VOL. II. JANUARY, 1839. No. XI.
TESTIMONY FOR PUBLIC COVENANTING.
(Published in “overture” by order of Synod.)
In all his transactions with men, God has manifested his power, wisdom, justice, goodness and truth, in the way of covenant. He entered into a covenant, “(commonly called the covenant of works)” with all men in Adam, their common father and representative. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden, thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” Gen. 2:16,17. Soon after the fall of man, the covenant of grace was revealed by the Son of God, as Mediator. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Gen. 3:16. This is a promise of the New Covenant, made between the Father and the Son in eternity. “He hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world.” Eph. 1:4. This choice of sinners from among men, was made by the Father, in the Lord Jesus Christ, who covenanted to save them. “I have chosen you out of the world.” John 15:19. “Then said I, lo, I come—I delight to do thy will.” Psal. 40:7, 8. “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure.” 2 Sam. 23:5.
This covenant was proposed to Adam and Eve after their fall, and on their professing to embrace it by faith, they were placed under its visible administration. “Unto Adam also and to his wife, did the Lord God make coats of skin and clothed them.” Gen. 3:21. The typical victim was slain, and of its skin garments were made by the hand of the Mediator; and he put them on the first two visible members of the church. By these solemn transactions, the covenant between God on the one part and Adam and Eve on the other was ratified, in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is given “for a covenant of the people.” These first members of' the church, were bound by this act of covenanting, to perform in faith, all the duties which they owed to God, to one another, and to their posterity. “And to Seth, even to him also, there was born a son and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” Gen. 4:26. As this is the first record of a formal act of public covenanting, let us investigate its import. The passage literally rendered, is:—“And for Seth, he also begat a son, and called the name of him Enos; and he then was caused to call in Jehovah’s name.” The Seventy [LXX—Septuagint] render it; “And to Seth was born a son; also he named his name Enos, and he hoped to call himself by the name of the Lord God.” The same Hebrew word signifies both to hope and to begin. The Greek translators understood the original word, which we render began, to express the hope of Seth, that in entering on the work of public covenanting, he would succeed in procuring for himself and his house, the title of “Sons of God.” They were so called as he was led by faith in the promised seed to hope they would. Luther translates the text:—“And Seth also begat a son, and called his name Enos. At the same time men began to preach the name of the Lord.” And his paraphrase is:—“that men began to distinguish the godly offspring of Seth, from the profane posterity of Cain, and to call them the Sons of God.” The effect of the public avouching of the name of God was the able and faithful preaching of the gospel. This made many converts, and taught “men to discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that served God, and him that served him not.” Men took knowledge of these ancient Covenanters, “that they had been with Jesus.” The translation of the Synod of Dort is:—“Then began men to proclaim the name of the Lord.” They refer to Exodus 34:6. “The Lord passed by before him and proclaimed the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” The Holland version expresses the proclamation of the glory of God in Christ, by Seth, and his covenanting brethren, in connection with their renovation of the covenant which God made with Adam and Eve at the giving of the first promise. In this they follow Luther as quoted above. Henry, in his pious commentary, refers to the marginal reading, as follows:—“The margin renders it—Then began men to be called by the name of the Lord, or to call themselves by it. Now that Cain and his children, had built a city, and begun to declare for impiety and irreligion, and called themselves the Sons of Men; they that adhered to God, began to declare for him, and his worship, and called themselves the Sons of God. Now began the distinction between professors and profane, which has been kept up ever since, and will be while the world stands.”
Thus it is evident, the current of translators and commentators have maintained that there was a signal reformation about the time of the birth of Enos, and that the godly descendants of Adam in the line of Seth, were formally separated from the profane posterity of Cain. This must have been done, by some common bond of union to which the Lord’s people pledged themselves. For every society has its constitution, to which all the members give a promise of adherence. The Narrative prefixed to our Testimony, follows the current exposition of the passage, in representing the transaction as an act of public covenanting. “In the days of Enos, who was born in the 235th year of Adam’s life, men began to be called by the name of the Lord. Church members are God’s children in a special sense, the disciples, as they are now called Christians, were then called the Sons of God, to distinguish them from the accursed offspring of Cain.” And in a note. “The marginal reading is preferable to that of the text. Gen. 4:26.” In the text the translation is, “Then began men to call on the name of the Lord.” In the margin it is, “to call themselves by the name of the Lord.” The professors of religion now publicly renewing their covenant with God, are called by his name, and from this period until the days of Job, the discriminating title of the godly continued to be the Sons of God. Gen. 6:2. Job. 1:6. The Covenanters, at this time, were called by the name of the Lord, as they afterwards surnamed themselves by the name of Israel. Isa. 44:5. The best critics confirm this explanation of Gen. 4:26. That commentators have good ground for designating the remarkable transaction, which is recorded in the text, as a public covenant, is made evident by the following arguments.
1. The name which Seth gives to his son is a confession of sin. “And he called his name Enos.” The name signifies frailty. Seth acknowledged, by naming of his first born Enos, that he was a sinner—that he could not relieve himself, or reform the world; and that all his hope of salvation must be derived from some other quarter than the deeds of the law.
2. The time in which Enos was born, “then”—235 years from the creation of the world. At least a century before, Cain had gone out to the land of Nod. His branch of Adam’s family had increased. He had builded a city whose population could not be otherwise than corrupt, since its founder and governor was Cain, an excommunicated murderer. The people of his city and nation were hostile to all such as worshipped the true God. Cain would be as hostile to Seth, as Esau afterwards was to Jacob. To preserve the true religion, no other means was so appropriate, as that of entering into a public covenant. It is said, “men then began to call on the name of the Lord.” This could not be the beginning of devotional forms of outward worship; as before the murder of Abel, “he brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof, and the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering.” Gen. 4:4. Public covenanting with God was then an addition to all the outward forms that had been practised for 235 years.
