not steadfast in that covenant, which was a mixed, and national covenant, so many who profess religion do really "make shipwreck of the faith":" but they have never truly embraced the covenant of which we are speaking: they have embraced it only in a partial way, looking for its blessings without duly considering its obligations: they have been more intent on salvation from punishment, than salvation from sin. "Had they been really of us," says the Apostle," they would no doubt have continued with us"." "The foundation of God standeth sure: the Lord knoweth them that are his. But let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." This being our indispensable duty, God promises and engages, "that sin shall not have dominion over us,
h Acts v. 31.
1 Rom. viii. 28.
o 1 Tim. i. 19.
q 2 Tim. ii. 19.
Kai should here be translated but. Compare
1 Cor. xii. 5. and xvi. 12. and 2 Tim. iii. 11. in the Greek.
because we are not under the law, but under grace':" and we know that "He is faithful who hath called us, who also will do its" and this very circumstance of its being an article in God's covenant, a blessing to be gratuitously conferred by him, and freely received by us, this, I say, it is, which makes "the promise sure to all the seed."]
When once we view this covenant aright we shall see immediately,
II. The regard which it deserves—
We should not regard it merely as an object of curious research, or even of grateful admiration; but should make it,
1. The ground of all our hopes
[Every other method of acceptance should be renounced; and this should be deliberately and cordially embraced"We should contemplate every offer of mercy, every communication of grace, every mean of salvation as originating in the eternal counsels of Heaven: every thing should be traced up to the love of God the Father, and to the plans arranged by the sacred Three, for the magnifying of the divine perfections in the salvation of man -Even the atonement itself must be considered as deriving all its efficacy from this covenant: for, if God the Father had not consented to accept his Son as a surety for us, and to regard his death as an atonement for our sin, however honourable to Christ his mediation for us might be, it would not have been available for our salvation. We should get such a distinct view of this covenant as David had; of its duration, (from everlasting to everlasting;) its fulness, its certainty; and then should say of it as he did, "THIS is all my salvation;" except in this, I have no more hope than the fallen angels: but through the provision which this has made for me, I scarcely envy the angels who never fell: for "I know in whom I have believed, that He is able to keep that which I have committed to him*:" and "I am confident that he who hath begun a good work in me will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ"."]
2. The source of all our joys
[Whatever comforts we may possess in this world, we should derive our chief happiness from this: this should be
r Rom. vi. 14.
$ 1 Thess. v. 23, 24. Mark the connexion of these two verses.
t Rom. iv. 16.
u 2 Tim. i. 9. enlarged.
The two members of this sentence may be greatly
x 2 Tim. iv. 8.
y 2 Tim. i. 12.
"all our desire," or, as the word imports, all our delight To this also we should have recourse in every season of affliction. David betook himself to it under all his domestic troubles, and in the near prospect of eternity. "His house, alas! was not so with God," as he could wish. And how many are there who have great trials in their families! some from their unkindness, and others from their removal by death2 -Let every one that is so circumstanced learn from David where to flee for comfort: let him contemplate the riches of divine grace as exhibited in the covenant, and the blessedness of having an interest in it, and he will soon forget his sorrows, and have a heart overflowing with the most exalted joy - If, in addition to other troubles, we are lying upon the bed of death, we may well, like David, seek comfort in this covenant, and make "the last words of Davida" our last words also. What can so effectually remove the sting of death, as to behold a covenant-God in Christ Jesus, engaged to "keep him unto the end," and to receive him to an everlasting enjoyment of his presence and glory? Study then the wonders of this covenant, that they may be familiar to your minds in a time of health; and so shall they fill you with unutterable peace and joy, when every other refuge shall fail, and your soul be summoned into the presence of its God.]
z This may be amplified so as to apply to many cases which may greatly interest the feelings of an audience.
a ver. 1.
DAVID'S DESIRE FOR THE WATER OF THE WELL OF Bethlehem. 2 Sam. xxiii. 15-17. And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the Lord. And he said, Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it.
THE best of men are liable to err: but in this they differ widely from the ungodly, that they are glad, as soon as they find out their error, to have it rectified. David inconsiderately expressed a wish for some water out of the well of Bethlehem; but when he saw what his inconsiderateness had occasioned, and especially
what might have arisen from it, he was grieved at himself for what he had done, and rejected with abhorrence the gratification which he had before desired.
This anecdote respecting him may appear unworthy of a distinct consideration: but it is in reality very instructive. Let us consider,
I. This wish of David's
To view it aright, we must notice it, 1. As foolishly indulged
[That water was not necessary to him; for his army was not at all reduced to straits for want of water: and by the circumstance of its being in the possession of his enemies, it was unattainable, unless his enemies should be first subdued. To wish for it therefore merely to gratify his appetite, was foolish; and to express that wish to others was wrong. But in him we see a picture of human nature in general: all are wishing for something which they do not possess, though it be neither necessary to their welfare, nor easy to be attained. "Ye desire and have not," is the account given of men by the voice of inspiration; and it characterizes all from early childhood, till age or infirmity has cured the disease- This tendency
of our minds is decidedly sinful, inasmuch as it argues discontent with the lot assigned us by Providence, and too high an estimation of the things of time and sense. God, and heavenly things, may be desired with the utmost intenseness of our souls: but earthly things, whatever they may be, are no further to be desired than as God may be enjoyed in them, or glorified by them": and, as David in this wish had respect to nothing but mere personal gratification, he so far acted in a way unworthy of his high character.]
2. As rashly countenanced
[Three of his most distinguished warriors determined, if possible, to gratify his desire; and, of their own accord, without any order from him, cut their way through the Philistine army, drew the water, and brought it to him. This was rash and presumptuous in the extreme. Had they been moved to it by God, as David was to go against Goliath with a sling and a stone, or as Jonathan was to climb up a rock, and, unsupported by any one but his armour-bearer, to attack a Philistine garrison, they would have acted right; because in executing the divine will they might expect the divine protection: but to go on such an errand without any command
a Jam. iv. 2. See the Greek.
b Numb. xi. 4, 5.
d Ps. lxxiii. 25.