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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.
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 Gode.]
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 P." "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.
• 1 Tim. i. 19.
9 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.
3. Those who are far advanced in life
[Say whether Barzillai's conduct do not well become you? You feel infirmities; you know that in the course of nature you have but a short time to live: let earthly things then be regarded by you with indifference, and heavenly things increasingly occupy your minds. Familiarize yourselves with the thoughts of death and judgment; and "press forward" with ever-increasing alacrity to secure "the prize of your high calling."
At every period of life, but especially in old age, should we pray with David, "Lord, make me to know my end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I "So teach me to number my days, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom."]
FAMINE A PUNISHMENT FOR SIN.
2 Sam. xxi. 1. Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.
THE reign of David was full of troubles occasioned by his own sin: but here we view him and his people afflicted for the sins of others. Saul, his predecessor in the government, had grievously oppressed the Gibeonites, whom Joshua, at his first entrance into Canaan, had pledged the nation, by covenant and by oath, to protect. This breach of covenant God overlooked, as it were, at the time, but now punished by three successive years of famine.
The history teaches us,
I. In what light we should view public calamities—
[The Scripture uniformly represents them as punishments inflicted on account of sin. Personal troubles may be sent for the purpose of calling into action the grace that has been bestowed, and for the advancing of God's glory in the exercise of that grace. But the troubles of a nation are judgments sent
a This was the case with respect to Job.
from God. In this light, "war, famine, pestilence, and the noisome beast," are frequently mentioned; and in this light they should be viewed. We are indeed very averse to regard them as coming from God: we are ready to ascribe them to second causes, and to overlook the first Great Cause of all: but in the Scriptures we behold them, as in the plagues of Egypt, so manifestly proceeding from a divine hand, that we cannot help referring them to God: and thus we ought to do, whatever be the more immediate occasion of themb
David in the first and second years of famine did not behold any expression of the divine displeasure, or think of inquiring wherefore the visitation was sent: it was only when the pressure of the affliction was very heavy and of long continuance, that he thought of tracing the hand of God in it: had he acted in the first year as he did in the third, we have no reason to think that the judgment would have been repeated: but his blindness constrained God to repeat the stroke, till it was noticed as proceeding from him. In like manner God will continue his chastisements to us, till we are made sensible that we have offended him, and provoked his just displeasure.]
Whatever be the calamities with which we are afflicted, we may learn from this history,
II. The way in which we may get them removed1. We should inquire into the sinful causes of them
[David inquired of the Lord; and was informed that the troubles now sent were visitations for sin committed by Saul long ago. The particular offence of Saul is not elsewhere noticed in the history; nor does it appear to have been much regarded by any of the people. His cruelty to the Gibeonites. indeed had been notorious; but, as the Gibeonites were the lowest of the people, and not descended from Abraham, the oppression they endured excited no sympathy or compassion. God however resented it; and he will resent the injuries that are done, however mean the objects may be who suffer them, or however great the tyrants may be who inflict them.
And, if we would inquire of the Lord, might not we find some cause for the long protracted war in which we have been engaged, and for the repeated failure in our crops of corn? Yes, many public causes may be assigned, such as the general contempt poured upon God's word, and Sabbaths, and name, and people, and, above all, upon his blessed Gospel; and every individual (for it is of individuals that the community is formed) may find in himself abundant reason for those judgments with which God has visited the land".
b Isai. xxvi. 11.
c Preached in June 1812.
It is highly necessary also that those whose distresses are of a private and personal nature, should take occasion from them to inquire of God, as Job did, "Shew me, O Lord, wherefore thou contendest with med".
2. We should put away whatever is displeasing to God
[The injuries which had been done to the Gibeonites could not be repaired; nor could Saul who had committed them be punished, because he was now dead. David therefore asked the Gibeonites what redress they required? They sought not any thing for themselves, either in a way of pecuniary compensation, or of freedom from the yoke which they had so long borne: but they required that seven of Saul's sons should be delivered into their hands, to be put to death. This was not a vindictive act, but an act of retributive justice: and it was approved by God, who after the execution of these persons was pacified towards the land. Such a kind of retribution would not be justifiable amongst us; because the children are not to suffer for the parents' crimes: but, as ordered of God, it was right: and, if the whole truth were known, we should probably find that the sons of Saul had aided and abetted the wicked devices of their father; and that they therefore justly suffered as partners in his crime.
But though we cannot act precisely as David or the Gibeonites did, we may, both nationally and individually, put away the evils which have displeased our God; and indeed we all without exception are bound to "crucify our flesh with its affections and lusts." It is in this way only that we can hope to avert the divine judgments from us; for, though nothing but the blood of Christ can wash away sin, it never will or can avail for the pardon of any, who do not turn unto God in newness of life.]
From hence then we may Learn,
1. The danger of sin
[Sin, however forgotten by us, is remembered by God; yea, the whole of our sins, even from the earliest period of our existence, are as much in the immediate sight of God, as if they had been committed this very day: and there is a time when we must answer for them all. Let sin then be repented of, and put away; for it will surely bring the wrath of God on all who retain it unlamented, and unsubdued.]
2. The benefit of Christ's atonement
[The blood of Saul's sons was poured forth as a sacrifice