3. The duty which they performed. They began to “call on the name of the Lord.” They prayed for direction in a very important duty, and their invocations were peculiarly solemn. They began to call, in the name of the Lord, on others to join with them in the duty of engaging their hearts to seek God. According to the German and Holland versions, “they preached the name of the Lord.” As in the covenant transaction of the restored captives of Israel, “they stood up in their place and read in the law of the Lord.” They had not indeed the law recorded in a book, as it was after the Sinaitic transaction; but it was recorded on the tablets of their memory. They read from that book in the audience of the people.
4. All this was done by inspiration. “He was caused to begin to call” is the literal translation of the Hebrew verb. The person thus moved by a divine impulse, was Seth, the patriarchal civil ruler of all that host of dependents, which, as the heir to Adam’s patrimony—as heir of the world, belonged to his household: and yet it is well translated, men; for he was their representative as a civil ruler, and as the priest of his household.
5. The name by which they were called, demonstrates that these ancient worshippers of the Lord entered into a public covenant. And it came to pass that when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the “sons of God” saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives of all which they chose.—And after that, when the “‘sons of God’ came in unto the daughters of men, &c.” Gen. 6:1, 2, 4. These reforming covenanters, began to call themselves, by the name of the Lord, by personal and family vows, to prepare themselves for a public and solemn dedication to God. Then, in public, “they surnamed themselves by the name of Israel.” They professed to be “the adopted sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.” They were bound by their engagement to the holy performance of civil duties: as in the days of Nehemiah, “they separated themselves from the people of the land,” and engaged not to enter into the intimate relation of marriage with them. It is mentioned as a reproach to the “sons of God” that they intermarried with the daughters of men. “Believers were unequally yoked with unbelievers,” contrary to those covenant engagements. It was by the violation of their national covenant in this article that the world became corrupted, and exposed to that signal display of the wrath of Jehovah, wherein the old world was destroyed by a deluge.
6. Their covenant was confirmed by an oath. Then men began to call, in the name of the Lord. The call of Seth was in the name and by the authority of the Lord, as was that of Noah, who was a preacher of righteousness. The covenant was ratified in the strength of their God, and in the vows of the Lord’s appointment. “Vow to the Lord your God and pay.” This covenant bound to all religious and to all civil duties, and was entered into by all who were of the household of Seth. He swore the oath of God as a magistrate and as a minister, as a father and as a husband, as a master and as a Christian. All others that entered into the engagement, devoted their whole persons, with all their relations, all their efforts and all their possessions to God. They committed themselves to the Lord by faith in the promised seed. “By faith,” before the flood, “Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house.” So by faith, Seth, being warned of God, that the church was in danger and his family exposed to the wrath of the seed of the serpent, was moved by fear, and encouraged by hope, as the Seventy render the original, to enter into a public covenant with his own God and the God of his posterity. No man, no church, no nation can perform any act, since the fall of man, that God will accept, unless it is done through faith in the Son of God, as our Redeemer. Seth was accepted of God. He believed, “and it was accounted, or imputed, to him for righteousness.”
Of the covenant transactions in Israel it has been said by those who are opposed to public covenanting, that they were peculiar to one nation, the chosen people of God. The Sinai-covenant has been called by objectors, “the covenant of peculiarity” and it has been inferred from the special relation in which that people stood to the God of Israel, that our duty, in the New Testament dispensation, cannot be inferred from the vows of the Israelitish commonwealth and church. To the example of the covenant engagement above referred to, even this objection cannot be offered.
The import of the covenant entered into by God’s witnesses before the flood, appears much more clearly in the covenant confirmed between God and Israel at Horeb. “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation. These are the words that ye shall speak unto the children of Israel. And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words, which the Lord commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, all that the Lord hath said we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.” Ex. 19:6, 8. God here proposes the covenant to Israel, promising that on their acceptance of it, by faith in him as their covenant God, and engaging to keep it, he would be their God, and conduct them in safety to the land which he had promised to their father Abraham; and to remind them both of his right to the land and of his power to guide them through the wilderness, till they should come into possession, he adds “for all the earth is mine.” They accede to the covenant, by professing their acceptance of it, and promising to do all that the Lord their God had commanded them. In this transaction, they called on the name of the Lord, and called themselves by his name. This covenant compact was concluded with acclamations of joy. “There we were glad in him.”
As in the Sethetic covenant, the patriarch acted as the representative of all his subjects, so here the elders of the people, covenanted with God on their behalf. This was done by divine appointment, “Moses called for the elders,” who acted in the name of all those over whom they bore rule. After the civil rulers had in this manner given their pledge to God, all the people were assembled at the foot of mount Horeb, where they assented to what their rulers had done in their name. To Moses, as God’s messenger, they say:—“Speak thou with us and we will hear.” Ex. 20:19. The ten commandments spoken by Christ as Mediator, to the people in an audible voice, were uttered by their God in covenant. For the preface is:—”I am the Lord thy God.” “Happy art thou, O Israel, O people saved by the Lord.” In this solemn renovation of the covenant made before with Abraham, all the people individually—all the civil rulers, all the ministers of religion, all parents and children, all masters and servants, were comprehended in all their relations; and the whole church and nation plighted to one another and to God. It was an ecclesiastical, national, and personal engagement to be the Lord’s.
It is worthy of special attention, that all this refers immediately to the moral law. For the typical ritual was afterwards revealed to Moses, during the forty days that he was in the Mount with God. And if, as the opponents of national covenanting affirm, the covenant at Horeb was abolished by the death of Christ, the moral law was also annulled. But, “one jot or title of the law shall in no wise pass away, till all is fulfilled.” The moral law or ten commandments, and the covenant of grace, of which there was an exhibition at Sinai, are of equal duration—they are both perpetual. The thunder, the lightnings, the earthquakes, the darkness, blackness, and tempest, should alarm the consciences of all who attempt to destroy what God has ratified with so appalling tokens of his righteous vengeance. “Father forgive them; they know not what they do.”
