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Full text of "The whole works of the Rev. Oliver Heywood : including some Tracts extremely scarce, and others from unpublished Manuscripts ; with memoirs of his life"


Presented to 

Zbc Xibrarp 

of tbe 

innivereit^ of H^oroiito 








Iticluding some Tracts extremclij scarce, and others j'roin 
unpublished Manuscripts : 













1826. \ 4- 






The Epistle to the Reader ix 

CHAP. I. Introduction 1 

II. To ascertain what sacrifices have been pre- 

scribed and accepted when men have made 

a covenant with God _ - - - 22 

III. Wliat is covenanting in general.'' and what is 

this personal covenanting ? - - - 38 

IV. Instances of this practice of personal covenant- 

ing, and reasons for it. - - - - 48 

V. Arguments produced for confirmation of the 

doctrine -------63 

VI. What is an essentially necessary preparation 

for entering into personal covenant with God 86 

VII. Circumstances which should form an induce- 

ment to enter into a covenant engagement 
with God, and which are favourable to the 
design ------- 107 

VIII. The matter or form of words a person may 

employ in his entering into a personal cove- 
nant with the Lord ----- 131 

IX. The form of a person's dedicating himself and 

all that he hath to the Lord - - - 156 

a 2 



X. Several objections against this course of enter- 

ing into a covenant engagement with God, 
briefly answered - - - - - 172 

XI. The duties required of those who have been 

personally forming a covenant engagement 
with God 184 

XII. Address to persons of different descriptions 

commencing with unconverted sinners 205 

«XIII. Counsel and instructions given to sinners 
that the}" may enter into a personal engage- 
ment to be the Lord's _ _ - - 223 

XIV. Achnonition and consolation for those who 

have formed a covenant engagement - - 239 

XV. Sources of consolation suggested, and a solu- 

tion of doubts proposed - - - - 250 
POSTSCRIPT. Introduction— acceptance of God— dedi- 
cation to him of — soul — body — connections 
— and circumstances _ _ _ - 277 


The Epistle to the Christian Reader 285 

Recommendatory Epistle ------- 289 

CHAP. I. Explanation of the text 293 

II. Statement of what is meant by family altars, 

and what is required of householders - - 305 

III. Arguments to prove that governors of fami- 

lies should set up altars for the worship of 

God - , 312 

W. Objections militating against family altars 

proposed and answered _ _ _ _ 328 

V. Neglect of family worship, an evil of a threaten- 

ing description and greatly to be lamented 344 

VI. iMotives to influence masters of families to set 

up altars to God for his solemn worship - 357 
VI I. Directions for setting up an altar in families, 

and for the management of family worship - 367 


VIII. Directions for carrying on the worship of 
God in families, as to the matter of prayer - 376 

IX. The manner of performing family worship 

considered ------ 390 

X. A solution of several cases of conscience con- 

cerning the worship of God in families - 402 


Dedication --------- 421 

The Preface 424 

CHAP. I. Introductory observations - - - - 429 

II. The sins and sufferings of families often occasion 

the grief of parents ----- 435 

III. Nature of the covenant of grace, and what there 

is in it to support the Christian - - - 441 

IV. Sources of hope which parents derive from the 

covenant for their adult and surviving chil- 
dren 44fi 

V. Answer to an objection against the premises - 4(5 1 

VI. The subject calculated to produce conviction 

and humiliation _ _ - - - 4(i8 

VII. Instruction may be derived from the subject 

under consideration ----- 477 


The Preface - - 507 

Heavenly Converse, Inti'oduction ----- 513 

Asserted and proved - - - - 522 

Inferences- - _ _ _ - 545 

Letter to the Rev. T. Jollie, prefixed to this Volume as the 
Fac-simile of an Autograpli in the possession of the 
Rev. T. Raffles, LL.D. 567 










Dearly Beloved in the Lord, 

It is the transcendent design of infinite grace, to restore fallen 
man. All the persons of the sacred Trinity perform their pe- 
culiar parts in this blessed undertaking ; and a line of love runs 
through the whole transaction. God the Father humbleth him- 
self to behold the things in heaven and on the earth ; God the 
Son took the form of a servant, and became obedient even to 
death ; God the Holy Ghost as the gentle wind, that bloweth 
where it listeth, breathes spiritual life into dead souls, and fits 
them for heaven.* What is this insignificant creature called man, 
that God should thus concern himself for him.^ he was not at such 
charges for the fallen angels, there Was no stop in their fall from 
the highest heavens to the loAvest dungeon of hell. But God re- 
membered man in his low estate, "because his mercy cndurelh for 
ever."" The flaming sword in the hand of the clierubim, is turned 
into a pastoral staff in the hand of the angel of the covenant, 

• Psabn cxiii. fi. Phil. ii. 7, 8. John iii. «. 


tlie guard to prevent entrance, is a guard to secure the enterers ; 
the bloody path is turned into a milky way ; the old death-pro- 
ducing course is turned into a new and living way ; a causey is 
raised up, a blessed bridge, whose foundation is the corner-stone 
which the builders refused, to carry the traveller to Zion over 
the gulf of God's wrath ; yea, a chariot is paved with love to 
convey the daughters of Jerusalem swiftly, safely and easily to 
heaven. The veil of Christ's humanity being rent, the veil of 
the temple is rent, so that poor Gentiles that stand afar off in 
the outer ^ourt, may look upon and enter into the holiest of all, 
and be kindly entertained in the presence chamber.* It is 
God's kindness and Christ's office to reveal this method of sal- 
vation to the sons of men. The sealed book, yea, the temple 
of God is opened in heaven, gospel grace is tendered, sinners 
are invited to lay hold on this life, but all would be in vain ex- 
cept the Holy Ghost should make a particular application of 
all that rich grace which was in the heart of the Father to be- 
stow, and of the benefits which the blood of the Son purchased ; 
this he doth by working in the soul the saving grace of appro- 
priating faith, by which all things communicable become the 
Christian's by present legal title, and eternal possession. Faith 
is a personal grace and brings in personal gains ; hence it is 
said, "That the just shall live by his faith," -f- not another's. 
Every man must have a faith of his own, we cannot be justified 
or saved by proxy. The scripture passes great encomiums on 
the grace of faith, faith is the captain grace, other graces fight 
imder its standard ; " Faith overcomes the world, purifies the 
heart, works by love," produces gospel repentance; it is that 
first link in the golden, chain of graces with which the rest are 
connected ; the leader in this virgin dance. I All the graces, 
like Solomon's virtuous woman, " have done worthily, but faith 
excels them all ;" it is as the moon among the planets ; " by 
faith we stand, by faith we have access to God, by faith we are 
saved." II And though love hath the preference in point of 
duration, yet we apprehend by faith, tliat we may enjoy by love. 
Faith conquers on earth, that love may triumph in heaven. But 

• Cant. iii. 9, 10. Heb. x. 19, 20. t Hab. ii. 4. 

+ 1 John V. 4. Acts xv. 9. Gal. v. 6. Zech. xii. 10. 2 Pet. i. 5. 

II Prov. xxxi. 29. Rom. xi. 20. Eph. iii. 12. Eph. ii. 8. 


there is no act of faith whereby it becomes more glorious than 
this of uniting the soul to God, " for we are all the children of 
God by faith in Christ Jesus, we are justified by faith, Christ 
dwelleth in the heart by faith/'* As our Lord Jesus is the 
blessed ligament to unite God and man, so faith is the bond 
which joins Christ and the soul, this it doth as receiving Christ; 
Christ is the enriching treasure, faith is the hand that receives 
it.f Our Lord Jesus dischargeth the debt, faith accepts the 
pardon, and pulls off the seal from the cancelled bond ; Christ 
is the robe, faith puts it on. The infinitely wise God chose 
faith as the instrument to justify sinners, because fittest to se- 
cure the glory of his free grace, by excluding boasting in man ; ^ 
God chose this grace of faith to stand so near him, as that 
with which he could best trust his honour in the justification of 
a sinner ; It honours God, God honours it ; it comes with an 
empty hand, yet fills the soul. This grace maketh us poor in 
our own sight, rich in God, as it strips the sinner of the Impure 
rags of his own righteousness, and clothes him with the spotlep.s 
robe of the righteousness of Christ. I may say of it, as the 
apostles of themselves, " as poor yet making many rich."" Tlie 
true riches consist in being rich in faith. O happy soid, that 
hath this merchant ship, whicli bringeth food from afar, tliis 
indeed brings in succours, supports, supplies, and abundant 
satisfaction. || Happy man that hath this heavenly plant grow- 
ing in his garden ! Happy the man who with the hand of 
faith, can turn all it toucheth into gold ! All creatures, as one 
saith, are as bullion, but faith in the covenant sets heaven's 
stamp on them, and so makes them current to us. I may also 
add, that all our duties are dross and counterfeit, unless they 
come to God with the impress of faith in Christ upon them, 
" for without faith it is impossible to please God.'' § Now what 
is believing, but a taking hold of the covenant ? This, this is 
the proper work of faith, it hath two hands, by one it receives 
God, by the other it gives itself to God, both these make an 
entire faith ; if either be wanting the soul is lame, and hath no- 
thing to do with the covenant or the promises. O but, say you, 
my hand is weak, if not lame ; I ask, is it the hand of faith, ac- 

• Gal. iii. 26. Eph. iii, I7. f Ji'bn i. 12. + Rom. iii. 27. 

II James ii. 5. Prov. xxxi. 14. § Heb. xi. 4—6. 


cording to scripture description ? then it receives the offered 
gift and proper object. Cruciger dying, said, " I call on thee, 
though with a weak and languishing faith, yet notwithstanding 
a sincere faith ;"" * this grain of mustard seed, shall become a 
flourishing tree ; this bi-uised reed shall be a strong staff to sup- 
port thee on thy journey to heaven. There is nothing the 
devil envies and tempts God's children so much about, as this 
faith, and there is nothing so fit to quench his fiery darts, as 
the shield of faith, and this must be used above all other graces, 
as the chief grace. -f- And yet there is no grace, the sincere be- 
liever doubts the truth of, or fears a defect in, so much as faith. 
How oft doth the Christian cry out with tears, " Lord, I believe, 
help thou my unbelief" :J: And what pains have pious mini- 
sters taken with doubting souls to satisfy them, and comfort 
them concerning their faith .'' Now I am verily persuaded that 
this solemn personal covenanting with God would be an effectual 
cure of all those jealousies ; for as a Christian's relation to God 
is made up by this, so the frequent renewing of it, and due re- 
flection on sincerity in it, will give a person a prospect of his 
good circumstances God-wards, for what is a covenant engage- 
ment, but the renewed exercise of faith .'' and frequency of the 
exercise, both strengthens and evidences the habit. It hath 
been said that the Christian must repent till he know that he 
repents ; and love God till he know that he loves God ; and 
also he should believe till he know that he doth believe. ]Many 
walk in darkness and disquietness for want of understanding, or 
considering the terms of the new covenant, or not concei\'ing 
what that faith is which contracts or carries on this covenant re- 
lation ; thou canst not but say, there have been special seasons 
of the out-goings of thy soul to God, and breathings after 
union with Christ. Many a time hast thou purposely set apart 
for conversing with thy best friend, taking him as thy God, and 
devoting thyself afresh to him ; and what is this but covenant- 
ing .'' and what wilt thou call this but the exercise of faith .'* 
they are equivalent ; canst thou not truly say as Pellican, " I 
desire my Jesus, how glad am I when I find him .'' how happy 

* Invoco te qnanquam langiiida et imbeciUa fide, sed fide tamen — Melch. 
Ad. in Cruc. pay. 197- 

t 1 Thess. iii. .5. Eph. vi. IC. X >^Iark ix. 24. 


am I when I hold him ?"* If you say, but I lose my Lord, I 
answer, but thy Lord will not lose thee. This covenant rela- 
tion is strongly maintained by the Lord of life, and thy business 
is frequently to renew thy repentance, to exercise faith, and 
pledge thyself again on renewing thy covenant with that God 
who hath promised to heal thy backslidings. 

It is the design of this Treatise to bring souls into covenant 
with God, to keep them in it, and make it clear to them that 
they are within this blessed bond of the covenant. I had a 
private call to this public effort, and for a season took not much 
notice of it ; I thought there was great store of printed treatises 
upon the covenant betwixt God and man, ten or twelve I have 
seen which are useful : but amongst them all, I never met with 
any upon this subject of personal covenanting, and was 
desirous to try what might be said for it ; partly because 
several worthy men have given intimations of its necessity and 
usefulness, and partly because I perceive some well meaning 
persons have earnestly desired such helps, and have eagerly 
improved the short forms of covenant engagement which they 
have met with in print. And indeed, as due entering into 
covenant with God is essential to Christianity, so the frequent 
renewing of it and satisfactory reflections on our sincerity in 
making, and constancy in keeping it, are great means of our 
comfort ; for God is faithful who hath promised, and though 
he may withdraw his comforting, or even his quickening pre- 
sence for a season, yet he will not cast off for ever. He thinks 
good to correct our sins, and rouse us out of sloth, but he will 
turn again, he will have compassion upon us,-f- so that the cove- 
nanted Christian may say with Bucer,:|: "Let him chasten 
severely, yet he will never, no, he will never cast off: God 
forbid that now at last I should not taste the sweetest conso- 
lations."" Fear not, Christian, thy comforts may ebb and flow, 
but thy covenant state is fixed and remains firm, and thou 
needest not fear what devils or men can do ; they can but kill 

" Jesum meum desidero, quam laetus cum invenero ! quam faelix tenuero ! 
— Melch. Ad. in Vit. Pell. pag. 548. 

t Mic. vii. 19, 20. 

J C'astiget fortiter, abjiciet autem nunquam, nunquam abjiciet : absit, 

absit, ut nunc consolationes dulcissimas non experirer. Melch. Ad in Buc. 

pag. 220. 


the body, and that will convey thee sooner to thy head and 
husband. Besides this miserable life, saith a noble champion, 
•' The devil and the world can take nothing from us/' * It is 
worth something in a losing day, to enjoy a treasure which 
cannot be lost. Among the good tidings in the world, that 
is worth all the rest which is proclaimed to the cities of Judah, 
behold xjinir God ,-|- did you but know what a God he is 
you would leap for joy, you would boast of him, and be trans- 
ported with the manifestations of God, your God and exceed- 
ing joy. - 

As for the infatuated world, I have little reason to expect 
that they will regard, but rather mock at the subject of this 
Treatise ; the sons of Belial choose to be yokeless and lawless, 
they cannot frame to walk in these sacred trammels and bonds, 
they must have elbow room to sin, they little think they are 
dancing in the fetters of Satan. Oh what a sad sight it is to see 
rational creatures rattle as slaves in the deviFs chains of drunken- 
ness, uncleanness, profane swearing, or hatred of godliness; these 
poor diabolists, like the. possessed man in the gospel, pluck 
asunder chains, and break fetters, so that no man can tame 
them. \ Nay, they say of Christ's commands, " let us break 
their bonds asunder, and cast away their cords from us.""" || 
They are Satan's volunteers, but Christ's sworn enemies; they 
cannot bear to be restrained by scripture rules, or to be pent 
up in the narrow limits of holy performances, it would be a 
death to them to pray, read, hear, or meditate so much. This 
would drive them into dumps and make them melancholy, yea, 
drive them beside themselves. Alas, poor unhappy beings, 
that must spend their life in pastimes, and licentious sports, 
and vanities ! I despair of these reading what I have written, 
and leave them to the righteous judgment of God, either to 
tame them here by some overwhelming affliction, as he dealt 
with Manasseh, that the iron sinew of their obstinacy may be 
bent, and they be disposed to accept freely of Christ's yoke, 
which I earnestly desire : or they must be sent down to the 
prison of hell, to be reserved with devils in chains of darkness 

* Praeter vitam banc iiiisellani, Satanas et mundus nobis eripere nihil 
potest. — Luth. 

t Isa. xl. 9. :;: 3Iark v. 4. || Psalm ii. 3. 


to the judgment of the great day. In tlie meantime, God will 
hold such furious adversaries in the chains of restraint by his 
l>owerful providence ; this will hold men and devils. " Surely 
tlie wrath of man shall praise thee, and the remainder of the 
wrath thou wilt restrain.''* Blessed be God for that. 

But it is chiefly for your sakes who fear God, and who 
earnestly desire that your loose spirits may be kept closely 
attached to him, and preserved from starting aside, that I have 
undertaken the following discussion. You see the work before 
you, be not slack in setting about it, or indifferent in it : turn 
not your backs on God, but set your faces towards Zion : 
enquire the way : weep as you travel, and "join yourselves to 
the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.^'f 

In hopes that I shall not altogether lose this labour of love 
to your souls, but shall meet with some that will read the 
Treatise, consider its contents, and engage in a transaction 
arranged for you, I take my leave, and shall follow it with my 
prayers. Heb. xiii. 20, 21, « That the God of peace, who 
brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shep- 
herd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting cove- 
nant, may make you perfect in every, good work, to do his will, 
working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through 
Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.'' 

• Psalm Ixxvi. 10. 4. j^^, j, 4 5^ 


Psalm l. 5. 

Gather my saints together u7ito we : those that have made 
a covenant with me by sacrifice. 



As all nations acknowledge a deity, or object of divine 
worship, so by a necessary consequence, they observe 
some sacred rites and solemnities which are by a 
general name called religion ; which hath its name 
from a Latin word signifying to bind, and is in our old 
Saxon language called enfastness. Nothing within the 
compass of religion can so properly challenge that title, 
as the covenant, and therefore scripture mentions " The 
bond of the covenant," Ezek. xx. 37. Now religion, 
and particularly this sacred bond or tie of the covenant, 
connects and unites together things and 'persons. The 
things that religion or the covenant joins, are these 
two : — first, graces ; secondly, conditions and privileges. 
1. The covenant of God connects all the graces to- 
gether in one subject or soul. Graces are not solitary 
but social ; where one is in truth, all the rest are radi- 
cally and in habit, though as to act and exercise, they 
make their appearance in different seasons and degrees. 



The heart of a Cliristian is a receptacle of divine 
graces, as the sea is of v/aters, conveyed by the Holy 
Spirit from the fountain of grace in Christ : however 
the souls of the best have their ebbings and flowings, 
both as to graces and comforts, yet " of his fulness have 
all we received, and grace for grace,"* that is, not a 
drop, but grace upon grace — not in infinite degrees, as 
in Christ, (to whom "God giveth not his Spirit by 
measure^"f) but in such a proportion as God thinks fit, 
and as is suitable to our capacities or necessities. But 
this is certain, that the divine nature or new creatui'e, 
ushers in a whole troop or cluster of divine graces into 
the heart of a believer who is united to Christ. A 
sound union to Christ by faith, which is the covenant 
bond on our parts, doth entitle the sincere soul to all 
in Christ, that is communicable ; only it is required, 
that faith be sincere and unfeigned, for truth or sin- 
cerity is denominated the girdle of truth, Eph. vi. 1 4 ; 
because upon it hang all the graces, like a string of 
pearls; for v/ithout truth, no grace is of the right stamp, 
acceptable to God, or available to us ; but God " desireth 
truth in the inward parts,":}: and truth is of so catho- 
lic a nature, that it runs through all a Christian's 
graces and actings to give a genuine character to them. 
It is true, sincere faith is the first pearl on this string 
of sincerity, but they are all within tlie heavenly circle 
of truth, as virgins in a round, || and such as are not in 
this circle, are cast out as counterfeits. The covenant 
links these together ; for all graces are contained in it, 
and there is no grace without covenant relation. 

2. Religion by the covenant binds conditions and 
pri\ileges together, so that none can expect the saving 

* John i. 16. + John iii. 34. + Psal. li. 6. 

II 2 Peter i. 5. 'E7rt;^opr)y;';o-ar£ i. e. choriun ducite, — allusio 
ad viroinum saltationes. 


advantages of religion, but he that performs the con- 
ditions required. Divine wisdom hath contrived this 
blessed method of shewing mercy and saving souls ; 
faith and justification, repentance and remission, 
doing the commandments, and eating of the tree of life,* 
are linked together as with chains of adamant, and 
what God hath joined together no man can put 
asunder ; " He is become the author of eternal salva- 
tion to all them that obey him,"f and to none else. As 
sin and hell, so grace and glory | are inseparably con- 
joined. "How shall I put thee among the children, and 
give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the host 
of nations ?" saith God; as if he had said, "how shall I 
order that the seed of Abraham shall again be pro- 
pagated, and enjoy tlie portion and possession of chil- 
dren ?" He answers, " thou shalt call me, my father, 
and shalt not tiu'n away from me, Jer. iii. 19 ; as I 
adopt them to be my children, so I will endow them 
with the spirit of adoption, and qualify them with a filial 
disposition ; then, and never till then will they be 
capable of enjoying my promised inheritance : for 
bastards are not suitable heirs, and a slavish spirit is 
not fit for a child's work and patrimony. I will change 
their nature with their state, their disposition as well 
as relation." Thus there is an instituted connexion 
betwixt graces and privileges, duties and mercies, 
"without holiness no man shall see God:" spiritual 
life is the prologue to eternal life, " it is the pure in 
heart only that shall see God."|j It is true, the pro- 
mise and mercy promised, the grace of the condition, 
and mercy annexed are both from God in a covenant 
way, and both freely given, God absolutely promiseth, 

* Acts xvi. 31. iii. 19. Rev. xxii. 14. 
t Heb. V. 9. X Psalm Ixxxiv. 11. 
II Heb. xii. 14. John xvii. 3. Matt. v. 8. 
B 2 

4 BArTiL;:.rAL bonds. 

Christ freely purchased, the Spirit graciously worketh 
the qualifications, which he requireth, Ezek. xxxvi. 25 
— 27. Though God be a free agent, yet by his pro- 
mise he makes himself a debtor,* and by worJ^ing the 
antecedent disposition, he engageth himself to bestow 
the mercy promised, though he owes us nothing. It 
is grace to Abraham to make a covenant with him, but 
truth to perform it to Jacob ; hence God is faithful 
both in pardoning sin, and giving a crown of life to 
all that penitently confess sin, and sincerely love him ;"f 
so God crowns his own graces in his saints. 

Thus there is a connexion of things effected by the 

As things, so persons are united and knit together 
in this bond of the covenant. 

First, It binds men and men. 

Secondly, God and man. 

1. It binds men and men ; it joins Christians' hearts 
one to another ; " they that believe are of one heart, 
and one soul ;" it is " the unity of the spirit in the 
bond of peace." i O sacred bond ! O blessed unity, 
the ligaments are faith and love, by faith all the mem- 
bers are joined to the head, by love to each other, and 
this love or charity is the bond of perfectness ; || the 
staff in Zechariah xi. 14, called bonds or binders, sig- 
nified the brotherhood between Judah and Israel ; the 
covenant promotes this, therefore it is called, the bro- 
therly covenant.^ O happy conjunction ! O sweet com- 
munion ! Stronger is the bond of grace than nature. ^ 
Natural consanguinity or contracted affinity reaches 
not so high as this heavenly harmony ; it is like that 

* Reddis debita, nulli debens. — Ai/g. 

t Mic. vii. 20. 1 John i. 9. 2 Tim. iv. 8. 

+ Acts iv. 32. Eph. iv. 3. 

II SuvSsffuoc T^K TiXdoTriTOQ, Col. iii. 14. § Amos i. 9. 

IT Sanctior est copula cordig quam corj-oris. 


endearedness betwixt Jonathan and David, passing the 
love of women. Nothing cements men's spirits so 
much as grace ; piety begets sympathy ; religion pro- 
duceth bonds and bowels of compassion. Christian 
fellowship is the sweetest friendship, and friendship 
is called the salt that seasons a man's life ; * but 
amongst wicked men there is no true friendship;! 
only converting grace turns the hearts of fathers to 
their children, and of children to their fathers ; gospel 
grace makes the wolf to dwell with the lamb,:}: and 
sweetens men's spirits towards each other ; yea, as the 
curtains of the tabernacle were joined by loops, so are 
real Christians joined by love ; the more love the more 
union. Christianity pares off the roughness and rigid- 
ness of men's spirits, and makes them lie even in God's 
building ; they that were hateful, hating one another, 
now are. meek, gentle, tender-hearted, and easy to be 
entreated. || The sweet cement which in one sure 
band connects the whole frame, is love and charity. 

2. But the principal work of our religion is the con- 
necting of God and man together, and this is chiefly 
effected by the bond of the covenant. " As the girdle 
cleaves to the loins of a man, so" saith God, " have I 
caused to cleave unto me the w^hole house of Israel 
and Judah," Jer. xiii. 11. This is so generally owned 
to be the business of religion, that Plato calls it the 
soul's union to God, and he describes his philosopher, 
to be one akin to truth, and the end of philosophy to be 
assimilation to God, so far as is possible;^ yea, not 
only is this in act but in habit, by a propensity of the 
soul to God and goodness ; even as there is in our eyes 

* Condimentum vitos. + Inter impios non est amicitia. 

t Mai. iv. 6. Isa. xi. 6. || Tit. iii. 2, 3. James iii. 17, 18. 

§ ^nyytvrjQ Trjg uXiiVdag. ojJio'Kjjaig Tio ^ec^ Kara, to 

^vvarhv. — Plalo, in TiincEO. 


a congenial kind of cognation or similitude to the light, 
which renders the contemplation thereof very pleasing ; 
so it is between the mind and truth, the subject must 
bear some proportion to the object. Holy souls can 
only be united to a holy God ; " evil dvvells not with 
him ; the throne of iniquity hath no fellowship with 
him ; but the pure in heart shall see God, and the up- 
right shall dwell in his presence."* Now this joining 
to the Lord is most properly by covenant ; " Let us 
join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant, 
that shall not be forgotten," Jer. 1. 5. O blessed con- 
junction, that lays the foundation of eternal communion ! 
" He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit." f As 
there is an ineffable unity of the three persons in the 
glorious Trinity, and an hypostatical union of two na- 
tures in one person, t so there is a mystical union of 
Christ and believers, as head and members make one 
body ; they are actuated by the same Spirit of 
Christ, yet this union destroyeth not their personal in- 
dividuality, nor doth it make them Christ, as tlie 
plants live by the sun beams, yet are not the sun ; 
and though we cannot comprehend this union, yet 
certainly there is such a close conjunction, see 1 Cor. 
xii. 12, 13. 

This joining to the Lord by personal covenanting, 
I am to insist upon from the text under hand. I shall 
not spend time needlessly to shew v/ho was the pen- 
man of this Psalm, whether Asaph or David ? when, 
or upon what occasion it was penned ? whether, when 
the angel of the Lord appeared and appointed the habita- 
tion of the ark, 1 Cliron. xxi. 18, 22; or what time the 
judgment so magnificently described must commence ? 
whether it has respect to the prophet's present convic- 

* Psal. V. 4. xciv. 20. I\Iatt. v. 8. Psal. cxl. 13. 

t 1 Cor. vi. 17. X ^ Joh" V. 7- Isa. vii. 14. 


tion of what he describes, or the appearance of the 
Messiah, or the solemn day of judgment at last, or all 
these? Mai. iii. 2. Acts xvii. 31. 

The design of the Psalm is, partly to reprove and 
protest against the common miscarriage of professors 
of religion, who satisfy their own consciences, and 
fancy they please God with external and ceremonial 
performances, but neglect "the most necessary, and 
fundamental duties of piety, justice and charity ; partly 
to instruct men concerning the nature of God's accept- 
able worship; partly to prepare the Israelites for, 
and tacitly to warn them of that change of their wor- 
ship by the Messiah, and abolition of legal sacrifices, 
which God appointed not for the people's perpetual 
use, or because he had a necessity for them himself; 
for the time of reformation would, and did change 
priesthood, officers and orders, sacraments and church 
affairs, and put all things into a new garb and mould ; 
to this most commentators apply this Psalm, and 
*' rightly," saith I^Iollerus, " according to my judgment," 
and I find few dissent from it ; Stephen's whole apo- 
logy. Acts vii, argues the same very strenuously, that 
since such ceremonial worship was not instituted when 
Abraham was called, and was omitted mostly in the 
wilderness, therefore it was not principally intended, 
but secondarily, and for a season, and should have its 
period in gospel days. 

The context presents us with a magnificent preamble, 
and introduction to this solemn judgment ; represented 
in a poetical style, v/herein we have : — 

1. The tribunal erected out of Zion, the perfection of 

2. The glorious Judge, our God shall come — a fire 
shall devour before him ; alluding to his awful ap- 
pearance on mount Sinai. 


3. The witnesses are summoned, he calls the earth 
from sun-rising to sun-setting, to be spectators and 
witnesses of his righteous procedure. 

4. The persons concerned, good and bad, gracious 
souls or wretched delinquents ; " He shall call to the 
heavens above, and to the earth that he may judge his 
people," ver. 4. Heaven must send down holy souls, 
earth must yield up bodies out of its repositories, and 
heil must'produce damned spirits to stand before God's 
splendid tribunal.* 

5. Here is the general commission to God's officers 
to bring forth all the seed of Adam ; as if he had said, 
Go ye angels, summon and fetch them to my tribunal. 
These are sent " with a great sound of a trumpet, and 
shall gather together his elect from the four winds, 
from one end of heaven to the other." f 

6. We have the trial of the malefactors, and con- 
vincing evidence of God's dealings with the sons of 
men : answering their cavils from ver. 0, to ver. 22. 

7. The sentence is passed, judgment also threatened, 
and will be certainly executed without repentance, 
verse 22. 

To come closer to the words, which are a descrip- 
tion of the persons who shall make their solemn ap- 
pearance before this glorious tribunal. 

The main query is, who are these saints ? Some 
say the Levites, because he designs to abrogate the 
legal sacrifices ; others say, the merciful ones, well 
doers, either actively, those that do good, or passively, 
those to whom he does good, so the word is taken, Psal. 
Ixxxvi. 2. The Israelites are certainly meant by this word, 
saints, because they had made a covenant with hhn by 
sacrifice; but whether it be sincere worshippers, or 
common formal professors it is disputed. Some think 
* 1 Thess. iv. 16. Isa. xxvi. 19. Rev. xx. 13. t Matt. xxiv. .31. 


it is the whole body of the people of Israel, good and 
bad, sinners and hypocrites ; they are all called saints, 
because they were all by profession a holy people, de- 
voted to God ; * others think that by an irony they 
are so denominated, intimating how unworthy they 
were of that name, as the master called the unworthy 
guest, friend ; f others think this is a notable convic- 
tion of them, and evidence against them to aggravate 
their present apostacy, since God had separated them 
from all nations of the earth, to be a peculiar people 
to himself; yea, they had solemnly and frequently de- 
voted themselves to God, as his faithful servants. Oh 
lamentable degeneracy ! 

But I am more disposed to think it refers to real 
saints, sanctified souls, upright-hearted worshippers. 

1. Because both are described and distinguished in 
this Psalm ; the godly by " offering unto God thanks- 
giving, and paying their vows to the Most High," ver. 
14 ; that is the most welcome sacrifice, a verbal, cor- 
dial, and sincere gratitude ; a heart flaming on God's 
altar with heavenly praises, and paying not only cere- 
monial but moral vows, these are preferred to all sa- 
crifices, as this and other scriptures testify, t 

2. Because this agrees Math the context and design 
of the Psalm, which demonstrates the invalidity and 
insignificancy of all their sacrifices, except therewith 
they made a solemn covenant with God. Take the 

sense of the text in this paraphrase, as if it were, 

I the great Jehovah, being about to judge the world, 
give out my orders to angels, to bring forth my sanc- 
tified ones, the king's seed, in order to their solemn 
coronation, and though they have been scorned by a 
company of formalists, that pleased themselves in pom- 
pous and ceremonial worship, and imagine they please 

* Deut. xiv. 2. t Matt. xxii. 12. X Psal. Ixix. 30, 31. 


me with their legal sacrifices ; these my saints by faith 
looked beyond the offering to the antitype Jesus Christ, 
the substance which these shadows represented, they 
vowed their souls and bodies to me as well as bulls 
and goats, and took me for their God in all their 
attendance on me, and I take them as consecrated 
to me ; they stayed not at the outside and cir- 
cumstantials, but minded the essentials of religion, and 
truly that is the chief thing in my estimation ; my 
precept was, " Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, him 
shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and 
swear by his name;"* this was the chief command- 
ment. " I spake not so much to their fathers, concern- 
ing burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as obedience to my 
commands;"! my saints have chiefly minded this, and 
not left the other undone, and I approve of them, 
bring them now to me, who have in all their services 
"engaged their hearts to approach unto me;"i these 
are the worshippers that I seek, " that worship me in 
spirit and truth ;"|| these I purpose to crown with 
glory ; this, this, (I would have you know) is the pro- 
per nature, use, and end of ordinances. Sacrifices 
were never instituted for themselves, but to be signs 
and seals of the covenant betwixt God and his people, 
as evidences of their gratitude to me, and means to 
convince them of their guilt, and liability to death, 
and so lead them to the Lamb of God, who by his im- 
molation and satisfaction taketh away the sins of the 
world ; ^ and when once in the fulness of time the 
covenant is confirmed by the blood of Christ, you may 
expect the abolition of all legal sacrifi.ces. 

The doctrines that this text holds forth for our in- 
struction are these : — 

* Deut. X. 20. t Jer. vii. 22—24. J Jer. xxx. 21. 

II John iv. 23. § John i. 29. 


1. Doct. That God's people are real saints. Be- 
lievers are sanctified ; the relative change is attended 
with a real change; 1 Cor. vi. 11, "Such were some 
of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye 
are justified." There are saints by calling, as the church 
of Corinth, being sanctified (or dedicated) to God in 
Christ Jesus, called to be saints,* by way of profession, 
before men in the judgment of charity ; but these are 
really sanctified, saints before God, real members of 
Christ, such of whom the apostle speaks, 1 Thess. iii. 
13, " To the end he may stablish your hearts, un- 
blameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at 
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, with all his 
saints ;" those only are properly saints that shall be 
found to be saints .at that solemn day. 

2. Doct. God hath special seasons for calling his 
saints together to him. 

(1.) There is a congregating, and gathering of saints 
to God by saving conversion ; Gen. xlix. 10, " To him 
shall the gathering of the people be." The Gentiles 
shall be converted, and united all in one body, which is 

(2.) In point of visible communion of saints in the 
ordinances of God. Tlius our Lord gathers his lambs 
in his arms, brings them by flocks into folds for mutual 
society with each other, and with God.f 

(3.) In times of danger to secure them from evils 
ready to seize on them ; I would have gathered them, 
saith Christ, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her 
wings ;:t: by conversion first, then for protection. 

(4.) There is a great and solemn day of gathering 
together the whole world ; this is emphatically called 
a gathering together, and particularly this of the 
saints gathering, 2 Thess. ii. 1, " Now we beseech you 
* 1 Cor. i. 2. t Isa. xl. 11. Ezek. xxxiv. 13. % Matt, xxiii. 37. 


bretliern, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and 
by our gathering together unto him."* O blessed syna- 
gogue ! O brilliant congregation ! That indeed v/ill be 
"a general assembly, and church of the first-born, 
whose names are written in heaven ;"f those that sleep 
in Jesus, our Lord will bring with him, and they that 
are alive shall be caught up to him in the air, and both 
shall ever be with the Lord. O solemn day ! august 
meeting ! there v/as never such a meeting, either for 
quality, or number. 

[i.] Their quality. They areall saints, not nomi- 
nally, but really — not merely by profession, but by prin- 
ciple, practice, and spiritual relation to God ; hypocrites 
shall not crowd in among them, nor appear before him, 
they are called, and chosen, and faithful, every one 
that is written among the living in Jerusalem ; the 
tares will be cast out, and only the wheat gathered into 
his garner ; the bad fish rejected, and only the good 
put into vessels ;t there shall enter into that city no- 
thing that defileth, person or thing. || O what a glo- 
rious congregation of saints viall that be ! " They shall 
all be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white ; for the 
fine linen is the righteousness of saints."^ O spotless 
society of holy souls ! 

[ii.] Their number. As there is a hundred and forty 
fom* thousand of the tribes of Israel, there is besides 
" a erreat multitude, which no man could number, of 
all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues."^ 
Daniel saith, " Ten thousand times ten thousand stood 
before him."** It is true, they are now but a little 
flock compared with the multitude of the wicked 

"^ 'ETTKrvvajwyTig Itt avTov. + Heb. xii.23. ITiiess. Iv. 14,17- 
± Job xiii. 16. Isa. iv. 3. IMatt. iii. 12. xiii. 41, 48. 
II Rev. xxi. 27. § Rev. xix. 8. 

^ Rev. vii. 9. ** Dan. vii. 10. 


around tliem, but absolutely considered by themselves 
they shall be many, when they shall be all congregated 
that have lived from the beginning to the end of the 
world ; there will be no want of good company, yet there 
will be room enough for them in that city above. 

3. Doct. God deals with man by way of covenant. 
This hath been his manner with mankind ever since 
there was man on the face of the earth ; when God 
had created the first man Adam, he entered into cove- 
nant with him, which was a covenant of friendship,* 
and gave him faculties, and ability to perform perfect, 
personal, and perpetual obedience ; but he violating 
that covenant, God again entered into another cove- 
nant called a new covenant, or covenant of reconcilia- 
tion,! contracted betwixt an offended God, and fallen 
man ; these are commonly distinguished into " the co- 
venant of works, and the covenant of grace ;" and it 
may be worth while in a few v/ords, to explain the 
difference between them, and the rather because, as 
Luther saith, the whole scripture, and the knowledge 
of theology depend upon the right distinguishing of 
law and gospel ; t and he earnestly admonisheth minis- 
ters to study the difference between the two covenants. 
The work is attended with difficulty, but I find some- 
thing hinted to my hand in Dr. Ames's Med. Tlieol. 
lib. i. chap. 24. pag. 103, which I shall translate and 

1. These two covei^ants differ \_genej'e] in kind, 
the former covenant being a covenant of friendship, 
between persons at amity, the infinite Creator, and 
Adam his perfect creature, to manifest man's depend- 
ance on God, and try his obedience ; but now the case 

* Foedus amicltiae. t Foedus reconciliationis. 

\ Uni versa scriptura totiusque theologiae cognitio pendet in 
tecta cognitioue legis et evangelii. — Liith. Tom. i. lat. 355. 


is altered, man is fallen, and bath offended his sove- 
reisfn. This second covenant is intended to conciliate 
and establish a new made friendship between these 
parties at variance ; this second covenant sets all at 
rights between an offended God, and offending man. 

2. They differ \^J'uudamenfo] in the foundation of 
both ;■* as to the former, though divine decrees did de- 
fine it, yet there was not such a foundation laid for the 
first, as there was for the second covenant, for with 
respect to this covenant of grace or reconciliation, it 
was founded upon an antecedent covenant, which 
divines call a covenant of redemption, or a glorious 
transaction betwixt the Father and the Son, from all 
eternity, ordering what the Son should be and do on 
man's behalf, in the human nature, and what assist- 
ance and recompense he should receive from the 
Father ; there were mutual promises before the world 
began. Tit. i. 2. 2 Tim. i. 9, 10. The whole gospel 
covenant is a glorious transcript of this blessed briginal. 

3. They differ \_pr}}iCfpio~\ in the principle, or 
moving cause, for in the former God acts as a wise 
and righteous governor, who did consult and contrive 
a way to maintain his government, and keep man in an 
humble subjection. In this latter, free grace and 
mercy principall)^ take place, free grace was the motive 
in God's heart that engaged him to re-enter into this 
covenant. It is true, in the former there was grace 
conspicuous, when God condescended to deal so fami- 
liarly with his creature, and render himself so amiable, 
so amicable, and approachable by so mean a creature 
as man, so much his inferior, yea, and promise a re- 
ward to man's obedience, this was kindness ; but free 
grace abounded in the latter, for it is mercy to a crea- 
ture in misery, the kindness and love [or philan- 
thropy] of God our Saviour transcendently shone 


forth or appeared — and its iiiftuences are shed on us 
abundantly, or poured out richly on lost mankind.* 
This covenant is nothing else but a compound of love 
and mercy. 

4. They differ \_efficiente^ m the efficient cause, in 
the management of the transaction on man's part ; in 
the former covenant there were two parties, though not 
without great disparity. Man was at first furnished 
with faculties and ability to enter into, and keep the cove- 
nant made with him ; but now fallen man is spiritually 
dead, and though still he retains his faculties, yet he 
hath lost the rectitude of them, and ability to perform 
his part of the conditions ; it is true the i^arties are 
still two, formally considered, yet if we consider the 
efficacy which secures the due performance of the terms, 
all lies on God's part ; who works in us the conditions, 
which he requires of us, as faith, repentance, and new 
obedience. The agent is man, the efficient cause of 
that agency is God's grace ; as in natural things we 
live and move, from God's providence ; so in spiritual 
things our holy actions proceed from his gracious influ- 
ence : as Augustin saitli, there are many good things 
that God doth in man, that man doth not, but there is no 
holy action that man doth, but God doth enable him 
to do it. f 

5. They differ [o/y/Vc/o] in the object. The chief 
object concerned in the first covenant was all mankind, 
(though it referred to Adam more immediately,) the first 
man being the root, spring, and representative head of 
all mankind. Adam was the first person vt'ith whom 
this covenant was made, yet it was not only personal, 
but comprehensive, and extended to all man's posterity, 

* Tit. iii. A, 6. 

t Nulla bona facit Dens in homine quae non facit homo, nulla 
vero facit homo quse non facit Deus ut faciat Aug. Etichir. 


therefore wLen lie violated that covenant, it was im- 
puted to us, his fault was our guilt ; " for in Adam all 
sinned," see Rom. v. 12, 16. But this second covenant 
is personal, it is contracted with individual souls ; it is 
true, the general grant is to ail, tlie proclamation is 
universal, ichosoever will^ it is offered promiscuously, 
but the saving benefits of this covenant reach no further 
with respect to persons at age, than those that by faith 
apply them,* by particularly laying hold of this blessed 
covenant ; it is only the seed, believers, heirs of the 
promise, children of the covenant,! that are sharers in 
it, Gal. iii. 22. 

6. The first covenant, and this new gospel covenant 
differ \iinater'ici\ in the matter, or good things promised, 
in the former God promised life only, " Do this and 
live ;" he did not promise continuance of life absolutely, 
but upon condition of man's obedience, nor yet his 
restitution in case he fell, for fall once, and fall finally, 
there is no recovery by virtue of that old covenant. 
But now by this gospel covenant, God promiseth many 
rich blessings which in this our fallen state are need- 
ful for us, as pardon of sin, reconciliation, adoption, 
sanctification, means of grace, daily supports, persever- 
ance, a cro\vn of glory ; God gives grace and glory by 
virtue of it, and what tends to both, and that immu- 
tably without failure or defectibility ; see Jer. xxxi. 34 
—36. xxxiii. 20, 21. Isa. liv. 9,' 10. 

7. They differ \conditionihus\ in the conditions of 
both ; indeed some say obedience is the condition on 
man's part under both covenants, but surely not the 
same obedience, the former required personal, perfect, 
absolute, and perpetual obedience to the commands, 
both moral and positive, without any deviation to the 
right-hand, or to the left, if he failed in the least punc- 

* Hab. ii. 4. t Heb. vi. 17- Acts iii. 25. Rom. iv. 16. 

ixTiionucTioy. - 17 

tilio, he was under the curse, Gal. iii. 10; and this obedi- 
ence must be performed by strength of grace received 
in his first creation ; since man was able to perform it, 
this condition was highly reasonable. But in the gos- 
I)el covenant the great condition is faith ; a free accept- 
ance of the offered grace, an unfeigned faith, which is 
not an antecedent condition to the making of the cove- 
nant, but subsequent, or intermediate for man's laying 
hold, and receiving the benefits thereof; yea, God pro- 
miseth and worketh what he requires ; all faith, repent- 
ance, and new obedience, are the gifts of free grace ;* 
grace doth all, Rom. iv. 16. 

8. They differ [effectis] in the effects of both. The 
former covenant sheweth what is just, fit, and meet to 
be done, but ministereth no strength, and therefore man 
that was under it did not actually keep it ; the first 
covenant never brought salvation to any one soul that 
was under it ; but now this gospel covenant is a quick- 
ening spirit, conferreth grace, assisteth all who are 
under it, and hath brought thousands to heaven, it 
never faileth of attaining the end, in its own nature it 
brings life and happiness, 2 Cor. iii. 6 — 9. Heb. vii. 
19. The former is a ministration of condemnation 
and death,! consequentially because man cannot keep 
it ; this other is a ministration of the Spirit, righteous- 
ness and salvation \X the former never saves, the latter 
never finally condemns, but always saves such as are 
sincerely, and perseveringly within the compass of it. 

9. They differ [acl/iincfo durationis~\ in the adjunct 
of duration. The former covenant is antiquated and 
superseded by the latter, and such as are within the 
new covenant, are " not under the law, but under grace," 
and so are "delivered from the curse of the law;" 

* Eph. ii. 8. Acts V. 31. Ezek. xi. 19, 20. 
f Peccatori mortifera. % Rom. viii. 2. 

VOI,. IV. C 


those are dead to the law, who arc married to Christ."* 
The new covenant is perpetual and unalterable, it 
shall continue to the end of time, as it commenced 
near the beginning of time, as it was designed be- 
fore all time ; " For ever, O Lord, thy word is set- 
tled jn heaven,"! it reacheth from eternity, and to 
all eternity ; it was laid in the eternal councils of God, 
before the world began, and will continue as to its 
efficacy, when there will be no world; God hath fixed 
this way of salvation, and v/ill not repent, or retract it. 1 
10. The old covenant and new differ \_S2:>onsore^ as 
to the admission of a sm'ety, the former had none, the 
latter hath; this indeed is the chief difference betwixt 
the two covenants. As to the former, the whole 
weight of this massy fabric of man's happiness was 
laid on man's shoulders, who though he was of a giant 
strength by creation, yet he was but a creature, and if 
God put no tnist in his servants, yea his angels he 
charged with folly, || how short must man needs be ? 
who though he was perfect in his kind, yet not immut- 
ably perfect, and to our sorrow we feel he lost that 
happiness ; but now Gt)d hath " laid help upon one 
that is mighty," J even the right hand of omnipotency 
hath strengthened him ; " I will preserve thee, saith 
God, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to 
stablish the earth." ^ This, this is the distinguishing 
characteristic of this glorious dispensation ; this forms 
the Jachin and Boaz of the house of God ; this only 
is the pearl of price that enricheth and adorneth the 
gold ring of the gospel covenant ; this rendereth God 
approachable by man ; this is the rainbow round about 
the throne ;** this is what rendereth the state of cove- 

* Rom. vi. 14. Gal. iii. 13. Rom. vii. 4. 

t Psal. cxix. 86, 89. t Psal. cxi. 9. || Job iv. 18. 

§ P.al. Ixxxix. 19, 20. II Isa. xlix. 8. " Rev. iv. 3, 


nanted souls safe and durable, and elevateth the second 
covenant so many degrees above the first : " By so 
much," saitli the apostle, " was Jesus made a surety of 
a better testament," Heb vii. 22 ; and therefore was it 
better, because it is in Jesus Christ, this better surety ; 
and now the flames of the burning mount are quenched, 
the piercing sword has lost its edge, the blackness, 
darkness, and tempests are removed ; Moses may draw 
near, and not exceedingly fear and quake;* people 
may endure that which is commanded, for it is ordain- 
ed in the hands of a mediator, f 

Here also this question might be agitated. Whether 
the covenant of grace be the same under the old testa- 
ment as imder the new ? 

A?isw. Divines generally conclude, that for sub- 
stance they are the same. 

The efficient cause, namely, God's free grace, in 
making a covenant with men, was the same; the condition 
the same, that is faith ; the design was the same, God's 
glory, and the good of souls ; yet there is a great differ- 
ence in the manner of administration, consisting in se- 
veral accidental, mutable circumstances. 

1. The old testament exhibited and promised salva- 
tion to those who believed in a mediator yet to come, 
we believe in the Messiah already come.| 

2. To them the gospel was darkly, to us clearly 

3. Temporal good things were more ordinarily pro- 
mised them, II our blessings are of a more spiritual 
nature. ^ 

4. The seals annexed to them were circumcision and 
the passover, to us baptism, and the Lord's supper. ^ 

• Heb. xii. 18—24. + Gal. iii. 19. 

t 1 Pet. i. 11, 12. Heb. ix. 11. |1 Deut. xxviii. 

§ Eph. i. 3. 1 Cor. x. 4. IF Acts xv. 28. 

c 2 


5. Tlie ceremonies of old, were numerous, costly, 
obscure, and burdensome, compared with ours. 

6. In the old testament, the Holy Ghost was im- 
parted sparingly, in the new abundantly.*' 

7. The covenant of old, was confined to the Jewish 
nation, now is it extended to Gentiles, f 

8. In the Je^vish pedagogy, the spirit of bondage 
j^revailed, in gospel times a child-like disposition dis- 
covers itself. :j: 

9. The law and prophets were till John, but now 
a change of dispensation has taken place. || 

But I shall not spend time in repeating M'hat you 
may find in so many treatises upon the covenants. 

4. Doct. That God appoints his saints to make a 
covenant with him by sacrifice. 

Those that have made a covenant with me by sacri- 
fice [de sacrijicio, or de sacrijicandi ratione] ^ in re- 
gard to sacrifice, or according to the law, rite and order 
of sacrificing, that is, the act of the saint's covenanting 
with God, and v»'ill duly observe God's order in sacri- 
ficing, as they did, Neh. x. 29, 32, 35—39 ; and this 
is one part of a Christian's covenant, to bring all his 
offerings to the Lord, according to his own institution. 

By sacrifice, so our translation, upon a sacrifice,^! 
or whensoever you bring your sacrifice, then must you 
covenant with God ; others with a sacrifice,** you 
must join covenant and sacrifice together ; others read 
it, by a sacrifice, ff as the means, manner, and way of 
covenanting; others beyond the sacrifice, ±| esteeming 
the covenant more necessary, and of greater value than 
sacrifice, or not resting merely in outward sacrifices, 

« Isa. xliv. 3. John vii. 38. t Eph. ii. 14. j Gal. iv. 1—7. 
II Luke xvi. 16. Heb. vii. 12, 18. § T\l\ i'7y de sacvificio. 
% Super sacrificio, i. e. adhibito sacrificio. 
•* Cum sacrificio. tt Per sacrificium. 


but going beyond, even to covenanting to be the Lord's, 
and reachine: after communion with God in ordinances : 
all these come to one thing, Psal. xl. 6, " Sacrifice and 
offering thou didst not desire," that is, in comparison 
with a heart devoted to God, and covenanting with 
him. God is not pleased with any sacrifices we bring, 
except we present ourselves to him. Sincere saints 
satisfy not themselves with external sacrifices to God, 
except they entertain and meet with God therein. It 
was a famous saying of St. Augustin, " O Lord, thy 
gifts please not me, except thou give me thyself, and 
nothing that I can bring thee, will be acceptable to 
thee, except I devote myself to thee." Cain's offering 
may seem as good as Abel's, only Abel brought faith 
in Christ, and gave himself to God in the new cove- 
nant. In the covenant of works, the person is accepted 
for the work's sake : in the covenant of grace the work 
is accepted for the person's sake ; if the soul be devoted 
to God and accepted through the Mediator, a mean 
duty is graciously received and made welcome ; but 
the costliest services are not regarded, if coming from 
an enemy to God, for unto such God saith here, " Psal. 
1. 16, " But unto the wicked God saith, what hast thou 
to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest 
take my covenant in thy mouth ?" as if he had said, 
thou wicked hypocrite, thou thinkest to satisfy me 
fully with sacrifices, and please me with thousands of 
rams, or ten thousands of rivers of oil ;* thou art mis- 
taken, I am not so well pleased with mere sacrifices, 
burnt offerings, or calves of a year old, these are not 
the maia of my requirements, I have other things in 
mine eye,f thou dost not hear me reprove thee for want 
of sacrifices, this is not the principal accusation or 
charge I have against thee, for though thou hast often 
• Micah vi. 6, 7. t Psal. 1. 8. 


omitted these, yet hast thou more failed in moral 
duties, and then thought by these offerings to make me 
amends, and appease my wrath, for the errors of thy 
life, and thinkest by this means to pacify the outcries 
of thy self-condemning conscience. I now tell thee 
wh»t my real saints do, whom I accept, and will 
gather to me in that solemn day, to enjoy myself, these 
do according to my appointment, make a covenant 
with me by sacrifice, that is, they did at first enter into, 
and they do daily renew their covenant with me by 

As preparatory to my main design of examining a 
believer's personal covenanting with God, I shall say 
something on this inquiry. — ^\\Tiat is covenanting with 
God by sacrifice ? 



In answer to this inquiry, I shall very briefly mention 
four sorts of sacrifices, in M^hich I find by God's own 
command and with his approbation, God's children have 
entered into, and renewed their covenant with the Lord: 
namely, typical, providential, evangelical, and eucha- 
ristical sacrifices. 

1. In the old testament there were typical sacrifices, 
which were types and figiu'es of Christ about to come 
in the flesh, Heb. x. 1, "The law having a shadow of 
good things to come, and not the very image of the 


things, can never with those sacrifices which they offer- 
ed year by year continually, make the comers thereunto 
perfect." Now the typical sacrifices of the old testa- 
ment were of two sorts, patriarchal and Mosaical, in 
both of these there was covenanting by sacrifice. 

(1.) As to patriarchal sacrifices, we have a famous 
instance of a covenant between God and Abraham by 
sacrifice, in Gen. xv. 9 — 18, "In that same day the 
Lord made a covenant with Abram," in that day, and 
in that mode of sacrificing : for the heifer, she-goat, 
ram, &c. ver. 9, were taken [/« usum vel symholum 
Jbsderisl for the use, symbol, or pledge of covenanting 
between them; and though Abraham's sacrificing was 
before the law, yet doubtless it was a type of Christ, and 
60 was the ram caught in the thicket, and offered in- 
stead of Isaac,* and they were afterwards prescribed in 
the Levitical law ; dividing them in the midst, was a 
rite used in making covenants, Jer. xxxiv. 18, that the 
parties covenanting might pass between those parts, 
and so testify their union and participation in one and 
the same sacrifice, as one, yet divided, and so the passage 
saith, ver. 17, a burning lamp passed between those 
pieces ; God is called a consuming fire, and both smoke 
and fire are elsewhere mentioned, as signs of God's ap- 
pearance;! and in Jeremiah there is mention of cutting 
the calf in twain and passing between the parts thereof, 
a solemnity used in making a covenant, to strike the 
greater terror into the spirits of such as should after- 
wards violate that covenant, as if it were said, let him 
be cut asunder, let his soul and body be separated, let 
the members of his body be divided, as this slain beast 
who shall violate this sacred oath ; hence comes the 
word to cut a covenant, Psal. Ixxxix. 3, " I have made 
or cut a covenant with my chosen ;" this is indeed the 

• Gen. xxii. 2—18. t Ileb. xii. 29. Exod. iii. 2. xix. 9, 18. 


phrase in the words of my text, " those that have made 
or cut a covenant with me by sacrifice,"* as Abram did 
who divided those creatures in the midst, and passed 
between them : so both God and Abram did mutually 
confirm the covenant by sacrificing. 

(2j) There were Mosaical sacrifices, wherein Moses 
and the ancient Jews covenanted with God ; their sacri- 
fices were many, there was their burnt-offering, meat- 
offering, peace-offering, sin-offering, trespass-offering, 
and the offerings of consecration : f all these were appen- 
dices of gospel grace, types of Christ and the covenant of 
grace ; wherein the saints under the old testament made, 
renewed, and confirmed their covenant with God, ac- 
cording to God's institution. I shall only select one 
instance, it is in Exod. xxiv. 3 — 8, the people say, ver. 
3, " All the words which the Lord hath said, we will 
do ;" this they did readily and rashly promise, as not 
being sensible of the great comprehensiveness, strictness 
and spirituality of God's laW, or their own weakness. 
The altar represented God in Christ, the twelve pillars, 
the twelve tribes of Israel; ver. 4, these are the parties 
and young men offered burnt-ofterings, and sacrificed 
peace-offerings of oxen unto the Lord, ver. 5, here 
were the Hoia, and Shelamim, burnt-offerings, and 
peace-offerings : and IMoses took half of the blood, and 
put it in basins, and half of the blood he sprinkled on 
the altar, to signify that God was appeased and atoned 
by this blood, as it represented the blood of Jesus ; 
another text saith, he sprinkled it upon the book, to 
shew that the law was satisfied, and justice pacified by 
our dear Lord Jesus ;i then, ver. 8, he sprinkled the 

* nlT ^by T)"'"!! TTIID Percutientes pactum meum super sa- 

t Hola, IMincha, Shelamim^ Hataah, Asham, Milluim. 
t Heb. ix. 19. 


blood upon the people, that is, upon the twelve pillars 
that represented the twelve tribes, or on the twelve 
youths, the first-born that sacrificed, or on the elders 
of the people, or on the people that drew near: this sig- 

First, their ratification of the the covenant on their 
parts, and an implicit wishing of the efiiision of their 
own blood if they did not keep it. 

"Secondly, the sprinkling of their consciences with 
the blood of Christ,* and their obtaining redemption, 
justification, and access to God through it alone ; and 
thus it is called the blood of the covenant, that is, by 
which the covenant was made and confirmed,! so it is 
usually called in other scriptures ; and betwixt these 
sprinklings on the altar and people, Moses took the book 
of the covenant and read in the audience of the people, 
then was God's part declared, and they said, " All that 
the Lord hath said, will we do, and be obedient," ver. 
7, here was the people's voluntary consent. This is 
an express platform of the mutual covenant made by 
sacrifice ; this was the first solemn covenant between 
God and Israel, often repeated and renewed afterwards, 
which for brevity I omit : this is making a covenant by 
typical sacrificing. 

2. There is in scripture mention made of a providen- 
tial sacrifice, that is, some remarkable act of providence 
whereby some men's lives are taken away by slaughter, 
mediately by man, or immediately by the Lord himself, 
and this either, of the wicked, or of the godly. 

(1.) Of wicked men, the church's enemies, Jer. xlvi. 
10, " The Lord God of hosts hath a sacrifice in the 
north-country," that is, of the Egyptians ; justice shall 
make a terrible slaughter of his incurable enemies ; this 
is called a sacrifice, because the power and justice of 
* Heb. ix. H. t Matt. xxvi. 28. Luke xxii. 20- 


God are eminently glorified : by such a sacrifice as this 
there is a covenant made sometimes betwixt God and 
souls : hence that lasting covenant of the priesthood 
granted to Phinehas and his posterity, for his being 
zealous for God's glory, in slaying Zimri and Cosbi, 
Num.. XXV. 8, 12. Phinehas was not a private but pub- 
lic person, and did it upon a divine command: "Where- 
fore, behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace," 
saith God ; as a happy effect of this heroic action, 
whereby he made peace between God and his people, 
and partly with regard to the principal end of his office 
as priest, which was to mediate between God and man, 
and so obtain reconciliation ; I confess the text saith, 
*' it was the covenant of an everlasting priesthood," 
ver. 13, but this proves what I say, that a covenant 
may be made by such a sacrifice. Blood shed in God's 
cause, and upon a divine call, was so far from polluting 
him, and thereby casting him out of his priesthood, 
that it was a means to confirm him in it, God calls this 
a covenant of life and peace.* O what security, seren- 
ity, satisfaction and communion with God had the faith- 
ful priests under the law, and spiritual priests in the 
gospel, by virtue of this confirmed covenant ! And 
this act of justice is called a consecration, Exod. xxxii. 
29, " Consecrate yourselves to day to the Lord, every 
man upon his son, and upon his brother, that he may 
bestow upon you a blessing this day :" the word is Jill 
your JiandSy that is consecration: thus they offered 
themselves in a difficult service for God, with the hazard 
of their lives, therefore it was their oblation or conse- 
cration of themselves to God, and though it might seem 
a barbarous, yet was really an acceptable work to God ; 
as the destruction of God's enemies is called a sacrifice :f 
but this is very rare. 

• Mai. ii. 5. t Isa. xxxiv. 6. £zek. xxxix. 17' 

SACiiiricES ritEscRiBi:D. 27 

(2.) There is another ^ort of providential sacrifice, and 
that is martyrdom; when God's children give their lives 
for the testimony of the truth, resist unto blood, over- 
come by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word cf 
their testimony, and love not their lives unto the death,* 
this is called a sacrifice, Phil. ii. 17, "yea, and if I be 
offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I 
joy and rejoice with you all :" the word (nriv^ofiai sig- 
nifies a being poured out as a drink-offering,j- which 
was an appurtenance to the meat-offering ; and was ne- 
ver offered alone, but in conjunction with the slain 
sacrifices : for what signifies our blood without Christ. 
This is a precious and blessed sacrifice, whereby God's 
children do seal the covenant with their blood : Mai- 
monides expounds my text of those that confirm the 
covenant of God with their death, saying,:]: that they 
chose rather to die than suffer themselves to profane 
the name of God ; now this is every man's duty. It is 
a most certain truth, that none go to heaven but mar- 
tyrs, either [yoto, or jacto,^ in vow and resolution, or 
in performance or execution : for such as will not in a 
firm purpose of heart and preparation of soul forego all 
worldly enjoyments, and life itself for Christ's sake, 
cannot be his disciples : truth itself affirms this, Luke, 
xiv. 26. The soldiers that will not venture and wil- 
lingly lose their lives for our dear Lord that laid 
down his life for us, shall be discarded his service; this, 
this is a noble way of covenanting by sacrifice; thousands 
have gone in this way to the celestial Canaan. O how 
blessed a thing it is to mount to heaven in a fiery cha- 

* Rev. xii. 11. 2 Tim. iv. 6. Si pro libamento offerar — Beza, 
f Num. XV. 5. Num. xxviii. 7- 

+ ]\Iori praeoptantes quam ut se ad prophanandum Dei nomen 
adigi patiantiu*. 


riot ! The martyr said,* O Christ, in flames of fire, 
this soul I offer thee ; here is a brave offering, to sacri- 
fice all that is dear to us, to the rage of the worst of 
men, rather than prostitute conscience to the pleasure 
of men ; this is a sacred tie, a strong band that is twist- 
ed wifh the saint's blood, and consecrated by the blood 
of Christ. This is the next sort of covenanting by sa- 
crifice, and is no more than what God sometimes call- 
etli for, and saints chearfully submit to ; consult Acts, 
XX. 24. xxi. 13. Psal. xliv. 22. Rom. viii. 35, 36. 
Rev. ii. 13. vi. 9, H. 

3. There is an evangelical, ilastical sacrifice, which 
is Christ's meritorious death upon the cross, to satisfy 
the justice of God for the sins of men. This is the 
proper evangelical sacrifice; Eph. v. 2, " Walk in love 
as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself 
for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet- 
smelling savour ;" this answers to all the types of the 
old testament, they all centre in Christ, they ceased on 
his once " appearing to put away sin by the sacrifice 
of himself ; by one offering he hath perfected for ever 
them that are sanctified ; this is the blood of the 
new testament, or covenant, that was shed for many 
for the remission of sins;"f this blood speaks good 
things to us, it declares that prophecies are accom- 
plished, shadows vanished, promises confirmed, law 
satisfied, Satan nonsuited, sins pardoned, and souls 
saved that actually enter into covenant with God by 
faith in Christ ; and though sacrifices have varied as to 
external administration, yet the covenant is the same in 
all generations, and Christ is that " Lamb slain from 
the beginning of the world.":j: As to the virtue of his 
efficacious sufferings, all providential sufferings look to 

" Hanc animam in flammis ofFero, Christe, tibi. 

t Heb. ix. 26. x. 14. Matt. xxvi. 28. t Rev. xiii. P. 


this, for if a man give his body to be burnt, and that 
sacrifice be not salted with Christ's merits, it will 
neither be acceptable to God nor available to himself; 
as this one only sacrifice terminates all typical, so it 
consecrates all providential sacrifices. And this blood 
confirms the covenant made to the fathers, and to us, 
therefore is Christ called the covenant of the people, 
as he only is the bond to unite God and man ; * hence 
also he is called the mediator of the covenant, the 
angel, the surety, f that undertakes for both jjarties, 
and by his blood makes them friends, yea at once he 
reconciles both Jews and Gentiles unto God in one 
body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby ; | 
thus the covenant of grace foundeth a universal church, || 
purchased and sealed by the blood of Christ ; Zech. ix. 
11, " As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant," 
or whose covenant is by blood, " I have sent forth thy 
prisoners out of the pit, wherein there is no water." 
Blood brings expiation to justice, and salvation from 
hell ; this is the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh bet- 
ter things than the blood of Abel ; ^ it is true, this 
blood crieth out against us as Abel's blood, for revenge, 
if unbelievers, but saveth us by satisfying punitive 
justice, as api)lied by saving faith, so that we have re- 
demption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.^ 
Observe this, that whatever covenants you make with 
God, and not in Christ, they are void and insignificant. 
Your persons must be united to Christ, and your cove- 
nants must be ratified by this blessed sacrifice, or they 
find no acceptance with God, and will be of no advan- 
tage to you ; " For our Lord Jesus hath once suffered 
for sin, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us 

• Isa. xlii. 6. xlix. 8. 

t Heb. vii. 22. viii. 6. Mai. iii. 1. 

X Eph. ii. 16. II Dan. ix. 2^. § Heb. xii. 24. f Eph. i. 7. 


to God," that is, by covenanting or intercourse w-ith 
him, " being put to death in the flesh, but quickened 
by the Spirit," 1 Pet. iii. 18, 19. 

4. The last sort of sacrifices, are eucharistical sacri- 
ficesj* or thank-offerings, grateful remembrances of 
God's kindnesses; there is no expiatory offering for 
sin properly, but Jesus Christ, who is the end of the 
law, and antitype of all the types of old : there were 
also testificatory sacrifices, such as were symbols of 
divine worship, testimonies of man's gratitude and 
obedience ; for under this notion of thankfulness must 
be comprized, not only verbal praises, but all that duty 
which God commandeth, and a Christian performeth : 
hence some have entitled the practical part of divinity, 
treatises on gratitude, or thankfulness, for all that a 
Christian doth God-wards, is the debt of gratitude, 
and yet God is pleased to call it all by the name of 
sacrifice ; Psal. cvii. 22, " Let them sacrifice the sacri- 
fices of thanksgiving :" these are minchae or the meat- 
offerings, and shelamim the peace-offerings, returns of 
gratitude for mercies received; and there were also 
vows and free-will-offerings, the difference between 
which is this, that in the free-will-offering, the wor- 
shippers did present the thing itself unto the Lord, 
but in a vow they did first promise it, being, it may 
be, not in a capacity to perform it, at that time, as 
Jonah in the whale's belly. 

This last sort of gospel sacrifices I shall reduce to 
these four particulars : — namely, a broken heart, self- 
(JedicatioHs, acts of charity, and prayer and praues. 

I shall briefly consider, both how these may be called 
sacrifices, and how real saints make a covenant with 
God by these sacrifices ; which will be introductory to 
that which I chiefly intend. 


(1.) A broken heart, Psal. li. 17, "The sacrifices of 
God are a broken spirit ;" one broken heart stands in 
the room of many costly sacrifices ; a heart grieved for 
sin, sensible of God's dishonour and displeasure is more 
valued by the Lord, than a house full of sacrifices, he 
had said, ver. lii, " thou desirest not sacrifice," which 
is not to be understood absolutely, but comparatively ; 
a tender, melting, contrite heart, is more acceptable 
than all other offerings. " My son, give me thy heart,"* 
saith God ; mind, will, conscience, and affections must 
be entirely offered to God, the whole heart, yet a bro- 
ken heart; undivided, yet grieved under the guilt of sin ; 
a sincere, prompt heart, yet a rent, relenting heart ;f 
bring that to God, bind that close to him in covenant ; 
a melted heart is fittest for impressions,! yea, a heart of 
flesh is a great branch of the new covenant, Ezek. 
xxxvi. 26 : this is the most proper to write God's laws 
on, this only will be cast into a gospel-mould, he that 
bears his broken heart in the hand of saving faith, and 
offers it to God through Christ, hath made a covenant 
with God by sacrifice, then will our Lord bind up the 
wounds of this broken-hearted sinner ; God will dwell 
with this man of a contrite spirit, 1| to such a one will 
he look, when he overlooks others, such only will enter, 
and be received into covenant with God ; a melt- 
ing broken heart only, passes in the channel of the new 
covenant, God-wards. 

(2.) Self-dedication : not only is a broken heart, but 
the whole body a sacrifice, Rom. xii. 1, " I beseech you 
therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you 
present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable 
unto God, which is your reasonable service:" as if he 
had said, I beseech you as you have a due sense of 

• Prov. xxiii. 26. t Joel ii. 12, 13. 

+ 2 Cor. iii. 3. Rom. vi. I7. |1 Isa. ki. 1. Ivii. 15. kvi. 2. 


Christ's offering himself a sacrifice for our sins, and of 
your salvation by grace, as Gentiles who have also been 
delivered from legal bondage, and costly sacrifices of 
beasts, that you dedicate yourselves wholly to God, in 
entire obedience to divine commands, this is an impor- 
tant and blessed sei'vice of God : " yield your members 
as servants to righteousness, unto holiness ;"* this is 
nothing else but the covenanting of which I speak, 
every obligation laid upon us by God, calls for a fresh 
exhibition of ourselves unto the Lord, using our mem- 
bers not as om* own, but the Lord's; mortifying earth- 
ly members, beating down the body, and keeping it in 
subjection to the soul,f and soul and body for the Lord; 
that the whole man may be regulated and ordered ac- 
cording to scripture rules. O blessed bond ! O holy 
sacrifice ! Jews offered a dead beast. Christians bring 
a living offering ; theirs was passive, this is active : the 
living soul animating these useful organs brings hof/i 
to the Former of all things : the body is not slain for 
God, yet is devoted to God. The sacrifice is entire, 
actuated not only by a rational soul but by a spiritual 
principle; the body lives, yet the deeds of the body die; 
the man converseth amongst men as others, yet lives to 
God; here is the mystery of this blessed covenanting, 
here is the marrow of this divine sacrificing. 

(3.) Acts of charity: these are a true evangelical sacri- 
fice, Heb. xiii. 16, "But to do good, and to communi- 
cate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well 
pleased ;" the former word Ivrroida, doing well, re- 
fers to our actions ; Koivuivia communicating refers 
to money, clothes, meat, to be distributed to the neces- 
sities of saiuts,± and is employed, Rom. xv. 26, when 
the apostle speaks of making a certain contribution, 
or communication for the saints, the same is called 
* Rom. vi. 19. t Col. iii. 5. 1 Cor. ix. 27- t Rom. xii. 13. 

SAClilFiCES rRESCmiiED. 33 

(!iaicovia, vev. 31, a service cr ministration of a deacon; 
these offerings of love answer (o the Shelamim or peace- 
offerings of old, wliicli are acts of beneficence, and mu- 
tual fellowship in eating and drinking, like the love- 
feasts in the beginning of gospel times : thus the pri- 
mitive Christians had ail things common,* using 
hospitality at home, sending presents abroad ; these are 
called sacrifices, though immediately relating to men, 
yet ultimately designed for God's sake and glory ; what 
the believing Philippians sent to Paul of this nature, 
was " an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, 
well pleasing to God," Phil. iv. 18. Well, but how do 
God's people make a covenant by such sacrifices ? I 
answer, by devoting themselves to God, when they dis- 
tribute their property to men; and without the former 
the latter is insignificant ; if you could give all your 
goods to feed the poor, yet if you have not those cove- 
nant graces of faith and love, you are nothing :f hence 
it is that the poor Macedonians, in their rich distribu- 
tions, are commended, not only that they abounded in 
the riches of their liberality, 2 Cor. viii. 1 — 4>, but there 
is an overplus in an act of piety also : wherein did that 
consist ? Why, in this noble work of covenanting with 
God, ver. 5 ; "and this they did not as we hoped," that 
is, beyond what we could have expected, " but they first 
gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the 
will of God;'^' they devoted not only their goods but their 
persons, what they v/ere, as well as what they had; 
they passed a deed of gift of themselves over to God : 
this act of piety is an essential part and property of 
true charity, nor were these alone ; the believing Corin- 
thians rivalled these gracious Macedonians, 2 Cor. ix. 
12, 13, as they also made a professed subjection to the 
gospel of Christ, as well as a liberal distribution, IttI ry 

• Act. ii. 44. t 1 Cor. xiii. 3 



vTTornyy rng l,itoAoytac, iipon an obedieiice, or subjection, 
of mutual consent, as the word signifies, openly declared 
before the world, testif5dng their readiness to be at God's 
disposal, before many witnesses ; nor, saith one, is there 
a more firm evidence of sincere faith, than communicat- 
ing to the saints' necessities, for svich a faith worketh 
by love :* the gift of the giver himself is better than 
the giver's gift, the former to God, the latter to men ; 
the former, in some sort, consecrates the latter. Doubt- 
less, the poor widow's two mites f amounted to a vast 
sum in true value, who gave not only her livelihood, 
but her heart and life to God ; this is covenanting with 
God by sacrifice. 

(4.) Prayer and praise, are gospel sacrifices ; for 
prayer, see Psal. cxli. 2, " Let my prayer be set forth 
before thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands, 
as the evening sacrifice :" so Mai. i. 11, it is prophe- 
sied, " that incense shall be offered to the name of the 
Lord, and a pure offering," which the new testament 
interprets to be prayer ; :j: and for praise and thankful- 
ness, see Heb. xiii. 15, " By him let us offer the sacri- 
fices of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of 
our lips, giving thanks to his name ;" elsewhere called, 
the calves of our lips, || because calves were offered in 
sacrifice. There were in the law sacrifices of thanks- 
giving, which were peace-offerings. $ Now in these 
euctical and eucharistical offerings, that is, in prayer 
and praise, it becomes God's people to make a covenant; 
prayers and vows go together ; Jonah i. 1 6, " Then the 
men feared exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice, and 
made vows ;" they had been praying and crying, ver. 
14; some think that there is here an inversion, that 

* Non firmius est verae fidei specimen quam Sanctis communi- 
care. — Slat. + Mark xii. 42 — 44. 

t 1 Tim. ii. 8. II Hos. xiv. 2. § Lev. vii. 12, 15. 


being placed last, which in construction is to be first, 
they prayed, vowed vows and sacrifices, and it is 
thought these mariners became proselytes to the true 
God, the Creator of heaven and earth. Prayers and 
vows usually go together in scripture, but more of 
this hereafter. And with respect to thanksgiving, 
vows and covenants must be made therein ; take one 
instance, Psal. cxvi. 12, " Wliat shall I render to the 
Lord for all his benefits towards me?" he answers 
himself, " I will take the cup of salvation, and call 
upon the name of the Lord," ver. 13 ; yea, " I will 
pay my vows unto the Lord," ver. 14, 17, 18. But 
what is that vow ? surely nothing less than this per- 
sonal covenanting, ver. 16, " O Lord, truly I am thy 
servant, I am thy servant, and the son of thy hand-^ 
maid, thou hast loosed my bonds." Because God had 
loosed his afflictive bonds, he will enter into covenant 
bonds ; he professeth it twice to God, " Thy servant, 
thy servant ;" new obligations bind faster. 

[i.] " I am the son of thy handmaid," born in thy 
family, devoted by my mother to thee. 

[ii.] " Thou hast loosed my bonds," I am thine by 
an act of special redemption, I am rescued from spiri- 
tual and corporeal slavery to be thy beads-man for ever ; 
and when was this ? even when he was oflfering the 
sacrifice of thanksgiving, then he takes into his hand 
the cup of salvation ; it alludes to the strong wine 
that was poured out to the Lord for a drink-offer- 
ing, * and sprinkled upon the sacrifice, in v/hich 
action those who offered, called on the name of the 
Lord, and gave thanks; so the Hebrews say, the Levites 
repeat not the song of oblation, but upon the drink- 
offering ; f so it signifies a thank-offering brought to 

* Numb, xxviii. 6, 7- 

1" Levitae non repetunt canticiim oblationis liisi super libamen. 

D 2 


God in Christ. As the master of a family in a gratu- 
latory feast, drank to all his guests in a full cup, which 
was called the cup of blessing or benediction, (to which 
oiu- Saviour alludes in his last supper,*) whereby he 
testified his gratitude to his great benefactor : this is 
a fit season for making and renewing our solemn cove- 
nant with God ; but more of this in the sequel. 

Thus much for covenanting with God by sacrifice. 

All these points are but preliminary, and preparatory 
to what I have in view — which is the character of 
those persons whom God charges his angels to gather 
to him at the great day ; it is saints, none but saints, 
sanctified souls, these holy ones shall dwell Vi^ith the 
lioly God, holy things for holy persons. f But who 
are these saints? many will pretend saintship, that 
are not really so. But I tell you, saith God, who they 
are wliom I account and will own for saints, it is they 
that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. The 
latter part of the text is explanatory of the former : 
this, this is the shibboleth, the criterion, the m^ark on 
the forehead of God's holy ones ; this is the indelible 
character of a child of God ; God will own and crov/n 
none but such at the great day ; angels, the glorified 
souls, all the creatures will own such, and none but 
such as have proved their saintship by covenant re- 
lation, disposition, and conversation ; and though men 
know it not, yet it shall be discovered when their in- 
side shall be turned out, and the secrets of all hearts 
shall be discovered, then his name shall be legible on 
their foreheads, v/hen Christ shall come to be glorified 
in his saints, and to be admired in all them that be- 
lieve, on that illustrious day ; :j: this is the brotherhood 
of travellers, this is the society of holy pilgrims. 

Doct. That those, and only those are real saints who 
• Matt. xxvi. 27- t Sancta Sanctis. % Rev. xxii. 4. 2 Thess. i. 10. 


have made a personal covenant with God, or sincere 
saints, who expect to be received by God, and do enter 
into covenant with him. 

I conceive this may refer to persons! covenanting. 

1. Because hypocritical and sincere worshippers are 
distinguished in this Psalm ; the former are described, 
challenged, convicted, threatened, and severely punished, 
ver. 7, 16 — 22 ; that they are thus ranked and dis- 
tinguished may appear from ver. 16, "But unto the 
wicked God saith, what hast thou to do to declare my 
statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in 
thy mouth ?" this adversative particle hut, imports his 
setting these hypocrites in opposition to sincere cove- 
nanting saints, vv'^ho " offer to God thanksgiving, and 
pay their vows to the Most High," ver. 14 ; who call 
on God in trouble, and glorify him ver. 15; "who 
order their conversation aright, and to whom he shews 
the salvation of God," ver. 23. O what a vast differ- 
ence and disproportion there is betwixt these ! 

2. Because God orders that solemn day for their dis- 
crimination ; gather my saints to me, saith he ; grace- 
less souls must be separated from him, with go ye 
cursed. In this world saints and sinners, sincere and 
hypocritical worshippers are intermingled, and resemble 
each other so much, that none can tell with certanity 
which are God's people, and which not ; but there is a 
day coming that shall burn as an oven, which shall 
purge them as gold and silver, and " I will declare them 
to be mine," saith God, " when I make up my jewels" — 
" then shall ye return and discern betwixt the righteous 
and wicked ; between him that serveth God, and him 
that serveth him not ;"* here they are huddled up in a 
crowd, then they shall be distinctly known. All pro- 
fessors attending on God's holy ordinances are enlisted 

* Mai. iv. 1, 3. iii. 17, 18. 


as soldiers under his banner, but God's sincere-hearted 
saints in a peculiar manner bind themselves unto the 
Lord in the sacred bond of the gospel covenant. 
, In speaking on this subject, I shall bring under re- 
view these seven general heads : — namely, 

I. ^Vhat is covenanting, and what this personal 
covenanting is ? 

II. Demonstrate the truth of this point, that per- 
sonal covenanting is essential to saintship. 

III. Discover what is essentially necessary in a 
soul that would enter into covenant personally with 

IV. \Vhat outward circumstances may be convenient 
for making this engagement ? 

V. In what manner, or with what words a person 
may actually enter into the engagement, witli the 
form of it ? 

VI. Objections answered. 

VII. How a Christian must behave himself after he 
hath been thus solemnly making a covenant with 

Then make some short application of all. 



I. What is covenanting? It would be lest labour, 
to spend much time on this subject, which so many 
have treated on. I shall therefore only transiently 
make a few observations upon it ; with respect to the 


word Jim which in Hebrew signifies covenant, it 

1. To choose, to elect, or select. 

(1.) Because a covenant, (as all elective acts are) is 
an act of judgment, and deliberation. Elections are 
not rash, but rational; not precipitant passions, but 
deliberate exercises of the intellectual faculties : thus a 
covenant must be, and is made on the decision of a 
well advised judgment, not upon the catch of a sudden 
fancy, or the hurry of violent passions. 

(2.) Because in a covenant there is a choice made ; 
first, of the persons, with whom this covenant is entered 
into, it is not with all, but with some peculiarly chosen. 
Secondly, there is a choice of the terms or conditions, 
upon which a covenant is made, and which must be 
inviolably maintained ; and these terms are usually 
both possible and equal. 

2. The word implies and imports eating and drink- 
ing freely, and cheerfully, with the persons with whom 
men contract and covenant. This distinguishes the 
nature of covenanting whereby persons are drawn into 
a friendly communion, and amicable correspondence; 
this was ordinary in old times when persons entered 
into league and a covenant together, they ate and 
drank together ; so did Abraham and Abimelech, Gen. 
xxi. 27 — 32 ; Isaac and Abimelech, Gen. xxvi. 28 — 
32 ; Laban and Jacob, Gen. xxxi. 44, 46. Thus doth 
God witi his covenanted saints, they have fellowship 
together in the Lord's supper, thereby discovering 
mutual friendship and complacency in each other. 

I shall not trouble you with the several sorts of co- 
venant ; that of friendship between God and Adam, 
and this new covenant of reconciliation between God 
and fallen man, grounded upon the covenant of redemp- 
tion betwixt Father and Son ; nor is ours the former 


legal edition of this gospel covenant, but a later, larger, 
clearer dispeiisatiou of it, in this time of reformation ; 
nor will I trouble you with the difference between pro- 
niise and covenant, or how absolute promises may be 
called a covenant, as God's preserving Noah from the 
deluge, as that the world should not be drowned again;* 
as that Abraham should have a seed, and that they 
should inherit the land of Canaan ; f these are called 
covenants. So in spiritual things, the promise of the 
Ptiessiah, that Christ should come out of Abraham's 
loins ; i that God would settle gospel ordinances, and 
bestow converting grace, Jer. xxxi. 31, 33, 34. Ezek. 
xxxvi. 25 — 27 ; though these be absolute promises, 
yet they are called by the name of covenant. But the 
covenant that I mean is a mutual stipulation between 
God and man, wherein God propounds and promises 
some blessings upon man's voluntary acceptance, and 
performing such and such conditions. 

The covenant then is reciprocal; the gospel fiolds 
forth the terms ; God promiseth to justify, pardon, ac- 
cept and save such as repent, believe, and sincerely 
obey ; man's consent to these terms completes the en- 
gagement. The word of God contains the conditional 
promise and grant, or act of grace, and so is called a 
testament, wherein glorious legacies are bequeathed 
to souls ; but it is not a mutual covenant imparting 
the blessings thereof info man's bosom, till he do freely 
and sincerely accept of the terms propounded; siili it is of 
free grace, and the efficacious operations of the Spirit as- 
sist man in performing his part ; he that commands and 
requires faith, repentance, and new obedience, uixlertakes 
to work them.]} Thus God in infinite wisdan hath 
linked the \_agenclali things to be done on cur part, 

^ Gen. vi. 18. ix. 11. t Gen. xv. 18. Gen. xvii. 19. 

t Gen. iii. lo. Gal. iii. 8, 10. Ezek. xxxvii. 20". || Keb viii. 10. 


and th.e[^habendfi'\ things to be enjoyed by us, together; 
when he performs the absokite promise, of writing his 
law in the hearts of his people, and putting his Spirit 
in them, &c.and then draws forth the graces of his Spirit 
into lively exercise ; thus repentance and remission, 
faith and justification, obedience and salvation are 
connected together. 

My chief business is to explain w^hat a personal co- 
venant is ; for that, I suppose, is here meant ; the per- 
sons are called saints, being scattered in all places, and 
ages of the world, and now to be gathered together on 
giving this commission. By a personal covenant, I 
mean, a covenant which is entered into by a man's own 
single person, between God and his own soul. I call it 
personal, to distinguish it from a twofold covenant 
which I find in scrijDture : first, social, and secondly sa- 
cramental : the former is with others ; the latter 
is for or by others ; for others as parents cove- 
nanting for their children, or by others, as children did 
covenant by their parents. 

1. There is in scripture frequent mention made of 
social covenanting ; and this is either, civil or sacred. 

(1.) A civil or political covenant, which is a mutual 
compact or agreement between prince and peojile, bind- 
ing themselves to each other by the sacred tie of a co- 
venant, to perform the duties of their respective places : 
thus king David made a league with the elders of Israel 
in Hebron, 2 Sam. v. 3, whereby David obliged himself 
to rule according to God's laws, and the jieople promis- 
ed fidelity and obedience to him : thus Jehoiada, that 
good old priest, made a tripartite covenant, 2 Kings xi. 
17, that is, 

[i.] Between the Lord and the king. 

[ii.] Between the Lord on one part, and the king 
and the people on the other, that they should be the 


Lord's people, both king and subjects, these two were 
religious covenants. 

[iii.] Between the king also and the people, this was 
a civil covenant, or, as we call it, an oath of allegiance, 
called elsewhere the oath of God :* because, though it 
be made between men, and that in civil things, yet God 
himself interposeth as a party therein, to reward the 
keepers, and revenge the violaters thereof; thus we 
find, Ezek. xvii. 16 — 19, Zedekiah king of Judah had 
sworn fealty to the king of Babylon, as his vassal, but 
his rebellion was a breach of God's oath, and God's co- 
venant, and must not pass without punishment. It is 
true, all may be personally involved in such a common 
bond ; but this is not the covenant of which I am 

(2.) There is a religious covenanting, social or toge- 
ther with others, M'hich concerns sacred duties God- 
wards : and I find this course God's servants have" 
adopted upon various occasions, sometimes under some 
remarkable threatcnings or execution of judgments, 
sometimes after great decays of religion : thus, did 
Asa, Hezekiah, Jehoshaphat, and Josiah,f and so it was 
done in the days of Ezra, and Nehemiah,]: as scripture 
history acquaints us. The nature of this covenanting 
we find distinctly described, with the persons that en- 
tered into it, Deut. xxvi. 17, 18, " Thou hast avouched 
the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his 
ways, and to keep his statutes and his commandments 
— and the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his 
peculiar people." It was the whole community of 
Israel, consisting of many families, united in one church 
or commonwealth, as a theocracy ; and between God 
and them there was a mutual declaring, professing, 

• Eccl. viii. 2. t 2 Chron. xv. 12, 15. xxix. 10. xxxiv. 31, 32. 
J Ezra X. 3. Neh. ix. 38. 


owning and avouching a peculiar relation : the word is 
emphatical in Hebrew * " Thou hast exalted or magni- 
fied the infinite and eternal God above all, and art soli- 
citous to be united to him, planted in him by covenant- 
relation, (for the root imports the highest branch or 
bough of a tree,|) that thou mayest derive sap and vir- 
tue from him, thou liftest him as high as thou canst in 
thy estimation and affection, and he doth advance thee 
by way of recompence." Such a social covenanting even 
of cities and kingdoms in gospel times is predicted, Isa. 
xix. 18, " In that day shall five cities in the land of 
Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the 
Lord of hosts." — [injurando invocabunt Jehovam] re- 
nouncing idols they shall solemnly call on God with 
most earnest protestations and obtestations of resolution 
to adhere to the Lord ; therefore he doth not say they 
shall swear by, but to the Lord, which imports cove- 
nanting, or solemn dedication to the Lord ; and so it is 
the same with vowing a vow unto the Lord, ver. 21. 
♦' So David sware unto the Lord," that is, " he vowed 
unto the mighty God of Jacob," Psal. cxxxii. 2, which 
also imports covenanting. Doubtless that notable chap- 
ter, Ezek. xxxvii. refers to gospel-days, wherein Judah 
and Ephraim shall be one stick in the Lord's hand, ver. 
17, for God will make a covenant of peace with them, 
ver. 26. See Jer. 1. 4, 5. I shall not now enumerate 
any more mutual covenantings ; because this is not the 
subject I am to insist upon. 

