« 上一頁繼續 »
consequently that of each of her Sections. Possessing a constitution essentially distinct from that of every other community, she is under peculiar obligations; and because of her subjection, and of the delivery of Divine statutes to her, in her proper character she is called to vow and swear to fulfil these. There is no Section of the Church but ought to attempt the service. If Sections of the true Church simultaneously exist in the same land, and accordingly be in one class of circumstances, each of these ought to renounce its dross and tin, and endeavouring to the utmost to maintain the Lord's testimony, unite with the others, in one enlarged Section of the Church, in displaying a banner for the whole truth, and confirm their union by entering into solemn Covenant engagement with the Lord. While these Sections, however, separately exist, not one of them, if consistent with its own profession, can say that the others have separately a right to engage in Covenanting, or in any other exercise, according to those views of any of these others which are a ground of difference between it and them, but are warranted in affirming that it is their duty to engage in the exercise in that way which, as to its manner, and by the nature and extent of its engagements, is right. What would justify each of such Sections of the Church in approving of every Covenant engagement of all the others, would not merely warrant but demand, a union in one ecclesiastical body among all of them, and their vows as one society dedicated to the Lord. And this might be extended even over all the earth. Though the circumstances of a Section of the Church in one land, might not precisely correspond with those of Sections of it elsewhere; though, for example, a testimony might have to be borne, principally against paganism in one case, against mohammedanism in another, against popery in a third, and so on; yet as all ought, generally, to testify against all error, and to maintain all truth, all might be united in one ecclesiastical connection. Were the churches to see eye to eye, there might be adopted, by solemn oath, a testimony so universal in the exhibition of truth, and condemnation of error, as would suit the exigencies of the Church in every land ; and these, submitting to one form of government, holding the same doctrine, abiding by the same worship and discipline, and carrying their final appeals to one general council, instead of being reckoned merely sister churches, would appear as one church, by solemn Covenant explicitly devoted to the Lord, and jointly witnessing for Him. And wherever such a federal union would take place in some lands, what encouragement would be afforded that it would be extended to all! And how would the general confederation testify to a glorious work of reformation! And how might the whole visible society, though imperfect still, be expected to proceed from strength to strength!
Societies,—such as Socinian and Popish, that hold not the truth, ought not to be reckoned as a part of the Church of God. Any change for good among
such would be to their dissolution and reconstruction on principles which they do not now hold. They cannot be reformed, but are to be destroyed. Were the members of them to receive the truth, and jointly to cleave to it, these societies would thereby perish. Having become corrupt, they are under the curse entailed on those who break God's covenant, and not one privilege of the true Church do they enjoy. It is the duty of all connected with them to mourn for the sin of their breach of God's covenant, to give up all connection with these, to join themselves to the Church of Christ, and thereafter to act under impressions of solemn Covenant engagement to be for the Lord, and for none other.
Covenanting in a National capacity is commanded. Nations are moral subjects. The Mediator is, “ the Governor among the nations," “ higher than the kings of the earth,” “ King of nations," “ Prince of the kings of the earth," " King of kings, and Lord of lords." He gives nations their origin. Civil government is an ordinance of God, as well as an ordinance of man. “ By me kings reign and princes decree justice : by me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” The Providence of God that relates to nations is directed by the Mediator. He counteracts their disobedience, and causes it to be overruled for good. He punishes them for sin. He has made known his law for the direction of men as individuals ; and as the rule of the conduct of subjects, of rulers in their official capacity, and of nations in their public collective capacity.47 In the laws that enjoin the duty of Covenanting they are not excluded. In their public character they owe to God obedience, which cannot be rendered in any other. And in these laws they are called to pledge themselves to that obedience by entering into Covenant with Him. “Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” It has been shown that Covenanting is described as a part of the service of God. In the words, “ the Lord,” it is therefore enjoined. To kiss a sovereign is to acknowledge his dominion, and submit to his authority. This is done in Covenanting. The command, “ Kiss ye the Son," therefore enjoins the service. In the passage, kings and judges of the earth are commanded to do this; and none without making an arbitrary assumption can say that they are not thus enjoined in their official capacity. Nor are the people under their authority, here unaddressed. That they are specially intended, too, appears from the promise, “ Blessed are all they that put their trust in him ;” and moreover, from the language that precedes the passage.
-“ Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”48 The threatenings appended, show the danger of refusing. But the same is taught besides in another passage. the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. O let the nations be glad, and sing for joy; for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth.” The sacred original corresponding to the first part of this portion of Scripture is not wrong rendered here, but it might have been otherwise rendered. The verb (in Hiphil, 771) under the modification here employed, meaning literally, to declare with the outstretched hand, imports, in its most general acceptation, to confess. It is so rendered in the passage, “ When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication to thee in this house : then hear thou in heaven.”50 “ To praise,” is included in the expression, “to confess." But more is included in the latter besides. To have translated the passage from the Psalms in this manner, would have been more in accordance with the extensive sig- · nification of the verb, and in order to unfold the full scope of the text had been requisite. The verse. ought therefore to run,—“ Let the people confess thee, O God, let all the people confess thee.” And hence is enjoined, in the whole passage, on the people of Israel, and on all nations on the earth, the exercises of confessing sin, and praising God, and the duty of entering into Covenant with him with the 48 P's. ii. 10-12. 8. 49 Ps. Ixvii. 3, 4, 50 1 Kings viii. 33, 34.
hand extended in swearing by his name. And that the exercise of Covenanting is specially intended there, moreover appears from the end to be accomplished by the shining of God's face
upon ple, one of the means of attaining to which is that special method of confessing his name.
66 God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us.
Selah. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations."51
Thus it is manifest, that nations in their organised capacity are called to engage in this service. Rulers, both in church and state, in their official capacity are bound to do so. The people themselves collectively are called to this; and laws, civil and ecclesiastical, sanctioning the exercise should be made, so that the contravention of the ends of the Covenant entered into should be condemned, and that those who would be hostile to the design of it, should be kept from places of power and trust, both in church and state. The enactment of such laws, and the carrying of them into effect, would not be persecution. Rulers should not compel any man to take the Covenant; but they should punish the man who would obstruct its fulfilment, as they would punish the transgressor of any civil statute. Being entered into by the whole nation, the Covenant would be eventually national : and even, as the whole nation consider every man bound by the laws of the nation, so they ought to consider every one, whether willing or unwilling, as bound by the Covenant. Were the matter of the Covenant against the law of God, it would not be obligatory on any one; and rulers would punish the frustration of it only at their peril. Were the matter of it right, the people would all be under obligation to adhere to it, both in consequence of the Divine law enjoining it, and also of their voluntary engagement as a people to perform it. The
51 Ps. lxvii. 1, 2,