The next instance of public covenanting, was on the plains of Moab, by Jordan opposite to Jericho, near the termination of the forty years, that Israel wandered in the wilderness. “These are the words of the covenant, which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel, in the land of Moab, besides the covenant that he made with them in Horeb.” Deut. 29:1. We have the provisions of the covenant recorded in this and the two following chapters. The transaction was closed by celebrating the praises of God, in an inspired song, recorded in the 32nd chapter. It embraced a solemn vow of adherence to all that God had revealed to them by Moses, from the giving of the law at Sinai, until they entered the promised land. It was confirmed by an oath. “Ye stand this day, all of you, before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders and your officers, with all the men of Israel, your little one, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood, unto the drawer of thy water: that thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into his OATH, which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day.” Ex. 29:10, 12.
In this transaction, the elders or civil rulers, and priests were first called upon to swear the oath of God; as Seth, and the Sanhedrim at Horeb, had been before; then all the officers of state, the presbyters, and all the people. [Matthew] Henry expounds this part of the transaction as follows:—“I. The parties in the covenant. 1. It is the Lord their God they are to covenant with. v. 12. To him, they must give up themselves, to him they must join themselves. It is his oath; he has drawn up the covenant; he requires your consent to it. He has sworn to you, and to him you must be sworn. He requires us to be sincere and serious, humble and reverend, in our covenant transactions with God, remembering how great a God he is with whom we are covenanting, who has a perfect knowledge of us, and an absolute dominion over us. 2. They are all to be taken, they were all summoned to attend, and did accordingly, and we are told, v. 10. what was the design of their appearing before God now in a body. They were to enter into a covenant with him. 1 Even their great men; the captains of their tribes, their elders, and officers, must not think it any disparagement to their honour, nor any diminution of their power, to put their necks under the yoke of this covenant, and to draw it. 2. Not the men only, but the wives and children must come into this covenant; though they were not numbered and mustered, yet they must be joined to the Lord. v. 11. Observe, even little ones are capable of being taken into this covenant with God, and are to be admitted with their parents. Little children, so as to be carried in arms, must be brought to Christ, and shall be blessed of him. “For of such was and is the kingdom of heaven.” Not the men of Israel only, but the stranger that was in their camp.—3. Not the freemen only, but the hewers of wood and drawers of water.”
The priests are not mentioned as a separate class, but they were undoubtedly among the foremost in the transaction; as the covenant was certainly confirmed by the blood of many sacrificial victims, as that at Horeb had been forty years before. They are included under the word elders. The whole of that great host that encamped on the plains of Moab, in sight of the promised land, stood up before the Lord, and with great solemnity avouched with uplifted hands, the Lord to be their God in Covenant. With what joy unspeakable must they have concluded the holy duties, when the armies of the living God shouted their hallelujahs in a song of praise!
After the land was subdued before them, and about 24 years after the covenant transaction on the plains of Moab, and a little time before the death of Joshua, Israel renewed their solemn national vows in the valley of Shechem. There, Joshua held his court during 19 years that he judged Israel, after the conquest of the land. “And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, for their judges and for their officers, and they presented themselves before the Lord. And Joshua said unto all the people, thus saith the Lord God of Israel,—now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in truth.—And the people said unto Joshua we will serve the Lord.—The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice will we obey. So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.” Josh. 24:1, 2, 15, 21, 24, 25.
While the people engaged themselves to God in covenant, he bound himself to them, by many great and precious promises, confirmed by a sacred monument. As indentures set forth a recital, prefixed to the formal covenant; so in this Shechem-covenant, there is a declaration setting forth all that the Lord had done for them from the call of Abraham to that day. By recalling to their recollection the promise made to their fathers, and its fulfillment, as it had taken place before their eyes, God would strengthen their faith to trust his word of promise, in all time to come. The pledge on God’s part, that he would remember the covenant, consisted in the record of it in his book, and in the setting up of the pillar in Shechem. “And Joshua wrote the words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord,” v. 26. In all this we have assurance that God will never forsake his covenant people, that he will always have a seed to serve him, in bearing witness to the verity of his truth, and that he will abundantly bless all who walk in the footsteps of those who have been steadfast in his covenant. This was not a typical transaction; for Joshua does not refer, in his recital, to the ceremonies of the sacrificial ritual, which was embodied in the forms of worship, prescribed at Sinai. It was the development of the covenant made before with Abraham, whose children we are, if we have like faith with him.
We pass over the many renovations of the national covenant of Israel in the days of the Judges, that we may meditate on that federal transaction, in which Saul was formally inducted into the office of king. “Then said Samuel to the people, come and let us go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there. And all the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal; and there they offered sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord, and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.” 1 Sam. 11:14, 16. That this was an act of national covenanting is evident from the following considerations.
1. It was a renovation of the kingdom. “Let us go—and renew the kingdom.” When Saul was exalted to the royal dignity, it was by the election of God for the people. “See ye him, whom the Lord hath chosen?” And by the promise of allegiance on the part of the people. “And all the people shouted, and said, ‘God save the king’.” Chap. 10:21. This salutation was the ancient mode in which the people promised fealty to the king. In this manner the Lord Jesus Christ was acknowledged by the people of Israel, when he rode in triumph on the ass into the city of Jerusalem. “Hosannah to the Son of David: blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Matt. 21:9. In the transaction at Gilgal, the mutual engagement between the king and the people was renewed in the solemn covenant form.
2. It was before the Lord. The ark of the covenant was in Gilgal at that time, and before it, the coronation, accompanied with a solemn form of induction, took place, and although we are not informed that both the king and the people confirmed the covenant by a formal oath, yet as it was before the Lord God of Israel, that dwells between the cherubim, it was an appeal to the omniscience of the God of Jacob, who searcheth the heart, that the parties entered into the governmental compact, “in truth and righteousness.”
