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(Eph. i. 17—19.) We shall find the subject eminently suited, with his blessing, thus to enlarge our views, strengthen our faith and hope in the gospel, and animate us to renewed zeal and diligence in our walk with God. I
propose to open it by a few remarks,
I. On the general notion of a covenant of God with man.
II. On the particular features of this “ BETTER COVENANT.”
III. On the administration of it by Christ, as Mediator.
I. On the general notion of a covenant of God with man.
By a covenant among men we understand an agreement or compact, by which the parties bind themselves, and each the other, to the fulfilment of certain conditions. When such a covenant has been duly ratified, it is thenceforward binding on both, and either party is accounted infamous who shall recede from the terms of it without the consent of the other. When therefore a person is under covenant to perform certain things stipulated therein, we have the strongest security which man can devise that his conduct will be ordered according to the tenor of it.
Now, when we speak of a covenant of God with men, one important difference is to be observed. In this case there is no natural equality between the parties, nor independence of one upon the other, and therefore no such mutual adjustment of terms may take place between them. God wills, and man must obey. But this revealed mind and purpose of God is called a covenant, because,
1. As respects God, he who has no rule of ac- 1790 overieudise tion but his own will is pleased hereby to bind Calamencem lec himself, in his dealings with men, to the obser- bhain le postao vance of certain specified terms. See Note 1 at ti dhene help?21
per emot as the end of the volume.
2. As respects men, they are bound to fulfil the conditions herein prescribed to them, under pain relia of forfeiting the offered benefits, and incurring the attendant penalties.
A covenant further supposes the existence of peace and mutual good-will between the con- Wilo mkonom tracting parties, or is a basis of reconcilia- rece Cive 174 tion between such as have been at enmity. In
Toniraclet this respect the covenants of God and of men agree.
A covenant of peace, made in the case of previous enmity existing between the parties, must be negotiated by a Mediator, with whom the terms on either side may be arranged; and who is Surety to both for the fulfilment of the conditions on
which it is to rest. But in the case of previous good-will no mediator is required.
Further, a covenant supposes mutual advantage resulting from it to the parties concerned, with a view to which it is entered into. The advantage in
covenant of God is obvious, as respects man. The advantage (so to speak) which God aims at herein, is, the delight of his own nature in the exercise of goodness, the communication of blessing to his creature; which he therefore bestows by covenant, to assure man of its unchangeable character, by the obligation under which he is thus pleased to lay himself.
Such is the general notion of a covenant as
made by God with his creatures: it expresses het hotel “ the immutability of his counsel.” God's ways, Lista a whether of mercy or of judgment, are not arbi
trary : all proceed strictly according to a method heegee laid down by himself, and revealed in his word
for our guidance. Clearly then, our hopes and the state forest
prospects depend, entirely, upon the nature of that particular covenant or dispensation of God under which it may be our lot to live. General notions of mercy, not directed by God's revelation
of his mind towards us, or an unauthorized blenddient Ex ing of the grace of one covenant with the meriimmediata
torious obedience of another, will prove vain and ?, ez kerakhir
ruinous in the issue. On the other hand, great o encontre
and unmerited as may be the blessings held out
to men under any dispensation, this name, covenant, under which God has taught us to contemplate it, forbids us to doubt their sure communication to all who come to him in his appointed way for their bestowal.
It is plain, from the word of God, that there are in con are two COVENANTS in which men are principally ima
ty concerned, and upon the terms of one or other of : which they must stand for life or death before in the God.
The covenant under which all men are born, as on :-. ita children of Adam, is that oF WORKS; and under de licen this they continue, until, of their own accord, they
in abandon it, as one by which they can only merit death. This is, in other words, the moral law, which was the law of Adam's nature, written in his heart while he continued in his integrity, and was given afterwards formally, and in detail, from Mount Sinai, for discovering to his posterity the conditions of life or death eternal, to which, as creatures of God, they are naturally subject. Its terms, spiritually understood, are,
66 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength ; and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Luke x. 27; Mark xii. 29–31; from Deut. vi. 5, and Leviticus xix. 18.) The sanctions by which it is enforced are, on the
THE BETTER COVENANT.
one hand, “This do, and thou shalt live;" (Luke
All men who live and die, as they are born, un-
could give life. (Gal. iii. 21.)
tried according to the letter of this covenant, there
transgressor of it from the womb. And thus the
of the works of the law are under the curse.” (Gal.
This covenant, then, is one by which an un
at he has