2. There is a sacramental covenanting, when parents 
covenant for their children, and children are engaged to 
God by their parental covenant; yea, sponsors, sureties, 
governors that stand obliged for those that are under 
their charge, as Abraham for his children, and all under 
bis charge, was bound to give them the seal of the co- 
* nONH mn'' n^}. t HV^M Germen supremum in arbore. 


venant, namely, circumcision, Gen. xvii. 2, 4 — 12, so 
he is the head of the covenant, or he by whom the co- 
venant-right, was conveyed to all his natural seed, and 
afterwards to the spiritual seed, all Gentile believers ; 
" for the promise (saith St. Peter, that is, the covenant- 
right) is to you, and to your children, and to all that 
are afar off;"* the covenant-relation continued, though 
tlie seal was changed from circumcision to baptism. 
And that some persons may represent others absent or 
future, the following text proves, Deut. v. 3, " The 
Lord made not the covenant with our fathers, but with 
us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day," 
though some of them were infants, others unborn, when 
it was made ; therefore elsewhere he causeth them all 
to be assembled, men, women, and children, to enter 
into the covenant;! hence it is, that parents keeping or 
breaking a covenant, hath such blessed or malignant 
influence on their children, Exod. xx. 5, 6. And hence 
it is that when a people return to God by repentance, 
God is said to remember his covenant with their ances- 
tors ;t for God folds up parents and children in the 
same bond of the covenant : especially whilst children, 
till they personally and actually renounce it when at 
age. As this is a personal, so it is a successional cove- 
nant, which concerneth the seed of the faithful, both in 
point of duty and privilege : certainly there is such a 
thing as federal right and relation, and consequently a 
federal holiness of the children of godly parents. || 

But though this covenant relation stand them in 
some stead, in their infant state, yet when they come 
to maturity they are bound to stand to the terms of 
this covenant, in their own persons ; and this is what 
I call a personal covenant, whereby particular persons 

• Act. ii. 39. f Deut. xxix. 10 — 15. xxxi. 12. 

± Lev. xxvi. 42. 11 1 Cor. vii. 14. 


individually and solemnly engage to devote tliemselves 
to God. And though this particular appropriation and 
personal application do render it so far distinct, yet for 
substance it is the same covenant which parents entered 
into for themselves in behalf of their seed ; namely, 
the covenant of grace described in scripture, so that it 
is no new covenant, or another that I am pleading for, 
but a personal owning and accepting of the terms of 
the covenant of grace, which is called a taking hold of 
God's covenant, Isa. Ivi. 4, that is, personally embracing, 
and faithfully performing all the conditions of tliis 
covenant with sincerity and perseverance ; and this is a 
laying hold on eternal life ; * as if it were said, this 
covenant is for me, this promise is mine, this happiness 
I reach and stretch out my heart and hand to get 
possession of ; it is a common salvation, but O for my 
share in it ; " This is a faithful saying, and worthy of 
all acceptation, therefore of mine, that Jesus Christ 
came into the world to save sinners ; of whom I am 
one, though chief ;"| I take out my share by personal 
application. Suppose a man sat at dinner where there 
is variety of dishes ; though they be common to all the 
guests, yet he saith there is a dish for me, not excluding 
others, (for Christianity knows no monopolies) he makes 
a long arm, takes hold of it, and eats freely ; thus the 
gracious soul takes hold of that holy covenant, puts his 
name into that general grant ; this is personal cove- 

Once more let me state, that this covenanting per- 
sonally is initial, and then faith is plighted at the 
soul's first conversion to God, or renewed upon some 
special occasion. I exclude neither, but shall take in 
both afterwards. 

For a general proof of this practice, and a remark- 
• 1 Tim. vi. 19. ^ 1 Tim. i. 15. 


able specimen of it, I shall once for all produce a 
single text, it is that extroardinaiy passage, Isa. xliv. 
5s " One shall say, I am the Lord*s," &c. The text 
may be denominated Christ's muster roll, or rather the 
oath of allegiance, by which our Lord's volunteers and 
subjects swear fealty and fidelity to their King and 

(1.) "One shall say, I am the Lord's," that is, the Gen- 
tile converts shall singly and socially flock in, saying I 
also will be a soldier in Christ's camp, a servant in his 
family. Poor sinful worm, I have been a wretched 
wandering prodigal, have spent my patrimony in a fo- 
reign country, am brought to husks and penm-y, see my 
folly and frenzy, and at last return to my father, and 
though I deserve not the reception of a child, yet, Lord, 
make me as one of thy hired servants ; the worst pl^ce 
in thy family is better than in princes' palaces ; let me 
be as a retainer in thy family, let me have an interest 
in thy care, eat bread at thy table, be under thy disci- 
pline, and enjoy thyself, this, this is my exceeding joy, 
and transcendent reward. 

(2.) "Another shall call himself by the name of 
Jacob ;" it is true, (saith the believing Gentile,) I am 
not Jacob's natiu-al offspring, but I do so prize the gra- 
cious qualities of that ancient patriarch, that my soul 
longs to be like him. Oh that I could imitate him in 
plainness, piety, devoting myself to God, especially in 
wrestling with the mighty God of Jacob! this is the gene- 
ration of them that seek God first, then Jacob, and unite 
with the genuine sons of Jacob. O happy souls that 
are ranked and reckoned in this holy society !* 

(3.) " Another shall subscribe with his hand, unto 
the Lord :" the soldiers of the Roman empire had the 
emperor's name ^vritten in their hands, whereby they 

• Psal. xxiv. 5, 6. 


testified theii- acting and fighting for him ; in the same 
way antichrist's slaves have a mark in their right hands 
and foreheads,* thus declaring themselves on his aide. 
Oh (saith the sincere convert,) for the blessed name of 
my dear Lord being inscribed upon my heart and hand ! 
Would to God I were cast into the mould of the word, 
to receive a new impress, my soul desires to fight for 
him, and the scars and wounds I receive in his cause 
shall be as marks of my Lord Jesus, wherein I will 
glory ;f such scars are richer than pearls : or the text 
alludes to the manner of ancient musters ; they dictated 
and wrote down the soldier's name : let me be enrolled 
and my name be written among the living in Jerusa- 
lem4 I do solemnly testify under mine own hand- 
writing, that I do belong to the Lord.|| 

(4.) " And surname himself by the name of Israel :" 
still the believing Gentile expresseth his honourable es- 
teem of church membership; he rejoiceth in that mark of 
honour, as the choicest figure in his escutcheon, of greater 
value than ever Alexander gained by his splendid exploits. 
The word elsewhere signifies flattering titles, and ho- 
norary appellations: J but if I may choose my title, saith 
the convert, I would be called an Israelite : O that I 
were indeed a prince with God !^ Would to God I 
were " an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile ?"** I 
know " they are not all Israel, that are of Israel ;"f f 
there is a sort of blasphemy of some, " that say they 
are Jews, and are not, but the synagogue of Satan."|:j: 
God deliver me from that criminal arrogance, to take to 
myself a title that appertains not to me. The name, 

• Rev. xiii. 16. f Gal. vi. 14, 1 7. t Isa. iv. 3. 

II Syngrapho mauu propria exarato testabitur se Domini esse. 

*~' ^'' § n^D Titulum honorificum significat. 

•fr Gen. xxxii. 28. •" John i. 47- 
ft Rom. ix. 6. tt Rev. ii. 9. 


Christian, is a title of honour, and however at Rome 
among Pseudo-Christians it may he a name of reproacli, 
and used for fool or dolt, would to God I had a princi- 
ple to bear it out, and a practice to honom*, and not to 
blemish this worthy title. May some precious oint- 
ment drop down from Christ our head, and new-testa- 
ment Aaron, let it run down to me, even to me, the 
lowest skirts of his garment,* that I ma}^ be sanctified 
with the nature, as well as dignified with the name of 
Christ : this new name shall be my gi'eatest honour, 
and this divine natui'e shall be my greatest comfort. 



II. What I shall next insist upon is the proof of this 
proposition — that personal covenanting is essential to 
saintship ; that those, and only those are real saints, 
who make a personal covenant with God. 

Understand that I am here speaking, in the first place, 
of a real, sincere, and upright saint, a regenerate soul, 
thoroughly sanctified, not one that is accounted so by 
men only, but by God here, and who will be accounted 
so at the last solemn day, not nominally, but really a 
saint. And secondly, we are considering him here in 
his personal, not relative capacity ; though it cannot 
be denied that a saint's personal covenanting is not 
without special influence upon his posterity also, Isa. 
lix. 21, and whether that text, Ezek. xvi. 61, " but not 

• Psal. cxxxiii. 2 


by thy covenant ;" mean that the Gentiles must be un- 
derstood as being only under the old covenant, which 
was violated, or not by thy own covenant, that is, only 
redounding to thine own advantage, but thine shall 
fare better by it ; and observe it, the more public 
any person is, the more persons will be interested ; as 
when a magistrate, or minister, others have the benefit 
of their example and influence ; yea, though the Chris- 
tian do this work in secret and privately, by himself 
alone, yet others are concerned therein ; as when Jacob 
in a solitary place, at one time, covenanted with God, 
at another time, wrestled with God, yet these acts had 
respect to the whole church of God for many genera- 
tions : so saith that text, Hos. xii. 4, " he found him 
in Bethel, and there he spake with us." Jacob's off- 
spring was much interested in those peculiar passages 
betwixt God and their pious ancestor many hundred 
years before. This may be an encoiu'agement to do it, 
who knows who may be better by it ? And even in 
more solemn, public covenants with God wherein we 
unite with others, which is that way of covenanting 
most taken notice of in scripture, yet a man doth no- 
thing except he make personal application ; as in all 
public ordinances, when we join with others, we must 
improve them for our own personal benefit, so in cove- 
nanting with others, our own case must first be regarded. 
But I confess I have found it difficult to find exam.ples 
of this private personal covenanting with God ; yet 
some I shall mention. My proof of this point then con- 
sists of two sorts of arguments, namely, instances, and 
logical conclusions ; the former prove the fact, the latter 
show the reasons of the fact or obligation. 

In commencing with instances, I shall briefly select 
witnesses to prove this truth. 

1. Adam. He being created a perfect creature, while 



he continued in friendship with God, according to tlie 
first covenant of amity, ail was well ; but violating that, 
Jie was expelled paradise. God however revealing to 
him the new covenant, M'e may charitably believe he 
personally closed with it, though not as a public person, 
as in the former, yet for himself at least in his private 
capacity; for whereas God in justice might have found 
him out, and struck him dead, according to his threat- 
ening, yet he makes an inquiry after his fallen creatm'e, 
not to condemn him at the tribunal of justice, but to 
alarm his conscience under guilt, and convince him of 
his need of a mediator ; and God shews him the city 
of refuge, the Lorns of the altar, " the seed of the wo- 
man that breaks the serpent's head," Gen. iii. 15. Ex- 
positors say,* that the 14th verse denounceth the pun- 
ishment of the instrument, the literal serpent, this of the 
devil, the mystical serpent: doubtless the Messiah is that 
seed of the woman, and though his heel was bruised in 
his passion and death, yet " by death he destroyed him 
that had the power of death, even the devil."f This 
is the plain English of that primitive prophecy, which 
we may rationally conclude Adam embraced, for 

(1.) His life was protracted nine hundred and thirty 
years,± and this suspending of the threatened punish- 
ment of death was only through Christ. 

(2.) When Adam was terrified in his conscience for 
sin, and beaten out of all his holds, he had no way to 
flee but to the promised Messiah ;|| then was the gospel 
welcome to his guilty soul. 

(3.) Some think that God's walking in the garden in 
the cool, or gentle breathing air of the day,§ opposed 
to the heat of the daj^, doth signify that now God be- 
gins to be appeased towards man, through his Son's 

* Vid. Pol. Crit. in loc. t Heb. ii. 14. 

+ Gen. V. 5. \\ Gen. iii. 8. Gal. iii. 22, 24. 

§ Gen. iii. 8. DVH mi Ad auram vel ventum Diei. 


undertaking, whereby man's scordied conscience v»'as 
sweetly refreshed, as well as divine wrath pacified; and 
this by the blessed blood of sprinkling that speaketli 
better things than the blood of Abel,* to be poured out 
in the evening of the world. 

(4.) Adam called his wife's name Eve, or Hevah, 
because she was the mother of all living : this speaks 
Adam's faith, that though they were condemned, and 
so dead in law, yet they should live and produce a liv- 
ing offspring, yea the promised seed; therefore he calls 
her Hevah,f not only a living woman, but life-giving 
woman, from M^hom the life-giving Redeemer should 
spring to give saving life to the world ; for the second 
Adam is made a quickening Spirit, ^ and it is probable 
that Adam offered sacrifice, in testimony of his faith in 
the meritorious sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God ; 
the beasts' skins, and his sons sacrificing, demonstrate 
his doing it.]] Yea further, we have grounds to believe 
that Eve herself believed in Christ, and renewed her 
covenant personally with God, for she calls her son Seth, 
Gen. iv. 25, this she spoke anticipating the Messiah. 
The Hebrews think that Adam and Eve came not to- 
gether, but spent some years in bitter lamentation for 
their fail and expulsion, and at last came together for 
procreation, and called their son Seth, put or placed as 
a foundation, f that is, of the church of God, a figure of 
Christ the true foundation:^ for the patriarchs im- 
posed names on children, as monuments of divine be- 
nefits, and arguments of faith : God saith she hath ap- 
pointed me another seed ; doubtless, this other seed re- 
fers to Christ, the promised seed :** and should any 

* Gen. xviii. 1. t Gen. iii. 20. 

J mn vivificatricem. Rom. v. 17- 1 Cor. xv. 45. 
II Gen. iii. 21. iv. 3, 4. § 1 Cor. iii. 11. 

Ulsa. xxviii. 16. ** Gal. iii. 16. 

E 2 


now despair, if Adaiii and Eve who opened the flood- 
gates of sin and misery, had the door of salvation open- 
>ed to them by Christ, and embraced him in the new 
covenant, and were justified, and saved ! O astonish- 
ing act of gospel grace in the morning of the world ! 

2. Enoch is the next instance of one that made a per- 
sonal covenant. Gen. v. 22, 2 i ; it is said twice that 
Enoch walked with God ; the words are very emphati- 
cal, and signify, 

(1.) He lu'ged, persuaded, and caused himself to 
walk with God ; * he found his perverse heart drawing 
back, and turning aside, and therefore excited himself, 
and brought his wandering spirit back to the exercise, 
saying as David, " My soul wait thou only upon 

(2.) The word signifies, he drew or brought himself 
to God,t or he delivered himself over to God, that is, 
by covenant, engaging his heart wholly to be the 

(3.) He adhered more closely, familiarly, and inti- 
mately to the Lord; || there might be some sincerely 
religious, but Enoch exceeded them all, he bound him- 
self more strictly to the Lord, in the bonds of union 
and intimate communion with his Maker. 

(4.) He walked continually before, or with the Lord, 
or according to the Lord,^ that is, setting the Lord al- 
ways before him, regulating his life always by God's 
will and pleasure, whether it was in the office of the 
public ministry, as walking before God doth elsewhere 
import,^ or in a private capacity; in both he bound 
himself close to God, and faithfully discharged his duty 

* Ambulare se fecit, t Psal. Ixii. 5. % Deduxit se ad Deum, 
II Arctius et familiarius Deo inhsesit. 

§ Ambulavit indesinenter cum Domino, or, secundum Deum. 
f 1 Sam. ii. 30, 35, 


O how careful was this good man in his conversation ! 
how fearful of missing his duty ! therefore he entered 
into solemn covenant with the Lord, lest by force or 
flattery, by Satan's temptations, or corrupt examples, 
he should be drawn away from God in that evil day ; 
all this was by faith, saith the apostle ;* and so he 
pleased God, and was translated to heaven immediately 
and early, when he had but arrived to the third part 
of the age of others ; God was pleased early to take him 
out of the world, as one of whom the world was not 
worthy. The Hebrews say, though Enoch was a 
good man, yet he had strong inclinations to evil, there- 
fore he bovmd himself the more closely to God, and 
God snatched him from this polluting and ensnaring 
world, lest his honest purposes should be changed ; but 
however, Enoch leaped over the formidable ditch of 
death by a singular privilege of translation : this was a 
covenanting soul on earth, and now a crowned saint in 

3. Noah entered into a personal covenant with God : 
he had Lamech for his father, Methuselah was his 
grandfather, Enoch his great grandfather, and he walk- 
ed in his pious ancestor's steps. Noah was a just man 
and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with 
God, Gen. vi. 9: Justin point of actions, perfect in point 
of inward integrity. Noah was eminent for his faith, 
and he dared to be good in a bad time, when all flesh 
had corrupted its way :j- how came this ? Why, next 
to the grace of God enabling him, his own covenanting 
with God fortified him against infection and opposition ; 
and this is the first express mention of a covenant be- 
tween God and man after the fall. Gen. vi. 18, " With 
thee will I establish my covenant," which doubtless was 
reciprocal, for Gen. viii. 20, 21, " Noah built an altar 
" Heb. xi. 5. t Heb. xi. 7- Gen. vi. 12. 


to the Lord, and offered burnt-offerings, — and the Lord 
smelt a sweet savour." Noah made a covenant 
with God by this sacrifice; God's wrath was ap- 
peased, mercy promised, his person accepted through 
Clu'ist the mediator of the covenant, whom Noah saw 
in the rainbow ; for though it was fixed as a token 
that the world should be no more drowned with water,* 
yet Noah by faith looked beyond that, to God, as his 
covenant God, through the rainbow which ^^'as round 
about the throne, and which is said to be in sight lilce 
unto an emerald :f importing that God in his judg- 
ments is ever mindful of his covenant, and is approach- 
able by his saints through our mediator. The emerald 
is of a green colour, which is most grateful to the eyes; 
sm'ely there is no such glorious sight as God in cove- 
nant with poor sinful souls through Christ ; his cove- 
nant is always fresh and green, it never decays, but is 
ever new, firm and flourishing. Noah signifies rest, and 
ill him was the charter of dominion and propagation 
again renewed,! in him was the curse removed from 
the earth, and the ruins of the old world repaired ; and 
still in after-times there was a reference to this cove- 
nant between God and Noah, Isa. liv. 9, 10. Ezek. i. 

4. Abraham, the father of the faitliful, was called out 
of his own country, to whom God promised that Christ 
should come out of his loins, for so the apostle inter- 
prets that promise, " In thee shall all the families of 
the earth be blessed :"i| Abraham complied with the 
divine call by an unparalleled self-resignation to the 
divine pleasure ; putting his hand into God's, he went 
Ijlindfold, not knowing whither he went,^ only he knew 
God led him, and that satisfied Abraham. This was a 

* Gen. ix. 12, 13. + Rev. iv. 3. t Gen. ix. 9. 1 Pet. iii. 20. 
II Gen. xii. 3. Act. iii. 25. Oal. iii. 16. § Heb. xi. 8. 


personal intercourse between God and his soul, for 
another text saith, " I called him alone, and blessed, 
and increased him,"* that is, either hiin only, and no 
others of his kindred with him, or when he had no off- 
spring, or " I withdrew him out of company into a so- 
litary place, and there we covenanted together :" we 
consider this famous patriarch here, not as the head of 
the covenanted party, who are called children of Abra- 
ham, but as to his personal covenanting with God for 
his own soul: thus God renewed his covenant with him 
after that Lot was separated from him ; both to signify 
approbation of Abraham's peaceable spirit, and as an 
evidence of sweetest converse between God and his 
saints in solitude. Abraham echoed back in reciprocal 
acts of faith in the Messiah to come, for he saw Christ's 
day and rejoiced,| and he resigned up himself and fa- 
mily to God, by complying with his command, in go- 
ing to sacrifice his only son.| Two notable evidences 
of personal consent ; heroic actings of a lively faith, 
that like a mighty torrent, bore down all difficulties 
to flesh and blood, for which he is renowned through 
all generations. 

5. Isaac may not be left out in this sacred catalogue 
of covenanting souls ; who, as he was circumcised, and 
instructed by Abraham in a personal closing with the 
covenant at full age for himself, so doubtless did he en- 
gage in it sincerely and secretly : what Isaac was doing 
when Ishmael mocked him,|| I know not, but the scrip- 
ture testifies he was born after the Spirit ; § and who 
can tell but he might be about such an affair, when he 
went out into the fields to meditate :^ certainly it was 
either to covenant with God or to converse with his cove- 
nant God, by prayer, meditation, and holy ejaculations. 

• Isa. li. 2. t John viii. 56. + Gen. xxli. 9, 10. 

II Gen. xxi. 9. § Gal. iv. 29. ^ Gen. xxiv. 63. 


And after tlie death of liis father Abraham, God renew- 
ed his covenant with Isaac, and gave him the blessing 
J;hereof ; and told him he would perform the oath which 
he sware to Abraham :* God appears again to him, 
and saith, Fear not for I am with thee ; and no doubt 
but Isaac still consented, for the text saith, " He built 
an altar there, and called on the name of the Lord,"f 
wherein lie renewed his covenant by sacrifice. 

0'. Jacob is a remarkable instance of personal cove- 
nanting M'ith God; see the history of it in the 28th chap- 
ter of Genesis ; here we find his father Isaac sending 
him forth with a blessing, though destitute of worldly 
wealth: Jacob obeyed, and travelled a selitary journey, 
in a wilderness way, but had God's presence, he renews 
his covenant, sets up a stone of remembrance, and 
echoes back to God in renewed vows ; this was a per- 
sonal covenanting, wherein, 

(1.) Above all things, he desires that God may be 
his God, ver. 20, 21, which, though it be expressed 
conditionally, yet is not to be understood, as though 
God should not be his God, if he did not these things 
for him ; but to shew the ardency of his affection, and 
his abundant satisfaction with a small pittance, bread 
and raiment upon condition that God may be his God; 
his heart was intently set upon a stricter bond of obli- 
gation between God and himself and he will gladly 
catch at any occasion to make the engagement closer. 

(2.) Here is his self-dedication to God, so it may be 
read, seeing God icill he with me^ — then shall the Lord 
he my God — and this stone which I have set for a pil- 
lar, shall he God's house, c^c. Observe, he doth not 
here engage to perform moral duties, or to employ him- 
self in the exercise of internal graces, for \\'ith respect 
to these he had formally engaged himself, (though 
* Gen. XXV. H. xxvi. 3, 4. t Gen. xxvi. 24, 2j. 


doubtless he implies these,) but more special acts of 
service for God, as dedication of a place, paying tithes 
to God, that is, either to Melchizedeck, the priest of the 
most high God, or to the priests that might officiate, 
or to the poor, or to God in sacrifice ; however, as God 
is the donor and owner of all he had, so he will lay it 
at Gt)d's feet, and bestow it according to his order ; for 
now he hath afresh resolved and covenanted that all he 
hath, is, or doth, shall be the Lord's, and for his glory; 
here is a very solemn covenanter. 

7. Joseph, Jacob's son, is another instance, who fol- 
lowed his father's steps in youthful troubles ; also in 
owning the God of his fathers, pious Joseph had cer- 
tainly been devoting himself to God, and had resolved 
to please him, whoever was displeased, when his heart 
was so knit to God, that he said, " How shall I do this 
wickedness and sin against God ?"* and God was with 
him, as his covenant God. But a more express covenant- 
ing is held forth. Gen. xlvii. 29, 31, where his dying 
father Jacob makes his beloved Joseph swear, by the 
significant form of putting his hand under his father's 
thigh : although this was but a particular concern, and 
of a civil nature, yet there seems to be a two-fold act- 
ing of faith, both in Jacob and Joseph. 

(1.) The putting his hand under his father's thigh, 
was not only a token of homage and reverence to his 
dying father, nor only relating to a posterity, but chief- 
ly as it was a sign of the covenant, and circumcision 
the seal thereof, as if he had said, let this engagement 
be as fiirm as that of the covenant of circumcision ;■}- or 
as I hope, for the blessed seed which shall spring out 
of thy loins, or thigh ; in him do I believe, by him do 
I swear, who is God, blessed for ever. Thus pious 
Joseph, (who himself was a type of Christ,) expressed 

* Geu. xxxLk. 3, 9. t Gen. xxiv. 2. 


Ids personal faith in him, and covenanted with God 
through him. 

k (2.) He promised to carry his father's bones into 
Canaan, to be buried, which Joseph did faithfully and 
literally perform ; * but that was not all, for he took an 
oath of his brethren, that they should carry his bones 
thither also, which the apostle saith, " was an act of 
faith,"f not so much in temporal as in spiritual things, 
for hereby he, 

[i.] Reflected upon the covenant which God had 
made and so oft repeated to his ancestors, and believed 
God's performance thereof, and his own share therein. 

[ii.] He believed that Jesus Christ, the son of God, 
was there to be born, walk, teach, converse, work mi- 
racles, die, rise again, and that he hoped also to rise 
with him, as a member of his body. 

[iii.] He hoped that his posterity coming to Canaan 
w^ould be quickened, by beholding the monimients of 
their fiithers, to acknowledge God's faithfulness; and 
imitate their parents' piety. 

[iv.] They looked on Canaan as a type of heaven, 
and so drew off their hearts from this lower region to 
heavenly mansions; their affections must be mortified 
too, as their bodies were buried in the earthly Canaan ; 
as this burial was a pledge of future possessions, so their 
faith was raised to higher expectations ; their bodies 
were in the earthly, their souls in the heavenly Canaan : 
this was the proper object of Joseph's faith ;± he em- 
braced Christ when he put his hand under his father's 
thigh, swearing himself to be the Lord's, and profess- 
ing his resolution to be a holy pilgrim, travelling to 
the new Jerusalem. 

8. JMoses is another celebrated precedent of personal 
covenanting ; and though the Old Testament does not 

• Gen. 1. 5, 13. t Heb. xi. 22. t Heb. xi. 13—16. 


present to us an historical account of any such transac- 
tion, yet it is most succinctly couched in that remark- 
able chapter, in which the apostle gives us a description 
of this distinguished man of God, Heb. xi. 23 — 29. 
As this king in Jeshurun brought the political body of 
Israel into covenant with God ; so tliere are in that 
chapter two notable demonstrations of his entering into 
personal covenant with God, on the behalf of his own 
soul : — 

(1.) Here is his negative act of abnegation or re- 
nouncing of himself, and of all the world — " he refused 
to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter ;" worldly 
grandeur was small in this holy man's eyes. Josephus 
saith, that Thermuthis, Pharaoh's daughter, said to her 
father, " I have determined to adopt Moses for my son, 
to be my successor in the kingdom." But Moses in his 
infancy, is said to have given a presage of his noble 
spirit, for when the king invest put the crown on his 
head, he scornfully cast it down to the grovmd, nor was 
this a mere childish act, but by instinct from heaven, 
for he confirmed it when at age, when he was old * 
enough to make a deliberate choice, ver. 24, — the pas- 
sage saith, come to years ; he did it not out of childish 
levity, but upon mature consideration, and the result of 
his sober thoughts was, that he would rather be the 
meanest in God's church, than king of Egypt; farewell 
honours, crowns, sceptres, for his dear Lord. 

(2.) Here is the positive part, his voluntary election 
— "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people 
of God," that is, to be banished from the court for con- 
science' sake : a strange choice, to prefer disgrace to 
honour, pain to pleasure, poverty to riches : was the 
man mad ? so he would be considered by ambitious 
gallants now-a-days ; but he knew what he did. 
* MlyoCi great. 


[i.] The people of God were better companions than 

* [ii.] The pleasures of godliness were better than the 
pleasures of sin. 

[iii.] Sublunary things are but temporary, divine 
comforts have no end. 

[iv.] The worst of Christ, namely, reproach, is bet- 
ter than the best of the world, the highest riches. 

[v.] The recompence of reward to which he had re- 
spect, counterbalanced earthly enjoyments. 

[vi.] The displeasure of his heavenly Father, was of 
greater consequence than the wrath of all the kings of 
the earth. 

[vii.] His eyes were fixed on him who was invisible, 
therefore visible dangers were nothing to him. Faith 
helps to such discoveries as sense and reason are 
strangers to ; he had also faith in a mediator, whom 
himself typified ; " for through faith he kept the pass- 
over, and sprinkling of blood," Heb. xi. 28 ; his own 
faith was the hyssop that sprinkled the blood on his 
soul,* and so he was secured, and as a confirmation of 
this covenant relation, both Moses and all Israel passed 
through the Red Sea, as upon dry ground, f ver. 29 ; 
Moses's faith in God's omnipotence, made a bridge 
through the vast ocean ; and this passage of the Red 
Sea was an extraordinary sacrament to Israel, for they 
were all baptized unto or by Moses, as typical mediator, 
in the cloud and in the sea:i thus good Moses covenanted, 
and God accepted him, and the people; but Moses's per- 
sonal choice and covenant is the thing on which I insist. 

9. Job saith, chap. xxxi. 1, "I made a covenant 

with mine eyes, why then should I think upon a maid ?" 

Though this refer only to a particular engagement 

with reference to himself, against impure inclinations ; 

• Exod. xii. 22. t Exod. xiv. 29. t 1 Cor. x. 2. 


yet certainly it hath a reference to this solemn dedi- 
cation of himself to God : because, 

(1.) His heart and thoughts were concerned therein. 

(2.) Because it extends to all other sins and duties, 
as the context declares ; for Job was a universal culti- 
vator of piety, and covenanter for duty; and all that he 
did or expected was by faith in a mediator : " I know" 
saith he, "that my Redeemer liveth,"* which words Job 
would have to be written, yea, printed in a book, yea, 
graven with an iron pen, and lead in the rock for ever. 
He had a particular interest in his Goel or kinsman, 
who had a right to redeem him, and his Redeemer had 
a peculiar care of him; as the Lord of life takes hold 
of his flesh by incarnation, so he takes hold on Christ 
by a particular application; this is personal covenanting. 

10. David shall be the next, who frequently renew- 
ed his vows and covenants with God, Psal. cxix. 48, 
" My hands also will I lift up to thy commandments, 
which I have loved ;" this gesture of lifting up the 
hands sometimes imports prayer, or blessing, yet here 
it imports, 

(1.) Covenanting. 

(2.) Vigorous acting accordingly; Abraham saith, 
" I have lift up my hand, that is, sworn to the Lord,"f 
so lifting up the hand is the posture of a man entering 
into action shaking off sloth and listlessness ; also lift- 
ing up the hands that hang down, is opposed to dis- 
couragement ;| so David, first by covenant engageth 
himself, then sets himself to the performance of his vow 
with great resolution ; more plainly he saith, " I have- 
sworn and will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous 
judgments," ver. 106, this oath is a solemn vow by 
personal covenanting to act in compliance with the will 

" Job xix. 23—25. t Gen. xiv. 22. Exod. vi. 6. 

J 2 Chron. xv. 7. Heb. xii. 12. 

02 baI'TIsmai. bonds. 

of God ; and he eiigageth the Lord to be surety for him 
in performing it, ver. 122. 

* 11. Peter is the next instance, Matt. xvi. 16, "Thou 
art Christ the Son of the living God ;" this is not a 
bare profession of his faith, but a solenm o\^'ning his 
Lord as the true Messiah, and his Saviour, expecting 
salvation by him, and resigning up himself to his con- 
duct, according to his method of saving sinners, which 
is clear by comparing this with Matt. xix. 27, " We 
have forsaken all and followed thee," which expresses 
the terms of the new covenant, renouncing all and own- 
ing Christ only ; and elsewhere he saith, " To whom 
shall we go ? thou hast the words of eternal life ; we 
are sure, and believe, that thou art Christ the Son of 
the living God :"* thus Peter, as the other apostles did, 
resigned uj) himself to Jesus as his Saviom* and Sove- 

12. Thomas, poor doubting Thomas, shall be the 
last instance of a soul's personal covenanting ; ' who, 
though he staggered in his belief of Christ's resm'rec- 
tion, yet upon Christ's gracious condescension to gratify 
his senses, cried out as in a transport of faith and af- 
fection, " My Lord, and my God," John xx. 28 ; as if 
he had said, Lord I doubted thy divinity in questioning 
thy power to raise thyself, I denied the great work of 
redemption, "for if Christ be not raised, our faith is vain, 
we are yet in our sins,"f but now I am not only satisfied 
respecting the truth of thy deity, and satisfaction Ut 
justice, but I do solemnly own thee in covenant-rela- 
tion, giving up myself to thee, as entirely thine, taking 
thee to be my Lord, to rule me by thy word and Spirit; 
thine I am, and thou art mine, my God in covenant, 
my Lord and Saviom* to order me as thou pleasest; my 
portion to satisfy me, my patron to defend me, my light 
• John vi. 08, 69. t 1 Cor. xv. I7. 


to conduct me, mj^ life to crown me ; thee I would en- 
joy, and in the enjoyment of thee I expect my only fe- 
licity, in this and in another world. 

And what shall I further say ? for the time would 
fail me to mention all the saints in scripture, that have 
made a personal covenant with God, directly or conse- 
quentially, expressly or imi)licitly. The virgin Mary 
saith, "My spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour."* 
Zacharias also, the father of John Baptist, expresseth 
his faith in Christ,f according to the ancient covenant 
with their fathers. Old Simeon was content to die 
with the child Jesus in the arms of his body, and Mes- 
siah in the arms of his faith :| but this blessed jury of 
covenanted souls may suffice to bring in their verdict, 
to confirm this truth, that real saints have been wont 
to enter into a personal covenant with God. 

CHAP. y. 


Thus we have presented some scripture instances to 
clear the point; I shall subjoin also some logical argu- 
ments to prove, that those, and those only are real 
saints that make a personal covenant with God ; and 
these I shall propound syllogistically. 

First argument I frame from natural religion, thus: 
That which the acknowledged principles of natural 
religion prompt to, must needs go to the constituting 
of a saint. 

* Luke i. 47. t Luke i. 70—72. Luke ii. 28, 29. 


But the very principles of natural religion do prompt 
men to a personal covenanting with God. 
» Therefore personal covenanting with God must go 
to the constituting of a saint. 

The major proposition is clear of itself, for Christi- 
anity doth not destroy, but suppose and build upon 
principles of natural religion; natural religion is (in some 
sense) the t.^st and touchstone of the truth of any reli- 
gion, and Christianity doth so fully harmonize with it, 
that the sacred writers oft appeal to it, and approve 
or disapprove any thing according as it is consonant or 
contrary to principles of nature. "Judge in yourselves,"* 
saith Paul, that is, as you are men endued with reason, 
— and doth not natui'e itself teach you ? — that is, as 
common custom hath made the wearing of hair at 
length, the distinction of the female sex, so nature itself 
will tell you that it is a shame for a man to appear 
thus like a woman : confusion of sexes is against na- 
ture; and therefore the apostle saith, "That heathens 
do by nature the things contained in the law,"f that is, 
many things materially good ; and unnatural sins are 
the worst of all sins ; | whether these common senti- 
ments, 1| universally owned by all mankind be the relics 
of God's image in man, or superadded by God's provi- 
dence for the benefit of mankind I dispute not ; but 
that there are such, all acknowledge who can distin- 
guish between moral good and evil, and though some 
high points in Christianity be above the dim moonlight 
of nature, yet there is nothing contrary to those disco- 
veries in the gospel revelation. 

And for the minor, namely, that personal covenant- 
ing with God is some way consonant to natui'al religion, 
might easily be demonstrated, not only as the learned 

* 1 Cor. xi. 13, 14. t Rom. ii. 14. 

J Rom. i. 26, 27, 32. 2 Tim. iii. 3. || Koiuai tvvoiai. 


philosophers impro^^ed right reason,* by study and virtu- 
ous livii]g; but as there is something of this description 
engraven on man's heart by nature, and continues there, 
if not obliterated by vicious {practices, as, 

1. That there is a supreme Being, Lord and giver 
of all, author of all good, benefactor to all creatures, 
judge of the rational and intellectual world. Reason 
tells man, he hath not his being of himself, but is in- 
debted to, and dependant on a first cause, that is God 

2. That God can be but one, for the first cause 
doth eminently comprise all its effects, and yet must be 
more excellent than the effects; this can be no less than 
infinite, and there cannot be two infinites, so there is 
but one God, which Socrates asserted, and died for 

3. That some worship and service is due to this one 
infinite Being, or God, for immediate obligation doth 
naturally result from this relation betwixt the maker 
and the creature. 

4. That this supreme Being is man's chief good and 
utmost end, and must be chosen as such, and that man 
is to dedicate himself freely to him, in order to the dis- 
charge of his duty, and enjoyment of felicity in him, 
and that all this is most highly rational ; for what can 
be more natural, than that the rivers run into that 
ocean from whence they had their rise ? and that the 
laden boughs should bend down to the earth, by which 
the tree is nourished ? much more in such a voluntary 
agent as man is ; nature will prompt this portion of 
gratitude, to bring back a man's self into the bosom cf 
that God from whom he had his being, both to please 
and enjoy him : this is the first, most necessary, and 
excellent service of God, presenting ourselves to God, 

* Aoyov opvov. 


which the apostle calls reasonable service ;* for it is 
most agreeable to the rational principles of natural re- 
»ligion. Supposing that there is a God, it follows by 
undeniable consequence, that intelligent spirits should 
devote themselves to God by humble adoration of him, 
ardent love to him, reliance on him, obedience to 
him, expectation of rewards from him., aspiring to be 
like him, to have the fruition of him, and acting in 
every thing for his honour and glory ; and all this 
cannot be done by proxy, because the relation is their 
own, and so the obligation lies on themselves, which 
they cannot devolve upon others; and what is this but 
the personal covenanting which I am describing? 
This is the first and most irrefragable argument, and 
cannot be resisted by any but him who hath divested 
himcelf of man, and may be justly branded as a brute 
and traitor to the universe, and God of nature. 

The second argument is thus framed : — 

That which is essentially necessary in the practical 
part of Christianity is required to saintship. 

But personal covenanting with God is essentially 
necessary in the practical part of Christianity. 

Therefore personal covenanting with God is abso- 
lutely and indispensably required to real saintship. 

I need not stand long to prove the first proposition, 
for the owning of the christian religion doth denominate 
a man to be a Christian ; and to be a Christian is all 
one as to be a saint, for these are synonymous phrases. 
Sometimes professors of the christian religion are called 
brethren, elsewhere faithful, likewise believers, f disci- 
ples, and they w^re called Christians first at Antioch,:!: 
tlie word ^prj^art'trai, which is used, critics say,|| imports 

* Rom. xii. 1. t Acts v. 14. X Acts xi. 26. 

II 'E^j;,uartcr£v iavTov, i. e. adscripsit se dominatioiiis juri 
vel privilegiis et immunitatibus. 

THEi?. isECEStilTY ARGUED. 67 

Committing authority to some to impose names, rules, 
terms, and accordingly devoting a man's self to his 
rules of government, and consequently enjoying the 
privileges and immunities thereto annexed. Thus the 
Christian, who is truly worthy of that honourable title, 
doth indeed own the Lord Jesus as the absolute Lord 
and Sovereign of his church, the great Legislator, and 
committeth, resigneth, and devoteth himself to him, to 
be taught, ruled, and ord&red by him ; and such as 
as these are elsewhere said to be sanctified in Christ 
Jesus, called to be saints. * To be a Christian then is 
to own the revealed principles of the christian religion, 
to devote a man's self to God, to be a sincere follower 
of Christ, and to resolve upon, and to perform univer- 
sal, cordial, and constant obedience to his commands : 
thus the several sects of philosophers were called 
Pythagoreans, Platonists, Aristotelians, Epicvu-eans, 
because they embraced the systems of particular philo- 
sophers, to whom they subjected themselves as their 
masters and leaders ; but no man on earth is to be 
called father, rabbi or master, to make him absolute 
lord of conscience, but Christ alone, f 

And for the minor, it is apparent that personal cove- 
nanting v,'ith God is absolutely, essentially and indis- 
pensably necessary in the practical part of Christianity; 
that is, that no man can be a right Christian, and can 
enjoy the privileges purchased by Christ, except he 
bind himself to God by personal covenant. The chris- 
tian religion contains propositions or truths to be be- 
lieved, precepts or duties to be practised, promises or 
rewards to be enjoyed ; all these are linked together by 
an indissoluble bond. It is in vain to expect the bene- 
fits, without a due performance of the conditions. Pri- 
vileges offered require a disposition capable of reception, 
♦ 1 Cor. i. 2. t INIatt. xxiii. 8—10. 

F 2 


and personal appropriation. The sum of the gospel 
consists in these things : — namely, in general, that God 
is> in Christ reconciling the world unto himself,* that 
is, when God and man were set 'at a distance by sm, 
the righteous God being engaged to avenge liimself 
on rebel-man, Christ the Son of God, a person of infi- 
nite worth, did interpose as mediator, took upon him 
human nature, endured sufferings of infinite weight, 
to free sinners from infinite wrath, and to restore them 
to eternal favour with God, and immediate enjoyment 
of him in heaven ; and all this tendered to man in the 
most taking manner, upon easy and honourable terms, 
with the greatest security imaginable, and with threats 
of greatest severity to such as reject this kindness. 
This is the sum and substance of our Christian religion, 
and surely doth imply man's voluntary casting down 
his weapons, submitting to God's terms, and so coming 
to be at peace and friendship with God in God's way : 
and what is this but personal covenanting ? God's 
willingness is fully declared in the holy Scriptures, if 
man unfeignedly consent, the agreement is made. This 
covenanting then is the life and marrow of religion, so 
far as concerns particular souls, for no man breathing can 
expect any share in a general jiardon, except his name 
be found inserted in the instrument conveying it. The 
whole tenor of the gospel imports thus much. A con- 
ditional grant requires the performance of the condi- 
tion, in order to the enjoyment of j^rivileges : but of 
tills before. 

The third argument is derived from the nature and 
necessity of faith ; and thus I argue : — 

That which includeth the fundamental grace of 
faith, is necessary to the constitution of a saint. 

But personal covenanting includeth the grace of 
faith, saving, justifying faith. 

* 2 Cor. V. 20. 



Therefore personal covenanting is necessary to the 
being or constitution of a saint. 

The major is clear of itself, that faith is a funda- 
mental grace, and absolutely necessary to the being 
or constituting of a saint. Faith towards God is 
one of the principles of the doctrine of Christ, or 
the word of the beginning of Christ ; it unites the 
soul to him, " Christ dwells in the heart by faith, ye 
are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and 
without faith it is impossible to please God;" it is as im- 
possible to be a saint without faith, as to be a man 
without a soul, for faith purifies the heart, it sanctifies, 
it justifies, faith saveth, I mean such a faith as worketh 
by love.* The whole tenor of the gospel proves this, 
that there is no saintship without faith. 

And that personal covenanting implieth and in- 
cludeth this grace of faith is as clear ; for what is be- 
lieving but accepting Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one 
God, and our God in Christ, and receiving Jesus 
Christ as prophet, priest, and king ?f and a dedicating 
or devoting of oui*selves wholly to God to be ruled and 
guided by him, and saved in his own way ? Faith is 
not only an assent of the understanding to divine truths, 
that is too low, nor is it an assurance that Christ died 
for me, that is too high a description of it ; but it is a 
consent of the will, embracing Christ in a promise, and 
so justifies and saves, whether as an instrument appre- 
hending Christ, or as a condition of the covenant, or 
both, I dispute not ; all agree in the necessity, most in 
the nature of true justifying faith, which is to make 
particular application and personal appropriation of 
Christ, and the good tilings of the gospel. Faith doth 

* Heb. vi. 1. Eph. iii. 17. Gal. iii. 26. Heb. xi. 6. Acts 
XV. 9. xxvi. 18. Rom. iv. 5. Eph. ii. 8. Gal. v. 6. 
t John i. 12. 


make "Si)iritual privileges a man's om'ii ;* a man must 
have faith of his own, " The just shall live by faith," f 
^en promises are his own ; a personal faith is necessary 
to a personal title, and this is the same with personal 
covenanting, which appears to be necessary to the con- 
stitution of a saint. 

Fourth argument. 

That which is the proper fruit of Christ's purchase, 
is necessary to the constituting of a saint. 

But personal covenanting is the proper fruit of 
Christ's purchase. 

Therefore personal covenanting with God is necessary 
to constitute a saint. 

The major is undeniable ; for the application of 
Christ's purchase is necessary to the being of a Chris- 
tian, whether by v/ay of imputation, or communication. 
" I desire," saith the apostle, " to know nothing among 
you, but Jesus Christ and him crucified." i The whole 
body of Christianity is (as I may say,) strained into 
this quintessential extract — to know Christ, that is, 
practically, experimentally feel, taste, and improve :|| — 

1. The power of his resurrection, that is, as that is 
the exemplary cause of our spiritual and corporal 

2. The fellowsliip of his sufferings, by mortification 
of the flesh, and bearing the cross. 

3. Being made conformable imto his death, that is, 
if I have the benefit of his sufferings by imputation, 
he will convey mortifying and vivifying grace to en- 
able me to follov/ Christ my Lord through martyrdom 
to heaven, if he call me to it ; and indeed, the life of 
religion consists in participation of the benefits of 
Christ's undertakings, by justification, and by deriving 
virtue from him to crucify the flesh, to live to right- 
* 'l^towouXa^ai. t Hab. ii. 4. % 1 Cor. ii. 2. |1 Phil. iii. 10. 


eoiisness, and to follow him through sufferings to hea- 
ven. No man can be truly said to be a Christian, but 
he that partakes of the blessings of Christ's purchase, 
such as reconciliation, justification, adoption, sanctifi- 
cation, donation of the Spirit, and eternal salvation ; 
these are such privileges as are absolutely necessary to 
the being of a saint. 

And that personal covenanting is a fruit of Christ's 
purchase, yea and the only way to enjoy benefit by the 
former privileges, is also clear from many scriptures, 
Rom. xiv. 7 — 9 ; the two former verses express the 
Christian's absolute devotedness to God, " whether we 
live or die we are the Lord's," that is, absolutely dedi- 
cated to the Lord, by a personal covenant, and why 
so ? how comes this to pass ? why ver. 9, tells us, 
*' for to this end Christ both died, and rose, and re- 
vived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and 
living," Christ's dominion, and a Christian's relation 
extending not only to this life but the other. And our 
relation to God is founded on redemption ; *' he died, 
and gave himself for us, to purify to himself a peculiar 
people."* Christians are bought with a price, that they 
may, by devoting all to him, glorify God in soul and 
body which are his.f The redeemed saint doth actually 
give up himself to the Lord upon these terms, which 
are judged highly rational, so saith the apostle, 2 Cor. 
V. 14, 15, "For the love of Christ constraineth us, be- 
cause v/e thus judge ;" observe it, love draws the affec- 
tions, and the reasonableness of it convinceth the judg- 
ment, " that if one died for all, then were all dead," 
he finds us dead in Adam, and makes us die to sin by 
grace ; " and that he died for all, that they which live 
should not henceforth live unto themselves, but to him 
which died for them." Christ became like us, that we 
* Titus ii. 14. t 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20. 


may be conformed to him ; he was given up for iis> 
that we may be given to him ; yea, he gives himself to 
vis, and it is just that we receive him, and give up our- 
selves to him. And indeed if Christians be Christ's 
purchase, it is fit he should have possession of them ; 
a right to us is not available, without a right in us ; 
the efficacy of his Spirit seconds the virtue of his 
merit ; the Holy Ghost bows the will to give consent to 
enter this covenant ; and this is the fruit of Christ's pur- 
chase: thus personal covenanting is essential to a saint. 
Fifth argument is formed from the vow in baptism, 
thus : — 

That which persons are obliged to by baptism is es- 
sential to constitute a samt. 

But personal covenanting is tliat to which all are 
obliged by baptism. 

Therefore personal covenanting is essentially neces- 
sary in the constitution of a saint. 

For the first proposition, that that to which persons 
are obliged by baptism doth really constitute a saint; 
this is apparent, for our bai^tism, (of which we are 
generally partakers in infancy,) is that sacramental act 
instituted by Christ for the solemnizing of the cove- 
nant of Christianity, between God and man, and the 
solemn im'estiiig of us in that blessed relation, obliging 
us to become his devoted servants, obedient subjects, 
and faithful soldiers. Baptism is taking enlisting- 
money to be the Lord's, and as it invests us in the 
privileges, so it binds us to the duties of Christians : 
thus the whole covenant is contained in baptism, mercy 
on God's part, diity on ours; the words of the institution 
comprehend this dedication to God, Matt, xx^•iii. 19, 
" Baptizing them in, or into, the name of the Father," 
that is, owning God as creator, preserver, rector, bene- 
factor, father, and author, and object of our happiness ; 


*' of the Son," that is, taking Christ as our Saviour, 
redeemer, head, husband, teacher of us, sovereign 
over us, intercessor for us : " and of the Holy Ghost," 
that is, entertaining him, subjecting ourselves to the 
illuminating, sanctifying, quickening Spirit of light, 
love, and holy life, consenting to be the Lord's, repent- 
ing of sin, renouncing the devil, the world, and the 
flesh ; this is the baptismal covenant, and no less goes 
to make a true Christian. 

And that all who are baptized are obliged to be the 
Lord's by covenant, not only in infancy, but also to 
enter into personal covenant with God at years of dis- 
cretion, may be easily proved ; some say that baptism 
brings that general law of grace or conditional promise, 
" He that believeth shall be saved,"* into an actual 
mutual covenant, upon man's consent ; for the Lord 
by his minister in that seal stipulates, that is, he demands 
of the party baptized, w^hether he sincerely consent on 
his part, and upon supposition he doth, he delivers the 
covenant-gifts to him or his, which are at present con- 
ferred, so far as the ordinance extends ; if the baptized 
be an infant, and die so, there are rational grounds to 
believe its state safe ; if it continue to maturity, the par- 
ticular application is made upon personal covenanting; 
therefore children must be instructed in the use and 
ends of baptism, that they may with the understanding 
renew their baptismal vow, whether at eight, or ten, 
or twelve, or sixteen, years of age, I dispute not : Rev. 
Mr. T. Case owned God at six years of age, and served 
him till eighty-four, yea the baptized must set them- 
selves as solemnly to transact this covenant engage- 
ment, as if it were now first to be done ; and indeed the 
stress of the covenant relation of adult persons lies 
upon this personal engagement. Thousands have 
• Mark, xvi. 16. 


gone to hell with baptismal water on their faces : if the 
house of Israel be uncircumcised in heart, they shall be 
tanked, punished, yea, banished with Egypt, Edom, 
Moab, and Ammon. Are ye not, said God, as the chil- 
dren of Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? even 
the circumcised Jews are but a generation of vipers, 
without faith and repentance ; for circumcision only 
profiteth the sincere, genuine saint, who is circumcised 
in heart, who is a new creature, who hath faith work- 
ing by love, which otherwise avails nothing, * no, nor 
baptism : the ark of the covenant will not save them 
that are out of the covenant: this seal of grace saves 
not slighters of grace. Baptism saves (it is true,) "but 
not the putting away of the filth of the flesh," (that is 
but skin deep,) " but the answer of a good conscience 
towards God," 1 Pet. iii. 21. As many as have been 
baptized into Christ, who have the whole of baptism, 
literally and spiritually, have put on Christ,f that is, by 
faith ; thus are we all children of God by faith in Christ 
Jesus ; well then, personal covenanting is of absolute 
necessity to christianize persons christened in infancy: 
yea, a great divine hath left it upon record, that of two 
evils the church is more corrupted, for want of such a 
solemn, serious renewing of the baptismal covenant 
when at age, and by turning confirmation into a cere- 
mony, than by the Baptists who call people to be seri- 
ously rebaptized, as the African Council did those who 
had been baptized by heretics,:]: and certainly the heart 
consent in covenanting is absolutely necessary. 

Sixth argument, I draw from a fitness required for 
the Lord's supper, thus : — 

That which qualifies persons for a due participa- 

• Jer. ix. 25, 26. Amos ix. 7- IMatt. iii. 7? 8. Rom. ii. 29. 
Gal. vi. 15. Gal. v. 6. t Gal. iii. 26, 27. 

+ Mr. Baxter, Catechising, p. 400. 


tion of tlie Lord's supper is necessary to constitute a 

But personal covenanting with God is that which, 
amongst other things, qualifies persons for the due par- 
ticipation of the Lord's supper. 

Therefore personal covenanting is necessary to con- 
stitute a saint. 

That those who partake of this ordinance ought to 
be saints, I think is past doubt — saints professionally 
in the judgment of the church's charity, saints really in 
God's account, if they expect any benefit from this 
blessed ordinance. It was " they that gladly received 
the word, who were baptized, and so being added to the 
church, continued stedfastly in the apostle's doctrine, 
fellowship, breaking of bread, and in prayers," Act. ii. 
41, 42. This ordinance " is a communion of the body 
and blood of Christ,"* and that presupposeth union to 
liim ; it is a heap of wheat set about with lillies, lilly- 
white saints.f Dogs are not fit for children's bread. 
Hypocrites partake of the supper of the Lord, not of 
the Lord in the supper. It is living persons only that 
are capable to feed on Christ ; " He that eateth his 
flesh and drinketh his blood," that is, by saving faith, 
" he," and he only, " hath eternal life ;":|: this is the 
truth, (whatever terms of communion churches have, lar- 
ger or stricter,) that real saintship is necessary to spiri- 
tual feasting on Jesus Christ: holy things for holy men. 

And that personal covenanting with God is necessary 
to qualify persons for due and profitable participation 
of the Lord's supper is clear, if we consider the nature 
of that precious ordinance. The Lord's supper is a sa- 
cred institution, in which, by bread and wine, conse- 
crated, broken, poured out, given, taken, eaten and 

» I Cor. X. 16. t Cant. vii. 2. J John vi. 53, 54, 57, 


drunk, the sacrifice of Christ's body and blood for our 
redemption is commemorated, and the covenant of 
Christianity mutually and solemnly renewed and sealed, 
in which Christ, with the benefits of his covenant is 
given to the faithful, and they reciprocally give up 
themselves to Christ, as members of his church, with 
which they profess communion. All this implieth and 
supposeth a personal covenanting ; for what is a seal 
without a bond ? This seal is annexed to the bond of 
the covenant ; this bond is mutual and reciprocal. God 
gives his Son, (and consequently himself,) to the 
believing soul, and as the worthy comiTiunicant accepts 
him, so he dedicates himself entirely to God, and this is 
personal covenanting; this is a professing and a confirm- 
ing of a mutual covenant, by this sacred seal : our Lord 
saitli, " This is my blood of the new testament "wiiich 
is shed for many, for the remission of sins,"* and this 
is made over to individuals ; take, eat, this is my body 
which is broken for thee, and thee in particular ; and 
no man is a worthy receiver, but he that is in covenant: 
others eat and drink unworthily, and are guilty of the 
body and blood of the Lord, and eat and drink judg- 
ment to themselves.f Thou hast no right to the Lord 
of the supper, and therefore not to the supper of the 
Lord without covenanting ; this is the chief thing 
wherein the communicant must examine himself: eat- 
ing a morsel of bread, and drinking a cup of wine is 
not the chief thing in this solemnity ; the covenant 
must be made before, and renewed, and confirmed at 
this table. The marrow and mystery of this ordinance 
is a mutual surrendering of God and the soul to each 
other, with free acceptation. It is true it is a comme- 
moration of this propitiatory sacrifice, but that sup- 
• Matt. xxvi. 28. Luke xxii. 20. t 1 Cor. xi. 27, 28. 


poses a person's embracing a crucified Jesus, renounc- 
ing the devil, the world, and the flesh, and swearing 
fealty and fidelity to him all his days. 

Seventh argument is this : 

That which is essential to the change produced by 
the Holy Ghost in believers, is necessary to the consti- 
tution of a saint. 

But personal covenanting with God is essential to 
the change produced by the Holy Ghost in believers. 

Therefore personal covenanting with God is neces- 
sary to the constitution of a saint. 

That none are real saints but those that have the 
Spirit of God, is clear from Rom. viii. 9, " Now if any 
man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his ;" 
and ver. 14, " For as many as are led by the Spirit of 
God, they are the sons of God ;" it is a contradiction 
to say a man is spiritual, without the Spirit ; they 
are sensual that have not the Spirit; real saints are spi- 
ritualized ; they receive the Spirit by the hearing of 
faith, they are baptized into it, are regenerated bv it, 
led by it, walk in it, have the first fruits of it, are as- 
sisted in prayer by it, are sealed with this Holy Spirit of 
promise, and thus it becomes the earnest of their fu- 
ture inheritance, surely all these places are not insig- 
nificant.* There are such in the world as have the 
Spirit ; can we imagine the Holy Ghost is withdrawn, 
when our Lord promiseth it shall continue with his 
followers for everPf Is he unfaithful to his word ? or 
is the Holy Ghost unfaithful to his office ? hath God 
no church or people on earth ? Let not mortal man 
slight or scorn the Spirit's influence, or deny his opera- 
tions, lest that sin border upon the unpardonable sin ; 
we assert not immediate and extraordinary inspirations, 

* Jude 19. Gal. iii. 2. 1 Cor. xii. 13. Gal. v. 16, 18. Rom. 
viii. 2(3. Eph. i. 1.3, 14. t John xiv. 16. 


or influence, to enable men to indite scriptures, know 
secrets, or work miracles, but doubtless there are sanc- 
tifying, illuminating, regulating operations of the Spirit 
upon the hearts of believers. If this concern not Chris- 
tians at this day, we must seek another Bible ; surely 
these expressions were not calculated for the meridian 
of apostolic days, but are suited to the saints in all 
ages to the end of the world, since Christ's promise 
and prayer concern us as well as tliem.* 

Now for the minor, that personal covenanting with 
God is essential to the change produced by the Holy 
Ghost upon believers; this is plain, for as the perfective 
works of God are ascribed to the Holy Ghost, so the 
due application of Christ's merits, and fruits of his 
death, resurrection and ascension, is made by the Holy 
Spirit; yea, all that Christ hath done is ineffectual to the 
soul without this. The Holy Ghost communicates to the 
believer, light, life, love and habits of grace, excites acts of 
grace, works faith, engages him to prefer unseen, heaven- 
ly treasui'es to earthly grandeur, and venture his soul and 
highest concerns upon God's infallible word ; this is 
the work of the Spirit, to unite God and the soul to- 
gether, for he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit ;f 
as this union is by covenanting, so it has the import 
of the phrases, cleaving to the Lord, and swearing by 
his name, Deut. x. 20 ; being thus one spirit means a 
conjunction of his spirit with the Spirit of Christ, or 
by one and the same Spirit of God, as the cause of this 
union, and the Christian thereby becomes actuated by 
the same spirit, according to the same rule, for the 
same end, though in an inferior degree, in a lower 
sphere; yet as he is, so are we in the world, being ani- 
mated by the same spirit as Christ is.:j: All relation 
to God, and harmony of affections in saints, proceeds 
• Matt, xxviii. 20. Joh. xvii. 20- t 1 Cor. vi. I7. ; 1 Joh. iv. I7. 


from the Holy Spirit, where the Spirit of the Lord is, 
there is liberty ;* that is, the Holy Spirit dissolves all 
other bonds of a sinful nature, and being made free 
from sin, he binds the soul to God to become his ser- 
vant by this covenant bond ; f the Spirit holds the be- 
liever's hand, while he subscribes his name to the Lord ; 
this is what forms the blessed agreement, and there- 
fore it is put into the covenant, Isa, lix. 21 ; we should 
never join hands with God in covenant, did not the 
Spirit lift up our hand as high as heaven ; and those 
cannot be saints that are not thus consecrated to God, 
and united to him by the Spirit ; and this leads to the 

Eight argument, drawn from the nature of sanctifi- 

That which includes and supposes sanctification must 
needs go to the constitution of a saint. 

But covenanting with God doth include and suppose 

Therefore covenanting with God must needs go to 
constitute a real saint. 

Indeed it is a gross contradiction to call a man a saint, 
without sanctification ; this were as absurd as to say a 
man were a rational creature without a reasonable soul. 
It is true, some may be nominally or professionally ac- 
counted saints, that yet are not savingly sanctified ; but 
none are so indeed who shall be gathered together with 
saints, and rewarded as such at the last day, but they 
that are sanctified wholly, or throughout in soul, spirit 
and body ; without holiness no man shall see God ; 
the pure in heart shall see God ; if any are chosen to 
salvation, it is still through sanctification of the Spirit ; :|: 
the justified are sanctified ; holiness is the badge of 
all God's children ; and though profane wits may scofi* 

• 2 Cor. iii. 17. t Rom. vi. 22. 

t 1 Thess. V. 23. Heb. xii. 14. Matt. v. 8. 2 Thes«. ii. 13. 

80 baptis:mal bonds. 

at the name, yet all that are partakers of the heavenly 
calling, are holy brethren ;* there is no medium, all 
persons either bear the character of saints or brutes, 
are like angels or like devils ; and this holiness must be 
according to the scripture rule ; there must be grace 
in the heart, and holiness in the life, according to the 
pattern ; " Be ye holy, for I am holy ;"f as he is holy, 
not by a parity but sincerity, not by equality but 
integrity ; you must have a personal holiness, or have 
no personal happiness, for there shall in no wise enter 
into heaven any thing that defileth. 

And that holiness, or sanctification doth chiefly con- 
sist in covenanting with God, is plain from the notion 
of the word which signifies a separation of a person 
or thing, from a common to a sacred use, or a conse- 
cration or dedication to God, I which is nothing else 
but this covenanting ; Psal. iv. 3, " But know ye that 
the Lord hath set apart the man that is godly for him- 
self ;" which imports both parts of sanctification, 
namely, a mortification or dying to sin, and vivificatiou 
or living to God. " Sanctification," saith a great divine, 
" is no less than for a man to be brought to an entire 
resignation of his will to the will of God, and to live 
in the offering up of his soul continually in the flames 
of love, as a whole burnt-ofiering to Christ :" this, this 
is the true covenanting of which I am treating. "Every 
devoted thing," saith the scripture, " is most holy unto 
the Lord -,"11 if you be sanctified by the Spirit, and 
have dedicated yourselves to God, according to God's 
institution, you have rightly covenanted with him, and 
so are saints or sanctified ; but without this no saint- 

• Heb. iii. 1. + 1 Pet. i. 16. 

:{: ^np ab usu communi ad divinum separatus. Joel. i. 14. 

11 Lev. xxvii. 28. 


Ninth argument. 

That which marries a soul to God is necessary to 

But this personal covenanting marries the soul to 

Therefore this covenanting with God is necessary to 

The major is clear ; the soul's marriage to God or 
Christ is, in the scripture language, a periphrasis or 
manner of expression to describe a real saint, or a be- 
liever ; the scriptures are copious, " I will betroth thee 
unto me for ever ;"* and this is an exemplifying of the 
covenant before mentioned ; " Thy maker is thy hus- 
band, and I am married to thee, saith the Lord ;"f 
the paranymphs or wooers for Christ are gospel mini- 
sters, who entreat sinners to enter into this engage- 
ment, and rejoice as friends of the bridegroom when 
they perceive it likely to go on ; 1 then as a young 
man marries a virgin, so do the church's sons marry 
church members to Jesus Christ, so Paul espoused the 
believing Corinthians to one husband ; || the terms of 
this contract or conjugal bond are : thou shalt be for 
me alone, and not for another, and take me in all states 
and conditions, deny thyself, take up thy cross and 
follow me ; this is true saintship.^ Our Lord marries 
none but those who have been divorced from a former 
husband ; they are dead to the law who are married to 
Christ ; ^[ none but saints are married to Christ, he 
makes them so, though he does not find them so, see 
Eph. V. 25—28. 

That personal covenanting marrieth the soul to God, 
is plain, for marriage is a mutual consent declared be- 

* Hos. ii. 19. ver. 18, 20. t Isa. liv. 5. Jer. iii. 12, 14. 

t Prov. ix. 3. John iii. 29. || Isa. Ixii. 5. 2 Cor. xi. 2. 

§ Hos. iii. 3. Matt. xvi. 24. Rev. xiv. 4. ^ Rom. vii. 4. 



fore witnesses, wliereb}' the parties accept of each other 
as man and wife, and give up themselves to each other 
in that near relation ; thus do God and the believing 
soul. God declares his free consent in the scriptures, 
and now the convert is made truly v.illing, and per- 
sonally owns God, and manifests his consent ; thus the 
engagement is made. This mutual surrender or deliver- 
ing of themselves to one another, is the substance of 
this covenant marriage, for covenanting is so essential 
to niarriajre, that it is called the covenant of God;* 
and from thence results that reciprocal right or title, 
that married persons have to the bodies or estates of 
each other, called in scripture power or privilege, more 
than any other persons have or can have ;| the case is 
so here, and it is expressed in the covenant with Abra- 
ham, and so with all his seed, Gen. xvii. 7, " And I 
will establish my covenant between me and thee — to 
be a God unto thee, and to thy seed for ever :" _ that 
is, on God's part. " I am thine," saith David, Psal. 
cxix. 9-* ; there is the soul's part in this marriage ; 
and still there is a mutual profession of this relation 
after this marriage coA'enant is formed — thou art my 
God, saith the saint ; thou art my child, subject, 
servant, saith God to the soul; Isa. xliii. 1, "Thus 
saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob — I have re- 
deemed thee, I have called thee by thy name ; thou 
art mine,"! these words are so full and emphatical, (saith 
Mr. Weemse, II) that the Jews write these two short 
words LI ATTA, thou art mine, as a motto upon their 
rings, and about their gates, as the sum of the whole 
covenant, and comprehending all the promises ; and it 
is worth our observing, that when God betroths his 
people to himself, by making a covenant with them, he 

* Frov. ii. 17- IMal. ii. jl, 14. + 1 Cor. vii. 4. f:. . mnuf/. 
+ nr<>} "'b tu mihi. II Weemse's Exp. of moral law, p. 26. 


then makes s covenant for tlism with the beasts of the 
iield, Hos. ii. 18, 19. The influences of heaven, fruitrul- 
ness of the earth, nourishment bv corn, wine, and oil, 
are happy consequences of this marriage covenant, or 
blessed contract ; yea, all the attributes of God, the 
offices of Christ, and operations of the Holy Spirit, are 
made over to the covenant soul for its good; the ground 
of all is, that God saith, "I will say to them which were 
not my people. Thou art my people, and they shall say, 
Thou art my God," see ver. 2'.>, And is not this 
marriage covenant necessary to saintship ? is it not 
necessary that God should be our God ? Then this 
personal covenanting is needful. 

The tenth and last argument I shall produce is this : — 

That which qualifies persons for receiving gospel 
privileges, is necessary to constitute a saint. 

But personal covenanting with God qualifies persons 
for receiving gospel privileges. 

Therefore personal covenanting is necessary to con- 
stitute a saint. 

The truth of the first proposition is evident ; for if 
saintship is necessary to give a right to partake of gos- 
pel privileges, so, that which qualifies persons for re- 
ceiving them, is necessary to constitute a saint. By 
gospel privileges I mean justification, adoption, recon- 
ciliation, communion with God, hearing of prayers, eter- 
nal salvation ; these make children's bread, and which 
is not to be given to dogs; it is true, dogs maybe about 
the table, and some crumbs may fall to them, such as 
being baptized, externall}'' called, having communion 
with God's people, enjoying outward ordinances, but 
none enjoy the aforesaid saving benefits but real saints, 
-none can expect to receive legacies, but such as are 
qualified according to the last will of the testator ; so 
it would be insufferable presumption to challenge a 

G 2 


share in spiritual comforts without suitable dispositions. 
It is true, no man can produce those qualifications of 
himself, nor may we expect to bring them as a price 
to procure acceptance; but divine grace chains together 
graces and privileges, duties and dignities. Our I^ord 
is a prince to give repentance to those ; to whom he is 
a Saviour to give remission of sins;* only true believ- 
ers are justified, none but the sanctified are saved, there 
are some things that accompany salvation,f that is, 
some sincere qualifications that proceed from special 
grace, and end in eternal glory; and though these 
merit not heaven, yet they render persons meet for that 
heavenly inheritance ;i: this is called worthiness, " they 
shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy ;"|| 
this is to be understood in an evangelical sense. Holi- 
ness capacitates for the exercise of grace, and gives ac- 
tual possession of, and comfort in gospel privileges; the 
habit and state give an hereditary right : the drawing 
forth of those habits in act gives an aptitude and fit- 
ness for a due improvement of these privileges. 

With respect to the minor, that covenanting with 
God qualifies the soul to receive gospel privileges: what 
is covenanting but a returning to God by faith and re- 
pentance ? A heart devoted to God, and accepting of 
God, is a soul entitled to the favour of God : faith is an 
accepting or receiving of God and Christ, " to as many 
as received him, he gives power, right or privilege, 
i^ova'iav, to become the sons of God, and so to partake 
of the benefits of filiation. J Abraham's advantages 
were by promise, that is, by compact or covenant, and 
so are the privileges that appertain to Abraham's spiri- 
tual see«l ; ^ he that hath the tree hath right to all the 
fruit growing on that tree ; " so he that hath the Son 

* Acts V. 31. xiii. 39. xxvi. 18. -'r Heb. vi. 9 t Col. i. 12. 
11 Rev. iii. 4. § John i. 12. ^ Gal. iii. 18. 


hath life;* he that hath right to the tree of life, doth 
enter in through the gates into the city,f " for all the 
promises of God in him are yea, and in him Am.en."+ 
A title to the tree of life was lost by the fall, but is re- 
stored in a covenant way ; he that comes not in at this 
door, hath neither part nor lot in the matter ; general 
declarations advantage not without particular applica- 
tion ; " the just shall live by his faith ;" an individual 
soul may perish notwithstanding that Christ is a com- 
mon Saviour, except he be his in covenant. A drown- 
ing man in a brook lifted up his eyes, and seeing the 
rainbow, called to mind the promise, that there shall 
not be anymore a flood to destroy the earth ;|| but 
then he said, reflecting painfully on his situation, Alas 
what is this to me, who am now drowning in this 
flood ? even so, nothing but personal title yields per- 
sonal comfort ; and without personal covenanting there 
is no personal title. Persons are but, in a sort, tanta- 
lized, not satisfied without particular appropriation ; 
the glory of religion lies in propositions or promises, 
but our comfort in religion stands in possessives : the 
excellence of our duty consists in adverbs, but the safety 
of our state in pronouns, mine, thine, ours.^ What is 
God, if he be not my God ? Mliat is pardon and hea- 
ven, if not mine ? That is the sweetest text in the 
Bible, John xx. 17, " I ascend to my Father, and your 
Father, and to my God and your God," when we can 
individually re-echo Thomas's confession, ver. 28, "My 
Lord and my God." The most aspiring hypocrite can- 
not truly say this word, My God. Ahaz durst not say 
" I will not tempt the Lord iiuj God,'" but Isaiah could 
say, " will ye weary my God also."^ But why doth 

* 1 John V. 12. t Rev. xxii. 14. +2 Cor. i. 20. 
II Gen. ix. 11. § Quid est Deus si non sit meus.'' 
ir Isa. vii. 12, 13. 


Isaiah say to Ahaz, tJnj God? ver. 11. I ans^ver, to 
remind him of his duty, to take God for his God ac- 
^cording to his profession, as if he had said, thou ought- 
est to own him as thy God. But doth not Balaam the 
magician say, "I cannot go be)'ond the word of the 
Lord, my God."* A learned v/riter observes that Ba- 
laam called God, his God, after the manner of the 
eastern nations, taking him to be the God of his coun- 
try,! who had informed his mind, and enlightened it 
at that time. But it is one tiling what presumption 
may assert, another what sincerity can prove, or God 
approve : wicked men may make confident claims, but 
the covenanted soul owns God by scripture warrant ; 
for none have a title to God's favour but such as are 
in covenant with him. Thus I have despatched the 
arguments, to prove that personal covenanting with 
God is the constituent property of a real saint ; and so 
prepared my v/ay for my main design. 


Vv'lTH GOD. 

III. It is now pro])osed to ascertain, as biiefiy as 
may be, what frame of sj)irit a vava\ is to bring to the 
engagement, wlio vrill solemnly and acceptably perform 
this great duty of personal covenanting ? 

And here I would be both tender of the sincere at- 
tempts of weak Christians, and yet faithful to the souls 
of all, that none may deceive himself w^ith an honest 
" Num. xxil. 18. Weems on ]Mcrd Law, p. 27- t 1 Kings xi. 33. 


intention without due qualifications for such an engage- 
mant. If Estlier must have twelve months' prepara- 
tion, by i)urincation, six months' with oil of myrrh, and 
six months' with sv^^eet odours, that she might be pre- 
pared to be married to an earthly monarch ;* O what 
need have souls to be duly qualified for entering this 
intimate alliance with the King of kings ! the soul is 
brought unto the King in raiment of needle-work.f 
Christians must first prepare their hearts, and then 
stretch out their hands towards God;:|: which is not only 
in prayer, and such particular duties, but in this solemn 
act of covenanting, which was done by the ceremony 
of lifting up, or stretching out the hand, Psal. cxix. 48, 
*' My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments 
which I have loved," that is, I have made a covenant 
with God according to his v/ord, or to keej) his com- 

Before I mention these preparatives to the formation 
of a covenant engagement ; observe. 

That there is a twofold covenanting with God, name- 
ly, virtual and formal ; the First is implied, whereby a 
Christian doth consecrate himself to God in every per- 
formance, as in reading, hearing, praying, meditating, and 
thereby profess his relation to God as his Father, and 
dedication to God as his child, servant, subject: this is 
a covenanting with God by sacrifice, of which before, 
and this must be prepared for, and seriously regarded 
in all our approaches to God ; but this is not all that I 
mean, for, 

Secondly, there is a solemn, express, and professed 
entering into and renewing of covenant with God, and 
time set apart chiefly for that engagement, reducing all 
other Christian exercises to a subordination, for help- 
ing on the soul in this work ; and as I have proved 

• Esther ii. 12. * t Psal. xlv. 14. X -^^h xi. 13. 


that it is essential to saintship, yea, the constituent form 
of a Christian, as a Christian; so other religious duties 
contribute their assistance for the due management of 
this important affair ; for which therefore preparation 
must be made. 

1. You must understand what you are going about. 
Without knowledge the heart is not good, or that the 
soul be without knowledge it is not good ;* the cove- 
nanting Christian must have his eyes in his head. Let 
others say, ignorance is the mother of devotion, we say, 
of destruction, for, saith God, " ]My people are des- 
troyed for lack of knowledge."! ]\Ien cannot <?;ive a 
due consent to that of which they are ignorant. " Thou 
shalt swear," or covenant with God by oath, " the Lord 
liveth," tliat is, as the object, author, and f aintain of 
life and happiness ; but how ? " in tmth, in judgment, 
and in righteousness ;"]: judgment is set in the middle, 
as looking inward at the truth and sincerity of the 
heart, and looking forward at the due performance of 
the oath in righteousness ; for men may swear to what 
is a truth considered materially, yet swear falsely in a 
moral sense, as it respects their own sentiments and 
views ; " Though they say the Lord liveth, surely 
they swear falsely :"jj a truth in il-elf is a falsehood in 
their mouths. O Christians, you have a great need to 
know what you do ; you must get a due understanding 
of the nature and attributes of that God with whom 
you covenant; of yourselves, what you were by creation 
in innocency, what you are by the fall in sin and misery, 
what you must be by grace in yciir recovery ; by 
whose means, and upon what basis this new covenant 
is founded and depends, even Christ the mediator; by 
whom, christian graces, and spiritual dispositions are 
wrought, and beueiits conveyed, namely by the Holy 
• Prov. xlx. 2. t Hos. TV. 6. i Jer. iv. 2. || Jer. v. 2. 


Ghost ; what are the privileges made over to the sin- 
cere covenanter ; what are the terms, for what end 
and design it is proposed, God's glory, and man's good ; 
the different administrations, and gracious promises 
comprehended in this glorious dispensation : such 
things you must know, or else you do, you know not 
what, when you go about personal covenanting, Joshua 
would not suffer Israel to enter into covenant, till he 
had informed their judgments, and rectified their mis- 
takes ; see Joshua xxiv. 16 — 25 ; and our Lord Jesus 
thought fit to acquaint a forward young gentleman 
with the terms upon which he must be a Christian, 
Matt. xix. IG — 22; the former did enter into a cove- 
nant on being well advised, the latter, a false-hearted 
hypocrite, took his leave ; as he liked not the terms, he 
bid farewel, and it was as well to part at first as last ; 
for Christ and the depraved heart must part. Our 
Lord loves not to decoy men into his service by a mis- 
take, he loves plain dealing, and tells them the worst 
at first, he will have no self-deceiving followers ; they 
say, war is pleasant to the unexperienced ;* a red coat, a 
good suit, money in hand, and fair promises tempt 
fond young men to list themselves, but when they meet 
with winter lodgings in the open air, storming towns, or 
sharp service in a field of battle, they come off with, I 
little thought of this, and flinch away and outrun their 
colours, and if they are caught they suffer : thus do 
many in religion, they engage themselves in it, they 
know not why, and forsake it they know not for what. 
It is told of one of the kings of England, in the time 
of the heptarchy, that hearing a Christian bishop or 
minister when preaching lay open the excellencies and 
privileges of Christianity, he would needs in post-haste 
turn Christian and be baptized, and was so, it may be, 
* Dulce bellum inexpertis. 


too hastily, and fell again into his old vanities and 
debaucheries ; being then admonished, that that course 
of life was inconsistent with Christianity, he presently 
abandoned his new assumed religion, that he might 
retain his old abominations. It is well if many do not 
thus own religion merely from a mistake ; and there- 
fore the primitive church appointed catechists to train 
up and try new couA'erts for a season, in order to their 
solemn entering into a baptismal covenant, and being 
received as adult members to all church privileges. 
O that you did duly understand what you do in this 
great affair ; think and think again of it ; learn all 
that it is fit you should know ; it is dangerous to be 
invincibly ignorant, it is ruinous to be wilfully ignorant; 
if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost ;* and 
if you neither know this way of peace, nor study to 
know it, but say to God, " Depart from us, we desire 
not the knowledge of thy ways ;"f I pronounce you to 
be without Christ, " aliens from the commonwealth of 
Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having 
no hope, and without God in the world."! O then, as 
ever }'0u would seriously enter into this covenant, get 
your minds well informed ; be not satisfied with well- 
meaning, or an honest mind, which carnal hearts join- 
ing with Socinians do applaud, though distinct from, 
yea, without saving knowledge ;jj but you have not so 
learned Christ ; see then that you thus hear him, and 
be taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus ; ^ and then 
you are prepared for covenanting \Aith him. 

2. You must break off confederacy with all others. 
This is absolutely necessary; no covenanting with God 
till you be divorced from the world, the flesh, and the 
devil ; our Lord admits of no competition ; the throne 

* 2 Cor. iv. 3. t Rom. iii. I7. Job xxi. 14. + Eph. ii. 12. 

II Vid. Dr. Tuckney, Thes. prael. Theol. p. 181. § Eph. iv. 21- 


and bed suffer no rival ; you cannot serve God and 
mammon, nor swear by tlie Lord and by Malcham; if 
your heart be divided you will be found wanting:"" 
" What communion hath light with darkness ? what 
concord hath Christ with Belial ?"f God will not 
treat with that man that keeps his sword in his hands; 
throw down your weapons, your sins, " wash you, 
make you clean, put away the evil of your doings," saith 
God, " from before mine eyes, cease to do evil, learn to 
do well, &c. Come now and let us reason together, saith 
the Lord;"! forsake the foolish and live, cast away 
all your idols and abominations ; say of your loveliest 
graven images of silver, and the most costly ornaments 
of your molten images of gold, "Get you hence ; what 
have I to do any more with idols ?"|| " O Lord our 
God, other lords have had dominion over us besides thee; 
but by thee only will we make mention of thy name."^ 
"God forbid that I should henceforth serve sin; if I could 
get free from sin, I should then become the servant of 
righteousness.^ I renounce my sinful self, my civil 
self, my relative, yea my righteous self, and all things 
whatsoever that stand in com])etition with thee ; yea, I 
will beat down my body, and deny my natural self of 
any thing that may feed the flesh, and make it break 
the reins of temperance, chastity, and sobriety ; by the 
assistance of God's grace I will renounce the M^orld as 
the chief source of happiness, and set miyself against 
the hist of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride 
of life, by which I have been so oft entangled."** God 
forbid that any inferior object should captivate your 
heaven-born soul ; what is gold to God ? what are 
goods to grace ? what is earth to heaven ? Alas that 

* :»ratt. vi. 24. Zeph. i. 5. Hos. x. 2. t 2 Cor. vi. 14— 16. 
J Isa. i. 10—18. II Isa. xxx. 22. Hos. xiv. 8. § Isa. xxvi. 13. 
ir Rom. vi, 18. •* 1 John ii. 16. 


gain should be your godliness, your shop, your temple, 
your coffer, your shrine ! Come, soul, do not stand out, 
Bor capitulate with God, as though you were upon equal 
terms with him, or as princes, that, if their opponents 
come not up to their proposal, prepare to take up arms 
and right or revenge themselves by force. Be it 
known to you, that you are rebel-subjects, whom the 
great King hath bound in chains, and can hang up 
at his pleasure for your treasons ; only he waits with 
patience till you return to allegiance, and upon lower 
terms he will not receive you ; then cast down your 
arms, and cry for mercy. God's justice and holiness 
are both engaged against sin, " There is no peace, saith 
my God, to the wicked ;" * there is one red letter in 
God's name, " he will by no means clear the guilty," f 
that is, the wicked, who holds fast his deceit; he cannot 
be reconciled to the sinner, who loves his sin more 
than God ; and he doth so who will not part with sin 
to be in friendship with God ; he that keeps his niake- 
bate in his bosom, shall not be taken into God's bosom ; 
for sin only made the breach, and divorce from sin 
only makes up the breach ; canst thou expect God 
should betray his honoui', and deny himself to gratify 
thee ? did you ever hear of a prince giving permission 
to effect his own dethronement? Nov/ sin is high 
treason against the Sovereign of the universe;:!: as 
long as the traitor is within, God will not raise the 
seige or hear of treating for peace ; cut off the head of 
Sheba the son of Bichri, cast it over the wall,|| and you 
shall find him a friend ; nor must you think, as one 
saith, to send a beloved lust out of the way for a while, 
as princes use to do with their favourites in a popular 
commotion to please the people, and then call them 

* Isa. Ivii. 21. t Exod. xxxiv. 7- 

X Omne peccatum est deicidium. || 2 Sam. xx. 22. 


home when the storm is over : God will not thus be 
mocked, either bid a perpetual adieu to sin, or God 
and your souls Avill never meet in amity ; nothing but 
sin will forbid the banns of marriage betwixt God and 
you ; and what lust is so sweet, so profitable, for 
which it is worth being tormented in hell for ever? 
When Darius fled before Alexander, he cast away his 
massy crown from his head, which encumbered him in 
his escape, so do thou, Heb. xii. 1. 

3. Your will must be disposed to give a cordial con- 
sent. An assent of the understanding, or a withdraw- 
ment of the aifections from sin, in some instances, is 
not enough, except there be a mighty change of the 
will ; the will is the refuser and chooser of objects, it 
is the master wheel in the soul; it is the soul's weight, 
for which way that goes, all goes ; aifections are but 
movements of the will ; you will never hate sin till 
the will be set against it ; your sins may leave you, the 
unclean spirit may go out, but is not driven out, unless 
the will be set against it. Moses's choice was in his 
will, and he forsook the court when grown up ; reason 
dictated to his will, and the will complied with reason. 
A man doth not forsake his wife when he is detained 
from her in prison, but when he puts her away and 
gives her a bill of divorce ; and no man can be forced 
to marry a wife, or a wife a husband against their will; 
that is no marriage which wants consent of the will. 
God lays the chief stress on this, " if you be willing 
and obedient : you will not come to me that you may 
have life ; the people shall be willing in the day of thy 
power; if there be first a willing mind it is accepted;"* 
if the Avill be ready the whole man is ready. What we 
are willing to do, we put all things in a readiness to ac- 
complish : as one saith, " Because the Lord is ready 

* Isa. i. 19. John v. 40. Psal. ex. 3. 2 Cor. viii. 12. 


to forgive, he keeps, as it were, blank pardcrss by him 
to distribute to penitents ; it is but- putting a name 
fo them, and it is done ;" so when a man's will is re- 
newed, he subscribes with his hand to the Lord, a cove- 
nant engagement is made; he becomes a^ illing and ready- 
to embrace the first o])portunity, he sets all things in 
order for it, he puts off other business and company, 
and withdraws himself to manage the concern effectual- 
ly, notliing shall hinder him. P.Iary will throw off all 
other business, and will sit at Jesus' feet ; the bowing 
of the will unlocks tlie door, and sets it open for Christ; 
when God sailh, seek my face, the renewed will echos, 
Thy face, Lord, will I seek * But if your wills be not 
forward, you will make a thousand objections, some 
lion is in the way : you Mill not set about this or 
that eng-agement to purpose without your will ; and 
God will not receive you, except you consent with your 
heart ; this is a spiritual marriage, and requires the 
will's consent; assent of the understanding will not serve 
without consent of the will ; this is tliat which God 
chiefly requires, "My son, give me thy heart ;"f this is 
that for which ministers entreat sinners, " that with 
piurpose of heart they should cleave to the Lord ;"; this 
is the proper act of saving faith, " With the heart man 
believes."|| You do nothing except you be truly will- 
ing ; you will but mock God and deceive yourselves, 
without a willing heart. O sirs, feel your pulse, try 
your state, hath grace changed your will ? then come 
and engage in covenant with God ; " Whosoever will, 
let him take of the water of life freely."^ It is true, 
" It is God only that worketh in us, both to will and to 
do;"^ but you are to enquire whether God hath wrought 
thus ; and being acted upon you v/iil act, being moved 

• Psal. xxvii. 8. t Prov. xxiii. 26. X Act. xi. 23. 
I! Rom. X. 10. § Rev. xxii. I7. % Phil. ii. 13. 


you v/ill move npace Gocl-wards ; nothing vrill prevent 
you, and if the Vv'ill go along M'ith you, you will be 
sincere in making, and faithful in keeping this blessed 

4, Your hearts must be duly humbled ; j^our spirits 
will never stoop to gosj)el terms without sincere humi- 
liation ; " Take my yoke on you," saith Christ, how ? 
why, " learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart:"* 
that stiff sinew in your necks must be bent, or else you 
will scorn gospel terms, and be like a wild bullock, un- 
accustomed to the yoke ;f a bntken heart only will be 
fit to grieve for sin : O that you did sensibly perceive 
yourselves children of wrath by nature, bond slaves to 
Satan, enemies to God, under a dreadful curse, ready to 
perish, unable to help yourselves: O then you Vv'ill see a 
need of a physician, and willingly submit to his severest 
prescriptions, to recover your soul's health ; you v.ill lay 
yourselves low at God's feet, and judge yourselves un- 
worthy of this high honour, and say as David did once, 
" Who am I, or what is my life, that I should be thus 
advanced ?"| Seemeth it a liglit thing to be the King 
of heaven's son! Who durst have presumed to aspire 
to such an honour, if the great God had not condescend- 
ed to take such a worm? JMust the thistle in Lebanon 
be allied to the cedar in Lebanon ? |j Shall I who am 
less than the least of God's mercies, be advanced to the 
highest of ])rivileges ? Who could believe it, but that 
God himself saith it? Let the terms be what they will, 
I have great reason to acquiesce in them, and subscribe 
to them. Dismounted Saul of Tarsus will say, "Lord, 
what wouldst thou have me to do?^ or the Jews 
pricked in their hearts, " INIen and brethren, v.diat shall 
we do ?"^ or the affrighted jailor, "Sirs, what must I 

• Matt. xi. 29. + Jer. xxxi. 18. + 1 Sam. xviii. 18—23. 

li 2 Clii-on. x:.v. 18. § Act. ix. 6. 1i Act. ii. 37. 


do to be saved ?"'* or as the German divine, let us 
put our necks under Christ's yoke, and obey his word, 
if we had six hundred necks. | "When Paul was sub- 
missively humbled, he "was not disobedient to the hea- 
venly vision," nor *' consulted with flesh and blood,"! 
but immediately yielded to God's terms ; the humbled 
soul picks no quarrels with God's proposals, but freely 
subscribes to his articles, and the stricter the better ; 
let flesh complain, the humble soul takes God's side, 
and looks on all that he prescribes as holy, just, and 
good; II but a proud, unhumbled heart riseth in rebel- 
lion against God, instead of covenanting with him, and 
is ready to say as proud Pharaoh, " Who is the Lord 
that I should obey him ?" They were proud men that 
scorned Jeremiah's message, § therefore he saith, " hear 
ye, give ear, be not proud for the Lord hath spoken."^ 
Proud men are self-sufficient, and think they can shift 
well enough without God, and say, " we are lords, we 
will come no more to thee."** God knows the pi'oud 
afar off and keeps them at a distance in point of cove- 
nanting or communion, "but he gives grace to the 
humble,"!! y^^> ^^^ dwells with him who is of a contrite 
and humble spirit ;tl: the lower you are, the nearer to 
God ; you must humble yourselves to walk with God ; 
cast yourselves at his feet, and he will lift you up ; the 
showers of covenant mercy flow down into the valleys 
of humility ; lie at God's feet, and you shall receive the 
benefit resulting from his word;|||| give God glory by 
taking shame to yourselves ; be ashamed you have 
stood out so long, resisted so many calls of his word, 
impulses of his Spirit, and checks of conscience calculated 

* Act. xvi. 30. + Submittamus verbo Domini si sexcenta 

nobis essentcolla. J Act. xxvi. 19. Gal. i. 16. || Rom. vii. 12. 

