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callest for it; if riches increase, God forbid that I should set my heart thereon; nay, of all that thou hast given me I will surely give the tenth unto thee; my choicest merchandize shall be holiness to the Lord, and shall be procured for them that dwell before the Lord, or if thou command I will forsake all and follow thee; grant O Lord, self-denial and strength.* And with respect to any credit or honour that I have, whatever it is, I am content to vail all before the glorious Jehovah; let my Lord increase though I decrease; only let me have a name in God's house, and be written among the living in Jerusalem, then I shall be well content to be small and despised, yea, to be accounted as the offscouring of all things; though men revile me, persecute, and say all manner of evil against me, so it be falsely, and for Christ's sake, I will rejoice and be exceeding glad, hoping for honour that comes from God, and a great reward in heaven; let God stain the pride of my glory, and let the Lord alone be exalted this day. As for my house and habitation, I will sing a song at the dedication of it to the Lord; let my Lord send his ministers to visit it, let their peace rest upon it, I will not only bid them welcome, but constrain them to come in, as they judge me faithful to the Lord; I will give myself and house to hospitality, I am sure it cannot be better seasoned and blessed than with the presence and prayers of God's servants: O that my house were a house of prayer, an hospital to the poor, and a common inn for the church of God. And in reference to all my other accommodations, food, fires,
* Psal. lxii. 10. Gen. xxviii. 22. Isa. xxiii. 18. Matt. xix. 27, + John iii. 30. Isa. lvi. 5. Isa. iv. 3. Psal. cxix. 141. 1 Cor. iv. 12, 13. Matt. v. 11, 12. John v. 44. Isa. ii. 11. xxiii. 9. Psal. xxx. title. Luke x. 6. Acts xvi. 14, 15 Rom. xii. 13.
1 Tim. v. 10. Job xxxi. 32.
Rom. xvi. 23.
bed, raiment; I here, Lord, acknowledge thee in them, and return them back again to thee; my daily bread is at thy disposal, "Man lives not by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord." God's loving kindness is better than life, and all the comforts of life; many say, "who will shew us any good?". Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me, thou hast put gladness in my heart more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.* I am content to suffer the loss of all things that I may win Christ: farewell necessaries for the body, when set in competition with the one thing needful for the soul. I would willingly, yea, joyfully take the spoiling of my goods for that better and enduring substance in heaven, I will take no thought for the outward man, since my heavenly Father knows what things I have need of:† I have been greatly concerned about those apparently severe terms upon which I must be thy disciple; they are the words of my dear Lord, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple;" another scripture saith, "he is not worthy of me." But now, Lord, I understand it of preferring thyself above all relations, and concerns, so as to part with all when standing in competition with Christ: now at last my heart is willing, I hope I can say, through grace I am truly willing to forego the dearest things for thee, and to subject all my concerns to thee; Lord, thou that knowest the hearts of the children of men, look into my heart, and if thou discover any unsoundness in me remove it away, and pardon me: if
• Deut. viii. 3. Psal. lxiii. 3. + Phil. iii. 8. Luke x. 42. Luke xiv. 26. Matt. x. 37, 38.
Psal. iv. 6, 7.
Heb. x. 34. Matt. vi. 25, 32.
my heart be indeed sincere, ratify that in heaven which I have been doing this day upon earth, and give me grace to perform my vows, and comfort in reviewing this day's exercise. Amen, amen. Even so it is, and so be it.
SEVERAL OBJECTIONS AGAINST THIS COURSE OF ENTERING INTO A COVENANT ENGAGEMENT WITH GOD, BRIEFLY ANSWERED.
VI. My next attempt is to answer those objections, which carnal hearts, or carnality in the best hearts are apt to make against this practice; for it cannot be expected that this novel, or uncouth practice, so palpably against the devil's interest in the world, should go forward, but the devil will raise up all the militia of hell, and muster his most cunning sophistries to militate against it; when he sees any of his followers professedly deserting his colours, going over to the camp of Immanuel, and solemnly swearing allegiance to their true and rightful Sovereign, he makes head against them as Pharaoh pursued Israel of old, to bring them back, or make them stumble in their attempt, or to torment them about the lawfulness or fitness of this undertaking. The following are some objections supposed to militate against the practice and the manner recommended:
1. Obj. You will say, are none real saints but such as subscribe to such a form of words? Surely then there are none or very few genuine saints; this is a
novel invention, and it is a rare thing for Christians to take this course. I answer,
1. The thing is not new, though the method or manner prescribed seem to be new; there are no real converts but they have virtually and implicitly entered into this covenant, if they have not done it formally in this mode or manner; yea, there is never a duty or ordinance, but the Christian doth renew this engagement, for substance, if indeed he attend God's worship aright; whenever you have to do immediately with God, you hear God speak to you, and you speak to him as your covenant God; and more particularly you renew it in the Lord's supper.
2. Several have prescribed methods for conducting transactions of this nature, and such directions have found a good reception amongst serious souls, and none have reason to challenge or quarrel with what may facilitate their undertaking. If thou hast a mind to be the Lord's, or to have God to be thy God, thou wilt be glad of a hand to guide thee to him, and the more solemnly it is done, the better doth the sincere Christian like it; for he finds that his treacherous heart would gladly shuffle, and trifle about it.
2. Obj. But you confound us with so many particulars, and with such a vast collection of scriptures, we can read scriptures in the Bible, what needs all this repeating of texts? I answer,
1. Sincere Christians best relish scripture language, wherein they are or ought to be most employed, and delighted, meditating therein day and night; it is a sad symptom of a depraved heart, or depravity in the heart, to nauseate scripture dialect; however it is fit that we bring scripture authority with us, God will not own any thing but what hath his stamp upon it, conscience must be satisfied that there is a warrant from
God for what is offered to God, lest he say "Who required this at your hands?”*
2. Though I have taken some pains to collect these pertinent texts, yet I would not restrict you to the words and syllables; after you have read the collection over, and are satisfied respecting the grounds for every part of your duty, you may sum up the whole in your own words, and after transcribing the sense and meaning as briefly as you think fit, you may subscribe it; or if you think fit to take it at this length, you may divide it for several times, and take one branch at on time and another at another, and subscribe it by parcels, but be serious and deliberate in what you do: only I advise you first to read it over distinctly, examine the scripture proofs, spend some time in prayer, call in divine aid, and in the name and strength of Christ enter upon it.
3. Obj. But why should I or any man undertake to covenant to do that which we cannot do? Can any man perfectly perform all these beforementioned branches of the covenant? And why should I think to do that? Besides this, you bring us back to the covenant of works, which no man living can keep.
1. Answ. God commands us to keep his precepts diligently, or exactly. He hath not lost his authority over us, though we have lost our ability to obey completely; and though we cannot keep any command perfectly, yet we must have respect to all God's commandments, else we shall be ashamed:† as in the new covenant there is something that God promiseth, so there is something that he requireth:‡ and therefore the new covenant is called a law, "even the law of faith," Rom. iii. 27, which some call a remedial law, as bringing in the great commandment of believing and con• Isa. i. 12. + Psal. cxix. 4, 6. 1 John iii. 23.