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their successors; and since a covenant transaction binds the parties to the making of it, it therefore binds all those, though not present, whom these parties represent, and for whom also it was made. Whatever reason the transaction affords for binding the former, it supplies for holding the latter bound. The engagement made by and for the living Covenanters, is not less explicit than that thereby made by them for those who shall succeed to their privileges and duties. And as it is the engagement which binds, the latter are, not less than the former, brought under obligation by it. The federal compact could not be made without constituting an obligation. That could not be entered into without conferring that obligation on all the parties represented at its formation. And from its acknowledged nature, those to whom the functions of the Covenanters should descend, are included among those, and those therefore are thereby bound.
Secondly. Because the Church is one in all ages. Her glorious Head is one. All her true members are spiritually united to him. All of them are united in love to one another. The Church is distinct from the world. By the ordinances given to her by the Lord Jesus, she is distinguished from civil society.
She possesses a real incorporate character. The Church consists not of a limited number of those who at any time fear God, but of all of them. The individual members of the Church from day to day are changing ; but she remains one,
Some are constantly being added, others are removed from her communion on earth, but her characteristic absolute identity remains. Under the Patriarchal, Levitical, and Christian dispensations, she is one. As one body enduring from generation to generation by her Lord, she is spoken of, and is recognised by her members. To Jeremiah was given the commission, “Go, and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the
Lord, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.” “ Israel was holiness unto the Lord.” “ For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress." days long posterior to the time of Israel's deliverance from Egypt, the Church sang, “ He turned
• the sea into dry land : they went through the flood on foot : there did we rejoice in him.”31 The Church, posterior to the advent of Christ, is represented as a house in which Moses had served, but which Christ had built, and over which, as well in the days of the patriarch as in the last times, He ruled as a Son.32 And to the Church existing in all times, unquestionably belongs the inimitably beautiful description,—“ Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Since the Church, then, is a body, her standing is independent of the individual members who may be in her communion ; as a responsible agent, even as an individual, she may come under obligation and fulfil it; and through every age of her existence, be held bound to duty by her engagements. The same principle which is applicable to the Church as a whole, behoves to be contemplated by every Section of her in given circumstances. If the whole Church might enter into covenant engagements, as in Abraham, which would entail obligation throughout successive ages, ought not every community thereof, as a part of the whole, to bind itself before the Lord to services to be performed by its successors ? whole society may Covenant, ought not an individual of that society to do so singly? And if the obligations come under by the one person, not less than those of the whole body, ought to be discharged, ought not those of a given Section of the visible Church to be fulfilled by it, as a body forming a part of the general community, even as the covenant duties of the whole.
30 Jer, ii. 2, 3, 20. 31 Ps. lxvi. 6. 32 Heb. ii. 2, 6.
If a bers.
Thirdly. Because of the Church's social character. As it is not merely in their individual, but also in their social capacity, that her members enjoy privileges, so in both they are called to duty. The actions of an individual are not those of any society to which he may belong, except he act for them, and according to their appointment. But the deeds of a society are those of every member thereof, who does not disapprove of them; nay, of every one who, because of these deeds, does not leave its communion. The engagements of society are understood to be acceded to by every member of it existing when these are made, and of every one who may become connected with it before they be fulfilled. Every one who joins a society is understood by his act of joining it, to approve of its organization, to accept of its privileges, and become engaged to its duties. It would be impossible for society to continue, were obligation to cease so soon as the individuals who may have come under it should leave it, by death, or otherwise. Were the duties of social bodies to cease in this manner, it might be held that these communities should be re-constructed on the death of every individual member of them, and also on the accession of each one who might become connected with them. What accomplishes the same end which such practices would lead to, is secured in a far better manner by the whole body coming under, and fulfilling, obligations which do not become void either by the increase or the diminution of its memEvery individual capable of making a choice, who, by receiving the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, becomes connected with the Church, engages to accept its privileges, and to perform its duties.
In the most solemn manner, by vow before God, this is done. All that is incumbent on each member of the Church, then, devolves also on him. The obligations that bind it, may have been conferred ages before; but when he makes his profession, even then, by his own act, they descend upon him. The representation given of such a one, shews that formerly he was a heathen, or else one living in a christian land, without the pale of the true Church. Before making his solemn acknowledgment, he was under obligation to become connected with the Church, and the evils that are threatened against those who are far from God hung over him. By entering the communion of the Church, he becomes an integral part of her society, and whatever advantage or responsibility attaches to membership within her, is extended to him.
The children of Church members, are members of the Church, and are therefore under obligation. Because of their relation to their parents, children are in possession of the peculiar privileges of the families to which they belong; and to perform the duties of these, they are under obligation. Every child of a citizen, or free member of civil society, in consequence of its birth, is entitled to the protection and other privileges of that society, and is viewed as bound by the laws of that community. In like manner, every child born of those in communion with the Church, is viewed as the care of the Church, and as under the obligations of its members. In the providence of God, children are cast upon the care of parents and of civil communities; and are they not committed to the regard of the society of the faithful? Duties are incum
bent upon them, in consequence of their civil relations; and are none obligatory on them because of their relation to the Church?' The Lord himself recognises the children of believing parents as the members of his Church. In order to manifest his claim upon them, and acceptance of them as such, He instituted the ordinance of circumcision in a former period, and that of baptism to be obligatory in the present. Children are, therefore, bound by the obligations of the Church. Is that moral obligation which binds the father, not binding on the son? If the parent, by Covenanting, ought to vow to observe a system of moral duties, ought not the offspring? Is what is good for the one, bad for the other? Would it be consistent for a father, after having willingly engaged to duty for himself, to say such may or may not, according to his pleasure, and in either case, too, without any blame, be done by my son? Certainly the earlier that an obligation to do good can be conferred, the better. And if a parent can lawfully act for his child in any other matter, why not in performing this?
The privileges enjoyed by the children of those in communion with the Church, manifest them to be under obligation. Duty and privilege are universally connected ; and hence, where the one is awanting, the other cannot be found. In the beneficent arrangements of Divine love to the young, the latter is first extended. The enjoyment of it by them is a palpable evidence that obligation rests upon them. It is an adage among men, that what one inherits from his ancestors he owes to his descendants; and it is also manifest, that along with privilege, duty is hereditary. In regard to the things of religion, both of these things are most obvious. Would not that parent deal unjustly with his child, who, instead of bequeathing to him some privilege for his acceptance, would say, I do not know