§ Jer. xliii. 2. IT Jer. xiii. 15. •• Jer. ii. 31. 

tt 1 Pet. V. 5. X* Isa. Ivii. 15. |||| Deut. xxxiii. 3. 


to induce you to enter into tins covenant with the Lord ; 
lay to heart that you have so long turned a deaf ear to his 
solemn calls, and broken his bonds asunder, and cast 
his covenant behind your back. Ah soul, " see thy 
way in the valley, know what thou hast done, that thou 
hast been as a swift dromedary, traversing her ways;"* 
when God brings his j>eople to himself in covenant, 
"they shall come with weeping and with self-bemoan- 
ings :"f Oh, saith the soul, what a wretch am I ! my 
bones are full of the sins of m,y youth, I have forgot 
my baptismal covenant ; " I, like m.an," that is, Adam 
at first, " have transgressed the covenant, therein ha^^e 
I dealt treacherously against the Lord;"i yea, I have 
slidden back by a perpetual backsliding, I have held 
fast deceit, and have refused to return ;1| it is a wonder I 
am not in hell ; alas, my heart is hardened to a prodigy, 
I am as dried stubble fit for the fire, and is there yet 
any hope ? Doth God wait to be gracious ? Well, I 
come. Lord, as I can, upon my knees. O that at last my 
heart were knit to thee ! O that my heart were sincere ! 
I doubt it, I much fear it ; this depra^-ed, treacherous, 
hypocritical heart, hath so often deceived me, I have 
great reason to be jealous it will cozen me in this great 
affair. God loves to see a soul humbly bending at his 
feet, to lay hold on his covenant, that is the soul he 
will accept. It is storied of Augustus, that having pro- 
mised by proclamation a great sura of money to any 
one who should bring him the head of a famous 
pirate — the pirate hearing of this, brought it himself, 
and threw himself at his feet, he was accepted, pardon- 
ed, and rewarded ; go you and do likewise in reference 
to our gracious God. 

5. Put on a holy resolution to enter into this cove- 
nant, notwithstanding all contradiction : you will find 
* Jer. ii. 23. t Jer. xxxi. 9, IS. + Hos. vi. 7. || Jer. viii. 5. 



much opposition from \A'ithout and from within: Satan 
will interpose and forbid the bainis of this holy marriage, 
and claim an interest in you by prescription, time out 
of mind ; one v.'hile he will allure as an angel of light, 
at other times afiright as a roaring lion : * the world 
will divert or deter you, and tell you it is more ado 
than needs, thou hast something else to do : but above 
all, a deceitful heart will muster up all its faculties, 
and plausibly will begin to make excuses, | I have 
this and that to do ; the tlesh will pull back, and unite 
with the devil and the world, and say, What needs all 
this ? this preciseness is but an invention of these Pu- 
ritan priests, who would bring all folks under their 
girdle, it is enough for us to serve God, pray, attend 
church, receive the sacrament as well as we can — 
what need we to bind ourselves in covenant ? Thus a 
carnal heart would slip tlie collar, would be loose, and 
is loth to lay conscience under the severe obligation of 
a sacred oath, but still would leave some hole to creep 
out at, to gratify some appetite : and therefore you 
must put on a heroic resolution, to do it whatever it 
cost you, to act according to conviction ; to put in pre- 
sent execution what your heart suggests and your 
hand finds to do. Thus we find holy Joshua stirring 
up the people to courage as preparatory to their co- 
venanting, chap, xxiii. 6, " Be ye therefore very coura- 
geous, to keep, and to do all that is written in the 
book of the law of Moses:" and why courage? because 
they should meet with much opposition in the way of 
duty. Every part of religion hath its difficulties ; up- 
rightness hath boldness ; the Levites are said to have 
been more upright in lieart, to sanctify themselves 
than the priests were ; ± the priests shewed more po- 
licy than piety, as if they would stay a while and see 
• 2 Cor. xi. 14. 1 Pet. v. 8. t Luke xiv. 18. | 2 Chron. xxix. 34. 


how the times v/oiild prove, before thev would engage, 
lest they should be more forward than wise. Reforma- 
tion-Work is but an icy path, saith one, cowardly spirits 
love to have it well-beaten and broken by others, 
before they dare venture ; but sincerity is of a better 
cast, like the true traveller, whom no weather will 
keep from going his appointed journey. An upright 
man stands not looking at the clouds, imagining this 
or that scarecrow, but takes his warrant from the w^ord 
of God, and nothing will daunt him if he have a com- 
mission from heaven. God's pleasure is bounty-money 
to carry him through this warfare ; a resolute spirit 
chides his slack and slothful heart ; " My soul wait thou 
upon God:* my heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed," 
yet still a little short, he adds, " awake up my glory, 
awake psaltery and harp, I myself will awake early."f 
The true covenanters ask the way to Zion with their 
faces thitherwards ; ^ this shews intention and fervency 
of spirit, a magnanimous resolution to go through with 
the business, Avhatever it cost, as Christ is said, "sted- 
fastly to set his face to go to Jerusalem," || nothing could 
take him off, or make him linger or loiter in the way, 
no entreaties, fear, or shame could stay him, but he 
goes towards the place, saith Bede, with a kind of ob- 
stinate and fearless mind;^ just thus must you do, you 
must not cast about how this covenanting may consist 
with your profit, credit, ease, or carnal designs, but set 
about it with a holy magnanimity to bind hand and 
foot, soul and body to be the Lord's ; there is no delay 
or dallying in the case, but as the ten lepers said, " If 
we enter into the city, the famine is there — if we sit 
still, v/e shall die; now then let us fall to the host of the 
Syrians, if they save us alive, we live, if they kill us, 

*Ps. Ixii. 5. t Ps. Ivii. 7, 8. +Jer. 1. 5. ||Lukeix. 51. 
§ Obstinata et imperterrita mente locum petiiU 

11 2 


vv^e shall but dio ;"* so must you make a bold venture, 
not \vitli a may-be, and who can tell ? there is ground 
enough from scripture promises and precedents for faitli 
to rest upon ; God will bear you up, and bear you out 
as one of his followers : go on, soul, as ]\Ioses did, \vho 
when he was grown up, or great enough to make his 
choice, or " when he was come to years," so we read 
it, " refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 
choosing ratlier to suffer"! — he was forty years of age, 
and had often pondered it, and had laid the weights of 
all the important circumstances on both sides in the 
scales, he had counted the cost, and knew the best and 
wx)rst, and still was determined, as Ruth to follow 
Naomi, or as a woman in love with an individual, who 
says, I must have him, and will have him, though I 
beg with him ; so must you say, waving, all opposite 
persuasions, I must enter into a covenant with the Lord, 
I cannot live, I dare not die, without a relation to him 
in covenant. 

6. Propose right ends to yourselves in jiersonally 
engaging in covenant with the Lord. In all your j^ar- 
ticular duties, your ends and aims must be right, or 
you mar the success of your undertaking, and lose ac- 
ceptance with God. It is true, it is lawful for a man to 
look to his own safety, in a secondary and subordinate 
way, but this thou mayest do, and yet fail, if self be 
thy chief end ; a man taken in a storm may be forced 
under the pent-house of his greatest enemy for shelter, 
^vithout any change of heart or better thoughts of him, 
as David's enemies yielded feigned or forced subjection, 
or as "the kings that served Hadarezer when they saw 
he was smitten, made peace with Israel ;":{: so some for 
a shift, will make a covenant with God, to save them- 
selves from hell, and as Balaam, wish to die as the 
• 2 Kings vii. 4. t Heb. xi. 24, 25. i 2 Sam. x. 19. 


righteous ; others think by this means to merit or pur- 
chase something at God's hand, bat heavenly treasures 
stand not upon sale, you may purchase hell, not heaven ; 
" The wages of sin is death, but the gift God is eternal 
life :"* what God sold to Christ he gives to us ; if you 
claim any thing by your own righteousness, you shut 
out his ; this covenant engagement is not a trucking 
affair, you mistake the nature of the gospel, if you come 
to barter or bargain. You will say, what end must 
we propose in our covenant with God ? I answer, no 
other end than that for which you came into the world, 
namely, to glorify God and to enjoy him. 

(1.) Your chief end must be to perform your homage 
to the King of heaven ; in swearing fealty and taking 
this sacred oath of allegiance, to signify that you hold 
your life and being from him, and depend on him for 
your subsistence, and ascribe and return all back to him : 
" Not unto us, not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name 
give glory for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake," 
mercy in making, truth in keeping covenant with thy 
people ;f this is God's end, and must be ours. God will 
have his name sanctified by all that thus approach to 
him;t surely God is more glorified in our covenanting 
with him, than in our being condemned by him. In 
communicating grace to sinners lies the greatest reve- 
nue of his crown, and one single act of sincere faith 
glorifies God more than any other act of obedience or 
performance. 1 1 Abraham's faith glorified God more 
than offering his son ; O sirs, you can never come with 
encouragement, unless you principally keep in view 
God's glory, as well as your good, in your covenant 
engagement ; yea, you must have respect chiefly to 
that order and method whereby God raiseth a monu- 

• Rom. vi. 23. t Psalm ex v. 1. Mic. vii. 20. 

t Lev. X. 3. II Rom. iv. 20. 


merit to liis glory, that is the satisfying of justice by 
the blood of Christ. Carnal, ignoraiit souls, saith one, 
^re just like prisoners at the bar; "my good Lord, have 
mercy, spare me, pardon me, right or wrong, legally 
or illegally," what care they, if they only escape punish- 
ment in whatever way it be ? but another considers 
the equity of the law, the honour of the judge, and 
would sue for liis pardon in a legal Vv'ay ; so must you, 
chiefly consult God's glory. 

(2.) The enjoyment of him. This is the highest act 
and end of a rational creature, God hath connected it 
with his glory, and the Christian in this work must 
not separate them; deliverance from punish iiient serves 
not the turn of a good subject, but he would be taken 
into favour, and come into the presence-chamber, "Let 
me see the king's face, saith Absalom ; let my fellow- 
ship be with the Father, and the Son," saith the be- 
liever.* This engagement is made in order to gain 
intimate intercourse with God, as well as reconcilement 
to him ; the Christian in a good frame wants from 
heaven tokens of love, and communications of divine 
grace ; this union is in order to communion : he lies 
under the descending influences of the Holy Spirit, 
holds the King in the galleries, and waits for mutual 
intercourse, which is an antedating of heaven. O for 
seeing the face of God, and deriving influences of grace 
and comfort from him ! 

7. Ply the tlirone of grace with believing prayer ; 
without this all the former will be insignificant; you 
must pra}^ before and on entering into this holy cove- 
nant ; " with vreeping aiid with supplications," saith 
God, " will I lead them."f This v*^ork is fittest to be 
done upon our knee';, this whole work is of God, and 
he alone must manage it from fu'st to last. Do you 
• 2 Sam. xiv. 32. 1 John i. 3. t Jer. xxxi. 9. 


ask, what must we pray for when we are going about 
this work of personal covenanting ? I answer, for four 
things : — 

(1.) Entreat the Lord for counsel and guidance in 
this important affair;* ask the way to Zion, when you 
are proceeding to form the engagement; it is an unusual 
course, and the Christian unacquainted with the road, 
knows not how to set about it, and therefore weeps 
and seeks the Lord his God : Lord, this concern is too 
high and hard for me, it is dangerous to miscarry in it, 
the act is soon done, but not so easily done well. God 
hath no pleasure in fools, in their persons or vows ; I 
am more destitute of knowledge than any man, Lord, 
"make me to understand the way of thy precepts," 
but especially " shew me thy covenant ;"f unveil cove- 
nant mysteries, display covenant mercies, and open to 
me covenant duties ; Lord, manifest the terms, let me 
not stumble in the threshold, or miss my way in the 
end. Lord, there are secrets in thy covenant which 
thou dost impart ta them that fear thee ; teach me 
now in the way that I am choosing ; natural reason 
knows little of these things, flesh and blood cannot re- 
veal them, sometimes " thou hidest these things from 
the Mdse and prudent, and revealest them to babes ;":}: 
these covenant concerns are of special institution ; Lord, 
take me by the hand and lead me in the way of truth, 
teach me the good way Avherein I must walk,|| keep me 
from stumbling, or wandering, for thou sayest, that 
wayfaring men, though fools shall not err therein. § 

(2,) Beg of the Lord sincerity and uprightness, that 
your deceitful hearts may not mock God and deceive 
you. Ephraim of old set not their hearts aright, nor 
was their spirit stedfast with God, and so kept not the 

* Jer. 1. 4. t Eccles. v. 4. Psalm cxix. 27« xxv. 14. 

t Matt. xi. 25, 25. \\ 1 Kings viii. 36. § Isa. xxxv. 8. 


covenant of God. * O sirs, beware of this, lest you 
flatter God with your mouth, and lie vuito him with 
your tongues; therefore as you must take heed to your 
spirit that you deal not treacherously, so must you 
pray earnestly to the Lord, in this strain: Behold, 
Lord, thou desirest truth in the inward parts, in the 
hidden part do thou make me to know wisdom ; unite 
my heart to fear thy name ;f this heart of mine hath 
oft given me the slip; now Lord, bind this sacrifice to 
the horns of the altar ; circumcise my heart to love 
the Lord my God : ± make my heart sound in thy 
statutes, thou knowest the way I am now taking, Lord, 
search me, and know my heart, try me and knovv^ my 
thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way within 
me, 11 let me be weighed in an even balance, that God 
may know my integrity ; ^ I am loth to be deceived, 
Lord, stop my hand, if my heart go not with it, let me 
not subscribe to an untruth, or go on with a lie in my 
right hand, let my heart and life harmonize with* my 
mouth and hand-writing, I have a base heart and am 
apt to say as that perfidious son, I go, sir, but went 
.not;^[ O help me to bring this heart along with me 
to the work, let integrity and uprightness preserve 
me. ** 

(3.) Plead hard for renewed strength and assisting 
grace to stand in this covenant, thus: though I see 
the right way, and have a sincere desire to walk in it, 
yet I cannot step one foot before another without as- 
sisting grace ; yea, I cannot reach out a hand to take 
hold of the covenant ; I cannot hold the pen except 
thou hold my hand, without thee I can do nothing, 

* Psalm Ixxviii. 8, 10. t Psalm li. 6. Ixxxvi. 11. 

t Psalm cxviii. 27- Dent. xxx. 6. 

II Psalm cxix. 80. cxxxix. 23, 24. 

§ Job xxxi. 0. «[i :Malt. xxi. 30. *• Psalm xxv. 21. 


but by grace strengthening, I shall be able to do all 
things ;* I cannot think any thing as of myself, all my 
sufficiency is of God; f did I not hope for grace assisting, 
I durst not engage, for I should certainly break my 
covenant. Be surety for thy servant for good ; Lord, I 
am oppressed undertake for me, ^ concern thyself with 
my affair, undertake for performance on both sides, to 
help me to perform the conditions, as well as to make 
good thy promises to me ; the work I am about is 
thine, let the strength to manage it be from thee, in 
thy name I set about it, be my patron to defend me, 
my helper to uphold me, and be my exceeding great 
reward to satisfy me ; by thy grace I am what I 
am. II 

(4.) Believingly plead for acceptance and favour 
with God through Jesus Christ : you are accepted only 
in the Beloved ; J alas, by the works of the law shall no 
flesh living be justified, I am cast by the covenant of 
works ; " there is none righteous, no not one,"^[ not 
the boasting philosopher among the Gentiles, nor the 
precise Pharisee among the Jews, nor the holiest saint 
among Christians can stand before the tribunal of jus- 
tice ; my resolute promises of future reformation will 
not make a compensation for former offences : " enter 
not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight 
shall no man living be justified." ** God hath nailed 
up that door, and ojDened a new and living way ; thus 
you must enter, or be rejected : the old way is like the 
northern passage to the Indies, whoever attempt it are 
sure to be frozen up before they get half way. Lord, 
(must you say) I renounce mine own righteousness, 
and flee to Christ ; thou biddest me take hold on thy 

* John XV. 5. Phil. iv. 13. t 2 Cor iii. 5. 

+ Psalm cxix. 122. Isa. xxxviii. 14. || 1 Cor. xv. 10. 

§ Eph. i. 6. f Rom. iii. 10. •" Psalm cxliii. 2. 


strength, to make peace with thee ; * in the Lord 
alone have I righteousness and strength ; it is not my 
covenanting, but Christ the covenant of the people, by 
whom and through whom I hope to be accepted ; f his 
work is to confirm the covenant, and to bring in ever- 
lasting righteousness ;l he by his death and sufferings 
brings souls to God,l| my poor endeavours to covenant 
with thee is but to get a title to thy favour, and all 
that Christ hath purchased. Lord, put me not away 
from thee in displeasure — thou biddest me come, and 
hast told me, " that those that come to thee, thou wilt 
in no wise cast out." ^ Let my heavenly Joseph lead 
me into the King's presence ; " He is thy beloved Son 
in whom thou art well pleased." ^[ I confess thou 
mayest reject me, not only because of my meanness, 
there being a vast disparity between an infinite God 
and worm man, but also because of my guiltiness, 
there being a contrariety between a holy God and a 
polluted sinner ; but I come to thee through a media- 
tor — let me who have been far off, be made nigh by 
the blood of Christ ; he only is my peace, to reconcile 
God and sinners;** taking hold of him, I may enter- 
tain hope ; thou canst not strike the soul that relies 
upon him ; I bring the Lord Jesus with me, O look on 
me in the face of thine Anointed, 

• Isa. xxvii. 5. t I»a. xlix. 8. + Dan. ix. 27- || 1 Pet. iii. 18. 
§ John vi.37. H MsLit. iii. 17- ** Eph. ii. 13, 14. 



IV. I PROCEED now to give an account of the outward 
circumstances convenient for the better management 
of this serious and important concern ; and though I 
shall not lay too much stress upon these, yet because 
all actions are clothed with some circumstances which 
render those actions both seasonable and more easy to 
be done, and also more pleasing and useful when done, 
I shall say something respecting them ; Solomon saith, 
"A word fitly spoken," in the Hebrew upon its wheels,* 
"is like apples of gold in pictures of silver;" an allusion 
to a charioteer, or coachman, who hits exactly the right 
turn : O how pleasant and profitable is such a word or 
work ! for a thing in its proper place is done with great 
facility, success, and expedition. Fit circumstances 
wheel a man's business apace towards the desired issue 
and end. Now in this aff'air of personal covenanting 
there are four circumstances to be observed, namely, 
time, place, manner, and assistance. 

I shall very briefly advert to all these in their order: 
1. For the time when this covenant is to be made 
or renewed : all duties are to be done in tune, but there 
are proper and fit seasons for particular things, which 
are usually called opportunities, " He hath made every 
thing beautiful in his season, saith Solomon, and man 
hath his time and proper season, which, because men 

* Prov. XXV. 11. "l^]^^^ '7^ "^Hl 111 Verb urn commoda 
vcl rotunde dictum, i. e. observatis debitis circumslantiis. 


know not, they are as the fishes and birds, caught in 
an evil net and snare."* In general, the time of life is 
the only time for entering into this covenant with God, 
for when death hath parted soul and body, there will 
be no making peace with God; there is no work, nor 
device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave ;f hell 
is full of good wishes, and fair promises, on condition 
of those lost souls living again; but all is in vain, either 
now or never, you must " Seek the Lord while he may 
be found,"^ touch the golden sceptre while it is stretch- 
ed out, " Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you perish 
from the way ;"|| now is the accepted time, now is the 
day of salvation, " To-day if you will hear his voice, 
harden not your hearts ;"§ yea, take up a resolution 
this very instant, I cannot assure you of anotlier offer 
to-morrow, you may outlive the day of grace, God may 
shut up his oiSce of mercy and strive no longer with 
you ; yea, " He may justly swear in his wrath you shall 
never enter into his rest :"^ I do solemnly require and 
conjure you, that you take the first opportunity to en- 
ter into this covenant with the Lord. 

But besides this time of life in general, there are 
some particular seasons that are very proper for this 
solemn and important transaction ; I shall mention 
the^$e seven : — 

(1.) At the sinner's first conviction and conversion 
to God, when the thundering alarms of the law 
have laid him under dreadful apprehensions of 
God's flaming wrath ; then he is pressed under the in- 
tolerable load of multiplied sins, he is holden in the 
cords of his own iniquity, and is just on the point of 
being dragged into the pit ; what can he do ? whither 
can he go ? flee he cannot, abide these flames he is not 

• Eccles. iii. 11. ix. 12 t Eccles. ix. 10. t Isa. Iv. 6. 

11 Psalm ii. 12. § Psalm xcv. 7, 8. ^ Heb. iii. 18 


able, resist God he cannot, perforin the conditions of 
the old covenant, that is impossible. What shall he do ? 
while the soul is musing on its perishing state, behold 
our blessed Ebed-melecli lets down into this dungeon 
of despair the blessed cords of another covenant,* sof- 
tened and lined with tender love, putting them under 
the armholes of perishing Jeremiahs, of God-fearing 
souls, and by the blood of this co\^enant sends forth 
these prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.f 
This method of divine grace is clearly described in Job 
xxxiii. 14 — 31, wherein God's grace finds a ransom for 
the perishing sinner; when sinners find themselves lost, 
then covenant grace is a blessed line that leads them 
and binds them fast to God ; now Christ is welcome, 
when the door of hope is opened in this valley of 
Achor ;:): our Lord having drawn the bewildered man 
into a wilderness, speaks to his heart, and thus he ex- 
presses himself : And is there any hope that the cir- 
cumstances of a ruined bankrupt can be retrieved ? 
IMay a poor condemned malefactor have a pardon ? 
Is it possible that an outlawed traitor may be received 
into the Prince's favour ? Yes, the new covenant en- 
courages me, I will make the experiment, who knows 
but I may find acceptance ? O for a heart to accept 
these gracious and equal terras of the gospel covenant! 
(2.) On violating j^revious engagements. It is very 
rare for any child of God to continue so stedfast in the 
observance of incumbent duty, but at some time or 
other a corrupt heart betrays him, and he falls into sin 
or security, to God's dishonour and the wounding of 
conscience ; and it is by virtue of this new covenant, 
that God accepts a returning prodigal : Jer. iii. 12, 14 
" Return thou backsliding Israel — yea, turn, O back- 
sliding children," children still, though revolters, " for 
* Jer. xxxviii. 12, 13. t Zech. ix. 11. + Hos. ii. 14, 1.5. 


I am married unto you, and I will take you," &;c. yea, 
" I will heal your backslidings," ver. 22. The ground 
bf this is antecedent religion, covenant grace, and 
what say they ? "Behold we come unto thee, for thou 
art the Lord our God ;" there is the foundation of their 
hopes, and then you find these backsliders renewing 
their covenant, renouncing carnal confidence, owning 
God as their Saviour, confessing their sins, resolving 
upon other practices, vrhich is the substance of a cove- 
nant engagement, see ver. 23 — 25, something similar 
you have Hos. xiv. 2 — 8, after this manner the back- 
sliding soul returns to God : O Lord, I have broken the 
first covenant in my original progenitor, I have violat- 
ed my baptismal covenant, I have broken that solemn 
en^aarement made to thee at mv first conversion, I have 
failed in keeping my frequent occasional vows, and still 
feel I have a backsliding heart ; I am not worthy to be 
received, yet still my heart is working towards thee ; 
I am not content to be at a distance from thee, O that 
now I could bind this treacherous heart with double 
bonds, to walk more closely with God ; though I have 
done iniquity, I will do no more, I will not offend any 
more ;* God forbid that I should return unto folly ; 
Lord, say thou that word not only preceptively, but 
efficaciously. Sin no more ;f let the will of God be my 
sanctification,t let Satan make no more inroads upon me, 
set thou a watch over my heart, before my lips, and 
on mine eyes, make the strongest fence where the hedge 
is lowest. I am aware where the fault w^as, God make 
me more watchful. 

(3.) Under pressing afflictions ; then is a fit season 
for renewing covenants. It is natural for persous to 
make large promises to God in their troubles, that 

• Job xxxiv. .SI, 32, t Psal. Ixxxv. 8. John v. 14. 

i 1 Thess. iv. 3. 


on condition God will deliver them they would do so 
and so, yea and for this cause God brings men into 
straits, that falling under the rod tliey may be brought 
into the bond of the covenant ; * God chooseth his peo- 
ple in the furnace of affliction. Manasseh was caught 
in the thorns, and bound in chains in Babylon, that 
he might know Jehovah was God, and that he might 
bind himself to better conduct, and do no more so wick- 
edly, f God binds us in cords of affliction, that we 
may open our ears to discipline, and connnands us to 
return from iniquity.:!: David's lips uttered || his vows, 
and his mouth spoke them out intelligibly, when he 
was in trouble ;$ so will the soul say, I am now in 
misery, my sins have reduced me to straits, I cannot 
help myself, the creatures cannot help me, God will 
not, till he be reconciled to my soul, reconciled he will 
not be, till I return to him by faith and repentance, 
and renew my covenant with him. O Lord, my help 
is only in thy name, be propitious to me in Christ, re- 
ceive my soul, sanctify thy rod with covenant love, 
and then use thy pleasure for removing it or continu- 
ing it upon me ; art not thou my covenant God ? send 
auxiliaries from above, rid and deliver me from these 
mighty waters, bring my soul out of prison that I may 
praise thy name,^ let it be known that thou art my 
refuge and portion in the land of the living, though I 
walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me, the 
Lord will perfect that which concerneth me, forsake 
not the work of thine own hands. ** 

(4.) Under lately received deliverances. When God 
hath set us at liberty it becomes us then to bind our- 
selves to him with stronger bonds ; thus the mariners 

• Ezek. XX. 37. t Isa. xlviii. 10. 2 Chron. xxxiii. 11 — J3. 

t Job xxxvi. 8 — 10. II Marg. opened, that is, largely. 

§ Psal. Ixvi. 13, 14. IF Psal. cxlii. 5, 7. •• Psal. cxxxviii. 7, 8. 


Jonah i. l8, when the sea ceased from its rage, and they 
had escaped drowning, " then the men feared the Lord 
Exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to Jehovah, and 
made vows ;" and indeed a due sense of mercy will en- 
gage an ingenuous spirit to duty ;* former deliverances 
put holy Ezra on solemn covenanting for future obe- 
dience ; when David is consulting " what to render to 
the Lord for all his benefits," he resolves to give up 
himself to God by a fresh deed of gift, " O Lord, truly I 
am thy servant,! am thy servant and the son of thy hand- 
maid, thou hast loosed my bonds," Psal. cxvi. 12, 16; a 
double obligation calls for a double self-dedication. Omy 
Lord, (may the soul say,) all I have is from thee, to 
thee I return all back ; " thou hast delivered my soul 
from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from 
falling, therefore I will walk before thee in the land of 
the living ;"f this signal mercy is one of the cords of a 
man to draw me nearer, and a bond of love to unite 
me more closely to my God,:|: when I am j^aying my old 
vows I will make new. O my soul, vow and pay 
unto the Lord, thy God, bring presents, (even thyself,) 
unto him that ought to be feared ; || this is the best 
testimony of my due gratitude, yea, this self-surrender 
to the Lord is my mercy as well as duty, these tokens 
of his love to me must be answered with this return 
to him. 

(5.) "V^Tien persons are entering upon difficult ser- 
vices. If you be called to undertake any work that 
has the appearance of being too hard for you, then re- 
new your covenant, that thereby you may put yom*- 
selves into God's hands, and engage him to be for you; 
thus did Jacob when he hoisted up his sails, and 
launched forth into the ocean of a wide world, he com- 

* Ezra ix. 13. with chap. x. 19. t Psal. cxvi. 8, 9. 

t Hosea xi. 4. 11 Psal. Ixxvi. 11. 


mitted tlie care of his vessel to a heavenly Pilot, and 
arrived at his desired haven; "Jacob vowed a vow, 
vsaying, if God will be with me, and keep me in this 
way that I go — then shall the Lord be my God."* 
When Jei:)hthah was to engage in battle against 
Ammon, he uttered all his words before the Lord in 
Mizpeh, Judges xi. 11 ; which the Holy Ghost inter- 
prets to be his vow to the Lord, ver. 35, 39 ; vipon a 
similar account did Abraham lift up his hand, that is, 
vowed to the most high God : f thus did Asa and 
others when they set about church reformation ; I and 
thus must thou do in managing any considerable affair 
for God, or for the good of thy soul. Now, Lord, you may 
say, I am adventuring upon a difficult and hazardous 
undertaking, and shall be foiled in it without special 
assistance from above ; thou, Lord, art not engaged to 
help any but such as are in covenant with thee, I am 
thine, save me, I am now actually putting myself under 
thy wing, and resorting to thy glorious attributes by 
personally renewing my covenant with thee, and if 
God will be for me, who can be against me ? this en- 
gagement is beyond my strength, Ijut I fear neither 
men nor devils, if the omnipotent God will appear on 
my side. 

(6.) When Christians are going about any part of 
God's worship, or any thing that relates to it ; then is 
a seasonable time to renew their covenant with God. 
Before David made an arrangement for the ark, " he 
sware unto the Lord, and vowed unto the mighty God 
of Jacob," in these terms, " I will not give sleep 
to mine eyes, till I have found out a place for the 
Lord ;" || he resolves to be restless till God's ark be at 
rest. Thus if you be to attend upon God in any duty 

* Gen. xxviii. 20—22. t Gen. xiv. 22, 23. 

t 2 Chron, xv. 12, 13. |1 Psul. cxxxii. 2—5. 

VOL. IV. 1 


or ordinance, you must stir up yourselves to take hold 
on him, and excite all the powers of your souls to 
■^^ait on him by explicit and implicit covenanting ; this 
is the proclamation God makes, M'hen he had spoken 
of the governor and nobles, whom he caused individually 
to draw near, lie shall approach unto me ; who shall 
approach? then comes the character of a true wor- 
shipper ; " for who is this that engaged his heart to 
approach unto me, saith the Lord ;"* as if he had said, 
those who actually put themselves into a prepared 
frame, shall come near to me, others worship afar off; 
the more recently renewed the covenant, the more free 
is admittance to the Lord. Actual covenanting pro- 
duceth actual communion ; the business will go on 
1)est when oiu* hearts are in a good frame, when our 
spirits are most warmed, melted, quickened, and newly 
devoted to God, and lie under the sense of our relation 
to him ; I told you this is a covenanting with Ggd by 
sacrifice, now, if you be for gospel sacrificing, you must 
engage to do it, and engage in it, thus saying: Lord, I 
am about to read or hear thy word, as thou command- 
est,f so dispose me to do; as thou boldest out mercy in 
a promise, so let me embrace it ; I am going to seek 
God by prayer, O Lord, hear my vows,| and prayers 
mixt with vows; in this duty I would declare my dedi- 
cation to thee, and expectation of all good from thee. 
Lord, communicate thyself to me by intimate commu- 
nion in a covenant way. 

(7.) More particularly, you must bind yourselves to 
God by a personal covenant when you go to partake 
of the Lord's supper; for in that sacred and solemn or- 
dinance, you are to set your seal to God's covenant, as 
he seals it to you. " This," saith Christ of the cup, " is 
my blood of the new testament, "w^hich is shed for many 

» Jer. XXX. 21. t Ezra x. 12. + Psal. Ixi. 5. 


for the remission of sins."* This testament is the co- 
venant 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 sanc- 
tuary ; 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 ordi- 
nance 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 jT-our 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 your- 
selves 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 
knov/est 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 cove- 
nant should be- contracted. And my advice is, that 

• I\Iatt. xxvi. 28. 

t Marg. give the hand, that is, in covenanting, 2 Chron. xxx. 8. 

t 1 Cor. xi. 25. X. IP. 

I 2 


you manage this affair in some solitary place, because 
it concerns none but God and your own souls. It is 
true, you may i)ersonally covenant in a public ])lace, 
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 
Ahram, after that Lot was separated from him, lift up 
now thine eyes," &c. mark it, when Abram v/as parted 
from Lot, then God and he were united more closely ; 
possibly those liot cpiarrels between their herdsmen 
had been a perturbation to Abram's spirit, and a pro- 
vocation to the Lord to withdraw his Spirit, for divine 
revelations are usually made to sedate and cpiiet soids; 
or possibly God is well pleased with Abram's self-deny- 
ing condescension to his inferior ; and when they were 
parted God seems to say. Well, Abram, I love thy peace- 
able sj>ii*it ; 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 v,'hen he was with- 
out seed or offspring, or I separated him from his kin- 
dred 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 

• I\Iatt. vi. G, 


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. AVhen God esta- 
blisheth 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-justifi- 
cation, but thou must and wilt open thy mouth in self- 
condemnation ; certainly the troubled heart of the re- 
turning 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 import- 
ant 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 sepa- 
rateth himself, seeketh according to his desire, and in- 
termedleth in every business ; all however comes to the 
same thing, it means that retired deliberation in mat- 
ters of moment is necessary for making mature conclu- 
sions and managing solemn concerns. In this business 
of covenanting a man must call up all his inward facul- 
ties, 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 in- 
finite 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 ho- 
nourable 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. t Ezek. xvi. G2, 63. :i: Prov. x\ iii. 1. 


considered, the necessity of coming up to them conchid- 
ed upon, that the soul may act deliberately, and still 
*he tumultuous workings of heart, by its self-commun- 
ing 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 Vvill cost rcany in- 
ward 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 

(3.) Gcd only can be witness of the soul's sincerity 
in this covenanting, therefore must the Christian set 
liimself as in the presence of an omniscient God, who 
alone is privy to his exercises of heart in solitary re- 
cesses ; he knoweth the way that I take, saith Job, 
" When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold, 
let me be v»^eighed in an even balance, that God may 
know m.ine integrity."! I dare set myself as a glass 
in the sun, to be under the bright rays of the Sun of 
righteousness, and thougli I am conscious of many 
spots and blemishes, yet I would approve of none, bi-. 
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 plcad- 

* Psal. Ixxvii. 6. t Job xxiii. ]0. xxxi. 6. 

* Psal. cxxxix. 23, 24. 


€th for his neighbour !"* A Labaii 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 re- 
lations 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 plea- 
sant 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 en- 
dearedness expressed between God and the soul in soli- 
tude, 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 him- 
self known unto his brethren. Jonathan and David 
only were together in the wood, when they kissed, 
wept, embraced each other, till David exceeded,^ ano- 
ther 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, 

• Job xvi. 19—21. + Gen. xxxi. 47, 50. t Jew xxxi. 18—20. 

II Gen xlv. 1. § 1 Sam. xx. 41. 

If 1 Sam. xxiii. 16, 18. "* Song vii. 11, 12. Ubera mea. 


there will I open to thee the hidden emotions of my 
heart, and lay before thee the token.s of my hidden affec- 
tion: there will I give thee my heart, which thou callest 
for,* and I am sm'e is thy due, and my duty to give; 
there will I give thee my all, to thee shall my soul be 
united most closely in the strictest bond of a sacred 

But take a caution ; let it not be enough to be found 
sometimes alone in a secret place ; see you be sincere 
there, a croaking frog of hypocrisy may creep into the 
pri^y chambers, even into the bed-chambers of kings,f 
and Christians themselves. One observes, that though 
the place where the duty is performed be secret, yet 
some are like the hen, which having deposited her egg 
jmblishes the circumstance to all around : let it be 
en.ough for thee that God is witness of tliy solemn 

3. The next thing is the manner in which this .per- 
sonal covenant must be made. I speak not here of 
what is essential to a right covenanting, as that it be 
done with understanding, a divorce from other objects, 
consent of the will, a humbled heart, hol}^ resolution, 
right ends, and prayer for counsel, sincerity, and 
strength to perform it : tliese were enlarged upon be- 
fore when considering the preparatives to a covenant 
engagement : by manner liere I mean, the mode, or 
signs, or means whereby we may testify the inward 
consent of the heart ; these are either, professing with 
the tongue, or subscribing with the hand. 

(1.) As it respects profession, it is fit our tongue, 
which is our glory, should manifest the free consent of 
the heart ; this is an avouching the Lord to be our 
God::}: O my soul, saith David, thou hast said unto the 
Lord, " Thou art my Lord," and again, " I will pay 

* Prov. xxiii 26. f Exod. viii. 3. J Dcut. xxvi. I" 


tliee my vows, which my lips have uttered, and my 
mouth hath spoken. The Lord is my portion, saith 
my soul."* It is true, there is a language of the heart, 
and God vmderstands it, therefore our most solemn 
professions are not to inform God, but to awe our own 
spirits, to a reverential observance, by the solemnity of 
an oath : verbal professions are oft necessary before 
men, " For with the heart man believes unto righteous- 
ness, and with the mouth confession is made to salva- 
tion;"! all the question is whether a man may use his 
voice in solitary and personal covenanting ? I say to 
affect a man's own heart, or when out of the abundance 
of the heart the mouth speaks, if the place be remote 
enough from the ears of mortal men, it may not be un- 
fit to utter a man's words and vows before the Lord, 
as Jephthah did: for a Christian may sometimes find his 
rising affections run over into expression, or from his 
experience judge it needful to move his inward feelings 
with his lips, and work on his dull heart, or raise his 
dead or drooping spirits by the affecting use of speech: 
or when a man desires that the due sense, lively im- 
pression, or lasting remembrance of this engagement 
may be preserved upon his mind, in such a case he may 
express his covenant with an audible voice : this I pro- 
pose as matter of expediency, not of necessity; for God 
understands mental vows, and may accept them, and 
you therein. 

(2.) It may be expedient that this covenant be testi- 
fied by writing, according to Isa. xliv. 5, " One shaU 
say, I am the Lord's," that is, verbal profession, " and 
another shall subscribe with his hand, unto the Lord." 
This is a prophecy which refers to gospel times, and it 
follows on a promise of an abundant effusion of tlie Spi- 
rit, ver. ',), "I will pour water upon liim that is thirsty, 

* Psal xvi. 2. Ixvi. 13, H. Lam. iii. 2-1. t Rom. x. 10. 


and floods upon the dry ground," which elsewhere the 
scripture interprets of gospel gifts and grace, so then, 
jieither the gifts nor graces of the Spirit do hinder, but 
rather promote this ratification of the covenant.* 

There is also a gracious promise of fruitfulness, ver. 
4, " They shall spring up as the grass, as willows by 
the water courses." This subscription then is an ef- 
fect or sign of fruitfulness : for suppose a man cannot 
speak, he may signify his mind by writing, as Zecha- 
rias wrote when he was struck dumb ;f and it may be 
convenient for you to prepare and transcribe the prin- 
cipal parts, and terms of the new covenant, or take 
what others have collected and drawn up for you, and 
then subscribe your names with your own handwriting, 
and for these reasons : — 

[i.] That thereby you may testify your willingness 
to enter into this covenant ; you are volunteers, and 
do it \luhentes et ex animo] with a free-will, and cordi- 
ally ; behold your hand writing shews that you are 
not compelled, nor dragged to it against your will ; 
thus it was with those mentioned, Ezra x. 19; they gave 
their hands, that they would put away their strange 
wives. "N^^hether this giving the hand was by stretch- 
ing out the hand, or subscription, is not material, it 
was undoubtedly a token of voluntary consent, in cove- 
nanting ; for the people wept very sore, ver. 1, and 
being under powerful convictions, they cried out, as 
'• thou hast said, so must we do," ver. 12 ; yea, they 
were under a sense of guilt, ver. 8 ; and of God's 
wrath, ver. 14. Now, they were as glad to be free 
from those strange wives, as formerly they were fond 
of them ; therefore they voluntarily gave their hand ; 
this shews they were in good earnest, they were not 

* Isa. XXXV. 7- Joel. ii. 28. John vii. 38. Act. ii. 18. 
t Zecharias, ciim loqui non potuit, scripsit. Luke i. 63, 


compelled but were glad to do it ; it was their free 

[ii.] Subscribing with the hand is for sureness and 
certainty ; we are accustomed to say, let me have it 
under your hand, I will have it in black and white, and 
then we think we are sufficiently secure. This is the rea- 
son why men write deeds, and indentures, and bonds, and 
subscribe them, as it was done by Jeremiah, when he 
purchased of Hanameel a field in Anathoth, I subscribed 
the evidence, saith he, and sealed it.* This men do for 
greater assurance of their honest intentions to perform 
articles, and confirm a bargain. Thus the field in 
Machpelah, was made sure to Abraham for a posses- 
sion;! M'^hether writing were so antient, I dispute 
not, but now-a-days writing, witnesses, and seals, are 
all little enough for men to secure their rights, especi- 
ally when they have to deal with slippery customers ; 
and such are our hearts, that play fast and loose, es- 
pecially in soul concerns ; we had need to bind them 
fast, God gives a caution, " take heed to your spirits 
that you deal not treacherously,"^ twice together, in 
this very business of covenanting ; Neh. ix. 38, " Be- 
cause of all this, we make a sure covenant, and write 
it, and our princes, Levites and priests seal unto it ;" 
the words are very emphatical, covenant is not in the 
original, but may be implied ; the words may be thus 
read, we strike or engage our faith and fidelity, or se- 
cure a certainty, 1| that is, we give the best assurance 
we can of keeping our faith, or fidelity God-wards. 
Hence some serious, pious souls have thought fit to 
subscribe their names with their own blood instead of 

ink, which I will neither commend nor condemn ; but 

• Jer. xxxii. 10. t Gen. xxiii. 17, 18. t Mai. ii. 15, 16. 

II niQhi D^'JT^iTD Percutimus fidem, vcl firniitudinem. Melon. 
eaustfi fmalis. 


see that }'ou be deliberate, humble and self-denying in 
this great business, and be not too confident of shedding 
your blood for Christ, as Peter was, but learn to ex- 
ercise faith on the blood of Christ for pardon, strength, 
and acceptance. It is true, some symbols may be given, 
as the nobles of Bohemia, when the creed was read, 
drew out their swords half way, shewing their readi- 
ness to hazard their lives for the faith. But let us be- 
ware of carnal confidence, and superfluous inventions. 

[iii.] This writing, may be usefid for plainness and 
intelligibleness. When a man doth but hear or utter a 
thing transiently, he cannot take such a full view of 
every matter or circumstance, as when he hath it be- 
fore him, hence Hab. ii. 2, " Write the vision and 
make it plain upon tables, that he may run that read- 
eth it." So then writing a thnig legibly is the way to 
make it more percejitible, and intelligible. A visible 
writing gives advantage for more fully understanding 
all its contents and branches. Writing the terms of 
the covenant gives us leisiu'e to view it fully, to com- 
ment upon it, and go through it from article to article, 
and so asking ourselves individually, what sayest thou 
to this ? is this warranted by the word ? is this thy 
duty or not ^ wilt thou consent or not ? deal ingenu- 
ously, consider of it, take advice, speak thy mind, or 
subscribe with thy hand, as thou feelest the frame of 
thy heart. Thus writing may be useful. 

[iv.] For perpetuity or continuance. When a thing 
is written, recorded, or engrossed, it becomes a living 
testimony to many generations. We say, any thing 
that is written doth remain,* thus Job saitli of the 
articles of his faith. Job xix. 23, 25, " O that my 
words were now written ! O that they were printed in 
a book ! that they were graven with an iron pen and 
* Litera scripta manct. 


lead, in the rock for ever !" what words ? " I know that 
my Redeemer liveth ;" and thus the covenanting soul 
would write it down as a perpetual monument, because 
he would have it an everlasting covenant that shall 
never be forgotten;* Josh. xxiv. 27, "Behold this 
stone shall be a witness unto us, for it hath heard all 
the words of the Lord — lest yovi deny your God, 
saith Joshua :" that is, subjectively or passively a wit- 
ness. So may you say to this table, this chamber, 
these chairs, be you witnesses ; this paper, this bond 
under my hand, shall bear witness for me, or against 
me another day ; let this be produced against me if 
ever I turn my back upon my God, and his ways. O 
v/hat terror would this strike into you upon your de- 
fection from God ! what tears would you drop vipon 
this violated bond ! what an awe will it beget in you 
to induce you to walk circumspectly ! and if God assisted 
you in close walking, and keeping covenant ; what joy, 
what secret solace, what grounds of thankfulness will 
it produce ! what admiration of free grace that hath 
assisted you hitherto ! As an antient reverend mini- 
ster,! (now with God,) looked over a solemn engage- 
ment, which he entered into at Cambridge in his 
younger days, and which he again subscribed, review- 
ing with comfort such a da}^ and year, above forty years 
before when it was first subscribed. Thus it may be 
a witness for you in time to come. 

A worthy divine in a letter to me signifies his 
thoughts thus : " The life of this great duty, as to its 
practicableness, lies in pressing the great expediency 
and necessity of this subscribing, where it can be done; 
though it be not essential and absolutely necessary, it 
would be worth while to learn to write, if it were but 
their name, or they might cause some special friend to 

* In perpetuam rei memoriam. Jer. 1. 5. f ]Mr. J. A< 


write that contract for tlieiu ; and tliey rtiiglit either 
touch the pen, or have the hand led in writing their 
name, as they do in other cases. The more arguments 
you can produce for this practice, the more effectually 
you set home the convictions of this great truth and 
duty : for men's hearts are deceitful above all thinjjs, 
especially in this important transaction, and will make 
the most frivolous and insufficient sign of their consent 
satisfy, as hath been often the case with parents, even 
Christians, engaging and covenanting for the education 
of their children at baptism, to give a nod with their 
head, when they should have fully and freely expressed 
their consent with their mouth. Such arguments as 
these seem to call for this subscribing : — 

1. The Lord hath done this in his word often in re- 
ference to us. 

2. This hath been the practice of the saints in scrip- 
ture, as David not only consented in his heart, but pro- 
fessed, Psal. xvi. 2, and pledged himself with an oath, 
to keep God's judgments, Psal. cxix. 106. 

3. This hath been the practice of the saints in our 

4. Isa. xliv. 5. seems to be a prophecy of what was 
to be practised under the gospel, on the out-pouring of 
the Spirit. 

5. This hath been Satan's way with some, that he 
hath engaged to him, as the young man in Luther's 

6. Outward signs in civil and religious transactions 
have been used in scripture, both with the Lord and 
with men. 

7. This puts persons upon the devoting of more 
time for it. 

8. This makes them more serious and accurate in 
observing the nature and conditions of the covenant. 


9. This will be the greater witness for or against, 
and occasions a more lively impression of its obligation, 
and drives the deeper conviction on the conscience, and 
makes it more vigorous in its actings, having that 
standing witness. 

10. This is a more permanent example to their pos- 
terity and friends." Thus far my reverend and dear 
friend. You may take this practice as a consideration 
for your furtherance in this serious engagement, though 
I dare not lay too much stress upon it. All allow a 
liberty to persons in private, to use the best helps they 
can to consecrate themselves to the Lord, and (though 
this act of subscribing may admit of disputes,) this is 
all I have in view. 

4. The next consideration is the helps and means to 
furnish us with matter and words for this transaction 
of personal covenanting : I shall briefly direct your at- 
tention to these four things, reading the scrlpturey 
hewing sermons, meditating on the sacraments, and 
Christian conference. 

(1.) Let him that would be furnished with matter, 
words, and method for this solemn affair, study the 
Bible, where the covenant of grace is contained ; the 
whole scripture is the old and new testament, or cove- 
nant, because therein the covenant is displayed under 
various dispensations ; as the Mosaic psedagogy : and 
the Evangelical revelation; the Messiah promised in 
the former, exhibited in the latter. Wherever you find 
any branches of the new covenant laid open, single 
those out, write them down, and put them into method, 
and thereto subscribe your hand; as for example, when 
you read a promise, that a " virgin shall conceive and 
shall bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,"* 
you may subscribe to the truth and importance of it, 
* Isa. vii. 14. 


and say, " This is a faithful saying and worthy of all 
acceptation," that Jesus Christ came into the v/orld to 
s^ve sinners; this is a subscribing to the truth and (good- 
ness of the general proposition, then add personal ap- 
plication, putting down your oAvn name, "of whom" said 
the apostle "I am chief."* So when you meet with a pre- 
cept, you must not only receive the good will of God,f 
but approve of it as acceptable to you, and consent to the 
law of God, that it is holy, just, and good,i: and it is 
lit you square your life and actions by it ; adding, by 
God's grace I will walk according to this rule : and to 
help you herein you may find it hath been practicable 
by believers ; study threatenings against transgressors, 
promises to the obedient, directions for walking holi- 
ly, &c. 

(2.) You have plain and practical sermons and good 
books that may much help you in this serious transac- 
tion. There is never a sermon grounded upon scripture, 
but it contains something of the covenant, Isa. Iv. 3, 
" Incline your ear, come unto me, hear and your soul 
shall live, and I w411 make an everlasting covenant 
with you" — death came in by the abuse of the ear, and 
life may come in by that organ well disposed and at- 
tentively engaged ; yea, the grace of faith, which is 
ovu- consent to covenant terms is usually conveyed by 
hearing the word preached :|| " God hath brought life 
and immortality to light by the gospel,"^ therefore my 
advice is, if you would enter into covenant with God, 
you must carefully attend, labour to understand, and 
profitably improve sermons : be sure you remember 
the design and scope of every sermon : reduce what 
you hear to some head of divinity : what truths were 
there in this sermon to which God requires my assent ? 

* 1 Tim. i. 15. + Rom. xii. 2. t Rom. vii. 12, 16. 
II Rom. X. 17- § 2 Tim. i. 10. 


What duties are to be practised ? 'SVhat sins to be 
avoided? What promises to be embraced? Every 
duty is in some way a branch of the covenant ; as even 
the releasing of servants is called by this name of cove- 
nant, Jer. xxxiv. 13, 14. So good books, sermons, trea- 
tises in print, of which you have great store; and some 
purposely, discourses on the covenant, some have even 
made a collection of the promises ; view those, and se- 
lect what you find proper to your present undertaking, 
and (if you can) transcribe and then subscribe it, with 
hand and heart : or at least speak over what you there 
read, as your own sense, and the very language of your 

(3.) Study the sacraments or seals of the covenant. 
They have been called sacraments from the oath that 
the soldiers took when they were enlisted in the empe- 
ror's service : these seals are visible representations of 
the invisible grace communicated to us, and badges of 
our fidelity to God in covenant : go from one act to 
another in baptism, and the Lord's supper, make scrip- 
tural connnents upon, and believing applications of 
igvery part thereof : learn something from the water in 
baptism, the action of the minister, the polluted state 
of the baptised, his purification, his admission into a 
new relation to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, 
the privileges conveyed, the duty of the baptized to be 
the Lord's, &c. And so for the Lord's supper ; O learn 
to discern the Lord's body: remember v/liat is signified 
by the elements, bread and wine, named Christ's body 
and blood; follow all the sacramental acts in your 
thoughts; when the minister consecrates the elements, 
think how God sets apart his Son for the work of re- 
demption : when the bread is broken, so Christ was 
bruised for our iniquities : when the minister gives, 
and you take the elements, thus God oilers Christ to 



me ; O for a hand of faith to take Christ, an apjietite 
- for the bread of life, a due diofestinff of this blessed 
banquet ! Thus may you familiarize gospel mysteries 
to you, and visibly discern all the branches of the co- 
venant, even with your bodily eyes. 

(4.) Improve Christian converse. Go to the religiously 
wise, ask counsel of such as fear God, and have expe- 
rience 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 v^-ith 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 v/ill direct you in tlie metliod they found benefi- 
cial, they will encoiu'age you by informing you what 
satisfaclion their souls had in taking God for their God, 
and devoting tliemselves 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 discour- 
aged, resolve upon it, it is the best bargain that ever 
you made, hold not off, be not afraid to give your con- 
sent, it is a delightful engagement, he is the chief of 
ten thousand, O come and taste, and then you w^ill 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 promot- 
ed my communion with God ; how familiarly hath my 
Lord dealt with my soul ! how fixed hath my resolu- 
tion been for God ! methinks I have found more strength 

• Psal. Ixvi. 13—18. t Psal xxxiv. 8. 

FORM OY eng:agemext. 131 

of grace, more pccwer against temptation and corrup- 
tion, more patience in affliction, more comfortable per- 
suasions 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. 



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 neces- 
sary to do it in a right manner, and particularized 
those considerations vv'hich 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 af- 
fair of personal covenantinfr. 

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 

K 2 

132 BAPTis:\rAL bonds. 

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 
v/orth ; heaven and hell depend upon your sincere co- 
venanting. How can you have God for yoiu- 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, un- 
less you be enfranchised ? Never imagine you shall 
have tlie mercies promised, unless you perform the con- 
ditions required. \Vhat you find in the bible is God's, 
Avhat you cordially consent to becomes your's. This 
covenant grant is conditional, " Believe and be s^ved, 
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 your- 
selves what answer you v/ill 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 engage- 
ment with you, namely, he will give himself, all com- 
mimicable 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 
• Mai'k 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 can- 
not, 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 Math God, you have 
no title to the favour of God, to Christ or his pur- 
chase, or to any one promise, no, you have no cove- 
nant 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 deter- 
mine 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 re- 
flect 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 as- 
sistance 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 apjjrove thy 
heart to God m v/hat thou goest about ? lifting up thy 
beart 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. Be- 
ing thus prepared and at God's footstool, wilt thou 
most heartily, resolvedly, unreservedly subscribe the 
follov/ing 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 busi- 
ness, and be more closely knit to God in an indissoluble 
bond tliat 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 acceptaljle in God's ; and by way of prologue 
or introduction, you m.ay 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 M'hich 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 God- 
head;! so thy only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who 

* Jer. X. 10. t 1 Tim. vi. 15, 10. 

i Rom. i. 20, 21. 


was ill the bosom of the Father,* hath declared thee to 
us the children of men. Thou hast proclaimed thy 
name in the scriptures of truth,! such I believe to be 
thy character, and by faith see thee v/ho art invisible, :j: 
an eternal, independent, and perfect Being, incompre- 
hensible in essence, infallible in thy word, immutable 
in thy pm-pose, the only omniscient and omnipresent 
God, who knowest the hearts of all the children of 
men ; all things are naked and opened unto thy 
eyes, O Lord, with whom I have to do in a peculiar 
manner at this time;l| "Search me, O God, and 
know ray heart, try me and know my thoughts, and 
see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me 
in the way everlasting." § I am this day about to enter 
into bonds of devotedness to the Lord, to oblige myself 
to be the Lord's by a singular vow ; ^ Lord, gird me 
with strength, and make my way perfect;** let thy 
secret be with me who desire to fear thy name, and 
shew me thy covenant ; ft thou didst vouchsafe to en- 
ter into covenant with father Abraham, and his spiri- 
tual seed, saying, " I will be thy God,"tl and dost re- 
new it in the gospel, in these words, " I will be to them 
a God, and they shall be to me a people." 1||| I thy 
poor prodigal child, am at last returning to thee with 
grief in my heart, tears in mine eyes, for my former 
sins, saying, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and 
before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy 
son, " make me as one of thy hired servants ; §§ make 
me like the servant whose ear was bored to the door 
with an awl, that I may be thy servant for ever; " For 
a day in thy courts is better than a thousand ; I would 

* John i. 18. t Exod. xj^xiv. 6. t ^^eb. xi. 27- 

II Heb. iv. 13. § Psal. cxxxix. 23, 24. '^ Lev. xxviL 2. 

** Psal. xviii. 32. ^ tt Psal. xxv. 14. Xt Gen. xvii. 7- 
11 11 Heb. viii. 10. §§ Luke xv. 18, 19. 


rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than 
to dwell in the tents of wickedness."* O Lord, I am 
c>oming to thee, I believe thou art, and that thou art a 
rewarder of them that diligently seek thee ; I am now 
about to seek the Lord God of Israel, and to swear 
unto the Lord with all my heart, and with my whole 
desire;! O be thou found of me, and bind this slip- 
peiy heart unto thee ; let me experimentally know 
thee, that thou art the Lord, circumcise my heart to 
love thee, unite my heart to fear thee, assist my heart 
in my believing in thee, my faith is weak, if sincere, 
"Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief :+ I have 
heard of tliee by the hearing of the ear,"|| now let mine 
eye see thee, and my soul derive influences from thee ; 
make good every letter and syllable of thy sacred name 
to my soul, I vrill hope in the Lord, for with Jehovah 
there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.^ 
Thou art a God hearing prayer,^ to thee only shall the 
vow be made and performed, and therefore under the 
shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until 
these calamities be overpast.** Now, Lord, what wait I 
for ? my hope is in thee, my existence of thee, my de- 
peudance on thee, my tendency to thee, my expectation 
from thee, f J Lord, let me not be treacherous in my 
undertaking, perfidious in keeping, or slothful in pm'su- 
ing the ends of this solemn covenant. 

And now having set yourselves solemnly as in God's 
presence, and brought 3^our hearts to a disposition pre- 
pared in some measure for approaching his glorious 
Majesty, and engaging in the transaction you have in 

* Marg. I -would choose rather to sit at the threshold. Psal. 
Ixxxiv. lb. + Heb. xi. 0. 2 Chron. xv. 13. l;j. 

t Jer. xxiv. 7- Deut. xxx. G. Psal. Ixxxvi. 11. ]\Jark ix. 24. 
II Job xlii. 5. § Psal. cxxx. 4, 7. ^ Psal. Ixv. 1, 2. 

•• Psal. Ivii. 1. ft Psal. xxxix. 7. 


hand, you may proceed to the parts of this covenant, 
which are chiefly two, namely, uccepiance and dedica- 

First, acceptance, or embracing of what is proposed 
in the covenant. Now the objects presented in the co- 
venant are twofold : — 

1. Principal, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy 

2. Subordinate, or secondary objects, to be accepted, 
are, divine revelations, divine injunctions, divine insti- 
tutions, and divine dispensations. 

(1.) In your acceptance, you are to take God to be 
your God, who is the only true God, to love, serve, 
obey, and worship him, as the grand source of your 
hopes and happiness. 

Well then, you may humbly address yourselves to 
God the Father, in such language as the following : — 

O holy Father of mercies and God of all consolation, 
I this day come and bow my knees unto the Father of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, " Of whom the whole family of 
heaven and earth is named."* To this principle of re- 
ligion I subscribe that there is one God, " and Father 
of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all."f 
I renounce all other gods, to me " there is but one God, 
the Father, of whom are all things.":]: Thee, O Lord, 
I choose to be my God in Christ, as my chief good ; 
*' Whom have I in heaven but thee ? and there is none 
upon earth that I desire besides thee. My flesh and 
my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart and 
my portion for ever.."|| If I can but truly say, "the 
Lord is the portion of mine inheritance," I shall say, 
*' the lines are fallen to me in pleasant places,^ I have 

• 2 Cor. i. 3. Eph. iii. 14, 15. t Eph. iv. 6. 

X 1 Cor. viii. 5, 6. |1 Psal. Ixxiii. 25, 26. 

§ Psal. xvi. 5, (). 


a goodly heritage : happy is the people whose God 
is the Lord."* When many say, who will shew us any 
good ? I will turn me to the Lord, and say. Lord, "lift 
thou up the light of thy countenance upon me," this, 
this alone, " will put gladness in my heart, more than 
in the time when their corn and wine have increased."! 
O Lord, thou art the Rock of ages, on thee I repose my- 
self, as upon the rock that is higher than I ; | thou art 
my rest, I will return to thee as my rest after all my 
painful wanderings ; thou art my King and my God, 
yea, my exceeding joy, in thee will I boast all the day 
long.|| Thy holiness is my pattern, thy wisdom is my 
guide, thy power is my guard, thy truth is my surety, 
thy justice is my defence, thy mercy my hope, thy grace 
and goodness my only spring of holiness and comfort. 
Lord, tliy name is my strong tower in danger, and all 
thine attributes are my best inheritance. I expect no 
happiness but in communion with thee. 

I accept thee also as my last end, the end of my 
hopes, my desirt?s, my designs, the world is but an in- 
ferior good, if good in its kind ; I have seen an end of 
all perfection ; § profits, pleasures, honours, are not 
worth looking at, or longing for ; the lust of the flesh, 
the lust of the eyes, and pride of life,** these are not of 
the Father, but of the world, and the world passeth 
awa)'-, and farewell to it, it is no mortal thing I breath 
after or aim at. I am made to glorify God, and will say 
hallowed be thy name ; whatever become of me, I shall 
rejoice to see God's name highly honoiu*ed in the world. 
" Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, honour, 
and power ; my soul doth magnify the Lord." |f 

• Psal. cxliv. 15. + Psal. iv. 6, 7- + Psal. Ixi. 2. 
II Psal. cxvi. 7. Psal. xliii. 4. xliv. 4—8. 
§ Psal. cxix. 9(j. - 1 John ii. 16, 17- 
+t Matt. vi. 9. Rev. iv. 1 1. Luke i. 4(>. 


I am resolved by the grace of God, never to mention 
God's titles, attributes, ordinances, word or Avorks, but 
with due esteem and veneration. All that is within 
me shall adore and bless his holy name ; I will speak 
of the glorious honour of his majesty ;* and in all my 
actions, natural, civil, and religious, in eating, drink- 
ing, working, trading, hearing, praying, I design God's 
glory ; I desire to be filled with the fruits of righte- 
ousness to the glory and praise of God ;| yea, my soul 
desires that all my aims and actions may centre in this 
great end, namely, God's glory ; if I glory in any thing 
it shall be in the Lord ;l surely I will say, " In the 
Lord have I righteousness and strength — in the Lord 
shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory, 
Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name 
give glory, for thy mercy and for thy truth's sake."|| 
God forbid that I should m.ake myself the end of my 
aims and actions, and so set up myself as an idol. God 
alone is my chief good and last end. 

(2.) Accept Jesvis Christ as the Saviour and medium 
of enjoying God. "I am," saith our dear Lord, "the way, 
the truth, and the life,"^ the way as priest, the truth 
as prophet, the life as king, under all these views you 
may and must accept of him; and these are offices suit- 
ed to our circumstances of guilt, darkness, and bondage. 
And thus must you address your souls to him: — 

Blessed Lord Jesus, I am a guilty malefactor, and 
am this day holding up my black hand at the bar of 
God; but I am persuaded God hath ordained and anoint- 
ed his own and only Son to be a " priest for ever, after 
the order of Melchizedeclc,"'^ and I am sure he is a 
merciful and faithful high priest, in things pertaining 

. • Psalm, ciii. ]. Psal. cxlv. ">. tlCor. x.31. Phil. i. 11. 

t 1 Cor. i. 31. II Isa. xlv. 24, 25. Psal. cxv. 1. 
§ John xiv. 6. *iF Heb. vii. 21. 


to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the i)eo- 
ple.* He is a priest, an altar, and a sacrifice. As 
Crod-man he is mediator, interposing between flaming 
justice and sinning souls; and I own no mediator be- 
tween God and man, but the man Christ Jesus, who 
gave himself a ransom for all ;| who hath redeemed 
sinners from the curse of the law, being made a curse 
for us.:j: I am satisfied with this glorious contrivance 
of free grace, that the word should be made flesh, dwell 
among us, and fulfil all righteousness by doing God's 
will, and laying down his life freely for his sheep and 
children. II I lay myself before him as the altar, who 
being God, sanctified himself as man, and by his divi- 
nity added infinite virtue to his temporary sufferings,^ 
to make them of infinite value, to satisfy divine justice 
for the sins of man : for though he was crucified through 
weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God :^ 3^ea, he 
is declared to be the Son of God with power by the 
Spirit of holiness, "by the resurrection from the dead."** 
And as for his sacrifice, since it was of necessity " that 
this man had somewhat to offer," he hath appeared to 
put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, there is the 
offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all ;tf he 
gave himself an offering and a sacrifice to " God for a 
sweet-smelling savour." The Messiah is cut off", but not 
for himself; "he gave his life a ransom for many," as 
a propitiation for our sins ; tt " ^^r without shedding 
of blood is no remission :" by this blood he obtained 
" eternal redemption for us ;" this blood speaks better 
things than the blood of Abel ; |j || it brings peace with 

* Heb. ii. 17 t ^ Tim. ii. .5, 6. + Gal. iii. 13. 

II John i. 14. Psal. xl. 8. John x. 15. § John xvii. 19. 

1[ 2 Cor. xiii. 4. " Rom. i. 4. ft Heb. viii. 3. ix. 26. x. 10. 

JJ Eph. V. 2. Dan. ix. 25. IMatt. xx. 28. 1 John iv. 10. 

111! Heb. ix. 22, 23. Heb. ix. 11, 12. Heb. xii. 24. 


God, pardon to sinners, pacification to troubled consci- 
ences, access to God, and eternal connuunion with God.* 
Well, since there is none other name under heaven 
given among men whereby we must be saved, f I do 
acquiesce in Jesus Christ only for life and righteous- 
ness, I desire to know nothing save Jesus Christ cruci- 
fied; to glory in nothing save in the cross of our Lord 
Jesus Christ; to count all things but loss, "yea dung, 
that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having 
mine own righteousness — but the rigliteousness which 
is of God by faith ;| this is a faithful saying, the truth 
of it I firmly believe, " and worthy of all acceptation, 
that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, 
of whom I am chief."|| I am the worst and unworthi- 
est of all, but a sinner, and in the right of a sinner I 
plead for interest in a Saviour : O that I could say, he 
loved me and gave himself for me ; I am sure by the 
v/orks of the law can no flesh be justified ;^ my own 
righteousness cannot profit me, I flee to the Lord Jesus, 
the horns of the altar, the city of refuge, the brazen 
serpent, by him all that believe are justified from all 
things from which we could never be justified by the 
law of I\Ioses. By him I humbly hope to receive the 
atonement : O my blessed Jesus, thou wast wounded 
for my transgressions, bruised for my iniquities, the 
chastisement of my peace was upon thee, and with thy 
strij)es I hope to be healed :^ I renounce confidence in 
any creature, performance, duty, gift, grace, or enlarge- 
ment, and only rest my distressed soul on that " Re- 
deemer Avho comes to Zion, and unto them that turn 
from transgression in Jacob."** I this day profess to 

* Col. i. 20. 1 John i. 7- Heb. x. 19 22. t Act. iv. 12. 
X 1 Cor. ii. 2. Gal. vi. 14. Phil. iii. 8, 9. || 1 Tim. i. 15. 

§ Gal. ii. 10, 20. IF Act. xiii. 39. Rom. v. 11. Isa. liii. 5. 

** Isa. Hx. 20. 


believe in a betrayed, accused, reviled, condemned, cru- 
cified, raised, glorified Redeemer, and hope for pardon 
and heaven through his name. Amen, so be it. 

I do also humbly and thankfully own, accept and 
retain the same blessed Jesus,* as my advocate at the 
right hand of God, who is able to " save to the utter- 
most them that come to God by him, seeing he ever 
liveth to make intercession for them."f I am per- 
suaded my Lord Jesus is entered into the holy places, 
the holy of holies, even heaven itself, now to appear in 
the presence of God for us :i there doth our new testa- 
ment Aaron bear before the Lord, the names of those 
whom he bore on the cross, upon his shoulders for a 
memorial, and upon the breastplate of judgment, upon 
his heart; he hath also a plate of pure gold, with " Holi- 
ness to the Lord" graven upon it, continually on his 
forehead, for he bears the iniquity of the holy things, 
v/hich true Israelites hallow. 1| Om* Lord hath a gold- 
en censer, and much incense, to offer it with the prayers 
of all saints, " upon the golden altar before the throne."^ 
And if Satan the grand adversary stand at our right 
hand to accuse and resist us, this angel of the covenant 
will rebuke him, and clothe us with change of raiment; 
and then who can "lay any thing to the charge of 
God's elect? since Christ makes intercession for us. ^ 
O ray Lord, I am daily sinning, and so provoking God^ 
but thou say est if any sin, we have " an advocate with 
the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." To thee I 
flee under my guilt, who once didst excuse thy sleeping 
disciples, and intercede for backsliding Peter that his 
faith might not fail, who in thy farewell prayer didst 
breathe out thy soul for the preservation of believers, 

* 1 John i. ]. + Heb. vii. 25. + Hel). ix. 24, 

II Exod. xxviii. 12, 29, 30, 38. § Rev. viii. 3, 4. 

If Zech. iii. 1—4. Rom. viii. 33, 34. 

unity among them, thy joy in them, prevention of evil 
to tliem, further sanctification, perfection in grace, and 
coronation in glory.* My dear Lord Jesus, I put my- 
self and services into the hands of my mediator, that 
thou mayest purify and present them to the Father. 
Thou earnest on the same design now thou art ahove, 
and art touched with the feeling of our infirmities, I 
therefore come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain 
mercy ; f I know the Father heareth thee always, and 
whatsoever thou askest of him lie will give it thee. I 
Merciful Saviour, undertake to bring off this guilty 
soul before the throne now, and at the solemn day of 
judgment. I dare not use tlie intercession of saints 
and angels, having no commission so to do, and they 
know not my heart as my Lord Jesus doth, yea I am 
forbid angel worship. || I will henceforth worship 
God in " the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have 
no confidence in the fiesh." This is my confidence 
that I have in the Son of God, that whatever I ask 
in his name according to his will he heareth me.^ 
Amen ; Lord, add thy Amen to this. 

You are also to accept of Jesus Christ as your 
Prophet, and so the truth, as he is the truth in the ac- 
complishment of the prophecies and types. God has made 
good the prediction of Moses : " A Prophet shall the 
Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren like 
imto me, him shall you hear in all things." This is 
the prophet mighty in deed and word, " before God 
and all the people." He It is that hath prevailed to 
open the book, and loose the seven seals thereof.^ It 

* IMatt. xxvi. 41. Luke. xxii. 32. John xvii. 11—24. 
f Heb. iv. 15, 16. :!: John xi. 22, 42. 

II Rom. viii. 27- Col. ii. 18. Rev. xxii. 8, 9. § 1 John v. 14, 15. 
H Deut. xviii. 15. Acts. iii. 22. John vii. 40. Luke xxiv. 19. 
Rev. V. 5. 

\4!i BAl'TISJlAL ROXnS. 

was the Si)irit of Christ that testified befurehaiid in the 
prophets, of his own sufferings and following glory ; 
Imt in these last days God hath spoken to us by his 
Son. O v/hat a j^jreacher of righteousness was Jesus, 
never man spake like him ; he taught as one having 
authority. O what wisdom was given him ! He was 
anointed to preach the gospel, and he alone was both 
text and preacher. *' All bare him witness, and won- 
dered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his 
mouth." Well, I v/ill choose this Teacher sent from 
God as the apostle and high-priest of my profession.* 
I have been as a sheep going astray, but now will re- 
turn to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul. I will 
own none as rabbi and master of my conscience but 
him. I will hang upon his lips, and be attentive to 
hear him. He can speak a word in season to my wa- 
vering, doubting, weary soul,| thou, Lord, shalt be my 
prophet ; I expect no light but from the Sun of righte- 
ousness. Thou enlightenest with reason all that come 
into the world, but oh let the light of the knowledge of 
the glory of God shine into my heart, in the face of 
Jesus Christ-t Thou art the light of the world, and I 
follow thee, suffer me not to walk in darkness ; but let 
me see the light of life : give light to me that sit in 
darkness and in the shadow of death, guide my feet in 
the way of peace : in thy light only shall I see light. 1| 
Thou who hast thy chair in heaven, teachest hearts ; 
let me have covenant teaching from thee, I am re- 
solved to follow the guidance of thy word and Spirit : 
" Then shall I behold thy face in righteousness, and 

• 1 Pet. i. 11. Heb. i. 2. John vii. 46. i\Iatt. vii. 29. IMark 
vi. 2. Luke iv. 18, 22. John iii. 2. Heb. iii. 1. 

t 1 Pet. ii. 25. iNIatt. xxiii. 8—10. Luke xix. 48. Isa. 1. 4. 
+ Matt. xxi. 46. ]\Ial. iv. 2. John i. 9. 2 Cor. iv. 6. 
11 John viii. 12. Luke i. 79- Psal. xxxvi. 9. 

fC)V.:a or EXGAGE:vrE^'T. 145 

AVhen I awake I shall be satisfied with thy likeness*" 
Amen, so be it. 

But he that is not willing to take Christ as King, 
cannot have him as Priest or Prophet. Our clear 
Lord Jesus is King of kings, and Lord of lords, and 
more especially King of saints ; and though his king- 
dom be not of this world, nor come by pompous obser- 
vation, but is principally within men,* yet our Lord 
who is " Prince of the kings of the earth," ruleth in 
all the kingdoms of the world, for it is he by whom 
kings rule ; and as King, he makes sinners willing, vo- 
lunteers in the day of his power : the government is 
upon his shoulders,! and it must stand, yea, increase 
*' till all his foes be made his footstool, and then he 
shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even our Fa- 
ther ; and when all things are j)ut under him, God 
shall be all in all." Well tlien, my dear and blessed 
Sovereign King Jesus, my soul bows itself to thy just 
and righteous sceptre ; mount thy chariot, the gospel^ 
draw thy bow, shoot the arrows of conviction into my 
conscience, and conquer my heart, and make me fall 
under thee ; ascend on high, not only into the heaven 
of heavens, but possess the throne in my heart, " lead 
captivity captive,"^ receive gifts for, and give gifts to 
me a rebellious soul, that the Lord God may dwell in 
me, reign over me, and bring every thought within me 
into captivity to the obedience of Christ. I cast 
down my crown before thy throne, my dear Lord, as 
not worthy of any honour ; " Thou art worthy, O 
Lord, to receive glory, and lionour and power," || yea, 

* Psal. xvii. 15. Rev. xix. 16. xv. 3. John xviii. 36. 
+ Rev. i. 5. Prov. viii. 15. Psal. ex. 3. Isa. ix. 6, 7. 
+ 1 Cor. XV. 24—28. Psal. xlv. 3—5. Psal. Ixviii. 18. 
II Eph. iv. 8. 2 Cor. x. 5. Rev. iv. 10, 1 1. 


since I am one of the cliildren of the mystical Zion, I 
am resolved tliis day, which is the day of espousals be- 
tween Christ and ray soul, to set the crown only upon 
tlie head of this king Solomon, my Lord Jesus, the 
Prince of ])eace. Lord, I come this day to kiss the 
Son with honour, homage, tribute, and adoration ; take 
unto thee thy great power, and rule over me,* these 
lusts thine enemies, that vv'ould not that thou shouldest 
reign over me, bring them out and slay them before 
thee. Come, Lord, bow my will to thy will, and let 
all I am or have be subject to thy sceptre of righteous- 
ness. This is that king Jesus, to whom I swear fealty 
this day, the Lord is my judge, the Lord is my law- 
giver, the Lord is n»y king, he will save me. Thou 
only art head of thy church,f yea the head over all 
things to the church : all power is given thee by the 
Father, and thou only shalt have absolute dominion 
over me. Rabbi, thou ait the Son of God, thou art 
the king of Israel ; thou hast the key of David, 'thou 
openest and no man shutteth,± open the gates of my 
heart, " that the king of glory may come in ;" my soul 
is longing for, and aspii-ing towards this blessed hope, 
*■ and tlie glorious appearing of the great God, and our 
Sa\i()i:r Jesus Christ," my eyes shall see the king in 
his beauty. II Thou art gone into a far country, to re- 
ceive for thyself a kingdom, and to prepare most glo- 
rious mansions for all thy su))jec(s, tliou wilt come 
a.ain and receive them to thyself; tliou, righteous 
Judge, wilt give a crown of righteousness, to such as 
b.'licve in thee, and love thine appearing. " The Spirit 

* Song. iii. 11. P-al. ii. 9, 1-2. Rev, xi. IJ- 

f Luke xix. 27- Isa. xxxiii. 22. Eph. v. 23. 

t Ep' . i. 22. Mttt- xxviii. 18. John i. 49. Rev. iii. 7. 

II Psal. xxiv. 7- Tit. ii. 13. Isa. jfXwii. 17- 


and the bride say come," tlioii sayest, " I come quickly," 
my soul echoes, Amen, "even so come Lord Jesus."* 

(3.) Whilst our dear Lord Jesus is absent from his 
militant church, he hath from the Father sent another 
paraclete, or comforter, to negotiate his great affairs here 
on earth, "even the Spirit of truth," f that shall abide 
with his saints for ever ; and the poor covenanting 
soul must embrace this third person of the sacred 
Trinity, who is really and truly God, one in essence 
with Father and Son, for there " are three that bear 
record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy 
Ghost, and these three are one."l: I am sure I have 
need of this Holy Spirit of God, whom my dear Lord 
doth send from the Father, and O tluit I could sincere- 
ly accept of him ; I take the Holy Ghost then to con- 
vince me " of sin, and of righteousness, and of judg- 
ment." I choose him to bring the gospel to me, not 
in word only, but in power and demonstration of the 
Spirit. II I accept the Holy Sj)irit to help my infirmities 
in prayer, and assist me v/ith strong si;2,hs and groans ; 
I accept him to sanctify my offerings, and make them 
acceptable to God.$ I embrace the Spirit, that there- 
with I may receive all the fruits of the Spirit. O that 
my heart may be filled with love, joy, peace, longsuf- 
fering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and tem- 
perance. Whenever I profess my faith, I will hum- 
bly depend upon the Holy Spirit, to communicate to 
rae in that same hour what to speak, that then calling 
Jesus, Lord, by the Holy Ghost, I may be accepted.^ 
I own the Holy Spirit as he only who makes my bap- 

* John xiv. 2, 3. 2 Tim. iv. 8. Rev. xxii. 17, 20. 
t John xiv. Ifi, 17- t Acts v. 3, 4. 1 John v. 7- 

II John XV. 26. xvi. 8* 1 Thess. i. .5. 1 Cor. ii. 4. 
§ Rom. viii. 26. xv. 16. X^ai. v. 22, 23. 
If JMatt. X. 19, 20. 1 Cor. xii. 3. 

1-1 ,«< 


tism effectual to my salvation. By one Spirit we are 
all baptized into one body ; this is to be baptized with 
tjie " Holy Ghost as with fire," and this conveys to me 
the benefit of the Lord's supper, for we are all made to 
drink into one Spirit. Lord, drop down this blessed 
promise of the Father into my heart ; let this be the 
divine spark that may inflame my love to God, and 
suffer me not to quench, but blow it up in my soul ;* 
shed abroad thy love in my heart by the Holy Ghost ; 
seal my soul with that holy Spirit of promise, f I take 
the Spirit to be my guide into all truth, let my soul be 
1 ^d by the Sprit ; I take him to support me in the way 
of truth, help me to walk in the Spirit ; I take him as 
a Spirit of grace and supplication, that I may have 
grace to serve God acce})tably, give me the Spirit of 
adoption, to cry, Abba, Father.! Let my soul have 
"the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge 
cf Christ ;" let every word thou speakest to me be 
spirit and life to my soul. Set me at liberty by thy 
Spirit, for where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is 
liberty. II Let the Spirit mortify in me the deeds of 
the body ; witness with my spirit that I am thy child; 
bring all necessary truths and duties to my remem- 
brance ; uphold me with thy free Spirit, that I fall not ; 
thus strengthen me, that I faint not ; thus comfort me, 
that I sink not in despondency ; let me be a habitation 
of God through the Spirit, here, and at the last day ; 
let the same Spirit quicken my mortal body in the so- 
lemn general resurrection. § Thus doth my soul sin- 
cerely accept of (as I am sure I need,) all the persons 

* Acts i. 5. 1 Thess. v. 19. + Rom. v. 5. Eph. i. 13. 

t John xvi. 13. Gal. v. 5, l(i, 18. Zech. xii. 10. Rom. viii 15. 
II Eph. i. 17- John vi. 63. 2 Cor. iii. 1". 
§ Rom. viii. 13, 16. John xiv. 26. Psal. li. 11, \2. Eph. 
ii. 22. Rom. viii. 11. 


of the sacred Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as 
one God, my God. Lord, ratify in heaven this iiiy 
choice which I have made upon earth ; " and let the 
grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, 
and the communion of the Holy Ghost,"* be with me. 
Amen, even amen, and so be it. 

This is the main essential part of the covenant, ac- 
ceptance of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy 
Ghost. But besides this, there are some inferior, sub- 
ordinate objects that the soul ought to accept, namely, 
divine revelations, injuiictions, institutions, dispensa- 

(1.) The believer forming a covenant engagement 
must thus declare himself: Lord, I do now subscribe 
to thy whole word and will, contained in scripture, in 
the books of the old and nev/ testament, being assured 
that holy men of God spake and wrote as they were 
moved by the Holy Ghost : and I am sure God cannot 
lie or deceive, for he is goodness itself, and he cannot 
be deceived, being wisdom itself.f Whatever hath the 
stamp of God's authority, I yield full assent to, without 
hesitation, not conferring with flesh and blood : and if 
an angel from heaven " preach any other gospel," than 
this which I have received, I would reject it, and look on 
him as accursed. t I will also contend for this faith 
once delivered to the saints, and will not give place to 
a mortal, no not for an hour, that the truth of God may 
be continued, and perpetuated. || Thus saith the Lord 
in the old testament, and vc?'ihj, verily, I say unto you, 
in the new, have equal authority. Every truth of God 
concerning Christ, " is a faithful saying and worthy of 
all acceptation ;$ and though the Jews "require a sign, 
and Greeks seek after wisdom," ministers preach, and 

* 2 Cor. xiii. 14. t 2 Pet. i. 21. Tit. i. 2. X Gal. i. 8. 
H Jude, 3. Gal. ii. 5. § 1 Tim. i. 15. 

159 BArTIS3lAl> BONDS. 

we believe in Christ crucified, " to tlie Jews a stum- 
bling block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but to them 
ti'hich are called, Christ the power of God, and the 
wisdom of God." This gospel many have found to be 
" the power of God unto salvation,"* and tliough it is a 
mystery above the conception of men and angels, yet I 
believe what I cannot comprehend : " Manifold wisdom 
of God, unsearchable riches of Christ," to be admired, 
but cannot be traced ; there are large dimensions pass- 
ing human knowledge ; above reason, not against it. 
God hath discovered these mysteries in his v/ord, and 
reA'ealed them to his saints by his Spirit ;t the angels 
themselves are proficients in this school ; there are un- 
fathomable depths in the holy scripture, but I am sure 
that the iudijment of God is according to truth : when 
I knov/ it is the voice of the true Shejifherd I must as- 
sent and comply therewith, a little child shall lead me 
with the line of scripture.:}: I will not be disobedient 
to the heavenly vision, but believe all things that are 
v/ritten in the law and the prophets: and being instruct- 
ed in gospel truths, which are surely believed among 
us, I will venture my soul and eternal welfare upon 
them. " i thank thee, () Father, Lord of heaven and 
earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise 
and prudent, and hast revealed them to babes; even so, 
Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight."|| 

(2.) I also give my free consent to the equity of di- 
vine injunctions ; and resolve ].y the grace of God to 
square my heart and life according to the preceptive 
part of liis word : God forbid that I should say, con- 
cerning any part of God's revealed vrill, and my duty, 

* 1 Cor. i. 22—24. Rom. i. 10. 

t Eph. iii. 6, 8, 10, 18, U). 1 Cor. ii. 10. 

t 1 Pet. i. 12. Rom. ii. 2. John x. 4, 5. Isa. xi. 6. 

II Acts XXV I. 10. xxiv. 14. Luke 11, i. .^latt. xi. 25, 2C. 


tills " is a hard saying, and who can hear it ? Thou 
hast commanded ns to keep thy i)rtcepts diligently," 
exactly, " O that my ways were directed to keep thy 
statutes I" Alas ! I can keep none as I ought, but then 
shall " I not be ashamed, v/hen I have respect to all 
thy commandments."* Faith in Christ is the great 
gospel commandment, and loving one another. " Lord 
I do believe, help thou my unbelief;" I do now pur- 
pose by the assistance of divine grace, to love the Lord 
my God, with all my heart, with all my soul, mind, and 
strength, and my neighbom* as myself.f Lord, give 
me the end of the commandment, which is charity, out 
of a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned. 
And now since the grace of God hath appeared to me, 
I do purpose to deny ungodliness, and worldly lusts, 
and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this pre- 
sent world. And since I have taken upon me the 
name of Christ, I resolve to depart from all iniquity,:]: 
I will " hide thy word in my heart, that I may not sin 
against thee ; O teach me thy statutes; thy testimonies 
shall be my delight and my counsellors ; stablish thy 
"w^ord unto thy servant who is devoted to thy fear."|j 
Put thy law in my inward parts, and write it in my 
heart ; teach me to know the Lord : " put thy fear in 
my heart that I may not depart from thee ;" take the 
stony heart out of my flesh, and give me a heart of 
flesh ; sprinkle clean water upon me ; put a new heart 
and a new spirit within me, and cause me to walk in 
thy statutes.^ Separate me from a wicked world, and 
receive me, be a Father to me, and let me be thy child. 

• John vi. CO. Psal. cxix. 4— G. 

t 1 John iii. 23. IMatt. xxii. 37, 38. Luke x. 27- 

t 1 Thn. i. 5. Tit. ii. 11, 12. 2 Tim. ii. 19. 

II Psal. cxix. 11, 12, 16, 24, 36, 38. 

§ Jew xxxi. 33, 34. xxxii. 40. Ezek. xxxvi. 25 — 27. 

1,j2 baptismal bonds. 

Thou sayest, liow shall I put thee among the children, 
and give thee a pleasant land, a land of desires, yea, a 
goodly heritage^* thyself answerest, "thou shalt call me, 
my Father, and shalt not turn away from me." Amen, 
My dear Lord, work what thou commandest, and then 
command what thou pleasest, and I will obey, what- 
ever the flesh saith, my spirit doth consent to the law of 
God, that it is good; I will for ever say, the law is holy, 
and the commandment is holy, just, and good, whatever 

(3.) Divine institutions. My earnest desire is to 
walk before God in all the commandments and ordi- 
nances of the Lord blameless. Tell me, "O thou whom 
my soul loveth, where thou feedest, and where thou 
makest thy flock to rest at noon : — I will go forth by 
the footsteps of the flock, and feed my kids besides the 
shepherds' tents." I will follow my dear Lord "to the 
gardens, to the beds of spices, I will hold the king in 
the galleries ; O bring me into the banqueting house, 
let thy banner over me be love." While the King of 
heaven sitteth at the table, "let my spikenard send 
forth the smell thereof. "± I am resolved to own a gos- 
pel ministry ; and encourage such pastors and teachers 
as God hath qualifled with gifts, and sanctified with 
grace, and made conscientious in his work, for convert- 
ing sinners, and edifying the body of Christ. I will 
know and own them tliat labour, and are over me in 
the Lord, esteem them highly, and obey them, accord- 
ing to gospel iiile. I will suffer a word of caution, 
admonition, and exhortation, and give myself to God, 
and to his ministers by the will of God,|| I will reve- 
rently esteem that sacred ordinance of baptism, and will 

• Heb. An heritage of glory. f Jer. iii. 19. Rom. vii. 12, 16. 
i Luke i. 6. Song i. 7, 8. vi. 1, 2. vii. 5. ii. 3, 4. i. 12. 
11 Eph. iv. 11. 1 Thes. v. 12, 13. Heb. xiii. 17,22. 2 Cor. viii.5. 


endeavour to put on Christ, to be buried with him in 
mortification, that I may rise with him in vivification. 
The true laver of regeneration is rencAval by the Holy 
Ghost; would to God I were born again, not only of 
water, but of the Spirit * I did answer to the questions 
propounded in baptism ; but oh for the answer of a 
good conscience toward God ! Also, I dare not omit 
any season of duly attending my Lord at his holy table, 
I will keep close to the institution, prepare for it, ex- 
amine myself, labour to discern the Lord's body, do it 
in remembrance of him, shew forth my Lord's death 
till he come, labour to enjoy communion with Christ, 
and feed upon him. But oh for a wedding garment, 
that I may be a worthy communicant, and go from his 
holy table with advantage !f Yea, there is no ordinance 
of God, but my soul desires to close with it. I will 
henceforth be more diligent in searching the scriptures 
and meditating in God's law, " day and night." My 
mouth shall speak wisdom, and my tongue talk of judg- 
ment. Evening, morning, and at noon will I pray and 
cry aloud. t I will " sing and give praise, and render to 
God the calves of my lips." Lord, I have loved " the 
habitation of thy house, and the place where thine ho- 
nour dwells." This, this is the one thing that I desire 
of the Lord, and this will I seek after, "that I may dwell 
in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to 
behold the beauty of the Lord, and inquire in his tem- 
ple." Amen, Lord, give me a heart to perform this 
covenant, and the blessing of him who attends at the 
posts of wisdom's doors. II 
(4.) Yet further, the covenanting Christian must freely 

* Gal. iii.27. Rom. vi. 11. Col. ii. 12. Tit. iii. 5. Joh. iii. 5. 

t 1 Pet. iii. 21. 1 Cor. xi. 23—26. 1 Cor. x. 16. iMatt. xxii. 5-^12. 

i John V. 39. Psal. i. 2. Psal. xxxvii. 30. Psal. Iv. 17- 

Ii Psal. Ivii. 7. Hos. xiv. 2. Psal. xxvi. 8. Psal. xxvii. 4. 


welcome, and willingly submit himself to all providential 
dispensations. Oh ! this self-denying work may prove the 
hardest thing the poor soul hath subscribed to. But 
he must, and by grace, will do it. O Lord, I am at 
thy disposal, as clay in the hands of the potter, *' I am 
the work of thy hand," thou mayest use thy absolute 
prerogative, to make me a vessel of honour or of dis- 
honour, in respect of this or another world ; if thou 
condenm me, my mouth must be stopped, I have de- 
served it, I have not a word to reply against God : yet 
I have no warrant from God to express my being con- 
tent to be damned, for that is a state of sin and sepa- 
ration from God, which I can by no means wish : nor 
doth my Lord delight in the "death of a sinner."* That 
to Avhich I must in this my covenanting freely submit, 
is with respect to outward dispensations of providence, 
and in this I am resolved, not to think of carving or 
choosing for myself, but put myself into God's hands, 
and take my lot as it falls. Thou, Lord, art wiser 
than I, and fitter to rule me than I can order myself. 
Thou art wise in heart, and mighty in strength, who 
hath hardened himself against thee, and prospered? 
Thou takest away, who can hinder thee ? who can say 
unto thee, what dost thou? who dare strive against 
thee? for thou givest not account of thy matters; thou 
art an absolute sovereign, and a righteous governor ; 
thy ways are always equal : "Clouds and darkness are 
round about thee, yet righteousness and judgment are 
the habitation of thy throne. Thou art righteous in 
all thy ways, and holy in all thy works ;"f therefore I 
am resolved to justify the Lord when I cannot satisfy 
myself, and lay down this maxim, " righteous art thou 

• Isa. Ixiv. 8. Rom. ix. 20—22. Ezek. xviii. 32. 
t Job ix. 4, 12. Job xxxiii. 13. Ezek. xviii. 25. Psal. 
xcvii. 2. Psal. cxlv. 17- 


O Lord, when I plead with thee ;" some of thy dispen- 
sations have to thy people an appearance of hard things, 
yet thou givest a banner to them that fear thee, and it 
shall some way tend to tlieir good ; therefore I will 
silently adore what I cannot yet comprehend: I will be 
dumb and not open my mouth, because thou, Lord, dost 
it:* I am sure thy judgments are right, and in faithful- 
ness thou hast afflicted me ; it is the Lord, let him do 
what seemeth him good ; good is the word and will of 
the Lord, shall I receive good at God's hands, and not 
evil ? He is my Sovereign and can do me no wrong, 
he is my Father and will do me no hurt ; I will lay 
me down at his feet in all, and say, the will of the 
Lord be done,f the cup which my Father gives me to 
drink shall I not drink it? I will take up my cross 
and follow Christ. I have deserved more punishment 
than this, and therefore will accept of this as the pun- 
ishment of mine iniquity.! Lord, scourge here, only 
spare me hereafter; I choose to suffer affliction with 
the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of 
sin for a season ; though it deprive me of some of my 
comforts, yet if this rod be for my profit that I may 
partake of his holiness here and glory hereafter, I am 
content, yea, thankful, and shall even glory in tribula- 
tions ; O what a badge of honour it is to bear in my 
body the marks of the Lord Jesus ! || Farewell pleasure, 
welcome pain for my Lord ; if my dear Lord will 
strengthen )ne by his grace, I will endure any thing 
according to his pleasure, and for his sake : Lord, here 
cut, here burn, only spare me for eternity ; do what 

* Jer. xii. 1. Psal. Ix. 3, 4. Rom. viii. 28. Psal. xxxix. 9. 
f Psal. c^ix. 75- 2 Kings xx. 19. Job i. 21. ii. 10. Acts xxi. 14. 
X John xviii 11. Ezra ix. 13. Lev. xxvi. 41. 
II Heb. xi, 25 Ileb. xii. fi, 10. 2 Cur. xii. 0. Gal. vi. IJ. 


thou pleasest with me ; if thou have no delight to com- 
municate to me temporal mercies and spiritual privi- 
leges, yet if thou wilt be my God I will say, " here am 
I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him."* 



I co:me now to the second part of a covenant engage- 
ment, which consists in dedication. This is as neces- 
sary as the former, that the covenanted soul should 
make a deed of gift, and by an absolute resignation to 
God, should voluntarily subscribe himself to be the 
Lord's, as a bored servant, as a listed soldier, as a mar- 
ried wife, wherein the terms uj)on record are, " Thou 
shalt abide for me many days, thou shalt not play the 
harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man, so will 
I also be for thee," Hos. iii. 3. 