3. It was ratified by sacrifices. When God entered into covenant with the commonwealth of Israel at Horeb, it was confirmed by the offering up of sacrifices, typical of the blood of the Saviour shed on the cross, whereby the covenant of grace was sealed. “And the Lord said unto Moses—an altar of earth shall thou make unto me, and shalt offer thereon, thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings.” Ex. 20:22, 24. In accordance with this ratification of the Horeb-transaction, the covenant between Saul and the people, at Gilgal, was ratified: they offered up their sacrifices, burnt offerings, and peace offerings, to indicate their reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ, the great gospel victim, for the peace of the commonwealth, and the prosperity of the church. “Blessed are that people whose God is Jehovah” in covenant.
In the reign of Josiah, 624 years before the incarnation of the Son of God, the people of Judah, their king, the officers, the judges, the priests, the Levites and all the citizens small and great renewed their covenant with the God of their fathers. “Then the king sent, and gathered together the elders of Judah and Jerusalem, and the king went up into the house of the Lord, and all the men of Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests and the Levites, and all the people, great and small: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant, written in the book, that was found in the house of the Lord. And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant, which are written in this book, and he caused all that were present in Jerusalem to stand to it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers.” 2 Chron. 34:29, 32.
In the preceding reign, the condition of the church had become deplorable, by the immorality, idolatry and cruelty of Manasseh, who gave himself up to work all manner of evil with greediness. The holy scriptures had been disregarded, and banished from the court of the irreligious monarch. So rare were the known copies, that even the young king, Josiah when he ascended the throne, appears never to have seen, nor to have heard read, the book of the law. “And Hilkiah the high priest, said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.” Even the high priest seems not to have known, that there was a copy of the Holy Scriptures in the land. Moved by fear and actuated by saving faith, the king determined to honour the God of his father David, by active efforts for effecting a thorough reformation. It required eighteen years to purge the land from its abominations. Great resistance was doubtless offered to these exertions to purify the commonwealth, and to purge the sanctuary. To consolidate the strength of the godly, by bringing them into the bond of public covenant, and stirring them up to place their reliance on the God of Israel, he and they engaged their hearts to seek the divine favor and blessing, in their good work of reformation, by an act of public covenanting.
The captive Jews on their return from the Babylonian captivity, renewed the covenant of their fathers, with the Lord their God. The transaction was preceded by an acknowledgment of their own sins, and the sins of their fathers; a recapitulation of the mercies of God to their church and nation, an enumeration of their sufferings under the rod of chastisement, and a confession, that they had needed all the grievous afflictions that reduced their formerly flourishing commonwealth to a very low state of abasement. They then add:—“And because of all this, we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests seal unto it.” Neh. 9:38. They intended, under the direction of the Word and Spirit of the Lord, to strengthen the things that remained. As on all preceding acts of public covenanting, so on this holy transaction, the blessing of the covenant God of Zion, rested. They were blessed of the Lord God of Israel under whose wings, they took shelter in the covenant to which they set their seal, in the oath of God, and which they subscribed with their hand.
In all the acts of public covenanting, narrated above, the civil rulers, as such, united with the priests of the Lord, and the people in their double character of citizens, and of church members, in swearing the oath of the covenant. They all devoted the whole man to God. They had not then learned the infidel distinction of modern times, that as Christians, we are bound to swear fealty to the Lord of hosts, and to obey his law, found written in his word; but that as citizens of the commonwealth, men are independent of the Prince of the kings of the earth.
Under the New Testament dispensation, we have recorded one and only one, federal transaction, in which the church, without the concurrence of civil society, entered into a public covenant with God. It is recorded. 2 Cor. 8:5. “And this they did not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to God, and unto us by the will of God.” The apostle here refers to the churches, in Berea, Thessalonia, Philippi, and other churches in the province of Macedonia. Before they entered on the business of raising funds, “for the furtherance of the gospel,” they “gave their ownselves to God.” Paul says this was not even hoped for by him and his coadjutors, in the ministry; as he had not thought that the progress of the gospel was so extensive, and its operation so powerful, that those flourishing churches, by an act common to them all, would “give their ownselves to God.” The devoting of themselves to God must have been an act of public covenanting for—
1. It was an act not of individuals in their personal character—but as associated bodies. The churches of Macedonia, all were united in the act. It was therefore a federal transaction.
2. Berea, which was one of the churches of Macedonia, searched the scriptures daily, to see whether the things that the apostles taught them were so; and they undoubtedly must have learned that public covenanting, was a duty enjoined on them; as all those who search the Scriptures daily in the right spirit must see.
3. The apostles surely hoped that they would dedicate their offspring in baptism, and their own selves to the Lord in the supper. As there is but one other mode in which men can dedicate themselves to God, according to the Bible publicly—by public covenanting, that was the giving of themselves to the Lord, of which the apostle here speaks.
Here, then is an instance of approved public covenanting by the church, without the concurrence of the State. As Macedonia was a colony of the Roman Empire, which was adverse to the gospel of Christ in its constitution and administration, the Roman officers in that colony, would not enter with them, as Josiah and other good rulers of old, into the covenant of God. The churches in other lands, are under the same obligations to engage in this duty, as the Macedonian churches were in the apostolic age.
The Protestant Princes of Germany in 1530, entered with the reforming ministers into a covenant, known in history as the League of Smalcald, for the maintenance of their civil and religious liberties.
In Scotland, a few of the Scottish noblemen entered into a covenant for the defence of the Reformation. God blessed that bond, for the furtherance of the gospel. In 1580, the king, the nobles, the ministers, elders, deacons, and the people of all ranks, entered into a solemn, and solemnly sworn covenant to adhere steadfastly to the truth, and to defend the same against the Papists, and all other enemies. They also renounced all the errors, heresies, idolatries, and other corruptions with which the nations of Christendom had been polluted.
