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personal intercourse between God and his soul, for another text saith, “I called him alone, and blessed, and increased him,"* that is, either him only, and no others of his kindred with him, or when he had no offspring, or “I withdrew him out of company into a solitary place, and there we covenanted together :" we consider this famous patriarch here, not as the head of the covenanted party, who are called children of Abraham, but as to his personal covenanting with God for his own soul: thus God renewed his covenant with him after that Lot was separated from him; both to signify approbation of Abraham's peaceable spirit, and as an evidence of sweetest converse between God and his saints in solitude. Abraham echoed back in reciprocal acts of faith in the Messiah to come, for he saw Christ's day and rejoiced, † and he resigned up himself and family to God, by complying with his command, in going to sacrifice his only son. Two notable evidences of personal consent; heroic actings of a lively faith, that like a mighty torrent, bore down all difficulties to flesh and blood, for which he is renowned through all generations.
5. Isaac may not be left out in this sacred catalogue of covenanting souls; who, as he was circumcised, and instructed by Abraham in a personal closing with the covenant at full age for himself, so doubtless did he engage in it sincerely and secretly: what Isaac was doing when Ishmael mocked him,|| I know not, but the scripture testifies he was born after the Spirit; and who can tell but he might be about such an affair, when he went out into the fields to meditate: certainly it was either to covenant with God or to converse with his cove. nant God, by prayer, meditation, and holy ejaculations.
• Isa. li. 2. + John viii. 56. # Gen. xxii. 9, 10. || Gen. xxi. 9. § Gal. iv. 29.
Gen. xxiv. 63.
And after the death of his father Abraham, God renewed his covenant with Isaac, and gave him the blessing thereof; and told him he would perform the oath which he sware to Abraham:* God appears again to him, and saith, Fear not for I am with thee; and no doubt but Isaac still consented, for the text saith, “He built an altar there, and called on the name of the Lord,”+ wherein he renewed his covenant by sacrifice.
6. Jacob is a remarkable instance of personal covenanting with God; see the history of it in the 28th chapter of Genesis ; here we find his father Isaac sending him forth with a blessing, though destitute of worldly wealth: Jacob obeyed, and travelled a solitary journey, in a wilderness way, but had God's presence, he renews his covenant, sets up a stone of remembrance, and echoes back to God in renewed vows; this was a personal covenanting, wherein,
(1.) Above all things, he desires that God may be his God, ver. 20, 21, which, though it be expressed conditionally, yet is not to be understood, as though God should not be his God, if he did not these things for him; but to shew the ardency of his affection, and his abundant satisfaction with a small pittance, bread and raiment upon condition that God may be his God; his heart was intently set upon a stricter bond of obligation between God and himself and he will gladly catch at any occasion to make the engagement closer.
(2.) Here is his self-dedication to God, so it may be read, seeing God will be with me,—then shall the Lord be
my God-and this stone which I have set for a pillar, sball be God's house, Sc. Observe, he doth not here engage to perform moral duties, or to employ himself in the exercise of internal graces, for with respect to these he had formally engaged himself, (though
* Gen. xxv. 11. xxvi. 3, 4. + Gen. xxvi. 24, 25.
doubtless he implies these,) but more special acts of service for God, as dedication of a place, paying tithes to God, that is, either to Melchizedeck, the priest of the most high God, or to the priests that might officiate, or to the poor, or to God in sacrifice; however, as God is the donor and owner of all he had, so he will lay it at God's feet, and bestow it according to his order; for now he hath afresh resolved and covenanted that all he hath, is, or doth, shall be the Lord's, and for his glory; here is a very solemn covenanter.