^Ve must dedicate what we are, and all that we have. 

The dedication of ourselves is twofold : we should 
dedicate the sotd with its faculties, and the body with 
its members. 

I shall briefly advert to these, and so direct cove- 
nanting souls in their self-dedication to the Lord, both 
in general and particularly. 

First, then you may thus lay yourselves before the 
Lord : — 

Glorious Jehovah, I do this day lift up my hand unto 
the Lord, the most High God, possessor of heaven and 
* 2 Sam. XV. 26. 


earth, resolving by thy grace to give up myself unto 
thee, and that I will not take from a thread even to a shoe- 
latchet, of any thing that is thine to myself, or alienate 
it to any other ; * my person is thine, and I will be 
thine ; nothing that thou givest me can please me 
without thyself, and nothing I can give thee can 
please thee without myself ;f thou comest to solicit me, 
and thou shalt have me, thou art not satisfied so much 
with my goods, duties, or enjoyments, as with myself. 

Lord, I am thine and will be thine, | no mortal 
creature can lay claim to me ; I am thine by creation, 
redemption, and sanctification, and now I devote myself 
to thee by a voluntary dedication, at this instant, 
without delay, cordially without dissembling, univer- 
sally without reserves, and perpetually without revoca- 
tion. Satan would claim a title to me, because of his 
long possession — the world, because of its near alliance 
to me — the flesh as being part of myself, but I this 
day withdraw myself and service from all others, and 
give up myself to thee ; I have destroyed myself, but 
in thee is my help ; vain is the help of man, I cannot 
help myself, but with thee the fatherless find mercy. || 
Lord, I am devoted to thy fear, I am this day making 
a singular vow that my person may be the Lord's ; 
would to God I could be a devoted thing, holy unto 
the Lord ! ^ Thou once didst make me as the clay, 
poured me out as milk, curdled me like cheese : why, 
now, Lord, still I am the clay and thou art the potter, 

1 am the work of thy hands, thou hast me upon the 
wheel :^ O that free grace may frame me a vessel of 
mercy, filled with the divine supplies of saving grace ; 

* Gen. xiv. 22, 23. t Non mea sed me. | Ps. cxix. 94. 

II Hos. xiii. 9. Psal. Ix. 11. Hos. xiv. 2, 3. 

§ Psal. cxix. 38. Lev. xxvii. 2, 28. 

IT Job X. 9, 10. Isa. kiv. 8. Jer. xviii. 3. 


work me up for lieaveii, and make me meet for the 
inheritance in light ; cast nie in the iiiouki of 
gospel doctrine ; change me n^ore and more into the 
image of God, yea, from glory to glory ; let me helong 
to the class of Nethinim, let me he a true Xazarite, de- 
voted to God ; that I may give myself to prayer, and 
be in the fear of the Lord, all the day long ; that as 
Anna of old, I may not depart from his temple, but 
serve the Lord with fastings and prayers, night and 
day, * This and all that I am, do I owe to my dear 
Lord, for I am bought with a price, therefore I am re- 
solved to glorify God in my body and in my spirit, 
which are God's.-j- 

1. I bring this immortal spark called the soul, this 
pearl, this jewel, this noblest part of m3^self, and lay it 
at thy sacred feet ; it is fit it should be thine, for thou 
art the Father of spirits, the God of the spirits of all 
flesh.t I bring my soul to thee, it is spoiled, deprived 
of thine image, Lord, repair it, that I may again bear 
the image of the heavenly; I have defiled it, purify my 
soul, both by sanctification and justification, that I 
may be whiter than snow; I have wounded it, heal my 
soul, for I have sinned against thee ; I have weakened 
it, I bring it to thee, to strengthen me with strength in 
my soul ; yea, I have struck it dead by sinning, 
quicken me, O Lord, for thy name's sake, for thy 
righteousness' sake bring my soul out of prison. || I 
bring this soul of mine to do homage to its Master, the 
King of heaven ; I will solemnly charge it, saying, my 
soul, wait thou only upon God, and truly my soul 
waiteth upon God, and is silent, hushed, and hearken- 

* Rom. ix. 23. 2 Cor. v. 5. Col. i. 12. Rom vi. 17- 2 Cor. 
iii. 18. Numb. vi. 2. Psal. cix. 4. Prov. xxiii. 17- Luke ii. 37- 
+ 1 Cor. vi. 20. + Heb. xii. 9. Numb. xvi. 22. 

11 1 Cor. XV. 49. Psal. li. 7- xli. 4. cxxxviii. 3. cxliii. 11. 

SELr-Di:bi('ATiox. 159 

ing for either a word of command, or an answer of 
prayer. I will pray with iiiy spirit, and worship God 
in spirit and in truth ; if I praise God, my soul shall 
magnify the Lord, and my spirit shall rejoice in God 
my Saviour. In every duty I perform, I will set my 
heart and my soul to seel: the Lord my God. * Upon 
God will I wait all the day long, and all my days ; I 
will give up my soul to God that it may centre in him, 
and will say, return unto thy rest, O my soul, it cm 
find no settlement or satisfaction any where else ; the 
Lord is my portion, saith my soul,f God only can satiate 
the weary soul, and replenish every sorrowful soul ; 
many perplexing thoughts work within me, in th^ 
midst of all I will have recourse to God ; O that tliy 
comforts might delight my soul ! ^ O happy were my 
tortured soul, if it could get ease in the bosom of my 
dear Lord ! And when this immortal soul must de- 
part out of this shattered aud decaying frame, I will 
commend my soul and spirit into tlie hands of God, he 
will receive it, for he is a faithful Creator, and my 
gracious Father in Christ. 1| I know whom I have be- 
lieved, and am persuaded he is able to keep that whicii 
I have committed to him until that day ; thus do I 
daily put my precious soul into the hands of God, 
Lord, accept it. Amen.^ 

2. With particular dedication. The believer must 
devote all the powers and faculties of this precious 
soul to God, in this manner : Lord, my mind is cor- 
rupted aud defiled, I put it into thy hands to be cleans- 

* Psalm Ixii. 1, 5. 1 Cor. xiv. 1.5. John iv. 24. Luke i. 
46, 47- 1 Chron. xxii 19. 

t Ps. cxvi. 7- Lam. iii. 24. X Jer. xxxi. 25. Ps. xciv. 19. 
II Psal. xxxi. 5. xlix. 15. 1 Pet. iv. 19. 
§ Luke xxiii. 46. 2 Tim. i. 12. 


ed ; O renew me in the spirit of my mind, my under- 
standing is dark, let the eyes of my understanding be 
enlightened. O what a wandering heart have I, Lord, 
fix it upon thee, and some profitable object ; renew a 
constant spirit within me ; there is a baneful enmity 
in my mind to God, and alienation by wicked works, 
now at last reconcile my mind and whole soul to thy- 
self and goodness.* Lord, I will do what I can to bring 
this mind to thee, that thou inayest rectify it ; thou 
hast placed in me a noble faculty of conscience, which 
I am resoh^d shall be ruled by no dictates of man, but 
by the rule of thy holy word. I may lay my body as 
the ground to them that go over, but if they say to 
my soul or conscience, bow down, that we may go 
over, they must excuse me ; f by the grace of God I 
will keep my conscience clear for him, without offence 
towards God and man ; I it acts as God's vicegerent, 
and to him only must it give an account, I pass not 
under man's judgment, yea, I judge not mine owri self, 
there is a supreme judge whom conscience shall keep 
in view, that God the Holy Ghost may bear witness 
with my conscience, that my heart may not rejn-oach 
me as long as I live, but witness for me at death, with 
the testimony of a good conscience. || Lord, thou hast 
given me a self-communing faculty, this candle of the 
Lord, that thereby I may search into the inward parts 
of the belly ; God almighty assist me in the due im- 
provement of this imjiortant faculty, to commune with 
mine own heart, § and make diligent search, and let 
every searching preacher commend himself to my con- 
science in the sight of God,^ and let my conscience echo 

* Eph. iv. 23. i. 18. Psal. li. 10. Col. i. 21. 
t Isa. li. 23. + Acts xxiv. 16. 

jl 1 Cor. iv. 3. Rom. ix. ]. Job xxvii. 6. 2 Cor. i. 12. 

§ Prov. XX. 27. Psal. Ixxvii. 6. ^2 Cor. iv. 2. 


back to every divine truth, that my heart not condemn- 
ing me, I may have confidence towards God.* My 
memory also, O Lord, I give up to thee ; let that be 
sanctified and strengthened, to be retentive of divine 
and spiritual things. O that I could remember my 
Creator in the days of my youthj and that every day I 
may set God before mine eyes ; f I purpose this day to 
forget trifles and vanity, help me with that art of for- 
getfulness, but let the Holy Ghost bring the things of 
God to my remembrance ; I am resolved to remem- 
ber my sins, that I may be ashamed of them, and thy 
mercies that I may be thankful, thy marvellous works 
also shall not slip from me. But O that my heart 
were as the ark of the covenant, wherein were the 
tables of tlie law. t Lord, let me never be regardless 
of the things announced by the gospel, but let me give 
more diligent heed, lest at any time I let them slip, 
and so be in danger of believing in vain. Lord, what 
is of use to my soul do thou keep for me, and bring to 
my mind when I have most special occasion for it. 
As for my will, that ungovernable faculty, and my af- 
fections, which are the acts or movements of my M'ill, 
my soul desires that they may be directed to thee, and 
that thou mayest have the management of them. My 
Lord Jesus came from heaven, not to do his own will, 
but the will of him that sent him ; much more must I 
say so : j] Lord, my own wilful will hath ruined me, 
cure me of this stubbornness, cross my forward v/ill, 
and conquer it by an act of thy power; give me a 
willing mind, make me willing and obedient; J thoU 

* 1 John iii. 21. t Eccl. xii. L P^al. xvi. 8; 
:;: John xiv. 2G. Ezek. xvi. 01. Psal. cv. 5. Ileb. ix. 4. 
II Heb. ii. 1. 1 Cor. xv. 2. John vi. 38. 
§ Hos. xiii. 9. Psal. ex. 3. 2 Gov. viii. 12. Isa. i. ld> 


only must work in me both to will and to do ; my de- 
sire is to choose the right object, and then cleave unto 
God with purpose of heart ; Lord, confirm this honest 
resolution within me.* As for my affections, I am re- 
solved to place them no where but upon thyself, I will 
love thee, O Lord, my strength, with my whole strength 
and most lively affection ; thy word is very pure, there- 
fore doth thy servant love it ; I love thy house, thy 
saints, and every thing that bears tliine image. " My soul 
thirsteth for God, for the living God, when shall I come 
and appear before God ?" my hope shall be placed only 
on God ;f O that I could gird up the loins of my mind 
and hope to the end ; I will delight myself in the Lord, 
wliicli is both my duty and my privilege. Lord, make me 
sit down under thy shadow with great delight, and let 
thy fruit be sweet to my taste, i And with respect to 
my feelings and passions of an opposite description, 
they also shall be employed for thee in grieving for, 
hating and fleeing from what is in opposition to thee, 
since I profess my love to thee I will hate evil, even 
every false way ; O that I could be angry and not 
sin, by being angry at sin; O that I could behold trans- 
gressors and be grieved. I will endeavour after godly 
sorrow that may bring forth repentance to salvation, 
not to be repented of. I will study all those decisive 
evidences and properties of this godly sorrow, pray for 
them, and endeavour after them, namely, carefulness, 
clearing of myself, indignation, fear, vehement desire, 
zeal, and revenge. || O that my soul might be weaned 
from the world, as a weaned child ; and that I could 

* Phil. ii. 13. Luke x. 42. Acts xi. 23. 

f Psal. xviii. 1. xxvi. 8. Psal. xlii. I, 2, 5. 

T 1 Pet. i. 13. Psal. xxxvii. 4. Isa. Iviii. 14. Song. ii. 3. 

II Psal. xcvii. 10. cxix. 104, 158. Eph. iv. 26. 2 Cor. vii. 10, 11. 


Suck and be satisfied at the breasts of consolation ; 
where my treasure is, there shall my heart be. * 
Amen, so be it. Lord, confirm these breathings of my 

2. In reference to your bodies, you are bound alSo to 
give them uj) to the Lord, both generally and particu- 
larly, thus : — 

Lord, I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and 
wonderfully made, I was curiously wrought in the lower 
parts of the earth, in thy book were all my members 
written ; thou art he that took me out of the wombj 
and by thee have I been holden up from the womb, 
therefore I will present my body a living sacrifice, 
which is but a reasonable service,! Lord, make it holy, 
and thus acceptable to God, make it a member of Christ, 
and the temple of the Holy Ghost ; my desire is that 
Christ may be magnified, God glorified in my body, 
living and dying ; I resolve to keep under my body, 
and bring it into subjection to thee my Lord, and cleanse 
myself from all filthiness both of fiesh and spirit : i for 
fleshly lusts war against the soul ; I will possess my 
vessel in sanctification and honour ; it is true, bodily 
exercise profiteth little, and may consist with a form of 
godliness, but O that my spirit, soul, and body were 
wholly sanctified, and so presented blameless at t]i,e 
coming of my Lord Jesus, "who shall change this vile 
body, that it may be fashioned like unto his own glo- 
rious body." II Whicii that it may, 

1 will devote all the members of it to thy service 
and glory : my tongue shall speak of the things I have 
made touching my heavenly King, and be as the pen 

* Psalm cxxxL 2. Isa. Ixvi. ll. Matt. vi. 21. 
t Psalm cxxxix. 14 — 16. xxii. 9. Ixxi. 6. Rom. xii. 1. 
- t 1 Cor. vi. 15, 19, 20. Phil. i. 20. 1 Cor. ix. 27- 2 Cor. vli. 1, 
II 1 Pet. ii. 11. 1 Thesfe. iv. 4. v. 23. Phil. iii. 21. 

31 2 

164 bai'TisMal bonds. 

of a ready writer ; only I put the government of tny 
mouth into thy hands, for tliough I may say, I will 
take heed to my ways, that I offend not with niy tongue, 
yea, though I keep my mouth as with a bridle, yet I 
am afraid I shall speak unadvisedly, unless thou, Lord, 
set a watch before my mouth, and keep the door of 
my lips. I am purposed that my mouth shall not 
transgress : God forbid that corrupt communication 
should ever proceed out of my mouth, but that which 
is good to the use of edifying, that it may glorify God, 
and minister grace to the hearers.* I am resolved to 
rule my palate, and not to make provisions to fulfill the 
lusts of the flesh ; nay, rather to put a knife to my 
throat, if I feel myself given to appetite, and not so 
)raich as look u})on the wine v/hen it is red, when it 
giveth its colour in the cup, lest being bewitched by it, 
I be drunk with wine wherein is excess.f I vow this 
day against chambering, wantonness, strife, envy, or 
misusing any of my bodily members to make them in- 
struni.ents of unrighteousness to iniquity ; no, I will 
now yield my members servants to righteousness unto 
holiness ; yea, if God call me to it, I will yield my 
b.';dy to the flames rather than serve or worship any 
god, save my ov.^n God ; my hands will I wash in in- 
nocence, and compass thine altar ; O Lord, I will lift 
up my heart with my hands to thee in the heavens; :j: 
O that I could lift up holy hands to God without wrath 
and doubting ! I will keep my feet when I go to the 
liouse of God ; yea, I will ponder the path of my feet, 
that all my ways may be established, j| Lord, suffer me 

* Psalm xxxix. 1. cvi. 33. cxii. 3. xvii. 3. Eph. iv. 29. Rom.xv.6. 

t Rom. xiii. 14. Prov. xxiii. 2, 31. Eph. v. 18. 

J Rom. vi. 19. Dan. iii. 28. Psalm xxvi. 6. Lam. iii. 41. 

Ij 1 Tim. ii. 8. Eccles. v. 1. Prov. iv. 2b', 27- Marg. ordered 



not to turn to the right hand nor to the left, remove 
my foot from evil, but let me still make straight paths 
to my feet, and walk in the ways of uprightness. O 
what a wandering eye have I ? Lord, turn away mine 
eyes from beholding vanity, I will set no wicked thing 
before mine eyes ; O that mine eyes miglit be ever to- 
wards the Lord ! I will look to my Maker, and mine 
eyes shall have respect to the holy one of Israel.* I 
will incline mine ear to discipline, and hear what the 
Lord will speak ; thou sayest, hear and thy soul shall 
live ; Lord, bore mine ear through with an awl to the 
door of thy house, that I may serve thee for ever ; let 
me be deaf to Satan's enchantments, and sinners' al- 
lurements, but alvv'ays open to a divine call, and what 
other bodily members I have, they shall be for thy ser- 
vice and glory.f Lord, give me strength to make good 
this vow to be a Nazarite to the Lord, and perpetually 
to observe this covenant. 

Secondly, As you must give up yourselves, your 
souls, and bodies to the Lord, so you must dedicate 
what you have to the Lord, which may be considered 
as embracing you?' relations, and your concerns of a. 
temporal nature. 

1. You must give up to God your relations to which 
you have any title or interest, so far as your authority 
or influence extends ; you must even give up yourselves 
to God in that relation wherein you stand to others. 
I shall give a sketch of the different relations of hus- 
band and wife, parent and child, master and servant, 
magistrate and subject, minister and people, 

1. Lord, thou hast made me an husband. I Avill 
love my wife as my ovvii body, and be entu'ely united 
to her, and not be bitter against her, nor forsake her ; 

* Heb. xii. 13, 14. Psahn cxix. .37. ci. 3. xxv. 15- Isa. xvii. 7. 
t Job xxxvi. 10. Isa. h . 3. Exod. xxi. G. Prov. i. 10. 


I am resolved to dwell with her according to know- 
ledge, to instruct her, pray for her and with her, and 
() that she may be thine, and that we both may be 
heirs together of the grace of life ! Thou gavest me 
my wife, I will give her back to thee; if thou continue her 
to me, I will bless thee ; if thou take her, I will not 
sorrow^ as one without hope ; but as I have given lier 
back to thee upon my knees, and while she is with me, 
I will be as if I had none, and when thou takest her, I 
shall have all made up in thee, my dear Lord.* Or, 
thou hast made m.e a wife, and I shall submit myself 
to my own husband in the Lord, if he be not won to. 
God by the v/ord, I will endeavour to win him by my 
humble subjection and holy conversation. O for an 
ornament of a meek and quiet spirit ! O that I were a 
daughter of Sarah in doing weW, that though I be of a 
timorous nature, yet I may not be afraid with any 
amazement ; yea give me such a spirit as Manoah's 
v,'ife, to hold up the feeble hands of my fainting hus- 
band. God forbid I should be a snare to my husband ; 
no, Solomon's virtuous woman shall be my pattern, 
and I will do him good, and not evil all the days of his 
life.f Being a father or mother, and God having 
given me children. Lord, teach me what I shall do for 
my child, hoAV I shall order it, how I shall do unto it; 
it is thine more than mine, I dedicate it to thee, my 
child is a loan lent to the Lord, as long as he liveth, 
he sliail be lent to the Lord ; I devote my poor child 
to thee in the ordinance of baptism, since the promise 
is made to me and to my seed ; I will pray for them, and 
instruct them, in the way of the Lord,T yea, I vrill com- 

* Eph. V. 2V,, 31. Col. iii. 19. 1 Cor vii. 11. 1 Pet. iii. 7. 
Gen. ii. 18. 1 Thess. iv. 1.3. 1 Cor. vii. 29, .30. 

t Eph. V. 22. 1 Pet. iii. 1— (1. Judg. xiii. 23. Prov. xxxi. 10, 

:;: JmU. xiii. o, 12. 1 Sam. i. 28. Acts ii. 39. Prov. .xxii. 6. 


raand my children and household after me ; and O 
that they may keep the way of the Lord ! If they die 
I will say, " the Lord gives, and takes away, blessed 
be the name of the Lord." If I die, and must leave 
them, I will leave my fatherless children to God, they 
are the Lord's heritage and reward.* Being a child, 
I will obey my parents in the Lord, honour father and 
mother, and be subject to them, as my Lord was to his 
parents ; and according to my ability and their necessity, 
I will learn to requite my parents ; if I die, I will take 
care that they be provided for as David did,f and my 
Lord Jesus, who committed his surviving mother to the 
guardianship of the beloved disciple. O that my pa- 
rents and I might meet in heaven ! Being a master 
and God having given me servants, I Avill endeavour 
that they may be all spiritually circumcised, and train- 
ed up for God, as his soldiers and servants in the spiri- 
tual warfare. " ]\line eyes shall be upon the faithful 
of the land, that they may dwell with me ; he that 
walketh in a perfect way shall serve me, but he that 
worketh deceit shall not dwell in my house; he that 
telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight." I will give 
to 7ny servants that which is just and equal — and con- 
tinue in prayer with them and for them. And O that 
all under my shadow might return to the Lord ! I 
Being a servant, I will firet be Christ's servant, and, 
God forbid that I should be a slave to men's passions, 
yet in all lawful things I will be subject to my master 
with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also 
to the froward ; with good will I shall do him service, as 
to the Lord and not merely to man ; I ■will be obedient, 

* Gen. xviii. 19. Job i. 21. Jer. xlix 11. Psal. cxxvii. 3, 
+ Eph. vi. 1, 2. Luke ii. 51. 1 Tim. v. 4. 1 Sam. xxii. 3. 
X John xix. 27- Gen. xvii. 13. xiv. 14. Psalm ci. 1 — C. 
Col. iv. 1, 2. Hcs. xiv. 7- 



and please him well in all things, not answering again, 
not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity. Lord, 
help me herein to adorn the doctrine of God our Sa- 
viour in all things.* In the ofRce of a magistrate, I 
will fear God, love truth, hate covetousness, execute 
judgment and justice imjDartially, without respect of 
persons, defend the poor and fatherless, and do justice 
to the afflicted and needy. I will love truth and peace, 
and not be a terror to good works, but to evil ; remem- 
bering to whom I must give an account, f As a sub- 
ject, and an inferior, I will behave myself with all re- 
verence and due subjection, not only for wrath, but for 
conscience' sake, " rendering tribute to whom tribute is 
due ; as I nmst give to God the things that are God's, 
so I will give to Ca?sar the things that are Ca:sar's." 
I v/ill pray for tlie king and all in authority, that we 
may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and 
honesty. " I will not curse the king, no not in my 
bed chamber, nor speak evil of the ruler of the people." 
I do purpose by God's grace to be quiet and to do my 
own business, that whoever may watch for occasion, 
may find none against me, save concerning the law of 
my God. God give me wisdom in this. ± Bearing 
the character of a minister of the gospel, O what a 
charge is laid upon me ! I v\411 study the necessary 
qualifications for that ofSce, and the faithful discharge 
of it ; I will study to be blameless, vigilant, sober, apt 
to teach ; I will meditate on the things of religion, 
give myself wholly to them, travail in birth that 
Christ may be formed in the hearts of sinners, and 
feed Christ's lambs and sheep. I will study to be 

• 1 Cor. vii. 22, 23. 1 Pet. ii. 18, 19. Epli. vi. 7. Tit. ii. 9, 10. 
t Exod. xviii. 21. Psal. Ixxxli. 2, 3. Zech. viii. 19. Rom. xiii.3. 
+ Rom. xiii. 1, 5 — 7- Luke xx. 25. 1 Tim. ii. 2. Eccl. x. 20- 
Acts xxiii. o. 1 Tliess. iv. 11. Dan. vi. 5. 


skilful and faithful ; God Almighty, make me success- 
ful in my Lord's work.* Being a hearer, I will join 
with God's people in all ordinances, and "continue 
stedfastl}' in the apostles' doctrine, and christian fellow- 
ship, in breaking of bread and prayer." I will know 
and esteem them highly whom God hath set over me, 
who watch for my soul, I will endeavour to edify the 
saints, and do what I can to promote peace amongst 
the servants of God ;t and O that I could do some 
good to worldly-minded neighbours, by my discourse 
with them and prayers for them ; that though they 
are apt to speak evil of me, as an evil doer, they may 
by my good works which they behold, glorify God in 
the day of visitation.! I am resolved by the assistance 
of God's grace to deny myself, as my Lord did, and to 
please my neighbourj for his good to edification. 
Though faith hath made me a freeman, yet love shall 
make me all men's servant, according to the rule by 
love, serve one another. j] Lord, strengthen me by thy 
grace to perform all these vows, and solemn engage- 
ments to thee, and to others for thy sake. 

2. You must also dedicate and give up all your con- 
cerns to the Lord ; and in the first place, your property 
in such terms as these ; — O Lord, whatever silver, or 
gold, or worldly possessions I have, all is thine, it is 
thou that gavest me power to get wealth, if thou call- 
est for part, or all of what I have, thou art welcome to 
it, " I will offer willingly to the Lord for the service 
of thy house — for all things come of thee, and of thine 
own do I give thee ;" the silver is thine, and the gold 
is thine,§ it is fit it should be for thy use, when thou 

* 1 Tim. iii. 2—5. 1 Tim. iv. 15. Gal. iv. 19. John xxi. 15. 

t Acts ii. 42. 1 Thess. v. 11—14. t 1 Pet. ii. 12. 

\\ Rom. XV. 1—3. Gal. v. 13. 

§ Deut. viii. 18. 1 Chion. xxix. 3—14. Hag. ii. 8. 


callest for it; if riches increase, God forbid that I should 
set my heart thereon ; nay, of all that thou hast given 
me I will surely give the tenth unto thee ; my choicest 
merchandize shall be holiness to the Lord, and shall 
be procured for them that dwell before the Lord, or if 
thou command I will forsake all and follow thee ; grant 
O Lord, self-denial and strength.* And with respect 
to any credit or honour that I have, whatever it is, I 
am content to vail all before the glorious Jehovah ; let 
my Lord increase though I decrease ; only let me have 
a name in God's house, and be written among the liv- 
ing in Jerusalem, then I shall be well content to be 
small and despised, yea, to be accounted as the off- 
scouring of all things ; tho\igh men revile me, perse- 
cute, and say all manner of evil against me, so it be 
falsely, and for Christ's sake, I will rejoice and be ex- 
ceeding glad, hoping for honour that comes from God, 
gnd a great reward in heaven ; let God stain the pride 
of my gloiy, and let the Lord alone be exalted this 
day.f As for my house and habitation, I will sing a 
song at the dedication of it to the Lord ; let my Lord 
send his ministers to visit it, let their peace rest upon 
it, I will not only bid them welcome, but constrain 
them to come in, as they judge me faithful to the Lord; 
I will give myself and house to hospitality, I am sure 
it cannot be better seasoned and blessed than with the 
presence and prayers of God's servants : O that my 
house were a house of prayer, an hospital to the poor, 
and a common inn for the church of God4 And in 
reference to all my other accom.modations, food, fires, 

* Psal. Ixii. 10. Gen. xxviii. 22. Isa. xxiii. 18. IMatt. xix. 27- 
t John iii. 30. Isa. Ivi. 5. Isa. iv. 3. Psal. cxix. 141. 1 Cor. 

iv. 12, 13. Matt. V. 11, 12. John v. 44. Isa. ii. 11. xxiii. 9. 
X Psal. XXX. title. Luke x. 6. Acts xvi. 14, 15 Rom. xii. 13. 

1 Tim. V. 10. Job xxxi. 32. Rom. xvi. 23. 


bed, raiment ; I liei-e, Lord, acknowledge thee in them, 
and return them back again to thee ; my daily bread is 
at thy disposal, " Man lives not by bread only, but by 
every word that proceedetli out of the mouth of the 
Lord." God's loving kindness is better than life, and 
all the comforts of life ; many say, " who will shevv 
us any good ?" Lord, lift thou up the light of thy 
countenance upon me, thou hast put gladness in my 
heart more than in the time that their corn and their 
wine increased * I am content to suffer the loss of all 
things that I may win Christ : farewell necessaries for 
the body, when set in competition with the one thing 
needfuffor the soul. I would willingly, yea, joyfully 
take the spoiling of my goods for that better and en- 
during substance in heaven. I will take no thought 
for the outward man, since my heavenly Father knows 
what things I have need of if I have been greatly con- 
ceraed about those apparently severe terms upon which 
I nmst be thy disciple ; they are the words of my dear 
Lord, "If any man come to me, and hate not liis father* 
and mother, and wife, and children, ar,d brethren, and 
sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my dis- 
ciple ;" another scripture saith, " he is not worthy of 
me."i But now. Lord, I understand it of preferring 
thyself above all relations, and concerns, so as to part 
with all when standing in competition with Christ : 
now at last my heart is willing, I hope I can say, 
through grace I am truly willing to forego the dearest 
things for thee, and to subject all my concerns to thee; 
Lord, thou that knowest the hearts of the children of 
men, look into my heart, and if thou discover any un- 
soundness in me remove it away, and pardon me : if 

• Deut. viil. 3. Psal. Ixiii. 3. Psal. iv. 6, 7- 
t Phil. iii. 8. L»ike x. 42. Heb. x. 34. IMatt vi. 2.";, 32. 
Luke xiv. 20. Matt. x. 37. 38. 


my heart be indeed sincere, ratify that in heaven which 
I have been doing this day npon earth, and give me 
grace to perform my vows, and comfort in revieAving 
this day's exercise. Amen, amen. Even so it is, and 
so be it. 



VI. My next attempt is to answer those objections, 
which carnal h.earts, or carnality in tlie best hearts are 
apt to make against this practice; for it cannot be ex- 
pected that this novel, or uncouth practice, so palpa- 
bly against the devil's interest in the world, should go 
forward, but the devil will raise up all the militia of 
hell, and muster his most cunning sophistries to mili- 
tate against it ; when he sees any of his followers pro- 
fessedly deserting his colours, going over to the 
camp of Immanuel, and solemnly swearing allegiance 
to their true and rightful Sovereign, he makes 
head against them as Pharaoh pursued Israel of old, 
to bring them back, or make them stumble in their at- 
tempt, or to torment them about the lawfulness or fit- 
ness of this undertaking. The following are some ob- 
jections supposed to militate against the practice and 
the manner recommended : 

1. ObJ. You will say, are none real saints but such 
as subscribe to such a form of words ? Surely then 
there are none or very few genuine saints; this is a 


novel invention, and it is a rare thing for Christians to 
take this course. I ansvv'er, 

1. The thing is not new, tlioiigh the method or man- 
ner prescribed seem to be new ; there are no real con^ 
verts but they have virtually and implicitly entered 
into this covenant, if they have not done it formally in 
this mode or manner ; yea, there is never a duty or 
ordinance, but the Christian doth renew this engage- 
ment, for substance, if indeed he attend God's worship 
aright ; whenever you have to do immediately with 
God, you hear God speak to you, and you speak to him 
as your covenant God ; and more particularly you re- 
new it in the Lord's supper, 

2. Several have prescribed methods for conducting* 
transactions of this nature, and such directions have 
found a good reception amongst serious souls, and none 
have reason to challenge or quarrel with what may fa- 
cilitate their vmdertaking. If thou hast a mind to be 
the Lord's, or to have God to be thy God, thou wilt be 
glad of a hand to guide thee to him, and the more so- 
lemnly it is done, the better doth the sincere Christian 
like it ; for he finds that his treacherous heart would 
gladly shuffle, and trifle about it. 

2. 04/. But you confound us with so many particu- 
lars, and with such a vast collection of scriptures, we 
can read scriptures in the Bible, what needs all this 
repeating of texts ? I answer, 

1. Sincere Christians best relish scripture language, 
wherein they are or ought to be most em})loyed, and 
delighted, meditating therein day and night ; it is a 
sad symptom of a depraved heart, or depravity in the 
heart, to nauseate scripture dialect ; however it is fit 
that we bring scripture authority with us, God will not 
own any thing but what hath his stamp upon it, con- 
science must be satisfied that there is a warrant from 


God for wliat is olfereJ to God, lest he say " Who re- 
quired this at yoiu' hawds ?"* • 

2. Though I have taken some pains to collect these 
pertinent texts, yet I v/ould not restrict you to the 
words and syllables ; after you have read the collection 
over, and are satisfied respecting the grounds for every 
part of your duty, you may sum up the whole in your 
own words, and after transcribing the sense and mean- 
ing as briefly as you think fit, you may subscribe it ; 
or if you think fit to take it at this length, you may 
divide it for several times, and take one branch at one 
time and another at another, and subscribe it by par- 
cels, but be serious and deliberate in what you do: only 
I advise you first to read it over distinctly, examine 
the scripture proofs, spend some time in prayer, call in 
divine aid, and in the name and strength of Christ en- 
ter upon it. 

3. OhJ. But why should I or any man undertake to 
covenant to do that which we cannot do ? Can any 
man perfectly perform all these beforementioned 
branches of the covenant ? And why should I think to 
do that ? Besides this, you bring us back to the cove- 
nant of works, which no man living can keep. 

1. Answ. God commands us to keep his precepts 
diligently, or exactly. He hath not lost his authority 
over us, though we have lost our ability to obey com- 
pletely ; and though we cannot keep any command 
perfectly, yet we must have respect to all God's com- 
mandments, else we shall be ashamed :t as in the new 
covenant there is something that God promiseth, so 
there is something that he requireth:^ and therefore the 
new covenant is called a law, " even the law of faith," 
Rom. iii. 27, which some call a remedial law, as bring- 
ing in the great commandment of believing and eon- 

• l5a. i. 12. t Psal. cxLx. 4, 6. t \ John iii. 23. 


sentiiig to God's terms, in heart and profession : this 
becomes a formal actual covenanting, and whether we 
consent or not, we are bound to obey God, but our en- 
gagement adds a new obligation. 

2. We must distinguish between the legal and evan- 
gelical observance of the terms of the covenant. None 
since the full can keep the whole, no, nor any of God's 
commandments, in a strict legal sense, but evangelical- 
ly, all real saints do keep them, when they do not, and 
dare not, wilfully omit observing whatever God hath 
made their duty ; it is true, no man ought to promise 
impossibilities, namely, to observe all God's will and 
requirements, absolutely, without the least failure or 
defect, " for there is not a just man upon earth, that 
doeth good and sinneth not. If we say, we have no 
sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."* 
So we cannot bind ourselves, not to sin at all, but we 
may bind ourselves, 

(1.) To a desire, and endeavour to pursue and prac- 
tice holiness universally, without reserve, restriction, 
or limitation. 

(2.) To avoid this or that particular sin, and to 
practice this or that particular duty. 

(3.) To endeavour after a higher pitch of holiness, 
than we have hitherto attained. 

(4.) To be more serious and sincere in the ways of 
God, with full purpose of heart to cleave unto the Lord, 
and to study diligently a conformity to the image of 
God, and compliance with his will. 

4. OhJ. But if I should thus enter into covenant, 

what am I better ? How can I tell whether God will 

accept of me or not, especially considering my defective 

obedience, and many failings ? What reason have I 

* Eccl. vii. 20* 1 John i. 8. 

176 BAPTISMAL ]ioxrJSi 

to think tliat God will dispense with me, when he was 
.«^o strict with Adam, renouncing him for one single 
faihire ? 

1. Ansiv. Dost thou profess thyself a Cliristian, and 
art thou yet an infidel ? Hath God taken so much 
pains to confirm this covenant, (as I have demonstrated 
in my treatise on " The Sure Mercies of David,") and 
yet dost thou question his veracity ? For shame, man, 
never speak such a word ; what abundance hath God 
said and done to assure thee of his willingness to ac- 
cept returning sinners ; and yet dost thou doubt ? 
AVhat falsehood or iniquity hast thou found in God ? * 
Darest thou call in question the whole gospel ? or 
charge the God of truth as a liar or dissembler ? Dost 
thou suspect that he will deceive thee ? Doth he not 
really intend what he saith ? Did ever any complain 
that though they were willing, God was not ? Hath 
he not said, " that those that come unto him he will in 
no wise cast out?" j that is, either keej) out such as truly 
come, or cast out such as are come ; and darest thou 
not trust him ? Dost thou not by unbelief make 
God a liar ? For shame, man, never suspect the faith- 
ful God to be such an impostor ; X thou mayest trust 
him for admittance and continuance in the covenant 
relation to the end. 

2. As for the case of Adam, it is true God cast him 
off and his posterity icr eating the forbidden fruit, 
which though it was only a single act, yet was a com- 
plex evil ; but there is a great difference between Adam^ 
and gospel believers, under the new covenant dispen- 
sation; for though God rejected him upon disobedience, 
yet he accepts sincere souls now, and their integrity 
and uprightness preserve them from final apostacy and 

" Jer, ii, 5. t John vi- 37- + 1 John v. 10. 


rejection. I would rather express tliis in the words of 
that worthy divine ; Mr. Gurnal, Christian Armour, 
part 2. page 89, who thus expresseth himself:-— 

Quest " But here it may be asked, how comes God 
to be so favourable in the covenant of the gospel, to 
accept of an obedience so imperfect at his saints' hands, 
who was so strict with Adam in the first, that the 
least failing, though but once 'scaping him was to be 
accounted unpardonable ?" 

" I reply, the resolution of this question includes 
these two particulars : — " 

(1.) " In the covenant God made with mankind in 
Adam, there was no sponsor or surety to stand bound 
to God for man's performance of his part in the cove- 
nant, which was perfect obedience, and therefore God 
could do no other but stand strictly with him, because 
he had none else, from whom, he might recover liis 
glory, and thereby pay himself for the wrong man's 
default might do him. But in the gospel covenant 
there is a surety, Christ the righteous, who stands re- 
sponsible to God for all the defaults and failings which 
occur in the Christian's course ; the Lord Jesus doth 
not only take upon him to discharge the vast sums of 
those sins, which he finds them charged with before con- 
version, but for all those dril)bling debts, which after- 
ward, through their infirmity, they contract ; ' If any 
man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus 
Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our 
sins;'* so that God may without any impeachment of 
his justice, cross his saints' debts, which he is paid for 
by their surety : it is mercy indeed to saints, but 
justice to Christ, that he should. O happy conjunction, 
where mercy and justice thus conspire to kiss each 

* 1 John ii. 1, 2, 

A OL. IV. N 


(2.) " God did, and well might require full and per- 
fect obedience of man in the first covenant, because he 
was in a perfect state, of full power and ability to per- 
form it, so that God looked to reap no more than he 
had planted. But in the gospel covenant, God doth 
not at first infuse into tlie believer full grace, but true 
grace, and accordingly he expects not full obedience, 
but sincere; he considers our frame, and every believer 
is (if I may so say) rated in God's books, as the stock 
of grace is which God gives to set up withal at first." 
Thus far that excellent writer. I shall add no more 
but this, be then sincere anil thou shalt be accepted 
and maintained till glory. 

0. Ohj. Yes, sayest thou, I believe God would ac- 
cept me if I were but sincere, and he would not reject 
me, if I keep so to the end ; I have no reason to doubt 
of God's kindness and faithfulness, but have much rea- 
son to suspect my uprightness and perseverance ; God 
will not own nor support hypocrites. 

1. Ans. It is not absolutely necessary to a covenant 
engagement, that the covenanting party know his own 
sincerity; uprightness, and the reflex act of knowing it, 
are two distinct things ; sincerity in covenanting is of 
absolute necessity, but the sense of sincerity is not 
needful, though comfortable. Many a gracious soul 
hath prayed, heard the word, received the Lord's sup- 
per, yet hath not been satisfied of its sincerity, or ac- 
ceptance with God ; cordial acceptance of the terms is 
the condition of the covenant, not reflexive knowledge 
of sincerity. Do thy duty and trust God, see that 
thou be persuaded of this truth, that God owns up- 
right souls, and that it is God only who makes souls 
s'licere; address thyself to God for a sound principle, 
and try thyself by scripture rules, and then venture on 
this engagement. 


2. A present heart-consent professed, is necessary to 
constitute the relation ; but after, communion doth in 
time make it manifest. As it is between a husband 
and wife, a declaration of mutual consent constitutes 
the relation of man and wife, but mutual duties, and 
reciprocal kindnesses afterwards endear them to each 
other, and tend to their mutual satisfaction ; thus it is 
here, at that very instant that thy heart and hand 
give free consent, God becomes thy husband, and thou, 
his spouse, but familiar intercourse between God and 
thy soul, in process of time, will more fully evidence 
this relation ; some say, constancy in mutual duties 
continues the relation, however I may truly say, such 
free and frequent acts of communion \\ill give thee 
actual possession of the comforts of this union ; tliou 
must then stay a little, and use further means in order 
to further evidence ; " if you follow on to know the 
Lord,"* you shall know more of him. 

6. Ohj. Alas, saith the soul, that is the thing which 
greatly startles me, I have played fast and loose with 
God so long in reference to former engagements which 
I have made with him, that I am discouraged in my 
attejnpts to renew them ; I am sure I have broken the 
covenant on my part, what ground can I have to liope 
that God is in covenant with me ? or that I shall more 
faithfully keep it afterwards? I dare not venture again* 

1. Ausw. It is true, carelessness in keeping, and 
much more the wilful breaking of former covenants 
doth weaken a soul's confidence, and eclipse its com- 
forts, and it becomes a person so circumstanced to cast 
himself down at God's feet, confess his sin, and seek a 
healing of his backslidings, but let not this circumstance 
deter tliee from making a future engagment, for it was 
thy own fault, not the fault of the engagement; thou hast 
* Hos. yi. 3. 
N 2 


no reason to cliallengs the duty, but condemn thyself, 
for thy levity in making and unfaithfulness in keeping 
thy covenant. Examine where the failure was, mend 
the matter, bind thyself more strictly, call in divine as- 
sistance, approve thy heart to Gud, apply thyself as 
solemnly to the affair as if thou hadst never engaged 
in it before : M'hether thou doit for the first time, or it 
be renewed, do it seriously, set about it in good earnest ; 
frequent acts may strengthen the habit ; think not that 
thou shait be above all relapses while thou livTst. 

2. Duly consider how far backslidings may be con- 
sistent with sincerity in covenant engagements ; not to 
make thee presumptuous in venturing upon sin, but to 
revive thy hopes of reception, and quicken thee to form 
fresh resolutions ; say not there is no hojie : consider, 
soul, many things may be matter for thy deep humili- 
ation, which yet m.ay not be any ground of questioning 
thy condition. Besides, you must distinguish between 
your deserts and God's determination ; it is one thing 
what you and I merit by our carriage, and miscarriage, 
for God may justly cast us off; but another thing what 
God will do: and as it I'espects the issue and event, 
" God will not cast off his people for his great name's 
sake, because it hath pleased the Lord to make them 
his people."* Adam by his fall deserved to die the 
death, but God did not execute the sentence, for cove- 
nant grace interposed, and saved liiin. Remember, we 
are under a new covenant, a covenant of grace, which 
admits of sincerity, and pardons failings : God deals 
with us according to gospel grace, not legal rigour ; 
Gud heals backslidings upon repenting, and acting of 
faith on Jesus Christ. Besides, you must distinguish 
between a want of faith, and a want in faith ; there 
will always be something lacking in your faith, yet you 
* 1 Sam. xii. 22. 


may not lack saving faith, a weak hand may receive 
Ihis gift; less and more in point of degree change not 
the species of grace ;* sincerity of consent makes up the 
relation ; where that is, God will not cast off, fcr he 
hates putting away ; it is not every fault in married 
persons dissolves the relation, (as is the observation of 
a great divinef ) the covenant is then dissolved, when 
that is dissolved which did make the covenant, namely, 
mutual consent ; the connection is continued till the 
soul renounce God, and choose another husband, which 
is spiritual adultery, that is, total and final apostacy, 
and continuing in impenitence and infidelity. 

7. Ohj. But still I find, by lamentable experience, 
that through the treachery of my base heart, I am apt 
to break my engagement; is it not better to forbear 
entering into a covenant than to violate it, and so to 
increase my guilt? Solomon saith, " better it is that 
thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow 
and not pay."| 

1. Arisw. As for that text it concerns not the busi- 
ness in hand, for it speaks of vows in cases indifferent, 
and wherein we are at liberty whether we vow or not, 
and in matters within our power to perform. As in 
the case of Ananias and Sapphira selling their posses- 
sion which was in their power or choice ; it was not 
a duty antecedent to their vow, for it had been no sin 
in them not to have sold it, their sin was in lying to 
the Holy Ghost. || But now this covenanting to which 
I am urging you, is an absolute and indispensable duty, 
and not left as a thing indifferent that you may do or 
refuse, without sin ; what things I have laid before you 
are morally and eternally good, which you cannot omit 
without guilt ; nay, let me say farther, you are already 
engaged by covenant, if you have been baptized, and 

• 1 Thess. iii. 10. IMagis et minus non variant speciem. 

t Dr. Preston on New Coven, p. 458. + Eccl. v. 5. || Acts v. 4. 


}'our neglect of the fundamental duties of taking God 
for j'our God, and dedicating yourselves to him, is not 
only sin but sacrilege, not only iniquity but apostacy, 
which God will punish as if you had in this personal 
manner engaged and then violated your engagement. 
Covenanting is essential to Christianity, wouldest thou 
not be a Christian ? But I guess the reason of thy 
unwillingness to enter into this personal covenant, there 
lies a snake under the grass, a soul-ruining deceit un- 
der this specious plea; the tiiie cause is not because 
thou art afraid of breaking, but averse to keep this co- 
venant, and therefore art loth to make it; herein' thou 
thinkest to slip the collar, and the devil and a wicked 
heart would persuade thee that thou dost not sin, or at 
least sin less, if tliou be not solennily engaged, though 
thou allow thyself liberty in omitting aforesaid duties. 
But let me tell thee, 

(1.) That it is not thy self-engagement, but God's 
commandment thai makes it thy duty; duty is an "ob- 
ligation to do something required. 

(2.) Thou must be condemned as well for thy wilful 
refusal of a covenant engagement, as careless obser- 
vance or wilful violation of it ; therefore this shift will 
not help thee. 

2. Take one thing further, thou art afraid of enter- 
ing into covenant lest thou break it ; I answer, if 
tliy heart be sincerely engaged in covenant Vviih CTod, 
God becomes thy covenant God, and so thy faithful 
friend, to assist thee in performing it ; this is of great 
consequence, for after this covenant is really made, 
God saith to thee, in some sense, as Jehos]iai>hat to 
Ahab when making a league, " I am as thou art, and 
my people as thy people, and I will be with thee in the 
war ;"* thus covenant relation brings supplies of cove- 
nant grace, as divine auxiliaries to the believer ; God 
* 2 Chron. xviii. 3. 


will help thy soul in keeping this covenant, for observe 
in this new covenant, God not only engagetli to per- 
form his part, but also that of believers, both the first 
conditions, " as taking away a hoart of stone, giving a 
heart of flesh, giving a new heart, putting his spirit 
in them, &c;"* and also after assistance to perform co- 
venant duties, enabling them to persevere to the end. 
" I will," saith God, " put my fear in their hearts, that 
they shall not depart from me," Jer. xxxii. 40. Re- 
member, Christian, thou art now to serve God in the 
covenant of grace, which produces what it promises, as 
it calls thee to work so it gives thee strength to work; 
it deals not with souls as Pharaoh with Israel, calling 
on them to make bride and finding: no straw, or as the 
old covenant did, that required duty, but helped not to 
ability; no, the Christian hath both straw and strength, 
a heart and hand for God, " I will, (saith he) strength- 
en them in the Lord, and they shall walk up and down 
in my name, saith the Lord."f Do but enter into co- 
venant with God, and thou shalt feel divine strength 
coming into thy heart; the way of the Lord is strength 
to the upright, they that wait upon the Lord shall re- 
new their strength ; in the margin, shall change their 
strength, that is, covenant grace will bring a new kind 
of spiritual strength adapted for spiritual work.:j: Re- 
ceived grace makes a saint more than a man, assisting 
grace makes him more than himself. " I can," saith 
Paul, "do all things through Christ which strengthen- 
eth me ;"|| fear not impossibilities to nature when om- 
nipotence upholds you ; try and see that nothing is in- 
superable to a willing mind ; the matter is of necessity, 
be not discouraged with difficulties, 

* Ezek. xxxvi. 25—27- t Zech. x. 12. 
i Prov. X. 29. Isa. xl. 31. li Phil. iv. 13. 



VII. The last head I proposed to insist upon in the 
doctrinal prosecution of this subject is, how a Christian 
must behave himself after he hath been thus solemnly- 
making a j^ersGual vow or covenant with the Lord ? 

The answer to this inquiry, I shall comprise under 
these ten particidars : — 

1. Prayer to God for a ratification of it, and grace 
to keep it ; down on thy knees again, in the place 
vvhere thou hast been making this important engage- 
ment, and since none is privy to this great affair but 
God and thine own conscience, say to him after this 
manner : Lord, thou, even thou, only knowest -the 
liearts of all the cliildren of men,* I appeal to thee 
alone concerning my sincerity in this present under- 
taking, my heart is deceitful and may easily impose 
upon me, but thou searchest the heart, shew me the 
interior of my soul.-j- Lord, if my aims and proceed- 
ings have been corrupt and hypocritical, humble and 
reform me, pardon failings ; I hope my scope for 
the main, was thy glory, and my enjoyment of thy fa- 
vour, and in order to both, the binding of this treacher- 
ous heart more closely to thee ; if thou see any flaw or 
fault, any guile or criminal defect in my spirit. Lord, 
discover, and cure it ; if there be any gospel sincerity, 
regard it, accept me in Christ, and confirm that in 
heaven, wliich I have been now doing on earth ; what 
I have done was in pursuance of tiiy order and corn- 
* 1 Kings viii. 3D. t Jer. xvii. i), 10. 


mission, and from a conviction of my duty, and I have 
many promises in thy word to encourage me. Be my 
covenant God, take me as thy covenant servant ; do 
thou set to thy seal, say to my soul, I am thy salva- 
tion, as my soul hath said to thee, thou art my Lord, 
let the God of my salvation be exalted ; I have now- 
set to my seal, that God is true, come. Lord, and seal 
me with the Holy Spirit of promise, and give me the 
earnest of that Spirit in my heart, from this day do 
thou bless me, let God, even mine own God, bless me, 
for this God, shall be my God, for ever and ever, he 
will be my guide even unto death.* O my Lord, give 
me a heart to keep this covenant, let my God command 
strength ; strengthen, O God, that which thou hast 
wrought for me ; without thee I can do nothing, all 
my springs are in thee ; f if the Lord depart from me, 

1 shall be weak as other men ; thou hast helped m.e to 
make, now help me to keep my covenant ; let not these 
convictions or impressions languish or die in my soul, 
leave me not to myself ; be surety for thy servant for 
^ood, I am thy servant give me understanding ; re- 
member thy word unto thy servant, upon which thou 
hast caused me to hope,^: thou knowest Lord, how back- 
ward my heart was to enter these bonds, how many 
pleas, excuses, and evasions I made to shuffle and shift 
it off, and now I am bound, thou knowest what a back- 
sliding heart I have. " O Lord God of Abraham, 
Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the 
imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy ser- 
vant, and prej)are and stablish my heart for thee. 11 

2. Be thankful to God for this season and duty, it 

• Psal. XXXV. 3. xvi. 2. xviii. 46. John iii. .33. Epli i. 13, 14. 

2 Cor. i. 22. Psalm Ixvii. 6. xlviii. 14. 

t Psal. Ixviii. :8. John xv. 5. Psal. Ixxxvii. 7. 
. * Psal. cxLx. 122, 125, 4'J. || 1 Chrou. xxix. 18. 


is a rich mercy that God hath condescended to enter 
into a new covenant with the children of men ; it is 
free grace that gives you a heart to devote yourselves 
to the Lord, and that gives you any hopes of reception ; 
adore him for it, and let your spirits be elevated with 
raptures of joy and gratitude. " Lord, what is man 
that thou art thus mindful of him ?"* what is fallen man 
that thou dost visit him, treat with him, and provide 
a Saviour and surety for him ; thou forsookest the 
fallen angels, once the sons of God, the darlings of hea- 
ven, and coui'tiers of the King of kings, now lost fiends, 
cursed devils, reserved in chains of darkness, never to 
be brought into the bond of a covenant. O that ever 
the infinite God should cast down beams of light, life, 
and love upon wretched man ! yea upon me, hast thou 
glanced with a propitious aspect, thou hast let me see, 
I am a forlorn sinner, awakened ray attention to look 
after a Saviour, melted my heart with a sense of divine 
love, engaged my soul to lay hold on Christ by faith, 
and devote myself to thee in covenant, and given me 
some hopes through grace that thou art my God. 
*' Who am I, O Lord God ? and what is my house, 
that thou hast brought me hitherto ? — is this the man- 
ner of man, O Lord God ? and what can thy servant 
say more unto thee ? for thou. Lord, knowest thy ser- 
vant." f For thy word's sake, and according to thine 
own heart, hast thou done all these great things, to 
make thy servant know them. O that ever free 
grace, should pitch on such a wretched worm, such a 
vile rebel, such a devil incarnate as I am ! O that thou 
shouldest take up an exposed orphan, whom no eye 
pitied, but was cast out in the open field, polluted in 
my blood, and shouldest say. Live, yea again, live,^ 
and made this a time of love, and didst enter into 
• Psal. viii. iv. t 2 Sam. vii. 13—20. t Ezek. xvi. 4—8. 


covenant ^A'itll ine, and I became thine. O that ever 
God should stoop so low, and raise me so high ! what 
did God see in me ? what use can I be of more than 
thousands passed by ? " My soul doth magnify the 
Lord, and my spirit rejoiceth in God my Saviour, who 
hath regarded the low estate of his servant, and 
hath exalted me, though of low degree,"* But will 
God indeed dwell on earth ? behold, the heaven, and 
heaven of heavens cannot contain thee ; and wilt thou 
inhabit so mean a cottage ? f yea, thou thyself inform- 
est me, tliat though thou be the high and lofty One, who 
dwellest in the high and holy place, yet thou takest up 
thy abode with him also, who is of a contrite and 
humble spirit.^ Blessed be God, for this holy ligature, 
covenant grace hath laid a foundation for this delight- 
ful union and relation ; this union and relation pro- 
duce communion and communications. Blessed be 
free grace ; the works of the Lord are great, sought 
out of all them that have pleasure therein, he hath 
sent redemption to liis people, he hath commanded his 
covenant for ever, holy and reverend is his name. || 

3. Gather and improve the blessings of the cove- 
nant ; make a catalogue of the promises. It is the 
fault of Christians, that they study not the large inven- 
tory of those precious goods bequeathed to them in this 
blessed testament; that is an extensive expression, all is 
yours, good things and bad things, north and south 
winds blow good to you, to do you good, to make the 
spices of your graces to flow out, and to kill the weeds 
of corruption.^ Father, Son, and Ploly Ghost are 
yours, is not this an exceeding great reward ?^ Who 
can fathom the extent of that covenant phrase, / ivill 
he thy God? it comprehends more than heaven and 

• Luke i. 46, 47, 52. t 1 Kings viii. 2/- J Isa. Ivii. 15 

[| Psal. cxi. 2, 9. § 1 Cor. iii. 21. Rom. viii. 28. Cant. iv. IC. 
H Gen XV. 1. 


earth ; here are life, grace, pardon, peace, safety, liber- 
ty, strength and heaven ; God is heaven, in his light 
we shall see light ; what good thing can you name, 
which this covenant doth not contain, and convey to 
you ? " O the lines are fallen to me in pleasant places, 
I have a goodly heritage ;" what is it ? " The Lord is 
the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup, thou 
maintainest my lot." Creatures are empty cisterns, 
" God is the fountain of living: waters ;"* if all the stars 
should shine at once they cannot make day, but the 
sun doth, the lines of all created natures may centre in 
God, and find suitable and sufficient rest. O my soul, 
delight thyself in the Lord, and he will give thee the 
desires of thy heart, yea thou hast thy heart's desire in 
him, all excellencies meet in him ; I need to go no 
further for contentment, I need not with the wander- 
ing bee go to another flower, I find enough in God ; 
" Jehovah is my shepherd, I shall not want ;" whenever 
I am afraid or afflicted I will go to God, trust in God, 
in the shadow of thy wings "will I make my refuge, 
till these calamities be overpast ; my Lord is a sun in 
times of darkness, a shield in times of danger, f a 
magazine whence I may fetch armoiu', a wardrobe 
whence I may have cloathing, a storehouse whence I 
shall have supplies ; blessed be God for his covenant ; 
" Although my house and heart be not so with God as 
I desire, yet he hath made with me an everlasting co- 
venant, ordered in all things and sure, for this is all 
my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it 
not to grow."^ In prosperity I will solace myself in 
nothing but my God, I will be put off with nothing 
below him ; || in adversity, when all looks black around 
me, and a peal of stones flies about my head, yet still 

" Psal. xvi. o, G. Jer. il. 13. 

f Psal. xxiii- ]. xxxvi. 'J. Ivii. 1. Ixxxiv. 11. 

:J 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. || 1 Sam. xxx. 6. 


I will encourage myself in tlie Lord my God. O what a 
transporting object to see my God, and my Lord Jesus 
standing at his right hand !* If I be cast into a fiery 
furnace, the presence of the Son of God will quench 
the flames ; in the bottom of the sea, and in the belly 
of hell, the Lord my God will save me and bring my 
life from corruption : " let sun and moon be darkened, 
and stars withdraw their shining ; yea, when God 
roars out of Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, 
then tile Lord is the hope of his people, and the 
strength of the children of Israel."f I will bless my- 
self in the God of truth, living it shall be my support 
that I am within the covenant, and when I die, like a 
standard-bearer falling, I will wrap this banner of the 
covenant about me and die in it as my winding sheet, 
as dying David with this living comfort, without fear 
of miscarriage. 

4. Lay up the experience of what hath now passed 
between God and your souls ; write down the j)assages 
and circumstances of this solemnity, and lay them up 
amongst your choicest treasures ; thus and thus did 
God deal with me at such a time, thus and thus did I 
devote myself to the Lord ; I will record this and de- 
posit it, it may stand me in stead in time to come; this 
day will I set up an Ebenezer, that is, a stone of help, 
for a memorial of God's goodness, and my engagement, 
and this shall be as a witness either for me, or against me; 
it will be my consolation in the hour and power of 
darkness, if my soul prove faithful ; but if my soul 
prove false or treacherous in the covenant of my God, 
it will be a testimony against me for my conviction or 
humiliation. I will think of this time or place whilst 
I have a day to live, and will say, " surely the Lord is 
in this place, and I knew it not ; how dreadful is this 
• Acts vii. 50. t Dan. iii. 25.]j Jonah ii. 4, 6, 9. Joel iii. 13 — IG. 

iQO Baptismal bonds. 

pJace, this is none other but the house of God ; this is 
the gate of heaven, I will call it Bethel ; here will 
I erect an altar, and will call it El-Elohe-Israel." * 
In this place, at this time I ha^'e taken hold of God 
as my God, and I have made a deed of gift, and sub- 
scribed to it; I have given seisin and delivery of all 
I am and have to the Lord, I am resolved to adhere 
to this engagement. Lord, remember this day, help 
me to remember, that from this day the vows of God 
are upon me, I will produce these covenant tokens in 
the day of my fears or of God's anger ; as familiar as 
God and my soul are now, a time of distance may come 
through my fault and folly ; alas, my depraved heart, 
which is bent to backsliding, may again hurry me into 
a pit of darkness, these vapours that ascend from my 
polluted heart may darken the sun of God's blessed 
countenance ; though now I think my mountain stands 
so strong that I shall never be moved, yet God may hide 
his face and I may be troubled ; though now his 
candle shine upon my head, that candle may be extinct, 
and I may walk in darkness ;! indeed "the secret of the 
Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew 
them his covenant ;" but presently the same David 
saith, '• I am desolate and afflicted, the troubles of my 
heart are enlarged." Thus it may be with me, cove- 
nant scourges may be consistent with covenant love ; 
but I will then bring forth the tokens of this virgin 
love, and solemn transaction, and will say. Lord, where 
are thy former loving-kindnesses, which thou swarest 
unto David in thy truth ;| when I am troubled I will 
call for the book of the records of scripture and con- 
science, and consider the days of old, the years of the 
right hand of the Most High,|| and see if I cannot pro- 

" Gen. xxviii. 10 — 18. xxxiii. 20. t Psalm xxx. 7- Jobxxix. 3, 4. 
* Vs. XXV. 14, 17. Ixxxix. 32, 39, 49. || Est. vi. 1. Ps. Ixxvii. 10—12. 

srnsEQUCN'T DUTii's. 191 

(luce some ])roken ring, some passages of love between 
God and my soul, that may evidence former kindness, 
then I will conclude for his present faithfulness ; for 
having loved his own in the world, he loves them unto 
the end, and he is faithful who called me, who also 
will do it ;* when I am brouglit forth, and sentenced 
as Tamar was once, to be burnt, I will produce the 
pledges of former intercourse between God and my 
soul, and say, Discern I pray thee, whose are these ? 
Lord, was not thy grace the cause of tliese transac- 
tions? and was not thy glory the end of all my pro- 
ceedings ? 

5. Take the first opportunity to get this covenant 
openly sealed, and to give some testimony of your ra- 
tifying it. When these sacred indentures are drawn 
and sealed l)y you in private, then lay hold of the first 
opportunity which presents itself, for sealing them so- 
lemnly at the Lord's supper : privy seals have passed 
reciprocally between God and thy soul, now look out 
for the broad seal : David recounts his personal actings 
of faith in private though with hard struggiings, Psal. 
cxvi. 10, 11, and then resolves to "take the cup of 
salvation," ver. 13, " and to pay his vows," ver. 14. 
But where ? Why, " in the presence of all his people," 
which he repeats and adds also, " in the courts of the 
Lord's house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem," ver. 
18, 19, as if he had said, what I have been doing pri- 
vately in my closet, I will own publicly in the congre- 
gation of his saints : I am not ashamed of my engage- 
ment, before many witnesses will I confirm this cove- 
nant, " with the heart man believes to righteousness, 
and with the mouth confession is made to salvation."! 
Augustin speaks of Victorinus, a famous rhetorician 
at Rome, that being converted to Christ in old age, he 
• John xiii. I. 1 Tliess. v. 24. t Rom. x. 10. 


came to Simpliciamis, a godly minister, saying secretly 
in his ears, dost thou know that I am a Christian?* 
this holy man answered, I do not believe it, nor reckon 
thee among Christians till I see thee in the church of 
Christ ;t at which he smiled, saying, do those walls 
then make a Christian ?t Thus they contended, the 
one saying he was; a Christian, the other disowning him 
to be so without an open profession, for indeed \^icto- 
rinus was atraid to offend his great friends, worship- 
pers of devils, being yet but a young convert; when he 
had got establishment by reading, that if he was 
ashamed of Christ, our Lord would be ashamed of him 
before his angels, he was sensible of his guilt, in being 
ashamed of that which was his greatest glory, the word 
and sacraments, but had gloried in diabolical sacrifices; || 
suddenly and unexpectedly he comes to Simplicianus, 
saying,^ let us now go to church, for I am resolved to 
be a Christian; and there he was initiated in the sacred 
ordinances of the church, gave up his name to Christ, 
Rome wondering, the church rejoicing, the proud saw 
it and were angry, and being to make a solemn profes- 
sion of faith, the Presbyters offered to indulge him 
with secrecy, as they used to do with the timorous ; he 
refused, saying, there was no salvation in rhetoric, 
which he had taught publicly, now, therefore, he would 
publicly own the gospel of salvation; and when he made 
profession of his faith, the people echoed with a con- 
gratulating acclamation, Victorinus, Victorinus ! and 
were quickly silent, that they might hear him pro- 
nounce the true faith with holy confidence; they open- 

* Aug. Confes. lib. 8. c. 2. Noveris me jam esse Christianum ? 
t Non credo, nee deputabo te inter Christianos nisi in Ecclesia 
Christi te videro. X Ei'gone parietes faciunt Christianum ? 

II Depuduit vanitati, erubuit veritati. 
§ Eamus in Ecclesiam, Christianus volo fieri. 


ed their hearts to receive him, they embraced and laid 
hold on him with the hands of love and joy: this story 
is pregnant with many important instructions, which 
the intelligent may improve. You must openly own 
what you have secretly done, upon a due call ; only 
observe, confession of the mouth without faith in the 
heart is hypocrisy, and a pretence of faith in the heart 
without confession, will prove cowardice, and end in 
apostacy. My advice is, that you wait on God in the 
sacred ordinance of the Lord's supper, which presents 
the cup of the new testament in his blood ; thy cove- 
nant transaction formed thy union, let this be the com- 
munion of the body and blood of Christ : when Heze- 
kiah had made a covenant with the God of Israel, he 
ordered the celebration of the passover ; the like did 
Josiah ; and those were both non-such passovers : thus 
must you get this covenant sealed, and pay your vows, 
and bring presents to your covenant God, yea, defer 
not to pay your vows, while your hearts are warm and 
graciously inflamed, this will be a demonstration of in- 
tegrity ;* thus Asa performed an act of great self-denial 
immediately after his covenanting, 2 Chron. xv. 12, 16, 
the work will go forward best now when thy spirit is 
raised by the solemnity of the affair ; but if Jacob for- 
get to make good his vow presently, he will quite for- 
get it till God roundly put him in mind of it.f 

6. Answer all temptations vAth pleas brought from 
this covenant engagement. This is your panoply, fetch 
your weapons from hence against the devil: when Sa- 
tan, the world, or the flesh shall solicit you to sin, you 
may put in this caveat, of a precedent right, and ante- 
cedent title that another hath to you: I am not my own 

• Matt. xxvi. 28. 1 Cor. x. 16. 2 Chron. xxix. 10. xxx. 21. 
xxxiv. 31, 32. XXXV. 1, 18. Psal. Ixxvi. 11. Eccl. v. 4. 
t Gen. XXXV. 1, 2. 


to bestow, nor is any thing that I have; I have given 
over my soul and body to the rightful owner, you come 
too late now to woo me for mine affections, I have 
made my choice, and am married to another; and what 
have I to do with any but my dearest Lord and hus- 
band ? I cannot serve two masters ;* my Maker is my 
husband, I see no cause to repent or revoke my choice; 
whither else should I go ? " he hath the words of eter- 
nal life ;" as Saul said, " can the son of Jesse give you 
fields and vineyards, and make you captains ?"f So I 
may sa}'-, can the world give me grace, or pardon, or 
heaven ? What can the creature do for me to recom- 
pense the loss of God's presence by gratifying a lust ? 
Shall I leave my fatness, received from the true olive, 
to be promoted over tlie trees ?:j: Should I forego my 
sweetness and good fruit ? Shall I forsake the true 
vine Jesus Christ, for being promoted over, or profited 
by the reveniies or fruits of tliese poor trees in this in- 
ferior world ? God forbid ; all tlie treasures, pleasures, 
and preferments on this sorry dunghill, will not com- 
pensate the loss of communion with God one hour ; 
there is satisfaction enough in God, I need not seek to 
eke out my comfort elsewhere ; having drunk this old 
wine of divine grace, I desire not new, for I am sure 
the old is better; "better are the gleanings of the grapes 
of Ephraim, than the vintage of Abiezer,"|| the worst 
of Christ is better than the best of the world; " I would 
rather suffer affliction with the people of God, than en- 
joy the pleasures of sin for a season." J Get thee hence 
Satan, though thou offer me the whole world, and wert 
vble to perform thy promise, I scorn the proposal, thou 
bidst me lose, I have made a better engagement, I can- 

* Matt. vi. 24. t John vi. 68. 1 Sam. xxii. 7. 

t Judg. ix. 8—13 II Luke v. 39. Judg. viii. 2. 

§ Heb. xi. 25. 


not, I will not reverse it ; I have given myself to ano- 
ther, and am not at mine own disposal; I am another's 
servant, and if my master will not give me leave, I 
cannot comply with thy offer ; I am bound and must 
obey, I will be at the command of my dear Lord and 
master : " What have I to do any more with idols ? 
Shall I sin because grace abounds?"* God forbid. 
None but a devil would maJce such an illogical inference. 
Shall I defile and alienate the temple of God, which is 
consecrated to a holy use Pf Shall I fill the holy ves- 
sels with vile refuse ? far be it from me. And as the 
devil shall not draw me away to sin, so he shall not 
drive me to despair and despondency ; I will hold up 
this buckler and shield against the fiery darts of Satan ; 
when the foul fiend of hell tempts me to doubt of the 
love of God, or question the truth of grace in my heart, 
I will appeal to my dear Lord — thou, O my Lord, 
knowest the time, and room, when and where I made 
a covenant engagement with thee, and what then pass- 
ed ; thou knowest I took thee to be my God, and gave 
up myself to thee; I hope I shall never forget the ear- 
nestness, the self-abasing confessions, the voluntary 
subscriptions to thy terms, in the most humble postures 
of soul and body, and with what kindness thou didst 
embrace my poor perplexed soul; let the devil say what 
he will, God is my God, I am his servant, I have sworn 
myself to him, and though I have sinned against him, 
I hope I have not deserted him, and trust he will not 
cast me off for ever ; away then fiend of hell, thou 
shalt never argue me out of my faith and reason, or 
out of spiritual sense and experience, though my sins 
be great, God's mercy is greater, though my backslid- 
ings are many, it is a covenant of grace, Christ's merits 
* Hos. xiv. 8. Rom. vi. 1. t 1 Cov. iii. 16. 

() 2 

196 Baptismal Boxns. 

are infinite, his love is free, I will adhere to the promise, 
thou shalt never beat me out of this my strong hold. 

7. Espouse God's interest as your own. You are now 
in covenant with him, therefore act as confederates, let 
God's cause be youi*s, as he concerns himself for you : 
when God's interest is low, you must exercise your 
sympathy, pray for the peace of Jeiaisalem, lament 
Zion's ruins, and favour the dust thereof.* Uriah was 
a sworn soldier, a faithful member of the army of Is- 
rael, and he would attach himself to it, not to court or 
city, or family delights. " The ark, and Israel, and 
Judali, abide in tents, and my lord Joab, and the ser- 
vants of my lord are encamped in the open fields, shall 
I then go into my house, to eat and to drink, and lie 
vv^ith my wife ? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, 
I will not do this thing :"f how can you be at rest 
vv'^hen God's concerns are low ? AMien one member 
suffers should not all the members suffer with it?:(: 
When one string of a lute is struck, do not the -rest 
vibrate ? Can you be content to sit as persons uncon- 
cerned, in your houses of cedar, when the ark of God 
dwelleth within curtains ? Is it time for you, O ye to 
dwell in your ceiled houses, when God's house lies 
waste? II Oh that Christians could be of a public spirit, 
surely you should prefer Jerusalem above your chief 
joy : Are you not members of Christ's mystical body ?^ 
and are you not ashamed to seek your own things and 
not the things of Jesus Christ ? It becomes you to be 
like minded with God and his saints, that you may 
naturally care for the church's state, associate affection- 
ately with afflicted souls, grieve for God's dishonour, and 
use your utmost endeavours for propagating religion : 

* Psal. cxxii. 6. +2 Sam. "xi. 11. + 1 Cor. xii. 26. 

II 2 Sam. vii. 1. Hag. i. 4. § Phil. ii. 20, 21. 


O methinks it is good for me thus to draw near to 
God!* O the sweetness of these bonds! would to God 
my dearest relations, nearest neighbours, yea, bitterest 
enemies were thus devoted to God : come all that fear 
God and I will tell you what he hath done for my souUf 
thus saith holy David, after his vowing and paying his 
vows. It is true, you must not cast these precious 
pearls before swine, you must be cautious where, when, 
how, to whom, for what end you declare your experi- 
ence ; carnal hearts may scorn you, but wisdom is pro- 
fitable to direct, that you may encourage and counsel 
well meaning souls. So doth Christ's spouse commend 
her beloved, and recommend practical duties to the 
daughters of Jerusalem ;t that is, young beginners who 
inquire of what description her beloved was, and where 
they should find him, yea, in the spouse's instruction of 
them, she instanceth in this very way of finding and 
retaining her best beloved, namely, by personal cove- 
nant, " I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine ; he 
feedeth among the lillies," there you may find him, thus 
you may be entitled to his favour : thus tell your chil- 
dren, servants, neighbours, how blessed a thing it is to 
have a covenant title to God, Christ, and spiritual 
riches, take them by the hand, and lead them to him ; 
get as many soldiers enlisted under the banner of your 
King and Captain as you can; use your utmost endea- 
vours, as well as plead in prayer, that God's name may 
be glorified, his kingdom may come, and his will be 
done : promote these glorious ends to the utmost of 
your capacity, by your pains, prayers, doing, enduring, 
yea, dying,if God calls you to it; that you may glorify 
God in life and death, and that living and dying you 
may be the Lord's. 

* Psal. Ixxiii. 28. t Psal. Ixvi. 13—16. 

I Song V. 10. vi. 1 — 3. 


8. Make conscience of being stedfast and acting con- 
formably to your covenant; this is your great duty* 
Study fidelity to God, as you expect that God should 
be faithful to you ; " Take heed lest there be in you 
an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living 
God,"* either by a total or final apostacy : " Be sted- 
fast, unmoveable, always abounding in the v/ork of the 
Lord;"f hold the beginning of your confidence sted- 
fast to the end, so shall you evidence indeed, that you 
are partakers of Christ ; t you find a vast difference 
between those mentioned Psal. xliv. 17, 18, and those 
in Psal. Ixxviii. 8 — 10: "All this," say the former, "is 
come upon us, yet have we not forgotten thee, neither 
have we dealt falsely in thy covenant," happy souls, 
that can truly say so ; but the latter, that is, the 
children of Ephraim, set not their heart aright, and 
their spirit was not stedfast with God ; therefore 
though they were armed, and carried bows, yet they 
turned back in the day of battle ; why so ? they !kept 
not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his 
laws ; alas, their heart was not right with him, neither 
were they stedfast in his covenant, ver, 37, this loosened 
the joints of their armour, this struck the bow out of 
their hands. Apostacy disunites persons from God ; 
they that are close to God in covenant, ai-e as a girdle 
cleaving to the loins of a man, but if they decay and 
withdraw from God, they are as a rotten girdle, gi .od 
for nothing, then God will mar the f)ride of such back- 
sliders ; II observe it, they that are not iipright in m.ak- 
ing, will never be stedfast in keeping their covenant 
engagement. O Christians, you that have entered 
these sacred bonds, be sincere, and serious in all man- 
ner of intercourse and conversation ; remember always 
the vows of God are upon you, do all as in God's sight 
• Heb. iii. 12. + 1 Cor. xv. 58. t Heb. iii, U. |] Jer. xiii. 7—11. 


and fear, in natural, civil, and spiritual actions, live as 
persons devoted to God, pray, read, meditate, watch 
your hearts, lips, and senses, and maintain a spiritual 
warfare ; be heavenly-minded, pure in body and spirit, 
and exact in all you do, for you are under obligations : 
not only God's law, but your own voluntary promise 
hath brought you within these lists and limits ; swerve 
not a hair's breadth, but keep fast to God, against all 
opposition or allurements. You are no better for mak- 
ing, unless you make conscience of keeping your cove- 
nants ; the Lord is with you while you be with him, 
s,o saith Azariah to Asa,* so saith dying David to sur- 
viving Solomon, but he adds, " if thou forsake him, he 
will cast thee off for ever ;"-|- if you walk in integrity 
of heart before him, the Lord will establish his covenant 
with you.t Caesar plunged into the sea, and swimming 
towards land, let go his imperial robe, but kept fast 
hold of his books ; even so must you part with all 
rather than part with God, his v/ord, or covenant mer- 
cies, these are your treasure, this is the blessed charter 
of your heavenly inheritance ; if you forsake and forego 
this, you are undone for ever. But more of this here- 

9. Frequently re-consider and sometimes renew this 
your covenant. Some of God's children have found 
great advantage by this course of looking over their 
covenant engagements long since made. It was at such 
time, saith one, when I entered into covenant with the 
Lord, how have I conducted myself since? have I 
walked more closely with God ? have I mortified cor- 
ruption more successfully ? have I been more watchful 
against the occasions and appearances of sin? have 
I exercised grace more vigorously, and found my spi- 
ritual strength increasing? have I performed duties 

• 2 Chron. xv. 2. t 1 Chi-on. xxviii. 9. t 1 Kings ix. 3 — 5. 


more constantly, seriously, and profitably than former- 
ly? If conscience do witness for God and thy soul, 
give him glory, take the comfort, thou mayest have 
thy two hundred, so that thou givest Solomon his 
thousand when thou hast carefully kept the fruit of his 
vineyard;* but if conscience testify to thy face that 
thou hast been unfaithful, lie down in thy shame, and 
let confusion cover thee ;f confess thy sins, beg mercy 
and pardon through the blood of Jesus Christ; thy 
sins are aggravated from thy very covenant engage- 
ment, they are now become sacrilege. Read over the 
articles thou didst subscribe, go from branch to branch, 
and then look over thy conscience and conversation, 
be distinct in the survey, hurry it not over cursorily, 
but consider it punctually ; in this I failed and fell 
short, in that I went too far, in thought, word, or deed, 
drop over every fault a tear, not to make God amends, 
but to testify the grief of your souls for your sins, and 
under the sense of your criminal deficiency when en- 
joying so glorious a privilege ; as you were unworthy 
of it, so your unworthy behaviour might justly have 
provoked God to have cast you off utterly ; cry out, 
O wretch, that I am, who have sinned against such 
kindness from God, and my own strongest engage- 
ments to better obedience. O Lord, though mine ini- 
quities testify against me, do thou accept of me for thy 
name's sake ; for my backslidijiflgs are many, I have 
sinned against thee.; Lord, take away all iniquity, re- 
ceive me graciously, so will I render to thee the calves 
of my lips;il and new also renew your covenant with 
God ; it must be renewed several times in the course 
of your life, as I have hinted before, especially after 
heinous sins, or dangerous decays, now form a fresh 
obligation, let there be another, yea a stricter bond, 
• Sonff. viii. 12. t Jer. iii. 25. * Jer. xiv. 7- || Hos. xiv. 2. 


and this new link added to the old chain, this new 
knot in the decaying cord, may add some strength to 
it ; men are usually more ashamed to break their word 
which has newly gone out of their mouth, than old 
promises, which are pretended to be forgotten ; old 
and obsolete things men look on as out of date, but re- 
petition adds new vigour to them. Solemnity of per- 
formance leaves some sense upon the conscience ; it 
may do well to set a newstamji on the frequently handled 
and worn out wax ; yea, in some cases you must fall 
to work, as if you never had done any thing, and also 
use more seriousness on the painful recollection of your 
wilful violations ; and O for more care, fear, jealousy, 
watchfulness than ever ! See now that you depend 
more on God's strength, less on yourselves, derive 
virtue from Christ, by actings of faith upon him ; lie 
under the sense of your disability and God's all-suf- 
ficiency, hope and pray for a better frame of heart ; it 
is in the promise, why may it not be realized in actual 
existence? Observe the first occasions of your first 
defection, make fresh and solemn resolutions against 
them, construct the strongest fence where the hedge is 
lowest, arm yourselves most carefully against your 
own transgressions, yet not slighting others, pray and 
watch against all, say: Lord, I thought I found my 
heart determined to accept of thee, as my God, and to 
give up myself entirely to thee, but I have found my 
heart very treacherous, I little thought I should have 
proved so feeble and fickle, so false and perfidious, so 
failing and short-coming in the performance of duty, 
and no wonder I feel myself greatly discouraged, I begin 
to question whether I do well or not to enter into such an 
engagement, I doubt my sincerity, and what shall I 
do ? turn my back on thee I cannot, must not, dare 
not ; engage myself again I dare not, for I have no rea- 


son to trust tliis deceitful heart, yet in thy name and 
strength I must and will venture ; but God forbid, I 
should now mock the Almighty, and bring more guilt 
on my own soul, by making a new engagement, and after- 
wards being guilty of a new failure. Lord, prevent 
me by thy grace, assist me by thy Spirit, thou art able 
to make me stand, though weak, let thy strength be 
perfected in my weakness ; O Lord, I am oppressed, 
undertake for me ; unite my heart to thee.* 

10. Prepare for the completion of this engagement 
in the mansions above ; that will be a blessed consum- 
mation of this new covenant relation. You may be 
confident that he that hath begun this good work in 
you, will perform it till the day of Christ ;f this is 
your betrothing to him, that day there will be a so- 
lemnization of the marriage. " I have espoused you," 
saith the apostle, " to one husband, that I may present 
you as a chaste virgin to Christ ;"i: let the bride then 
make herself ready, let your loins be girt about, and 
youi' lights burning, and yourselves like unto men that 
wait for their Lord ; being by this gospel covenant 
grafted into Christ the olive tree, the Christian comes 
to have oil in his vessel ; O therefore get thy lamp 
trimmed, and then go forth to meet the bridegroom, 
that thou mayest go into the bridegroom's chamber. || 
Bless God for this engagement, and rejoice in hope of 
the glory of God,^ pray in hope, walk and war in 
hope, serve God, and converse with men in hope of this 
blessed day. You that are heirs of God, and have the 
first fruits of the Spirit, groan within yourselves, wait- 
ing for the redemption of your body ; ^ O wait and 

• Rom. xiv. 4. 2 Cor. xii. 9. Isa. xxxviii. 14. Psal. Ixxxvi. II. 

t Phil. i. 6. t 2 Cor. xi. 2. 

II Rev. xix. 7- Luke xii. 35, 36. Rom. xi. I7. I\fatt. xxv. 4, 10. 

§ Rom. V. 2. H Rom. viii. 17—23. 


long for the approach of your dearest husband, sigh 
and say, make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to 
a roe, or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices * 
O Lord, my soul desired a union to thee, therefore I 
covenanted to be thine in a near relation, now my soul 
pants after present communion with thee in the glass 
and channels of ordinances, and O for one lift higher 
in immediate fruition. " I have waited for thy salva- 
tion, O Lord ;"t remember the prayer of my blessed 
Lord, that they whom thou hast given him, and in 
consequence have given themselves to him, may be 
with him where he is, to behold and enjoy his glory ;t 
and shall I be with thee, dear Lord ? that is the height 
of my ambition, that is the utmost of my desire and 
hope ; thou hast shewed me this path of life, crown me 
with glory and immortality, " for in thy presence is 
fulness of joy, at thy right hand are pleasures for ever- 
more. j| O but I want much fitness for that blessed 
state. Lord, make my soul meet to be partaker of the 
inheritance of the saints in light ; § work me up to this 
self same thing, fill my soul with the fi-uits of right- 
eousness ; let grace rise up apace till it ascend to glory, 
let this hidden grace in the shell grow too big for this 
lower sphere of existence ; that when Christ who is 
my life doth appear, I may appear with him in glory.^ 
O that this morning light, this feeble dawning, may 
shine more and more unto the perfect day.** Thou, 
Lord, hast planted me in the house of the Lord, make 
me to flourish as the palm-tree, or to grow like a cedar 
in Lebanon, even to bring forth fruit in old age, and 
let that fruit be to eternal life ;f f this is the end of my 
spiritual marriage, that I may bring forth fiiiit unto 

* Song. viii. 14. t Gen. xlix. 18. t John xvii. 24. 

|] Psal. xvi. 11. § Col. i. 12. IT Col. iii. 3, 4, 

•• Prov. iv. 18. tt Psal. xcii. 12—15. 


God.* Lord, make me fruitful in holiness, useful to 
all about me, resembling my great Lord and master, 
that at last my soul may be received to the bosom of 
Abraham ; in the mean time my dear Lord is in cove- 
nant with me, and will pave my way to heaven, " thou 
wilt guide me by thy counsel, and afterwards receive 
me to glory, f Lord, I put my hand into thy hand, 
thou art my God, lead me in thy truth, bring me to 
thy holy hill, leave me not to the rage of mine enemies 
to stop me in the way, but waft me safe over the Jor- 
dan of death ; " When I walk through the valley of 
the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art 
with me, thy rod and thy staff comfort me ; ]: the 
blessed covenant is my passport to carry me through 
death, and through death to give my body repose in 
the grave, it will also unite my soul more closely to my 
Lord, and therefore I will make that bold challenge, 
and sing that triumphant song, " O death where is thy 
sting ? O grave where is thy victory ? The stiiig of 
death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law ; but 
thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through 
Jesus Christ our Lord." || 

Thus much for what I proposed to discuss in the more 
doctrinal part of this subject, though it being so prac- 
tical, I shall have less need to enlarge in the applica- 

• Rom. vii. 4. f Psal. Ixxiii. 24. + Psal. xxiii. 4. 

11 1 Cor. XV. 55—57. 



I HAVE now despatched the main business that I pro- 
posed in this discourse, for explication and confirmation, 
and have given many directions for personally accom- 
plishing a regular covenant transaction, and also rules 
for the guidance of the Christian afterwards : I shall 
now proceed briefly to make application of all this to 
the consciences of men. 

Now there are but tv/o classes of people in the world, 
namely, unconverted sinners, and j^ious persons who 
have been renewed by divine grace. 

To the former I shall briefly address myself by way 
of challenge, for the purpose of conviction, and then 
give counsel, or attempt persuasion. 

First, Here is ground of severe challenge and accusation 
to poor careless sinners; and here I am very sensible the 
most important thing is yet behind, namely, to convince 
such persons that as yet they are out of covenant, and 
then make a trial if at last I may prevail with them so- 
lemnly to enter into it. I confess I am heartless in the 
undertaking, most will not take the pains to read thus 
far, others will throw it by as a needless formality. 
All sinners have stubborn wills, and the most learned, 
pious, zealous preachers, have found by sad experience 
that the most rational, convincing discourses preached 
or printed have been frustrated by an obstinate, unruly 
will, or wilfulness ; Christ himself hath left this upon 
record, " ye will not come to me that ye might have 
life."* O what a wicked, perverse creature is man ! 
* John V. 40. 


