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do what appears to be dutiful, instead of committing to a given course, independently of the light of duty that may break in, is rather to engage to the use of means to discover whether or not the performance vowed be lawful, and to the duty that may be obvious at the period of fulfilment, and which, in that season, ought to be done.
COVENANTING CONFERS OBLIGATION.
As it has been shown that all duty, and that alone, ought to be vowed to God in covenant, it is manifest that what is lawfully engaged to in swearing by the name of God is enjoined in the moral law, and, because of the authority of that law, ought to be performed as a duty. But it is now to be proved that what is promised to God by vow or oath, ought to be performed also because of the act of Covenanting; The performance of that exercise is commanded, and the same law which enjoins that the duties thereby engaged to be discharged, finds the Covenanter, or the Covenanting community, bound by the deed itself to fulfil them; and thus, by the service, the party under original obligation to obey, is brought under one that is superadded. The Covenanting party, not as independent, but as under the authority of God, by means of the exercise binds itself to duty. HE commands to vow, that men may be brought under additional obligation; and when they obey, he recognises them as voluntarily engaged, and, according to his will, additionally called to
“The obligation arises entirely from the act of the creatures, using a divine ordinance, by vowing unto God, and covenanting with him, whereby they bind their souls with a bond to serve the Lord.” It is wrong to imagine that the obligation comes solely from the will of those who
Were not the exercise of vowing commandI P. 37 of “ Observations on the Public Covenants betwixt God and the Church,” by the Rev. Dr. Mason, late of Wishawtown,--a work presenting a rich scriptural view of the subject.
ed, nor the law of God to hold those who engage in it bound by their own act, these should not be under obligation. By vowing, they bind themselves, not as by themselves, but by the authority of God. Or, by vowing, they submit to a requirement of his law, in yielding obedience to which they become bound, not by themselves but by his authority, to perform the duties vowed.
PERSONAL AND SOCIAL COVENANTING both entail obligation on the Covenanting parties.
First. Various general representations exhibit this. Several scriptures present such as bound. In reference to the truth that a wicked ruler is destitute of right to claim the allegiance of his subjects by oath, or in any other manner, it is asked, “ Shall even he that hateth right govern (bind)?”2 Reproaching his servants, Saul said to them, “ All of you have conspired (bound yourselves) against me, and there is none that showeth me that my son bath made a league with the son of Jesse. The Psalmist said, “ Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence, from the pride, (or rather the binding, that is, conspiracy,) of man.”4 And concerning an oath or vow, thus it is written, “ If a man yow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth."5 To show how essentially the idea of binding is connected with that of Covenant engagement, it may be remarked that in the original of each of these passages, the verb signifying to bind, is different from that in the original of each of the others, and that all of the verbs are emphatic. And what should be most carefully
Job xxxiv. 17. 31 Sam, xxii. 8. 4 Ps. xxxi. 20. 9 Nomb. xxx. 2.
.חבש ,קשר ,רכס ,אסר ,These are 6
observed here, the binding spoken of in each of these cases is connected with the voluntary actions of the parties brought under obligation. Again, other scriptures point out, that in Covenanting men are joined to the Lord. “ They shall ask the way to Žion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord, in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.”? They imply not less than that the covenants made should be adhered to. The same is expressed in passages, in one of which some are said to take hold of the Lord's strength, in the other, of his covenant.8 A covenant is designated as
That of Nehemiah and Israel is so represented.' And finally, those who engage in the exercise are said to cleave to the Lord. That is represented by Moses as the design of the discharge of the duty. “ That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him.”10 66 Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.”ı By the emblem of the girdle which cleaves permanently to the loins, the truth of the appointment of Covenanting as a means of securing devotedness to the Lord is taught. “ For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel, and the whole house of Judah, saith the Lord.”12 The girdle which the prophet had been commanded to hide, in process of time was marred; it was profitable for nothing. It represented not the faithful in Israel who clave to the Lord, but those who, having vowed and sworn to him deceitfully, fulfilled not their obligations. And David said, “ My soul fol. loweth hard (cleaveth) after thee : thy right hand
7 Jer. 1. 5; see also Is. lvi. 3; and Zech. ii. ll. xxvii. 5; and lvi. 4-6. 9 Nehem. ix. 38. 19 Deut. xxx. 20. il Deut. x. 20. 12 Jer. xiii. ll; see also ver, 1-10.
upholdeth me.” It was in the exercises of vowing to God and fulfilling his obligations that he did so, for he said, “But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory.”13
Secondly. God enjoins obedience as the fulfilment of Covenant duties. He gives command to do the words of his covenant.
the words of this covenant, and do them.”14 By his authority
, he calls on men to keep the words of his covenant. “ Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do."15 The obedience thus inculcated was not merely made known by the glorious Lawgiver, but acknowledged as obligatory by men. In two channels, from one source, its claims proceeded. First, directly through the promulgation of the Divine law to men; and next, through the acknowledgment, by Covenant engagement, of that law as holy, just, and good. Had obedience been claimed to the duties inculcated, as if they had been merely requirements of the law, they had not been spoken of as performed in fulfilment of Covenant engagement. Because the words of the Covenant are done or kept when those are performed, they are incumbent on account of the making of the Covenant. By submitting to the rite, every one that received circumcision became a debtor to do the whole law. And in like manner, by Covenanting, each one who vows to God becomes bound, by His command, to keep or do the words of his law as the words of his Covenant. And finally, the Lord commands that his Covenant be kept as a charge. That which is kept, or to be kept, is a charge. That his law and covenant are a charge is manifest from his words, “ If thy children will keep my covenant, and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne
13 Ps. Ixiii. 8. ll. 14 Jer. xi. 6.
15 Deut. xxix. 9.