In the year 1643, the Barons, noblemen, and gentlemen, the houses of the Lords and Commons of England, the Corporation of London, the officers of the army and navy, the three orders of ecclesiastical rulers, and the body of the faithful, with uplifted hand, swore in the terms of the Solemn League and Covenant of England, Scotland, and Ireland, that they, joining themselves to the Lord in covenant, would defend their liberties, and the true Reformed Protestant religion of the empire, against all Papists and other malignants. This was perhaps the most sublime and soul-cheering religious transaction, that has occurred since the day of Pentecost. The most enlightened and powerful empire on earth, as one man, swore allegiance to Messiah the “Prince of the kings of the earth,” and did homage to our exalted Redeemer, as “Lord of all to the glory of God the Father.” The covenant had been drafted by the Rev. Mr. [Alexander] Henderson, of Scotland, and had been sworn by the Assembly of Divines in Westminster Abbey, before it was presented to the English Parliament. From the city of London, the Spirit of gospel holiness was diffused through the nation by every artery, to the remotest limit of the empire. The British Colonies in New England, hailed with gladness, the auspicious event, and gave themselves away to God, in the oath of the Solemn League and Covenant.
“All this was the doing of the Lord and wondrous in our eyes.” The Westminster Assembly sat five years; and as the fruit of their labours we have, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger and Shorter Catechism, the form of Church Government and manner of Worship, on the model of which all the Presbyterian churches, in Britain and their descendants in our own country, have professed in some measure, to administer their ecclesiastical regimen. To God’s blessing on the Solemn League and Covenant are to be ascribed, the light, liberty, morality, and power of the Protestant Churches, in Britain and in North America. To the God of Israel be all the glory, “who alone doeth wondrous things that are marvelous in our eyes.”
(To be Continued.)
VOL. II. FEBRUARY, 1839. NO. XII.
TESTIMONY FOR PUBLIC COVENANTING.
(Continued from p. 335.)
It would seem to be almost superfluous, after this historical detail, to enter into a formal argument, in order to prove that public covenanting is a duty under the New Testament dispensation. But such is the declension of the great body of protestant professors, within the last hundred and fifty years [this was written in 1839; ED.], that this most important institution of our holy religion, has been little investigated, is very imperfectly understood, and is even impugned by many who call themselves Presbyterian Protestants. The following is a brief outline of the argument on this article of our Faith.
1. We are commanded to follow the example of the saints who have gone before us, in the way of holiness. When the spouse in the Song [of Solomon], inquires where her Beloved feeds his flock, and makes them to rest at noon, he replies: “If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock.” Song. 1:8. The way of covenant, is that in which the saints have walked, in their pilgrimage to the heavenly kingdom. The church has always been a covenant society. The flock of the good shepherd, are led by him, and we are always to be found following in their footsteps. In the business of public covenanting it is “so plain that he who runs may read.”
That the way of public covenanting, was that in which the good Shepherd led his flock, from the birth of Enos until the time of Nehemiah, is undeniable. The most flourishing and the purest state of the church in Macedonia, was when, she in that province, joined herself to the Lord in covenant; and in Great Britain, while the Westminster Assembly held its sessions. This is well known to every reader of ecclesiastical history. It has then been the way of the flock of Christ in all ages.
2. There was nothing typical in the bond at the time of taking the Antediluvian covenant—nothing in that at Horeb, for it was entered into before the giving of the law—nothing in that on the plains of Moab, by Jordan near Jericho—nothing in that of the valley of Shechem—nor any thing ceremonial in any of those many renovations of covenant, which took place in Israel. The church and the nation swore fealty to Messiah, the Lord of hosts. Public covenanting was one of those things which cannot be shaken, and which remain to the end of the world.
3. The covenant made with Israel remains in force under the new dispensation, and by its efficacy, as rendered effectual by the Holy Spirit, the Jews will “be re-ingrafted into the good olive tree to partake of its root and fatness.” God, by Moses, says to Israel at the time of swearing the covenant of the plain:—”When thou art in tribulation, and all these things come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn unto the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient to his voice (for the Lord thy God is a merciful God,) he will not forsake thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers, which he sware unto them.” Deut. 4:30, 31. The things to come upon them, were that they should “utterly be destroyed,” as to their nationality, v. 26. This was not fulfilled at the time of the Babylonian captivity; for in the time of that calamity they had a prince of the captivity, they had their genealogical tables, and they were restored to their own land, and fully re-instated in their ecclesiastical and civil organization. They had the ministration of the Aaronic priesthood, for a period of about 500 years afterwards. This priesthood they never can have again. The promise that God will remember them, must then refer to New Testament times, when he will remember his covenant with their fathers, “if they turn to the Lord.” “Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.” 2 Cor. 3:16. The text ought to be translated, “when he,” namely Moses, “shall turn to the Lord.” Moses is in this passage put for Israel. When Moses went into the tabernacle he took away the veil; so here when Israel, called by the name of Moses, shall turn to Jesus of Nazareth, the true Messiah, the veil now on their hearts, “shall be removed.” Again, “the latter days,” is a phrase which refers to the days of the gospel, as contradistinguished from the old dispensation. “And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be exalted above the mountains,” &c. Isa. 2:2. Now in these last days, they will return to the Lord, “and he will remember the covenant” of the plains. All which demonstrates that the covenant is now in full force, as to its obligations on the seed of Israel. Hence, at least, to the Jews, national covenanting in gospel times is a duty.
4. We have many express promises that the nations under the new dispensation shall join themselves to the Lord. “And many nations shall come and say, come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” Micah. 4:2. The time when they shall do this, is that in which “all nations shall flow into the church.” Isa. 2:2. This promise has not yet been fulfilled. “The Lord will yet accomplish it in his time.” We have the substance of the national covenants of all the commonwealths the world, in the text. “He will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths.” God promises that the nations shall thus enter into covenant with him; it is therefore their duty to do so. This promise is applied specifically, to at least one nation. “In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the Lord of hosts. And the Lord shall be known to the Egyptians—they shall vow a vow, and perform it.” Isa. 19:21. All this is to be done in the day that “God will smite Egypt, and heal it,” which has never yet been accomplished, and of course the time of the gospel dispensation is here contemplated by the prophet. God shall say in that day, “blessed be Egypt, my people.” But as a nation, Egypt has not yet been blessed of the Lord; and therefore whatever is here predicted, must be accomplished hereafter. Many are the blessings promised to Egypt in this prophecy.