7. Joseph, Jacob's son, is another instance, who followed his father's steps in youthful troubles; also in owning the God of his fathers, pious Joseph had certainly been devoting himself to God, and had resolved to please him, whoever was displeased, when his heart was so knit to God, that he said, “ How shall I do this wickedness and sin against God ?"* and God was with him, as his covenant God. But a more express covenanting is held forth, Gen. xlvii. 29, 31, where his dying father Jacob makes his beloved Joseph swear, by the significant form of putting his hand under his father's thigh : although this was but a particular concern, and of a civil nature, yet there seems to be a two-fold acting of faith, both in Jacob and Joseph.
(1.) The putting his hand under his father's thigh, was not only a token of homage and reverence to his dying father, nor only relating to a posterity, but chiefly as it was a sign of the covenant, and circumcision the seal thereof, as if he had said, let this engagement be as firm as that of the covenant of circumcision;t or as I hope, for the blessed seed which shall spring out of thy loins, or thigh ; in him do I believe, by him do I swear, who is God, blessed for ever.
Thus pious Joseph, (who himself was a type of Christ,) expressed Gen. xxxix. 3, 9.
+ Gen. xxiv. 2.
his personal faith in him, and covenanted with God through him.
(2.) He promised to carry his father's bones into Canaan, to be buried, which Joseph did faithfully and literally perform ;* but that was not all, for he took an oath of his brethren, that they should carry his bones thither also, which the apostle saith, “was an act of faith,”ť not so much in temporal as in spiritual things, for hereby he,
[i.] Reflected upon the covenant which God had made and so oft repeated to his ancestors, and believed God's performance thereof, and his own share therein.
[ii.] He believed that Jesus Christ, the son of God, was there to be born, walk, teach, converse, work miracles, die, rise again, and that he hoped also to rise with him, as a member of his body.
[iii.] He hoped that his posterity coming to Canaan would be quickened, by beholding the monuments of their fathers, to acknowledge God's faithfulness, and imitate their parents' piety.
[iv.] They looked on Canaan as a type of heaven, and so drew off their hearts from this lower region to heavenly mansions; their affections must be mortified too, as their bodies were buried in the earthly Canaan; as this burial was a pledge of future possessions, so their faith was raised to higher expectations; their bodies were in the earthly, their souls in the heavenly Canaan : this was the proper object of Joseph's faith;f he embraced Christ when he put his hand under his father's thigh, swearing himself to be the Lord's, and professing his resolution to be a holy pilgrim, travelling to the new Jerusalem.
8. Moses is another celebrated precedent of personal covenanting; and though the Old Testament does not
Gen. 1. 5, 13. + Heb. xi. 22. # Heb. xi. 13-16.
present to us an historical account of any such transaction, yet it is most succinctly couched in that remarkable chapter, in which the apostle gives us a description of this distinguished man of God, Heb. xi. 23—29. As this king in Jeshurun brought the political body of Israel into covenant with God; so there are in that chapter two notable demonstrations of his entering into personal covenant with God, on the behalf of his own soul :
(1.) Here is his negative act of abnegation or renouncing of himself, and of all the world—“ he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;" worldly grandeur was small in this holy man's eyes. Josephus saith, that Thermuthis, Pharaoh's daughter, said to her father, “I have determined to adopt Moses for my son, to be my successor in the kingdom.” But Moses in his infancy, is said to have given a presage of his noble spirit, for when the king in jest put the crown on his head, he scornfully cast it down to the ground, nor was this a mere childish act, but by instinct from heaven, for he confirmed it when at age, when he was old * enough to make a deliberate choice, ver. 24,—the passage saith, come to years; he did it not out of childish levity, but upon mature consideration, and the result of his sober thoughts was, that he would rather be the meanest in God's church, than king of Egypt; farewell honours, crowns, sceptres, for his dear Lord.
(2.) Here is the positive part, his voluntary election _" choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God,” that is, to be banished from the court for conscience' sake: a strange choice, to prefer disgrace to honour, pain to pleasure, poverty to riches: was the man mad? so he would be considered by ambitious gallants now-a-days; but he knew what he did.
* Méyas, great.