That I may more effectually succeed in my purpose, 
1 shall in a few particulars introduce the several de- 
scriptions of sinners who come under the lash of reproof 
as to this great concern. 

1. Some absolutely and resolutely refuse to enter in- 
to any covenant engagement with God, and have no 
heart to take the terms thereof into consideration : of 
this sort were those that being invited to the marriage 
feast made light of it,* they would not take it into their 
thoughts, but went away ; they did not think it worth 
consideration, but turned their backs on it, and put it 
quite out of their minds, just as Esau did with his 
birth-right, when he had got his belly full of bread and 
pottage of lentiles; the text saith, "he did eat and di'ink, 
and rose up and went his way,"f thus Esau despised 
his birth-right: just so do many now-a-days, let them 
but have the husks of worldly delights, they dismiss 
thoughts of God; most men have neither time nor incli- 
nation to consider whether heaven or hell be better, 
whether it be safer to have the eternal God to be their 
friend or enemy, whether the enjoyment of God or 
separation from him be more eligible, or fitter to be 
chosen : no, this is the farthest from thei]* thoughts. 
Poor sinner, canst thou find time for worldly business, 
and insignificant trifles ? Thou art never weary of col- 
lecting toys, but canst thou get no time day or night to ru- 
minate on God, Christ, pardon, or heaven ? What hast 
thou thy rational soul for ? Is eternity nothing in thy 
account ? Shall gospel commodities be always account- 
ed refuse-wares, so that thou wilt not so much as turn 
aside to ask of what use they are ? what are they good 
for ? or what rate are they at ? Base ingratitude ! 
when God in the ministry of the word presents gospel 
commodities with greatest advantage, and tells you, 

• Matt. xxii. 5. t Gen. xxv. 34. 


you shall have them freely •without money or price, 
will you still turn a deaf ear ? will you still scorn the 
offer, and imagine that the thoughts of heaven will 
make you melancholy ? must God complain of you as 
of his ancient people, "my people would not hearken 
to my voice, and Israel would none of me ?"* May 
not such a complaint from the eternal God break a 
heart of adamant? it is as if God should say, I have 
made them tlie fairest offers that ever were presented to 
a rational creature, I treated them as friends, gave them 
glorious deliverances, and precious ordinances, I an- 
swered their prayers, and bade them still farther open 
their mouths wide and I would till them, yet nothing 
would prevail, they would none of me; I urged my suit 
with fresh arguments, and sighed out my cordial wish, 
Oh that my people would have hearkened unto me ! I 
would have done so and so for them; did ever suitor 
woo more pathetically ; yet all this will not do, Israel 
would none of me ; well, let them go and seek a better 
husband.f I have spoken and done fair in the judg- 
ment of impartial arbitrators ; nay, I dare apeal to 
themselves, what could have been done more to them::j: 
well, it seems I must not be heard, I have given them 
up to their heart's lust, and they walk in their own 
counsels, I will hide my face from them, I will see what 
their end will be, there is no remedy, since they refuse 
the remedy which I have prescribed, "they have chosen 
their own ways — -I also will choose their delusions ;" 
let them now go their own length, and be snared in 
the work of their own hands. || 

2. Some virtually and practically refuse to enter in- 
to covenant with God ; this is done by choosing sin, 
and the world, or what is inconsistent with new cove- 

* Psal. Ixxxi. 11. t ver. 13—16. + Isa. v. 4. 

II Deut. xxxii. 20. Isa. Ixvi. 3, 4. Prov. v. 22. 


nant terms; the dominion of sin, and sincerity of heart 
cannot exist together. " Shall the throne of iniquity 
have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief hy 
a law ?"* Love to sin gives sin a law over the soul, 
he that committeth sin is the servant of sin ;t the word 
imports heart-love, and a customary following of 
iniquity; some sinners even make a covenant with death, 
and are at agreement with hell, that is, in some sort, 
with the devil, for they make lies their refuge, and 
under falsehood do hide themselves4 You will say, 
are any in covenant with the devil but witches ? I 
answer, it may not be explicitly, but implicitly and by 
consequence there are. Rebellion is as the sin of 
witchcraft; 11 a stubborn sinner holds compact with the 
devil ; they that are led captive by Satan at his plea- 
sure, hold voluntary correspondence with the prince of 
darkness, they dance within his snare, and are not wil- 
ling to recover or awake themselves, or be awaked, 
since they are in a pleasing dream of sensual pleasure ; § 
this is the case of poor sinners, and whose should they 
be but the devil's, that are not the Lord's ? saith an 
ancient writer : ^ such as give not up themselves to 
God, do sell themselves to sin. Ah sinner, dost thou 
choose to be of the serpent's seed, rather than God's 
child ? wilt thou be the dragon's soldier, rather than 
one of Michael's ? ** dost thou choose to be actuated 
by the infernal fiend, rather than animated by the sa- 
cred Spirit ? Oh dreadful ! that sinners like the cen- 
turion's servants, should be at the devil's beck ! when- 
ever your master puts you on, you will swear, lie, curse, 
steal, be di'unk, covetous, unclean; if the devil say, flee 

* Psal xciv. 20. t John viii. 34. 

+ Isa. xxviii. 15. |1 I Sara. xv. 23. § 2 Tim. ii. 26. 

H Alterius esse non possunt nisi diaboli qui Dei non sunt. — 
Terlul de Idolat. ** Rev. xii. 7- 


from sound rej3roofs, escape from the checks of an ac- 
cusing conscience, get out of the company of these pre- 
cisians, you presently comply. Satan tempts, the sin- 
ner consents, and the bargain is made ; the master re- 
quires work, the sinner expects wages, this is the com- 
pact ; yielding ourselves denotes in one scripture both 
the engagement of a sinner, and a sincere Christian, 
Rom. vi. 13, 16, 19- [Traptaravere] present, or offer up 
your bodies, it is a word that implies a covenant en- 
gagement : if you do not formally, you do virtually and 
really contract with Satan, and you are true to him 
and his interest. Alas, that the devil should have so 
many devoted vassals, and Christ so few servants? Some 
even wear his badge, speak his language, and dance 
after him in invisible fetters : God Almighty break 
this bond of iniquity ! Oh that any souls should sell 
themselves to work iniquity !* that you should barter 
away soul, body, time, and strength to Satan, for the 
gratification of an appetite or passion ! Lord, put a stop 
to these frantic sinners. Let covetous misers consider 
how Ahab bought Naboth's vinej'^ard of the devil, and 
sold himself for the price; a dear purchase ! Let the 
voluptuous wretch, remember Esau's merchandize of his 
birthright, and pawning his soul for a mess of pottage. 
Let the vain-glorious fool, think of Haman, who sold 
God's people and himself, and all his gain was a halter, 
and his honour was a high gallows ; shame is the promo- 
tion of fools.f 

3. Some openly disown their interest in God, and 
pretend to no such title. It is possible some gracious 
souls dare not say God is theirs in covenant, who yet 
desire it above the world ; I meddle not with those at 
present. But some from consciousness to themselves, 
that they have no ground or reason to claim any such 

* 1 Kings xxi. 25. f Prov. iii. 35. 



interest, will not say so, or if they offer to say. My God, 
conscience flies in their f^ce, and rebukes them for their 
presumption ; others from ignorance, impenitency, or 
unbelief make no reckoning of it ; but there are some 
in the world who from a principle of atheism and pro^ 
faneness, make a mock of such expressions,, scoffing at 
God's covenant people as a company of proud pretenders, 
and looking upon such a transaction as I have described 
as a ridiculous fancy : God writes to men the great 
things of his law, but they are accounted strange things,* 

(Traouoola or Traot'oya) either, 

(1.) Paradoxes or riddles, things above their reach, 
not belonging to their cognizance, as the people said of 
Ezekiel, doth he not speak parables ? or as Rabbi Ni- 
codemus, how can these things be ?| things above us 
are nothing to us, this man flies over our heads in fan- 
ciful, metaphysical notions ; thus they judge these di- 
vine truths or duties : or, 

(2.) They account them by-matters, impertinent 
speculations, which they ai'e not concerned in, and will 
not trouble their heads about ; let others busy them- 
selves with these nice quiddities of religion, for their 
])arts they have something else to do,these are alien to 
their more weighty concerns : some men now-a-days 
are of Festus's humour, who calls religion a business 
of questions of some people's superstition, '*and of one 
Jesus, that was dead, whom Paul affirmeth to be 
alive ;" hence these ignorant despisers are like Gallio, 
caring for none of these things ; \ they can be well 
content that the precisians should please themselves with 
such airy notions as these, they pretend no skill in 
them, and can these liidi blades be as well content to 
be dealt without a share in them ? Well, a time may 

• Hos. viii. 12. t Ezek. xx. 49. John iii. 9. 

:|: Acts XXV. 19. xviii. 17' 


come, that the proudest of them may bespeak God's 
children as Pharaoh did Moses, "I have sinned against 
the Lord your God — entreat the Lord your God;"* also 
other two potent monarchs were forced at last to ac- 
knowledge the pre-eminence of the God of the three 
children and of Daniel : yea, God hath a time to make 
these diabolists to come and worship before his saints' 
feet, and to know that he hath loved them.f The 
poor heathen spake modestly in comparison of pretend- 
ed Christians who mock those that plead a relation to 
God, censuring them as presumptuous fools, as if they 
would monopolize God to themselves, and speak ex- 
clusively when they say. My God, as if they were hy- 
pocrites ; but doubtless there are still a people on earth 
whom God hath secured for himself, to be a people to 
him for ever, and the Lord is become their God ;1 and 
if serious holy souls be not they, who are they ? let 
such profligate scorners read, Isa. xxviii. 13, 15 — 22. 

4. Others presume without groimd upon their re- 
lation to God. The wizard Balaam could say, "I 
cannot go beyond the word of the Lord, my God ;" || 
and Jer. iii. 4, " Wilt thou not from this time cry unto 
me, my Father ?" Yet these had a feigned repentance, 
a backsliding heart, and a whore's forehead ; doubtless 
such presumptuous sinners those are, who lay as con- 
fident claim to God as the best, and will not easily be 
drawji off from this conceit; our Lord himself had 
much difficulty to convince the Jews that not God, as 
they peremptorily pretended, but the devil was their 
father. J Many are like that madman at Athens, that 
challenged every ship that came into the harbour for 
his own ; thus they lay their foul hands on that chil- 
dren's bread of gospel privileges wliich belongs not to 

* Exod. X. 16, 17. t Dan. iii. 28. vi. 20. Rev. iii. 9. 

t 2 Sam. vii. 24. || Numb. xxii. 18. § John viii. 41, 44, 54. 

V 2 


them. Poor sinner, what title canst thou have with- 
out an interest in the covenant of grace ? What is the 
covenant to thee without faith? and what kind of faith 
is that which is not attended with repentance and new 
obedience ? " They that are without Christ, are without 
God in tlie world;"* why so? because they are, "aliens 
from the commonwealth of Israel," that is, no church 
members, " strangers from the covenants of promise," 
that is, they are unavoidably excluded from the first cove- 
nant, and have voluntarily excluded themselves from 
tlie gospel covenant, by wilful unbelief, " and so are 
without hope," whatever cobweb liopes they may spin 
out of their own bowels, they shall be swept away as the 
spider's web with the besom of destruction ; yea, this 
vain hope shall be as tlie giving up of the ghost, f 
Ah poor self-deluding presumer, who art in a deep 
sleep upon the devil's pillow, and dreamest of a title 
to God, without the conditions to which such a pri- 
vilege is annexed, thou walkest in a vain show, and 
when thou awakest in hell torments, thy imaginary 
conceits will vanish, and thou wilt feel to thy cost, 
that the tables of the law and the ark of the covenant, 
always go together ; if thou beest not sincerely given 
up to him, thou art none of his, and he is none of 

5. Others would have God in covenant, but then 
they would capitulate with him, they would foist in 
new articles. Poor sinners would impose upon the 
infinitely wise God; his terms will not serve them, 
but they would prescribe terms of their own, and then 
they will bargain and barter, and bring him down, as 
the young man in the gospel, who promised fair with 
his moral obedience to the outward part of God's law, 
but when it came to the credence of evangelical per- 
• Eph. ii. 12. t Job viii. 14. xi. 20. 


fection or gospel sincerity, which consisted in selling 
all and following Christ, he broke with him, and went 
away sorrowful, for tliough he had a respect for Christ 
and heaven, yet he did not think the enjoyment there- 
of, would countervail the loss of his great possessions.* 
Poor souls, will you bargain with the great God for 
your jjenny of wordly advantages, or immunity from 
troubles : what ? is not God an all-sufficient God ? is 
not he an exceeding great reward ? thou makest thy 
moan as Amaziah did, " what shall I do for the hun- 
dred talents ?"f I say, the Lord is able to give thee 
much more than this, he hath promised, even a hun- 
dred fold in this life ; and is not that a sufficient har- 
vest to satisfy the most covetous desires ? :j: Others 
reserve some Delilah in their lap, some right-hand sin, 
which they are loth to part with, they say of this as 
Naaman of his Rimmon, in this the Lord spare me ; 
nay then saith God, if thou wilt have another husband, 
thou must have none of me, if thou send any rebel out 
of the way that ought to be delivered to jvistice, there 
is likely to be no league ; I will either have the head 
of Sheba the son of Bichri cast over the wall, or I will 
plant my battering rams against thee ; either take me 
in the way I have j)roposed, or seek a new master ; I 
will not bate an ace, look out for another with whom 
thou mayest have intercourse, thou and I must part ; 
I see thou art not sincere, and thou mayest expect to 
be dealt with as an enemy. 

6. Some there are that upon hearing the terms will 
enter into covenant with God, yes, that they will, but 
alas, " they do but flatter God with their mouths, and 
lie unto him with their tongues, for their heart is not 
right with him, as Israel of old." || A forced or feigned 

• Matt. xix. 16—22. t 2 Chron. xxv. 9. 

+ Matt. xix. 29. II Psal. Ixxviii. 36, 37. 


consent is none at all. Some are like tlie poor travel- 
ler in danger by the robber, he will make him fair 
promises to get loose out of his hands ; mariners will 
make ample vows in a storm, which they never intend 
to discharge ; as those that pour out a prayer when 
God's chastisement is on them,* or as it is in the mar- 
gin, "mutter a secret speech," they are afraid any should 
hear them, lest they bare witness against them for 
non-performance. Some are gracious in pangs, grace- 
less at ease; extorted resolutions are but to serve a 
turn. God sees the imsoundness of men's hearts, 
thou canst not deceive God, as the Gibeonites cozened 
Israel ;■[ Israel made fair professions with respect to 
obedience, yea and called in God for a witness, Jer. 
xlii. 5 ; yet they only dissembled in their hearts, ver. 
20 ; but God will not be mocked, he will find you out, 
if there be an Achan in the camp, God will trouble 
thee, woe to the false-hearted professor.l Others will 
promise great things for the future, but they have no 
heart at present ; this also is a wretched self-deception, 
marriage is for the present, but contract is for the 
future, which may be broken. 

7. There are others that are guilty of a sad defec- 
tion from the eniraa'ement they have made ; thev were 
unsound in making, and therefore are unfaithful in 
keeping a covenant. |j Hypocrites will prove apostates, 
dissimulation ends in rebellion ; if the heart be not 
right at the beginning, the end will be wrong ; an un- 
sound girdle rots; an ai^ple rotten at the core will 
spread itself to the skin in time. Look to it, you will 
fall off from yom- engagements which you do not sin- 
cerely make, see an instance of this, in Jer. xxxiv. 15; 
it is mournful indeed for men to repent of their re- 

* Isa. xxvi. 16. + Josh. ix. 11, 14. % Jo*h. vii. 11, 12, 25. 


penting, to return from tlieir returning. It is a dread- 
ful thing to play fast and loose with God ; if it be but 
a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man dis- 
annulleth it;* covenants are sacred things. How- 
doth God threaten Zedekiah for breaking the oath of 
allegiance he had sworn to the king of Babylon, God 
even calls it his oath that he had despised, Ezek. xvii. 
18, 19. Oh! but what sorer punishment must they have, 
that — count the blood of the covenant — an unholy 
thing ; a common thing of no great worth or moment, 
see Heb. x. 28, 29. This sin of covenant breaking is 
a complicated evil, how severely doth God challenge 
his professing people in this Psalm, ver. 16, "Unto 
the wicked God saith, what hast thou to do to declare 
my statutes or that thou shouldest take my covenant 
in thy mouth? seeing thou hatest instruction and 
castest my words behind thee;"f some read it, why 
doest thou boast of my covenant with thy mouth ? as 
if he had said, when thy heart is unsound, and thy 
mouth saith one thing, while thy hands and feet speak 
a contrary language ; thy life gives the lie to thy lips; 
dost thou think I am such a one as thyself to approve 
hypocrisy, or indulge thee in thy apostacy ? no, no, I 
will reprove thee, and set thy sins in order before 

(1.) You greatly dishonour God by your apostacy. 
If a man would study to do religion a mischief, or 
bring it into discredit, he cannot do it more effectually 
than follow it a while, and then fall off, this is to 
gratify the devil and disgrace piety, it is in effect to 
say, he finds not God so good as he promised, that he 
hath tried God's ways, and finds them unequal, fruit- 
less, and worse than the ways of sin ; O astonishing ! 
" What iniquity, saith God, have your fathers found 
* Gal. iii. 15. t Psal. I. 10, 17- Cur ore tuo foedus meum jactas .^ 


in me, that they are gone far from me, and are become 
vain?"* Alas, sirs, what fault do you find in God? 
what wrong hath he done you ? hath he been a wilder- 
ness to you, or a land of darkness ? do you find sin 
better than holiness ? and vanity more satisfying than 
all-sufficiency ? is not God's service, which is perfect 
freedom, better than Satan's drudgery ? wilt thou in 
sober mood assert that our Lord cannot afibrd thee 
real profit, pleasure, and honour? wilt thou set the 
crown on the devil's head ? must he win the garland 
from Christ in thy esteem ? darest thou say thou w^ast 
mistaken in thy choice ? did God ever give thee occa- 
sion thus to challenge or accuse him of any want of 
goodness or faithfulness ? search the records of scrij)- 
tm-e, or consult the experience of believing souls, have 
they not spoken well of God? and ventm'ing their 
souls upon God in this covenant way, they have not 
been deceived ; take heed how thou dost contradict 
their testimony, dishonour God, and ruin thy own 

(2.) By tliis apostacy you justify the wicked, you 
harden their hearts, and open their mouths against the 
ways of God. Even personal miscarriages of real saints, 
give great "occasion to the enemy to blaspheme,"! 
much more total apostacy of great professors ; what 
will the world say ? they are all of a sort, a pack of 
hyi^ocrites ; now their fair mask is taken off, they ap- 
pear no better than we ; for all their bawling devotion, 
and censuring us as profane, we shall come off as well 
as they; let them alone and they will come over to us. 
Now the wicked v/orld have obtained that occasion 
against godliness they have long sought ; j^'ou put a 
staff into their hands to beat all that fear God, and 
they besmear the faces of God's childi-en with the dirt 
* Jer. ii. 5, 31. t 2 Sain. xii. 14. 


they find on your coat ; it is true their way of arguing 
is very fallacious, to conclude all bad, because some 
professors prove apostates, as if no coin were current 
because there are some brass shillings or counterfeit 
money, as if all the apostles were false pretenders be- 
cause Judas had a devil ; yet you give them too much 
occasion to imagine there is none stable or faithful to 
God, " woe be to you by whom such offences come ;"* 
will you ruin yourselves and draw others into the 
same condemnation ? will you furnish the wicked with 
weapons to fight against God, saints, and conviction ? 
.this puts a bar into their hearts to shut out Christ ; 
and hardens them in impenitence and antij)athy against 

(3.) By this thou grievest the hearts of God's chil- 
dren, and God takes this as ill as the former ; Ezek. 
xiii. 22, " Because with lies you have made the heart 
of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad, and 
strengthened the hands of the wicked ;" God takes this 
ill, for his children are very dear unto him. David 
saith, "I beheld the transgressors and was grieved." f 
None are such heart-grieving transgressors as those 
once famous professors. God's children rejoiced at 
thy covenant engagement, and now lament thy forsak- 
ing the holy covenant, therefore have God's servants 
bewailed Israel's breaking the covenant ; ^ and is this 
nothing to grieve the spirits of God's children ? surely 
this v/ill lie heavy on thee another day, either in re- 
pentance or when vengeance is taken. Is it nothing to 
Israel, to have such a one as Elijah to make interces- 
sion to God against them, saying, " the children of 
Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy 
altars," &c. || Observe it, what is related as a com- 

* Matt, xviii. 7. + Psalm cxix. 158. 

+ Ezra ix. Neh. ix. Dan. ix. \\ 1 Kings xix. 10. Rom. xi. 2. 


plaint of them, the apostle calls an intercession against 
them ; and if God's children plead against thee, it will 
be in effect an imprecation against thee. God will 
hear their sad complaints and it will go ill with thee, 
thy sins distress the bowels of the saints, when thy 
faults are mentioned they hide their faces for shame, 
and cannot say a word for the vindication of such an 
unhappy being, but fetch a deep sigh, and get into a 
corner and with grief of heart bewail it ; if thou hadst 
stood firmly to the covenant they would have had 
wherewith to answer him that reproacheth them,* but 
now their mouths are stopped, and they are put to the 
blush when thy name is mentioned. Study Psal. Ixix. 
2.6 — 28, and pray as David, ver. 6, " that none may be 
ashamed for thy sake." 

(4.) You lay a sad foundation of woe, both in this 
and the other world for yourselves and children, and 
all that are concerned with you ; God will disown you 
here, and disclaim you at last ; he saith, he will avenge 
the quarrel of his covenant ;f never had God a greater 
controversy with his ancient people than this, so that 
when their land was laid desolate, and the nations in- 
quired the reason, wherefore the Lord had done thus 
unto this land ? the answer is, because they have for- 
saken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers 
which he made with them ;:j: and accordingly this is re- 
peated when the threatening is accomplished, as if 
there were no other procuring cause of Israel's desola- 
tion ; so saith Isaiah, chap. xxiv. 5, " The earth also is 
defiled under the inhabitants thereof, why so ? because 
they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordin- 
ance, broken the everlasting covenant." This, this is 
the capital offence, there needs no coroner's inquest, or 

* Psal. cxix. 42. f Lev. xxvi. 25. 

J Deut. xxix. 23 — 25. Jer. xxii. 8, 9. 


jury's verdict upon whole nations and souls, to know 
how they come to this dismal end, it is apparent that 
such a person was a feJo de se, he committed suicide 
by violating his covenant ; no other disease do pre- 
tended Christians die of but this, they stand not faith- 
fully to their covenant. Judas the apostate from 
Christ, proved a traitor to him, yea a devil against 
himself, he murdered himself. God leaves such to be 
viagor missahib, fear and terror round about, feeling a 
hell within, affrighted with overwhelming objects, and 
thinking hell itself is easier than their own consciences. 
Many instances might be produced of this, Francis 
Spira, and many more ; * I shall select only Sir James 
Hales, justice of the common pleas, who venturing his 
life for Queen Mary, by refusing to subscribe to her 
being disinherited, by the will of king Edward the 
sixth ; yet for his producing the statutes against the 
pope's supremacy at the sessions, he was cast into pri- 
son, and there so cruelly handled and terrified with the 
apprehension of the torments which were said to be 
preparing for him, partly by flattery of the bishops, 
and partly by their threats, he was drawn to recant, 
after which he fell into such terrors of conscience, that 
he attempted to kill himself with a knife, yet being by 
God's providence prevented, and his wounds cured, he 
was delivered out of prison, and went home to his 
house, but neither there could he have any inward 
peace by reason of his apostacy, but setting his house 
in order, he drowned himself in a river near his house. 
I pronounce not on his final state who fell through 
fear, but let wilful apostates look to it, God will not 
be mocked, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands 
of the living God, and to feel the gnawing worm of a 
guilty conscience ; that is an awful text against apos- 
• Mr. Clark's Examples, vol. % fol. 27- 


tates, Heb. x. 26 — 29, " For if we sin wilfully after 
we have received the knowledge of the truth, there re- 
maineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful 
looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which 
will devoiu* the adversaries," &c. You will say this 
concerns not me, I am no such apostate, for I never 
entered into such a solemn covenant with God, I hope 
God will not charge the sin of covenant-breaking upon 
me, for I am not guilty of that fault. I answer, 

[i.] "WTiether thou hast actually and formally en- 
gaged thyself under thy hand as before described, de 
Jxicto, yea or no, yet de jure, of right thou art bound 
to him, as thou art his creature, to yield to him all the 
obedience before described, and if thou do not, thou art 
a false hearted traitor, for thou pretendest to be his 
subject, and being his real enemy thou must be dealt 
with as the rest of his enemies are, at present made his 
foot-stool, and hereafter a faggot in eternal flames. 

[ii.] Though thou hast not engaged thyself thus 
formally, yet thou hast done it implicitly, in every duty, 
ordinance, or act of worship, wherein thou hast been 
employed. What religion art thou of? thou wilt say, 
of the Christian ; how dost thou shew it ? thou sayest, 
by waiting on God in his appointments ; well then, thou 
art either sincere or a hypocrite ; if sincere, thou art 
one of the saints that make a covenant with him by 
sacrifice ; if not, thou mockest God, and he will deal 
with thee as a lying base hypocrite ; if thou seem to 
be serious, he will deal with thee as a perfidious apos- 
tate, since thou contradictest thy profession. 

[iii.] But be it known to thee, thou wast engaged 
to God by covenant in thy baptism, and if thou revok- 
est that, thou art a real apostate; thy parents dedicated 
thee %o God, and thou art bound to stand to it, and 
now at age actually to make a voluntary surrender of 


thyself and all that thou art, and hast, to him: and this 
standing to the baptismal covenant is all that I have 
in view, and if thou do it not, thou art as really an 
apostate as a baptized Christian proves a renegado, 
when he turns a Turk, and God will deal with thee as 

[iv.] If after all that thou hast heard and read of 
personal covenanting with God, and hast also seen of 
its nature and necessity, yet thou still refusest, because 
thou art loth to lay thyself under such strict bonds, 
or to be within such narrow limits as the rule of God's 
word prescribes ; be it known unto thee thou doest 
avowedly take part with Satan, and the flesh, and de- 
clarest thou wilt not be on God's side, and that, because 
thou wouldest have elbow room for thy lusts, in this 
thou demonstratest that thou art a hypocrite, for thy 
heart and life say, " I will not have this man to rule 
over me ;" well this king having received his kingdom, 
will say peremptorily, " but those mine enemies, which 
would not that I should reign over them, bring hither 
and slay them before me."* God will not only reckon 
with you for the sins you have committed, but for the 
duties omitted which you are commanded to practise ; 
your sin will be as much aggravated by wilfully refus- 
ing to enter this covenant when you were called to it, 
as if you had engaged yourselves in it, and then openly 
violated it. You are God's tenants, and whether you 
seal articles or not, you are bound to pay him rent, 
and if you will neither do it, nor say, you will do it, 
be it known to you, your great landlord will make dis- 
tress upon you, to your greater damage, and turn you 
out, and cast you into the prison of hell, yea, and in 
this God doth you no wrong, but is equal in these 
proceedings ; this is clear from the parable of the 
• Luke xix. 14, 27. 


talents, the man Vv'as condemned as a wicked and sloth- 
ful servant, that had not improved, though he had not 
wasted his talent, Matt. xxv. 24—30. Woe to that 
sou], that is found out of covenant with God at that 
solemn day of accounts ; and woe, double woe to him 
who pretended to enter into a covenant engagement, 
but did it not, or renounced it, for he shall be cut 
asunder, and shall have his portion with the h}T30crites, 
that had neither part nor lot in this matter, "there shall be 
weeping" for their loss, " and gnashing of teeth,"* that 
is, at themselves for their folly and unaccountable 
madness ; mind the text, this doom is passed on hypo- 
crites, for all the world of unregenerated souls pass 
under the one of these regiments of hell, either un- 
believers without the church, heathen and infidels, or 
hypocrites within the church ; and of the two, hypo- 
crites will have the hottest place in that infernal lake 
of fire and brimstone, for, as one saith, other sinners 
are but as younger brethren to the hypocrite, uAder 
wliom as the great heir, they receive their portion of 
damnation bequeathed to them by divine justice, and 
justly, for covenant-breaking is oftner than once reckon- 
ed amongst unnatural sins ;f perjury, treachery, and 
perfidiousness are condemned by the law and light of 
nature, but unnatural sins under gospel helps are sadly 
aggravated, and bring the most awful plagues in this 
and the other world. 

• Matt. xxiv. 51. f Rom. i. 31. 2 Tim. iii. 3. 



Secondly, Something must now be said by way of 
counsel and advice to those who have not thus en- 
gaged. In prosecuting which, it would be easy to ex- 
ceed due limits by saying much, and yet all might be 
too little to prevail with sinners to enter into this co- 
venant engagement. 

I confess this business of persuasion is beyond the 
power of men and angels ; man may urge, God alone 
must bow the will, we may use words, God must do 
the work, " God shall enlarge," in the margin, persuade 
" Japhet to dwell in the tents of Shem ;" omnipotence 
only can do it with efTect. God makes volunteers in 
the day of his power,* he that teacheth hearts hath his 
throne in heaven ; yea he only that made heaven and 
earth can prevail with them. O thou infinite Jehovah, 
wlio garnishedst the heavens and laidest the founda- 
tions of earth, let down thy cords of a man, and draw 
sinners to thee, cast forth the bands of love, and fasten 
them to thee, take the devil's yoke off their necks, and 
with loving-kindness draw their gross hearts upwards.f 
Lord Jesus, by virtue of thy being lifted up from the 
earth on thy cross, and in thy resun*ection and ascen- 
sion, draw all men to thee, diffuse the savour of thy 
good ointments, that virgin souls may love and follow 
thee. :j: O blessed Spirit, that like the wind, blowest 
where and when thou listest, gently breathe upon some 

* Gen. ix. 27- Psal. ex. 3. t Hos. xi. 4. Jer. xxxi. 3. 

X John xii. 32. Song. i. 3, 4. 


immortal soul, and cai'iy it with a swift course to the 
blessed haven.* O produce the grace of faith which 
unites sinners to Christ by a mystical union, beget 
love which connects them with thee by a moral union, 
" that being joined to the Lord, they may be one spirit 
with hini."f O that poor sinners may be married to 
thyself. Ministers are not suitors for themselves but 
for thee, we invoke divine assistance in our entrance, 
and wait for influences of grace now, and for full suc- 
cess after we have done our work. " Lord, water this 

I shall next address my fellow sinners, methinks 
you should not need many arguments to draw you into 
this blessed bond. The infinite Jehovah presents him- 
self to be your God in covenant ; he that might in 
justice, and could by his power send you off to hell ; 
it is he that invites, persuades and urges you to give 
your consent to take him as your God, and give up 
yourselves to him, he waits yoiu* leisure, he expects 
your answer, " Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be 
ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of 
glory shall come in."| "WTio would not entertain such 
a guest, who would not marry such a husband ? take 
a view of him, see if you can find any like him, doth 
he not deserve your choice ? how can you for shame 
resist the powerful rhetoric of the Prince of peace? 
saying, open to " me, my sister, my love, my dove, my 
undefiled, for my head is filled with dew, and my locks 
with the di'ops of the night." || Unto you, O men, I 
call, not to angels, to you, simple ones, that you may 
be wise, to you, sinners, that you may be pardoned ; § 
to you, O beggar, I call, that you may be rich, to you, 
bankrupts, that I may pay your debts ; to you, enemies, 

• John iii. 8. t 1 Cor. vi. 17- :|: Psal. xxiv. 7- 

II Song. V. 2. § Prov. viii. 4, 5. 


that you may be reconciled ; to you strangers, that 
you may be brought nigh, and be of the household of 
faith ; I call you from a curse to inherit a blessing — 
from enmity to friendship ; from Satan's drudgery, to 
perfect liberty — from wrath to love — from hell to hea- 
ven : is not the design good and highly rational ? what 
can you object? is it not an easy and honourable way 
of inheriting all things, to give your consent ? what 
can you do less ? is there any thing unreasonable in 
the conditions? what can you say against it? what 
excuses have you now, that you would dare to plead in the 
solemn day of reckoning ? can you answer all the argu- 
ments I have produced for it ? give youi' conscience 
leave to act, speak like men, what say you ? shall the 
God of heaven, or the devil your sworn enemy have 
your consent ? I bind you not to words, but to the 
thing ; do it in what form or manner you think fit, 
only do it seriously, and scripturally ; give God your 
heart, profess it with your tongue, subscribe it with 
your hand, that you will have none but him, that you 
will belong to none but hkn. 1. As you would be and 
be called saints, and "be found written among the 
living in Jerusalem,"* which I am sure will signify 
more than to be enrolled saints in the pope's calendar. 
2. As you would have the privilege of saints, and 
would have the benefit of this new covenant charter, 
reconciliation, adoption, justification, the promises of 
this life and that to come. 3. As you would be found 
of him in peace when you come to die; even a Balaam 
will desire to die the death of the righteous, for the 
end of such is peace, f 4. As you would have your 
persons accepted, your prayers heard in trouble, or as 
you would have Christ to mingle his incense with your 

• Isaiah iv. 3. t 2 Peter iii. 14. Numb, xxiii. 10. 

Psalm xxxvii. 37- 



oblations, or have God to sj^eak pea^e to you.* 5. As 
you would have God's purpose of grace, or Christ's 
purchase cleared up to you, for such as God cliooseth, 
do sincerely choose him, and all that the Father gave to 
Christ to redeem, come to him in this way of personal 
engagement.! 6. As you would be blessings to your 
families and all about you, O make a covenant with 
the Lord, that his fierce wrath may turn away from 
you and yours ; if you turn to God, your brethren and 
children may find compassion, hath not God's wrath 
lain long and heavy on us ? + is this an expedient to turn 
it away, and will you be so cruel as not to take this 
course to remove it ? 7. As you desire to have your 
souls bound up in the bundle of life, with the Lord 
your God, and not to be gathered with sinners ; as 
you would be the Lord's when he maketh up his jewels, 
and be set upon his right hand at the great day along 
with the sheej), || I beseech you make this covenant : 
on which hand would you be found at that day ? 8. 
And as you would be admitted into heaven, as you 
M'ould have right to the tree of life, and enter in 
tlu'ough the gates into the city ; observe it, in that 
text covenant relation stands betv/een obedience and 
recompence ; you cannot do God's commandments, and 
you shall never enter into the celestial city, except you 
liave right to the tree of life, but this title comes by a 
covenant engagement. ^ 

You see then the matter is of moment, it is as much 
as heaven and hell come to. Everlasting salvation 
and damnation depend upon it ; mistake not, I mean 
not on the form of words, but upon the substance of 

* Psal. Ixxxv. 8. Rev. viii. 3. t 2 Pet. i. 10. John vi. 37 
t 2 Chron. xxix. 10. xxx. 8, 9. 

II 1 Sam. XXV. 21). Ps. xxvi. 9. Mai. iii. 17, 18. Matt. xxv. 33. 
§ Rev. xxii. 14. 

ADriCE GIVEN. 227 

this personal covenanting ; heaven liath its proper 
heirs ; of the Lord you shall receive the reward of in- 
heritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ;* ohserve it, 
inheritance is only for children, natural or adopted, 
God gives not heaven as wages for work, but God 
makes men heirs, and so provides an inheritance for 
them. There is a necessity both for a real and relative 
change, and thus God makes all his children meet to 
be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, 
and God is daily working them up to this self-same 
thing by his Spirit in ordinances and providences ; j- 
the foundation is laid in covenant relation; there is not 
one mansion above prepared for an uncovenanted soul ; 
the covenant is the chariot paved with love for the 
daughters of Jerusalem,:}: none go to heaven but they 
that ascend this chariot ; this is the causeway leading 
to the bridge of Christ's merits, which will carry you 
over the gulf of God's wrath ; if you go the lower 
way of the old covenant you are swallowed up, and 
drowned, and lost for ever. Ah sirs, you have been 
once cast and undone by its violation, trust not to it 
again, cast not off gospel grace, ruin not your souls 
by wilful impenitence. 

You will say, no, God forbid that I should again re- 
ject this covenant, I am willing to lay hold of it, but I 
know not which way to proceed, I want some one to 
lead me by the hand into and through this important 

I answer, cast your eyes back on the foregoing direc- 
tory, consider the preparatives to it, laboui* for the 
things that are essentially necessary to the due per- 
formance of it, as knowledge of the gospel terms of the 
covenant, breaking off a confederacy with all competi- 
tors, a will submissive to give entire consent, an humbled 

Col. iii. 24. t Col. i. 12. 2 Cor. v. 5. t Song. iii. 9, 19. 



heart, a holy resolution, right and sincere intentions, 
and lying low at the throne of grace in prayer for 
counsel and jjurity of motives, for assisting grace, and 
gracious reception ; study also the circumstantial fur- 
therances, in reference to time, place, manner, and 
helps ; and then read over the scripture pattern for 
giving your consent, both in point of acceptance and 
dedication, if you have a real disposition towards the 
engagement, you will be glad of this method, and fall 
immediately to practice ; and indeed what are sermons, 
and treatises for but for practice ? If you approve 
the desien. set about it, defer not one dav, after con- 
viction hath seized on thy conscience. 

I shall only add a few more directions in this case. 

1. Deal faithfully and effectually in searching your 
hearts and state. Self-ignorance will be the great im- 
pedim.ent of personally entering into a covenant to be 
the Lord's ; if you be ignorant and know not how 
things are with you, or partial and unfaithful in your 
search, you will go hand over head about this matter, 
and you will make nothing of it. Tradesmen cast up 
their books, and see how they stand, before they go to 
their chapmen, to make new bargains ; so must you, 
keep an audit in your own souls, that you may set 
thino;s in readiness for the o-reat assizes ; take a true 
account and estimate of your state ; know for cer- 
tainty what covenant you are under ; you will never 
much care for the new till you be worn and wearied 
out with your old ruined state ; " we are kept under 
the law, shut up unto the faith which should after- 
wards be revealed," Gal. iii. 23 ; the words are very 

emphatical,(i''7ro v6}xov liPpovpov/ieOay* avvKetc\ei(TiAvoi) th.ey 

are military terms, and signify a strong guard get upon 
the sinner, after he is condemned by martial law, and 

* <PoovptiaOai, Est praesidio custodiri — PoH Critic. 


must be brought forth to execution ; or it relates to a 
schoohnaster shutting up his scholar for correction, it 
is the same with the law being a schoolmaster, ver. 
24, keeping a person under severe discipline ; both are 
imperious and rigorous ; the soul then is under the 
rigour intended here, not only really, but sensibly ; 
when the poor sinner lies under such apprehensions of 
his sad condition, and is kept in with dread of legal 
punishment, as a slave in the gallies, then and never 
till then doth he desire and prize liberty. O that poor 
souls did duly consider the lamentable state they are 
in under the old covenant, then they would never be 
at rest till they had struggled from under that yoke, 
and got into gospel bonds. Simon Peter tells Simon 
Magus, " I perceive thou art in the gall of bitterness, 
and bonds of iniquity,"* and this startled that grand 
hypocrite, and made him solicit prayers ; it is a dread- 
ful case, for poor sinners to be on the confines of hell, 
and not know it ; the knowledge of a disease is the 
first step to a cure ; well then, deal faithfully with thy 
own soul ; what liave you the candle of the Lord for, 
but to search into the inmost parts of the belly ?f Be 
not like some crafty constables who ought to present 
misdemeanors, but bring ]:i all icell, or are loth to 
find the thief they pretend to search for. Passing a 
false judgment on yourselves, may cost you your souls ; 
it is dangerous to stumble on the threshold ; it is omin- 
ous to lay the first stone wrong ; you must dig deep if 
you will build high ; i you must search the wound if 
you expect a perfect cure, a sore may seem a little 
matter with a small orifice, but may be hard to be 
cured, because of its being difficult to find the bottom : 
thus it is with the soul, thy heart is deep, Satan is 
subtle, thy eyes are dim, the matter is intricate, tliere 
• Acts viii. 23, 24. i Prov. xx. 27- t Luke vi. 48. 


needs much care and pains to untwist and put to rights 
this snarled skein, and find out the bottom and end of 
yoiu' actings, thousands are mistaken, why may not 
thy soul mistake? The flaunting professors of the 
Laodicean church had vapours fuming up into their 
heads, which cast them into a sleep, wherein they 
dreamed that they were rich, and increased with goods, 
and needed notliing, while indeed they Avere poor and 
miserable* — and till they were convinced thereof, they 
would not come to the market to buy gospel commodi- 
ties; "They that be whole need not the physician, 
but they that are sick."f O for a sense of danger ! All 
the world cannot drag that man to covenanting, that 
either thinks he need not, or imagines himself already 
to be in covenant with God. This is my first counsel ; 
be particular about thy state, for physic is not to be 
given to persons asleep, but waking. 

2. Stand still and make a pause and stop in your 
progress. This is God's method with sinners, he hedg- 
eth up their way with thorns, and makes a wall, that 
they may not find or follow their sinful paths ; some- 
times he brings them into a wilderness, and there 
speaks to their hearts, he brings them under the rod, 
and so into this bond of the covenant; thus divine 
grace dealt with Manasseh, the prodigal, and many 
more, 1 It were much easier and not so costly, if sin- 
ners would put a stop to themselves by serious reflec- 
tion and due consideration, whilher they are going, and 
what will be the issue of the courses they are taking ; 
it becomes the sinner to bethink himself, || or bring 
things back upon his heart, to weight his spirit with a 
due sense of what lie hath been doing, and to what 

* Rev. iii. 16—18. + :Matt. ix. 12. 

t Hos. ii. 6, 14. Ezek. xx. 37- - Chron. xxxiii. 11, 12. Luke 
XV. 17. II 2 Chvon. vi. .37. 


these courses 1 end ; standing still is something towards 
returning, retrograde motions begin in consideration ; 
" I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy 
testimonies ;"* the hand of the clock follows the motion 
of the inward wheels; if the heart be turned, the 
courvse will be changed, and consideration is in order 
of nature before conversion, and conversion of heart 
is the substance of this covenant, all outward signifi- 
cations thereof will follow after. I have no hopes of 
that sinner that will not say, what have I done ? or 
what must I do? "but turns to his course, as the 
horse rusheth into the battle."! I like a pondering, 
considering soul ; however some may call such a one 
melancholy, and think he will go mad, yet when the 
the sinner is besieged by the justice of God, " and the 
terroi-s of the Almighty do set themselves in array 
against him,"| it becomes the perplexed soul, to with- 
draw himself into some solitaiy recesses, to parley and 
consult about this weighty affair, to consider of the 
terms proposed, and whether it be not the best course 
to accept them, and so surrender all to him that sum- 
mons him. O sinner, dost thou not see volleys of 
bullets in the threatenings flying about thine ears? dost 
thou not feel his darts and arrows entering into thy 
soul ? and art thou not afraid of being taken by storm ? 
what quarter canst thou expect, if thy rebellious will 
yield not, consider then what thou hast to do ? a breach 
is made in thy chief bulwarks already, surrender or 
die. Art thou not ready to say, O poor creature that 
I am, what a fool am I to march on Jehu-like in this 
broad way to hell ? how oft would God have stopped 
my course, but I would not turn ; I am now near the 
end of my fond race, I now see death before me, if I 
step forward I may drop into hell, my sins will find me 
* Psal. cxix. 59. t Jer. viii. 6. * '^o^- ^i- 4. 


out, my pleasant morsels will be bitterness in the end. 

that these chains were knocked off that bind me so 
fast to Satan ! Alas, I see I cannot set myself at li- 
berty, I am bound hand and foot in the grave of sin, 
and cannot come forth till the omnipotent Jesus call, 
and say, as to Lazarus, sinner come forth ; I am not 
only without strength, but dead in trespasses and sins;* 

1 cannot lift a hand or subscribe my name, much less 
raise my heart Gcd-wards. My heart is locked up 
against God, and I cannot rise out of my bed of sloth 
to put back the bar of my obstinate will, that shuts 
out my Lord ;-j- nay, I find a baneful enmity, that op- 
poseth the terms of the covenant. O the malignity of 
my degenerate nature ! I am ashamed, I have so long 
WTangled against covenant terms, and yet I see plainly 
I must submit, all the world cannot help me, if I have 
not helj) from aboA^e ; truly in vain is salvation hoped 
for from the hills or multitude of mountains ; t the 
goodliest flowers of created comforts perish in my 
hand, and why should I lay them to my heart ? away 
with these trifles, I want and wait for something more 
suitable and durable ; I will run from this poor perish- 
ing world, as vermin from a falling house ; these 
sweet flowers become offensive weeds; this staff I leaned 
on is become a broken reed, yea a pricking briar, it 
tempts, perplexes, and defiles my soul ; " They that ob- 
serve lying vanities, forsake their own mercies." || I 
look through these empty nothings ; behold I spy a 
God, a Christ, a heaven, and some divine cordials for 
my fainting soul. O how may I come to enjoy God ! 
I hear of a gospel covenant that unites God and sin- 
ners ; how must my name be put in ? I must choose 
God, and devote myself to him. O that I could do 

• Rom. V. 6. Eph. ii. I. t Song. v. 3, 4. 

i Jer. iii. 23. H Jonah ii. 8. 


both in tnith, judgment, and righteousnes.* Ministers 
tell me of the covenant, they require my consent, my 
heart echoes, as thou hast said, so must we do ; there 
is no dallying in so weighty a case, one thing is need- 
ful, God commands it, my soul needs it, I must do it ;-{- 
only I would not do it as some rash spirits, that huddle 
up a wedding in all haste, and afterwards have time to 
repent of it ; I would not thus make more haste than 
good speed, lest I make a nullity of that which should 
bring me into a state of friendship with God ; I will 
consider what I do, and do what I have duly considered 
and concluded upon. 

3. Let your hearts be endeared to and join in with 
God's covenant people. As this is the first movement 
God-wards, so it is the first of those duties and charac- 
teristics whereby a well disposed soul discovers itself. 
Converting grace turns the hearts of parents to chil- 
dren, and the hearts of children to their fathers ; 1^ see 
the notable description of gospel covenanters, Jer. 1. 4, 
5, " In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, 
the children of Israel shall come, they and the children 
of Judah together, going and weeping ;" strange ! to 
see these vmiting, these that had been at such a dis- 
tance, the one worshipping the Lord at Jerusalem, the 
other the calves at Dan and Bethel. How comes this? 
Why converting grace links them together, and the 
covenant links them both to God. O, saith the poor 
backsliding Ephraimite, that I could be like the true 
Israelite, in whom is no guile ! what a blind fool was 
I, that thought piety but needless singularity, that 
looked upon godly persons as fanatic precisians ! O now 
methinks, there is a beauty in holiness, and gracious 
persons are the excellent in the earth, in whom is all 
my delight, I will be their companion, I am determin- 
* Jer. iv. 2. t Ezra x. 12. t ^lal. iv. 6. 


ed to be their fellow traveller towards Zion. O how 
blessed are pardoned souls ! Blessed are the imdefiled 
in their way ; would to God my soul were in their soul's 
case.* O that I were in such a one's condition, though 
I had not a rag to cover me, a morsel to eat, or a 
penny in my purse, nay, nor a whole bone in my skin. 

how happy is that people whose God is the Lord ; f 
these are pearls, others are dross. Methinks these co- 
venant people of God, are better in rags, than others in 
robes, I would rather be with them in prison wearing 
fetters, than with wicked men on a throne with a sceptre 
in my hand ; it is indeed the very summit of my ambi- 
tion to be one of those saints of the Most High God ; 

1 will take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew and 
say, " I will go with thee, for I have heard that God is 
with thee," I will live and die amongst God's covenant 
people ; God forbid that I should forsake assembling 
with them,t I will join with them, ask and take their 
wholesome counsel, and submit to their censures and 
corrections ; " let the righteous smite me, it shall be a 
kindness, let him reprove me, and it shall be an ex- 
cellent oil, which shall not break my head;"|| I will 
never forsake the brotherly covenant ; Lord, make me 
worthy of this heavenly society ; I am sure two are 
better than one, if I fall my fellow will help me up, if 
I be cold my company will warm me, if I be weak in 
fighting I shall have assistance from the saints, and a 
threefold cord is not quickly broken ; ^ the more the 
bettei*, the more in company the sweeter the society ; 
in order to my friendship with God, let me have friend- 
ship with his friends ; though I was hateful and 
hating God's children,^ and there was jarring between 

Psal. xvi. 3. cxix. 63. xxxii. 1. cxix. 1, 2. 
+ Psal. cxliv. 15. * Zech. viii. 23. Heb. x. 25. 
II Psal. cxli 5. § Eccl. iv. 0—12. II Tit. iii. 3. 


me and them, which made discord, yet now since 
gospel grace hath laid hold on my heart, I am become 
tuneable among them that fear God, and O that we 
could all chime in one harmonious concert ; I will 
live and love, as if my heart had forsaken my own 
breast and crept into my brother's bosom, and this will 
let him into my heart, that we may both have one soul, 
and combine to promote the same designs. 

4. Pray much. I begin and end with this needful 
exhortation, " Watch and pray that you enter not into 
temptation." * 

Quesf. May or must a soul out of covenant pray, 
when his prayer is sin ? 

Answ. Prayer is a means whereby we offer worship 
to God ;f and also a means whereby we receive grace 
from God.j: It is a natural duty whereby men ac- 
knowledge God to be their maker and benefactor. 
Prayer is the soul's movement God-wards, saith a good 
divine, and to say an unbeliever should not pray, is to 
say he should not turn to God ; desire is the soul of 
prayer, and who dares say to the wicked, desire not 
God, Christ, or faith, desire not to be better, or to en- 
gage to be better ; Simon Magus was to pray for par- 
don, so must thou. II We would willingly give en- 
couragement to returning souls to strow their way to 
the throne of grace. I do not, saith one, fear a rebuke 
for sending such customers to God's door, he is not so 
thronged with such suitors, as that he can find in his 
heart to send thee away with a denial, when thou 
castest down thine arms, and art desirous to be at 
peace viath him. Cheer up, poor creature, knock boldly 
at his door, thou hast a friend in God's bosom, that 
will procure thee welcome ; he that without thy pray- 

* ]\Iatt. XX vi. 41. t Medium cultus. + Medium gratia:, 
jj Acts viii. 22. 


er provided this covenant, will he not now upon thy 
prayer take thee into covenant ? fear not speeding, our 
Redeemer hath paid for a new stock of grace, where- 
with thy bankrupt soul may again set up ; look up to 
Christ, who hath a bank of grace with him, " and of 
his fulness you shall receive even grace for grace ; he 
hath received gifts for men, even for the rebellious," 
that he might distribute those gifts to poor worthless 
sinners.* It is not such as are without sin, but 
sometimes the chief of sinners that have a great dole 
at his door. Come, man, and put in for thy share, lie 
low at the throne of grace, for grace to help thee, in 
this time of need ;f say. Lord, it is true I have been a 
rebellious \vretch indeed, but did Christ receive no- 
thing for such ? I have an unbelieving heart, but there 
is faith paid for in thy covenant ; Christ shed his blood 
that thou mightest shed forth thy Spirit on poor sin- 
ners. I find upon record, that there are some to 
whom thou wilt give a new heart, and new spirit, yea 
put thy Spirit within them, and cause them to walk in 
thy statutes ;t and why may not I have a share in 
this promise ? It is the mercy I want, it is the mercy 
thou art able to give ; if a beggar should promise me 
a thousand pounds a year, I should slight it, and ask 
where he would have it ? but if a prince promise more 
I would go after it, because he hath an estate that 
bears proportion to his promise. Lord, thou hast not 
outbid thy ability, thou art able to draw my heart, 
and fill me with grace, thou art faithful that hast pro- 
mised, make thy promise good to me ; I confess I have 
forfeited thy help, and slighted thy grace, but I will now 
set myself to comply with thy commands, I am ashamed 
of my folly, I remember my ways with shame that 

• John i. 16. Psalm Ixviii. 18. Eph. iv. 8. 
t Heb. iv. 16. :|: Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27- 


thou mayest remember thy covenant and establish it 
with me ; " I bemoan myself before thee, turn me and 
I shall be turned."* Lord, as I need all the mercies 
of the covenant, so I beg all the graces thereof, and a 
heart to perform all the duties of it. Lord, do thou 
make a divorce betwixt my soul and every sin ; sin 
parteth God and me, let sin and my soul be parted, 
that God and my soul may be united ; I would thrust 
the sacrificing knife of thy word, into the heart of my 
dearest lust. Be thou my God, holy Lord, and make 
me thy child ; " Put thy law into my heart, and write 
it in my inward parts ;" work me upwards towards 
thee as my centre. 

Thus pray, thus bemoan thyself, thus pour out thy 
soul to God, and when thou hast done, fall close to the 
work, use God's appointed means. That is a false 
heart, that sits still itself, while it sets God to work ; 
as he that, when his cart was fast in a slough, cried, 
Jupiter help, but would not put his own shoulder to 
the wheel ; or he that lay in his bed and said, " Oh 
that this were to work!"f As endeavours without 
God cannot, so God without endeavours will not or- 
dinarily help you. Be importunate with God, and 
laborious in your actings ; let us lift up our hearts 
with our hands to God in the heavens, that is, saitli 
Bernard, "let us pray and use endeavour ;"| this is 
the likeliest way to accomplish this great affair. 

But I shall at present say no more to persuade or 
direct poor careless souls in this business of personal 
covenanting; only I shall add this one caution, that you 
beware of a formal, overly, hypocritical doing of this. 
Be serious and sincere, or you make nothing of it ; I 
am most afraid of this ; strength of reason, example, 

• Ezek. xvi. 60, 61. Jer. xxxi. 18. 

f O utinam hoc esset laborare ! + Oremus et laboremus. 


or conscience may prevail with you to do something, 
yet that something may prove nothing to the purpose ; 
W€ use to say, as good never a whit as never the better* 
God will try you, " your work shall be manifest, the 
day shall declare it;"* you may cheat man, but you 
cannot cozen God ; our dear Lord, " whose eyes are 
like a flame of fire,"! wall find you out at the great day; 
if that be not found in thee which constitutes a saint, 
he will disown thee for all thy fn.wning on him with 
specious performances; you may claim acquaintance 
with him, but unless you have made a covenant with 
him by sacrifice, he will say to you as he answers those 
presuming hang-byes in the gospel, who begin to say, 
" we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou 
hast taught in our streets," but he shall say, " I tell 
you I know you not whence you are ; depart from me, 
all ye w^orkers of iniquity ;"t this is plain dealing, our 
Lord is peremptory in it ; I tell you, will you not be- 
lieve me ? you shall take it for a final answer, a full 
decision of the case ; you shall be no longer in suspense; 
I told you enough before in my word, but you would 
not believe me, still you would hope the best, and 
satisfy yourselves with plausible pretences, which I 
now tell you plainly, and you shall feel to your cost, 
could never bear water or bring you off in this day of 
trial ; I must now send you off, begone, "I tell you I 
know you not; " I am sure I know all mine, my saints 
made a covenant with me by sacrifice, so did not you, 
I find not my sheep-mark upon you ; it is true, you 
attended on me in outward duties and ordinances, but 
the chief thing was wanting, personal covenanting, 
therefore you are none of mine ; get you gone, " depart 
from me ye workers of iniquity." O overwhelming 
word ! O dreadful disappointment ! None can come to 
* 1 Cor. iii. 13. t Rev. i. 14. t Luke xiii. 26, 27. 


heaven without Christ's leave and love, he hath the 
key of David, he is the porter of heaven's gates, you 
must keep in with him, or never think to enter. As 
the story goes of Colnian and AVilfrid, disputing about 
the time of Easter before king Oswy, Colman urged the 
example of St. John, Wilfrid of St. Peter, to whom 
Christ had committed the keys of the kingdom of hea- 
ven, which the king hearing, concluded this controversy 
thus ; I will not gainsay such a porter as this, lest 
when I come to the doors of heaven, I find none to 
open to me, being under his displeasure.* I might say 
much more ; make a covenant with God, through 
Christ, and keep that covenant, lest when you expect 
admittance, you meet with a repulse from him that 
hath power to open and shut heaven. 



Thiiidly, Another sort of persons concerned in the 
application, are persons really and sincerely in cove- 
nant with the Lord. And I shall address myself to 
such on these two accounts : — 

1. By way of admonition, for their faults. 

2. By way of consolation, and resolution of their 

1. Though pious souls may have entered into a co- 
venant with the Lord, yet still they are faulty and de- 
fective in many things, wherein we have all reason to 
* Speed's Hist. pag. 348. 


take shame to ourselves, and be really humbled. I 
shall not repeat what I have elsewhere fully enlarged 
upon, their bargaining and compounding about these 
mercies ; their not living upon, or not living up to 
these mercies ; their living unholy and unsteadily, which 
you may see dilated upon, in the Treatise entitled 
"Sure Mercies of David," 418—431. 

I shall but briefly glance at some few faults relating 
to this point. 

(1.) God's dear children have not so solemnly set 
about this engagement as they ought ; even those that 
have occasionally done what is implied, have not made 
it their business, to manage it ; it may be you have 
owned your God in prayer, in hearing, or at the Lord's 
table ; but then you have not set apart time for a due 
transacting of this. Hov/ few Christians have made 
this their chief concern ? How few ministers have made 
it the subject of their preaching, when without it all 
our preaching signifies nothing ? What are we better 
if we could get people to attend on all ordinances, and 
to comply with all God's commands, if they be not 
joined to God by a personal covenant? You make 
conscience of praying, reading, hearing, and partaking 
of the Lord's supper ,and why not of this ? If this be to 
be united and mingled with all other duties, yea, if they 
be in some sense but subordinate to covenanting and 
communion with God, why may you not, nay, why 
should you not, set some time apart purposely for this 
transaction? Is there any thing more necessaiy? 
Why may not the lines of your devotion be reduced to 
this as the centre ? since all you do signifies nothing 
without it ; God forbid that Christians should do this, 
only by the by ; you should say, I am the Lord's, pro- 
fess yoiu* subjection,* yield yourselves to the Lord, 
* Isa. xliv. 5. 2 Cor. ix. 13. 

CillllSTlANS x\l)3IONISHED. 241 

avouch God to be yours, and yourselves to be his ; ^' 
what reason have you to be so averse and backward in 
binding yourselves to the Lord ? are you ashamed of 
hiin, or are you afraid of being too good ? I am really 
ashamed when I read how many in former times de- 
voted themselves to a monastic life. Mr. Speed tells 
us of Ino king of the West-Saxons, who resigned his 
kingdom, went to Rome, professed religion, and there 
died.f Sibba king of the East-Saxons, turned monk. 
Offa likewise put on a cowl and went to Rome. Osith 
wife of king Sighere, and Keneswif wife of king Offa, 
took upon themselves religious vows. Yea, he saith, that 
no less than eight kings of the Saxons gave up the 
world, and became devotees. How may their zeal con- 
demn our slackness ? It is a sad thing, that men 
should be more forward in unscriptural superstition, 
than God's children in complying with a divine institu- 
tion. The Lord awake our si)irits, to set ourselves 
more solemnly about this work, and humble us for in- 
difference of spirit about it. 

(2.) God's children have not exactly and resolutely 
performed their vows and covenants. God convincetli 
and shameth the people of Israel, because they had 
not obeyed his call and commands, when the Recha- 
bites had resolutely complied with their fathers' will, 
*'to drink no wine, nor build houses, nor sow seed;"|. 
shall an ancestor's impositions have more authority 
than God's injunctions ? Alas, that we should have 
more regard to men's requirements, and that too in indif- 
ferent things, than to God's commandments which are 
absolutely necessary to salvation ; but this is our case, 
yea and our sin is more aggravated when we have laid 
ourselves under vows, and do not make conscience of per- 

* 2 Chron. xxx. 8. Deut. xxvi. 17) 18. 
+ Speed's Hist. pag. 309. t Jer. xxxv. 6, 14. 18. 



forming tlieni. Rich Jacob forgot what poor Jacob pro- 
mised : it is an ordinary fault; " they like men," in the 
margin, like Adam, " have transgressed the covenant, 
they have dealt treacherously against me," Hos. vi. 7- 
Alas, that regenerated Christians, who have the image 
of the second Adam, should so resemble their old father 
Adam ! how inconstant are our spirits, we have cause 
to complain that "our righteousness is as the morning 
cloud or early dew;" alas, we are as a backsliding heifer, 
nnd have reason to fear that " an enemy shall come as 
nn eagle against the house of the Lord, because we 
Isave transgressed God's covenant and trespassed against 
las law."* Heathen constancy may shame our insta- 
bility: M. Attilius Regulus, a Roman, being taken 
])risoner by the Carthaginians, w^as sent by them to 
Rome, to treat of peace and exchange of prisoners, 
being charged to return which he promised to do; when 
he was at Rome he counselled the senate to continue 
the war with Carthage, and though he infallibly knew a 
c ruel death awaited him, if he returned, yet he went back 
to perform his promise, affirming that faith was to be 
kept with an enemy, and being returned he was put to 
a severe death ; tliey placed him in a kind of chest dri- 
ven full of nails, whose points wounding him, did not 
allow him a moment's ease either day or night ; they 
cut off his eye-lids, and other members ; so that by 
pining, by pain, and by being kept for ever awake, and 
at last nailed to a cross, he died.f O how may this 
instance of fidelity condemn the slippery spirits of pro- 
fessed Christians in matters of greater moment ! How 
little do we make conscience of the promises we make 
to God ? Are not some of us diverted from duty with 
threats ? Are not some drawn to sin with men's fair 
words ? Have not profits, pleasures, honours of this 
• Hos. vi. 4. iv. 16. viii. 1. t Sleidan's Com. lib. i. p. 17- 


World bewitched some of us, and at least slackened our 
motion heaven-ward ? O sirs, see to it, " take heed, 
lest there be in any of you, an evil heart of unbelief, in 
departing from the living God ;"* be afraid of it, lest 
any "of you fail of the grace of God,"t lest any root 
pf bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby 
many be defiled, " for if any man draw back, my soul, 
saith God, shall have no pleasure in him;"t I will 
utterly disclaim him ; let me therefore solemnly charge 
and require you to make good your vows, as ever you 
expect help from God in your next straits, lest God up- 
braid you as he did Israel, and threaten, " that he will 
deliver you no more ;" j| or as he threatens, Jer. xi. 9, 
11, "Because they had broken his covenant," God 
threatens " to bring evil upon them, which they shall 
not be able to escape, yea, though they cry unto the 
Lord, he will not hearken to them ;" nothing renders 
God so inexorable as covenant breaking, and nothing 
so covers our faces with shame, and stops our mouths 
under new fears, and in new straits, as slipperiness of 
spirit in keeping covenants made in former straits. 
Look therefore to it. 

(3.) Another fault which persons who have taken 
upon themselves the bonds of a covenant are usually 
guilty of, is calling in question the reality of their en- 
-gagement and title to God, upon every failing, rising 
of guilt, or temptation of Satan. I confess, if a person 
fall into gross enormities, or a course of decay, he may 
justly call in question his sincerity and dig into the 
very foundation ; but that the soul should be daunted 
or disquieted by every undermining surmise, suggested 
by a malicious enemy to disturb its peace, or obstruct 

• Heb. iii. 12. t Heb. xii. 15. M,', rig var^owv a^b 

TTfiQ x«P'^0C rov 0foy, i. e. fall from tlie grace of God. ' 
X Heb. X. 38. II Judg. X. 10, 13, 14. 

11 2 


its progress is insufferable. For as it savours too 
much of a legal spirit, so it is an indication of a soul's 
forgetting the terms of the gospel covenant, and hanker- 
ing more than is meet after the covenant of works. 
AVhat would a husband say, if his wife, instead of ex- 
pressing her delight in her present husband, should day 
aud night do nothing but weep and cry, thinking of 
her former husband that is dead ? " Ye are become dead 
to the law," saith the apostle, " that ye should be 
married to another;"* the law as a covenant, is dead 
to the soul of one under the new covenant; now, " thy 
sorrow for defect of thy own righteousness," saith a 
good divine, " which hinders thy rejoicing in Christ, is 
but a whining after thy other husband, and this he 
takes unkindly, that thou art not well pleased to lie 
in the bosom of Christ, and have thy happiness from 
him, as with your old husband." f Mistake me not, I 
do not say, you should not grieve for your faults and 
defects ; nay, thou art not sincere if thou do not, yet 
thou errest in calling thy state into question because 
thereof, and robbing thyself of that joy in the Lord 
thou mightest have. Alas, the joy of some troubled 
spirits runs quite out at the crannies of their imperfect 
duties and graces ; they cannot believe so firmly, pray 
so fixedly, walk so exactly as they desire, as God re- 
quires, as others attain to ; and therefore they are no 
saints, no children. It is not possible that ever a child 
of God had such a heart as they have. Thus they sit 
languishing and desponding, and forget the privileges 
of the gospel covenant, which admits of sincerity and 
covers infirmities. I would ask thee, soul, whether 
thou didst not seriously, deliberately, and understand- 
ingly at first give thy consent to the terms thereof? 
Didst thou not count the cost, and reckon upon dif- 
" Rom. vii. 4. t Gurnal's Spir. Armour, part i. p. 294. 


ficulties, and consider whether in the strength of Christ 
thou wast capable of performing it ? and after many- 
disputes with thyself and anxious fears, thou didst 
strike the bargain. It is recorded of Augustus Caesar, 
that " when he made a great muster in Mars' field, a 
multitude of people being there, an eagle often fluttered 
about him, and then went upon a neighbouring temple 
built by Agrippa, and sat upon the first letter of his 
name, which being observed, he commanded his col- 
league Tiberius to make those vows that were wont 
to be made for the next period of five years ensuing, 
for though all things were ready for the solemnities of 
those vows, yet he refused to make vows, which 
he should not live to perform."* This was commend- 
able in this poor heathen, that he would make no vows 
but what he had a probable prospect of a capacity to 
perform ; and didst not thou consider all circumstances, 
and yet by the grace of God didst proceed in thy pro- 
posed design ; and that which discouraged this great 
man, animated thee ; namely, fear of approaching death? 
and didst thou not undertake it as in the presence of 
the all-seeing God, inquiring if thou hadst any by-ends, 
renouncing self, and suspecting thy hypocrisy? and 
thou didst then think thou wast sincere, otherwise 
thou durst not have done it ; and shall one dash of the 
devil's malicious pen expunge all that thou didst trans- 
act with so much care and scrupulousness ? Wilt thou 
gratify that envious one, who could not hinder thy 
covenanting, but now seeks to spoil thy comfort ? 
When a man hath made a purchase, and his title is clear 
according to the judgment of persons learned in the 
law, his writings confirmed according to law and cus- 
tom, will he regard every trivial objection foisted in 
by an impertinent caviller ? It is a fond, foolish thing 

" Suet, in Octavio, Cap. 97- 


to run after every dog that barks at you, your best 
course is not to regard them, but hold on your way, 
as Job expresses himself and tells Satan;* and as 
Nehemiah said to Samballat, " I am doing a great 
work, so that I cannot come down, why should the 
work cease, whilst I leave it and come down to you?"f 
So do you, mind heart-work and hand-work, be intent 
on the work and worship of God ; hold on in prayer, 
reading, hearing, mortifying sensual appetites, walking 
with God, with a solemn reliance and recumbency upon 
God, and this will sooner clear thy sincerity and rela- 
tion to God than a thousand disputes ; and when thou 
canst spy a fit season to examine those objections that 
are material, do it thoroughly by scripture proof, that 
you may effectually quell them, and have something 
to answer them if ever they return upon you. One 
lively exercise of grace or improving of a scripture pro- 
mise will more satisfy your souls than many disputes. 
(4.) Once more, those who have engaged in a cove- 
nant transaction, are too apt to forget Jesus Christ the 
mediator of the covenant, and this both in our first 
entering into the covenant, and afterwards ; both in 
point of assistance to take him along with us, and in 
point of acceptance, when we feel defects or are charge- 
able with deficiency. Alas sirs, I fear Jesus Christ is 
little regarded as he should be ; to sincere covenanters 
I hope Christ is not a "stumbling-stone or rock of 
offence,"^ but I fear he is not so precious or an honour 
as they ought to account him. Alas, how can you 
bear up without this foundation ? how can you hold 
together with the building without this corner stone ? 
how can you come to God but by him ? how can you 
be accepted but in the Beloved ? i| If you lay too much 

• Job xvii. 9. + Neh. vi. 3. t ^ Teter ii. 5—8. 

|] Eph. i. G. ii. 20—22. 


stress on covenanting or keeping it, you invalidate all 
you have done ; you submit not to the righteouness of 
God, if you go about to establish your own righteous- 
ness,* Thou hast been praying, thy heart was en- 
larged, thou hast received O what quickenings ! thou 
hast covenanted, and been helped to perform thy vows, 
dost thou not secretly applaud thyself in all this ? and 
think, now surely God will own me, for my heart was 
much carried out ? but where is Christ ? is he set by 
as a cipher? O take heed of this deceit, there is a 
snake in the grass ; you will say, but Christ is under- 
stood and implied, and why not expressed ? Is it act- 
ing with propriety, for a servant to bring a present to 
a person of quality, and not name his master, in whose 
name he comes ? should not the principal verb be put 
in ? what good sense can you make without it ? None 
but Christ, none but Cluiisit, said the martyr Lambert 
in the flames, lifting up his burning fingers. Augus- 
tine abated his delight in Cicero's Hortensius, when 
he found not the name of Christ in it ; your duty and 
covenant engagement signify nothing, if not done in 
the name and strength of Christ. The house was des- 
troyed if the door posts were not sprinkled with the 
blood of the paschal lamb ; if thou couldest wear out 
thy tongue in prayer, and make thy knees as hard as a 
camel's hoofs with kneeling ; if thou wouldest expend 
all thy moisture vvith weeping for sin, and fast till 
skin and bones cleave together as an anatomy ; couldst 
thou keep all thy vows, reform thy heart and life, and 
be as holy as an angel, and bear the torments of hell 
with the devils, all this would not make God amends 
for the least sin, nor quench one spark of God's flam- 
ing wrath ; no, Christ alone must hi'ing you off with 
the holy and righteous God ; " He is the propitiation 
* Rom. X. 3. 


for our sins ; by his stripes we are healed ; by his blood 
we are reconciled ; through his intercession we are 
admitted into the holy of holies."* 

If you rest upon grace inherent, and think to climb 
to heaven that way, you set up Acesius's ladder, and 
if you could mount so high upon that, you might then 
say, this is heaven which I have built, this is the glory 
which my grace hath purchased ; thus the God of hea- 
ven must, as one saith, become tenant to his creature 
in heaven. Then you might say as that proud person 
did, whose language was, " I will not have heaven at 
free cost ;"f I will pay for my mansion or I will never 
come there ; and such a one shall never come thither. 
Indeed, *' the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God 
is eternal life, and that through Jesus Christ our 
Lord." :j: God hath now cast the order of our salva- 
tion into another mold and method, a method of grace, 
not of grace in us, or by us, but of grace to us, and for .us. 
Inherent grace hath its place and office, that is to ac- 
company salvation, not to procure it; || Christ only is 
the author of salvation ;$ the whole stress must be laid 
on him or you fall. God gives a strict charge that 
men bring all their sacrifices to the door of the taber- 
nacle of the congregation ; if any neglect this, the text 
saith, " blood shall be imputed to that man, and he 
shall be cut off from among his people."^ Christ is 
the door, and as none can go to heaven but through 
him, who is the way, truth, and life, so God will ac- 
cept no sacrifices but through Christ;** if any pre- 
sume to bring them upon their own account, he shall 
be esteemed to be as a murderer, both by God and 

* 1 John ii. 2. 1 Pet. ii. 24. Col. i. 20. Heb. x. 19, 22. 
t Coelum gi'atis non accipiam. X Rom. vi. 23. 

II Heb. vi. 9. § Heb. v. 9. IT Lev. xvii. 4. 

•• John X. xiv. 6, 


man, for he is as if he killed a man, that comes not in 
God's instituted way.* O sirs, be sure you look to 
this, that your persons and performances be presented 
through Christ ; " Lay both your hands on the head 
of the live goat, confess over him all your iniquities, — 
and by faith put all your transgressions and all your 
sins upon the head of the goat, to be carried into the 
wilderness."! The Jews write that this goat was 
carried to the mountain Azazel, therefore the goat is 
so called, ver. 10, and that there he was cast down 
headlong, and that the red string by which he was led 
turned white, when God was pleased with the Iraelites, 
otherwise it remained red, and then they mourned all 
that year ; and the ancient Hebrews write that forty 
years before the destniction of the temple, which was 
about the time of Christ's death, this red string turned 
no more white, ^i Though the Jews be rejected, and 
wrath is come upon them to the uttermost for their 
wilful murder of Christ and their unbelief, yet this 
scarlet line of the blood of Jesus will be a token to 
secure Jew or Gentile who is interested in it by faith, 
and renounceth his own righteousness. O that you 
and I could look upon this scarlet hung up in the win- 
dow of the gospel, as the means and pledge of our 
deliverance. || But by no means depend on your own 
righteousness, it will prove a rotten branch and deceive 
you. You will say, what needs all this ? will you 
make us pharisees, self-justiciaries ? where is the man 
that trusts in his grace or goodness ? Alas, I may say, 
where is the Christian that doth fully stand clear ? Do 
we not all lean towards the old house, and resemble 
the old stock ? Sanctifying grace doth but cure us in 
part of this as well as other sins. He is a rare pilot 

• Isa. Ixvi. 3. t Lev. xvi. 21. 

X ^Ir. Pool's Engl. Annot. on tihe place. || Josh. ii. 21. 


indeed, that can steer his faith in so direct a course, as 
not now and then to strike upon this duty, and run 
aground upon that grace. The spiritual children of 
Abraham may be found too often cleaving to their own 
righteousness, especially when they are taken with the 
glory and splendour of it. According to the various 
aspects of our obedience, so oft times is the ebbing and 
flowing of our faith, if there be a spring tide of our 
enlargement, it covers the mountains of our fears ; if 
there be a wane, presently our faith flies back, and we 
have no hopes of acceptance. Ah sirs, how poor is 
this life of spiritual sense ! learn this high lesson a 
little better, practically to improve Jesus Christ as me- 
diator of this covenant, for access to God, and acceptance 
with him. 



I HAVE yet something to add for the encouragement 
of such as are entered into covenant with the Lord, 
which I shall place under the two following divisions : 
Cordials for their support., and answers to their doubt- 

In the first place, I shall briefly advert to the cor- 
dials, or sources of consolation to which God's children 
may have recoiu-se. 

' 1. Thou mayest. Christian, be truly entitled a saint ; 
so saith the text, " gather my saints together," those 
are they that have made a covenant with him by sacri- 


iice. See here, covenanting souls are sanctified souls. 
It is true, that in this ridiculing age the word saint is 
jrrown a matter of such scorn with us, as the word 
reformed is with the Roman Catholics ; yet we have 
no reason to decline or be ashamed of scripture lan- 
guage ; we may call those saints whom God is pleased to 
stile by that appellation. You will say, but who are 
saints, many arrogate that title to themselves and their 
party, that are a pack of arrant hypocrites ? I answer, 
(1.) The truest saints are most humble, and humble 
persons are most conscious to themselves of their own 
sinfulness, and therefore are most cautious in assuming 
this title. 

(2.) They that assume this title most confidently to 
themselves, or monopolize all saintship to their own 
party, are most to be suspected, for it is equivalent to 
God's children, believers, Christians, faithful, or God's 
servants, which are not to be restrained to one sect or 
sort of Christians, but have a catholic import, includ- 
ing all that profess the true faith, and live accordingly. 
So saith the apostle, 1 Cor. i. 2, " Unto the church of 
God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in 
Christ Jesus, called to be saints with all that in every 
place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both 
theirs and ours." We may in the judgment of charity 
call them saints, that call upon the name of the same 
Lord, though they differ from us in many things, yet 
holding the essentials of religion, in doctrine, worship, 
and practice. You will say, are not all sinners, who 
then can be saints ? I answer, all are sinners, but all 
are not alike sinners. 

[i.] Some are in the state of sin, under the power 
of it. 

[ii.] Some are regenerated, in whom sin is subdued 
as to its dominion, " these are not under the law, but 


under grace,"* and God is pleased to denominate them 
from the better part, though much is amiss in them ; 
we speak of a corn field, though there be weeds, straw, 
and chaff. " Aaron was a saint of the Lord,"f though 
he had much imperfection. Converts are puritans, 
though they have much impurity ; :j: holy brethren, 
though not all holy. Be comforted in this, God owns 
his jewels, though they be in this polluted world, and 
much sullied, yet he will not despise them, but gather 
them up to himself at last.|| 

2. Thou hast a title to all the promises in the bible ; 
all the good things in earth and heaven are thine. 
" All the promises in Christ are yea and amen."§ He 
that hath right to the tree, hath right to all the fruits 
growing on that tree ; " he that overcometh shall in- 
herit all things ; godliness hath the promise of this 
life, and that which is to come ; all things are yours ;"^[ 
good things are for your comfort, evil things for your 
profit ; all shall prove either food or physic. God's 
glorious attributes shall be employed for you ; Christ's 
purchases shall be conferred on you. It is hard to 
make a catalogue of the saint's inventory ; it is 
worth more than heaven and earth amount to. If you 
be the Lord's he will save you ;** nature teacheth 
every thing to take care of its own. You cannot fore- 
see what dangers and difficulties you are daily exposed 
to, " but the Lord is thy keeper on thy right hand ; he 
that keepeth Israel, neither slumbers nor sleeps ;"f f 
thou mayest safely commit thyself into his hands in 
doing and suffering, "for he is thy faithful Creator :"f:{: 
thou mayest use this as the lock of the night and key 

* Rom. vi. 14. + Psalm cvi. 16. J 1 John iii. 3. 

jl Heb. iii. 1. Mai. iii. I7. § 2 Cor. i. 20. 

IT Rev. xxi. 7. 1 Tim. iv. 8. 1 Cor. iii. 21. 
** Psalm cxix. 94. ft Psalm cxxi. 3—5. tt 1 Pet. iv. 19. 


of the morning ; open and shut thy eyes with this cor- 
dial, God is mine and I am his ; " now thou mayest 
lie down and not be afraid, thy sleep shall be sweet ; 
for the Lord shall be thy confidence."* " The poor com- 
mitteth himself to thee,t thou art the helper of the 
fatherless," Psal. x. 14 ; and it is one thing to have a 
mercy from God in a common, another in a covenant 
way. O what a blessed relish doth covenant kindness 
put into a mercy ! This is a complicated mercy that 
hath many in the bowels of it; th«.u mayest rejoice in 
the mercies of thy God, but especially in the God of 
thy mercies amidst the sharpest dispensations.; 

3. This covenant relation shall never be dissolved. 
What thou hast been doing to day, shall stand for ever ; 
it is a covenant of salt, " an everlasting covenant that 
shall not be forgotten ; mountains may depart, and 
hills be removed — but this covenant of peace shall not 
be removed ; God will not leave you, nor forsake you ;" 
and he takes care and orders " that you shall not for- 
sake him." II Is this worth nothing in this uncertain 
world ? You may lose estates, credit, hovises, relations, 
spiritual comforts, necessary supplies, but shall never 
lose your God ; this is worth something in a suffering 
day. God is faithful and omnipotent ; " no man can 
pluck you out of his hands ;" God the Son will not 
lose such as are given him, " he saves to the utmost," 
and ever lives to make intercession for you.J God the 
Holy Ghost " shall be in you a well of water spring- 
ing up unto everlasting life."^ Covenant gi'ace sets 
the soul's " feet in an even place ; and he that walketh 
uprightly walketh surely,"** he treads strong on the 

* Prov. iii. 24—26. Ezek. xxxiv. 25. 

t Jfefi.leaveth himself with thee, t Deut.xxvi.ll. Hab.iii.l6 — 18. 
II Jer. 1. 5. Isa. liv. 9, 10. Heb. xiii. 5. Jer. xxxii. 40. 
§ John X. 28. John xvii. 12. Heb. vii. 25. IT John iv. 14. 
** Psalm xxvi. 12. Prov. x. 9. 


ground, like one whose feet are sound ; though sharp 
stones lie in his way, he goes over them safely ; no- 
thing turns him back, *' for the eternal God is his re- 
fuge, and underneath him are everlasting arms ;" and 
God is able to " keep him from falling, and to present 
liim blameless before the presence of his glory with 
exceeding joy."* O the happiness of a covenanted 
soul ; when he is called out to more than ordinary ser- 
vice or suffering, God gives more than ordinary sup- 
plies, both of strength to bear troubles and of consola- 
tion ; " Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast 
down, for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand;"f 
he hath some auxiliaries that another hath not, and 
shall be brought safe to land whatever shipwrecks he 
may suffer. 

4. This personal covenant now contracted, will ren- 
der death welcome, and will bring thee safe to heaven. 
That death which dissolves all other bonds, confirms 
this ; death is a stingless serpent, it cannot hurt you ; 
and though it be an enemy to nature, in breaking the 
nerves, or ligaments of soul and body, yet it is a friend 
to grace, perfecting that and joining it fully to its 
present source. Death is a dark valley, that makes the 
stoutest champions tremble when they enter it, yet 
David could say, " Though I walk through the valley 
of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou 
art with me, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."|: 
Direction and protection are worth something through 
that strange passage which you never went before, and 
which leads you into an endless state. O what trembling 
qualms have come upon poor sinners' spirits when they 
have entered these straits. A mighty emperor dying, 
cried out, " O my poor wandering, self-flattering soul, 

* Deut. xxxiii. 27- Jude, 24. t Psalm xxxvii. 24. 

X Psalm xxiii. 4. 


whither art thou now going ? thou must now no more 
jest and sport, or enjoy thy sensual pleasures."* What 
a poor shift have some of them made to keep off the 
fears of death, hy charging all ahout them not to men- 
tion it. Little advantage could it be to Herod the 
Great's putrefying body or lost soul, to have such a 
pompous funeral. His body was carried in a proces- 
sion, from his palace at Jericho to the castle Herodion, 
going but each day eight furlongs, in a golden litter, 
set with precious stones, bearing cloth of purple, the 
body clothed with pui'ple, a diadem on his head, over 
it a crown of gold, and a sceptre in his right hand,f &c. 
Alas, what is all this to the precious soul ? William 
the Conqueror took more care of that in his blind age 
of devotion, for when he was dying, hearing the great 
bell ring prime to the virgin Mary, lifting up his 
hands, he said, I commend myself to that blessed lady 
Mary, mother of God, that she by her holy prayers 
may reconcile me to her most dear Son, our Lord Jesus 
Christ, and with these words yielded up the ghost, t 
But I hope you have otherwise learned Christ, " and 
being reconciled to God by the death of his Son," you 
may now confidently say at death, " into thy hand I 
commend my spirit, thou hast redeemed me, O Lord 
God of truth." II Certainly living and dying in the 
arms of our Lord, in the sense of covenant relation is 
the sweetest death ; this was all David's salvation in 
his last and most earnest breathings of his soul, 2 Sam. 
xxiii. 5. Among the dying speeches of that holy man 
of God, Mr. Samuel Fairclough, these are observable, 
" Be careful to redeem time, get evidences of heaven 
betimes, for times of sickness and old age are tirties 

• Animula vagula, blandula qua? nunc abibis in loca ? 

t Usher's Annals, A. ]M. 401, fol. 725. 

i Speed's Hist. pag. 434. || Rom, v. 10. Psalm xxxi. 5. 


of considering, not of gaining such evidences, this work 
of preparing for eternity is only to be done by enter- 
ing into covenant with God, and making peace through 
Christ, which if once sincerely done, neither sick bed 
nor death bed can do you the least hurt."* O, of what 
worth is a covenant God at all times, especially in a 
dying hour ! when dying groans are regarded by a 
reconciled God, how safe is the soul ? and if that be 
safe all is safe. The covenant is a precious cordial to 
fainting saints in life, and a viand to a dying saint ; 
and after death it will guide him into the presence of 
the great King. " Gather my saints together to me," 
saith God in my text ; they shall be gathered to their 
fathers by death, they shall sleep in Jesus till the re- 
surrection, and then he will send his " angels with a 
great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather toge- 
ther his elect from the four winds, from one end of 
heaven to the other," | and being gathered before him, 
he will say to those " on his right hand. Come ye 
blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for 
you from the foundation of the world ;"i not one saint 
shall be missing though never so obsciu'e, not a mem- 
ber of his body wanting, nor a particle of their dust, 
" but the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which 
are alive and remain shall be caught up together with 
them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so 
shall we ever be with the Lord ; wherefore comfort 
one another with these words." || 

Yes, saith the doubting soul, there is comfort enough 
for those that are savingly in covenant ; and were 
I sure of this, I should be satisfied ; but here lies my 
suspicion. This leads me to the 

Second Branch of encouragement to covenanted 

" i\Ir. Clark's Lives. 

t Matt. .\xiv. 31. X ^Jatt. xxv. 31, 34. \\ 1 Thess. iv. 16—18. 


sotils, which is a solution of doubts, which are raised 
by pious souls in this case. 

1. There may be doubt concerning the measure of 
knowledge necessary to form a covenant engagement, 
and needful afterwards for performing the terms there- 
of. The ground of the doubt is this : the Christian 
hears he must enter this covenant with understanding 
and judgment ; but alas, saith the soul, I find myself 
very ignorant, and unapprehensive of divine things, I 
am sure I am under many mistakes : how may I know 
that I have that knowledge which is essential to a due 
covenanting with God ? 

I answer, you must ascertain the difference between 
a knowledge objectively considered, relating to the 
things known, and suhjectiveli/, which refers to the 
manner of knowing them. 

(1.) As to the objects, or things to be known, of 
which, as the essentials of religion are few, a hypo- 
crite's knowledge may be as extensive and comprehen- 
sive as a child of God's ; however, I hope you under- 
stand in what state God made man, and how he fell ; 
you know something of man's woful state by the fall, 
which hath cast you under God's wrath and curse, ac- 
cording to the broken covenant of works, and that 
there is no relief or remedy within the compass of the 
whole creation, Jesus Christ being the only Redeemer 
and Saviour of mankind. You know something of 
Christ's conception, nativity, life, his natures — as God 
and man ; his offices, as Mediator, prophet, priest, and 
king ; his death and sufferings, his resurrection, his 
ascension, session at God's right hand, intercession, and 
coming to judgment. You know on what terms he 
calls you to embrace his religion, namely, to forsake 
all, return to God by sincere repentance, lay hold on 
Christ by sincere faith, and resolve to be obedient to 

VOL. IV. s 



his blessed will : and you understand something of the 
privileges of those who are in covenant with God, such 
as pardon of all your sins, reconciliation with God, 
adoption to be his children, communion with God, 
hearing your prayers, interest in the promises, and 
eternal salvation. You know something of these, no 
mortal knows them adequately ; you will still be de- 
fective, for a finite capacity cannot have an infinite ap- 
prehension of an infinite being : * " These are parts of 
his ways, but how little a portion is heard of him ?" 
Job xxvi. 14: you will still be learning the things of 

(2.) You must rntlier study the nature, properties, 
and effects of your knowledge ; consider deliberately, 
v/hether it be distinct, sensible, appreciative, experi- 
mental, what influence it has upon your souls. The 
illumination of the sanctified Spirit discovers spiritual 
truths powerfully, convincingly, efficaciously, bringing 
the soul into obedience thereto ; this is to know "the 
truth as it is in Jesus, when the heart is warmed with 
" tlie love of the truth ;" f and as the sun hath a pro- 
lific and quickening virtue, to beget life, so divine 
truths come with authority, awing conscience, and with 
efficacy producing faith, love, and cheerful obedience. 
Art thou really ashamed of thine own ignorance, and 
like David and Agur, call thj'self a fool and brutish ?t 
Alt thou faithful to the knowledge thou hast, in fol- 
lowing the light and acting accordingly ? || Dost thou 
ply the throne of grace for more ? Prayer puts thee 
under God's tuition ; God gives wisdom to all that ask, 

* Apprehendimus infinitum sub ratione infiniti, sed non infi- 
nite. — Weema's Portr. pag. 90. Omne receptum est in reci- 
piente, non per modum recepti, sed per modum recipientis. 

t Eph. iv. 21. 2Thess. ii. 10. 
<:^ Psalm Ixxiii. 22. Prov. xxx. 2, 3. t| John vii. I7. 


IcnrXwc'] graciously or liberally,* not like a proud man, 
M'lio will rather put a person who is weak to shame, 
for his ignorance, than take pains to teach him ; and 
though all be not Solomons in knowledge, yet such as 
submit to the orders of God's school, shall be so fur- 
nished with saving knowledge as to fit them for admit- 
tance into heaven's college. God engages in this new 
covenant, that " all shall know him from the least to 
the greatest, that they shall be all taught of God." f 
Hast thou learned this lesson " of the Father, to come 
to Christ ?"| This is the great gospel lesson. Dost 
thou experimentally feel the evil of sin? Art thou 
sick at heart ? longing for the Physician, and cordially 
submitting to his prescriptions? And though thou 
know something of hira, yet art thou making this thy 
aim, still to " know him, and the power of his resur- 
rection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, and to be 
made conformable to his death ?" || Dost thou then 
lament thy ignorance, dig for knowledge, set open thy 
windows for further light, use God's means humbly, 
and for right ends? Thou mayest be in covenant 
with God. 

