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individual who would fail in attaining to any place of influence, because of not acceding to the stipulations of the Covenant, would have no more reason to complain of being persecuted, than those who, because of being under allegiance to a foreign hostile power, might in vain seek authority in the land; or than those who, manifesting by their breach of the laws of the land that they contemn them, in vain seek the protection and privileges secured to those alone who respect and keep them. Were a nation voluntarily to enter into such engagements of this nature as are lawful, the whole people would be bound by them, and in the eye of the law would be under obligation ; nor would disobedience to the law enjoining the fulfilment of these, any more than to any other statute, be reckoned as the right of any For any to seek power in the land without submitting to the obligations come under by such covenants, would be for them to set at defiance the law, and thus to take means to introduce rebellion, if not revolution. Such as would not cheerfully aid in carrying the scheme of the Covenant into effect, while aspiring at influence, would be using endeavours to obtain power in order to counteract its operation; and therefore should not be put in possession of the desired trust. Ecclesiastical authority cannot compel any to perform the duties of religion and morality; but it can subject to discipline those who neglect them, and can hinder such from exercising the power belonging to the office-bearers, or other members, of the Church. In like manner, civil rulers cannot compel men to perform various duties of a civil and religious character ; but they can, and ought to, restrain those who are guilty of violating the commandments of the moral law that regard our duty to God, as well as those who transgress those that relate to the obligations of men to men; they ought to keep from exercising authority those who live in open
disregard of all or any of them; and having enacted laws for the purpose of carrying into effect a lawful Covenant engagement with God, they should visit with a penalty those who break them. It remains for those who maintain that the magis. trate should not legislate against the breach of some statutes in the first table of the law, to show why he is warranted in punishing, in any manner, the crime of perjury; and how some species of penalty may
be attached to the refusal to swear a lawful oath in certain circumstances, and also to the breach of its engagement: while an individual who might object to engage in the exercise of Covenanting when invited to it in some cases, or would act in opposition to what a whole nation, either by themselves or by their representatives, properly sware to perform, might not be reckoned as unworthy of the valuable civil or religious privileges of the community.
But whatever difficulties may be connected with its application, the truth, that men in their national capacity are by the law of God called to Covenant, is manifest. “Nations, as the moral subjects of Messiah the Prince, are under obligation to recognise his rightful authority over them, by swearing allegiance to him. It is the duty of a subject to swear allegiance to his lawful sovereign ; at least he must stand prepared to do so when required. So is it with nations. Not only are the inhabitants of a nation, as occasion calls for it, to enter into sacred confederation with one another, in order to secure and defend their valued rights and privileges; but the nation, as such, through the medium of its authorized functionaries and by its usual forms of legal enactment, ought publicly to avow its attachment to the Lord Jesus Christ as its King and Prince, to recognise his legal authority, and to bind itself to his service by an oath.”52 They cast contempt on an ordinance of God, who do not, both in an ecclesiastical and a civil capacity, enter into Covenant with him. The Mediator is, at once, King of Zion and King of nations. The people of God are members of his Church, and also of civil society,-over which, as well as over the Church, he rules. For an individual, merely as a member of his Church, to acknowledge God, is to do his duty but in part. When the rulers in a nation as rulers, and the people as subjects, do not Covenant, they appear regardless of a part of character which, for the glory of God, they should maintain not less tenaciously than their ecclesiastical relations; they fail of availing themselves of the benefit of a most powerful system of motives to serve God, as his willing creatures, in a relation in which, as well as in the fellowship of the Church, they are called to obey him; and though they even attempt to honour him as King of Zion, yet, in failing to testify to the utmost of their capacities to his dominion, refusing to acknowledge him in this exercise as Governor among the nations, dishonour him in both, and tend to rob him of the glory which belongs to him as Head over all things to the Church, which is his body.
52 “ Med. Dom.," second edition, pp. 294, 295.
Nations, whose constitutions are immoral and unscriptural, are commanded to perform the duty. By such are intended those which have the truth diffused in them, but have not had the frame-work of their civil polity modelled according to the law of the Mediator; and likewise those that may have had their constitutions in whole, or in part, based on scriptural principles, but who have changed them, so that to these they are now in opposition. Nations of this character are in an attitude of defiance to the power and authority of the Lord Jesus. Those who approve of their polity countenance what is hostile to his government, and thus act as his enemies. Those who swear to support them, do,—unwittingly, the spirit of charity would claim for many, swear to maintain what he has threatened to destroy. Those nations, as such, have not a right to enter into Covenant with God; but it is their duty to do so.
When a mind, willing to reform every discovered abuse, and a resolution to change their whole constitutions to conformity with the will of God, are infused into them, they will have a right to discharge the service, and will be accepted in it. Those who, having the truth among them, did never in things civil submit to the law of Christ, and those who, in their political procedures, have apostatized from his service, are both under his rebuke ;- the one for refusing to hear his voice calling them to acknowledge him as Lord ;—the other for breaking their engagements to him. Both are exposed to his wrath ; both on grounds of opposition to himbut each of the classes according to the manner and aggravations of its manifestation of that opposition to his authority ; both are called to repentance, are threatened with judgment in case of continued disobedience, and are commanded to acknowledge the Mediator as their sovereign Lord, by renouncing severally their wicked constitutions, framing each a new civil organization, according to his law, and swearing allegiance to him.
Nations that have not yet heard the gospel, are not guiltless for not Covenanting.
These are regulated in part by the light of nature. Of the law of nature, made known at first to man, but also made known in revelation, they are in various degrees greatly ignorant. Seeing that in that law the exercise is enjoined, if any of these possess so much of the light of nature as may contain a command to engage in it, they will feel themselves in some measure urged to give obedience. In reference to this, as well as to any other matter inculcated upon them, their consciences will either approve or condemn them. None of these, however, have adequate ideas of the Saviour; all of them are under the dominion of satan ; and for neglecting this duty, as well as for their disregard of various requirements of the law besides, they will be dealt with according to the arrangements of Him who ruleth over all. Their sin, indeed, not being committed under gospel light, is not so aggravated as that of others; but is still displeasing in the sight of God. When the gospel is sent to them, the statutes that enjoin the service will exhibit to them their obligations; and power from on high will urge many to obey. They, even they that dwell in heathen nations, shall in the day of spiritual illumination be enabled to confess to God; and many in the times of reviving that shall yet come forth from the presence of the Lord, will thus be delivered from the wrath to be poured out on the heathen that know not, nor call upon
his name. Should not the state of those who are perishing for lack of knowledge, move to sympathy for them those who know the obligations on men of the service of avouching God to be their God, and the sin and danger in which all who do not perform this are involved ?
All are commanded, and believers are encouraged to unite in various capacities in Covenanting, For some purposes, men may unite in this, though they be in different ecclesiastical communions. Scripture warrants for the service do not recognise the position of any section of the visible Church as absolutely perfect; but refer to duty to be performed by the people of God individually and socially. A Section of the visible Church Covenants because the Church of God, in her organised capacity, is called to do so. The Church of God, in a national capacity, Covenants because it is the duty of men in their civil relations to acknowledge Him. A Church Covenants, believing that she sees