1. Her five principal cities, which in one word, means all the land, “shall know the Lord.” They shall have a saving knowledge of the God of Jacob, as he is revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ, the great prophet of the church.
2. “They shall do sacrifice and oblation,” not literally, for the daily sacrifice hath ceased as a typical service forever; but spiritually they shall present holy offerings to the Lord, presenting themselves before him, in all the New Testament ordinances of worship.
3. “They shall speak the language of Canaan,” by professing their adherence to the whole pure doctrines of the gospel, and promising in baptism and the Lord’s supper, to walk in all his commandments blameless.
4. “They shall vow a vow unto the Lord,” v. 21, “and shall swear to the Lord of hosts,” v. 18. the whole nation entering into covenant with God, and confirming their covenant by an oath, as our fathers did, when they engaged themselves to the Lord in the Solemn League and Covenant.
5. They shall not do, as the British nation did, at the Revolution settlement under William and Mary, break their vow. They shall perform what they will promise in their national covenant. “They shall vow a vow and perform it.”
6. They shall enter into Solemn League and Covenant with Assyria, and Israel restored to their own land. “In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt, and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, blessed he Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance,” verses 24, 25. The modern, mystical Babylon is called Egypt, in Rev. 11:8. John giving the prospective history of the two witnesses, says, “when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them, and their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” Rev. 11:7, 8. The kingdoms within the limits of the old Latin empire, are called in the book of Revelation, cities. “And the great city was divided into three parts,” (Protestant, Popish and Mahometan,) “and the cities of the nations fell.” Rev. 16:19. Five of these cities (kingdoms) in Egypt, spiritually so called shall speak the language of Canaan, and shall swear to the Lord of hosts. All this is yet to be accomplished; and as the prophecy is to be fulfilled hereafter, public covenanting is a duty to be performed in New Testament times.
7. A fifth argument in favor of the perpetual morality of public covenanting is, that it is taught in the law of nature. The United States of America do not acknowledge the Holy Scriptures as the rule of national legislation, and yet twenty-six states are confederated together in the bond of the Federal constitution; and though they do not swear fealty to the Lord of hosts, they swear fidelity to one another. In all associations, the members bind themselves to one another by pledges, when they sign their several constitutions. All societies are thus organized on the principle of covenanting, and there can be no association for benevolent purposes, for the promotion of common moral order among men, or for business, that does not involve the principle which we maintain, as far as they covenant with, one another, however many of them refuse to acknowledge their subjection to him, who is Lord of all.
8. It is analogous to many other religious social, pledges, were of divine appointment under the old dispensation, and that are retained under the new; such as marriage, baptism of old administered under the form of circumcision, and Lord’s supper which comes in the room of the passover. Why should the two latter especially be retained, when they were both confessedly ratified by the typical shedding of blood, and yet public covenanting be rejected, when it, as all must admit, bound to duties that were strictly moral, political religious? No other reason can be assigned, but ungodly nations refuse to enter into covenant with him who reigns in Mount Zion, and before his ancients gloriously; and a faithless ministry and ignorant people find it convenient to become the panders of unholy civil magistrates.
The blessings which God dispenses to churches and nations through the medium of public covenanting, are not confined to the actual covenanters; they descend to all those who were represented in the federal transaction. Such is the ordinance and the promise of the God of the covenant. “I Lord thy God am a jealous God visiting the iniquities of fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” Ex. 20:5, 6. Children that walk in the iniquitous ways of their fathers, suffer for their sins; while those of Godly parents are blessed by walking in their footsteps.
It is the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures and of all the Reformed churches, that Adam, represented “all his posterity descending from him by ordinary generation, and that they sinned in him and fell with him in his first transgression.” The Lord Jesus Christ the second man, the Lord from heaven represents in the covenant of grace, all his spiritual seed, and they are saved by his imputed righteousness, as it is received by faith alone. Why then should it be thought strange that in public covenanting, churches and nations should represent posterity? The representation of posterity by Adam in the covenant of works, and that of the elect in the covenant of grace, by Christ, the Mediator, is strong presumptive evidence, that in Federal transactions parents represent their children. But we have abundant direct testimony in the Holy Scriptures, and in the ordinary transactions of men. In both the doings of the church and in secular affairs, the doctrine of representation is wrought into the frame-work of human society.
1. The posterity of Seth who entered into the antediluvian covenant, were represented in that transaction. They were called until the flood, “the sons of God.” Gen. 6:2. Why are they so designated? Because, having been represented by their parents, at their taking of the covenant, they began to be called by the name of God, whom the antediluvians, in their covenant acknowledged as their Father; and whom they bound themselves by oath to honour.
2. In the covenant of Noah, all the posterity of that patriarch, were represented. “And God spake unto Noah and to his sons with him saying, And I, behold I, establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you: and with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.—And God said, this is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you—neither shall all flesh be cut off any more with the waters of a flood, to destroy the earth.” Gen. 9:8, 12.
That this covenant was an application of the covenant of grace, which Noah and his sons professed to embrace, is evident. He offered up sacrifices which typified Christ, gospel victim, and God smelled a sweet savour in the sacrifice of Christ, and ratified the covenant. Again; God does not and cannot confer blessings on the fallen sons of Adam, under the curse, in any other way than by Christ. Here blessings are promised, and all generations have experienced, in all nations, the truth of the promise. Farther, the rainbow was placed in the cloud, as a token or seal of the covenant. “This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you—I do set my bow in the cloud.” Gen. 9:12, 13. To this seal of the Noahic covenant, the Holy Ghost refers in Rev. 4:3. “And—behold a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne—and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight, like unto an emerald.—In the midst of the throne were—four and twenty elders.” These elders are the representatives of the redeemed of the Lord, who are with the Lamb on the throne over-arched by the rainbow.