2, There may be doubt concerning degrees of humi- 
liation. I hear, say you, that a true covenanter hum- 
bles himself for former sins, and with a due sense of 
heart-vileness ; but in this I am exceedingly defective, 
I have been a great sinner, and ought to humble my- 
self greatl}^ as Manasseh did, ^ but I am afraid I have 
not yet attained to an ordinary degree of humiliation. 

^Jis. (1.) Dream not of such humiliation as will 
bear proportion to tliy sins ; that is a legal conceit 
once to imagine it, and it is injpossible to attain it. 
Sin is an infinite evil, as to the object against v.'liom it 

* James i. 5. + Jer. xxxi. 34. Isa. liv. 13. ^-^^ 

t John vi.45. || Phil. iii. 10. § 2 Chron. xxxiii. 12." 

s 2 

2o0 EAl'TlSMAI. BONr)S. 

is committed ; you may satisfy yourselves with your 
own tears, but can never run a parallel of sorrow to 
sin. God delights not in legal terrors, affrighting hor- 
ror, and sinking despair, any further than to make sin 
hitter and Christ sweet, and to empty the soul of itself ; 
other imaginary ends will set up your own righteous- 
ness, and ruin you. Hath God come with a secret key 
and opened thy heart as he did Lydia's, rather than 
broken the wards with terrible blows, as he did in 
Paul's case ? thank him for it, himself knows a reason 
for this gentle procedure ; the wise God sees that all 
persons are not of equal constitution. Thou hast no 
reason to complain of the Physician, that he useth not 
a strong medicine, when gentler means effect the end. 
Thank God that thy will is bowed by a gentler touch 
of grace, and not by strong hammerings of legal fears 
and a spirit of bondage. God may not be in the 
" great and strong wind, that rends mountains, . and 
breaks rocks, nor in the earthquake, nor fire, but in a 
still small voice." * 

(2.) Thou must study rather the quality than the 
quantity of thy humiliation, the truth than the bulk of 
it, the sincerity than the degree of thy sorrow. You 
will say, how must that be known ? I answer, by the 
evangelicalness of it. Doth it proceed from a gospel 
spring? Is it practised upon the view of a gospel object, 
aiming at a gospel rule ? Doth the view of a crucified 
Saviour melt down thy heart into tears of evangelical 
grief?! I^ thy heart changed from a heart of stone 
to become a heart of flesh ? :!: Dost thou affectingly 
weep over all thy sins ? Do gospel sins and secret 
sins break thy heart ? Dost thou lament sin as sin, as 
offensive to God, turning from him, and grieving 
him ? Hath the Spirit convinced thee of the great sin 
* 1 Kings xix. 11. — 13. f Zecli. xii. 10. + Ezek. xxxvi. 26. 


of unbelief ? * Hath God stopped thy mouth in self- 
vindication, and opened it in self-accusation and earnest 
supplication ? Doth the sense of divine love attract 
thy heart to him ? Dost thou really think thy heart 
is worse than any person's, and that thou art " the 
chief of sinners ?"f Art thou ashamed thou hast stood 
out so long, and now layest down thy weapons ? Art 
thou now brought to a submissive disposition, and 
judgest " his yoke to be easy and his burden light,":!: 
and thankfully takest it upon thy neck ? Dost thou 
still complain of the burden of corruption, " as a 
wretched man ?"1| And dost thou come with tears to 
the Saviour, saying, " Lord, I believe, help thou my 
unbelief :" J I am still an unprofitable servant ? Woe 
is me that I can love my Lord no more, and serve him 
no better ! But though I be thus low, as low as sin 
can make me in this world, I will lie at God's feet : 
God forbid I should run away from him, or venture 
upon sin. I am content to be as low as God would 
have me, that he may attain his purposes with me : 
yet I will remain at the pool till the waters be troubled, 
who knows but I may feel the influences of divine 
grace ? If thou canst truly say thus, my soul for 
thine thou art in covenant with the Lord, for thou art 
poor in spirit. 

3. Doubt may be raised from the treachery of a 
perfidious heart. And thus the Christian argues: Scrip- 
ture affirms, (and I find it so by woful experience,) that 
the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can 
know it ? What assurance can I have that it will not 
deceive me in making and keeping covenant ? How is 
it possible that a false heart should be true to God in 
keeping covenant ? And how should I know it ? 

• John xvi. 8, 9. t 1 Tim. i. 15. + Matt. xi. 28. 

II Rom. vii. 24. § IMark ix. 24. 


Ansiv. (1.) It is possible that the heart may be both 
true and treacherous in different respects: it is treache- 
rous, as the remains of old Adam still lurk and operate 
in it ; it is true, as the grace of sanctification hath re- 
newed God's image in it, " which consists in righteous- 
ness and true," that is, not counterfeit, " holiness." * 
And therefore we are said to " draw near with a true 
heart ;" f for sincerity is that truth that gives denomi- 
nation to the heart. God accounts that heart true, 
which is sincere : sincerity and truth are joined oft in 
scripture phrase.i Hypocrisy is a lie, for the inward 
feeling comports not with the outward profession : 
just as a clock, whose wheels within go not as the 
hand points without : or an apple, that hath a fair 
outside, but is rotten at the core : or a ship, with un- 
seen chinks and kaks. A good clock may be disturbed 
in its motion, a good apple may have specks and 
bruises, and a good ship may have sustained some.in- 
jiuy and have a few defects ; but if the make and con- 
stitution of these be right, tlieir accidental blemishes 
from outward violence is no disparagement to them, 
but they are removed or cured. David prays, j| " Let 
my heart be sound in thy statutes, that I be not 
ashamed." Upright hearts do keep covenant for the 
main : " integrity and uprightness do preserve them :'' 
like Gad, "a troop may overcome them, but they shall 
overcome at last ;" ^ they may be foiled in particular 
conflicts, as Rome by Carthage, but they shall at last 
*' be more than conquerors through him that loves 
them."^ God hath engaged to make their souls true 
to him. 

(2.) It is possible thou mayest come to know whe- 

• Eph. iv. 24. t Heb. x. 22. 

t Josh. xxiv. 14. 1 Cor. v. 8. || Psalm cxix. 80. 

§ Psalm XXV. 21. Gen xlix. 19. U Rom. viii. 37- 


ther tliy heart be true or treacherous, though difficuh. 
Jf^/to can Imow it ? speaks not impossibility but diffi- 
culty : God hath given rules to know the truth of 
grace, or power of sin : he gives helps to make a dili- 
gent search into these dark dungeons. ** The spirit of 
a man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the in- 
ward parts of the belly."* Even the heathen have a 
self-clearing, or a self-condemning conscience ;f and if 
men would put this candle into God's lanthorn, or 
rather light conscience " by the lamp of God's word," i 
they might find out gin and grace, sincerity and hypo- 
crisy : a faithful search might determine the matter : 
if you deceive yourselves by thinking yourselves some- 
thing when you are nothing, the remedy is, " Prove 
your own work," Gal. vi. 3, 4. " Examine and prove 
your own selves; know you not,"|| as if it had been said, 
you may know whether Christ be in you or not. What 
sayest thou, reader, dost thou bring thy heart to the 
touchstone of God's word ? Dost thou faithfully lay 
judgment to the line, and righteousness to the jDlum- 
met, not hiding any thing from thine eyes, good or 
bad ? Darest thou humbly put the Lord upon a nar- 
row search of thy heart and thoughts?^ Wouldst thou 
*' be weighed in an even balance," and appeal to the 
heart-searching God, even in thy last breathings, both 
as to conscience and conversation, as Hezeldah and 
Paul did ? ^ Poor soul, canst thou not truly say, 
Lord, here I am, I set myself in thy presence ; none 
knows but God and my conscience ? I am this day 
opening a casement into the interior of my soul : I 
have found much treachery in my heart, and am very 
jealous I shall play fast and loose with thy sacred Ma- 

* Prov. XX. 27. t Rom. ii. 15. X Psal. cxix. 105. 

II 2 Cor. xiii. 5. § Psal. xxvi. 2. cxxxix. 23. 

% Job xxxi. (j. Isa. xxxviii. 3. 2 Cor. i. 12. 


jesty in this weighty affair of covenanting. But O my 
dear Lord ! I do here set myself as a crystal glass in 
the shining sun ; if there be any approved guile, un- 
discovered guilt, or secret way of wickedness within 
me, let me know it ; whatever it cost me, pardon it to 
me, and purge it out of thy covenanting servant : if 
thou canst truly say thus, " Fear not, thy heart is 

4. Doubt may be raised from the strength of corrup- 
tion. Alas, saith the covenanting soul, I fear 1 am not 
capable of making or keeping covenant, for I cannot get 
this accursed league between sin and my soul thoroughly 
broken : when I am for giving up myself in this mar- 
riage with God, sin forbids the banns, it holds me 
back, cuts off my purposes, and separates between God 
and me ; and afterwards it is impetuous and imperious. 
Alas ! is it possible that such outbreakings of corrup- 
tion, and assaults of temptation, should be consistent 
with a covenant state ? 

Ansiv. (1.) A corruption may be turbulent, when 
yet it may not be prevalent. The more a lust is 
checked the more it rageth ; as a stream stopped by a 
dam swells higher, or a madman bound rages more 
fiercely, or a beast wounded and dying puts forth his 
last dying struggles ; thus doth liist, Rom. vii. 8, " Sin 
taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me 
all manner of concupiscence ;" that is, occasionally ; 
like some malefactors, when they see they must die, 
grow desperate and outrageous ; and v/hen Satan sees 
he must part with his hold, he stirs up all his forces, 
as Pharaoh did against flying Israel. You must not 
think the devil is asleep when you are awaked, or that 
he is bound from tempting when you are bound in co- 
venant; no, he is loosed upon you, and grows more 
furious than ever, and calls up ail his party within 


you, and because you feel spiritual foes making head 
against you, therefore you are ready to conclude your 
lusts are now stronger, whereas the reason is because 
you discern them better. " When the servant of the 
man of God was risen early, he saw horses and chariots," 
light discovered them, " and he cried, alas master, how 
shall we do ? Elisha prayed. Lord, I pray thee open 
his eyes, that he may see ; then he saw the mountain 
full of horses and chariots of fire." * Observe it, want 
of light or sight hinders our seeing friends or foes, 
adversaries or auxiliaries ; men that are in a state of 
darkness and spiritual death, have swarms of lusts 
sucking the blood of their souls, but see them not till 
grace opens their eyes. A light coming into a room 
discovers, (doth not make,) more dust than was visible 
before. Spiritual light discovers spiritual sins, "for 
whatsoever doth make manifest is light."f 

(2.) Yet the covenanted soul doth not, shall not sin 
at the rate that others do. It cannot be expected but 
the believer doth sin ; yea, let him bind himself in a 
thousand bonds against sin, yet that ancient inmate, 
that accursed inhabitant will be peeping out, and shew 
itself upon every occasion, but the grace of the covenant 
is a sovereign antidote against inbred corruption ; 
" My grace, saith he, is sufficient for thee ;" | not that 
it changeth the nature of sin, but the state and frame 
of the sinner. Now he doth not ordinarily break out 
into scandalous sins as formerly ; nay, the stream runs 
not all one way, he sins not with the full bent of 
will ; there is a contrary bias created in him ; now he 
maintains a warfare against his corruptions, he avoids 
occasions and appearances of evil, watcheth, warreth, 
prayeth, and appeals to God, that there is no approved 
guile or way of sin within him. Thus sin is crucified, 

* 2 Kings vi. 15—17. + Eph. v. 13. i 2 Cor. xii. 9. 


and grace is working it out gradually ; in this sense 
it is said, " He that is born of God sinneth not ;"* and 
this care and conflict evidence integrity, Psalm xviii. 
23, " I was also upright before him ;" how is that 
proved ? why "I have kept myself from mine iniquity." 
It is the nature of grace to be working out lust ; as 
the eye works or weeps out the mote got into it ; or 
as the spring clears itself of mud ; " He that hath this 
hope purifieth himself as he also is pure."f Though 
sin cleave to grace, as dross to silver, yet it mixeth 
not with it ; the fire refines the silver, and burns out 
the dross ; the oil will not mingle with water, but gets 
above it : thus received grace supplied with assisting 
grace gets a glorious conquest ; " Sin hath not domin- 
ion over souls that are under grace." t Pie that is 
fighting is overcoming; covenanters are conquerors, 
and shall be triumphers. It is true, the new covenant 
doth not suddenly drive out corruptions, those deyoted 
Canaanites, only by little and little ; but yet it makes 
them tributaries, to serve the soul's best interest ; they 
are as pricks in their eyes to stir up godly sori'ow, and 
as thorns in their sides to spur them forwards in the 
road to heaven. It is not the having of impurities 
that evidenceth hypocrisy, but bearing with them, in- 
dulging ourselves in them. A confederacy with sen- 
sual appetites shews a polluted heart ; " If I regard 
iniquity in my heart, God will not hear my prayer ;"|| 
a kind regard for sin may undo you ; but the upright 
Christian hates every way of wickedness, aud is still 
washing and cleansing himself from " all filthines both 
of flesh and spirit." § Cleanly persons are still em- 
ployed to wash out spots. Corruption will not hurt 
thee if thou hate it ; there is no man on earth but finds 

* 1 Johii iii. 9. f 1 John iii. 3. J Rom. vi. 14. 

II Psal. Ixvi. 18. § 2 Cor. vii. 1. 


ebullitions of sin, if however you suffer it not to lodge 
without disturbance, it is no stated inhabitant within 

5. Doubt may be grounded upon weakness and 
waywardness, in the work of God and exercises of de- 
votion. O, saith the soul, how can I be within the 
covenant, who want covenant grace ? Doth not God 
say, " I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you 
to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judg- 
ments, and do them."* But alas, I find not only an 
inability, but a kind of antipathy to duty ; I cannot 
get my heart thoroughly reconciled to the strict ways 
of God ; I am heartless to good, averse to self-examina- 
tion, dead or distracted in prayer and in meditation. 
The better the duty, the more unwilling am I to do it; 
and is this consistent with a covenant state ? 

Answ. (1.) The covenant that you are now engaged 
in, is not a covenant of works, but of grace. Sincerity, 
not complete legal righteousness, is expected ; expect 
not justification by the works of the law ; righteous- 
ness comes in at another door ; " For what the law 
could not do in that it was weak through the flesh," 
that is, it cannot justify the soul, because the sinner is 
weak, and cannot fulfil it, " God sending his own Son 
in the lilienesss of sinful flesh, and for sin," that is, by 
a sacrifice for sin, " condemned sin in the flesh," Rom. 
viii. 3. There are spots in our holiest feasts, and some 
blackness on our most beautiful ornaments ; our sweet- 
est roses have some prickles, and there is some honey- 
comb with our purest honey. Yea, "all our righteous- 
nesses are as filthy rags;" God may justly "spread dung 
on our faces, even the dung of our solemn feasts." f 
Who can come forth and say, this work is faultless ? 
We are short-coming in all ; but the perfect robes of 

* Ezek. xxxvi. 27- t Song. v. 1. Isa. Ixiv. 6. Mai, ii. 3. 


a perfect Saviour cover all our defects. No man is 
free from sin ; " But the blood of Christ cleanseth us 
from all sin ;" our high priest takes away the " ini- 
quity of our holy things."* When we stand "before 
the angel of the Lord, we are clothed with filthy gar- 
ments," but our dear Lord orders our " filthy garments 
to be taken away, and clothes us with change of rai- 
ment."! Who dares to stand before the all-seeing 
eye of a jealous God with his best suit of inherent 
righteousness upon him ? The best may pray with 
Hezekiah, " The good Lord pardon every one that 
prepareth his heart to seek God — though he be not 
cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary."; 
Alas, we are very faulty and defective ; but it is well 
thy eye is so clear to discover spots. Thou hast some 
spiritual light, and this will quicken thy actings of 
faith for pardon. 

(2.) You cannot expect to perform duties without 
reluctancy; for every christian man forms two parties; 
" in the Shunamite are two armies ; the flesh lusteth 
against the spirit, so that we cannot do the things we 
would," II nor as we would. A child of God hath a 
greater propensity to duty than another man, yet he 
hath something within that dams this current of in- 
ward principle ; "He hath a law in his members ; a 
body of death, a weight hanging on him, and the sin 
which doth so easily beset him, that he must run with 
pains and patience the race set before him." § A 
Christian is more on a level for heaven than another, 
yet he hath many obstacles in his way. Much of the 
Christian's road is uphill ; corruption presses him 
downwards, as grace lifts him towards heaven ; yet 

* 1 John i. 7, 8. Exod. xxviii. 38. t Zech. iii. 3, 4. 

* 2 Chron. xxx. 18, 19. !| Song. vi. 13. Gal. v. 1/. 
§ Rom. vii. 23, 24. Heb. xii. 1. 


the principled soul hath a hias for God, a balance with 
a cast for the things of God. Grace in the heart works 
even a connaturalness to duty. What sayest thou ? 
art thou not inclining after God in the worst frame? 
art thou not like a bird wandering from her nest, a 
rivulet moving towards the ocean, or a needle tremb- 
ling till it fix towards the loadstone ? canst thou not 
truly speak this language : Lord, my heart is bad, yet 
I come to thee to mend it ; I dare not, I cannot run 
from thee ; I am dull in duty but cannot cast off duty ; 
I find a grudging at some strict commands, but dare not 
wish them razed out of the bible ; nay, I can say, 
" Thy word is very pure, therefore thy servant loveth 
it;"* the more it curbs my sinful propensities, and 
binds me to God, the better I love it ; and though lust 
rage against what restrains it, " yet I delight in the law 
of God after the inward man ;"f though I find a hang- 
ing back, yet my spirit makes me willing. There is 
no command of God, or duty incumbent on me, but 
methinks I find something in my heart in accordance 
with it, and if it pull back I will put it forward ; if it 
start aside, I will study to restore it ; if it grow weary, 
I will spur it on, and take some pains with my spirit 
to get it heavenwards. I find nothing will forward in 
spiritual things without pains ; I know endeavours 
will not do it without God, yet God without en- 
deavours will not ordinarily effect the work ; I will 
therefore under a sense of my weakness wait on God 
for assistance ; using means as if I were to manage all 
by my endeavours ; and depend on God as if I had 
used no means at all ; " I will run the ways of God's 
commandments," as if I must obtain the prize by run- 
ning, " yet so lean on my beloved," :]: as if I had no 
legs or feet to run with. 
" Ps. cxix. 140 t Rom. vii. 22. t Ps. cxix. 32. Song. viii. 5. 


6. Doubt may arise from the different methods 
of divine grace in bringing the soul into covenant. 
O, saith the Christian, I have heard that some have 
such a distinct knowledge of God's operations on their 
hearts, that they can give an account of time, means, 
instruments, steps, and every particular circumstance 
about the workings of God's grace ; but I cannot do 
so, therefore I am doubtful whether I be yet in cove- 
nant ? 

Ausw. (1.) God's ways of grace, as well as methods 
of providence are various, and cannot be traced. God 
doth not always confine himself to one constant method 
in bringing souls to himself, and into covenant. Saul is 
struck down by an immediate hand, when he is running 
against the pikes, "and kicking against the pricks."* 
Lydia's heart is sweetly opened with a gentle touch of 
the Spirit, while she is sitting under an ordinance.! 
As to time, some are called early in the morning, 
some at the sixth hour, some at the ninth, some at the 
eleventh hour.t Sometimes God works by the most 
ordinary means, the preaching of the word, "faith 
comes by hearing ;" sometimes by reading the scrip- 
tures, as the eunuch. Acts viii ; sometimes by provi- 
dences, as in Christ's time, some were wrought on by 
miracles ; Waldus, the father of the Waldeuses, was 
convinced by his companion suddenly dropping down 
dead ; Manasseh was awakened by chains ; the jailor 
by Paul's imprisonment, fears of his escape, and an 
earthquake. A good author tells us of one he knew, 
that hearing bells ring for the dead, awakened con- 
science, and stirred up serious thoughts in him ; || and 
I knew one that had deep impressions made on his 
spirit in his younger days, by a ballad concerning the 

• Acts ix. 4, 5. t Acts xvi. 14. X Matt. xx. 1 — 16. 

II Dr. Colling's discourses of Actual Provid. p. 657 — 678. 


soul and body parting, and meeting again. It is hard to 
tell when has been the time, or what the means, by which 
the saving work has been wrought in the heart. And 
for the manner of God's working ; some, saith one, are 
drawn by a silken thread, others by iron fetters ; some 
are put into the belly of hell and are long under a 
spirit of bondage ; others drop more insensibly into 
the ways of God, the spirit moving into their souls 
without any noise ; the reasons of all these see, in the 
words of that reverend divine quoted below. This 
may be much hid from you, it becomes you not to sit 
in judgment upon the ways of God ; lie giveth us not 
an account of some of his dispensations, some of " his 
ways are past finding out,"* rather to be admired than 
postively determined ; so saith our Saviour, Mark iv. 26 
— 29, " So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should 
cast seed into the ground, and should sleep, and should 
rise night and day, and the seed should spring and 
grow up, he knoweth not how ; and it comes gradual- 
ly, there is first the blade, then the ear, after that the 
full corn in the ear." Look to the truth of grace, 
though you cannot find the head of this Nile. 

(2.) Yet for the main God walks in a beaten road, 
and makes gradual movements towards the souls of 
such as he takes into covenant with himself; the work 
is conversion of the sinner to himself, this is so ab- 
solutely necessary, that our Saviour peremptorily as- 
serts it with, " Verily I say unto yon, except ye be 
converted and become as little children, ye shall not 
enter into the kingdom of heaven ;"f and this must 
be scriptural conversion, and so a covenant engage- 
ment. Time and room would fail me to give you the 
characters or the gradual operations of divine grace 
herein ; only I shall question you, in these few things : 
• Rom. xi. 33. t Matt, xviii. 3. 


Hath free grace put a stop to thy soul in thy sinful 
career, " by making a wall or a hedge of thorns?"* 
Hast thou not stood still, and considered what thou 
art by nature, whither thou art going in the course of 
a sinful life ? Dost thou not see thy utter inability to 
help thyself, that thou art without strength ^ Is not tlie 
creature insufficient as a portion for thy soul ; moun- 
tains and hills being vain, if God do not help ? Is not 
thy mouth stopped, without any thing or object, why 
sentence should not be passed and executed upon theePf 
Are thy eyes ojjened to see the necessity of Christ, and 
excellency of a covenant state, the beauty of holiness, 
and the felicity of gracious souls ? Hast thou inquired 
after, and willingly submitted to covenant terms?:]: 
Hast thou ingenuously confessed all thy sins, and ran- 
sacked thy heart and life to find out all thy iniquities, 
and lay them open in their aggravating circumstances? 
Hast thou made it thy business to inquire what thou 
must do to be saved, and been solicitous chiefly for 
thy immortal soul ? 1| Hast thou cast thy poor soul, 
(being affrighted with the threats of the law, and ac- 
cusations of conscience,) wholly upon Christ as held 
out in some promise ? Dost thou tremble under the 
thoughts of the guilt of sin,^ and hate the garment 
spotted by the flesh ? Dost thou daily get ground 
on thy corruption and increase in grace and holiness ? 
Dost thou hearken to the suggestions, and improve the 
operations of the Holy Spirit, to guide and asi-ist thee?^ 
Dost thou make it thy business to walk with God in 

* Luke XV. 17. Hosea ii. 4. 

-|- Rom. V. 6. Jer. iii. 23. Rom. iii. 19. Psalm li. 4. 

+ Matt. ix. 12. Psalm xxxii. 1. Acts xi. 23. 

H Jer. xxxi. 18. Dan. ix. 5. Acts ii. 37- xvi. 30. 

§ Luke xiii. 12. Acts xvi. 31. Isa. Ixvi. 2. 

IT Jude, 23. Mal. iv. 2. Gal. v. 16, 18. 


tliy general and particular calling?* "Dost thou keep a 
conscience void of offence both towards God and man?"f 
at least is this thy daily exercise ? And dost thou 
deny thyself, thy natural, civil, religious self, " that 
God in Christ may be all in all ?" \ These and such 
like are evidences of genuine religion, and the methods 
of grace when God carries on spiritual operations in 
the hearts of poor sinners. Lay judgment to the line 
and righteousness to the plummet, and though you 
cannot say, at such a juncture of time, or in such a 
precise manner I was brought in, yet you may say as 
the poor blind man, John ix. 25, " One thing I know 
(though I be ignorant in many other things,) that 
whereas I was blind now I see ;" I find a change in my 
heart and life, I was hard, heartless, dead and carnal, 
but now I find it otherwise in my soul. 

7. The last doubt is occasioned by darkness, guilt, 
and challenges from God and conscience. Oh, saith 
the soul, I cannot be persuaded that I am under cove- 
nant, for God frowns upon me, conscience flies in my 
face, I am under sad misgivings of spirit, I have no 
assurance of my title, nay, I have great reason to fear 
the contrary, I doubt, I doubt there was never any 
such covenant between God and my soul. 

Ansu\ (1.) It is not essential to the soul's being in 
covenant, to know that it is in covenant ; God never 
made this a condition of the covenant. A direct act of 
faith going out to Christ to embrace him is one thing, 
a reflex act of the soul to know the truth of faith 
is another ; the former is needful to our safety, the 
latter to our comfort. Sometimes God thinks fit to 
frown on, chide with, yea, scourge his children, when 
his heart is set on them in covenant love ; yea, he hath 

• Gen. V. 22. t 1 Cor. vii. 24. Acts xxiv. IG. 

:!: Matt. xvi. 24. Col. iii. 11. 


adopted t]ie rod into the covenant, he proiniseth to 
give his children due correction ; yea, they shall even 
own this his carriage as an act of great faithfulness ; * 
and this also is one branch of their affliction, that lie 
iiides his face from the house of Israel, though he still 
be their Saviour, f ^Vas David no covenanted soul, 
when God did hide his face, and he was troubled ? 
and ^vhen he questioned God's love and faithtulness? 
d>)th he not own it as his infirmity?:]: May not a 
child of light walk in darkness ? |j Must God always 
dandle you on Iiis knee ? and give you the kisses of his 
inouth ? Have you not provoked him ? Though he 
loves you, he thinks not fit you shall always enjoy the 
sense of that love ; he knows better what is for your 
good, than you do yourselves. Ycu nuist know that 
j>aternal anger is consistent with peculiar love : Are 
you better than Job and ITeman who lay under heavy 
rebukes ? Satan will be raging, guilt rising, and con- 
science accusing the most upright souls ; yea, God may 
t'link fit at the same time, to contend, chasten, and 
shew his anger, yet all this in love and with design to 
comfort : see Isa. Ivii. 15 — 19. 

(2.) Dost thou still keep thy hold of God by his pro- 
noises, and cry after an angry God, and follow him in 
duty ? this is a good evidence of possessing covenant 
grace. " Though he kill me," saith Job, " yet Avill I 
trust in him." J The woman in the gospel, that ran 
and cried after Jesus when he gave no answer, yea a 
rebuke, calling her a dog, had not only true faith, but 
great faith. ^ O blessed soul ! that dares follow God 
in the dark, and trust him when he seems to cast 
off! Canst thou cling the closer to God when it seems 

* Psalm Ixxxix. 32. cxix. 71. t Isa. xlv. 15. 

i Psalm XXX. 7. Ixxvii. 10 || Isa. 1. 10. 

§ Job xiii. lo. ^ ::\Iatt. xv. 27. 


tlmt he would hastil}^ withdraw himself, as if he would 
not be spoken to ? This is a good sign of grace, much 
grace, covenant grace. Is not this the language of thy 
heart ? in such a time, and in such a place I entered 
into a covenant with the Lord, he assisted my heart, 
I do not repent that agreement, it was the best match 
that ever I made, and though now for my sins God 
doth righteously hide his face, and I cannot feel the 
comforts of my covenant relation, yet I will follow him 
still ; though he flee from me, " it is good for me to 
draw nigh unto God ;"* if he seem to cast off my soul, 
I will not abandon his ways ; the Lord will not cast 
off for ever, but though he cause grief, yet he will have 
compassion ; though sorrow endure for a night, yet 
joy will come in the morning, f Let the Loi*d act as 
he sees good in his infinite wisdom and sovei-eignty, I 
v/ill not dispute his ways, but walk in my way which 
he hath lined out for me, though storms of satanical 
temptations, law-challenges, yea, sad earthquakes with- 
in, and rebukes from God seem to undermine the 
house of my profession, yet I will (at what time I am 
afraid) trust in God, I am sure he can do me no wrong, 
and believe he will do me no hurt; as long as I am out 
of hell, if the Lord will give me a heart to adhere to 
him, I will bless him, let him deal with me as he 
pleaseth, I am sure he is a " God of judgment, blessed 
are they that wait for him." t I will use God's ap- 
pointed means, and give " diligence to make my calling 
and election sure ;" || but if God see good to deny me 
the blessing of assurance, I will attend him still, he is 
not bound to my times or arrangements : it is after 
that persons believe, (how long after, who can tell ?) 
that they are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. § 

* Psalm Ixxiii. 28. t Lam. iii. 31. Psalm xxx. 5. 

i Isa. xxx. 18. II 2 Pet. i. 10. § Eph. i. 13. 

T 2 


God is a free agent ; " I will wait on him who hides 
his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for 
him :" * I will bless him while I live for all that 
kindness I have had from him, and if he should cast 
me into hell, yet might I then be in a capacity to 
praise and enjoy him, it would be some ease to me ; 
however, in the strength of that good word I will go 
after him, Hos. vi. 3, " Then shall we know, (that is, 
we shall feel more of God, know him to satisfaction, 
be assured of covenant relation) if we follow on to 
know the Lord, (that is, if we keep close to God in 
holy duty) his going forth is prepared as the morning, 
(that is, he will in due time come with the light of joy 
and consolation, after a dark night of sorrow) and he 
shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former 
rain unto the earth," to produce fruitfulness : this is 
the mercy I pray and faint for. But concerning the 
nature and symptoms of a Christian's doubtings, I 
refer you to Mr. Gurnal's Christian Armour, part 2, pp. 

Thus I have at last completed this extensive subject, 
and indeed it has become much larger than I designed 
at first, but upon a review I find that it cannot be cur- 
tailed ; nor any thing material be left out without 
maiming it. I had also thought to have added further, 
1. As a supplement, a short epitome or compendium 
of the aforesaid extended discussion for the help of the 
weak ; 2. A triumphant extacy of the assured believer, 
under a due sense of his happy state. But others have 
done something in both these ways ; such an addition 
also would swell this treatise to too great a bulk, and 
therefore I shall remove my hand from this table. 

* Lsa. viii. 17. 




I AM sensible, that much of my labour will be lost, 
unless some persons, (for whose sake chiefly I have 
composed this Treatise,) be directed more plainly, and 
in fewer words to subscribe the covenant before des- 
cribed ; therefore I shall upon a review of the whole, 
extract the sum and substance of the covenant, detailed 
in the eighth and ninth chapters, and leaving out the 
scripture proofs, present it in one view, as a short 
scheme and compendium of the former, and when you 
have read the whole book, and are convinced of the 
reasonableness of the proceeding, and importance of this 
design as warranted by the word of God, you may 
adopt the following form. Whether you read it only, 
or subscribe to it, let your hearts go along with the 
words, or the sense of them. 

O eternal, infinite, omnipotent, omniscient, and glo- 
rious Lord God, I thy poor creature, that am fallen 
from thee by Adam's apostacy, and condemned by thy 
righteous law, for breaking the first covenant made 
with man in innocency; yet understanding by thy 
word the willingness of a gracious God, to enter into a 
covenant of reconciliation with fallen mankind, through 
Jesus Christ the mediator, I, even I, a poor miserable 
sinner, at thy footstool this day : being convinced of 
my miserable state by nature, the necessity I have of 
thee, and the equity of the terms of this gospel cove- 
nant, do here prostrate myself before thee, desiring in 
the singleness and sincerity of my heart, solemnly and 


expressly to subscribe to the articles propounded in 
thy word, as the terms upon which thou receivest a 
poor sinner, without any let, reserve, or evasion. The 
affair is great, my strength small, my heart slippery, 
but in the name and strength of the Lord Jesus, I here 
set about it ; Lord, assist and accept of me through the 
mediator of the new covenant. 

First, I humbly desire to accept of God the Father, 
as my only happiness, in knowledge and enjoyment of 
whom consists my felicity ; thou only art the rest and 
refuge, the suitable and satisfying portion of my im- 
mortal soul ; thou art my utmost and ultimate end, I 
am resolved to look no where else for happiness, and 
to design nothing else but thy glory, as my highest 
end in all my actings, natural, civil, and religious ; 
and O that my soul might glorify and enjoy thee, as 
God, and my God. And because God in himself ab- 
solutely considered, is a consuming fire to guilty sin- 
ners, and there is no approaching to thee but through 
a mediator, and thou hast sent thy well beloved Son, 
God equal with the Father, to take upon him human 
nature, and by his acti^-e and passive obedience to 
bring poor souls unto God. I am abundantly satisfied 
with this blessed contrivance of free grace, and humbly 
desire to take thee, gracious Saviour, as my high priest, 
to expiate for my sins, and by thy blood to reconcile 
me to God. Angels, men, duties, graces, are not a suf- 
ficient price to make compensation for the guilt of one 
sin, but I trust in the merits of Christ's death, and satis- 
faction only, for the pardon of all my transgressions. 
I humbly present my person and prayers to God in 
the name of Christ my advocate, who intercedes for 
poor souls at the right hand of God, answering the 
demands of justice, law, Satan, and conscience, and 
rendering our sincere but defective performances ac- 

A rc)i>TscRiPT. 279 

ceptable unto God. I take Christ Jesus as the only 
prophet of his church, who revealed God's mind to 
mortal creatures, personally by his public ministry on 
earth, and by his Spirit, and the scriptures and minis- 
ters, since his ascension to heaven. I am sure he is 
infallible, and as long as I follow his guidance I shall 
not err ; I will not follow men any further than they 
follow Christ. The Lord Jesus I own as king of his 
chui-ch, my sovereign Lord, humbly resolving to sub- 
mit to thy goverment ; conquer my stubborn will, sub- 
due my lusts, and rule my heart and life by thy righ- 
teous laws and glorious sceptre. I humbly own and 
willingly embrace the Holy Spirit, that proceeds from 
Father and Son, yielding m5^self to his convictions, in- 
fluence, and sanctifying operations, depending on his 
assistance, hoping for his quickening, sealing, and 
comforting impressions, resolving to be led by the Holy 
Spirit as long as I live. 

I do also humbly embrace, and heartily subscribe to 
all the truths revealed by God in the scriptures, and 
being satisfied that they were dictated by the infallible 
God, I do venture my soul and eternal state thereupon, 
being assured that the God of truth cannot lie, though 
many things be above my reach or reason. I do also 
fully consent and subscribe to the equity of all God's 
laws and holy commandments, though contrary to my 
carnal interest, though difficult and hard to be obeyed, 
though hazardous and drawing on trouble and perse- 
cution, and will by the assistance of God's grace, address 
myself to comply with the most flesh-displeasing and 
self-denying duties prescribed in the word. Lord, give 
me an obedient heart ; and whatever ordinances thou 
hast prescribed I will OMai ; I will frequent the assem- 
blies and societies of thy saints, hear thy word, honour 
and improve the seals of thy covenant, baptism, and 


the Lord's supper, and offer up unto thee the daily 
sacrifices of prayer and praise, and in all, my soul will 
press after communion with thyself, and edification to 
mine own soul. Furthermore, I do purpose by thy 
grace to submit myself to all thy dispensations, cross 
as well as comfortable. I will not choose my condition 
in the world, but leave God to choose for me, prosperity 
or adversity, health or sickness, riches or poverty, li- 
berty or imprisonment, honour or shame, I proclaim 
liberty to thee, to use me as thou pleasest, so thou wilt 
honour thyself, sanctify all to my good, and save my 
soul; afflictions from Christ I will bear patiently, tribu- 
lations for Christ I will bear triumphantly, if thou wilt 
give me strength from above ; I will be ordered by 

And as I will accept of thee, O Lord, and all that 
thou proposest to me, so I will dedicate myself to thee, 
soul and body, and all I am and have. 

My soul shall be thine to be reformed, purified,' and 
conformed to thine image, from which by sin it is sadly 
degenerated. My soul shall attend upon thee, for com- 
mission from thee, for subjection to thee, for assist- 
ance of thy grace ; my poor soul shall tremble, and 
never be at rest till it centre in thee, and have com- 
munion with thee ; I will daily put my soul into thy 
hands, in well doing, and will commend my expiring 
soul to thee at death, hoping thou wilt receive me. 
Thou hast endowed my noble soul with useful faculties, 
which I desire to devote to thee, and employ for thee ; 
my mind and uaiderstanding is best employed in con- 
ceiving of thee, thinking on thee, fixing upon thee ; 

that I could meditate on God, and spiritual objects 
day and night ! My conscience shall act for thee, and 

1 resolve to yield to its dictates, and maintain its ten^- 
derness, and subject it only to thy authority. I will 

A POSTSClllPT. 281 

dear my inemoiy of vain trifles, and replenish it with 
divine truths, I will remember my sins to be humbled, 
thy mercies to be thankful, my duty to practise it. 
My will shall choose thee and thy ways, cleave to thee 
with purjjose of heart, and O that it were kindly melt- 
ed into thy v/ill ! I will love thee, O Lord my Saviour, 
desire after thee, delight in thee, I will fear and stand 
in awe of thy glorious Majesty ; thou shalt be my 
hope and confidence ; I will hate all sin, as offensive to 
my God ; my soul shall rise up in indignation against 
sinners, and chiefly abhor myself for mine own ini- 

God forbid that I should rob God of my body, I will 
employ it for thee, and devote all my members to thee 
as instruments of righteousness unto holiness, I will 
breathe out my soul to God in prayer and praise, my 
tongue which is my glory, shall not utter vanity, but 
speak to God's glory, and others' edification. I will 
restrain my appetite, that I may be temperate in all 
things. I will make a covenant with mine eyes, that 
they may not be windows to let in vanity, but inlets 
of light and heavenly objects which may affect my 
heart. I will hear God's word and incline mine ear to 
such discourses, as may edify my soul. My hands I 
will wash and compass thine altar, and keep them from 
striking, stealing, or taking bribes ; O that they might 
act for God ! I will bow my knees daily to God in 
prayer, my feet shall carry me to God's ordinances, 
and religious societies ; never to theatres or spectacles 
of sin and vanity. And as I would be the Lord's, so 
all mine shall be his, so far as my power extends. 
Lord, I here dedicate to thee my wife, children, ser- 
vants, brethren and sisters in the flesh, and all my con- 
nections; I will use all endeavours, in my place to 
bring all to thee, with whom I have to do, by my 


prayers, example, instructions, admonitions, or procur- 
ing godly ministers to preach to them, that by any 
means they may be won over to thee, and though I 
love my relations dearly, yet rather than sin against, 
or forsake thee, I will freely forego them. 

That property in the world which thou hast given 
me shall be freely at thy disposal, to part with for thy 
sake ; I will distribute frankly for the good of thy 
church, and the supply of thy saints' necessities, and 
the extremities of others. My credit shall vail to thy 
honour, let my name be trampled on that God may be 
glorified ; if I have any reputation in the world, I will 
improve it for the advancement of the interest of my 
dear Lord. I dedicate my house to the worship of 
God, and entertainment of pious ministers, and serious 
Christians, and strangers, and shall think it well per- 
fumed when God is therein faithfully served. Yea, as 
I esteem thee, my God, above all the necessary accom- 
modations of life, so I am willing for thy sake to suffer 
the loss of all, and will study that great lesson, " in 
every state therewith to be content ;" myself and all 
that I am, and have, are wholly resigned to thee, to 
be, do, endure, and be disposed of according to thy 
pleasure. This covenant I subscribe in the integrity 
of my heart, hoping for acceptance through the merits 
and mediation of my dear Lord Jesus, the mediator of 
this blessed covenant ; and though I may fail through 
the infirmity of the flesh, yet I desire and hope thou 
wilt cover and cure my unavoidable infirmities, recover 
me out of my backslidings, and preserve me, and pre- 
sent me blameless before thy tribunal. Amen. My 
heart again echoes to my hand and tongue. Amen, 
and Amen. 





OK, A 








Householders professing ReUgio7i. 

-C OR your sakes, dear Friends, I presume again to appear 
upon the public stage, to be your faithful monitor, to prompt 
you to your duty, and to promote the work of God in your 
souls, and the worship of God in your families : and I know 
not how a minister can employ his time, and studies, and pen 
better, (next to the conviction and conversion of particular 
souls) than in pressing upon householders a care of the souls un- 
der their charge. This hath a direct tendency to public re- 
formation ; religion begins in individuals, and passeth on to 
relatives, and lesser spheres of relationship make up greater, 
churches and commonwealths consist of families. There is a 
general complaint of the decay of the power of godliness, and 
inundation of profaneness ; and not without cause. I know no 
better remedy than domestic piety : did governors teach their 
inferiors by counsels and examples ; did they severely discoun- 
tenance and restrain enormities, and zealously promote holiness, 
and then call on God unitedly and earnestly tliat he would effi- 
caciously work what they cannot effect ; who can tell what a 
blessed alteration would follow ? In vain do you complain of 
magistrates and ministers, while you that are householders are 
unfaithful to your trust. You complain that the world is in a 
bad state, what do you do to mend it .'' Do not so much com- 


plain of others as of yourselves ; and complain not so much to 
man as to God, and plead with him for reformation, second also 
your pravers with earnest endeavours ; sweep before your own 
doors ; act for God within your sphere. As you have more oppor- 
tunity of familiarity with the inmates of your house, so you have 
more authority over them, from their dependance on you, to 
influence them ; and if you improve not tins talent, you will 
have a dreadful account to give, especially as their blood will 
bj required at your hands, because their sin will be charged on 
your neglect. Oh sirs ! have you not sin enough of your own, 
but you must draw upon yourselves the guilt of your whole 
families .'' It is you that make bad times, and bring down judg- 
ments on the nation. Would you rather see the agonies of 
your children, and hear them crying amidst infernal torments, 
than speak a word to them for their instruction, hear them cry 
under your correction, or supplicate God for their salvation ? 
Oh cruel tigers and barbarous monsters ! you may imagine 
yourselves to be Christians, but I cannot judge that man 
worthy to be a fit communicant at the Lord's table, that main- 
tains not the worship of God ordinarily in his family ; and he 
deserves admonition and censure for this sin of omission, as well 
as for scandalous sins of commission, for he bewrays his base 
hypocrisy in pretending to be a saint abroad, when he is a brute 
at home : for a right-bred Christian is a universalist, " having 
respect to all God's commandments :"" * such as are righteous 
before God, " walk in all the commandments and ordinances 
of the Lord blameless."" -f- Let these then go amongst the herd 
of the profane, and fare as they do at the last, that make no 
conscience of family or relative godliness. Such as will not 
pray now, will cry too late, " Lord, Lord, open to us,"" \ when 
the door is shut ; yea, they that now will not cry for a crumb 
of mercy, shall in hell cry out for a " drop of water, to quench 
their scorched tongues in those eternal torments.^' || To these 
self-destroying hj'pocrites, I recomm.end the serious considera- 
tion of Prov. i. 24—31. Job viii. 13—15. xxvii. 8—10. 

I shall address myself to honest, well-meaning householders, 
who make conscience of serving God with their families. You 
may look on this as your privilege, as well as duty ; I hope 
• Ps;ilm cxix. 6. f ^^^^ i- 6. t -^latt. .^v, 11, 12. |1 Luke xvi. 24. 


you do. David thought it a great mercy that he and his 
jjeople had any thing to ofler, and any hopes of acx-eptance. * 
C) what an honour is it, that the King of heaven gives you an 
admittance into liis presence-cliamber with your families tv/ice 
a day ! to confess your sins, i;eg pardon and supphes of mercy ; 
to give him the glory of his goodness, and to lay your load on 
him, and get ease : I hope you will never be averse to it, or weary 
of it. God forbid you should : you are not weary of m.eal times, 
if you be healthy ; know and keep these appointed times of 
coming to God. If you promise to meet a person of quality at 
such an hour, when the clock strikes, you rise up, crave pardon* 
and tell the company one tarries for you, you must be gone* 
Oh take not more liberty with God than you would do with 
men ; and keep your hearts continually in a frame for duty. 
Ilambling in the day indisposeth your spirits for duty at night. 
So act, as to tliink you must go to a heart-searching God before 
you sleep ; and so pray, as if it were the last time you should 
approach to God with your family in this world. Study the 
frame of your hearts ; be not content with lip-labour : rest not 
in the work done, without communion with God : presume not 
upon your own goodness, you that are the holiest : despair 
not because of your wickedness or guiltiness, you that think 
yourselves the worst of men : remember, Manasseh prayed, and 
God was entreated of him, when he humbled himself greatly. -f- Ee 
not discouraged because you cannot do so well as others: " God 
despiseth not the day of small things ." ^ God hath babes in 
his family, that chatter like a crane or swallow. |j A child's 
lisping is understood by an indulgent fatht-r : and if a distem- 
pered child stoop down, and reach us up any small thing, we 
take it kindly ; so doth God when a sick soul falls low in hu- 
mility, and reacheth high in heavenly-mindedness. You cannot 
be always actually on your knees, or speaking with your tongues, 
but still maintain a praying frame of heart. Mr. Greenham 
saith, AVlien one asks how your family doth, let this put you 
in mind to pray for them ; thank God fjr mercies ; reflect on 
yourselves, what have I done for their welfare ? how are the 

• 1 Chron. xxix. 9 — 14. f 2 Chron. xxxiii. 12, 13. 

+ Zech. iv. 10 II Isa. xxxviii. 14. 


souls of my cliildren, servants ? and lift up an ejaculation for 
them. Be much in prayer : give yourselves to prayer : prayer 
is your physic, your armovuy, your ammunition, your antidote 
against Satan, the world, and the flesh. This is your way of 
trading with God for the richest commodities for yourselves 
and yours ; the profit will be yours, the glory God's. 

To help you in this work, I have written this Treatise, not 
having seen any directly upon this so needful a subject, and 
was requested to do something this way ; but after I had com- 
pletely finished the following work, there came to my hands a 
very learned and elaborate discourse, * of ]Mr. Thos. Doolittle's, 
on Josh. xxiv. 15, to rivet this nail, which may seem to render 
this Essay needless ; yet for the following reasons if it be 
judged convenient, I am willing it should go to the Press. 
1. That excellent discourse full of sinewy arguments may be 
more suitable to learned, this plain Treatise to vulgar capacities, 
being adapted to the common itse of country people. 2. Both 
matter and method are far different, as I perceive upon read- 
ing and comparing both. 3. That discourse is inserted amongst 
the voluminous books of Morning Lectures ; this being a small 
thing by itself, is more attainable and portable- 4. Possibly 
this may fall into some hands, into which the former hath not 
fallen, and may be an appendix and supplement to that choice 
piece, which I do earnestly recommend to the reader to pur- 
chase and peruse ; and if this my slender attempt may provoke 
any to purchase that, and both together may but attain this 
great end of setting up family worship in the power of it, I have 
my end, and shall follow all these spiritual helps with my earnest 
prayers, that the God of all grace would pour into your souls 
the Spirit of grace and supplication ; make the members of 
your families conscientious in joining ; and governors and 
governed orthodox in principles, sincere in their spirits, and 
holy in their practices, to the glory of God, and good of his 
church ; which is the hearty desire of thy soul's fi-iend, 

Feb. 2, 1692-3. OLIVER HEYWOOD. 

• Supplement to Morning Exercises at Cripplegate. Printed 1G7G. 


This Discourse, and that other by the Reverend Mr. New- 
come on Pfov. XXV. 28, do very opportunely come out together, 
both in reference to one another, and to the time we live in, 
and to that which should be aimed at in all times, the reviving 
and keeping alive of serious, practical religion, but most of all 
in this time wherein it so much languishes. 

They that know the Reverend Author of this work^ or liave 
perused, (with desire to profit,) those pious practical Treatises, 
which he hath formerly published, will think as we do, that 
there is no need of any letters commendatory to bespeak a 
favourable acceptance of the following Discourse. The design 
of which is to persuade and engage those that are heads and 
governors of families, to take up Joshua's resolution ; that what- 
ever others do, yet " they and their houses will serve the Lord," 
in daily, faithful, fervent prayer, with thanksgiving. 

It is a word in season ; for it is a common complaint, and 
that too, by many, who are not a little guilty of it themselves ; 
that the power of godliness, the life of practical religion, is at 
this day imder a lamentable decay; and amongst the many 
causes of this decay, there is scarcely any that hath been more 
perniciously influential thereunto, than the neglect of family 
worship of God, which is one most proper means to promote 
seriousness in religion. Frequent solemn addresses to God, 
having a tendency to keep God in remembrance, and to cause 
the apprehensions of God to make the deeper impressions, and 
to have the stronger influence upon the hearts of those who 
have not quite lost all sense of a God, or forgotten that they 
have souls to save, or lose. Prayer also being a means of God's 
appointment, to obtain family blessings and mercies, as well as 
personal and national, according to the many promises which 
God hath made of audience and acceptance of the prayers that 



are put up unto him iu the name of Christ, with upriglit h.carts. 
To those tliat sincerely love God, and have wisdom to judge of 
things as they relate to eternity, the duty commended in this 
Treatise, will appear not only to he a necessary duty, but a pre- 
cious privilege, and gracious vouchsafement. For there are two 
things which do especially render a Christian's continuance in 
the world desirable and comfortable to him ; the one is, that he 
may acquaint himself with God, and enjoy some sweet com- 
munion with him, which is a beginning and foretaste of heaven 
whilst we are here on earth. They that are utter strangers to 
tliis, have no cause to think, that tliey are as yet made meet to 
be partakers of the inheritance cf the saints in light. The 
other desirable end or business of a Christian's life is, that he 
may be serviceable to God, by promoting his glory and interest 
in tlie world, especially by furthering the spiritual good, and 
salvation of souls ; both these do meet together in the con- 
scientious practice of this duty. 

First ; Comm.union with God. When the head and master 
of a family, who is as prophet, priest, and ruler in his family, 
doth jointly with his children and servants, as a little clmrch 
of God in his house, offer up daily sacriiice of prayer, praise, 
and thanksgiving unto God, the author of their beings, the God 
of their lives, and the giver of every good gift wherewith their 
lives are sweetened ; and does also receive from him communi- 
cations of grace and mercy ; for our bountiful God will never 
be behindhand with those that seek him in truth, but givetli 
liberally to them that ask in faith. 

Secondly ; Serviceableness unto God, in training up his fa- 
mily in the fear of God ; God himself bearing witness how 
greatly acceptable family righteousness is unto him, in that 
high commendation, which lie hath recorded of Abraham : " I 
know him,"" saith God, " that he will command his children, 
and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of 
the Lord." It is a duty that is both work and wages ; a service, 
that carries its reward with it, (reward not of debt, but of gi-ace) 
it brings a blessing upon a family, as the ark did on the house 
of Obed-Edom ; when on the contrary dreadful wrath is impre- 
cated to be " poured out upon the families tliat call not on the 
name of God,"' Jer. x. 25. 


Reader, if thou be one that livest in the daily exercise, and 
due performance of this duty of family prayer, thy own experi- 
ence of the spiritual benefits and advantages of it, will enable 
thee to set to thy seal to what the God of truth hath spoken in 
his word. " I never said to the seed of Jacob, (Israelites in- 
deed, that know how to wrestle with God,) seek ye my face in 
vain." But if being a master of a family, thou be a stranger to 
this duty, either through slothfulness, multiplicity of business, 
or prejudice and disaffection to the duty ; the Reverend Au- 
thor hath said enough to convince thee, that it is thy duty ; 
and if convinced hereof, thou wilt continue in the wilful neglect 
of thy known duty, thou dost in effect say with those in Jer. 
xliv. 16, " As for the word which thou hast spoken to us in 
the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee ;"'"' what an 
aggravation will this be of thy sin ! " for to him that knoweth 
to do good, and doth it not, to him it is sin," Jam. iv. 17, that 
is, exceeding sinful ; and also of thy punishment ! for " that 
servant which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, 
neither did according to his will shall be beaten with many 
stripes," Luke xii. 47. That the one and the other may be 
prevented, and thou mayest be prevailed with conscientiously to 
practise this duty, is the design of this Treatise, and the hearty 
desire of 

Thine in the Lord, 


V 2 





Genesis xxxv. 1 — 3. 

And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell 
there : and make there an altar unto God, that appeared 
unto thee when thou Jleddest from the face of Esau thy 

Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were 
with him. Put away the strange gods that are among you., 
and be clean, and change your garments : 

And let us arise, and go up to Bethel ; and I will make there 
an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my dis- 
tress, and was with me in the way which I went. 



This passage is copious, and may be called a family- 
text, as comprehending the whole duty of householders 
and their inferiors : he that is not relatively religious, 
is not really religious : God hath to do with all men 
in every capacity : and men have to do with God in 
all their circumstances, relations, and actions. As we 
must give an account to God of our natural, civil, and 


spiritual actsi God's word must regulate all we do, 
that we may act as Christians, according to God's will, 
and for his glorv\ The passage contains an excellent 
pattern for all families. 

The whole of the context holds forth the following 
general considerations : 

GocVs commission to Jacob, v. 1. — Jacob's charge 
to his family, v. 2, 3. — His family's cheerful com- 
pliance, v. 4. — The blessed issue, namely, success and 
safety, v. 5. — Let me briefly advert to these. 

I. The words contain God's commission to Jacob ; 
in which commission observe four things : 

The privacy of it; God spake to Jacob when alone. 
— The order ; " Arise, go to Bethel, dwell there." — 
The duty to be done; "make there an altar." — The 
reasons to enforce that duty. First, God's appearing to 
him; and secondly, his danger — fleeing from his brother. 

Doct. 1, That most of God's manifestations to, his 
people are personal, or when they are alone. 

Jacob was alone when he had the vision of the ladder, 
Gen. xxviii. 12. and when God bids him return to the 
land of his fathers, Gen. xxxi. 3. Jacob was left alone 
when he wrestled with the angel, Gen. xxxii. 24. Our 
Lord invites souls to solitary recesses, where he whis- 
pers them in the ear, speaks io their heart, there 
usually is a reciprocal expression of love :* It is good 
being alone with God.f Happy souls that can say with 
our dear Lord, John xvi. 32, " Ye shall leave me alone, 
and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me." 
■ From the order and appointment, " arise, go to 
Bethel," we may derive, 

T)oct. 2. God alone is the fittest to dispose of men's 

* Hos. ii. 14. Song vii. 11, 12. 

f Nunquam minus solus qukm cum solus. 


Deut. xxxii. 8. " The Most High divided to the na- 
tions their inheritance ; when he separated the sons of 
Adam." The great God is the author of all topogi'aphy 
and geography, as well as geneaology and chronology. 
Acts xvii. 26. " He hath made of one blood all nations 
of men, for to dwell on the face of the earth, and hath 
determined the times before appointed, and the bounds 
of their habitations." And as God is the sovereign 
disposer of all ; so what he doth is in infinite wisdom, 
as a general of an army, ordering the troops to their 
distinct posts, with which all men must be contented.* 

But why doth God bid Jacob here go to Bethel ? 

Ans. 1. To convince him of his absolute depend- 
ance upon God, and his duty of resignation of himself 
and all he had to God's good pleasure. 

2. To quiet Jacob's spirit who was at this time full 
of fears, because of the late slaughter of the Sheche- 
mites, chap, xxxiv. 30. 

3. To secure him and his family from danger, by 
carrying them to a safer place out of harm's way; 
Bethel being thirty English miles distant from She- 
chem,f southwards : God hath his Patmos for his 
servants in times of danger ; his Pella for his hidden 
ones in a universal slaughter. 

4. To put Jacob upon paying his vows ; for hitherto 
he had been slack in making good his promise made at 
Bethel, chap, xxviii. 22. 

We have next the duty God puts Jacob upon, which 
is to make there an altar unto God ; which he must 
do, partly to maintain and promote God's worship ; 
partly to strengthen his faith against his present fears, 

* Nunc videmus sicut in castris sua cuique turmae et decuriae 
distincta est statio ita in terra locates esse homines, ut singuli 
populi suis finibus contenti sint ; et Ih ipsis populis suum quisque, 
domicilium incolat — Calv. in loc. 

t Gen. xxviii. 11. ID. 


from the gracious discoveries he had at Bethel, Gen. 
xxxi. 13. 

Doct. 3. God will be worshipped wherever his 
people inhabit. 

Men's shifting their habitation must not divorce 
them from God and religion ; as God is every where 
present, so in every place incense must be offered to 
his name, Mai. i. 11. Change of place must not lessen 
our piety. 

Further it is assigned as a reason to enforce this 
duty, that God appeared to him at Bethel, from which 
we may infer, 

Doct. 4. Former appearances of God to his children 
are mementos of present duty. 

Jacob had been nine years in the country, and had 
not returned to Bethel to pay his vows made there ; 
whether it was, that he waited for a fit opportunity, 
to do it solemnly with tythes or sacrifices : or waited 
for an admonition from God, and hoped that he would 
signify his mind, since he wholly depended on the divine 
appointment:* or, whether now his new straits put 
him in mind of his old straits and relief : or, whether 
this was Jacob's sin to forget and neglect this duty ; 
which is most likely, as rich Jacob sometimes forgets 
what poor Jacob had vowed, 

Doct. 5. God hath a time and a way to nib up his 
people's memories to perform forgotten duties. 

God tells him there was a day when he fled from 
Esau his brother, and now lets him see the danger he 
is in of the Canaanites, that he may perform old duties 
before he expect new mercies, f And indeed new 
straits revive old guilt, Gen. xlii. 21. 

* Totus a divino iiutu pendebat, nee dubitabat Domjnum illi 
significatiiriim tempus. — Fide Poll Sijn. in he. 

t Dr. Lightfoot on Genesis thinks God was angry with Jacob 


Thus much for the first general thing, God's com- 

II. Here is Jacob's charge to his family, ver. 2, S. 
" Then Jacob said to his household — " wherein Jacob 
as a householder acts the part of a prophet, jmest, 
and king. 

1. He is as a prophet, to instruct his family in the 
mind of God ; teaching them their duty ; informing 
them of what he had resolved to do ; and communicat- 
ing to them his own experience for argument and en- 
couragement, namely, his prayer, and God's answer ; 
in his deliverance, and direction, verse 2. 

2. He acts herein as a priest in hie own house, in 
making an altar unto God, and in pouring a drink- 
offering, and also oil thereon, verse 14. 

3. He acts the part of a king or supreme governor, 
over his own family which consists, 

(1.) In the command he gives them, to put away 
strange gods ; to be clean and to change their garments. 

(2.) In his actual exercise of jurisdiction, manifested 
by their compliance, ver. 4, they gave him the strange 
gods, and ear-rings ; and by his demolishing them, or 
putting them out of their sight — he hid them. 

Qu. 1. How came idols to be in Jacob's family? 

Ans.{l). Either those newly taken from the Sheche- 
mites, amongst other spoils, chap, xxxiv. 29, which 
Jacob's sons might keep, not to worship, but for their 
precious matter, of gold or silver. 

(2.) Or Jacob's Gentile servants kept these images to 
worship secretly, unknown to Jacob. 

(3.) Or they might be retained, and used by Leah, 
or Jacob's two wives, or his concubines, Bilhah and 

for distrusting his promise, and sending Esau 500 cattle, of which 
he had vowed the tythes to the Lord, therefore sought to kill him. 
Observ. on Gen. p. 16. 


Zilpah, or Deborah nurse to Rebecca ; for idolatry was 
but gradually extinguished. 

{4s.) Why might not these gods be the images that 
his beloved Rachel stole? chap. xxxi. 19; they are 
called teraphim or images ; La ban calls them his 
gods, ver. 30 ; they were made in the shape of men, 
whom the heathen adored as subordinate gods, to 
whom they committed the protection of their houses, 
with whom they consulted about secret or future 
things, from whom they received delusory and diabo- 
lical answers ; these idols Laban worshipped together 
with the true God, M'hich Rachel tOok as due to her 
for a portion ; or it may be, to prevent her father's 
consulting them, that they might not inform him 
which way Jacob fled : but charity bids us believe that 
Rachel stole these idols, to expose his egregious folly 
in worshipping gods that might be stolen, or at least, 
to take away an occasion of her father's idolatry. 

Qu. 2. Why did Jacob bury them, or hide them 
under an oak, and not break them to pieces ? 

ji72S. (1.) The Greek version addeth, koi ottwAeo-ev uvtu 
tojg T^c amepov vf-iipag, and destroyed or lost them, even 
until this day. And it seems probable from parallel in- 
stances, that he first melted them, and then hid them.* 

(2.) He did this privately, not known to his family, 
so that they could not seek for them or find them. 
And they being now to depart thence, coidd not have 
an opportunity to inquire after them.f 

(3.) There is a peculiar reason, why he hid them in 
this place. Whether we take it for a terebinth, or 
turpentine tree as the Greeks translate it, koX KariKpvxpev 
avTa 'IaKw|3 virtp rijv tejoe/Bev^ov, or an oak, as we read it, 
for the Hebrew word r\^ii signifies either; if we re- 

* Exod. xxxii. 20. 2 Kings xviii. 4. 

t De non existentibiis et non apparentibus eadem est ratio. 


spect verse 8, we find Deborah was buried under an 
oak, called Allon-Bacuth, the oak of weeping, a fit 
funeral for dead idols. 

(4.) Interpreters give us two reasons why they 
biu-ied these idols under an oak ; first, because those 
trees were generally abused to idolatry, as Isa. i. 29 ; 
therefore proper places for interment of these monu- 
ments of idolatry. Secondly, this was the safest 
place ; where they were likely to remain longest hid, 
because the heathen had a great veneration for oaks, 
therefore would not cut them down, or dig them up. 
Besides, critics observe, that the root of this word sig- 
nifies an execrable, doleful tree ; such as is wont to be 
planted by idol groves; therefore he hid these exe- 
crable idols in that place. * 

Doct 6. It is fit all monuments aiid occasions of 
idolatry be put out of people's sight 

See Exod xxiii. 13. Deut. xii. 2, 3. Hos. ii. 16, 17- 
Doct 7. A resolute reformation produceth safety 
and satisfaction. 

When Jacob had taken this course, the terror of 
God came upon the cities round about them, and they 
did not pursue after the sons of Jacob, ver. 5, they be- 
came still as a stone, their desire to hurt them was 
restrained, or they were dispirited; yea, God made 
them friends to them. O wonderful work of Almighty 

But all this is a digression from my main design ; 
I shall not meddle with Jacob's prophetical and regal 
office over his family, but speak chiefly or only to his 
priestly and sacerdotal office, signified here by his mak- 
ing an altar unto God. 

* Si radix spectetur, significat arborem execrabilem funestam 
quales apud idolorum delubra plantari solent, et forte hac de causa 
tub ea execrabilia idola recondidit — Vid. Polt. Cril. in loc. 


The famous Usher in his anuals on the third age of 
the world, fol. 9» saith, Jacob was ninety-one years 
of age when Joseph was born, consequently seventy- 
seven years old when he began first to serve Laban ; 
upon his return into Canaan he built an altar, which 
he called El-Elohe-Israel, that is, the mighty God, the 
God of Israel, Gen. xxxiii. 20 ; which was the self- 
same place were Abraham heretofore had built his 
first altar. Gen. xii. 6, 7, and where Jacob's well was, 
near to mount Gerizim, John iv. 5, 20. This was 
about the year of the world 2273, 1731 before the 
birth of Christ ; he died at the age of 147 years, 2315 
years after the creation. Having got both the birth- 
right and blessing from his brother Esau, he was thus 
priest in the family, till God settled the privilege of 
priesthood on the tribe of Levi, instead of the first-born. 
He saith, this history of Genesis contains the story of 
2369 years' space ; he quotes Servius Sulpicius, affirm- 
ing that in this tract of time lived Job, a man em- 
bracing the law of nature, and the knowledge of the 
true God, &c. But this by the way. 

The altar which Jacob now was to build, was at 
Bethel, formerly called Luz, Gen. xxviii. 19 ; which 
should be God's house, ver. 22, where he would offer 
prayers and sacrifices to God, and where God promis- 
eth and vouchsafeth his special presence, according to 
Exod. XX. 24. Whether Jacob repaired the old pillar, 
his quondam pillow, chap, xxviii. 18, which might be 
ruined by the injury of time, or demolished by idola- 
trous neighbours ; or whether he erected a new one, 
more stable, durable, and fashionable than time and 
his former low circumstances would then permit, it is 
not much material to dispute ; though most probably 
the latter. However this altar was a monument of 
God's mercy, and a token of his present gratitude ; 


and the use and end of it was to offer sacrifice, so saith 
the text, Gen. xxxv. 14 ; he poured a drink-offering 
thereon, and he poured oil thereon ; these were to be 
joined with a sacrifice, Exod. xxix. 40, called drink- 
offerings, Numb, xxviii. 14. 

Concerning an altar observe, the scripture takes 
notice of three descriptions of altars, a literal or typi- 
cal altar ^ a mystical, and a metapho^cal altar, 

1. The literal, or typical altar existed either before 
the law or under the law ; the first altar we read of is 
that of Noah, Gen. viii. 20; yet those sacrifices of 
which we read. Gen. iv, presuppose an altar. Under the 
Mosaical dispensation, there were two sorts of altars ; 
tlie altar of hiirnt-offering, and of incense: the former 
in the wilderness was built of earth ; and, saith Mr. 
Weemse, the Lord would have it so, because he would 
not have it permanent, to remain after they were gone 
out of the wilderness ; and he would not have it made 
of hewn stone, to signify, that men's inventions do but 
pollute the worship of God,* Exod. xx. 24, 25. This 
is an altar most holy, Exod. xl. 10 ; it signified the 
death of Christ for satisfaction to divine justice. There 
was also the altar of incense, mentioned Exod. xxx. 27 ; 
this is called the golden altar, Exod. xl. 26, 27 ; and 
it holds forth Christ's intercession at God's right hand. 
The four horns signify the strength and prevalence of 
Christ's advocacy. None might go to the golden altar 
to offer incense, but he who might go to the brazen 
altar to offer sacrifice. So we ^^have no mediator of 
intercession, but he that is the mediator of our re- 

2. A mystical altar ; that is Christ Jesus only, Heb. 
xiii. 10, " We have an altar whereof they have no 
right to eat, which serve the tabernacle." This is in 

* See Mr. Weemse's Expos, of Cerem. Laws, Com. 2. pag. 46. 

303 A FAMILY AI.TA15. 

opposition to the Mosaical. Our new testament altar, 
Christ, affords to us our soul's sustenance, safe protec- 
tion sanctification, justification, consolation, eternal sal- 
vation. We need no other ; we have all in Christ, see 
Isa. Ivi. 7. Rev. viii. 3. 

3. There is a metaphorical altar, figm-atively so 
called : so gospel-ministration is called an altar, 1 Cor. 
ix. 13. They which wait at the altar are partakers 
of the altai*, that is, of holy things, or things of 
the temple in allusion to the Old Testament dispen- 
sation. So the worship of God is called the altar. 
Matt. v. 23, 24. If thou bring thy gift to the altar, 
that is, to God in a religious exercise : yea, the "whole 
gospel-worship is thus denominated. Rev. xi. 1, "Rise, 
measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them 
that worship therein ;" that is, look that gospel-service 
be regular according to God's word, cleansed from 
antichristian pollutions : this is prophesied, Isa. xix» 
19, "In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord 
in the midst of the land of Egypt ;" that is, God's 
worship shall be settled in all places in gospel-times, 
not a Levitical, but evangelical altar. Nothing is 
more common in the Old and New Testament, than to 
speak of gospel- worship in the phraseology of the law. 

The like may be said of sacrifices, spiritual sacrifices 
in a gospel sense ; so offering ourselves up to God, 
Rom. xii. 1. Prayer and praise, Heb. xiii. 15. Acts 
of charity, v. 16. A broken heart, Psal. li. 17. Mar- 
tyrdom, Phil. ii. 17. 

As for a false altar, constituted in the Romish 
church, upon which they would offer Christ daily as a 
sacrifice for quick and dead, Protestants renounce it, 
as a crucifying the Son of God again, and inconsistent 
with scripture and reason, Heb. ix. 25; nor yet that 
lie should offer himself often, v. 26, 28 ; "Christ was 


once offered to bear the sins of many." Heb. x. 14, 
" For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them 
that are sanctified." It cannot be denied that the an- 
cients have called the Lord's supper, an unbloody 
sacrifice; the table, an altar; ministers, priests; the 
whole action, an oblation : not however in the sense 
the Papists do, but by v/ay of allusion, as it is a me- 
morial of Christ's sacrifice ; or as spiritual prayers, 
praises, alms are its attendants, as our divines have 
abundantly proved; and disproved the propriety of 
the language as applied to that ordinance. 

Well then, we renounce Popish altars, sacrifices, and 
priests, yet acknowledge in a spiritual sense, that Christ 
by his blood hath made all believers kings and priests 
unto God and his Father,* Rev. i. 6 : and that we 
" are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to 
offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus 
Christ," 1 Pet. ii. 5, 9. 

The words being thus explained, I shall raise this 

Doctrine, That governors of families must as priests 
erect family-altars for God's worship. 

It well becomes householders or governors of fami- 
lies, to set up and maintain family-altars for wor- 
shipping of God with the members of their families. 

As holy Jacob, the famous patriarch, was a prophet 
to instruct his family in the true religion, and a king 
to govern them for God ; so a priest to set up an altar, 
offer sacrifices and perform religious worship for and 
with his family: even the poorest man that has a family 
is to be prophet, priest, and king in his own house. 

God commands Jacob to build an altar at Bethel, 

* Quid opus est altaj-i ubi nee ignis ardeatj nee victimae caedan- 
tur, — Pet. Marti/r cont. Gard. 


Jacob resolves upon it, and gives all his family orders 
how to conduct themselves in managing this important 
affair; and when they did their duty, God secured 
them, they journeyed and passed on safely. 

Let none say that this setting up of an altar by 
Jacob was but ordered upon this particular occasion, 
that he might pay his vows formerly made at Bethel, 
and so doth not oblige us. 

I answer, (1.) It is true the circumstances of the 
place, occasion, and solemnity are personal and parti^ 
cular, but the duty is general, moral, and perpetual, as 
I shall prove. 

(2.) Jacob, doubtless, worshipped God with his fa- 
mily in all places where he had come, as he took the 
fear of God with him in his heart, so he left not the 
external practice of religion behind him : but set up 
God's worship which was equivalent to an altar in all 
places where he came, as his father Isaac and his grand- 
father Abraham had done. 

(3.) And may not we have the like occasion as he 
had to rear an altar ? Have we had no mercies from 
God ? Do we lie under no vows, or at least, obliga- 
gations to the Lord ? And do not these precedents, 
and general rules bind us to the like practice, without 
having a particular command by a voice from heaven, 
or in an extraordinary way ? 

(4.) Because Jacob was left alone, and wrestled with 
the angel and prevailed upon an extraordinary occasion. 
Gen. xxxii. 24. ; that is, when in fear of his brother 
Esau ; shall we think that Jacob never prayed alone, 
but when he was in the like hazard ^ yes, doubtless he 
was well acquainted with God, and much accustomed 
to this practice of conversing with God. So because 
we find God prompting him to this family exercise 

ITS niPOiiT. 305 

here, can this be thought to exdude his ordinary course 
of family proceeding ? No, certainly, it rather implies 
and includes this. 

In prosecuting the subject I shall use this method, 

1. Explain what I mean by altars in families. 

2. Prove it to be the duty of householders to set 
them up. 

3. Answer objections against this practice. 

4. Make some deductions and application. 



By altar I mean (considered as an instance of synec- 
doche) all the worship of God to be performed in 
families. To an altar in old times literally, and in 
gospel-times mystically, or meiaphorically ; there are 
four things requisite : — 

1. The institution or consecration; none can appoint 
an altar to be erected but God, Exod. xx. 24, " An 
altar of earth shalt thou make." None hath power to 
order God's worship but himself alone. Men may not 
add or diminish at their pleasure. Ministers must 
teach, Christians must observe all things whatsoever 
our Lord commandeth us.* Men may dedicate an 
altar — it is God alone that properly consecrates or 
sanctifies it;-f- yet men are said to consecrate themselves 
to the Lord, yea, and other things in a secondary way, 
and instrumentally:| but as God appoints, so himself 
* Matt, xxviii. 20. t Numb. vii. 10. +2 Chron. xxix. 31 , 33. 



only doth authoritatively, efficiently, actually, conse- 
crate persons and things. Let us see, we have a war- 
rant from God for what we do in his worship. 

2. An altar requires a priest. Before the Mosaic 
law, the first-born of the family was priest to offer on 
the altar ; but afterwards God took the tribe of Levi 
instead of the first-born, in remembrance of the Lord's 
smiting the first-born in Egypt, Numb. iii. 12, 13. 
Aaron and his family were the blossoming rod whom 
God had chosen in a peculiar manner to appear before 
liini ;* but our Lord Jesus is our New Testament 
Aaron, yet above him, even after the order of Melchi- 
:^edeck ;f a higher order than that of Aaron. Upon 
whose account all God's saints are kings and priests :i 
for as Christ's divinity sanctified his humanity, since our 
Lord as God sanctified himself as man ; so he also 
sanctifies all his saints ; " By one offering he hath per- 
fected for ever them that are sanctified ;|| for this end, 
that they may be a holy priesthood to offer up spiri- 
tual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."^ 

3. A priest must needs have something to offer upon 
this altar. ^ The priests under the law offered bulls, 
goats, and other brute beasts. Christ offered himself as 
a sacrifice for our sins. Saints offer their souls and 
bodies as a thank-offering unto the Lord ; besides their 
prayers and praises, as was hinted before : but the 
Holy Ghost adviseth us to be more ready to hear, than 
to give the sacrifice of fools, Eccles. v. 1. or than fools 
to give sacrifice, who vainly think to please God with 
the variety and costliness of their offerings. "Obedience 
is better than sacrifice ; and the sacrifice of the wicked 
is an abomination unto the Lord ;" therefore it becomes 
us all to look to our state and standing, and also to 

* Numb. xvii. 8. f Heb. vi. 20. + John xvii. 19. 
II Heb. X. 14. § 1 Pet. ii. 5. IT Heb. viii. 3, 4. 


the manner of our sacrificing, as well as the matter 

4. As to the altar, there must be respect to the end 
and design of this altar ; for the end either makes or 
mars the action. Now the text saith, " I will make 
there an altar unto God ;" and God saith, "an altar shalt 
thou make unto me ;" not to idols, nor to themselves, 
to please their own fancy, or for vain-gloiy.* God 
threatens he will break down all such altars :f for 
though every family must have their distinct altar in 
their peculiar relative capacities, yet they must only 
make use of the one altar Christ Jesus for acceptance, 
and worship God after the pattern shewed in the 
mount ; that the Lord may be one and his name 
one,:}: that is, his worship uniform, and the same in all 
places. Hence it was that when the two tribes and 
a half had made an altar, the other tribes were 
offended, and prepared war against them ; till they 
were assured it was not in opposition, but as a testi- 
monial of their relation, and worshipping the same God, 
therefore they called it Ed, a witness : read the story, 
Jos. xxii. 10, 34. Every family must erect such an 
altar, to be a witness that they serve the same God 
who is worshipped in public assemblies, and in the ca- 
tholic church in all times and places. 

Only this altar of which I am now treating, is dis- 
tinct from p?ihlic, and also secret personal altars. 

1. It is not properly public, either national or con- 
gregational, such as that which David erected, 2 Sam. 
xxiv. 18, "Gad came to David and said, go up, rear an 
altar unto the Lord." This was for all Israel to make 
an atonement, and this was the place where the temple 
was to be built, whither all the tribes were to go up 
to worship God : however, this family-altar must not 
* Exod. XX. 24. Hos. viii. 11. t Hos. x. 2. % Zech. xiv. 9. 

X 2 


exclude public ordinances, upon which holy David'3 
heart was so set, that he envies the sparrow and swal- 
low that built their nests near God's altars,"^^ and is 
transported with an extacy of holy joy at his approach 
to it : "Then will I go to the altar of God, unto God my 
exceeding joy."t No, no, the more a Christian is con- 
versant with God in his family, the more will he prize 
jind improve public ordinances. 

2. This is distirct from secret acts of worship or 
]>ersonal altars, such as Abraham erected, Gen. xii. 7, 8, 
" The Lord appeared unto Abraham ; and there he 
Imilded an altar unto the Lord :" and in the next verse, 
'•called upon the name of the Lord." Howbeit some ex- 
positors think this was a family-altar, which Abraham 
erected, to keep his family in the true religion ; and to 
separate himself and them from the idolatrous neigh- 
l)Oiu'hood : if so, it confirms my assertion in favour of 
family-altars. But certainly that in Gen. xxii. 9- was 
more personal : so was Jacob's, Gen. xxviii. 18. 

This therefore that I am speaking of is a family- 
altar, an emblem of family worship. 

It is true sometimes a family signifies a whole 
nation, a kingdom, Amos iii. 1, " The whole family 
v.'hich I brought up from the land of Egypt :" that 
is all the Hebrews, afterwards divided into the two 
families of Judah and Ephraim, Jer. xxxiii. 24. The 
sons of Adam were all one fan^ily, and after the confu- 
sion of languages the}^ were distributed into the several 
regions of the world, and had their names from the 
head and root of that family from whence they sprung.t 
This is not the notion of family here : but it is to be 
taken strictly for persons dwelling together in one house; 
Lev. XX. 5 " Then I will set my face against that 
man, and against his family." this is distinct from king- 
* Psal. Ixxxiv. 3. t Psal. xliii. 4. X Deut. xxxii. 8. Jer. viii. 3. 


doms and provinces ; Judg. i. 25. " They let go the man 
and all his family." Esth. ix. 28, where family is 
distinguished from jirovince and city: and this is the 
most obvious and ordinary use of the word : and in 
the text the restriction is to Jacob and his house. 
Lawyers, civilians, divines thus use the word and say, 
that a house or family is a society most agreeable to 
nature.* In this house are such as are most ordinarily 
and familiarly conversant together, that work, eat, drink, 
and sleep under one roof. To a complete family (say 
they) are requisite father, mother, son, and servant :f 
but indeed the proper constituent, essential parts of a 
family are but these two, such as govern, and such as 
are governed. 

And ordinarily the person governing must set up 
this altar, and order the worship of God in his house 
or family together with the rest : hear what a great 
divine, now with God, saith on this point : Baxter's 
Christian Directory, torn, 2. fol. 490, "Note there- 
fore that the governor is an essential part of the family, 
and so are some of the number of the governed, but 
not each member ; if therefore twenty children or ser- 
vants shall worship God without their father or master 
of the family, either present himself, or in some repre- 
sentative, it is not family-worship in a strict sense : 
but if the head of the family personally (or his delegate, 
or representative) be present with any of his children 
or servants, though all the rest be absent, it is yet a 
family-duty, though the family be incomplete and 
maimed, (and so is the duty therefore, if culpably so 
performed;)" thus far that reverend man of God. 

If it be inquired, how must a householder act the 
part of a priest in his family? what must he do ? I 

* Domiis est naturae consentanea societas. 

t 1. Paterfamilias. 2. Materfamib'as. 3. Filius. 4. Servus. 


answer ; the office and business of a priest in the Old 
Testament consisted in these four things chiefly : — 

1. To instruct the people in the principles of reli- 
gion, and their duty to God and each other ; Mai. ii. 7- 
" The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they 
should seek the law at his mouth :" therefore God 
rejected those priests that rejected knowledge ; Hos. 
iv. 6. This is the work of householders, Deut. vi. 6, 7. 
" Thou shalt teach these things diligently unto thy 

2. To manage the holy offerings and sacrifices for 
atonement on behalf of the children of Israel, Lev. xvi. 
11. Aaron must make an atonement for himself, and 
for his house;* — and ver. 21. "Aaron shall lay both 
his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess 
over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel ;" 
thus did Job, chap. i. 5 ; he rose early in the morning 
and offered burnt-offerings according to the number of 
them all ; for Job said, " It may be that my sons have 
sinned." Thus must we do, confess the sins of our 
family, and beg pardon through Christ. 

3. The priest was to intercede for the people, as 
Aaron was to take a censer, and put fire thereon from 
the altar, and put on incense, and stand between the 
dead and living, Numb. xvi. 46, 48. Hence the priest's 
office was to burn incense in the temple, and the mul- 
titude of the people were praying without, at the time 
of incense, Luke i. 9, 10. For as often as the priest 
entered into the holy place, he appeared as in the pre- 
sence of God, that he might be a mediator between 
God and the people.f It is true, there is no mediator 

• Lev. i. 5, 8. 

f Nam quoties in Sanctum ingrediebatur sacerdos, quasi in Dei 
conspectum prodibat, ut inter eum et populum csset Mediator,— 
Calv. in loc 


of intercession, no more than of redemption betwixt 
God and sinners, but Jesus Christ alone in a proper 
sense ; yet as one may pray and prevail for another 
through Christ, so a pious householder may and must 
be the mouth of his family on their behalf. 

4. The priest was to bless the people. Numb. vi. 23. 
" Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, saying, on this 
wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto 
them, the Lord bless thee, and keep thee," &c. Doubt- 
less this was supplicatory, or by way of petition, and 
God answers that prayer, ver. 27, " And I will bless 
them." But how far they did this in the name, and by 
the authority of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, 
I cannot say. Weemse tells us,* that the priests lifted 
up both their hands when they blessed the people. 
The text in Psalm cxxxiv. 2, " Lift up your hands in 
the sanctuary," alludes to this ; because the priests 
could not lay their hands upon all the people, they 
lifted them up ; for in blessing they were wont to lay 
on their hands, therefore Jacob laid his hands on Jo- 
seph's sons, -f There was a sacerdotal, a patriarchal, 
and a parental blessing. Thus the chief of a family 
blesseth his household, 2 Sam. vi. 20, " Then David 
returned to bless his household;" which was by prayer, 
and in the name of the Lord, pronouncing a blessing 
upon his family; not as a priest, nor as a prophet 
only but as a governor of his household, which the 
meanest householder may, and should do. 

* Weemse's Christian Syn. p. 311. + Gen. xlviii. 17- 

CHAP, iir 


The second thing proposed is, to bring forward proof 
of this doctrine, That householders shouki erect altars 
for the worship of God in their families. 

1. The command of God. Praj^er is a great duty 
required of all men ; the text saith, Pray without ceas- 
ing,* 1 Tliess. V. 17. This is not to be understood in 
the sense in which the Euchites or Messalians of old 
understood it, as excluding other duties, but either 
maintaining a praying disposition, or improving all 
seasons of prayer, using a constant course of pray- 
ing ; to form a custom of praying is a duty, therefore 
we are bid to watch unto prayer, as well as watch in 
prayer;! that is, be sure you observe the hours, and 
seasons of prayer, in your closet, in yoru' family, and in 
public ; be not absent ; be not negligent. Then for 
the place, 1 Tim. ii. 8, " I v/ill that men pray every 
where ;" if in all places then in their houses, and with 
their families in conjunction ; for it m^eans our common 
dwellings, as well as temples, since there is no promise 
peculiarly appropriated to one place, more than another, 
under the gospel ; for so was the prediction, " In eveiy 
place incense shall be offered to my name."; Then 
for the sorts of prayer, read Eph. vi. IS, "Praying 
always v/ith all prayer and supplication in the Spirit ;" 
that is, mental or vocal prayer ; petition for good, 

* So IMephibosheth ate bread at David's table continually, that 
is, at meal times, 2 Sam. ix. 7- So in due season is explained, as 
signifyj, ig continually. Numb, xxviii. 2, 3. 

t 1 Pet. iv. 7. Col. iv. 2. ;• John iv. 21. Mai. i. II. 


deprecation of evil, intercession for others, thanks- 
giving for mercies ; in public assemblies, in private 
houses, in secret closets. Certainly these kinds of 
prayer are necessarily included; and by good conse- 
quence inferred. Let none say, this is far fetched, for 
scripture consequence is good argument, as our Sa- 
viour proves the resurrection.* If prayer at all times, 
in all places, of all sorts, be a duty, surely family pray- 
er is a duty, for it must be included in these. 

2. Scripture types show the obligation of family 
worship. The passover was celebrated in private 
houses, Exod. xii. 3, " They shall take to them every 
man a lamb — a lamb for a house," that is, household, 
ver. 4. For the Hebrews say there must be ten, if one 
family was not sufficient, they must call in the mem- 
bers of another family ; for it must all be eaten at 
once. The passover was a commemoration of the de- 
liverance of Israel out of Egypt, and the saving of 
their first-born, when the first-born of Egypt were 
destroyed. The master of the family took bread, and 
brake it, hence he was called a breaker ; then he bless- 
ed it, saying. Blessed art thou, O Lord God, King of the 
world, who bringest bread out of the earth ; then gave 
to every one about the quantity of an olive, to some the 
bigness of an egg. This, saith Weemse, was at their 
common supper with which the passover was joined ;f 
and doubtless religion should always attend our civil 
concerns. This exhibits family devotion ; let none say, 
this was their sacrament; for though it was, yet 
it was family religion ; and though it typified the 
Lord Jesus, and corresponded to the Lord's supper in 
the new testament, which is a church ordinance ; yet 

* IMatt- xxii. 29, 22. 

t Weemse's Christian Syn. pag. 132, whether there were two 
suppers or not. See Godwin, IMoses and Aaron, lib. iii. c. 4. p. 1137- 


it also held forth God's worship in families. But a 
clearer type is the morning and evening sacrifice ; one 
lamb was to be offered in the morning, the other in the 
evening ; this must be day by day, continually, Exod. 
xxix. 38, 39. This was for every individual family, 
and person, and it must be every day, not only on 
Sabbath days, and other solemnities, but it shews that 
God must be daily worshipped ; yes, it must be morn- 
ing and evening, that prayer and praise may be the 
lock and key of the day. And David alludes to this, 
saying, " My voice shalt thou hear in the morning ; 
and let my prayer be set before thee as incense, and 
the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice."* 
This was constantly practised, but solemnly ; yet we 
do not find that the whole assembly met every day, 
therefore it was most probably, a family exercise. 

3. Natural religion prompts to it. There is cer- 
tainly such a thing as the law and light of nature, 
which puts men on to what is morally good, and re- 
strains them from, or checks them for, what is grossly 
evil ; hence the apostle saith, " The Gentiles do by 
nature some things materially good, and natural con- 
science accuseth or excuseth ;"f so he appealeth to 
nature, as an argument, a fortiori ; " Doth not even 
nature itself teach you ?" + Whence these Koivai twom, 
common workings proceed, I dispute not, whether 
from some relics of God's image in man, (which some 
censure as Pelagianism,) or they be superinduced by 
God since the fall for the benefit of mankind. || But 
doubtless such notions there are, as that there is a God, 
a supreme Being; that he is to be feared, loved, and wor- 
shipped ; and that not only individually, but socially, 
in families as well as alone, or in greater assemblies ; 

* Psalm V. 4. cxli. 2. f Rom. ii. 14, 15. % 1 Cor. xi. 14. 
II See I\Ir. Capel on Temptation. 


hence besides their national, and city gods, the Romans 
had their Lares and Penates, their household gods, 
though, alas, they were but dumb idols ; hence it may 
be, idolatrous Micah had a house of gods;* and shall 
poor dim-sighted heathens think it highly rational to 
have dunghill gods in their houses? and shall not 
men professing the religion of the true God, own their 
omnipresent God, by setting up an altar to him in 
their houses? the prophet speaks peremptorily, Mic. 
iv. 5, " All people will walk every one in the name of 
his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our 
God, for ever and ever." Is there not much more rea- 
son ? and should not such as own the true God keep 
pace with these poor idolaters in acting for, and wor- 
shipping the true God? shall nature teach them to 
have more care of their children than Christians in 
God's way ? Yea, shall even the sea monsters, draw out 
their breasts and give suck to their young ones ?f and 
shall Christians be so cruel to the souls of theirs, as to 
neglect this household duty. 

4. The prophecies and promises of the word imply 
this family worship: Jer. xxxi. 1, "At the same time, 
saith the Lord, will I be the God of all the families of 
Israel ; and they shall be my people." Whether this 
mean all the twelve tribes, or Judah only, it is a gos- 
pel promise, and implies worship ; for relation to God 
is inseparable from adoration of him ; " Thou shalt 
worship the Lord thy God ;"| and this in families, not 
only larger, but lesser. Holiness to the Lord, is not 
only to be written on the bells of the horses, but the 

• Judg. xvii. 5. t Lam. iv. 3. 

