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me; O for a hand of faith to take Christ, an appetite for the bread of life, a due digesting of this blessed banquet! Thus may you familiarize gospel mysteries to you, and visibly discern all the branches of the covenant, even with your bodily eyes.
(4.) Improve Christian converse. Go to the religiously wise, ask counsel of such as fear God, and have experience in transactions of this nature; communicate to them your desire and design, confess your faults, beg their prayers; possibly you will find some whose hearts and cases harmonize with yours, as face answers to face in the water; they will tell you they could never get ease to their aching hearts till they took this course, they will direct you in the method they found beneficial, they will encourage you by informing you what satisfaction their souls had in taking God for their God, and devoting themselves freely to him: as David after he had made and paid his vows, cries out, "Come and hear all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul:"* and then he tells you how he cried, and God answered him. Thus will gracious Christians say to you: O friend, I am glad you begin to hearken to this blessed intimation; be not discouraged, resolve upon it, it is the best bargain that ever you made, hold not off, be not afraid to give your consent, it is a delightful engagement, he is the chief of ten thousand, O come and taste, and then you will see that the Lord is good, bind your slippery hearts to God with the strongest bonds: for my own part, saith the experienced Christian, I would not for all the world, but have made this covenant; this union hath promoted my communion with God; how familiarly hath my Lord dealt with my soul! how fixed hath my resolution been for God! methinks I have found more strength + Psal xxxiv. 8.
* Psal. lxvi. 13-18.
of grace, more power against temptation and corruption, more patience in affliction, more comfortable persuasions of God's love to my soul, since that blessed day I entered into this holy league with God. Come, friend, put your hand into God's hand, unite with him, subscribe your name to this blessed bond; this is the best use that ever it can be put to, fear not, you will never repent of this engagement, give up yourself to the Lord, and he will be your God.
THE MATTER OR FORM OF WORDS A PERSON MAY EMPLOY IN HIS ENTERING INTO A PERSONAL COVENANT WITH THE LORD.
V. HAVING shewed in general, what covenanting is, and what this personal covenanting, and proved that it is essential to religion, also what is absolutely necessary to do it in a right manner, and particularized those considerations which may help God's people in the managing of it, I now proceed to the fifth general head, which relates to the matter or things wherein we must bind ourselves; or the form of words which may be used by the Christian, in this great and solemn affair of personal covenanting.
This is the chief part of my work, and my main design; all that I have said is but preparatory to this, which is to lay open plainly the several parts and branches of this solemn bond or covenant, which you are to enter into; that you may make use of such a form of words as may be prescribed.
But before I address myself to this prescription, let
me earnestly bespeak your consent. Alas, sirs, what do I take this pains for in writing, or you in reading this discourse, unless you be willing to set to your hand and seal? the indentures drawn between God and you, are not to be looked at, but subscribed; the matter is weighty, it is as much as your souls are worth; heaven and hell depend upon your sincere covenanting. How can you have God for your father and master, except you be his children and servants? Can a woman challenge a dowry except she be married to the man? Can you be free denizens of the New Jerusalem except you serve this blessed apprenticeship? Can you claim the benefit of this heavenly charter, unless you be enfranchised? Never imagine you shall have the mercies promised, unless you perform the conditions required. What you find in the bible is God's, what you cordially consent to becomes your's. This covenant grant is conditional, "Believe and be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned;"* God gives you liberty to put in your own name. He sends his ministers to beseech you to be friends with him, if you consent not, these lines shall be a testimony against you; advise with yourselves, consider the terms, bethink yourselves what answer you will give, now or at the great day. What answer shall we give to him that sent us? What say you, will you consent or not? What have you to object? Are not the terms equal? Is not your case necessitous? Can you make any other shift? Doth God bid you lose? He is willing to make this engagement with you, namely, he will give himself, all communicable in himself to you, upon condition you will surrender yourselves to him; is not this an important engagement, a blessed exchange? the whole world cannot afford the like; what makes you hesitate? are • Mark xvi. 16.
you afraid God will not make it good on his part? and dare you question God's veracity or the truth of the gospel? speak out man, wilt thou give God the lie? O wretched infidel! Or dost thou fear as to reception? read the word which saith, "him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out."* Be it known to thee, it stands at nothing but thy unwillingness; the devil cannot, God will not hinder this engagement, if thou be truly willing; God puts in no bar; and I must tell you, that if your name be not found subscribed to this covenant, the fault is your own, you have excluded yourselves; and this will be the great inquiry in the solemn day of accounts, if you be not found enrolled among the living in Jerusalem, you are utterly undone, you must be excluded God's presence for ever; and at present, if you be not in covenant with God, you have no title to the favour of God, to Christ or his purchase, or to any one promise, no, you have no covenant right to any creature comforts, houses you live in, beds you lie on, clothes you wear, bread you eat; nay, you are every moment in danger of God's wrath falling on you, or of your dropping into hell; the matter then is of great importance. What sayest thou, reader? wilt thou resolve upon it before thou go any further? shall God have thy heart and hand? wilt thou determine to set some time apart shortly in some convenient place, and there fall to the work in good, serious earnest, first to read over the terms of the covenant, then reflect on thyself, whether thou hast submitted thereto ? and then examine thy conscience and conversation to find out thy sins? wilt thou ingenuously confess them before the Lord? wilt thou importunately beg his assistance in what thou art undertaking? and wilt thou again deliberately read the articles, and ask thy heart * John vi. 37.
whether thou dost cordially consent, and approve thy heart to God in what thou goest about? lifting up thy heart or hand towards heaven, or subscribing with thy hand, using such gestures as produce or betoken thy reverence before the Lord, with sincerity of soul. Being thus prepared and at God's footstool, wilt thou most heartily, resolvedly, unreservedly subscribe the following covenant? and I pray you observe it, that the more solemn it is, and the more conducible it will be to the great ends aimed at, that God may have the more glory thereby, in thy owning his omniscience, holiness, and faithfulness; and the more will thy spirit be touched with a holy awe of God, by the solemnity of an oath, that thou mayest be more seriously sensible of the momentous concernment of this weighty business, and be more closely knit to God in an indissoluble bond that shall never be broken. Well then, upon the hopes I have, that some at least, may prove serious, and decided in this affair, who read these lines; I shall proceed to the main part of my directions, which is to lay before you a platform of personal covenanting, which I shall draw up, as much as may be in scripture phraseology, as most unexceptionable in men's account and most acceptable in God's; and by way of prologue or introduction, you may thus make your approaches to God:
O eternal Majesty, thou art the one only living and true God, the everlasting King, the blessed and only Potentate, who only hast immortality, dwelling in that light which no man can approach 'unto, whom no man hath seen nor can see,† but as the works of creation and providence do manifest thy eternal power and Godhead; so thy only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who
+ 1 Tim. vi. 15, 16.
* Jer. x. 10. Rom. i. 20, 21.