All the acts of public covenanting to which we have referred, were, like the Noahic covenant, founded on the covenant of grace. And as the covenant into which the patriarch entered with God—did embrace his offspring of all ages and nations, why should not those succeeding federal compacts, of which that is the pattern, comprehend posterity?
3. The covenant which God made with Abraham extend-led its promises, blessings and obligations, to posterity? “And when Abraham was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abraham and said—I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and thy seed after thee.” Gen. 17:1, & 7. The promise had been given to Abram, in Ur of the Chaldees, twenty-four years before, “and he believed in God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” chap. 15:6. Of that faith he made a solemn profession, a year before the birth of Isaac, and God ratified his promise, by entering into a covenant with that patriarch and his posterity. There can be no doubt of the descending obligation of the Abrahamic covenant, as his seed are expressly mentioned in the body of the compact, and to them the land of Canaan was granted by charter. Under this covenant title they afterwards claimed it, and entered into its possession.
It seems to have been maintained by some in the time of the apostle Paul, that the covenant of Abraham was superseded by the giving of the law at Horeb. He expressly condemns that error, and asserts the doctrine, that however often a public covenant is renewed, its former force is not impaired. “And this I say; the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” Gal. 3:17. Even had it been a man’s covenant, like that which Abraham made with Anar, Eshcol, and Mature, or with Abimelech, and that which Jacob made with Laban, “yet, if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth or addeth thereto.” The covenant made with Abraham, remained in fall force after the law was given at Horeb, four hundred and thirty years after its ratification. All the actual Covenanters, who were circumcised for the sealing of the Abrahamic covenant, had been long dead; and yet the compact was still binding on their posterity. What is more; the church then was, and is still both bound and blessed by the covenant of God made with Abraham. “Some of the branches were broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree.” Rom. 11:17. The olive tree is the Abrahamic stock, the root of which is Christ, and the covenant made with the father of all them that believe, was the covenant of grace, and the compact with Abraham, can no more be annulled, than that made with Christ, which is an everlasting covenant.
4. The people of Israel were commanded by Moses at the taking of the covenant on the plains of Moab, to remember their covenant at Horeb, though all the males that came out of Egypt, were dead, except Caleb and Joshua. “And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments, and he wrote them on two tables of stone.—Take heed unto yourselves lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God.” Deut. 4:10 & 23.
5. When God by the prophet Ezekiel reproves the people for their sins, on account of which they had been carried away captive to Babylon, among other great transgressions, by which the anger of the Lord God of their fathers had been kindled, he reproves them for the violation of the covenants by which they were bound, to walk in all the commandments of the Lord blameless. “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother,—declared unto them their abominations; that they have committed adultery.” Ezek. 23:2, 36, 37. The two women are Aholah and Aholibah, i.e., the ten tribes, and the tribe of Judah with Benjamin. They were both married to the Lord, in their national covenant; and they are charged with adultery for their infidelity, in defiling the marriage bed, by the adoption of the idolatries of Assyria. This charge would not have lain against them, had they not been under covenant obligations descending from their ancestors.
6. After the captives returned from Babylon, they confessed their sins, at the renovation of their covenant, in violating the compact that God had made with their father Abraham. “Thou art the Lord God, who didst choose Abram—and madest a covenant with him.—Our fathers dealt proudly and hardened their necks.” Neh. 9:7, 8, and 19. Their sins were greatly aggravated by being violations of the Abrahamic covenant.
7. The compacts of nations bind, when all those who made the treaties are dead. National debts continue to be due by the debtors for many generations. When children inherit the estates of their parents, they are bound by the laws of all well regulated realms, to liquidate their debts, and fulfil their contracts. In all these instances, parents enter into covenants, whose obligations descend to their children. This is the constitution which God has given to society. He who denies the descending obligation of religious covenants, in which God is one party, and his creature, man, the other, must, to be consistent, hold it impossible for parents to bind their children in secular contracts.
8. Parents in baptism bind their souls by a vow, which binds their offspring. He who denies the descending obligations of public covenants, furnishes the adversaries of infant baptism with arguments which cannot be gainsaid or resisted. Are Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Congregationalists ready to admit that they are all unbaptized, and that they are consequently not branches of the church of Christ? If they deny the descending, obligation of national covenants they must, to be consistent, do so.
9. Those who deny the descending obligation of covenants, must to be consistent, reject entirely the doctrine of public covenanting. It is impossible that any nation or church can all, enter into the covenant, in one instant. It is, as creation was, a progressive work. First the highest judicatory of the church enters into the covenant, then the representatives of the nation: next the subordinate ecclesiastical courts, and the inferior civil authorities, then the people. Before all this is accomplished many of the actual covenanters both parents and children, are dead: Nations are composed of adults and youth, and infants; the last cannot bind themselves, because they are incapable of knowing what is done. But men do not generally reject this doctrine. All international treaties, all oaths of allegiance, enacted by legislatures—all edicts of emperors or rulers, all ecclesiastical acts, proceed not only on the principle of public covenanting, but also, on that of the descending obligation of the covenant.
It is partly on this principle that the acts of majorities are binding on minorities. In them one man binds another, as the covenants of ancestors, extend their obligations to posterity. Hence though a minority actually vote against a declaration of war, yet if the war is just, that minority are bound to aid in its prosecution. The whole kingdom of Great Britain was bound by the Solemn League and Covenant, as soon as it was sworn, by the Lords and Commons of the British Parliament, and the whole church of Scotland, as soon as the General Assembly had taken upon themselves the obligations of that holy bond. In all these instances, the oath of God’s covenant bound their constituents. The synods, presbyteries, and congregations swore, and they, with the people, subscribed the covenant. Now, before all these transactions were completed, the whole people were bound representatively; yet that consideration did not supersede the necessity of the several associations, and individuals taking the covenant obligations on themselves. The Lord Jesus Christ represented, from eternity, all the elect in the covenant of grace; and yet it was a part of the arrangement of that federal transaction, that the elect should by faith lay hold of that covenant for themselves, and ratify their assent to the covenant, in baptism, in the Lord’s supper, and in public covenants.
