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and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man bis brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest: for I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” (Heb. viii. 10~12.) The men of the world, who have their portion in this life, love to be thinking and talking of their earthly treasure : and it would be the highest entertainment to gracious souls to contemplate the infinitely richer blessings of which this covenant is full-pardon of sin an enlightened understanding-a new heart-a tender conscience -spiritual affections--victory over death-and eternal life and blessedness. What could be more agreeable than to enlarge on such topics ? I can hardly resist the temptation. But it would carry me too far from my present design ; and besides, we may meet with some of them again, under the following properties of the covenant, which our text leads us to consider.
1. It is an “everlasting covenant.”
“ And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” (Jer. xxxii. 40.) The covenant may be termed everlasting, in respect of its contrivance, continuance, and advantage.--A word or two on each.
First. As to its contrivance. It was agreed upon from eternity; so ancient were God's purposes of mercy :-“ According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love” (Eph. i. 4.) 2 "9. According to :
the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord? (Eph. iii. 11.) “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Tit. i. 2.)---Behold what mapper of love is this! Let us be in ever so much haste, we must be stupid and inexcusable ingrates, if we do not pause a moment, and admire the free grace, and eternal kindness of God, to worms! that such insignificant creatures as 'we, should have been on God's heart from all' eternity!--that there should be a consultation in heaven, (if I may so speak) to save and bless us, so long before we had a being !-that all the mercies we are hourly receiving are only the accomplishment of God's eternal purposes, and the fulfilling of those gracious designs which his heart had so many ages ago formed in our favour! Let no flesh, then, glory in his presence; but he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
Secondly. It is of everlasting continuance.
As the covenant of God did not begin with time, so neither will it end with it. We read, indeed, of a covenant of God's own making, which he found fault with, as insufficient to answer his gracious purposes, and therefore laid aside: “ For if the first covenant had been faultless, then should no' piace have been sought for the second.” (Heb. viii. 7.) But the Gospel covenant hath no flaws, and therefore will never be superseded; and where it is once rightly entered into, the obligation will remain for ever; and so will the relation that flows yroin it: “For this God is our God for ever and ever. will be our guide, even unto death." (Ps. xlviii. 14.)" But this reminds me to add,
Thirdly, That it will be of everlasting advantage.
A covenant relation to God carries more in it than any temporal enjoyments can amount to. As he is an eternal God, he will be an eternal good, an overflowing and an everflowing fountain of blessedness, to those whom he takes into his favour, and ranks among his friends. On this account the Gospel covenant is styled a “ better covenant;" because the promises of the old covenant were mostly temporal, but the blessings wherewith God hath blessed us in Christ Jesus, are chiefly spiritual and eternal. When he promises to be a God to any persons, it implies that he will befriend them in a manner suitable to his infinite perfections. As it.doth not be come the wealthy potentates of the earth to put off their choicest favourites with toys and trifles, so it would be unworthy of God to confer only temporal and transitory favours on his faithful friends and servants. Whenever he distributes favours, he gives like a God. “ But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city” (Heb. xi. 16)"a continuing city”_" a city which hath foundations” " a kingdom which cannot be moved”—"an inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away."
Now what is there in death, or the afflictions of this transient, momentary life, to set against that happiness which will be fresh and increasing to all eternity? Surely there is enough in the everlasting covenant to bear us up under the decays of nature, and the greatest inconveniences of mortality. You
may outlive, you have outlived, other comforts; but the salvation of the covenant is permanent and abiding. And if you are rightly affected with this, you will join with the Psalmist : “ I will sing of the mercy of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations; for I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever; thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.” (Ps. Ixxxix. 1, 2. )
Another property of this covenant is, that it is, 2. " Ordered in all things"
Happily contrived for the benefit of those who are admitted into it. It must be so, because Infinite Wisdom had the ordering of it. If it had been left to us to draw it up, we should no doubt have exerted our utmost skill to make it as comprehensive and favourable as we could ; but, after all, we should find a thousand and a thousand exigencies, in common life and Christian experience, which we had never thought of, and for which we had not made the least provision. But this is our consolation, that the covenant was ordered by God himself, and ordered in all things." He foresaw every occur. rence that would befal his people, every difficulty they would meet with in their passage through the wilderness, and ordered his covenant accordingly: so that now believers may always depend on finding grace to help in every time of need :a comfortable circumstance this ; for if the covenant be ordered in all things, then it is ordered in this very thing which now perhaps we find it difficult to approve or account for. To us, those dispensations which have made such havock among outward possessions, and enjoyments, carry in their face the
broad marks of wrath and confusion. We do not understand what that love can be, which doth not exempt the objects of it from sufferings; we cannot see how, calamities, which“ overturn, overturn, overturn” one comfort after another, till we have hardly one left that is not either actually thrown down or sadly shaken :-we cannot see how such ruinous disasters can “ work together for our good;" and because we do not see how these things can be, we boldly pronounce it impossible, and quarrel with Providence for attempting it, or sullenly give up all for lost, and cry, There is no hope; no,, God hath “ forgotten to be gracious,” and his mercy " is clean gone for ever.” Jacob argued thus: “ Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and will ye take Benjamin also? All these things are against me?" (Gen. xlii. 36.) And yet it appears afterwards that he was mistaken, and that God was at that very time ordering all things for the best, and making the most effectual provision for the subsistence and comfort of the distrustful patriarch. And many of the sons of Jacob, under similar trials, have discovered the same want or weakness of faith; owing both in him and in them, to their looking more to present appearances, than to the power and promise of God. Did we rightly attend to this ;---were we once firmly convinced tbąt the everlasting covenant was “ ordered in all things; that every particular affliction was distigctly set down; the time of its coming upon us, together with its degree, and duration ; and over against it the great ends to be answered by it, and the bappy influence it is to have on our holiness here, and our happiness for ever ;--I say, these