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not, I will not reverse it; I have given myself to another, and am not at mine own disposal; I am another's servant, and if my master will not give me leave, I cannot comply with thy offer; I am bound and must obey, I will be at the command of my dear Lord and master: "What have I to do any more with idols ? Shall I sin because grace abounds?"* God forbid. None but a devil would make such an illogical inference. Shall I defile and alienate the temple of God, which is consecrated to a holy use? Shall I fill the holy vessels with vile refuse? far be it from me. And as the devil shall not draw me away to sin, so he shall not drive me to despair and despondency; I will hold up this buckler and shield against the fiery darts of Satan; when the foul fiend of hell tempts me to doubt of the love of God, or question the truth of grace in my heart, I will appeal to my dear Lord-thou, O my Lord, knowest the time, and room, when and where I made a covenant engagement with thee, and what then passed; thou knowest I took thee to be my God, and gave up myself to thee; I hope I shall never forget the earnestness, the self-abasing confessions, the voluntary subscriptions to thy terms, in the most humble postures of soul and body, and with what kindness thou didst embrace my poor perplexed soul; let the devil say what he will, God is my God, I am his servant, I have sworn myself to him, and though I have sinned against him, I hope I have not deserted him, and trust he will not cast me off for ever; away then fiend of hell, thou shalt never argue me out of my faith and reason, or out of spiritual sense and experience, though my sins be great, God's mercy is greater, though my backslidings are many, it is a covenant of grace, Christ's merits
Hos. xiv. 8. Rom. vi. 1.
+1 Cor. iii. 16.
are infinite, his love is free, I will adhere to the promise, thou shalt never beat me out of this my strong hold.
7. Espouse God's interest as your own. You are now in covenant with him, therefore act as confederates, let God's cause be yours, as he concerns himself for you: when God's interest is low, you must exercise your sympathy, pray for the peace of Jerusalem, lament Zion's ruins, and favour the dust thereof.* Uriah was a sworn soldier, a faithful member of the army of Israel, and he would attach himself to it, not to court or city, or family delights. "The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents, and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields, shall I then go into my house, to eat and to drink, and lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing:"t how can you be at rest when God's concerns are low? When one member suffers should not all the members suffer with it?‡ When one string of a lute is struck, do not the rest vibrate? Can you be content to sit as persons unconcerned, in your houses of cedar, when the ark of God dwelleth within curtains? Is it time for you, O ye to dwell in your ceiled houses, when God's house lies waste?|| Oh that Christians could be of a public spirit, surely you should prefer Jerusalem above your chief joy: Are you not members of Christ's mystical body?§ and are you not ashamed to seek your own things and not the things of Jesus Christ? It becomes you to be like minded with God and his saints, that you may naturally care for the church's state, associate affectionately with afflicted souls, grieve for God's dishonour, and use your utmost endeavours for propagating religion :
* Psal. cxxii. 6. 2 Sam. vii. 1.
+ 2 Sam. xi. 11. Hag. i. 4.
1 Cor. xii. 26. § Phil. ii. 20, 21.
O methinks it is good for me thus to draw near to God! O the sweetness of these bonds! would to God my dearest relations, nearest neighbours, yea, bitterest enemies were thus devoted to God: come all that fear God and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul;† thus saith holy David, after his vowing and paying his Vows. It is true, you must not cast these precious pearls before swine, you must be cautious where, when, how, to whom, for what end you declare your experience; carnal hearts may scorn you, but wisdom is profitable to direct, that you may encourage and counsel well meaning souls. So doth Christ's So doth Christ's spouse commend her beloved, and recommend practical duties to the daughters of Jerusalem; that is, young beginners who inquire of what description her beloved was, and where they should find him, yea, in the spouse's instruction of them, she instanceth in this very way of finding and retaining her best beloved, namely, by personal covenant, "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine; he feedeth among the lillies," there you may find him, thus you may be entitled to his favour: thus tell your children, servants, neighbours, how blessed a thing it is to have a covenant title to God, Christ, and spiritual riches, take them by the hand, and lead them to him; get as many soldiers enlisted under the banner of your King and Captain as you can; use your utmost endeavours, as well as plead in prayer, that God's name may be glorified, his kingdom may come, and his will be done: promote these glorious ends to the utmost of your capacity, by your pains, prayers, doing, enduring, yea, dying, if God calls you to it; that you may glorify God in life and death, and that living and dying you may be the Lord's.
* Psal. Ixxiii. 28.
+ Psal. lxvi. 13-16.
8. Make conscience of being stedfast and acting conformably to your covenant; this is your great duty. Study fidelity to God, as you expect that God should be faithful to you; "Take heed lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God,"* either by a total or final apostacy: "Be stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord;" hold the beginning of your confidence stedfast to the end, so shall you evidence indeed, that you are partakers of Christ; you find a vast difference between those mentioned Psal. xliv. 17, 18, and those in Psal. lxxviii. 8-10: "All this," say the former, "is come upon us, yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant," happy souls, that can truly say so; but the latter, that is, the children of Ephraim, set not their heart aright, and their spirit was not stedfast with God; therefore though they were armed, and carried bows, yet they turned back in the day of battle; why so? they kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his laws; alas, their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant, ver. 37, this loosened the joints of their armour, this struck the bow out of their hands. Apostacy disunites persons from God; they that are close to God in covenant, are as a girdle cleaving to the loins of a man, but if they decay and withdraw from God, they are as a rotten girdle, good for nothing, then God will mar the pride of such backsliders; || observe it, they that are not upright in making, will never be stedfast in keeping their covenant engagement. O Christians, you that have entered these sacred bonds, be sincere, and serious in all manner of intercourse and conversation; remember always the vows of God are upon you, do all as in God's sight • Heb. iii. 12. +1 Cor. xv. 58. Heb. iii, 14. || Jer. xiii. 7-—11.
and fear, in natural, civil, and spiritual actions, live as persons devoted to God, pray, read, meditate, watch your hearts, lips, and senses, and maintain a spiritual warfare; be heavenly-minded, pure in body and spirit, and exact in all you do, for you are under obligations: not only God's law, but your own voluntary promise hath brought you within these lists and limits; swerve not a hair's breadth, but keep fast to God, against all opposition or allurements. You are no better for making, unless you make conscience of keeping your covenants; the Lord is with you while you be with him, so saith Azariah to Asa,* so saith dying David to surviving Solomon, but he adds, "if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever;"† if you walk in integrity of heart before him, the Lord will establish his covenant with you. Cæsar plunged into the sea, and swimming towards land, let go his imperial robe, but kept fast hold of his books; even so must you part with all rather than part with God, his word, or covenant mercies, these are your treasure, this is the blessed charter of your heavenly inheritance; if you forsake and forego this, you are undone for ever. But more of this hereafter.
9. Frequently re-consider and sometimes renew this your covenant. Some of God's children have found great advantage by this course of looking over their covenant engagements long since made. It was at such time, saith one, when I entered into covenant with the Lord, how have I conducted myself since? have I walked more closely with God? have I mortified corruption more successfully? have I been more watchful against the occasions and appearances of sin? have I exercised grace more vigorously, and found my spiritual strength increasing? have I performed duties 2 Chron. xv. 2. +1 Chron. xxviii. 9. +1 Kings ix. 3—5.