+ Matt. iv. 10. Putatis nos occultare quod colimus, si delubra 
et aras non habemus — cum sic litabilis hostia boniis animus et 
pura mens, ut sincera conscientia — haec nostra sacrificia, haec Dei 
sacra sunt ; sic apud nos religiosior est ille, qui castior. — Minucii 


pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before 
the altar ; that is, their very kitchen stuff, and common 
utensils shall be reckoned as holy as altar vessels im- 
mediately employed in sacrifices ; yea further, every 
pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be " holiness to 
the Lord of hosts," Zech. xiv. 20, 21. The persons and 
utensils in private shall all be dedicated to God, and 
accepted by him in gospel times ; civilities shall savour 
of sanctity ; these new testament priests shall without 
scruple, serve God in their houses ; every family shall 
be a temple, wherein God will be worshipped ; house 
pots shall be holy vessels. This is meant of Gentile 
worshippers, ver. 16 ; and Jews shall not be behind 
them, Zech. xii. 12 — 14, " The land shall mourn, every 
family apart," in the Hebrew, J'a7?iilies, Jr/milies, royal 
family, sacerdotal tribe, and common people; they shall 
mourn apart, and shut up themselves apart from comjjany 
and pleasures to exercise godly sorrow, vent their spirits 
in penitent prayers, and mournful groans for their "bar- 
barous crucifying of the Prince of Life. This some from 
all places did at Jerusalem, Acts ii; and more shall do 
it the day of their general call and conversion to God. 
5. The servants of God have practised it. You can 
scarce name a religious householder, but he hath set 
up an altar in his family, and offered spiritual sacri- 
fices thereupon. Joshua a noble warrior resolves up- 
on this, chap. xxiv. 15, "But as for me, and my 
house, we will serve the Lord ; " let others do as 
they dare answer it another day, I with my chil- 
dren and servants must and will worship the Lord. 
Worshipping God is serving him, Psal. Ixxii. 11, "All 
kings shall fall down before him ; all nations shall 
serve him,"* that is, by calling on God in prayer; 
doubtless Joshua did this. David a great king, in the 

* Zeph. iii. 9. 


midst of political and eccelesiastical employments with- 
draws himself from all, and returns to bless his house,* 
S Sam. vi 20, which could be no other way but by 
prayer, and praising God for and with his family. 
Public occasions must not justle out this family-wor- 
shipping. Job rose up early in the morning, offered 
burnt-offerings, sanctified the members of his family, 
and, lest it be thought that this was but occasional and 
accidental, the text saith, " Thus did Job continually," 
chap. i. 5. And when Daniel went into his house, and 
his windows were open in his chamber or dining-room, 
his usual oratory, and when he kneeled upon his knees 
three times a day, and prayed ;| good expositors judge 
this to be family-prayer, being so obvious and discern- 
ible by his adversaries. However, that devout cap- 
tain Cornelius, who feared God with all his house, 
prayed to God with his family. Acts x. 2, which he 
declares, saying, " I prayed in my house," ver. 30. 
Calvin observes, " That Cornelius instructs his family in 
the fear of God, contemning the fear of danger ; for, 
the Jewish religion was then hateful, nor might a 
Roman espouse a strange religion ; wherefore, although 
the sincere profession of the gospel is much decayed in 
the world, yet that fearfulness is too criminal, if on 
account of such unjust hatred, any one should not dare 
to dedicate or present his family as a sacrifice to God, 
by his pious instructions."^ Thus Calvin. 

* 1 Chron. xvi. 43. t Dan. vi. 10. 

X Nee omittencia est circumstantia, quod familiam in Dei timore 
institiiit, contempto periculi metu, quod incle instabat ; valde enim 
exosa erat Judaica religio ; nee impune erat civi Romano, pere- 
grinam, ut voeabant, religionem suscipere. Quare etsi hodie, 
pessime in mvuido audit sincera evangelii professio, tamen nimis 
vitiosa est timiditas, si quern impediat injustum istud odium, ne 
suam familiam Deo audeat in sacrifieium sua pia institutione 
ofFerre. — Fid. Culv. in Act. 10. 2. 


6. Another argument for a family-altar is, that the 
providence of God calls for it : " God setteth the soli- 
tary in families," Psal. Ixviii. 6. There is certainly a 
signal act of divine care in disposing men and women's 
affections to each other ; to make a barren woman to 
keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children : it 
was God that made houses for the God-fearing mid- 
wives. The Lord made Rachel and Leah to build the 
house of Israel : and why doth God make his David's 
a sure house ?* Why doth God give servants ? Is it 
only to gratify the flesh, or a fancy ? Is it only for 
worldly profit? Is it not for religion's sake? Has Grod 
no higher end than most men have for worldly advan- 
tages or pleasure ? Surely God puts persons into this 
relation for himself, who is the grand end of all his 
acts. He hath made all things for himself, f Should 
men then live like heathens and brutes ? Do they not 
thereby counteract God's design ? Doth God give 
wives and children to them that fear him, and doth he 
not expect that they should fear and serve him toge- 
ther ?l If children be God's heritage, why should not 
we present 4;hem to the Lord upon our knees? If* 
they be God's reward to us, why should we not give 
them again to God as our best reward ?|1 If families 
are societies of divine institution, do they not need 
divine benediction ? Should not persons carry on reli- 
gion in a relative capacity ? Yes, surely. "When God 
sanctifies this relation by his appointment, should not 
men sanctify his name by setting up his ordinances ? 
there is great reason for it : for every thing is sanc- 
tified by the word of God and prayer. J God's word 
to warrant our lawful use thereof, prayer for our holy 

* Psal. cxiii. 9. Exod. i. 21. Ruth. iv. 11. 2 Sam. vii. 11. 
t Prov. xvi. 4. I Psal. cxxviii. 3, 4. tl P^al. cxxvii. 3. 

§ 1 Tim. iv. 5. 


and profitable use thereof. As men without both 
these cross God's design, so they have no due use of 
this sweet domestic constitution and relation. 

7. This family-altar distinguisheth betwixt religious 
and profane families ; this is one discriminating cha- 
racteristic, the one calls on God, the other not : this is 
as the altar Ed, to testify to all the world a solemn 
owning of the true God. On the contrary, wicked 
persons are thus described, Devit. xxix. 1 8, " Lest there 
sliould be amongst you, man or woman, or family, or 
tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the 
Lord our God." Mind it, families in their domestic 
capacity, as well as in a personal, or national capacity 
may be alienated from God, and may have a root that 
beareth gall and wormwood, then see what follows : 
this is that which makes evil families, when instead of 
praying, reading scriptures, singing psalms, there is 
cursing, swearing, mocking at serious godliness, vain 
or profane talk, at least only worldly discourse.* But 
religious families are such as maintain God's worshij) 
according to God's institution, where the daily perfume 
t)f prayer ascends heavenwards. Mr. Fenner preaching 
at the funeral of a pious old man, disabled from work, 
and daily going among his friends for relief, saith, " O 
how much better was that poor cottage where lie lived, 
whence the incense of prayer and praise mounted daily 
upwards ; than the sumptuous palaces of princes and 
nobles, where oaths and blasphemies are belched out !" 
It was an appointment among the Jews and proselytes, 
that every family, province and city, should observe 
the feast of Purim, as a memorial of their deliverance 
from Haman's conspiracy ; f and is there not as much 
reason that Christian families should celebrate the 
great work of redemption amongst them? Justin 
* Jer. viii. 3. t Esth. ix. 27, 28. 

320 A Family ai.tak. 

Martyi' tells us, that amongst the other characters of 
primitive Christians this was one, that they prayed 
fasting, before they connnenced any work.* And 
having described the godly manners of ancient Chris- 
tians, he adds, whoever live not as Christ taught, it is 
certain that they are not Christians, though they may 
profess it in words, f 

8. Christian families are churches, and churches 
must have altars for God's worship. Luke informs us 
of the primitive church, that *' they continued stedfastly 
in the apostles' doctrine, and fellowship, and in break- 
ing of bread, and in prayer," Acts ii. 42. Breaking 
bread in the Lord's supper, is a public church ordin- 
ance, the other are also common to families, as well as 
christian assemblies. Families consist of individual 
persons, congregations of families, and the catholic 
churches of particular societies ; and families may par- 
take of the name, and must of the nature of churches.:}: 
What is a church but a religious society gathered for 
God's worship ? The church was limited to families 
in the first ages of the world ; thence it spread itself 
by divine grace into many streams, all proceeding 
from one spring as branches from one root, till the 
church became national. But families were the first 
original. Nor doth family religion cease when public 
assemblies are formed, Gen. iv. 26, " Then began men 
to call upon the name of the Lord."|l This text hath 

• Just. iVIart. Apol. Christ, ad Ant. Pium. 

t At enim qui non ita vivere comperiuntur sicut ille docuit, 
certum est documentum non esse Cliristianos, quamvis id lingua 

* Istae enim congregationes sunt quasi partes similares ecclesiae 
catholics, atque adeo, et nomen et naturam ejus participant. — 
Ames. Med. Theo. lib. 1. c. 32. 

II Diu me tor sit hie lotus, et etiamnum torquet. — Vid. PoL 
Crit. in locum. 


tortured interpreters ; but this is clear, that calling 
on God's name is part of God's worship; that this 
piety was maintained in Seth's particular family ; and 
possibly, in a little time men began more publicly to 
own God's worship when others did degenerate;* and 
hence the sons of God and of men were thereby dis- 
tinguished; which confirms the former argument. But 
this is what I now say, that families are to be as 
churches. And some interpret those places, Rom. xvi. 
5, " Greet the church in their house," and " church in 
thine house,"f to be no more than a private family. 
Grotius takes it for a domestic church, and saith, that 
three persons, though laymen, make a church.:]: Now 
wheret here is a house for God, it is a house of prayer. 
That is no church where there is no altar to God, but 
it is a synagogue of Satan. ^Ve cannot call every 
family a church, but a christian pious family ; and it 
is so called by the analogy or resemblance it bears to a 
church, from the worship of God maintained therein. 
So then, without God's worship in your houses, you 
are not churches, and so not members of Christ, or 
of the catholic church of God ; but in that respect as 

9. Householders have a charge upon their hands, 
which they must give an account of, and opportunity 
to discharge this trust. Governors are charged with 
their families ; hence the fourth commandment is given 
to them chiefly, that they should take care that their 
family should keep the Sabbath day : and hence the 
fifth command also is given to inferiors to obey their 
governors. || Yea, therefore are parents rewarded or 
punished in their children, according to the second 
commandment ; because governors must account for 

• Gen. vi. 2. t Col. iv. 15. Phllem. 2. 

+ Ubi tres, licet laici, ibi ecclesia est. || Exod. xx. 8 — 12. 


tlieir inferiors. God even orders householders to bring" 
all under their roof, to the feast of weeks, with their 
free-will-offerings, Deut. xvi. 10, 11 ; and the feast of 
tnbernacles, ver. 13, 14. Also, they were to bring their 
males yearly, three times in the year, ver. 16. And it 
is not for nothing that householders have this charge 
l;iid on them, because they have greater authority, and 
opportunity to bring them together for God's public 
worship in the family ; for they may call them together 
upon natural and civil accounts, to eat, and to work, 
and why not to pray together? their command is a 
law. A master may say, " Give an account of thy 
stewarship,"* and why not of such a sermon ? They 
niay demand an account of their time and talents com- 
mitted to their trust, and why not a reason of their 
hope, and an account of their ])iety or proficiency ? 
AViiy not call them to prayer? and indeed it is a debt 
due to men's children and servants. This is implied in 
Col. iv. 1, 2, " Masters give unto your servants that 
which is just and equal — " presently he adds, " con- 
tinue in prayer ;" intimating that prayer for, and with 
servants, is just and equal both upon their own and 
servants' account ; it is as due as tlieir promised wages. 
God makes masters as truly watchmen as ministers, 
and if they fail, God will require their blood at their 
hand.f Besides the advantages and conveniency of 
frequent intercourse, capacitates governors for this 
solemn exercise ; and God will require an account of all 
tliese talents another day. 

1 0. There are daily cases, occasions, and necessities 
that require families, to be presented to the Lord. 
There are family sins to be confessed, w^ants to be 
enumerated, mercies to be desired, cares and crosses to 
be removed, fears to be prevented, temptations to be 

• Luke xvi. 2. f Ezek. ill. 18. 


resisted, duties to be performed, graces to be exercised, 
peace to be maintained or regained, passions to be 
suppressed, mercies to be acknowledged ; and all these 
must be laid at God's feet in daily prayer. That is a 
rare family which hath not some prodigal son, or carnal 
soul, as a member of it ; some body sick in it, or some 
child to dispose of in marriage, or to employ in some 
occupation ; some doubts or difficulties that call for 
prayer, wherein the whole family is concerned ; or if 
there be no such- exigency at present, yet who knows 
how soon any of these, or all these may light upon a 
family ? and what remedy is there like family prayer ? 
Phil. iv. 6, " Be careful in nothing, but in every thing 
by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your 
requests be made known unto God." This is a catholicon, 
a cure for all diseases, a salve for every sore. We find 
that when God afflicted Abiraelech's family, Abraham 
prayed unto Gcd, and God healed him, his wife, and 
maid servants, and they bare children. A Pharaoh 
will beg Moses's prayers for him in his affliction ;* and 
oh what a woful state is that family in, which hath no 
body to speak a word to God for it, and with it, in 
domestic troubles ! a child lies groaning, and the fa- 
ther cannot groan out a prayer ; a servant is at the 
point of death, and the master hath no skill or dis- 
position to bring him to Jesus for cure. Alas ! that 
any should be so insensible of their wants, so ignorant 
of the means relief, or distrustful of the power of God, 
or efficacy of prayer. No family is above wants, 
therefore none should be without prayer ; for prayer 
risetli from a sense of v/ants, which no person or family 
is without, either less or more, either in reality or in 
our perception.! 

• Gen. XX. 17, 18. Exod. ix. 28. 

i" Deest semper quod petitur, vel ex toto, vol ex parte, vel in 
Y 2 


11. The blessing of God usually attends family- 
altars : not as thougli God were tied to religious fa- 
milies, as heathens chained their idols, or as Eli's sons 
fancied God's presence necessarily attended the ark ; 
but God usually visits pious fiiniilies : scripture and 
experience testify this, " He will bless the house of 
Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron ; he will bless 
them that fear the Lord both small and great ;" that is, 
proselytes, Gentiles, converts. "The voice of rejoicing 
and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous :"* 
our Lord loves to converse, where his children inhabit; 
it is true, he prefers pvibiic assemblies ; " The Lord 
loveth the gates of Zion, more than all the dwellings 
of Jacob."! God loves to see his children together in 
his public worship. The greater the solemnity, if 
good, the more of God's Spirit and presence : but God 
doth not despise his children seeking him in families ; 
when devout David sings of mercy and judgment to 
God, and behaves himself wisely in a perfect way, he 
cries out, "O when wilt thou come unto me?":j: God's 
kind visits are worth the world, whether by way of 
providence, assistance, influence, or evidence. How 
often have God's children met with God in their fami- 
lies ? Abraham had a promise of a child ; Cornelius 
liad a glorious vision of a holy angel ; and our Lord 
came to Jairus's house, to raise his dead daughter. j| 
How often hath God answered family-prayer ? Even 
at present, by melting the hearts of children or ser- 
vants ! And afterwards : it is recorded of Mr. Banen, 
of Stepleford, that he seldom performed family-duty, 
but he had some answers of prayer to bless God for, 

sese, vel in sensu nostro, vel denique quoad actum, vel quoad con- 
tinuatam ejus durationem. — Ames. Med. Theol. lib. ii. cap. 8. 

• Psal. cxv. 12, 13. cxviii. 15. t Psal. Ixxxvii. 2. 

t Psal. ci. 1, 2. 11 Gen. xviii. 10. Acts x. 3. Luke viii. 41, 51. 


since the former time of aj)peariiig there before God. 
It is a remarkable story that Polaiius relates of an 
earthquake in the year 1584, in Berne, when a mountain 
violently hurried beyond other mountains, overturned 
a whole village of ninety houses and families, except- 
ing half of one house, in which the father of the fa- 
mily, with his wife and children, were prostrate on 
their knees praying.* So true is that expression of 
Solomon, Prov. xii. 7, " The wicked are overthrown 
and are not, but the house of the righteous shall 
stand;" God blessed the habitation of the just.f He 
thinks fit sometimes to distinguish by liis wise provi- 
dence between the houses of the Israelites and Egyp- 
tians. ± And experience doth daily show that the house 
is blessed where God is sincerely worshipped, as the 
Lord blessed the house* of Obed-Edom, and his house- 
hold, for receiving the ark, 2 Sam. vi. 11. 

12. On the contrary, God curseth prayerless families. 
That is a prophecy as well as a i)rayer, Jer. x. 25, 
" Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee 
not, and upon the families that call not on thy name." 
It is a dreadful prediction ; for the wrath threatened, 
is not ordinary displeasure, but fury ; anger boiled up 
to the highest degree of revenge ; anger and fury are 
sometimes joined, and " when God deals in fury his 
eyes spare not, neither hath he pity ;" || this is dread- 
ful. And here also is the measure of it, " Pour out 
thy fury ;" this denotes ])lenty, abundance, variety of 
sore judgments, not one or two, but multitudes of 

* Anno autem lo84, terras motu mons quidam in ditione Ber- 
natum ultra alias montes violenter latus, pa^um quendam nona- 
ginta familias habentem contexit totum, dimidia domi excepta in 
qua paterfamilias cum uxore et liberis in genua provolutus Deum 
invocabat. — Tolani S'/ntag. cap. 22. Jbl. 301. 

t Prov. iii. 33. i Exod. xii. 13. ' 11 Jer. vii. 20. Ezek. viii. 18. 


plagues, like drops in a shower, or as flood-gates opened 
or a general inundation, spreading itself universally, 
poured out on children, young men, husband and wife, 
the aged with him that is full of days.* O what would 
become of England if this fury were as imiversal as 
the neglect of family duty !f This fury is also irresist- 
ible; it is like a descent from above, which can no more 
be stopped and avoided than the showers of rain ; ^ 
there is no stopping those cataracts of heaven, no 
quenching this fire of fierce wrath against irreligious 
families, when the Lord renders his anger with fury, 
and his rebuke v/ith flames of fire. j| But what is all 
this for ? what nieaneth the heat of this great anger ? 
is it for idolatry, murder, drunkenness, blasphemy, or 
for some horrible, heinous crimes ? no, it is for sins of 
omission, not knowing God, not calling on God's 
name. O miserable families where religion is not ex- 
ercised, there these threatenings must be executed ! 

Object But we see no such thing ; prayerless families 
flourish, live joyously, have all things at command, 
prosper more than others, their houses are safe from 
fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.^ 

I must confess this promiscuous dispensation of 
providence, where wickedness is prosperous and holi- 
ness oppressed, hath been an offence to the godly, and 
a hardening to the wicked. And David himself was 
puzzled with it, till he went into the sanctuary, then 
he understood their end, and God's end in this.^ 

But I answer, 1. Forbearance is no acquittance; a 
reprieve is no pardon. " Their foot shall slide in due 
time." God bears long with sinners for wise ends, till 
the vessels of wrath be fitted for destruction.** God 

• Jer. vi. 11. t Isa. xxxi\ . 2. t Descensus a summis in imum. 

II Isa. Ixvi. 15. § Job xxi. 7 — 13. ^ Psalm Ixxiii. 17- 
•• Deut. xxxii. 35. Rom. ix. 22. 


will be ill some men's debt till another world. They 
shall have their good things here, and torments here- 
after.* A wise man will choose his heaven hereafter, 
though he have a hell here. 

2. Yet this curse and wrath upon wicked persons 
and prayerless families are secret and invisible ; even 
in outward things, they may sow much, and bring in 
little; eat and not have enough. Yea, God curseth 
even the blessings of such as worship him not ;i- how- 
ever, they have not a covenant right to what they do 
enjoy : it is not sanctified to them for their good ; for 
the creature is sanctified by the word of God and 
prayer ;t but prayerless families have no outward 
comforts thus sanctified. Besides, thesaddest invisible 
curse is upon their souls and spirits ; a blind mind, a 
hard heart, a seared conscience, and a spirit of slumber, 
are the greatest judgments and fruits of God's heaviest 
fury, Rom. i.26— 28. 2 Tliess. ii. 10, 11. Psal. Ixxxi. 
11, 12. It is a dreadful thing, when a "Lord, have 
mercy on them," is written upon men's doors, and they 
cannot read it, will not believe it, nor lay it to heart, 
Isa. xlii. 24, 25. This is next to Pharaoh's plague, and 
next door to hell. They that will not heed now, must 
feel this fury, and in the latter days shall consider it 
perfectly, read Jer. xxiii. 19, 20. Dent. xxix. 19, 20. 

Thus much for the reasons to prove that the erect- 
ing of family altars for God's woi ship is an important 
duty. The command of God, scripture types, natural 
religion, promises, prophecies, scripture examples, di- 
vine providence, discriminating character, families be- 
ing christian churches, governors being accountable, 
the daily necessities of families, God's blessing on pray- 
ing families, his curse and wrath upon prayerless fa- 

• Luke xvi. 25. t Hag. i. 6. Mai. ii. 2. i 1 Tim. iv. 5. 



But there is no truth so plain, no duty so good, but 
Satan can furnish a witty head, and wicked heart with 
plausible arguments against it. And it is strange if 
men have not something to say against this duty, 
which apparently tends to undermine Satan's king- 

Ohject. 1. Had family prayer been a duty, we had 
found it expressly commanded in scripture, but we find 
it not in any express precept. 

Ans. (1.) Where find you infant baptism expressly 
commanded in the new testament ? yet it is plain by 
necessary consequence, so is this. Circumcision was 
commanded, there is the like reason for baptism, both 
are plain to all but wayward spirits. I hinted before that 
regular consequence is strong argument. 

(2.) Let not proud reason dictate to the wise God 
how he must speak. General rules laid down in scrip- 
ture are to be applied to particular cases, according to 
circumstances. If God say, men must provide for their 
families, he leaves it to their discretion, what kind of 
meat, clothes, lodgings, or callings they provide. God 
bids us pray without ceasing, in all places, in every kind 
of prayer, and leaves it to prudence for particular 
places, times, words, and associates, so that it answer 
the main end of God's glory, communion with him, 
and edification. Let not captious wits raise disputes 
. to make void the substance of a duty, because the cir- 
cumstance is not expressed. God gives la\rs to rational 
creatures, and indulgeth us so far as to leave us to our 


liberty in mutable circumstances, except expressly pre- 

Object. 2. Jesus Christ prayed not with his family, 
yet he is the best pattern : if he had prayed with them 
constantly, they would have learned from him, but 
they wanted to be taught, Luke xi. 1. 

Aiis. (1.) Christ's case and ours are far different; 
what was suitable to his disciples, was not proper for 
him ; he needed not for himself to confess sin, ask 
forgiveness, beg mortification, increase of grace or as- 
surance : so that it was not necessary that he should 
ordinarily be their mouth. 

(2.) Yet scripture silence is no good argument. And 
their desire of instruction in prayer is no proof that he 
prayed not with them ; for prayer is a personal duty, 
and our Lord could not be always with them. And 
yet we find our Lord did occasionally pray with his 
family : in expressing gratitude. Matt. xi. 25, 26 ; on 
working miracles, Matt. xiv. 19 ; at the holy supper, 
Luke xxii. 19 ; and we have his long and last prayer 
uttered with his disciples, John xvii. In all which he 
spake what was proper to him as God-man, and our 
mediator ; and herein he is an excellent pattern to all 

Object. 3. " The sacrifice of the wicked, (and so his 
prayer) is an abomination to the Lord."* How can 
you then direct them to pray when most of them are 

Ans. (1.) God loseth not his authority to command, 
because man hath lost liis capacity to obey; it is his 
duty still, though he cannot perform it in such a due 
manner as God requires. He is bound to pray as a 
creature though he cannot do it as a child : better do 
it as men can, than not do it at all ; prayer is a natural 
* Prov. XV. 8. 


duty. The Niiievites must cry aloud, and miglitily 
to God, and it was not in vain :* Simon Peter bids 
Simon Magus pray, though in the gall of bitterness.f 

(2.) We must distinguish betwixt a wilful and a 
returning sinner : we bid not a thief pray that he may 
meet with a booty, that is abominable; or men "re- 
garding iniquity in their hearts :" but in a complex 
sense we bid them " turn from their evil ways, and so 
pray."t Prayer must be joined with repentance; as 
prayer is a means of carrying the heart to God in 
worship, so it is a means to obtain grace. || Prayer is 
the soul's motion God-ward, desire is the soul of 
prayer, and who dares to say to the wicked, desire not 
God, Christ, faith ? By praying, men may learn to 
pray aright, " for God gives his holy Spirit to them 
that ask him."$ 

Object. 4. There are wicked childi-en or servants in 
the family, how dare we join with them ? For whose 
sake God may justly reject us. 

Answ. (1.) If the praying governor be a really reli- 
gious character and pray aright, he need not fear non- 
acceptance : Christ was heard in his prayer, though 
Judas was present. "NMiat think you of poor minis- 
ters' prayers in mixed congregations ? ^ certainly the 
presence of unworthy persons prejudiceth not the re- 
ception of sincere worshippers. 

(2.) Prayer is God's institution to make bad good, 
some have been much wrought upon by prayers of 
others, God in time heard Stephen for Paul, if it 
advantaged not at present. Mr. Weemse said of Mr. 
Bruce, he brought down the Holy Ghost upon us all. 
Deny them not this means of conversion. 

* Jonah iii. 8. t Acts viil. 22. % Psal. Ixvi. 18. Isa. Iv. Q, 7- 
11 ^Medium cultus, so it is medium gvatiae. § LiJce xi. 13. 

II Acts xxvii. 35. 


Object. 5. This setting up of a family-altar for such 
constant prayer savours of forms, and will fill the 
country with foraialists and hypocrites. 

A/i6'w. (1.) Forms in themselves as forms are not 
condemned, but forms only, wanting the power of 
godliness, 2 Tim. iii. 5. Our business is not to make 
hypocrites but converts : by form is meant a mask, 
vizor, or appearance opposed to substance and reality. 
But we persuade and direct to sincerity, as to principle, 
manner and end of religious exercises. 

(2.) But a form, of godliness is better than none at 
all : men cannot have the power of godliness without 
the form, no more than you can have the kernel with- 
out the shell. He that prays doth something towards 
duty, but he that refuseth to worship God at all, bids 
open defiance to God's commanding authority, and 
saith, I scorn to bow so much as a knee to God in 
prayer. This is a presumptuous sin: " The wicked 
through the pride of his heart will not seek after 
God."* Let him answer it as he dare. The text 
saith, 1 Tim. iv. 8, " Bodily exercise profiteth little," 
vpog oXiyov for a little, that is, for a little time; or for 
a little, that is, in some outward respects, as in Ahab's 
fasting though it reach not so far as the eternal salva- 
tion of the immortal soul :f however this is better than 
a total neglect. 

Object. 6. But such kind of praying morning and 
evening is a stinting of the Spirit, a limiting of God 
to man's time, when the Spirit moves not to it. 

Arisw. (1.) Christ and his apostles had set times for 
prayer ; Jesus oft times resorted to the garden, Judas 
knew his stated hour and place, John xviii. 2. " And 
the apostles had an hour of prayer," Acts iii. 1 . Was 
this stinting the Spirit? Indeed this objection is 
* Psalm X. 4. t 1 Kings xxi. 29. 


levelled against preaching, singing, the Lord's supper, 
and all stated ordinances, how do men know that the 
Spirit will move at such a season ? 

(2.) It is one thing to stint, another to lie in the 
way of the Spirit : men are bound to wait at the posts 
of wisdom's doors, and are blessed, and in the road 
of fiu'ther blessing ; * for the wind of the Spirit blow- 
eth where and when it listethif and nobody will say 
he limits the wind who waits in the haven for a 
fair gale to waft him forward. Besides, God expects 
that men should stir up themselves to take hold of 
him.t Self-excitation is God's appointment to get the 
heart into a good frame. How often doth David begin 
low and end high ? We must stir up the gift of God 
in oiu* hearts, il A dead, dull, senseless heart is no 
supersedeas from duty: omission upon indisposition 
doth but harden the heart, indispose still more for duty, 
and gratify Satan, yea, and displease God. 

Object. 7. This family-prayer is but a singular in- 
vention of brain-sick novellists, not used of old, and is 
more ado than needs. 

Answ. (1.) In scripture-times it was used, and in 
the purest primitive times. Basil saith, that Chris- 
tians made haste to prayers by day-break in the 
morning:^ Chrysostom saith we go not from table 
to bed, but to prayers, lest we be more brutish than 
brutes. It were easy to produce instances from 
Cyprian, Augustin, &c. of early Christians being fre- 
quent in prayers. You will say, but these were the 
prayers of churches? I answer : churches were mostly 
then in houses, yet some instances prove also daily fa- 
mily prayer : and godly persons in all ages have used it. 

(2.) Can men be too devout ? Doth not our Lord 

* Prov. viii. 34. t John iii. 8. X IscO. Ixiv. 7- |1 2 Tim. i. 6. 
§ i\Iane orto dicj in precationes properare. 


say, " One thing is needful ; seek first the kingdom of 
God ; thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy 
heart, mind, and strength."* Can you do too much for 
God? Can you be too oft with God? Alas! you 
cannot be over nnich righteous in the internal exercises 
of religion :t no, nor the external, as long as you keep 
to commanded duties, and one duty does not cross ano- 
ther: nay, when we have done all that is commanded, 
still we are unprofitable servants;^ we have but done 
our duty. It was Judas that said, " wherefore is 
this waste?" II Pious souls still complain of defects. 
Whom have you heard complain on their death-bed 
that they had served God too much, or been too reli- 
gious ? 

Object. 8. They are no better than others that pray 
in their families; they can lie, cheat, be covetous, 
proud, passionate, censorious, and hard-hearted. 

Answ. (1.) Take heed what you say; act not the 
devil's part, to be false-accusers, taking up a false 
report, or without proof. It is well known, that now- 
a-days, if persons be strict and serious in religious 
duties, many pick quarrels with them, take advantage 
against them, aggravate their faults; these men's motes 
are beams, yea mountains ; this sect is every where 
spoken against ;§ there needs no further jury to try 
them ; but if they be praying persons, they are hypo- 
crites, as if piety were a characteristic of hypocrisy. 
The Lord rebuke thee, O diabolist ! judge charitably 
till you know the truth ; you may wrong them, as 
primitive Christians were wronged. 

(2.) Suppose they do transgress and miscarry ; alas ! 
they are but men. Thus the angel excused honest 
Joshua, when Satan accused him : " Is not this a brand 

* Luke X. 42. ]\ratt. vi. 33. xxii. 37- t Eccles. vii. 16. 

X Luke xvii. 10. || John xii. 3 — 5. § Acts xxviii. 22. 


plucked out of the fire?"* Alas ! he smells of Babylon 
too much ; but may not such be upright for the main? 
and how will God take it if you slander his children? 
But suppose it be true that they are faulty, doth their 
reli<^ion teach them so? Is this the fault of their 
praying, or not praying aright ? Is it because they 
are too religious, or defective in it ? No, say you, they 
are hypocrites ; but if they who are so devout prove 
so, what will become of you, that are so far short of 
them ? If the righteous scarcely be saved, where 
shall you appear ?f 

Object. 9. ^Ve pray in public and secret, is not that 
sufficient ? what needs family-prayer too ? surely God 
never required so much a-do. 

Answ. (1.) One duty cannot supersede another: these 
are distinct parts of the same duty. Religion must be car- 
ried on in all places and relative circumstances; husband 
and wife must pray together ; \ and even neighbours 
must call to each other, and say, come, come, let us go 
speedily to pray before the Lord.|| Think not then 
to put off God with one sort of religiousness, you 
must be holy in all manner of conversation, in every 
turn, turn you which way you will, to your general or 
particular calling, to a single or married state, to soli- 
tariness or company ;^ you must still take your reli- 
gion with you, and practise it as a member of a church 
or family. 

(2.) It is very doubtful whether those worship God 
sincerely in public, or at all in their closets, who wor- 
ship not God in and with their families. It was the 
saying of Lactantius, " that is no true religion which 
men leave behind them at chiu'ch."^ Men may make 

* Zech. iii. 2. + 1 Pet iv. 18. t 1 Pet. iii. 7. 

II Zech. viii. 21. § 1 Pet. i. 15. Ep Trao-y cn'OTr^o^y. 

IT Non est vera religio qiue cum templo relinquitur. 


a shift to serve God as others do, at church, for vain- 
glory, or ostentation, and pretend secret prayer merely 
for an evasion ; but faniily-prayer will try whether 
they worship God sincerely or not : men see the former, 
but know not the latter. 

Object 10. None of my neighbours use it, if I pray 
in my family I shall be singular. 

Answ. (1.) Wouldst thou choose rather to follow a 
multitude in evil to hell, than travel with a few to 
heaven ? * Our Lord saith, " What do you more than 
others ?"f Or what singular thing do you? Are you 
content to fare as the most fare? Will you rush 
with the herd into the deep, and perish for company's 
sake ? Is that good-fellowship which ends in the sad 
reckoning another day ? Christ's flock is a little flock. 
But read Matt. vii. 13, 14, and consider whether you 
will choose. 

(2.) If you have not the greater, you have the better 
company to travel with. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and 
all the holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, 
ministers, confessors, Christians, have all travelled in 
this road : " For this shall every one that is godly pray 
unto thee."t Methinks you should rather choose to 
be companions of the excellent, whom God will own 
when he makes up his jewels ;1| than those atheists that 
say, it is in vain to serve God. 

Object. 11. But I know some strict professors that 
use not to pray in their families, nay, that plead 
against it. 

Ans. (1.) That is no part or evidence of their good- 
ness. I deny not but some godly j^ersons may for a 
season live in the omission of some duties, either 
through want of information, or their own sloth, or 

* Exod. xxiii. 2. + Matt. v. 47- 

X Psal. xxxii. 6. || Psal. xvi. 3. Mai. iii. 14, 17- 


through false teachers, and the power of delusion ; this 
is a temptation, but free grace will recover them, and 
the new nature within them will incline them to their 
duty, when they are convinced of it, and when they 
come to themselves. 

(2.) Some professors, however, seem good that are 
not so ; they may have a name to live, and yet be 
dead;* all is not gold that glitters; men may have 
the face, but not the frame or heart of Christians. 
How many make a fair show in the flesh, and account 
themselves the only saints, and are so esteemed by 
others, but are not owned by the Lord Pf the com- 
plexion of a saint is one thing, but the constitution of 
a child of God is another. Some notionists spread 
their sails, and think themselves wronged if they be 
not called the godly party ; but herein they are proved 
rotten, by casting off some precious truths and necessary 
duties ; imitate such at your peril ; a sincere saint 
hath respect to all God's commandments. ^ 

Ghject. 12. We have scoffers in our families, that 
will withdraw, and not join, but mock ; it may be a 
son, or wife will be doing something else at that time, 
and this will breed confusion, and do hurt. 

Alls. (1.) But who is master, thou or they? If 
thou hast lost thy governing power, be ashamed of it, 
and resume thy authority. Whose cause dost thou 
manage, God's, or the devil's ? If the cause be God's, 
in the name and strength of God own it, and he will 
stand by thee ; fear not man in the way of duty. It 
was thy carelessness to join thyself to an untamed 
heifer, or to admit an unruly servant into thy family ; 
add not rebellion to that sin ; be humbled, and reform. 
(2.) Had never any of God's children profane individuals 
in their family ? Abraham had a persecuting Ishmael ; 

• Rev. iii. 1. t Gal. vi. 12. t Psalm cxix. 6. 


Isaac a profane Esau ; David a scoffing Miclial ; 
what did they ? did they give over praying ? no, they 
prayed more fervently ; " O that Ishmael may live in 
thy sight !" David was so far from ceasing his de- 
votion, that Michal's scorn was as oil to inflame 
his zeal ;* " I will yet," saith he, " be more vile than 
thus, and will be base in mine own sight ;" if they ac- 
count it sordid baseness, I account it my chief honour 
to humble myself before the Lord. And which, think 
you, is more likely to win and work upon your carnal, 
scornful relations ? a total omission, or a vigorous per- 
formance of family duty? I am sure a laborious charity 
is better than contemptuous withdrawing, and is 
usually blessed with success ; however it is a means to 
proceed in order. 

Ohject. 13. I am bashful, modest, and of weak gifts, 
and cannot venture to pray before others ; I shall but 
betray my ignorance. 

A71S. (1.) Canst thou act a master's part in other 
cases, and not in this ? who commands thy servants to 
work ? or who instructs them in their calling, or chides 
them when they displease thee ? they shall hear from 
thee if they do wrong ; and canst thou not speak to 
God before them ? Cursed is that modesty that is 
ashamed of duty. Hast thou not reason to fear Christ 
will be ashamed of thee ?f is not this for God's cause ? 
deny him at your peril, he will deny you. X 

(2.) Are not all in your family, underlings or sub- 
ordinate to you ? have not you authority over them, to 
enjoin them silence and reverence? if you have lost 
your authority by your ignorance and childishness, 
thank yourselves. " Those that honour God, he will 
honour;" but departing out of God's ways, rendei's 

* Gen. xvii. 18. 2 Sam. vi. 20—22. t Matt. x. 33. 

X 2 Tim. ii. J 2. 

338 A ta:miia' altar. 

rnen contemptible and base.* It is grace and holiness 
that must recover your credit. But I knov/ the reason 
why you will not pray: it is because j-^ou think you 
cannot do so well as others, or to get applause ; this 
is your pride. But if you would shame yourseh'es, 
and do your best, God would provide for your credit ;' 
gifts would increase. 

Object. 14. But I am poor and there is an unfeeling 
world, we work hard and cannot spare time ; I have a 
great family and charge to maintain. 

Ans. (1.) Dost not thou and thy family spend as 
much time in idle talk, sports, needless visits, sitting by 
the fire, as this would come to ? None so hard set in 
their callings, but they might redeem half an hour in 
tlie m.orning, and more at night ;-[- even though it were 
from sleep, for God's service, if they had a heart for 
God. Conscience will tell thee, thou spendest more 
time, that might be better employed ; but a heart is 

(2.) It is a usual saj^ing. Meat and matins hinder 
no work ; there is great truth in it. Prayer expedites 
business, for it obtains a blessing from God. Eliezer, 
Abraham's servant prayed, and God prospered his 
journey. You are atheists if you tliink work stands 
during prayer time; no, no, it makes whatsoever you take 
in hand to prosper, t The poor man cried to Mr. 
Carter, Sir, I work hard and fare ill, and thrive not; 
he answered, Work hard, and pray hard, and see what 
that will do. 

Object. 15. But saith tlie man who is rich and 
thriving in the world, my hands are so full of business, 
and chapmen or customers come so fast, or I have to 
go abroad in my calling, that I cannot get time for 

* 1 Sam. ii. 30. IMal. ii. 8, 9. t Eph. v. IG. i Psal. i. 3. 


A)is. (1.) I shall to tins give the same answer that 
Mr. Ignatius Jiirdan gave to a shopkeeper in London, 
accounted religious, being very busy in his shop early 
in the morning, Mr. Jiu'dan taking him aside, said, " Sir, 
I perceive you are very busy ; do you keep up the trade 
of religion in all this throng ;" he answered, " I hope I 
do ;" Aye, but saith he, " do you visit God in your closet 
and family, morning and evening ?" he replied, '* In 
the evening, I pray constantly with my family, but in 
the morning, sometimes customers come and hinder 
us;" Mr. Jurdan said, "I tell you, I would throw 
these goods into the channel, or set fire to them, rather 
than they should hinder me in my course of devotion, 
or in the way to heaven." So say I ; sirs, do you prize 
gain above godliness ? then you are none of God's ser- 
vants, but the world's slaves. Say not, it is for a time, 
one neglect brings on another, and thy heart will be 
more hardened ; and by missing one season of com- 
munion with God, you lose more than all your estates 
are worth. Are you content, that the world be your 
portion ? O make not gain your godliness ! 

(2.) How can you expect your gains and riches 
should be blessed to you, when you take not God's way 
to obtain a blessing? If you begin not with God, 
the end will be dreadful ; God's curse is in the house 
of such wicked persons.* However, such treasures of 
wickedness profit nothing ;f and since you will be rich 
you fall into temptation and a snare, and many foolish 
and hurtful lusts which will drown you in destruction 
and perdition.]: Do not you know that worldly riches 
cannot satisfy ? Consider, the more you get of the 
world, the more difficult is your journey to heaven, 
and the greater your account. 

* Prov. ill. 33. ' t Prov. x. 2. ^ 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10. 

z 2 


Object. 16. You liind us to a tedious bondage, this 
is a wearisome task to pray with our families morning 
and evening, it is not to be endured. 

Aiisw. (1.) It is a sign of a carnal heart to be weary 
of duty : a gracious soul thankfully accepts the offer 
of frequent approaching to God : " Then," saith David, 
" will I go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding 
joy : it is good for me to draw nigh to God."* This is 
the height of a Christian's preferment, the sweetest re- 
creation, and the only gainful employment. " To them 
that love God his commands are not grievous ;" but 
these ways of wisdom are not only pleasant, but plea- 
santness.f Alas, sirs, what spirits are you of, that you 
can say, "What a weariness is it ?"t Surely heaven 
itself would be your liell, unless your hearts and na- 
tures were chane-ed. 

(2.) It is an awful token of God's rejecting that man, 
and of that man's forsaking the Lord, who will rather 
pick quarrels with divine commands than obey them : 
remember what became of them that said, " This is a 
hard saying, who can hear it ? They went back and 
walked no more with Christ." || It is a sign thou 
takest thy religion for low and base ends, and when 
those ends are attained, then farewell Christ : and oh, 
the wretched end of forlorn apostates, whither wilt 
thou go for a better master, where wilt thou find a 
better service ? wilt thou prefer Satan's drudgery to 
God's service, which is perfect freedom ? ^ Ah, sinner, 
thou hast the black brand of reprobation upon thee, 
and shalt be filled with thy own ways.^ 

Object. 17. Saith one, I never used this family 

* Psal. xliii. 4. Ixxiii. 28. + 1 John v. 3. Prov. iii. 17- 

t Mai. i. 13. II John vi. 60—66. § John xii. 26. 

% Prov. xiv. 14. 


prayer and have been a housekeeper for twenty, thirty, 
or forty years, I am therefore loth to bring up a new 
custom, or condemn my former practices. 

Answ. (1.) Custom in sin, or sinful negligence dou- 
bles the sin, and hardens the heart, Jer. xiii. 23, " Can 
the Ethiopian change his skin — then may ye also do 
good that are accustomed to do evil." What think 
you, is it an extermination or aggravation of a fault to 
plead custom ? Will the thief say to the judge, my 
lord, I have been so accustomed to stealing that I can- 
not leave it ? Oh, say not, I will go to hell because 
I have travelled in the road thither all my days, and 
am loth to change. 

(2.) Converting grace can break off a bad custom, 
sanctifying work will turn an old stream into a new 
channel, or rather renew the soul's faculties and make 
a new creature, or creation ; " Old things pass away, 
and behold all things are become new ;"* new princi- 
ples, motives, rule, and end. You are not true Chris- 
tians, if you be not new creatures ; and if you be not 
found in Christ, you are lost for ever.f You had need 
pray and pray again for new covenant-mercy, " That 
God would give you a new heart, and a new spirit — 
that you may walk in his statutes." X Be not content 
with the " old man," that corrupt, disfigured image of 
old Adam, but " put on the new man," that will make 
you capable of new acts, in a new manner. Better 
late than never : be not wedded to old traditions. || 

Object. 18. I have used it formerly, but got no good 
by it, and so gave it over ; and if I begin again, I 
doubt I shall not hold out. 

Answ. (1.) Whose fault was that? Was it God's 
fault or thine ? The blame must not be laid on the 

* 2 Cor. V. 17. t Phil. iii. 9. :|: Ezck. xxxvL 26, 27. 

II Eph. iv. 22—21. 1 Pet. L 18. 


duty but on the pei-son. Thousands have got good by 
it, and would not lay it aside for all the world's 
wealth. If thy heart had been right, thou wouldst have 
held on thy way; if thy hands had been clean thou 
wouldst have become stronger and stronger.* Alas, 
that tliou shouldst lose thy reward, by losing what 
thou hast wrought :f poor soul, thou hast run in vain, 
ail thy labour is lost, thy former righteousness shall 
not be mentioned for thee, but against thee.^ 

(2.) AVho persuaded thee to leave off family prayer? 
You did run well, who hindered you ? Not God or 
his ministers ; this persuasion cometh not of him that 
called you. |) No, no, it was the devil and a wicked 
heart that bewitched you. And is it not egregious 
folly, *' having begun in the spirit, to think to be made 
l)erfect by the flesh ?"{ Will you go out of God's 
blessing into the warm sun ? " What iniquity have 
you found in God or in his ways ?"*^ Oh gratify not 
the devil and fiesh, by saying, "It is in vain to serve 
God ; or, why should I wait for the Lord any 
longer?"** Come, sirs, renew your old acquaintance, 
" Return to your first husband ;"ff renew your an- 
cient convictions and impressions ; engage the strength 
of God and you shall hold on. 

Object. 19. I like not this preciseness, you shall 
never persuade me to it ; you spend your breath in 
vain, yet I hope to be saved, as well as the best of you 
all ; God is merciful. 

A71SW. (1.) Now flesh and blood and carnal reason 
speak out, and vent the natural malignity of the heart, 
" the carnal m.ind is enmity against God, for it is not 
subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.":}::}: 

* Job xvii. 9. t 2 John 8. % Ezek. xviii. 24. 

H Gal. V. 7, 8. § Gal. ill. 1—3. ,^\ Jer.ii.5. Mai. iii. 14. 

** 2 Kings vi. 33. ft H05. ii. 7- tX Rom viii. 7. 


Oh, that any of God's creatures should spit such venom 
against its Maker ! How far are you from the blessed 
Paul, who, when God called him by his grace, " con- 
ferred not with flesh and blood."* Will you ask the 
devil's advice whether to be God's children or not ? 
Will you not serve God without the devil's leave? 
Well go on gratifying God's enemy, and see the issue, 
it will be bitterness in the end. 

(2.) Will you dare to stand by this answer at God's 
bar and great tribunal ? Will you then dare to say. 
Lord, thou didst indeed bid us pray, but we had no 
miiid to that duty; we loved not thee, nor did we ap- 
prove of thy ways ; we thought they were too strict, 
and bound us too strait ; we had more inclination for 
our carnal ease, and sensual lusts ; we were latitudi- 
narians, and our resolution was, we will not have this 
man to rule over us, whatever it cost us ? f Well, sirs, 
think not much if God say, " You have set at nought 
all n^y counsel and would have none of my reproof ; I 
also will laugh at your calamity : you thought I was 
altogether such a one as yourselves, but I will reprove 
you.:}^ Now is the day of vengeance, mercy hath an 
end, and justice taJces place ; " and those mine enemies 
that would not that I should reign over them, bring 
them hither and slay them before rae."|| 

Object 20. Well, now I am convinced prayer is a 
duty, family prayer is my duty, and I have a mind to 
perform it ; but I know not how to manage it, I am 
altogether a stranger to it, God help me, I am a mere 
ignoramus, and know not what to say. 

Answ. (1.) Where is the fault? Hast thou not 
enjoyed means, helps, ordinances many years for the 
good of thy soul ? Dost thou not see others as igno- 

* Gal. i. 16. t Luke xix. 14. 

:;: Prov. i. 25, 26. Psal. 1. 21. || Luke xix. 27- 


raut as thou, attain to excellent gifts, under the same 
helps, who can pray very pertinently, even extempore; 
but I guess the true cause; it is either the pride of thy 
heart, that thou canst not pray so well as others, or it 
is thy sloth, in consequence of which thou hast not 
diligently used means to get knowledge or excite thy 
faculties : thy sloth will slay thy soul ;* and thy dam- 
nation will be just. 

(2.) God stands not upon gifts, elocution, or ready 
utterance; the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit ; " a 
broken and a contrite heart, God will not despise."f If 
thou hast not precious liquor, canst thou not offer him 
thy empty bottles ? If thou canst not pray, canst thou 
not fall down upon thy knees and tell God thou canst 
not pray ? Canst thou not desire him to help thee to 
pray ? Canst thou not say, as much as the poor pub- 
lican, " God be merciful to me a sinner.":!: If it be not 
wilfulness but weakness, God will indulge thee much, 
his Spirit will help thy infirmities, || both what to say, 
and how to pray. But in this case I shall give some 
directions shortly. 



The first use I shall make of this subject is of lamen- 
tation, and severe admonition. If it be so, as I have 
proved, that governors shoidd act the part of priests 
*Prov.i.32. tPsal. li. 17. ^ Luke xviii. 13. || Rom. viu.26. 


to erect altars for the worship of God in their families; 
then I doubt there is reason for alarm to many thou- 
sand families in England, for I fear God's vengeance 
is hanging over their heads. God looks and expects, 
that in a professing kingdom, a nation where the gos- 
pel has been so long acknowledged by public authority, 
religion would be more respected and practised in 
families, than I fear it is ; God may justly wonder, 
" That there is no intercessor" ; therefore how justly 
may he put on " garments of vengeance," and repay re- 
compence to these islands.* Woe is us that there are 
so few serious, gracious families to be found in our 
highly favoured land. Religion runs at a low ebb, 
serious devotion is banished from among us. Some 
families are without priests, without altars, without 
sacrifice, or offer the sacrifice of devils, instead of 
God's, or along with his. On these a few observations 
may be made. 

1. There are many houses without priest, that is, 
where the governor of the family hath no religion, is 
not devoted to God, nor anointed with his Spirit, nor 
consecrated to be a gospel priest to erect an altar 
or offer sacrifice. A poor irreligious master of a 
family, that knows not how to frame forf God's 
worship, alas, ignorant creature ! he is not capable of 
speaking a word from God to his family, or of speak- 
ing a word to God for them. You go to bed and rise, 
one time after another, prayerless ; :{: you can keep 
them up late and call them up early to their work, but 
never say, come to prayer ; not a word of God all the 
day long, not a chapter read, not a psalm sung, not a 
prayer put up in the family from day to day ; nay, it 
is well if there be any solemn praying for a blessing 
at meat, or giving God thanks for meat, but scholar's 
* Isaiah lix. 16 — 18. t To set about. t Psalm cxxvii. 2. 


grace, as they say ; every one for himself ; so they sit 
down and rise up like brutes ; at best, they fall to, say- 
ing, God bless my iideat, amen : and so put off God 
with a compliment. Ah graceless master, ah graceless 
family ! woe be to thee. 

(1.) How dui'st you marry, set up a house, or take 
the charge of a family upon you, when you are no 
better furnished for it ? Do you not shame with your- 
selves, that you cannot say a word to God for them ? 
No, not if your wife, child, or servant lie a dying, and 
their souls ready to be lost, you have not a word to 
speak for their recovery or salvation, O wretched situ- 
ation ! 

(2.) Do you not condemn yourselves, that can teach 
your children and servants a trade to get a livelihood 
by, and live handsomely in this world, and not one 
word for another world ? you command them to work, 
never to worship God ; you quarrel with them for 
offending you, never for offending God ; you expect 
them to ask you for what they need, but you will not 
ask any thing of God either for them, or yourselves. 

(4.) Are you not worse than idolatrous Micah, Judg. 
xvii. 5, " He had a house of gods, and made an ephod 
and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who 
became his priest." Much like some ignorant parents 
that will set a lad to say a primer grace ; better so 
than none at all. But Micah was not content with 
that, but got a hedge-hog priest, a wandering Levite 
to perform divine service in his family ; and now he 
is a jolly fellow, and thus boasts, ver. 13, " Now know 
I that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite 
to my priest." This poor idolater will rise up in judg- 
ment against thee. 

(4.) How will you answer the charge against you ? 
do not your children cry out, O pity us, pray for us. 


iTuel parents ? you brought us sinful creatures into a 
sinful world, help us out of this woful state ! But 
alas ! you have not a word to say for them, or with 
them ; you regard their precious souls no more than an 
ox or horse ; their blood will be required at your 
hands. How will they curse you in hell ? their lan- 
guage will be. Oh, woe is me ! had I lived in a praying 
family, I might have been converted and saved; I 
never heard a word of God except blaspheming his 
name. How will this grind your ears, and grieve your 
hearts another day ! 

2. Other families are without an altar ; have not so 
much as a form of godliness ; not so much as a show 
of religion. Oh ! that it should be said of many houses 
in England, as of Israel, 2 Chron. xv. 3, " Now for a 
long season Israel had been without the true God, with- 
out a teaching priest, and without law." So God 
threatens in Hos. iii. 4, that the wretched Jews shall 
be without any religion true or false, as it hath been 
since their murdering Christ to this day. 

(1.) How these wretches resemble the binites? they 
own God no more than a dog or an ass ; it would be 
better to be a brute, than to be compared to a brute. 
Yea God calls in the dullest creatures to condemn an 
irreligious people.* 

(2.) How can you expect a blessing upon your mer- 
cies? they are unhallowed things as to you; nay, they 
are accursed to you, and, if God give commission, will 
rise up in rebellion against you ; you have not sancti- 
fied your house, so it is not estimated as yours.f 

(3.) You hinder God's interest in the world, and do 
what you can to propagate irreligion to future genera- 
tions ; how will they plead the practice of ancestors ? 
My father never prayed in his family, nor will I. 

* Isa. i. 3. Jer. viii. 7, 8. t Lev. xxvji. 14. 


Omission is a trade soon learned, with difficulty rooted 
out. Jeroboam made Israel sin many generations after.* 
Oh ! you little know how far your sin may spread. 

(4.) Do you not often read your sin in the punish- 
ment of it ? When you are atheists in not worship- 
ping God, your children are atheists in denying God ; 
you are defective in duty, they abound in iniquity ; 
you pray not for them, God rejects them, and leaves 
them to notorious villanies, to be punished by the 
judges ; or God strikes them with some overwhelming 
judgment, as he did Eli's sons. This will make thy 
heart ache, and call thy sins to remembrance. 

3, Some families possibly have a priest, and an altar, 
but want a sacrifice. As Isaac said to his father Abra- 
ham, " Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the 
lamb for a burnt-offering ?"f So say I, here are 
materials, the outward form, but where is the marrow, 
and mystery of true godliness ? Dost thou give up 
thy soul and body as a living sacrifice to God ? Dost 
thou brino; a broken and contrite heart for sin ? 1 Dost 
thou practically obey divine commands, and do all the 
good thou canst in thy place ? || especially dost thou 
take Jesus Christ in the arms of thy faith, and expect 
acceptance only in the Beloved ? ^ or dost thou only 
compliment God ? 

(1.) If there be not a principle of grace within, thou 
art but a lifeless machine, like a parrot that speaks 
articulately without sense and feeling : David's prayer 
went not out of feigned lips, why so ? he had found in 
his heart to pray his prayer ; ^ mind it, thou must 
find thy prayer in thy heart, before thou utter it with 
thy lips, and then thou must pray a prayer ; and not 

* 1 Kings xiv. 16. t Gen. xxii. 7- + Rom. xii. 1. Ps. Li. 17- 
II Heb. xiii. 16. § Heb. xiii. 10. Eph. i. 6. 

H Psalm xvii. 1. 2 Sam. vii. 27- 


only say a prayer as most do. Some will go down on 
their knees and patter over a few words in a heartless 
manner, when their minds are roving to a thousand 
trifles ; and this is their devotion of which they brag-, 
and with which God must be pleased ; whereas it is a 
poor heartless, lifeless, spiritless form, without power, 
which God rejects ; this lip labour is but lost labour ; 
for it is a mocking of God, and he will not be mocked,* 

(2.) If you sleepily, sluggishly, or unseasonably 
perform your family duties, you will come short of 
approbation. Some spend all the day, and the even- 
ing in work or worldly business ; part, it may be 
in idle chat and vain discourse, and just when they are 
for going to bed, start up and fall on their knees, and 
rattle over a few words between sleeping and waking : 
and most of the family fitter for their beds than for de- 
votion. Alas ! sirs, doth not God pronounce a curse 
upon such as do the work of the Lord negligently Pf 
and doth not God say, " Cursed be the deceiver that 
hath in his flock a male, and voweth and sacrificeth to 
the Lord a corrupt thing ?" ^ Ah ! soul, hadst thou 
not a male, a better, fitter hour in thy power, than that 
sleepy hour at bed-time ? must God be put off" with 
the world's leavings ? doth not he that gives thee all 
thy time deserve the best ? doth not God bid thee seek 
first his kingdom ? and shall this be last ? must the 
very flower and cream of thy time be spent in vanity, 
and God be thus served ? O ! be ashamed and blush 
at thy disingenuous dealing with the Almighty. 

(3.) If you come to own God in family exercises, by 
fits and starts, in a good mood, or when some affliction 
lies on you, or your family, oh how slavish are you ? 
but alas ! there are some that are never thoughtful, but 

* 2 Tim. iii. 5. Isa. xxix. 13. Gal. vi. 7- 

t Jer. xlviii. 10. Z Mai. i. 14. 


ill distress ; never serious, but when severely handlett, 
like a dog under the cudgel, and then it is but howling,* 
not child-like crying; *' in their afflictions they will seek 
God early" and earnestly, they pour out a prayer when 
his chastening is upon them,f and never else. Poor 
souls, should you not come to the throne of grace, " to 
find grace to help in time of need ?" t and when is the 
day, where is the place, and what is the state wherein 
you have not need of God ? are you not daily sinning, 
and need pardon as well as daily bread ? may you not 
die this day, this night ? are not morning and evening 
proper times to seek God ? Some will not pray in their 
families, but a little on sabbath nights, when they 
have nothing else to do : as though all time were not 
God's, week-days as well as Lord's-days. Surely God 
is to be owned daily ; " I will," said David, " daily 
perform my vows," and " I cry unto thee daily :"[| and 
why should you be as " the morning cloud and early 
dew," § when God is daily furnishing you with his be- 
nefits, and therefore should be daily praised, not Lord's 
day merely, but week-day, and every day in the week:^ 
what if God forget or forsake you any day, what 
would become of you ? 

(4.) If you are wrong in the end of your family 
duties you will be rejected ; and, alas ! thousands pro- 
pose wrong ends to themselves, in this as in other ex- 
ercises of religion : some keep up family duty, because 
it was the custom of their ancestors, and it would be a 
kind of disparagement to degenerate ; some to gratify 
a religious wife, or pious servant ; some to make a 
show and ostentation of their gifts ; others to stop the 
mouth of a clamorous conscience ; some for worldly 

* Hos. vii. 14. t Hos. V. 15. Isa. xxvi. 16. 

t Heb. iv. 16. || Psalm Ixi. 8. Ixxxvi. 3. 

§ Hos. vi. 4. IF Psalm Ixviii. 19. Ixxii. 15. 


gain ; olliers as the Pharisees to be seen of men ; nay, 
it is well if some pray not for a cloak of their villany, 
when they devour widows' houses, and for a pretence 
make long prayers ;* long prayers are not simply con- 
demned in themselves, for it is a sign of rare piety, 
the more holy men are, the more prayerful.f But, oh ! 
damnable hypocrisy, to make so holy an ordinance 
truckle to such a degrading vice : it is well if that 
wickedness be dead and buried with the Pharisees : of 
whom Calvin saith, their assiduous praying was a kind 
of stalking-horse, or occasion to serve their fdthy lucre, 
neither did they sell their prayers otherwise than mer- 
cenary men dispose of their day labours4 

For (saith this prince of interpreters) " Where gain 
is gotten by such designing prayers, the more the 
fervour of that kind of devotion increaseth, the more 
is the name of God profaned." I beseeech you there- 
fore tremble to think of prostituting so glorious an 
exercise to so ignominious an end : for the end makes or 
mars an action. 

4. As some families are without priest, altar, and 
sacrifice of the right kind, so there are some that have 
something of all these, yet have another altar and 
sacrifice inconsistent with these, that swear by the 
Lord, and that swear by Malcham:|| that set up the 
devil's altar by the Lord's ; as of the Samaritans of old, 
it is said in one verse " they feared the Lord," in the 
* INIal. vi. 5. Matt, xxiii. 14. 

t Nam quo quisque sanctior est, precandi studio magis est 

t Quia illis precandi assiduitas turpis lucri sit aucupium; neque 
enim aliter preces vendebant, quam mercenarii diurnas operas 
locant. — Cah. in he — quod res per se laudabilis in pravum finem 
con versa est ; nam ubi ex conductitiis precibus, captatur qusestus, 
quo magis crescit fervidas (ut loquuntur) devotionis species, eo 
magis profanatur Dei nomen— Id. Ibid. 

II Zeph. i. 5. 


next verse " they feared not the Lord," why so ? the 
answer is put between them, they feared tlie Lord, and 
served their own gods, 2 Kings, xvii. 32 — 34, that is, 
they did materially do the same things in worship that 
Israel did, for fear of being destroyed by the lions, 
ver. 25, but they had gods of their own, ver. 29, and 
God could not endure this mongrel religion, and in- 
terprets it to be no true fear, or due worship of him- 
self : for God will not be partner with idols, he only 
must be served or not at all. Our Lord takes it ill 
when men set their thresholds by his thresholds, their 
posts by his posts,* thus they defile his holy name by 
their abominations : these are a grievous nuisance to 
the holy and jealous God. Shall the throne of iniquity 
have fellowship with thee ? Can men serve God and 
mammon ? f Must Bacchus, Venus, Vulcan, be set up 
cheek by jole with the living and true God? Shall 
wickedness be practised by governors, tolerated in 
inferiors ; swearing, cursing, lying, cheating, drunken- 
ness, uncleanness, mocking at strickness of religion ? 

Observe it, there is no true worship where there is 
not strict discipline. How sad is it to see some men 
devout in worship and profligate in practice? one 
thing on their knees, another on their feet. : pray like 
angels, and practise like devils : confess sin one liour, 
and commit it the next : plead for pardon, and to 
obtain a dispensation. Alas ! that any now-a-days 
should resemble Israel of old, who would steal, murder, 
commit adultery, swear falsely ; and come and stand 
before God in his house, to worship and say, " We are 
delivered to do all these abominations :":|: or like the 
impudent woman, Prov. vii. 14, "I have peace-offerings 
with me, this day have I paid my vows." So some 
men think they may do as they list, and cast the reins 

* Ezek. xliii. 8. f Psal. xciv. 20. X Jer. vii. 9—11. 


on the neck of appetite to run to all licentiousness : 
why so ? Have they no religion ? Yes, they have said 
their prayers, and are in good reputation for religion, 
and since they have been so serious, now they hope 
God will not take notice of their infirmities, but over- 
look them, as the man Mr. Shepherd tells of, that 
frequented taverns, alehouses, and brothels all day, yet 
would not go out without prayer in the mornmg. Oh 
horrible impiety ! this is gross, practical atheism, for 

(1.) It is making God the patron of their impiety, 
as if the holy God approved and encouraged these 
vices, if they only bribed him with a few formal duties. 
But what saith God to such profane sinners, that hate 
instruction, and cast his words behind them, and then 
allow themselves all licentiousness ? " These things 
hast thou done, and I kept silence, thou thoughtest 
that I was altogether such a one as thyself, but I will 
reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes."* 
A time is coming when God will vindicate his justice 
and omniscience against these audacious transgressors, 
that did misconstrue and abuse his long suffering ; as 
if by his connivance he had justified or allowed their 

(2.) This greatly dishonours God, and accustoms 
men to take his name in vain : as long as you say one 
thing and do quite contrary, you discredit your pro- 
fession :f whilst you will be called Jews or Christians, 
and make your boast of God, if you know his will, 
practise it ; otherwise through breaking the law you 
dishonour God, " for the name of God is blasphemed 
among the Gentiles through you.":j: You harden the 
wicked against God's ways, and make them conclude 

* Psal. 1. 17—21. 

t Dicebantur Christiani ad contumeliam Ghristi. — Sal. 
t Rom. ii. 17, 24. 
VOL. IV. 2 A 

354 A FA>[1LY ALT All. 

that either God is as bad as j^ou, or approves of you, or 
is ignorant of your conduct, else he would be avenged 
on you : " he will not hold you guiltless that take his 
name in vain."* 

(3.) Hov/ can you expect acceptance when you thus 
*' regard iniquity in your hearts ?"| You bring your 
sacrifice with a wicked heart, therefore it is " abomi- 
nation to the Lord : when you spread forth your 
hands," saith God, " I will hide mine eyes from you ; 
yea, when you make many prayers, I will not hear, 
your hands are full of blood."t God will disown 
your persons and performances, and even spread the 
dung of your solemn feasts upon your faces, j] Me- 
thinks when you read that awful text, Psal. 1. 16, your 
consciences should fly in your faces, as it did in 
Origen's, "But unto the wicked God saith, what hast 
thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldst 
take my covenant in thy mouth?" tremble at such 
a sharp rebuke! 

(4.) You tempt your children and servants to aban- 
don religion, while you act so contrary to your prayers 
and professions : just as scandalous ministers that speak 
well and live ill ; people are ready to say, if this man 
believed himself what he imposeth upon us, he would 
act at another rate. Will he direct us this way to hea- 
ven, and go quite contrary ? surely, he thinks it is but 
a fancy, else he would embrace it himself. Oh ! what 
have both to answer for? You offend them, hinder 
them in heaven's way, lead them to hell by your ex- 
ample, and make them manifold more the children 
of wrath than they were.§ By this means you gratify 
Satan, he will give you leave to say well, and pray 

* Exod. XX. 7. t Psal. Ixvi. 18. 

+ Prov. xxi. 27. Seelsa.i. 11—15. i| Mai. ii. 3. 
§ Mattxxiii. 15. 


well, if only you be still in his fetters by wicked 
works : this mightily strengthens his interest : yea, by 
this means you fortify yourselves against convictions, 
and go hood-winked to hell, for you will not believe 
but that your state is safe as long as you can pray so 
well, and are so religious in your families : but, alas ! 
though you bolster up yourselves with an imagination 
of your interest in Christ, yet abundance of Scrip- 
tures tell you, you have nothing to do with him, 
without holiness of heart and life, " for he gave him- 
self for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, 
and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good 
works."* And be it known to you, that it is not say- 
ing a few jH'ayers, according to which you must be 
judged another day, " but according to what you 
have done whether it be good or bad.f Nay, these 
very family prayers, without a principle of grace, 
and holy life, will aggravate your sin and condem- 
nation : your hypocrisy will sink you deeper in hell, 
and your long prayers will make you receive greater 
damnation : for the furnace of hypocrites is seven times 
hotter than others,:]: and conscience will torment you 
the more. It is not a sprinkling of a little holy water 
in your houses that will remove the curse of God, 
which lies on your families, contracted by your wicked- 
ness, covetousness, and unjust gain ; for brevity I refer 
you to Hab. ii. 9 — H, Zech. v. 3, Prov. xv. 25 — 27. 

I say not all this to discourage any from family 
l^rayer, but to deter from sin, and regulate prayer, and 
also that specious hypocrites and formalists may be 
alarmed to commence repentance and reformation. 

A word more to such as live in praying families. 
Young persons, look to your state, it is not living 
amongst pious people, that will make you pious, nor 

* Tit. ii. 14. t 2 Cor. v. 10. | Matt, xxiii. 14. xxiv. 51. 
2a 2 


yet complying '^^ith praying gestures that will denomi- 
nate you saints or gospel worshippers ; you may do as 
your superiors would have you for selfish purposes ; as 
young Joash " did right in the sight of the Lord all the 
days of Jehoiada ;"* but his heart was not right, he 
proved wicked ; so may you, if you be unprincipled, 
you will either gaze about you, or think of other things, 
or fall asleep, which is the common practice of young 
persons, when their parents or masters are at prayer. 
I shall but introduce an address of that excellent young 
man Mr. Janeway, to his brother sleeping at family 
prayer :f O, saith he, what a high contempt is this of 
the great God ! how little sense of your own danger, 
what dreadful hypocrisy ! what a miracle of patience 
that you were not awakened in hell flames ! This reproof 
softened his brother's heart, and wrought savingly on 
him, as was hoped, the child being about eleven years 
of age. Oh ! that it might have this effect on many 
guilty souls. 

Alas ! sirs, are you not concerned in the prayers of 
the family ? while you sleep, Satan watches and rocks 
the cradle ; and be it known to you, your judgment 
sleeps not, your damnation slumbereth not ; t for ought 
you know you may awake in hell. What meanest 
thou, O sleeper ? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that 
God will think upon thee that thou perish not ? || 

But besides, there are graceless individuals in pray- 
ing families. Alas, how many walk unsuitably ! they 
will swear and lie, they are unchaste, lewd and addicted 
to tippling and intoxication, they commit crimes when 
they are out of their father's or master's sight, and 
think, if they can but hide them from the eye of their 
superiors, all is right. Ah poor deluded mortal, doth 

• 2 Chron. xxiv. 2. t Mr. Clarke's last vol. of Lives fol. 66. 
t 2 Peter ii. 3. || Jonah i. 6. 


not God see thee ? " Understand, you brutish among 
the people, ye fools, when will ye be wise ? he that 
planted the ear shall he not hear ? he that formed the 
eye shall he not see ?''* Be sure your sin will find you 
out; and do not others see you? will not they cry 
shame on you? and reflect upon the families where 
you were brought up, or have lived ? O what a re- 
proach and disparagement do you cast on the instru- 
ments of your education ? what grief are you to pious 
people, that shake the head, and cover their faces when 
they behold you ? where is your imitation of religious 
examples ? is this the fruit of their pains, the answer 
of their prayers ? were you thus taught ? Woe be to 
you that must be snatched out of pious families and 
cast among devils; you had better never have been 
born, or born among Turks or Pagans ; your condem- 
nation will be aggravated ; your own consciences will 
fly in your faces. O how many good instructions have 
I slighted ! you will say, how many convictions have I 
stifled ? what powerful motives have I resisted ? what 
good examples have I disregarded ? I have not obeyed 
the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ears to them 
that instructed me; and now I must mourn without hope, 
and die without instruction or any to pray for me. f 



And now friends, what remains but a due compliance 
with this call ? O that sacred altars were set up for 

* Psal. xciv. 8—11. t Prov. v. 11-— 14. 


God's solemn worship in all families throughout the 
kingdom ! Were God duly worshipped in every 
house, how happy a nation should we be ! we might 
hope that God would tarry with us, and bless us. If 
men would pray as Christians, and live as Christians, 
things would be better with us than they are ; let none 
mistake us, togetlier with the worship of God we must 
discover the necessity of a saving principle in the heart, 
and suitable practice in the life ; men must first be 
good, then they will do good ; and they must be first 
united to Christ, or neither will follow ; for he saith, 
" icitliout me" x'^'P'? ^Vs", being divided from me, " you 
can do noih'nig"'^ you can do nothing spiritually, no- 
thing acceptably. O sirs, do not think to put off God 
with a few duties, or formal performar--'es without 
sincerity or earnestness. God saith, " I desire mercy 
and not sacrifice,"! ^^^^^ ^^» ^^^ merely sacrifice, "and 
the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings." The 
word mercy, is a synecdoche, comprehending all the 
duties of the second table under one. By sacrifice is 
meant also synecdochically, all instituted ordinances and 
worship, all the aflfirmative precepts of the second and 
fourth commandments ; but yet prayer to God is of 
such absolute necessity, and founded in nature, (if it be 
granted that there is a God) that the heathen could 
prefer it to sacrifices, saying, offer prayers to the gods 
not oxen.l But though prayer itself be a natural duty, 
yet the ciiTumstances of time and place may be various 
as occasion is offered ; hence divines say, negative pre- 
cepts bind always, and with respect to all times ; 1| 
aflirmative bind indeed always, but not with respect to 

• John XV. 5. 

^ See this fully explained by Sir. Burroiiglis, on Hos. vi. 6, 
page 600 — 618. t 'Ec^oc "roig 9fOic, 6v ftoaQ ^ve. 

II Semper et ad semper. 


all times ;* therefore pray continually; if it be done in 
season, God looks upon it as always, or continually done; 
but if another duty of greater importance be to be done 
at that instant, God dispenseth with the former, and it 
ceaseth to be a duty then, yet the duty continues, and 
must not be totally superseded ; only God will have 
sacrifice, but not without the spirit ; f for instituted 
worship, without natural worship, is not to be regard- 
ed ; "he will be worshipped in spirit and in truth ;":]: 
nor will God accept those prayers and sacrifices as an 
atonement for sin, or a dispensation to continue in sin ; 
if you leave out Christ in the former, and make use of 
Christ in the latter, your prayers are abominable. 

Having premised this, I shall subjoin a few motives 
to persuade you to make a practice of family prayer ; 
besides the reasons to prove it a duty, which I desire 
you to review: — Answer old testament types — act not 
against nature itself — accomplish promises and pro- 
phecies — imitate good examples — accord with divine 
providence — distinguish your families from those that 
are profane — approve yourselves and families to be 
little chiu'ches, as you will give account of the charge 
committed to your trust — obtain a supply for your 
family necessities, and a blessing upon yourselves and 
yours — avoid God's curse and wrath upon your fami- 
lies, and begin in earnest this duty. 

And now I beseech you in the bowels of Christ to 
set up altars, and offer yourselves and families wholly 
and entirely to the Lord, as a whole burnt-offering for 
God's sake, who made you for himself, daily preserves 
you, and can plentifully reward your obedience or 
punish your disobedience. — I beseech you for Christ's 
sake who laid down his life for you, " that he might 

* Semper rion ad semper. t See 10 Instances, ibid. p. 603. 

+ John iv. 24. 


purchase you to himself, a peculiar jjeople zealous of 
good works.* — For the Holy Ghost's sake, who is mov- 
ing you to duty, suggesting good things to your 
minds, and will help your infirmities ; O do not quench 
or grieve the Spirit ! — For the church's sake, for Zion's 
sake hold not your peace, but help the travelling church 
till she be deli^^ered.f — For the nation's sake, which is 
almost drowned in atheism and sensuality, and daily 
subject to God's displeasure and fury. — For your poor 
children and servants' sake, who need your prayers for 
their conversion, pardon and reconciliation with God ; 
— and for yoiu* own souls' sake that are oft under 
guilt, imperfect in grace, and have much work and 
burden upon your hands and have a great account to 
make. Surely if you have any sense upon your hearts 
of any of these things, you will instantly, constantly 
and affectionately call u2)on God in your families. 
Again, let me m'ge you from a consideration of the 
benefits of this practice of family prayer. 

1. This devotional altar will be the best ornament 
to your houses; no pictures, stately rooms or household 
goods will be such neat and splendid furniture as this 
worship of God ; the finest hangings and most beauti- 
ful paintings, are but sordid and disgusting filth to 
this ; it is this that renders a beggar's cottage far more 
honourable than a prince's palace without it. " Righte- 
ousness exalteth a nation and family, but sin is a re- 
proach to any people or person ;"]: this is far before full 
coffers, magnificent tables, rich feasts and a large train 
of attendants : for God is there, as the poor hermit-like 
philospher said, hrlv^tv ii Gtoi, here dwell the gods ; 
so the high and lofty One dwells, with the " contrite 
and humble spirit," || in the most homely habitation. 
What a comely sight it is to behold all the members of 
• Tit. ii. 14. + Isa. Ixii. 1. t Prov. xiv. 34. || Isa. Ivii. 15. 


a family prostrate on their knees every morning and 
evening ! to hear melodious praises to God unanimously 
sung ! it is an emblem of heaven. It is recorded of 
the prince of Anhalt's house, that it was a church, an 
academy, and court,* where himself was as priest, 
tutor, judge and sovereign lord. O how happy such a 
family ! I may say of such a master, as the queen of 
Sheba of Solomon, " Happy are thy men, hapj)y are 
these thy servants which stand continually before thee.'j 
This, this only is the glory of a family. 

2. This is not only the ornament, but muniment 
and defence of a family : " He that dwelleth in the 
secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the 
shadow of the Almighty !" t Communion with God is 
usually attended with protection from God ; if any be 
safe it is genuine believers that shall be safe. Lot's 
family must be delivered from Sodom's flames : " The 
Lord will create upon every dwelling-place of mount 
Zion, as well as upon her assemblies, a cloud and 
smoke by day," that the enemy shall not find them, 
" and the shining of a flaming fire by night," || that 
they may see their way ; yea, it shall be " a wall of 
fire round about them,"^ for upon all the glory shall 
be a defence : yea, God himself will be the glory in the 
midst of them ; none know the advantages of praying 
families, but experienced and observant Christians. 

3. This is the way and means to bring spiritual and 
eternal salvation to your houses : surely, that was a 
great word that our dear Lord spoke to Zaccheus, " This 
day is salvation come to this house !"^ That little 
man used much care and made a hard shift to behold 
Jesus, and met with a blessed, unexpected guest, that 
brought him the greatest blessing, himself and salva- 

* Templum, academia, curia. f 1 Kings x. 8. t Psal. xci. 1, 
II Isai. iv. 5. § Zech. ii. 5. IT Luke xix. 9. 


tion with hiin ! Our Lord never comes alone, but 
brings happiness with him : the conversion of one 
man as it was a pledge of his adoption, so it made 
even the whole family an heir of heavenly glory;* for 
(as Calvin has observed) when God adopts the master 
of a family, he proniiseth to be a God to the whole 
house, and by right, salvation is extended from the 
head to the whole body.f So Lydia was baptized and 
her household, and the jailor ; Acts xvi. 15, 33, 34 ; 
and oh what joy was produced, when himself and his 
house believed ! yea, Cornelius owning God in family 
worship, brought to him and his, words, whereby the 
master and all his house should be saved ; not of merit 
but in a covenant way, and in answer to prayer. I O 
sirs, would you not have your children and servants 
saved ? This is God's appointed way to bring it about; 
call in divine aid, and grace to do that for yours, which 
you cannot, 

4. Family worship will make up a defect in, or want 
of public ordinances ; Providence may cast your lot in 
places where the streams of the sanctuary run low or 
muddy, in this case, house-wells may do you much 
service; when public persecution breaks up church 
assemblies, house worship will maintain religion in the 
world, and that private fire will break out into an 
open flame : what had become of religion had it not 
often lodged in private houses ? this hath been God's 
usual reserve to maintain the power of godliness ; 
church history tells us, that the open profession of the 
gospel hath been at a low ebb, and this hath heli>ed it 
to a glorious resurrection : ministers were banished, as- 

" Domum illam salutis haeredem. 

+ Nam quia Deus dum patrem familias adoptat, toti etiam ejus 
domui se in Deum fore promittit, jure salus a capite extenditur ad 
totuni corpus. — Colv. in he 

t Acts X. 2, 33, 34. 


semblies scattered, churches demolished, and scarce any 
appearance of public meetings ; yet then the fire glowed 
hot at private hearths, and in God's due time a door 
was opened for public assemblies : how much are we 
indebted to God for house altars ! and such a day may 
overtake us again. And suppose you have free liberty 
of public and powerful ordinances, how can you ex- 
pect a blessing upon them without seeking God for 
it in your families? What good will preaching do 
without your private instructions, admonitions, coun- 
sels, and prayers ? This will inculcate truths, and 
may lay a foundation for after-godliness ; and as 
family worship is a most indisputable duty, so least 
approachable by the enemy, because often indiscern- 
ible ; however you may most warrantably suffer for 
it, if that be God's will, as you learn Daniel ventured 
himself for it to the hungry lions. 

My beloved friends, what shall I say? What argu- 
ments shall I use to persuade you to this duty of 
family worship ? I doubt your religion is to seek, if 
you be loth to set up a family altar, which may 
consecrate all your civil and natural acts and 
offices ; I will but urge you with these few interro- 

1. Suppose a grave and pious minister, or Christian 
friend lodge with you, would you not reach him a 
bible, and desire him to go to prayer with you, lest he 
should suspect you to be prayerless at other times ? 
And will not God's authority and presence have the 
like influence, and awe upon your spirits ? 

2. Suppose your friends and relations should quite 
disown, and disclaim you, unless you would pray 
in your family, would you not make a hard shift to do 
something that way, rather than be accounted unwor- 
thy of human society? And shall that prevail more 


than God's disclaiming you, or disowning converse 
with you ? 

3. If your landlord should turn you out of your 
house, or your father should disinherit you, if you set 
not up this family altar, could you be content to suffer 
both, rather than do it ? And shall a threatening of 
your Father in heaven, or great landlord, to reject or 
eject you out of heaven avail nothing ? 

4. If a law were imposed upon you to pay five shil- 
lings every time, that you neglect prayer in your family, 
would you forfeit that sum as oft as you go prayerless 
to bed ; would you not fear that would beggar you ? 
And shall not greater losses and heavier penalties deter 
you from this omission ? 

5. If the king or a nobleman should promise you five 
pounds every time that you call your family together, 
read a chapter, sing a psalm, kneel down and pray 
to God, would you not strain hard to procure that 
money ? And will not a greater profit from Almighty 
God prevail with you to perform this exercise to ob- 
tain a reward ? 

6. Suppose a brand were set upon your foreheads, 
like Cain's, or a dreadful trembling should seize upon 
your bodies for such a neglect, or you should pass 
under such a stigmatizing character as that in Deut. 
XXV. 9, 10, " The house of him that hath his shoe 
loosed :" and if this name be given you, this is a grace- 
less, prayerless man ; would not this shame you out of 
your criminal omission ? 

7. Suppose the next time you go prayerless to bed, 
your loveliest child and darling should be snatched 
away by a sudden stroke of death, as it was in Egypt, 
when the first-born of Pharaoh and others died, and 
there was a great cry.* Would not this move you 

• Exod. xii. 30. 


into a better course ? Oh, but a greater evil befalls 
you, your own precious souls are endangered by 

8. Suppose a red cross, with a « Lord have mercy 
upon us," were set upon your doors, and the pestilence 
were within your house, seizing on you, one after ano- 
ther, and you had nothing else to do but to get ready 
to die ; would you not spend some time in prayer for 
yourselves and families ? Behold a worse plague is 
upon you, the plague of sin, and will you not pray ? 

9. Suppose, upon every omission of family prayer 
you should lose a limb, or member of your body, first 
one finger, then a toe should be cut or torn off, till all 
be gone, and you dismembered ; would not this force 
you to this duty? and yet your precious souls, which 
are ten thousand times more worth than a limb, yea, 
than the whole body, are in hazard by wilful neglect. ' 
10. Suppose a gallows were set at your door, and 
you must be hanged thereupon the next time you go 
out of your door, when you have not prayed in your 
family ; would you venture to be hanged rather than 
omit this duty? do you love your lives no better? 
Oh ! but eternal death is far more dreadful, and are 
eternal torments, that lake which burneth with fire 
and brimstone, nothing to you?* Is the second 
death easy? And shall not sinners perish for their 
omission of good, as well as commission of evil ? Be 
it known to you, that if you will not do so, that is, as 
God commands, behold, " ye have sinned against the 
Lord,t and be sure your sin will find you out ;" it will 
hunt you as a blood-hound, and haunt you as an evil 
spirit in conscience here, and in torments hereafter ; if 
God said to Cain for a defect in his sacrifice, « If thou 
doest not well sin lies at the door,"t that is, guilt shall 
* Rev. xxi. 8. f Numb, xxxii. 23. t Gen. iv. 7. 


be charged upon thee, (and you know how it doggetl 
him, though he failed but in the manner of his sacri- 
fice, not acting faith on Christ for acceptance :) Oh 
what will become of you that fall short even in the 
matter also ; and do nothing of what God commands 
you? You even think it a needless ceremony, and 
mock them that do carefully, constantly, and conscien- 
tiously perfonn this duty ; woe unto you if you die in 
this sin, you are undone for ever. 

But one word more, if any offer themselves to be 
members of particular churches, and to partake of the 
Lord's supper, I should judge them not fit to be com- 
municants, except they pray in their families ; and if 
any be admitted and perform not their duty, I should 
think them as worthy of church censures, as those 
that are idle and omit working in their particular 
callings, which is enjoined, 2 Thess. iii. 6, 12, 14<, 
What censure this is, less or greater, whether only 
withdrawing familiar converse with the offender"; or 
upon obstinacy, public excommunication, I leave to the 
judgment of the learned: but Dr. Lightfoot* tells us 
out of the Rabbins, that if any one refuse to nourish 
his children, they must reprove him, make him 
ashamed, and urge him ; if he still refuse, they must 
publicly proclaim in the synagogue, such a one is cruel 
and will not nourish his children ; he is more cruel 
than the unclean fowls, for those nourish their young 
ones ; and may we not say the same of such as neg- 
lect these needful family exercises for the souls of their 
dependants ? 

* Si quis renuit liberos suos alere, reprehendunt eum, pude- 
faciuiit eum, urgent eum: si adhuc renuit, publice in eum pro- 
clamant in synagoga dicentes, hie crudelis est, non vult alere 
liberos suos : vel ipsis volucribus immundis crudelior, nam illae 
pullos suos alunt, &c. — Dr. Lightfoot in Evang. Matthxi Borce 
Hebraicce, cap, 18, 17^ p- 215. 



I HAVE now done with persuasives to the important 
exercises of family worship ; whether all that I have 
said will prevail, I know not ; but loth I am that all 
this should be in vain ; it is a pity so needful a practice 
should fall to the ground, and all that I have said 
should rise up in judgment against you. I again re- 
new my exhortation in the name of the Lord Jesus : 
You that are young set up your families with religion, 
whatever you have of the world beside to set up with, 
this will be your treasure, your palladium, your de- 
fence; you cannot miscarry if you begin with God. 
You that are old, and have been housekeepers long, set 
up this altar, turn over a new leaf, begin a new life, 
you are not too old to learn, nor too good to be taught, 
"better late than never," though you begin at the 
eleventh hour, you shall not be rejected ; death looks 
you in the face, look up to God and be saved; say not, I 
will go to hell because I have been long travelling in the 
road thither; be not ashamed to undo all you have 
done or misdone, unravel this confused skein ; what 
makes you hesitate ? Is not the infinite God worthy 
of your love, fear, and worship ? Are not the souls of 
your families precious? Is not heaven worth your 
seeking and having? 

Oh ! say you, I would gladly set up an altar in my 
family to the Lord ; I would offer him a sacrifice, 
and worship him, but I know not how to set about it, 
or manage it in any way so that it may be acceptable 


to God, profitable to my family, or comfortable to my 
own soul, I pray you give me some directions for this 
purpose. I answer, that I shall very willingly, but 
first I do solemnly require your promise to set about it 
in the name and strength of Christ, and do the best 
you can to do it right. My instructions I shall reduce 
to two heads : namely, preparatives to it, and manage- 
ment of it. 

For the preparatives to your erection of this family 
altar, I shall but mention these four : — 

1. See that your heads and hearts be well furnished ; 
your heads with sound knowledge, and your hearts 
with saving grace. ^Vithout either of these you will 
not be fit for this undertaking ; without the former 
you will have no ability, without the latter, you will 
have no disposition for the practice, but go to it as a 
bear to the stake. 

First, Be sure you get scripture knowledge, a know- 
ledge of God the object of worship, of the mediator by 
whom only you must have access to the Father, a 
knowledge of the Holy Spirit that must help your in- 
firmities, a knowledge of yourselves, of divine truths, 
precepts, and promises ; " for that the soul be without 
knowledge it is not good,"* otherwise you will worship 
you know not what, or you care not how, or regard 
not why ; you will degenerate into formality and 
superstition. In the nineteenth chapter of Isaiah the 
prophet, having in verse 19, told us of an altar, he in- 
forms us of a sacrifice, ver. 22, but between those he 
saith, that the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and that 
the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and 
shall do sacrifice and oblation. By altar is meant 
gospel worship ; by a pillar at the border of it, is meant, 
a monument of the true religion, exhibiting evidence of 
* Prov. xix. 2. 


their piety in all places. But without the true know- 
ledge of God in Christ, they would set up the Athenian 
altar, " To the unknown God ;"* and therefore it is said, 
that the Lord shall be known to Egypt, in gospel times, 
and not only so, but that the Egyptians shall know the 
Lord, savingly, sincerely, sensibly, and experimentally 
for the woi-ds denote affection and practice, then and 
never till then will they be fit to offer an oblation ; for 
if men offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil ? and 
if the offerer be blind and ignorant, is not he evil?f 
will God accept such a person? what cares he for 
men's ignorant devotions ? if there be no knowledge 
of God in the land, there is no mercy nor truth ;\ for 
saving knowledge is the door and window to let in 
saving grace. 

Secondly, You must all have a saving principle of 
grace in your hearts, a submissive will, a renewed con- 
science, sanctified affections, a soul set with a bias hea- 
ven-wards, that you " may delight in the law of God, 
after the inward man," and "may worship God in 
spirit and in truth," || else your i)raying will be but 
cant, your labour v/ill be but lip-labour, and so lost la- 
bour ; all your piety will be but hypocrisy, and your 
hearts will not be engaged in it, then you will be heart- 
less in setting about it, and soon weary of it ; without 
union to Christ, you can do nothing, see then that 
Christ dwell in your hearts by faith — that is the 
mystical bond; to be united to him by love — that is the 
moral bond.^ From this spring flow holy desires, delight 
in God, fear of God, repentance, humility, self-denial, 
zeal, and all other graces, without which you will be 
but cold worshippers of God ; set up with some thing 
within, or you are formalists at best. But you will 

* Acts xvii. 23. + Mai. i. 8. t Hos. iv. 1. 