The covenants of Britain extend their obligations to all who now live in Scotland, in Ireland, and in England. This is admitted by all, who in any form, maintain the descending obligation of national federal transactions. The covenants also bind all the posterity of every man, who was bound by the Solemn League and Covenant when it was sworn in 1643, by the representatives of the nation, whether he remained in Britain, or emigrated to some other country. That the children of the actual Covenanters, when emigrating from the land of their nativity, are bound by the Covenant obligations, has been always maintained by Reformed Presbyterians. On this principle, the terms of communion say:—”The obligation of these covenants” (the National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant) “extends to those who were represented in the taking of them, although removed to this, or any other part of the world, in so far as they bind to duties not peculiar to the church in the British Isles but applicable in all lands.” Here it is asserted that those who were represented in the taking of those covenants, are bound by them, though removed to any land, as far as the church was under their obligations. If this principle is true in relation to those who are under them, as church members, it must also apply to those who were bound by them as citizens. Now, that the whole nation was bound, and that those citizens of the realm, who were represented in the taking of them, i.e., their posterity, were bound, is proved by the following considerations.
1. The Solemn League and Covenant was one vow in which the members of the church and citizens of the state were bound inseparably, though distinctly; and whom any principle of the covenant binds, the whole binds; because it cannot be divided. “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”
2. As God is one party, the Covenanter who emigrates, is after emigration, still within the dominions of him “who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Those who have come into the United States, since the taking of the covenants, are as really under the kingly authority of Christ, as they were in Great Britain; for he is “the Lord of the whole earth.”
3. The covenant of the British empire was renewed by the New-England Puritan Pilgrims, in the year 1644, by which they and all their descendants became formally bound.
4. The colonies, at the time of entering into the Solemn League and Covenant, were an integral part of the British nation. They held their lands under the crown, and were governed by deputies of the throne, whom they acknowledged as their governors. The Boston renovation, demonstrates that they held themselves bound by the federal deed of the Lords and Commons, in 1643.
5. The old Congress of 1774, solemnly claimed for themselves, and for the people of the colonies whom they represented “all the rights and immunities of British Citizens.” (See Marshall’s Life of Washington.) The most excellent part of their birthright and immunities, was, that they inherited a title to the covenant blessings of their ancestors, who entered into federal relations with the God of Israel. It may be said in reply to this, that they did not intend to claim the covenant birthright. It is admitted that they did not, and that in doing, so, they committed a great sin. Men often do things, when they do not understand their own transactions, as the Assyrian king fulfilled the counsel of the Lord, although “he meant not so, nor did his heart think so.” Isa. 10:7.
6. The land has been blessed remarkably in temporal good things, notwithstanding it “has deeply revolted;” as God showed favor to Israel even when grossly offending him, by their abominable idolatries. “To any nation,” except Israel, “never he such favor did afford.” And we may say of our land, as David did of Israel, “Thou shewedst them favor.” Psal. 44:3.
7. All nations are under the covenant made with Noah, notwithstanding they are dispersed over all the earth. All see the rainbow—and all enjoy “summer and winter, cold and heat, seed time and harvest, day and night,” in fulfillment of the covenant made with their common ancestor.
8. The ten tribes, cast out into far countries, are still bound by their national covenant. The dispersed of Judah are also bound by the same bond, dispersed as they are over Asia, Africa, Europe and America. “And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah; to it shall the Gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious.” Isa. 11:12. God promises to be a little sanctuary to them in the lands whither they are scattered. “Thus saith the Lord God, although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.” Ezek. 11:6. They are farther remote from the land of their fathers’ sepulchres, than we of this country, are from the British Isles; and yet the God of their father Jacob, acknowledges their outward covenant, relation to him.
9. The people of Judah and Benjamin were not released from their covenant obligations, during their captivity in Babylon.
10. This is the doctrine of our Declaration and Testimony. “Covenants entered into by an individual or a community, continue binding upon, those who enter into them, either personally, or by their representatives, so long as such persons live, unless the covenants have limited their duration to a certain period.” (Reformation Principles, p. 107.). This doctrine is proved from Jer. 11:10, “The house of Israel, and the house of Judah, have broke, the covenant which I made with their fathers.” The community of the British nation still exists, and many such persons still live, in the United States, whose fathers entered into the National Covenant of Scotland, and into “the Solemn League and Covenant of the three kingdoms of Scotland, England and Ireland.”
This is no more than a specimen of the ample testimony that might be adduced to prove, both the perpetuity of the national covenants and their descending obligation. We trust no one will ask more to demonstrate that the ground which the Reformed Presbyterian church occupies has not been taken rashly.
While under obligations so solemn, ratified by the most holy sanctions, endeared to us by the blood of our martyred fathers,—“men of whom the world was not worthy,”—and recorded in the archives of heaven, we must bear our testimony against a sinful nation, laden with iniquity, that with all the lights of divine truth, shining in her firmament for nearly two centuries, has neglected to recognize her duty, by “joining herself to the Lord in a perpetual covenant, not to be forgotten.” O that the God of Israel may soon set the fair jewel of his covenant in our forehead, and make our nation “the glory of all lands.” “He hath commanded his covenant forever; holy and reverend is his name.” Psal. 111:9.
 See Reformation Principles, edition of 1835, p. 20.
 See Henry’s Commentary, on the place. See also Vitringa on the import of the word Elders.
 At the time this Overture was drafted, Israel had not been restored to their land, nor was there any political prospect that such would be achieved. ED.
 See Erskine’s sermon entitled, The Rainbow of the Covenant; [Alexander] McLeod on Revelations, and the current of commentators.