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for the remission of sins."* This testament is the covenant sealed by the death of the testator, and you are to subscribe it in this ordinance. Hezekiah directs the people in their preparation for the passover to yield themselves to the Lord, and so enter into his sanctuary; thus must we do before we stretch out our hand to these sacred elements, we must subscribe with our hand to the holy covenant. It is true, that ordinance is for a commemoration of Christ's death, but it is also the communion of the body and blood of the Lord; and therefore implies union to Christ, by this bond of covenant; you take God's name in vain, except you be devoted to him in covenant, nay, you are base hypocrites, if your practice answer not to your profession; you profess consent to the covenant by your using the seals, you declare your dedication to God and acceptance of him, or what do you do there? and is it not fit you should afresh be dressing yourselves in your wedding garment? A lately renewed covenant will leave a fresh stamp and impression upon your spirits; and O how comfortably and confidently may you approach the Lord's table and say, Lord, thou knowest what has been my secret engagement with thee, and now I come solemnly to own it among thy people; Lord, as thou hast given me the privy seal, so add at this time the broad seal, that I may pass unchallenged in the court of God, of conscience, and of thy church.

This is the first circumstance, which has relation to the time.

2. The next is the place, where this personal covenant should be contracted. And my advice is, that

• Matt. xxvi. 28.

+ Marg. give the hand, that is, in covenanting, 2 Chron. xxx. 8. 1 Cor. xi. 25. x. 16.

you manage this affair in some solitary place, because it concerns none but God and your own souls. It is true, you may personally covenant in a public place, and with others in any ordinance; but when you are to enter into it in a solemn manner, secrecy will be more proper: Gen. xiii. 14, "The Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, lift up now thine eyes," &c. mark it, when Abram was parted from Lot, then God and he were united more closely; possibly those hot quarrels between their herdsmen had been a perturbation to Abram's spirit, and a provocation to the Lord to withdraw his Spirit, for divine revelations are usually made to sedate and quiet souls; or possibly God is well pleased with Abram's self-denying condescension to his inferior; and when they were parted God seems to say, Well, Abram, I love thy peaceable spirit; in room of Lot thy kinsman, I will now own thee as my child, and be to thee a covenanted friend, and will make good my promise to thee. This circumstance God takes notice of elsewhere, signifying how he dealt with this celebrated patriarch; Isa li. 2, "Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you, for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him," that is, either when he was without seed or offspring, or I separated him from his kindred and relatives, that I might contract with him a special friendship by covenant relation. But you will say, why did God thus call Abraham alone? and why should we thus enter into covenant in a solitary place? I answer,

(1.) Because it is a personal affair, and is fittest to be transacted between the heart-searching God and the sincere soul. Thou mayest in this as well as in closet prayer,* shut the door upon thee, and keep the door * Matt. vi. 6.

of thy lips from her that lieth in thy bosom ;* here thou mayest ransack thy heart, freely open thy bosom to God, confess such sins and wants as it is not proper another should be acquainted with. When God establisheth his covenant with thee, the scripture saith, "Thou shalt remember and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more," that is, in any self-justification, but thou must and wilt open thy mouth in selfcondemnation; certainly the troubled heart of the returning prodigal hath something to tell his offended Father, of which he would not have the dearest friend he hath in the world to be informed.

(2.) The soul must not be disturbed in this important affair. So saith the wise man, through desire a man having separated himself seeketh and intermedleth with all wisdom, or, as it is in the margin, he that separateth himself, seeketh according to his desire, and intermedleth in every business; all however comes to the same thing, it means that retired deliberation in matters of moment is necessary for making mature conclusions and managing solemn concerns. In this business of covenanting a man must call up all his inward faculties, mind, will, affections, memory, and conscience, and excite their most vigorous actings, and all little enough. The affair is great, the temple to be built is for the infinite God to dwell in, the engagement is not only for this life, but for eternity; the fort-royal of the heart is to be surrendered up to the great King upon very honourable terms; God sends his summons by conviction, the matter is to be debated by the soul within itself, it must hold a parley, and cast about to ascertain what is best to be done to attain God's glory, and save himself; in council he should sit close without disturbance, his exigencies are to be examined, the equal terms to be • Mic. vii. 5. + Ezek. xvi. 62, 63.

Prov. xviii. 1.

considered, the necessity of coming up to them concluded upon, that the soul may act deliberately, and still the tumultuous workings of heart, by its self-communing and making diligent search:* sometimes searching out the sins he has to confess, then what duty he must set about; another while asking his heart whether it be truly willing to consent? then again considering God's willingness in the promises of the scripture, and what are the terms. These things will cost many inward debates and solemn thoughts of heart, which must be conducted by soliloquy, and cannot be done in a crowd of company and business; therefore privacy is necessary,

(3.) God only can be witness of the soul's sincerity in this covenanting, therefore must the Christian set himself as in the presence of an omniscient God, who alone is privy to his exercises of heart in solitary recesses; he knoweth the way that I take, saith Job, "When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold, let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity." I dare set myself as a glass in the sun, to be under the bright rays of the Sun of righteousness, and though I am conscious of many spots and blemishes, yet I would approve of none, but hate all. "Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me." Sin may be inherent, it shall not be predominant: it may force itself through me, but it shall not have an undisturbed passage, “Thou, Lord, knowest thy servant, my witness is in heaven and my reward is on high; though my friends scorn me, yet mine eye poureth out tears unto God, and oh that one might plead for a man with God, as a man plead

*Psal. lxxvii. 6.

Psal. cxxxix. 23, 24.

↑ Job xxiii. 10. xxxi. 6.

eth for his neighbour!"* A Laban could say, "no man is with us, see God is witness," much more may I say so; my soul lies under the sense of thy omnipresence in these my closet retirements: thou art both witness and party in this solemn undertaking; my dearest relations know not what I am doing, but to thee alone I open and discover my heart; I ask no one's counsel or approbation, it is enough that I have the warrant and approbation of my Sovereign Lord, saying, “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself," and returning to me, I receive him as my dear son, my pleasant child: yea, may the soul say, I call sun, moon, stars, trees, stones, in the absence of men to bear their testimony to this my engagement, as a dying saint said, I am sure if the posts of this bed could speak, they would testify how many delightful hours I have had with God in this room.

(4.) Because usually there is more freedom and endearedness expressed between God and the soul in solitude, than in company; so intimate friends manifest most familiarity when a third person doth not intermix with their purest streams of love. "Cause every man to go out from me," said Joseph, when he made himself known unto his brethren. Jonathan and David only were together in the wood, when they kissed, wept, embraced each other, till David exceeded,§ another time they made a covenant before the Lord in a solitary wood.¶ Thus husband and wife have the freest intercourse alone: "Come my beloved," saith the spouse, "let us go forth into the fields, let us lodge in the villages, let us get up early to the vineyards, there will I give thee my loves,"** as if she had said,

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