II Rom. vii. 22. John iv. 24. § Eph. iii. 17- 1 John iv. 16. 
VOL. IV. 2 B 

3/0 A 1a:SITI.Y ALTAI?. 

say, how shall we get this principle of grace ? I answer, 
you mnst be convinced, that you have it not by nature, 
that you cannot work it in your own hearts, for " faith is 
the gift of God," you must examine yourselves whether 
faith be in you, you must study and plead the cove- 
nant of grace, wherein God promiseth to " put his law 
in your inward parts, to teach you to know him, to 
circumcise your hearts to love him, to put his fear in 
your hearts, and to put his Spirit in you, and a new 
spirit within you;"* and by studying and pleading 
these precious promises you may be partakers of a di- 
vine nature, that you may serve the Lord in a different 
and proper manner, f 

2. Anothe'- preparative for the erection of a family 
altar, is the due and regular constitutitn of families ; 
which consists in a solemn choice of family relations. 
Masters of families must be very cautious herein ; it is 
true, children are necessary parts thereof and persons 
must take these as God sends them, they are not 
elective, or of our choice, but there are ways appointed 
by God to train them to what is good, but that I 
meddle not with at present ; it is to such things as are 
arbitrary or within our power to choose, that I refer, 
as wives and servants, or assistants in families, these 
may be a great furtherance or hinderance to a house- 
holder in the exercises of religion. 

(1.) When you are to choose a wife, be very careful. 
" Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers,"! 
lest it come to pass, that when you draw one way your 
partner draw another ; and when you "svould pray in 
your family, she be busy about the world, and will not 
join with you, but act the part of scoffing Michal, who 

* Eph. ii. a 2 Cov. xiii. 5. Jer. xxxi. 3^,. 34. Deut. xxx. 6. 
Jer. xxxii. 40. Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27- 

t 2. Peter i. 4. 12 Cor; vi. 14. 

DtiiEetioNs GiVEX. 371 

pointed her sarcasm at her holy h\is])and David, for his 
fervent zeal in God's worship when dancing before the 
ark.* O what grief of heart will this be to you, who 
must be forced to turn your sweet communion, into a 
severe admonition of your own wife ! and the nearer 
the relation the heavier the affliction ; when your wife 
proves a tempting Eve, or as Solomon's wives, " who 
turned away his heart from God;"f oh! the danger 
of seduction ; but if not so, yet a bad wife will be a con- 
tinual vexation, like a constant dropping in a very 
rainy day ; you little kiiow the inconveniences attend- 
ing such a relation ; you will say, how can we help it? 
I answer, prudence, prayer, and due consideration be- 
forehand may ordinarily prevent such a bad choice, 
if you make it your business to marry in the Lord,| 
and yoke only with such a one as bears Christ's yoke, 
consulting christian friends, and regarding beauty, por- 
tion, and parentage as subordinate; be sure that there be 
well-grounded hopes of saving grace in the first place ; 
let religion and reason, not passion or fancy make your 
choice, lest you smart for your folly. O what a help 
may a prudent, gracious wife be in assisting you in 
setting up this family altar ; " a wise woman buildeth 
her house ;" Manoah's wife encouraged her husband, || 
and Rachel and Leah builded the house of Jacob or 
Israel ; Hannah prayed while her husband Elkanah 
sacrificed, and no doubt joined with him devoutly at 
home.^ O what a blessed harmony to see husband 
and wife "heirs together of the grace of life,"^ that 
their prayers may not be hindered, but nuitually 
furthered ! this plainly intimates that unsuitableness of 
spirit, or untowardness in either, hinders prayers, that 

* 2 Sam. vi. 20. + 1 Kings xi. 2-A. t 1 Cor. vii. 39. 
II Prov. xiv. 1. Judg. xiii. 23. 

§ Ruth iv. 11. 1 Sam. i. 3, 10, 13. IT 1 Pet. iii. 7- 

2 B 2 


is, either diverts them from prnyiiii^. or mars the effi- 
cacy of prayer ; therefore let young men be wise in this 
main concern of choosing a wife, for who would fetch 
water to kindle fire, as one saith, or select a bed of 
snow to keep one warm ? you have quench-coal enough 
now within, espouse not more, rather get bellows to 
kindle your spark. 

(2.) As for servants, be serious and particular in 
choosing pious ones ; if it be possible choose religious 
servants : trust not to your care and pains to make 
them so ; if Onesimus be begotten in bonds, he will be 
profitable to his pious master Philemon ;"* there is no 
trusting irreligious servants, they will but comply out 
of awe, and may degenerate into atheism. If thy 
servant be upright, he will not only pray when thou 
prayest, which will make a blessed harmony, but will 
pray alone for thee, as faithful Eliezer did in his mas- 
ter's business,! and then things will succeed well ; for 
(as one saith) a praying servant will not only work, 
but set God to worlc. O haj)py family, where servants 
echo to their master's sighs ! These Avill unanimously 
besiege heaven with importunate supplications : yea, 
let carnal Laban and Potiphar speak as they find, and 
they v>'ill affirm that God hath blessed them for Jacob 
and Joseph's sakes.t But you little know the hurt 
you may have, and your children also by graceless 
servants. This Vv'as David's purpose and endeavour 
to have men faithful to God, to be house inmates with 
him, and to banish from him froward or proud persons, 
slanderers, apostates, deceitful liars, and wicked doers; || 
and if you will serve God comfortably in your families, 
you must imitate his pious example. 

3. Dedicate your houses to the Lord. So did God's 

* Philem. 10, ]1. t Gen. xxiv. 12. 

X Gen. XXX. 27- xxxix. 5. || Psal. ci. 3 — 8. 


servants of old, when they had built a new house they 
dedicated it, Deut. xx. 5; when they had been banished 
from it, and were restored, they again dedicated it as 
David did, when Absalom had polluted it.* We read 
also of a man " sanctifying his house to be lioly unto 
the Lord," Lev. xxvii. 14; this must be done by 
praising God for houses to dwell in, all have not this 
mercy; some choice saints had no certain dwelling 
place :f others have wandered in deserts, mountains, 
dens, and caves of the earth, of whom the world was 
not worthy, yea, our dear Lord himself had not where 
to lay his head ! I And who are we that God should 
honour us with convenient habitations ? It becomes 
us to own him as our chief landlord, resolving by 
God's assistance to pay our chief rent to him, and 
" honour the Lord with our substance and all that we 
have :"|1 we must thank God that we have any thing 
to give back again to him ; for " all things come of 
him, and of his own we give him." We must first 
give ourselves to the Lord, as devoted to his fear, ser- 
vice, and worship :^ as we nnist not be content with 
what God gives us, except he give us himself, no more 
will God be content witli what we give him, without 
giving ourselves to him : then let us give him our 
children and servants, so far as we are able, and be earnest 
with him in prayer for a blessing on all we are or have; 
let us plead the covenant of grace and its promises 
for ourselves and ours, as holy Jacob did:^ observe 
the word of precept, for our warrant to dwell in our 
houses, with the promises for our encouragement, and 
act according to rule and the best patterns, engaging that 
we will walk within our house with a perfect heart ;** 

* Psal. XXX. tJCor. iv. 11. + Heb. xi. 38. Matt. viii. 20. 
II Prov.iii. 1). § 1 Cluon. xxix. 10—14. Psal. cxix. 38,94, lOG. 
IT Gen. xxxii. 9, 10. ** Psal. ci. 2. 


that we will use all we have to God's glory and the 
good of his church ; that we will entertain Christ's 
ambassadors in our houses, as Lydia and the jailor 
did ;* that we will read scriptures, instruct our fami- 
lies, sing psalms, continue instant in family and closet 
prayer, that all the rooms of our house may be sea- 
soned : if you thus begin well, you lay a good found- 
ation, and may groundedly hope that the presence of 
God Avill be with you, and with your families. 

4. Order your families aright : as there must be dis- 
cipline in the church which is a fence to doctrine and 
worship, " beholding," saitli the apostle, " your order 
and the stedfastness of youi* faith ;"-]- so it is in families, 
if the master have by gross sin, passion, pride, too 
much lenity, or -impi-udent behaviour, forfeited his 
authority, or by tyranny have abused it, that he be- 
come contemptible, he will hardly keep up family wor- 
ship ; children or servants will be ready to laugh him 
to scorn, as not able to rule himself, therefore little fit 
to rule others, and think tliey have good reason to 
ramble abroad ; they will be under no government, 
and will come none to prayers ; this is their sin, but 
there hath been too much occasion given by their 
weak or wilful masters ; therefore I advise that you 
maintain your authority, and use it for God. Lose 
not the reins of government, yet svv'eeten it with love: 
when love oils the wheels, and lines the yoke, govern- 
ment becomes amiable and attractive to duty; when 
David said, hear, my brethren, it chained his subjects 
to him, but when Rehoboam answered roughly, it 
drove them from him. Rule your dependants in love, 
and they will obey in love : if you shew good-will to 
their souls, with good-will they will do you service, 
as to the Lord ; i holiness creates reverence ; tender-. 
* Acts xvl. 15, 34. t Col. ii. 5. t Eph- vi. 7, 9. 


ness produceth ingenuous subjection ; affection main- 
tains authority more than domineering rigour ; let it 
appear that you rule your families under God, and for 
God. I confess this theme is more proper to the next 
subject of the regal or magisterial power of house- 
holders, whither I remit it ; yet a word or two may be 
allowed, as due order and government do promote 
God's worship ; be sure that every member in your 
family know and keep in their posts and places, that 
there be no interfering or envy : and see that all order 
their business both within doors and v/ithout, so as to 
attend family prayer ; and see that you do not over- 
charge them with so much business as to render them 
incapable, either by unseasonable attendance on their 
secular concerns forcing them to be absent, or by over- 
tiring them, that they are fitter to lie down in their 
beds, than to fall down on their knees and lift up their 
hearts to God in prayer ; learn to order your affairs 
with discretion.* Let every work know its time, and 
every one know his work, that confusion may not 
shut out religion : order facilitates any business, pre- 
vents impediments, and produceth good success; I 
know that some families cannot ordinarily be reduced 
to such a good order as some others ; but if masters 
were prudent to contract their worldly business 
into a less compass, or wisely to make arrangements, 
though their families be numerous, and business 
urgent, they might do much this way. Oh be not 
greedy of gain to trouble your own house : cumber not 
yourselves or yours with many things, but mind the 
" one thing needful."f Be sure you maintain religion 
whatever you do ; " Give unto God the things that 
are God's." Learn to divide the hoof aright, that the 
world encroach not upon God's due, or rob him of his 
right : if you separate religion from yovu- calling, it is 
* Psal. cxii. 5. t Luke x. 12. 


mere heathenism ; if you separate your particular 
callings from your religion, it becomes enthusiasm. 
Unite them together, and they will be mutually help- 
ful to each other, and to you in a due pursuit of both : 
change of employments will make both a pleasing re- 
creation ; observe the apostle's rule : " Brethren, let 
every man wherein he is called therein abide with 
God;" 1 Cor. vii. 24. Let your condition, station, 
relation be what it will, engage God to be with you, 
bespeak his presence by prayer, and sanctify all your 
civil actions with religious exercises. 



I HAVE briefly despatched the preparatives for erect- 
ing and managing family worship, in a due order. I 
now proceed more directly to the carrying on of this 
woiship solemnly, that you may please, glorify, and 
enjoy God, while you profit and edify youi'selves and 
others in this exercise ; in which I propose two classes 
of instructions, which concern the matter and manner 
of family worship. 

1. As to the matter, or words in family prayer, the 
Holy Ghost saith, "Take with you words and turn to 
the Lord ; say unto iiim, take away all iniquity, and 
receive us graciously — "* by words, he means not only 
phrases, or literal exjn-essions, for therein hypocrites 
may abound, but, 

(1.) The subject matter, to be treated on, as Joab 
* Hosea xiv. 2. 


put words into the woman's mouth ;* that is, the main 
purport, design, or manner of her similitude, not every 
syllable she spoke. 

(2.) Practise accordingly, keep the law ; act as real 
saints, for the ten commandments are called [Dnn] 
words, and our compliance therewith must answer our 
professions and prayer?, else we do nothing ; we must 
live up to our prayers, f 

(3.) The word also signifies an ordering, regulating, 
and marshalling of things, and indeed we cannot order 
our words before him, by reason of darkness, therefore 
must we be very cautious and exact, as the wise man 
admonisheth, Eccl. v. 2, " Be not rash with thy mouth, 
and let not thy heart be hasty to utter any thing be- 
fore God, for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth, 
therefore let thy words be few," that is, well weighed 
in prayer or vows, God is of infinite majesty not to be 
despised, of transcendant holiness not to be offended, 
and of unsearchable knowledge not to be deceived, 
nor to be flattered with vain repetitions ; study not to 
speak fine but fit words, not many but weighty, pro- 
ceeding from thy heart, directed unto God, and per- 
tinent to the matter in hand. 

(4.) Words may signify arguments in prayer, so 
Job vi. 25, " How forcible are right words," that is, 
proper arguments, as appears from the latter clause ; 
" but what doth your arguing reprove ?" accordingly 
holy Job wisheth, " Oh that I knew where I might 
find him ! that I might come near to his seat ; I would 
order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with 
arguments ;" f not to out-argue God, or to prove him 

* 2 Sam. xiv. 3. 

t Hebraei eadem voce exprimunt verba et res, quia verba debent 
esse realia, et homine digria praesertim a])ud Deum — Fid. Pol. 
Crit. in loc. Exod. xx. 1. + Job xxiii. 3, 4. 


unjust, no, nor to move God to that which is not his 
will, for "he is in one mind, and who can turn him ?"* 
No, he is righteous and unchangeahle, I dare not deal 
with God, or challenge him to deal with me upon 
terms of strict justice, but ujion terms of new covenant 
grace, pleading his promises made to sinners in Christ, 
and soliciting for the performance of them. 

And now I proceed to assist householders in the 
matter of their family worship, particularly in prayer. 
I shall produce some stones out of the word of God for 
rearing this family altar, and the rather because it has 
been a general complaint of many, and a principal ob- 
jection with them, that they knew not what to say if 
they should kneel down in their houses with their fa- 
milies. But to such as are willing though feeble in 
their addresses to the throne of grace, I shall subjoin 
these two instructions for their assistance : 

1. Attend upon a powerful ministry. There you 
will hear directions, motives, precepts, promises, scrip- 
ture arguments to quicken and direct you in this prac- 
tice ; there you may gain knowledge of God the object 
of worship, of Christ the mediator and advocate, of the 
Holy Ghost that nmst assist you ; there you will get 
a good understanding of God's mind and will, which 
will furnish you with ability, and further your ac- 
quaintance with God ; " Happy is the man that find- 
eth wisdojn, and the man that getteth understanding ;"f 
that man is prepared to every good work. But how 
shall a person obtain this sacred understanding? I 
answer, one way is by the ear, as man lost true wis- 
dom by abusing that sense, and hearkening to the 
Syren song of the subtile serpent ; so the scriptures 
frequently call you to hearken to the voice of God in 
the ministry of the word ; light, and life, and love may 
* Job xxiii. 13. t Prov. iii. 13. 


come in at that door, " Hear and your souls shall live ; 
faith comes by hearing ;" men may receive the Spirit, 
by the hearing of faith.* But how shall men breathe 
without spiritual life ? and how can men pray without 
the assistance of the Spirit ? " how shall they call on 
him in whom they have not believed, and how shall 
they believe in him, of whom they have not heard, 
and how shall they hear without a preacher?"! ^^^i' ^^ 
it any kind of preacher that you nmst hear, but you 
must take heed whom you hear, that they be seat, that 
is, duly qualified and Regularly commissioned ; you 
must take heed what you hear, that it be not men's 
fancies, but the approved word of the living God ; you 
must also take heed how you hear ; alas ! any kind of 
iiearing will not do ; you must pray and prepare before 
you hear it, set yourselves in God's presence, cast out 
sin, apply the word to yourselves, mix it with love, 
own God's authority in it, hide it in your hearts, 
meditate on it, and resolve upon the practice of it ; and 
who can tell what blessed fruits it may produce in 
your hearts and lives ? Pray " that the word may 
have free course, and be glorified ;":{: and if it be so in 
you, the fruit of preaching will appear in your prayers 
as well as practice. A heart opened to the word, will 
*' open the mouth wide in prayer ;" || but if you will 
not hearken to God's voice, you will have no voice to 
God, nor will God regard what you say ; for " he that 
turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his 
prayer shall be abomination."^ 

2. "Search the scriptures;"^ these contain both 
the rule and matter of prayer ; if you be mighty in the 
scriptures, you will be mighty in prayer. God loves 

* Isa. Iv. 3. Rom. x. 17, Gal. iii. 2. 

+ Rom. X. 14. t 2 Thess. iii. 1. (| Psal. kxxi. 10, IL 

§ Prov. xxviii. 9. U John v. 39. 


to be spoken to in his own language ; study scripture 
precepts, and turn them into prayer, study scripture 
promises, and turn them into pleas, study scripture 
threatenings, and turn them into deprecations, and 
study scripture patterns for imitation ; you may find 
several excellent prayers in the bible, as that of Abra- 
ham, Gen. xviii. 23 — 32. Jacob prays. Gen. xxxii. 9, 
12. Moses, Exod. xxxii. 11 — 13. Joshua, vii. 6 — 9- 
Hannah, 1 Sam. i. 11. Solomon, 1 Kings iii. 6 — 9- 
viii. 22 — 53. David, 1 Chron. xvii. 16 — 27- Nehemiah, 
i, 4 — 11. Ezra, ix. Daniel, ix. And we have many 
devout prayers put up and recorded by the apostle Paul, 
and others, too many to be mentioned, Vv'hich in read- 
ing the holy scriptures you may meet with. Say not 
then, you have nothing to say before the Lord ; it is 
your ignorance or negligence, if you be barren in your 
addresses to the throne of grace ; some good divines 
have proposed a method and words in scripture phrase- 
ology, which I will not now trouble you with ; but if 
you make it a daily custom to read the bible, you will 
find appropriate expressions flowing into your mind in 
prayer, which will prove pertinent matter upon all oc- 
casions ; when you read scripture, think, now God is 
speaking to me, and thereby furnishing me with mat- 
ter to speak to him in prayer ; this passage suits my 
case, I will improve it in confession, petition, depreca- 
tion or thanksgiving, in my addresses to God, and thus 
you will arrive at a habit of free converse with God ; 
and it becomes masters of families to be more employed 
in reading scriptures than others, God orders kings, 
captains, and ministers, to be daily exercised in this 
duty,* because they were to be helpful to others ; so 
must you : if you consult God's word, you " go in unto 
God," so some observe from comparing, Psal. Ixxiii. 
* Deut. xvii. 19. Josh. i. 8. 1 Tim. iv. 13. 

MATTKll OF t'RAYER. 381 

17, " goiiig into the sanctuary of God," with 2 Sam, 
vii. 18, " then went king David in, and sat before the 
Lord," that is, he went in to God ; to intimate that 
reading and praying are nearly related ; the one is a 
help to the other ; if you read much, it will help you 
to pray much, it will help you to read and understand. 
Be much employed in both. 

3. Learn to understand and improve the Lord's 
prayer. Matt. vi. 9 — 13. Consider the prologue, parts, 
and conclusion of it : get some succinct and plain ex- 
position of it, do not cantingly, formally, and super- 
stitiously repeat it, as a charm, but use it as a com])re- 
hensive platform of praying : I am not altogether 
against the use of the words in the Lord's prayer, 
nay, I would rather you would kneel down with your 
family, and say nothing but the Lord's prayer, than that 
you should use no prayer at all : only see you under- 
stand the meaning of it, and do not rattle it over as a 
parrot^ but use it seriously, and beware of mocking God; 
hypocrisy is a sin as well as atheism : to pray other- 
wise than Christ has taught, is not only ignorance, but 
a grievous sin, saith an ancient writer;* this refers 
both to the matter and manner of praying, for, saith 
he, " The Father will acknowledge the words of his 
Son, when we pray to him, in his name. Let him be 
in our voice that dwells in our hearts. God is not 
the hearer of the voice but of the heart."f But we are 
now speaking of family prayer, wherein God requires 
both voice and heart, and are intending to assist with 
respect to the matter of prayer. It is a certain truth, 

* Aliter orare quam docuit non ignorantia sola est, sed et culpa. 
Cifprian. Serm. 6. de Orat. Dominica et cum ipsum habeamus apud 
Patrem advocatum pro peccatis nostris, advocati nostri verba pro- 
mamus, id. lb. 

t Qui habitat intus in pectore, ipse sit et in voce : quia Deus 
non vocis, sed cordis auditor est. 

382 A faMii.y Al.TxVn. 

that all and only the things that are to be asked of Got! 
are comprehended in the Lord's prayer ; that is to say^ 
the sum and substance of the things to be asked : if 
you do not always utter the words, you must expres^^ 
the sense; therefore it is fit you should understand 
them, for every word hath its weiglit: Our Father 
who art in heaven : thou art the common Father of 
all mankind, and our Father in Christ, we humbly and 
reverently prostrate oui-selves at thy footstool, in con- 
fidence of being received through thy well-beloved Son 
and our advocate : give us child-like affection for thee, 
with endeared love to all thine, and tender compassion 
for all others ! Hallowed he thy name: let thy glo- 
rious titles, attributes, word and ordinances be mani- 
fested through the world, dispose all things to the 
gloiy of thy name, assist us in our confessing and for- 
saking our sins, adoring thine infinite perfections, be- 
lieving in thee, subjecting ourselves to thee, attending 
on thee, and aiming at thy glory in all we are, or do, or 
suffer. Thy I'lngdom come: destroy, O Lord, the devil's 
kingdom of ignorance and wickedness, advance thy 
kingdom in converting sinners, building up thy church, 
maintaining the power of godliness, and hastening the 
kingdom of glory, confirming and preparing our souls 
for our Lord's second coming. Thy will he done on 
earth as it is in heaven : let thy preceptive will be 
our rule, enable us to comply with it, give us know- 
ledge of ii, conquer the enmity of our stubborn wills, 
enable us to do thy will singly, sincerely, universally, 
and constantly, as angels and glorified saints ; help us 
quietly to acquiesce in thy providential will, be it ap- 
parently for us or against us. Give us this day our 
daily hread: vouchsafe to us a competent portion of 
outward comforts, for our daily supply, and thy bless- 
ing therewith, which is the staff of our bread, for we 

mAtteii of prayer. 383 

depend on thee for all. Forgive us our debts as we 
forgive our debtors: for Christ's sake and satisfaction, 
pardon all our sins; whereby we are indebted to divine 
justice, which we can never satisfy, but we lay hold by 
faith on the Lord our righteousness, and freely forgive 
all men their offences against us, and pray God to for- 
give them. And lead us not into temptation^ but 
deliver us from evil: Lord, we have depraved hearts, 
prevent occasions of sin, restrain the tempter, keep us 
out of harm's way, or make us conquerors of the world, 
the flesh, and the devil ; let not sin have dominion 
over us. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and 
the glory, for ever, Amen : we take not our encou- 
ragement in our prayers from any thing in ourselves, 
but from thee who art the only sovereign, all-sufficient 
God, able and willing to help thy poor creatures ; to 
thee only be ascribed all dominion, blessing, honour, 
glory, and power, for evermore, amen, so be it. 

Thus I have given you a short exposition of this 
excellent prayer, that you may be left without excuse 
for your wilful neglect. 

4. Frequent Christian society; converse with pious, 
praying persons, this will help you in family exercises 
and worship, not only as it is a good example, but as 
it assimilates you to them, and also as it provokes to 
a holy emulation, it will make you shame with your- 
selves, that such as had no better assistance or higher 
education than you, have yet attained to such know- 
ledge, gifts, and elocution ; this will make you admire 
the grace of God in them, and think it not impossible, 
but that the same grace may do as much in you. 
Paul sought by the piety of the Gentiles, to provoke 
the Jews to emulation, and tells us that the zeal of the 
Coriuthkms,* in charitable contribution, had provoked 
* Rom. xi. 14. 2Cor. ix. 2. 


very martj." : it is not to tell what light, and life, and 
love may be conveyed from one Christian to another. 
If two lie together they have heat; iron sharpens 
iron, so a man sharpeneth the conntenance of his 
friend :* they say boars whet their tusks one against 
another ; and the younger ox learns of the elder to 
plough :f wicked men exasperate one another. So 
must, so will God's children consider one another, to 
provoke unto love and good works :\ kg Trapo^vaiwv, 
this word is borrowed from physicians, who describe a 
violent fever by it, which imports that at some times 
the fit is so strong, as to make the body to tremble, 
and the bed to shake under the patient. The same 
word is used to express the contention, or paroxysm 
betwixt Paul and Barnabas :|| only that was of anger, 
this is of love ; striving which should exceed in zeal 
for God, from the sense of Christ's love to them ; out- 
stripping one another in heavenly movements. How- 
ever, if you frequently converse in the society of pray- 
ing Christians, you will be acquainted with their ex- 
pressions, which you may make use of, if only you 
have experience thereof, and your hearts be engaged ; 
thus their phrases becoming yours, you will be more 
prepared for family duty. 

5. Converse with God alone: first pray in your 
closets, and then you will be better able to pray in your 
families, both as to matter and manner : a frequent 
exercise of closet jirayer will move you to converse 
with God : there you will find that God will suggest 
words to your minds, which you may employ in your 
families in prayer, and this course will embolden you 
before others : and possibly this is one part of God's re- 
ward of closet prayer bestowed openly, which our Lord 

• Eccl. iv. 9 — 12. t Prov. xxvii. ]'J. 

X A bove majori discit arare minor. || Heb. x. 24. § Acts xv. 39. 


promiseth. Thus saith Eliphas to Job, " Acquaint now 
thyself with him," (that is, with God,) and as one of the 
blessed fruits of familiarity, "tliou shalt lift up thy face 
unto God," that is, thou shalt openly own him before 
others -wdthout sinful modesty or timidness, as a man 
dares boldly approach his intimate friend, whoever be 
present ; he adds also, " thou shalt make thy prayer 
unto him, and he shall hear thee."* — O the blessed 
fruits of a soul's acquaintance with God in private ! 
such will not be ashamed of hnn before others, such 
will resemble God;! this intimacy transforms men 
into his likeness, as long intimate acquaintance hath 
altered the habit of some men's bodies and dispositions 
of their minds into that of their friends ; on Moses 
conversing with God in the mount his face shone, 
so that some rays of divine glory appeared to Aaron 
and the Israelites ; i the more you are with God, the 
more you have of God, and this of praying with bold- 
ness, confidence, and assurance is both a duty and pri- 
vilege, obtained by frequent conversing with God as 
our friend : but the manner of the expression is worth 
notice, "thou shalt make thy prayer to him :"|| the words 
are emphatical, and signify a pouring out of prayer, 
with a multitude of words in prayer, strong words, 
clothed with power : you will never want matter, or 
words, or enlargedness, if you be thus acquainted with 
God : your family will soon perceive that you have 
been with Jesus in secret, when they discern such free- 
dom of speech and spirit ; now, nobody can hinder you 
from praying with your family, one act of religion 
draws on another, private duties prepare for more 
public ; and it is true, what Dr. Preston observes, that 

» Matt. vi. 6. Job xxii. 21, 26, 27- t 2 Cor. iii. 18. 

X Exod. xxxiv. 30. 

II *l/iy Multiplicavit, proprie verba fortia fudit in oratione. 
VOL, IV. 2c 


hel])s to religion are within the compass of religion 
itself, multiplied acts strengthen habits, by running 
men learn to run, by writing tliey learn to write ; so 
by praying you will best learn to pray. 

6. Study the nature of sin ; see what a scriptural 
discovery you can make of the sin of nature and the 
nature of sin, the kinds, degrees, circumstances, and 
aggravations of sin, together with the doleful efllects 
and consequences of it, in this and another world : this 
will help you in confession, self-accusation, and deep 
humiliation, which is a considerable part of prayer. 
This self-laiowledge helps both in the matter and man- 
ner of praying. 2 Chron. vi. 29, " What prayer, or 
what supplication shall be made of any man, or of all 
thy people Israel, when every one shall know his own 
sore, and his own grief." Sorrow makes eloquent, 
you need not prompt a necessitous beggar ; he hath 
words at will, and shews his sores, which is powerful 
oratory. If sin were your burden, it would squeeze 
out sighs and groans, and a groan is a good prayer ; 
" Lord, my desire is before thee, and my groaning is 
not hid from thee :" * and if there be inward sighs, 
there will be outward s )eeches; if you be full of griefs, 
you will be full of complaints; if you be full of matter^ 
you will speak that you may be refreshed, f Consult 
the book of conscience, and you will find it easy to 
draw up a large bill of indictment against your own 

7. Study your wants, need makes beggars, and adds 
earnestness to prayers : learn of poor beggars at the 
door, malefactors at the bar : consider your own indi- 
gency, the case of your families, congregations, and the 
nation. Is there no unconverted sinner in your family? 
is th?re no sin breaking out amongst you ? is there no 
* Psalm xxxviii. 9. t Job xxxii. 18 — 20. 


grace weak or wauting in yourself or yours ? Is there 
no temptation assaulting any cf you? or no affliction, 
or judgment passing on you, or impending over you ? 
Look and look again, as you use to make an inspection 
into your stock, when you go to the market to make 
provision. Follow the Lord importunately for a crumb 
of mercy, as the poor woman in the gospel, or as the 
importunate w^idow, or if you can say no more, say as 
the publican, " God be merciful to me a sinner," * the 
Lord be merciful to my poor sinning family : who 
knows what prevalency may be in such a word, uttered 
from an humble sense of soul-wants ? you know that 
man went to his house justified rather than the vaunt- 
ing, vain-glorious Pharisee. 

8. Make a catalogue of your mercies ; recollect the 
kindness of God, personal and domestic, both in tem- 
poral and spiritual things. It is true, they are so 
many that they cannot be declared in order, " they are 
more than can be numbered;"! but let that not dis- 
courage you in your attempt, (any more than reckon- 
ing up your sins, which are also innumerable,:!:) but do 
what you can in both, if you cannot do what you 
would or ought, the more you endeavour the more will 
be suggested to your memory, and thus the more will 
be the matter of praise and thankfulness for renewed 
mercy every day, and when you experience any signal 
mercies, set up an Ebenezer, and say, " hitherto hath 
the Lord helped us," || you will find multiplied occasions 
of such memorials, speak good of God in conference, 
and call in help of others, " to magnify the Lord with 
you,"$^ and perhaps the members of your family will 
bring every one a stone to raise the pile of praise to a 

* Matt. XV. 27. Luke xviii. 3, 13 t Psal. xl. .'). 
i Psal. xl. 12. II 1 Sam. vii. 12. § Psal. xxxiv. 3. 
2 C 2 

388 A fa:mii.y ai.tar. 

greater elevation, yea, and bring their coal to warm 
your hearts together, and kindle a greater flame of 
heavenly devotion ; try this course, and you will see 
the blessed issue. 

9. Consider what dangers daily threaten you, and 
see if that will not afford you matter of prryer; possibly 
some of j^our callings expose you to greater hazards 
than ordinaiT, some ride much abroad early and late 
to markets, and are subject to falls ; some work under 
ground and may be crushed to death, others go to sea, 
and witness the wonders of the Lord in the deep, and 
it hath been said, " he that knows not how pray, let 
him go to sea."* There is no calling but it hath its 
snares and difficulties, to which it exposes persons ; 
and wisdom is profitable to direct ; foreseen dangers 
hurt least ; for as ])ersons are foreAvarned, it affords 
matter of deprecation. But there are thousands of 
accidents which the most sagacious eye cannot foresee, 
which you see others fall into and fall by, one falls in- 
to a pit and perisheth, with respect to another his 
horse falls, and he breaks an arm, or leg, or his neck, 
some are assaulted by robbers and slain, others are 
burnt by sudden fires in their houses ; your own ob- 
servation may afford you many sad instances, and 
what befalls others may befall you, and may not these 
afford you matter of prayer for their prevention, or 
your preparation for them, put yourselves into God's 
hands every morning and evening, for you are never 
safe but under his tuition, the omniscient, omnipotent 
God only can guard you and your family. " He that 
keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps;"! other 
means are ineffectual Mnthout him. 

* Qui nescit orare, di>;cat navigare. 
t Psal. cxxi. 4. cxxvii. 1, 2. 


10. Beg God's Holy Spirit. It is a spirit of grace 
and supplication,* go to God in the name of Christ, 
and if you can say nothing else, yet tell him you can- 
not pray, but withal say, " Lord, I hear others can 
pray, why not I ?" No matter how dull the scholar 
is, so I have thee for my master, I hear others of hum- 
ble gifts naturally, who are yet instructed spiritually, 
and have arrived at great proficiency in managing fa- 
mily worship, and may not I be endowed with the 
same spirit, first of sanctification, and then of suppli- 
cation? come, Lord, and teach me to pray as John 
taught his disciples, or rather as Jesus teacheth his 
members, thou sayest, " If ye being evil know how to 
give good gifts unto your children, how much more 
shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to 
them that ask him?"f I know this is a hard text, 
but it must not be imderstood, as if God would give 
his sanctifying Spmt on a carnal man's prayer, by 
virtue of a promise, but either common gifts of the 
Spirit to such, or spiritual influences to those who ask 
with sincerity and earnestness, or further degrees of the 
Spirit to his own children, and so I think it is to be 
taken as the pledge and earnest of the Holy Spirit to 
believers, as Calvin takes it ; as being one of the good 
things of the kingdom of heaven, which pious souls 
most importunately ask and beg ; and you see here a 
free and faithful promise of Christ, that his and our 
Father will bestow his Holy Spirit on us, and the 
blessed apostle tells us the advantage of the Holy 
Spirit for our assistance in prayer; Rom. viii. 26, 
" Likewise also the Spirit helpeth our infinnities, for 
we know not what we should pray for as we ought," &c. 
All acknowledge that the Spirit must help our in- 
firmities in the manner of right praying, exciting graces 
" Zech. xii. 10. t Luke xi. 1, 13. 


and holy affections, and centring our thoughts on God.*^ 
But the great question is whether the Holy Ghost 
dictates to God's children matter or expressions in 
prayer. I think the text is clear that it doth ; for the 
text saitli not '* that we know not how to pray, but 
what we should pray for as we ought ;" hence a school- 
man saith, " it is most difficult to know what is to be 
desired ;"f a pious man knows that his chief end is 
God's glory, and the enjoyment of him, but unless the 
Spirit teach him he will miss it in the means, and as 
GUI' Saviour saith, " ask he knoM^s not what,"| as we 
have some instances in scripture, jj and much sad ex- 
perience in ourselves, and though the Lord's prayer be 
a rule in general, yet we may be at a loss in jjarticulars 
except the Spirit bring things into our thoughts, and 
often suggest scripture expressions to our memories, in 
earnest and appropriate pleading with the Lord ; the 
Spirit enlightens us in our ignorance, assists us in our 
weakness, resolves us in our doubting, comforts us in 
our sadness, quickens us when lifeless, composeth us 
in our distractions ; O therefore engage this blessed 
advocate within, who will plead for us in our hearts, 
as Christ makes intercession at God's right hand, and 
then you pray acceptably. God hears no language but 
that of his Spirit ; and God's Spirit makes intercession 
by helping his people to intercede; he prays, by helping 
us to i^ray, not as Arians imagine, supposing that the 
Holy Ghost is below the Son, as supplicating the Son, or 
that the Son is less than the Father, as supplicating the 

* Jubemur quidem pulsare, seel neuio sponte praemeditari vel 
unam syllabara poterit^ nisi arcano Spiritus sui instinctu nos Deus 
pulset adeoque sibi corda no:<tra aperiat. — Cah\ in loc. 

t Difficillimum est scire quid sit desiderandum. 

+ Matt. XX. 22. 

jl Luke ix. 54, 55. Job vi. 8, 9. Jonah iv. 3. 



Father, which is a gross mistake;* for Christ intercedes 
for us, by the virtue of his merit with the Father, and the 
Holy Ghost by helping us to cry, Abba, Father, Gal. iv. 
6. Let none imagine that this is an enthusiastic fancy, 
or a miraculous gift, (as Chrysostom thought,) no, nor 
a inelancholy dream ; they that have any solid experi- 
ence in the things of God, know that the assistance of 
the Spirit in prayer is the greatest reality in the world ; 
nor was it a temporary gift, but a permanent grace 
abiding with the church for ever, enabling even pri- 
vate Christians to pray in the Spirit ; j yet differently, 
as God sees good, sometimes more enlarging their 
hearts, and at other times withdrawing his influences ; 
and it becomes us to esteem highly his assistance, and 
pray earnestly for it. 



Thus at last I have despatched the instructions which 
concern the matter of family prayer, to aid such as are 
sensible of their own insufficiency ; and having been 
longer than I intended, I must contract the rest. 

As to the due manner of performing such solemn 
family exercises, so much is written by others concern- 
ing the necessary essentials of all prayer, that it is 
needless here to add any thing. With respect to the 

* Spiritus interpellat faciendo nos interpellare, orat faciendo nos 
orare, clamat faciendo nos clamare. — Vide sis Pareum, in he. 
t John xiv. 16. Eph. vi. 18. Jude, 20. 


essence of all prayer, public, family, secret i)rayer, you 
must be sure it be from the heart, you must pray with 
the spirit, and understanding also ; * your family devo- 
tion must not be a mere customary formality, like the 
Papists' tongue threshing, as Luther calls their cant- 
ing. You must engage your hearts to the exercise, and 
then draw nigh to God ; you must also ask what is ac- 
cording to his will, ground your prayers upon a pro- 
mise, as David did;f and God requires you also to 
prepare your heart, and then to stretch out your hands 
to him in prayer; wash before you worship; for if 
you regard iniquity God will not hear your prayer ; 
you must stir up yourselves to take hold of God;t come 
in sincerity, with all humility and with importunity. You 
must propose right ends in your prayers, not for self- 
credit to be seen of men, as the Pharisees, nor for 
worldly profit to please a friend, but for God's glory 
and enjoying communion with him. But above all, 
see that you employ Christ as your advocate, in all 
your addresses to God, without whom your best sacri- 
fices are rejected. I must not however insist on tliese 
things, but lay do^vn some general directions how to 
prepare this family altar, and the sacrifice thereon. 

1. Set your soids in God's presence :|| remember who 
it is you have to deal with ; not with men like your- 
selves, but with the infinite, eternal, incomprehensible 
majesty of the great God, a heart-searching, all-seeing, 
and holy God, " that is of purer eyes than to behold 
evil, and cannot look on iniquity ; whose throne is in 
heaven, who loveth righteousness ; but a hypocrite 
cannot come before him ; ^ endeavour to affect your 
hearts with an awe of his divine majesty : consider his 

• 1 Cor. xiv. l.'i. t Jer. xxx. 21. 2 Scam. vii. 27- 

i 1 John V. 14, 15. Job xi. 13. Psal. xxvi. fi. Ixvi. 18. Isa. Ixiv. 7- 
II Psal. xvi. 8. § Hab. i. 13. Psal. xi. 4, 7. Job xiii. 16. 


infinite perfections, and the great distance between the 
glorious God and poor worms, yea, between the holy- 
God and your degenerate souls ; remember God is a 
" consuming fire,"* and you are as dried stubble, 
therefore serve him with reverence and godly fear ; 
give him the glory due unto his name,f internally and 
externally, in your conceptions of him, affection for 
him, and prostration before him; he is to be had in 
reverence of all that are round about him;i it is more 
to appear before God than the holiest men, or greatest 
princes on earth, regard not auditors or those that 
unite in worship, so much as the object of worship ; 
say as Abraham the friend of God, " Behold, now I 
have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am 
but dust and ashes." || O that my soul were weighted 
with the glorious majesty of God ! 

2. Call in divine assistance ; the first thing you do, 
stand up, and implore God's blessing upon you in the 
present undertaking (except you find it convenient to 
begin with a psalm to call the family together,) and 
desire the Lord to unite your hearts unto him,§ and 
prevent distractions, and Satan's temptations, and vain, 
worldly cogitations in that duty, and lift up your souls 
to himself, with such an ejaculation as this, " Let us 
lift up our hearts with our hands to God in the hea- 
vens ; look down from thy holy habitation, from 
heaven and bless thy servants !"^ We are taking thy 
blessed book into our hands, " Lord, open our eyes 
to behold wondrous things out of thy law, let it be a 
light to our feet, and a lanthorn to our paths: let it be 
as our necessary food, yea, sweeter than honey or 
honeycomb;"** more profitable than thousands of gold 

* Heb. xii. 28, 29. + Psal. xxix. 2. t Psal. Ixxxix. 7- 

II Gen. xviii. 27- § Psal. Ixxxvi. 11. If Lam. iii. 41 . Deut. xxvi. 15. 
** Psal. cxix. 18. Job xxiii. 12. Psal. xix. 10. 

39-1 A FAMILY ALTAll. 

and silver ; help us to understand, apply, and practise 
what we read : " let our prayer be set before thee as 
incense, and the lifting up of our hands as an even- 
ing sacrifice : let thine ears be now attentive, and thine 
eyes open, to hear the prayer of thy servants; to us 
belongeth shame and confusion of face ; but to the 
Lord our God, belong mercies and forgivenesses."* 
Thou hast proclaimed thy name, gracious, merciful, 
long-suffering, &c.f To this name of the Lord do we 
flee, pleading for mercy, only for the sake of Christ ; 
" look upon the face of thine anointed."! 

3. Immediately commence this practice of erecting 
an altar to the Lord : embrace the first conviction ; 
the evening of that day when you have heard the duty 
pressed on you, set about it ; plead no excuse to put 
it off till a more convenient season ; Felix lost his 
time and soul by such a demur :|| set about it while 
your spirits are warm : give not Satan advantage by 
delay: imperatives have no future tense, present des- 
patch is essential to God's commands : anon, anon, at 
my leisure, is no obedience ; now or never ; there is 
danger in delays ; " I made haste," saith David, " and 
delayed not to keep thy commandments."^ Remember 
his holy resolution in a weighty matter of the like 
nature, for settling God's worship, Psal. cxxxii. 2 — 5. 
Your spirits will cool by delays, Satan will get advan- 
tage ; some have confessed that the holy Spirit hath 
departed from them, upon their not yielding to his dic- 
tates, and they have nin into the dead sea of profane- 
ness by degrees, if you miss your opportunity you are 
undone : you may die before morning, if you go 
prayerless to bed, and where will you be then ? You 

* Psal. cxli. 2. Neh. i. 6. Dan. ix. 8, 9. 

+ Exod. xxxiv. 6. Prov. xviii. 10. + Psal. Ixxxiv, 9. 

II Acts xxiv. 25. § Psal. cxix. 60. 


have no lease of your lives ; you must not say to your 
neighbour, " go, and come again, and to-morrow I will 
give :"* and will you say so to God ? O do not put 
off God in paying his dues, either, as to a first under- 
taking or after-performance: beware of delays, and 
make no intermissions ; he that is not fit to-day will 
be less fit to-morrow.f 

4. Excite yourselves and families to the perfor- 
mance ; it was the practice of the primitive church, to 
have one to say before prayer, Up with your hearts4 
Alas! our spirits grow dull in the intervals of duty; 
you must stir up yourselves to " take hold on God ;"|| 
you must wind up your affections, and tune your spi- 
rits as you would do the strings of an instrument, and 
you will find they will quickly slip down again ; twice 
did David say, "O God, my heart is fixed ;" yet imme- 
diately he found it unfixed again, and cries, " Awake, 
psaltery and harp, I myself will awake early."J You 
will be forced to give your hearts a check many times 
in a duty, if you make conscience to maintain them in 
a good frame : hence those expressions of " watching 
unto prayer," and " watching in prayer ;" as well as 
" watch and pray."<[y O take heed of doing the work 
of the Lord negligently ! serve not God with that 
which costs you nothing : but do your best in every 
duty. " Be you fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."** 
Be in good earnest, as if this were the last prayer you 
were to offer : muster up all your forces, excite your 
graces, rouse your affections to and in the exercise, 
then you will pray better and better. 

5. Take a proper season for family worship ; it is a 
great fault to put off family prayer and make it the 

" Prov. ill. 28. t Qui non vult hotlie, eras minus aptus erit. 

t Sursum corda. \\ Isa. Ixiv. 7- § Psal. Ivii. 7, 8. 

% 1 Pet. iv. 7. Col. iv. 2. Matt. xxvi. 41. ** Rom. xii. 11. 


last thing you do ; it will not be so seasonable to go 
down upon your knees, when you are fitter to lie down 
in your beds. Our Lord saith of his sleeping disciples, 
" the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak."* 
But alas ! some there may be in your families that 
have not a willing spirit, and would rather be at rest, 
than wrestling with God ; Eutychus might be a pious 
man, yet attending at an unseasonable hour, he 
dropped asleep,f which Calvin saith, might be in some 
sort excusable, for it is no wonder, if having struggled 
against sleep, at such an unseasonable time, at length 
he was overcome:! he concludes that he had not com- 
posed himself to sleep, because he chose an unfit place 
to sleep in, being in a window, and it must be ascribed 
more to natural infirmity than wilful fault ; but by 
this instance masters should learn to take fit times for 
family worship ; not when children and servants are 
tired out with working ; if it be attainable, go to 
prayer before supper, when your spirits are most brisk 
and lively ; drowsy devotion brings guilt on the per- 
son and family, especially if it be through imprudent 
management ; it is a proper time for duty morning 
and evening, when the family come together to their 
stated meals. 

6. Let family worship be performed when worldly 
business can be best laid aside : " one thing is need- 
ful ;"|| beware of encumbering yourselves with the 
many things of the world. I hope I need not bid 
you order the members of your family to lay all other 
works from their hands, but you must endeavour 
that (if possible) their hearts be also taken off from all 
other employments, that they may " attend upon the 

" Matt. xxvi. 41. + Acts XX. 9. 

t Quid mirum si nocte Liitempesta cum somno luctatus tandem 
sxiccubuit? — Call: in loc. \\ Luke x. 42. 


Lord without distraction ;"* not tliat masters can pre- 
tend to govern the inward man, but that they may so 
despatch and dispose of worldly concerns under their 
cognizance, as to leave both themselves and famines, 
as little occasion of diversion as may be; therefore 
must you take such times for religious exercises, as may 
be freest from business. Solomon saith, *' Through 
desire a man having separated himself seeketh and in- 
termeddleth with all wisdom."f Man's mind is but 
finite, and cannot be intent on several things at once ; 
you must mind religion in your worldly concerns, but 
if you mingle worldly concerns with your religious 
duties, you mar all. 

7. Be short and serious : be not ordinarily long, lest 
you be judged tedious : consider the infirmities of chil- 
dren, and some family occasions and conveniences : 
weaklings of the flock must not be over-driven, lest 
they faint or tire in the way : children and servants 
have but a measiu'e of regard, especially if yet in an 
unrenewed state : they will soon be ready to say, " be- 
hold, what a weariness it is,"| and when will the duty 
be over? Perhaps they will even fall asleep, or seek 
diversions, or take occasion to be absent : not but that 
it is their fault, only you may give them occasion: 
yet though you may be short, you must be serious, run 
not over duties cursorily, or in post haste, as if longing 
for the close of a task ; you must be warm and lively: 
our Lord's prayer was short, but expressive and full of 
earnestness ; " O, my Father, if it be possible, let this 
cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as 
thou wilt." II It is not length of speaking, but strength 
of desire that God looks at : yet a longer prayer is not 
unlawful upon some special occasion, or upon more 

" 1 Cor. vii. 3'). t Prov. xviii. 1. 

:;: Mai. i. 13. Amos viii. 5. I| Matt. xxvi. 39. 


than ordinary enlargement of affections. But what I 
now say, is in a stated course of family duty : be short, 
comprehensive, distinct, methodical, and pathetic, in 
your devotions. 

8. Let not guilt stop your mouths. If you have in 
the intervals of duty, been drawn into any sin ; oh ! 
be sure to get it removed, before you wait on God in 
your families ; retire into a secret place, confess thy 
sin, bewail it, act faith on the mediator for pardon ; 
yea, suffer not guilt in thy family, let not wickedness 
dwell in thy tabernacles, for then thou shalt lift up thy 
face without spot. If thou indulge sin in thyself, or 
in thy family, conscience will stare in thy face, and 
weaken thy confidence in thy approaches to God.* 
Guilt had shut David's lips, till it was pardoned, there- 
fore he prays, "O Lord, open thou my lips. "f An un- 
suitable carriage, provokes God to withdraw assist- 
ance ; then what can you do ? and as guilt stops your 
mouths, so it opens the mouths of others. They will 
be ready to say, it is no matter how you pray, except 
you practise better. Your servants and children will 
be ready to despise you, and withdraw from you, and 
so produce confusion in your family, which will hinder 
prayer ; but if your lives speak for God, as well as your 
lips, you may say as David, " So shall I have to answer 
him that reproacheth me, for I trust in thy word."| 
Then you may hope he will not take the word of truth 
out of your mouth. Let there be a sweet harmony 
formed by your professions, prayers and practices, and 
then God will hear you, men will own you, and your 
own consciences will witness for you. 

9. Familiarize holy conversation with your families, 
and put the members thereof upon secret duties. If 
your relations never hear a word of God, or religion 

" Job xi. 14, 15. t Psal. li. 15. X Psal. cxix. 42, 43. 


in intervals of family exercise, that duty will be strange 
to them, and they will but judge it as a formal course, 
and yourselves will have less heart to the performance. 
If God be never in your thoughts all the day, you will 
but coldly pray at night, nay, it is well if you be not 
like the wicked man, that through the pride of his 
countenance, will not seek after God ; why so ^ The 
text saith, " God is not in all his thoughts," or as it is 
the margin, all his thoughts are, " there is no God ;" 
wicked is here a collective word, for he speaks not 
merely of one person, but indefinitely of all, saith a 
good interpreter, for such is the nature of man, when 
he is destitute of God to govern him.* And if God 
be not in your thoughts, he will not be in your words, 
for " out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth 
speaketh ;" and who will believe you are in earnest, 
when your lips are sealed up in silence; tell your wife, 
children, servants, at due seasons, of the preciousness 
of souls, the necessity of grace, excellency of Christ, the 
awfulness of eternity, the near approach of death, the 
great account of judgment, and the importance of 
watching and prayer. And put them upon going 
alone by themselves, and praying as well as they can. 
And as such discourse will familiarize these solenm 
truths and duties to them, so it will make them willing 
to join with you in family worship. If you will not 
own God before your relations, sure you will not own 
him before enemies. Gordius the martyr, being ad- 
vised to keep his mind to himself, oh ! no, saith he, 
it is fit that this mouth of mine, which was made by 
God, and for God, should speak of God, and for God. 

• Psal. X. 4. Impius hoc loco nomen collectivum est, neque 
enim de una tantum persona loquitur, sed indefinite de omnibus. 
Talis est hominum natura quando destituitur gubernatore Deo. — 
Moller in loc. 


O friends, will you take your leave of God, in the 
mornino; or evenino: sacrifice, and never acknowledo;e 
him, till the return of that family service? God for- 
bid ; are not the souls of yours committed to you ? 
must you not give an account of them ? and is not 
faithful speaking to them for God, one way of dis- 
charging your trust ? profess your subjection to the 
gospel, and your example may prevail on all about 
you, for God is much glorified thereby.* 

10. Observe answers of prayer, and gather up ex- 
perience. As this will furnish you with matter of 
prayer, so it will help you in the due manner of engaging 
in it. How did the Lord assist my heart in such a 
duty ? what quickenings ? what meltings ? what com- 
munion with God ? what further degrees or strength 
of grace, did I obtain in such a performance? what 
power against such a corruption ? what strength 
against temptation ? what further ability or encourage- 
ment in and for God's service ? Or make your re- 
marks upon your family, what person is informed, 
reformed, conformed to the ways of God ? what con- 
victions or impressions have I observed, on the spirit 
of such a child or servant ? what miscarriages to be 
reproved or bewailed ? what evils have been prevented 
or removed ? consider how the Lord hath blessed or 
prospered your undertakings, that God may have the 
glory, and yourselves may have the use or profit of 
what you have met with in your families. David 
saith, " I will hear what God the Lord will speak, for 
he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints ; 
in the morning I will direct my prayer unto thee, and 
will look up ;"| the words are very emphatical, first, 
his great care and exactness so to order, direct and 
compose, both his person and prayers in such a manner, 
• 2 Cor. ix. 13. -h Psalm Ixxxv. 8. v. 3. 


as to be well pleasing to God, " Then will I stand as a 
Aratcliman, upon my watch tower, to consider what 
answer he will give me; the altar which I have 
made, shall be my M^atch tower, at v/hich I will 
stand to expect some blessed ansv/er ; to ascertain what 
help the Lord will afford me :"* by this means you may 
adapt yourself to the circumstances of your family, and 
not proceed at random, and always find matter from 
things daily occurring, to present before the Lord ; yea, 
and those very occurrences, will excite suitable affections 
of joy and sorrow, to quicken you in prayer or praise. 
This is what Solomon prescribes in Frov. xxvii. 23, 
" Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and 
look well to thy herds ;" whether it refer to a literal 
inspection of shepherds, in a proper sense, or meta- 
phorical in a political as magistrates, or ecclesiastical as 
ministers, or economical as governors of families ; it 
is a great duty in all respects;! but it properly and prin- 
cipally belongs to householders ; else how can you ac- 
commodate your counsels, and admonitions to them, or 
petitions for them, or your sympathy or compassion ? 
Thus I have despatched my instructions, both pre- 
paratory for erecting this family altar, and also have 
prescribed the due manner of performing this family 
worship, both with respect to matter and manner. 

And now you cannot plead ignorance or want of di- 
rection. I have according to my ability reached out 
ray hand to help you, your way is lined out, some 
have even written down words, and forms of prayer to 
assist you, and you have pious ministers, to whom you 
may repair for further direction, and if still you wil- 
fully live in the neglect of this known duty, your 

* lV T^yi^J Disponam tibi, HDliXI est, speculabor instar 
speculatoris observaturus an venias mihi auxflio. 
t Est praeceptura oeconomicum, saith Mercer. 
VOL. IV. 2 D 

402 A FA^ril-Y ALTAK. 

1)lood be upon your own heads, the blood of your famf- 
lies, will also be required at your hands. God almighty 
make you willing and able to dicharge your relative 
duty. But if after all this, you will not speak a word 
to God, for your poor, languishing, perishing, dying 
families, to keep them out of hell, I leave you to that 
justice, which will shortly plead with you at another 
rate, than we poor ministers can do, and will take 
vengeance on you, for your wilful neglect, and disobe- 
dience to the calls of God. 



The last thing I have in view, is to answer sundry 
cases of conscience, some of which have been proposed 
to me, and others are ordinarily connected Avith this 
point, concerning a family altar, and sacrifices in fa- 

1. Queri/, May a householder take upon him to 
preach, expound scripture, dispense ihe seals of the 
covenant, baptism, and the Lord's supper to the mem- 
bers of his family, seeing he is a priest ? 

Answ. (1.) Ministerial, authoritative teaching by 
order of others is one thing, and charitable, subservient 
teaching is another. A master of a family should 
teach all under his charge as a master, yet not usurj) 
the office of a minister, without a due call :* his teach- 
ing must not be in opposition, but in subordination to 
• Deut. xi. 1«— 21. Ileb. v. 4. 


ministerial instnictioii ; as families are subordinate to 

(2.) Masters of families must not take upon them 
what they are not qualified for, or presume beyond 
their capacit)^, incurring the guilt of proud self-con- 
ceitedness, or vain ostentation, by undertaking to in- 
terpret the original, or give the sense of dark prophecy, 
or obscure scriptures, or determine knotty controversies. 
Yet they may declare, A\'hen it lies in their M'ay, what 
they have read or heard from learned, pious men, or 
got in public preaching. 

(3.) It is however safest, ordinarily to pass by those 
abstruse and difficult points, and insist upon plain, 
practical, fundamental, catecliistical truths, or take oc- 
casions from the chapter read in the family, to employ 
such a seasonable word, suppose of admonition ; as I 
have heard a pious father say, this is for you, look to 
it, this aims at you in such a case, and with serious ex- 
hortations press it home upon the conscience ; or in- 
form the ignorant on such or such a subject, requiring 
them to remember it. 

(4.) But as for administering baptism and the Lord's 
supper, they may not presume to do it, this being an 
act of office. The one is annexed to Clirist's commission, 
" Teach and baptize," and the other is the cup of bless- 
ing, which we, namely, as ministers bless;* and this 
they receive of the Lord ; and are to deliver it to the 
people.f And I find several judicious divines affirm- 
ing, that dispensing the seals, is peculiar to an orga- 
nized church, and is proper only to ministers rightly 
ordained. For the Lord's sup])er is a symbol, and 
means of public connnunion, not of families as such ; 
for though Christ administered it to his family, yet not 
as a family, but as a church. The judgment and prac- 
* iMatt. xxviii. 19, 20. t 1 Cor. x. 16. xi. 23. 

2 D 2 


tice of the primitive doctors and Christians, is a suf- 
ficient proof of tliis. 

2. Qu. Is the master or govenernor of the family, 
always bound to perform family duty ? May he not 
in some cases substitute another to perform that office 
for him ? 

Arifiic. (1.) It is incumbent upon the master of a 
family, as his proper charge ; and it is fittest that he 
do it himself, if capable. David was a great king, and 
had much business abroad, yet returned to " bless his 
house," and put it not off to a chaplain ;* Job m as tlie 
greatest of all the men in the east, yet he acted per- 
sonally in family worship.f I have heard of a noble- 
man in England, that though he keep a cliai)lain, yet 
to shew liis authoritj'' and duty, voluntarily at some 
times himself prays with his family; this is well done. 

(2.) Yet a chaplain may be employed, especially 
where the family is numerous, or when liis gifts and 
graces are more taking and edifying, and he is likely 
to do more good than the master. It may seem pro- 
l)able, that some Levites were kept in some of the Jews' 
families, being oft reckoned with their sons, daughters, 
and servants, and it may be in some cases to perforin 
these religious duties in the family ; so idolatrous 
Micah, had his Levite chaplain, of which he too much 
boasted, t 

(3.) Some have thought, that a wife in a family, may 
in some cases perform family duty, and that this 
honour may be given to the weaker vessel to do the 
office of religious exercise, as well as partake in the 
government of the family: || doubtless she is to pray: 
and it hnth been judged by learned men that she may 
and must pray in the family with her husband's leave, 

* 2 Sam. vi. 20. t Job. i. 3— ;'), 

: Deut. xii. 12, 18. Judg. xvii. 13. !| 1 Pet. iii. 7- 


and in her Iiiisbaiitrs presence, only she should cover 
her face with a veil, in token of her subjection. This 
they think is meant by a woman praying or prophe- 
sying with her head covered, not in the church where 
she was not to speak, but in the family when she per- 
formed that piece of worship,* and Calvin seems to 
incline to this apprehension, saying, the apostle re- 
quires this modesty of women, not only in the place 
where the church meets together, but in any grave 
assembly of matrons, or such as sometimes are in pri- 
vate houses : it is true he denies them liberty to pro- 
phesy in any other place, but I see no reason why an 
Abigail or a Deborah, may not at least be the moutli 
of a family to God. But I am not positive herein, and 
leave it to the consideration of others, f 

(4.) And why may not a servant, or a steward of 
the house, such as Eliezer, Abraham's servant, or Oba- 
diah, Ahab's servant, pray in the family ? Especially 
in these cases, when the master gives him, not only 
liberty, but a call to that performance^ yea, requests 
him to pray in the family. — "When that servant hath 
gifts to qualify him for such a work, and is not ex- 
posed to the scorn and contempt of his fellows. — In 
case of the master's sickness or absence from home, or 
when more public necessary business engages him. — 
In case that servant be hu.mble, submissive, self-deny- 
ing, and know his place, and do it not with a kind of 
bravado, over his fellow-servants, or contempt of his 
master : and if in all things, that servant " shew him- 

* 1 Tim. ii. 12. 1 Cor. xiv. 34. 

f Quanquani nee hoc male q\iadrablt, si clicamus Apostolum 
hanc modestiani iion inodb in loco iibi tota ecclesia congregatiir, 
requirere a nuilicribus; sed etiam in quovis graviore ctetu aut 
matronaru'.n aiit vironim, quales interdiun in privatas aedes con- 
veniunt. — Calv. in locum. 


self obedient, according to' his duty, 1 Tim. vi. 1, 2. 
1 Pet. ii. 18, 19. 

3. Another case of conscience is, when is the fittest 
time for the performance of family worship? 

Answ. As to the time of prayer. I am really 
ashamed, when I read how often the IVIahometans 
pray; it is said by writers, that they go seven times 
a day to their devotion ; namely, — early in the morn- 
ing — at sun-rising — at noon — betwixt noon and even 
— at sun-set — an hour after sun-set — and at m.idnight. 
O ! be ashamed, you professed Christians, to be out- 
stript by barbarous Turks !* 

But as for the Jev/s, whom the primitive Chris- 
tians imitated, their hours of prayer were borrowed 
from the times of their sacrificing, and were morning, 
which was an}' time before the third hour, Acts ii. 15. 
— mid-day, called the sixth hour. Acts x. 9, or about 
noon — evening, which was after the ninth hour, or 
about six o'clock at night, Acts iii. 1. Calvin thinks 
they did not go into the temple to pray, merely to 
comply with Jewish rites, but the better to propagate 
the gospel ; yet asserts, that the church cannot want 
lier regular discipline, and at tliis day, saith he, but 
that too much drowsiness prevents, it were profitable 
to have daily such meetings for prayer.f ITe means, in 
a more public manner : but for the circumstance of 
time, it is judged, that morning and evening are fittest 
seasons for family devotion : hence Calvin observes, 
that by this exercise, they were taught to begin and 

* Weemse's Christian Synag. p. 85. D;ivid thrice, Psal. Iv. l"]. 
Dan. vi. 10. 

+ Inde colligimus non posse carere ecclesiaiTi eerta disciplina, 
ac hodie, nisi obstaret nimius topor, utile esset quotidie habere talcs 
conventus. — Calv. in Act. iii. 1. 


shut up the day with prayer, and the worship of Grod.* 
I have hinted this before, and shall only add briefly a 
few directions. 

(1.) You must be sure to pray for a blessing upon 
your meat at meals, 1 Tim. iv. 4, ."J. 

(2.) Take your family at meal time to seek God, and 
read his scriptures, to sing God's praise, and to perform 
family duty, morning and evening. 

(ri) Let it be a stated time, if possible, known to the 
family, that none may plead excuse for their absence : 
but that the whole family may attend. 

(4.) Yet if some extraordinary accident intervene, 
you must not think yourselves so precisely bound to a 
time, as to be perplexed in conscience for omission, but 
take another more convenient time, which may more 
directly suit your occasions. 

4. Case. Suppose the avocations of a housholder call 
him abroad about his lawful business, before the rest 
of his family can rise out of their beds, may he omit 
family pra3^er ? 

Ansa\ (1.) In such a case, he must go to prayer 
with such of his family as are risen, as it is likely some 
are to prepare him for his departure. 

(2.) However, he must pray alone, committing him- 
self and his family into God's hands, which the Lord 
may graciously accept. 

(3.) He must double his diligence at his return, or 
at another time ; and mourn for what he cannot mend. 
A good heart will lament any providential hinderance 
of communion with God. 

(4.) But if possible, so arrange your wordly con- 
cerns, as not to hinder your family exercise, prudent 
foresight may be of great service here : but if your 

* Hoc exercitio doccbantur, ab invocatione et cultu Dei incipcre 
diem et claudcre. 

408 . A FAMILY ALTAll. 

colling be such, that this cannot be, do as the Israelites 
did, gather double the day or night ])efore, two oiners 
for a man or family,* lay in for the day following, 
what may stand you in stead by pleading with God, 
for what you Avill need. 

5. CasCy What posture is to be used in family 
prayer, and whether sitting be lawful ? 

Answ. Scripture tells us of several postures in 
prayer, as 

(1.) Standing, Mark xi. 25. " When ye stand pray- 
ing, forgive." The "publican stood afar off, and smote 
upon his breast ;"f this was a penitent praying 

(2.) The eyes fixed upwards, "Jesus lift up his 
eyes to heaven,"! as we look a man in tlie face, when 
we speak to him : or in some cases, the eye may be 
shut, to prevent gazing or distraction. 

(3.) Sometimes prostration, or laying the body on the 
earth, hath been a praying gesture, Abraham " bowed 
himself toward the ground ;" but Joshua " fell to the 
earth upon his face:" our Lord also "fell on bis face 
and prayed." II 

(4.) But the most ordinary gesture is kneeling, 
called bowing the knee : even king Solomon " kneeled 
down upon his knees, and spread forth his hands :" our 
dear Lord also, Avhose example is our rule, " kneeled 
down and prayed."^ Methinks we should not be too 
stiff to kneel before the Lord our Maker, before whom 
every knee must bow, either in devotion or destruction. 
All agree — That the gesture should be reverent before 
the great God — That bodily gesture should be such as 

* Exod. xvi. 22. t Luke xviii. 13. + John xvii. 1. 

II Gen. xviii. 2. Josh. vii. Q. Matt. xxvi. 39- 
§ Eph. iii. 14. 2 Chron. vi. 12, 13. Luke xxii. 41. Psal. 
xcv. 6. Phil. ii. 10. 


doth best express the inward reverence of the heart — 
That the gesture be such as doth most quicken the 
heart, and help on in the duty — And, that it be such 
as gives a good example to others.* 

As for sitting in prayer, it is an unbecoming, lazy 
position, especially if chosen, and in the beginning of 
a duty : indeed for weak frames tired out with other 
postures, some excuse may be made, but ordinarily it 
is not allowable. 

Object. But is it not said of David, that he went in 
and sat before the Lord, 2 Sam. vii. 18, yet he prayed ? 

Answ. (1.) Some say, David was a king, and there- 
fore might sit ; according to the Jews' rule, " It is not 
lawful for any to pray sitting before the Lord, but the 

(2.) Others say, the king " sat in dust and ashes," 
in an humble posture, " he fell on his face," say others. 

(3.) This was more a meditation, than prayer, ad- 
miring the goodness of God : or he might first sit, and 
then kneel. 

(4.) But indeed tlie word sitting, signifies David's 
constancy in meditating or praying ; for a man usually 
continues longer sitting than standing : David sat, that 
is, continued longer before the Lord, and more fami- 
liarly with him, than ordinary.f It refers more to the 
composedness of his mind, than to the posture of his 
body: therefore let not this text patronize that sleepy 

6. Case is. What place must we choose, or how 
must we use our voice in family prayer ? 

Answ. (1.) We are not bound to consecrated places 

* Cum quis quserit orare, collocat membra sicut ei occurrit. — 
Aug. de Or at. 

f '2'^'^ Mansit, restitit. Plus auimo quam corpore sedit quietus 
coram Domino. — Cajet. 


for the religious exercises of a family : in this you 
may use your liberty. In gospel times, God stands not 
so much upon the place of worship, as the character of 
the worshippers, and the manner of worshipping :* 
look at the frame of your hearts, as before described, 
and fear not reception wherever you be. 

(2.) Yet the circumstance of place may be duly 
weighed, if you live amongst lions, mockers, scorners 
of religion, though you must maintain your profession 
of God's name in your families, as Daniel did, yet it is 
a disputable point, whether you may not sometimes 
retire from open violence into some private place. But 
there may be a greater reason for retirement than that, 
namely, to avoid the suspicion of hypocrisy and vain- 
glory, which was the Pharisees' great fault ;t or you 
may withdraw into some distant place from the street, 
to avoid disturbance by hui-ries, tumults, and confu- 
sions that may distract you. 

(3.) But let the place be so known to the family as 
that all may repair to it as an exchange, at the time 
of prayer, be it dwelling-house, parlour, or chamber ; 
as Daniel selected some convenient room, called a cham- 
ber for his family devotion, so may you.:J: 

(4.) For voice, it is true God is an all-seeing Spirit, 
and men may speak to God, when they speak not a 
word, as JNIoses, Hannah, and Nehemiah ; prayer is the 
movement of the will towards God, but in family prayer 
it is otherwise, men have bodies, and tongues, and 
ears, and cannot understand others' conceptions with- 
out a A'ocal articulate sound ; what you pray must be 
audible, else they cannot join with you, or be edified 
by you ; only see your hearts go along with your lips ; 
and remember the saying of Solomon, " The words of 
wise men are heard in quiet, more than the cry of him 
* John ir. 23, 24. 1 Tim. ii. 8. t Matt. vi. 5. + Dan. vi. 10. 



that ruleth among fools," Eccl. ix. 17. I know it re- 
fers to wise counsels, not prayers, but some may pray 
more affectionately with a low voice, than others with 
ioud clamors ; yea, possibly you may command your 
thoughts better in the former, than latter. See you be 
serious, and your voice audible and intelligible, not 
mumbling your prayers, so that your family cannot 
understand you or know what you mean. 

7. Case is. Whether is a form of prayer lawful, or 
whetlier may a householder use a form of prayer, or 
may othei-s join with him in the use thereof? 

Ansiv. (1.) Our most solid judicious divines among 
those called Puritans, do not judge forms of prayer ab- 
solutely unlawful ; Dr. Preston saith, " I think there is 
none here that doubt, but that a set form of prayer may 
be used ; you know, Christ prescribed a form— there 
were certain psalms that were prayers used constantly 
— still in all times the church had set forms ; I know 
no objection against it of weight,"* &c. Mr. Hilder- 
sham, the oracle of his time, saith, " I dare not deny but 
a weak Christian may use the help of a good prayer 
book in this case ; better to pray on a book than not 
to pray at all ; certainly it is the spirit of error that 
hath taught the world otherwise."! 

(2.) Yet these worthy men affirm truly that every 
Christian, even the meanest and weakest hath the gift 
and spirit of prayer, (so saith the latter of these wor- 
thies,) and must not " neglect the gift that is in him."t 
Dr. Preston saith, there is no man that hath any work 
of grace in his heart, but he is enabled in some measure 
to pray, without a set form of prayer. There was 

* Dr. Preston's Saint's Daily Exercise, pag. 80—82. 

t Hildersham on Psal. li. Lect. 12, p. 63. See 3 Arg. for forms. 

t 1 Tim. iv. 14. 


never any man in any extreme want, but he knew how 
to express himself, where he had liberty to speak. 

(3.) But yet considering that some Christians, though 
truly gracious, may for a season be very unexperien- 
ced and incapable of opening their cases to God metho- 
dically, or in appropriate words, and considering it is 
before a family of which a man is to be the organ, and 
considering that unmeet and undigested expressions 
expose an ordinance of God to contempt ; I would ad- 
vise some Christians, before they pray with others, to 
premeditate, and duly weigh what they are to say to 
God, and think of a proper method, and some scriptural 
expressions, to produce them in prayer, as I have be- 
fore directed. 

(4.) As I doubt not the lawfulness of a member in a 
family joining with such a prayer, if the matter be 
sound and orthodox, so I question not but such a master 
as conscientiously useth this practice, will so increase 
in gifts and abilities, that in due time, he will tast 
away those crutches, and learn to go on profitably in 
daily family exercise, to the edification of all that join 
with him : so that in the diligent and humble use of 
these means, many disagreeable tautologies, and need- 
less impertinences will be paired off, which offended 
intelligent ears. The worthy Dr. Preston saith, "a 
child that cannot go, may have a prop to help it ; but 
we must not always be children, we must not always 
use that help." 

8. Case is. If the householder or master is loose and 
careless, and possibly comes home, under the influence 
of liquor, yet will pray, though in no fit case for it, or 
he is unsound at heart, and prays but coldly or formally, 
may I join ? 

Ansiv. (1.) Thy acceptance with God, depends not 


on the state of him tliat prays, nor on his zeal, but on 
thy acting of faith in Clirist, if thou be upright in join- 
ing with the words, and endeavourest to lift up thy 
heart to God, the Lord may graciously receive thee, 
though the person praying may be rejected ; " for 
every one shall bear his own burden, and give an ac- 
count of himself to God."* 

(2.) Yet if thou art convinced that the party pray- 
ing speaks nonsense or blasphemy, instead of praying, 
thou art bound in conscience to shew thy dislike of it, 
lest God be dishonoured and offended with the whole 
family, the man hardened in sin, thy own conscience 
defiled, and thyself in danger of playing the hypocrite, 
in pretending to join with what thy soul abhors ; in 
this case thou must withdraw, and get alone, and 
mourn over it. 

(3.) And it is also thy duty, humbly and modestly 
to take a proper season to speak to thy master, as 
Naaman's servantsi did to him, when they saw him 
wrong, and you know it did good ; and Abigail told her 
husband Nabal of his fault and danger, and " his heart 
died within him."f Who can tell what good such a word 
in season may do? he may think of it afterwards, 
Jonathan's advocating David's case, before his passionate 
father Saul, did good for a while. ^ If you come to a 
father or master humbly and submissively, not saucily 
and malapertly, you may -win upon them, and if you 
can say little, yet if you burst out into tears for their 
sin, it may ju'ove as convincing rhetoric to them as 
king Edward's weeping was to bishop Cranmer and 
Ridley, on denying his sister Mary liberty for mass ; 
who said, " the king had more divinity in his little 
finger than they had in their whole body." 

* Gal. vi. 5. Rom. xiv. 12. t 2 Kings v. 13. 1 Sam. xxv. 37- 

* 1 Sam. xix. 5, 6. 


(4.) If Still there be no remedy, or reformation, 
thoiioli thou must not with cursed Ham, discover thv 
father's or master's nakedness, if otherwise it may be 
helped, yet thou mayest or must acquaint a pious 
minister, or christian friend, ask their advice, and if 
that be judged expedient, that they may speak to thy 
father or master, with as much secrecy as possible, and 
this runs parallel to our Lord's rule, Matt, xviii. 15, 16. 
Who knows but a conviction may fasten ? and if he be 
obstinate, he will leave off his praying in a little time ; 
for his sinning will make him give over praying, or his 
praying prevent his sinning. 

9. Case. Suppose I be cast into a graceless and 
prayerless family, how must I do, or what is my duty ? 

Answ. (1.) Examine thy reasons and intention in 
coming thither ; consider thy call, if thy parents fixed 
thee there as an apprentice, quiet thyself in God's dis- 
posal, make good use of this providence ; if thou, came 
thither voluntarily, without due coTisideration, be hum- 
])led for sin, beg pardon, make sure of a friend above. 

(2.) Use all lawful means to remove into a more 
wholesome air. I say to thee as the apostle to a godly 
servant, " Art tliou called, being a servant, care not 
for it ; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather."* 
Methinks God saith to you as once to Israel, " Depart, 
I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men."f It 
is a wonder the ground doth not cleave in sunder, or 
some judgment come down upon such prayerless fa- 

(3.) Humbly propose some expedients for a remedy. 
See if any other member in the family will undertake 
that exercise, or whether the master will give you 
leave to pray in the family ; and behave yourself so 
holily and winningly, that the good opinion of superiors 

• 1 Cor. vii. 21. t Numb. vvi. 2\, 24, 26, 31. 


or equals may be a prologue and preparative to that 

(4.) If all this avail not for family worship, and 
necessity detains you there, as you love your souls, 
spend more time, and take more pains in secret ; get 
into your cell, and say, Lord, have mercy on me,* as 
the old monk said to Luther ; or as Jeremiah, " If ye 
will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for 
your pride."! l^i'ay for your own soul, that you may 
not perish with others ; pray for the family, and all 
the members thereof, governors and governed ; be not 
discouraged Avith their scoffs ; who knows what the 
event may prove ? 

10. Ca.'ie. If I be cast into a praying family, what 
use shall I make thereof? 

Ans. (1.) Give glory to God, admire his wise and gra- 
cious providence ; it is not the lot of all young people. 
Think, and say, Lord, who am I, that I should enjoy 
this privilege ? this is a blessed place, a place of bless- 
ings ; this fleece is wet with dew, when others are 
dry ; this is none other than the house of God, and this 
is the gate of heaven ; X blessed be God that hath cast 
my lot here. 

(2.) Join in family prayer ; be not needlessly absent, 
but do not content yourselves with bodily presence, or 
postures, but see to it, that your hearts also join with 
the expressions, else you play the hypocrite ; and when 
you go forth, and set up families of your own, use the 
same practice, and with the same spirit of you.r pious 

(3.) Improve this stock of family prayers. A father 
may lay up an estate for his child in bills and bonds, 
which may prove a good portion. The corn sown in 

* Abi in cellam et die, miserere mei. f Jer. xiii. I'J. 

X Judg. vi. 37. Gen. xxviii. 17- 


the field, is as good as that in the garner, in some res- 
pects better ; the father sows, the child reaps a blessed 
crop. God forbid that I should lose a child's portion 
for want of looking after it. Lord, cut not off the en- 
tail of my father's covenant ; O hear the many cries he 
sent up for me in my heai'ing ! 

(4.) Behave yourselves respectfully to that family 
where so gracious a providence hath cast you. God 
forbid you should be a scoffing Ishmael in an Abra- 
ham's house, a jirofane Esau in Jacob's, a rebellious 
Absalom, or an unchaste Ammon in holy David's fa- 
mily. You disgrace the ways of God more than others, 
when it shall be said, see what a brute was brought up 
in a praj'ing family ; you greatly discredit your pri- 
vileges, and sink yourselves deeper in hell. God Al- 
mighty open your eyes, awaken yoiu' consciences, and 
reform your conversation, that you may walk worthy 
of God, to all well pleasing. 

I have now done with this important subject of duly 
erecting a family altar, and offering gospel sacrifices to 
the Lord. And oh, that there were such altars set up 
in every dwelling house, and divine incense ascending 
like pillars of smoke heaven-wards.* 

I have only a word of encouragement for timid, though 
willing souls, who set up family M'orship, but meet 
with so many discouragements from without, and with- 
in, that their hearts are appalled, and they are ready 
to give back, and say, will God accept such poor and 
imperfect sacrifices, so dead, heartless, and lifeles ? I 
do no good, I get no good, I might as well give over, 
I am oft so wofidly indisposed for duty, that I might 
as well let it alone. 

O my friends T look on this as a temptation, and be- 
ware of it, strive against it, rouse up your spirits. 
* Cant. iii. 6. 


1. Consider, you are not the first or only persons 
that Satan hath resisted in duty ; i'or even Joshua the 
high priest, a type of Christ, had Satan standing- at his 
right hand, to resist him, and he had too much ad- 
vantage against him ; for, " he was dothed with filthy 
garments ;" and our weakness is Satan's strength, our 
guilt his advantage; hut our Jehovah saith, " Tlie 
Lord rebuke thee."* The devil makes spots, and tben 
acfuseth us of ovu- spots ; but Christ wipes them away. 

2. Our Lord takes well your good will to do, tho\igii 
you can do but little. The imi)rimis of a willing mind 
is accepted, though your following items be few and 
poor. I " The Lord is not unrighteous to foiget your 
work and laliour of love,"| that is, those duties we 
perform to the Lord with labour and hard struggling. 
It is the observation of precious Mr. Hildei-sham,|j 
" Think not," saith he, " beloved, that those j)rayers 
only are pleasing to God, wherein we please ourselves 
best, or which we perform with most facility and apt- 
ness of mind and speech ; no, no, when we can per- 
form this duty in obedience to God, even against our 
own disposition, and oppositions in our own hearts ; 
these are the prayers that are most acceptable to God, 
as Abraham's obedience," Gen. xxii. 12. 

3. By using and exercising little grace, improving 
small ability to pray, you will increase it, and will 
more comfortably carry on the exercise ; so our Lord 
informs us, " To every one that hath," that is, by em- 
ploying it, he shews that he hath, for otherwise the 
unprofitable servant liad a talent also, "shall be given, 
and he shall have abundance." jj Sick persons, whose 
appetites are weakened, by eating provoke and recover 

* Zech. iii. 1—3. 2 Cor. ii. 11. t 2 Cor. viii. 12. 

:J; Heb. vi. 10. II On Psal. li. p. 65. § Tvlatt. xxv. 29. 
VOL. IV. 2 E 

418 A FAMILY ALT All. 

them, one morsel alluring to another. You will find 
this true in spiritual things. 

4. The weaker you think yourselves, and the more 
likely you are to depend on the right means of your 
acceptance, that is, the Spirit of Christ for assistance, 
and the merit and intercession of Christ for acceptance. 
For alas! you find you have no strong breeze of gifts to 
fill the sails, or height of enlargement to carry you with 
full gale to God ; you are emptied, and your plumes 
quite fallen, as to any thing you do, and therefore con- 
clude, you are too low to gain access to God, and your 
duties cpiite lost, except your persons and performances 
be accepted through the mediation of Christ.* I shall 
therefore conclude this whole Discourse with that 
deliglitful text, which is worth a world, without the 
the benefit of which, all o\u- altars and sacrifices are 
ciphers. Rev, viii. H, "And another angel came and 
stood at the altar, having a golden censer, and there 
was given unto him much incense, that he should offer 
it with the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar, 
which was before the throne, 

* Phil. iii. 9. 








2 e2 



To the Right Honourable Philip Lord Wharton. 

My Lokd, 

X HE concernedness your lordship hath for the worthy branches 
of your noble family, is demonstrated to all whom }'ou esteem 
friends, by the constant solicitation with which you close yoUr 
letters, Remember me and my family in your prayers^ by which 
your lordship at once testifies your natural affection and true 
piety ; your earnest desire of the best good, and the means by 
which that must come from God, even on the wings of believing 
prayer. Your lordship's request hath the force of a command ; 
the obligations laid upon many hundreds both of ministers and 
people, extort from us, in point of gratitude, both many thanks- 
givings to God, and renewed supplications for your lordship, 
that the blessing of Abraham may successively continue in 
your noble family, that it may be blessed, and be a blessing. 
O happy family ! where the precious pearl of covenant grace 
enamels the gold ring of worldly honour ! It is true, the di- 
vine oracles say, not many mighty, not many noble are called. 
A good lady added, blessed be God, that it saith, not, not any. 
Once at least God will have an emperor, a Constantine saved. 
Augustine saith, a poor Lazarus is laid in rich Abraham's 
bosom. Sacred writ records a noble Theophilus, and an elect 
lady. And ecclesiastical history furnish eth us with a large 
catalogue of illustrious members of noble famiHes, attached to 
the house of the Lord, which like fixed stars of the first riiagiii- 
tude, have shone bright in their proper orbits, and shed a hea- 
venly influence among their inferiors. In which rank God hath 
placed your honour ; whose morning star of early piety con- 


tinues still sliming biight to a good old age, and hath cast 
many resplendent beams of favour upon indigent persons, and 
spread the savour of divine knowledge amongst the ignorant ; 
for which the loins of the poor, and souls of the instructed will 
bless you in this, and the other world. I doubt not, my lord, 
but your gracious spirit echoes to the dying speech of holy 
David, to whom a succession of piety in his seed was more 
eligible than of royalty and large revenues. What can be 
compared to this one comprehensive promise, / u-'iU be a God 
i/nto t/iee, and to thy seed after thee : yet this is the rich pri- 
vilege of God's covenanted servants. Mines of gold, mountains 
of pearl, can bear no proportion to this one word, my God ; 
This is light in darkness, life in death, a heaven in the midst of 
hell. The sense of this is the only cordial to the fainting spirits 
of God's afflicted children. Yea, saith one, if but one little 
drop of divine love, should fall into a lost soul in hell, it would 
sweeten or swallow up the bitter torments. And next to the 
privilege of God's being our God, hii> being our children's 
God claims the pre-eminence. For parents' anxious thoughts 
run out for their children's well being in this and another 
world. If God help us to own him, he will not forsake us or 
ours. It is true grace comes not by succession, yet oft in suc- 
cession. The line of covenant love reacheth to many genera- 
tions ; and the more nmnerous pious predecessors are, the 
greater is the shower of blessings. So a learned man reads that 
paternal benediction of Jacob to Josejjh, " The blessings of thy 
father are strong with the blessings of my progenitors ;" * as the 
more waters run into one channel, tlie deeper it grows. Your 
lordship then may hope for multiplied and accumulative bless- 
ings on your noble progeny, if that be sound divinity, which 
was a maxim amongst the Jewish rabbles, that the divine glory 
rests on ncble stems : however beams of love reflect with sreat- 
est Ivistre when descending on honourable personages. There- 
fore should we pray most ardently, for those of highest rank, 
as having the greatest capacity of doing most good ; and a 
pious man, or minister, must not only with David, '•' serve his 
own generation by the will of God,""!* but with the blessed 
apostle Peter, " endeavour that posterity may be able after their 
" Gen. xlix. 26 •)■ Acts xiii. Ii6. 


decease to have divine truths always in remembrance." * This, 
my lord, liath been the great care of your houour ; and as 
natural motions have more velocity towards the end, so the 
nearer your lordship approachcth to yqur centre and haven, the 
more sedulous and active are you to hiy a foundation for religion 
in future generations ; thereby also layir.g up in store for your- 
self a good foundation for the time to come, so laying hold on 
eternal life.-}- For the accomplishing of this great purpose, a 
poor inconsiderable worm casts his mite into my Lord's trea- 
sury, and prostrates himself at your lordship's feet, in this dedi- 
cation, in testimony of my sincere gratitude for your un- 
paralleled kindness and condescension to so humble a person. 
Withal recommending this small Treatise to your lordship, to 
encourage your heart, and strengthen your hands in God, under 
the painful breaches in your noble family ; venturing it into a 
critical world under your lordship's auspicious name ; not 
doubting a pardon for this boldness, and a candid acceptance ; 
following it with my poor prayers, that it may obtain its 
desired success among the rising generation, and may excite 
parents to improve this blessed covenant ; hoping that when 
your lordship hath filled up your days with grace, and your 
soul hath been transplanted into the celestial paradise ; some of 
your seed will rise up in your room as plants of renown, to 
bear your image and name, and follow your gracious example 
while sun and moon endure; which is the daily prayer of, 

]\Iy Lord, 

Your humbk and devoted servant, 


• i Pet. i. 15. t 1 Tim. yi. 19. 



J- HERE is notliing in the world (I am very confident) lies 
so near tlie heart of a gracious Christian, next to the glory of 
God and his own souFs eternal happiness, as the spiritual good 
of his dear children ; nature binds him to love his own : Chris- 
tianity regulates and spiritualizes this lijve : fondness is not 
true love, but faithfulnesss : love to their bodies without love 
to then- souls is nothing but animal attachment : it is like a 
doting on the casket, and throwing a"ftay the jewel, the soul is 
the man, tlie unseen part is the best part : where the soul is 
lodged, when parted from the body, there must the body lodge, 
in lieaven or hell : oh that men understood and well digested 
this ! surely they a". ould not so unweariedly toil and exhaust them- 
selves to get estates for their cliildren, and take no care of their 
precious sculs, and know not when they die, whether " he that 
con-ies after them will be a wise man or a fool :*" if he be a 
wise man, a little v.ill serve him, with God's blessing: if wicked, 
he puts a sword into the hand of a fool to do liimself and otliers 
a greater mischief. Oh, how much better is it for their own 
peace and their clilklren's profit to plead the covenant of grace, 
to instruct, corre:-t, admonisli, counsel, comfort, and encourage 
their children in the ways of God, and use their utmost en- 
deavour to make tliera God's children : an ancient thus writes : 
'• God commands parents to hoard up discipline, not money 
for their children, things of a perpetual not perishing nature/'-f 
^Vhat a base and ^-oi-did thing is it to prefer a hog to a son ! 
to provide for an animal and cast out a cliild ! and yet most 

• Ecrl. ii. la. 

■f Di.sciplinam pareiites Den's jiihet thesaiirizare filfis, non jiccTiniani, pur- 
ennia pracipit nou peritura confeire — fiahr'mth ad Ecdnn. caih. lib. 3. p. 441. 


parents bestow more care on tlieir cattle than on their children's 
souls : they give their children nature, but deny them nurture : 
vea, they propagate corruption to them, but do not travail over 
them till Christ be formed in them : they glory in being fathers 
of their flesh, but cry not to the Father of spirits for the best, 
the spiritual life of their children. They promise at their 
baptism, to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of 
the Lord, but know not what that meaneth, and have no heart 
to learn, that they may teach. Oh what account will these 
perjured parents give another day.f^ Kemember, God will call 
you to account, what answer will you give, when he shall say ? 
"• Where is the child's soul, that I committed to thy trust .? 
what care hast thou taken of it? where are thy tears, prayers, 
groans, yearnings of bowels for thine own ? didst thcu not know 
that thy child had a soul.? that its soul was polluted with sin.? 
that it must be born again not only of water but of the Spirit; 
or it could not be saved ? that though I was to be the effi- 
cient cause, yet thou must be the instrument to begin and 
carry on tins work, and hast thou done any thing in this con- 
cern by faithful endeavours .? or hast thou earnestly desired me 
to do that for thy child which thou couldst not ? thou knowest 
thou hast done neither, and therefore thy child's blood shall 
be required at thy hands." What apology wilt thou then make 
for thyself.? Dost thou think to come off by saying, I sent 
him to school to learn, or to the minister to be catechised ? 
this is more than some will do, but is this all.? is not paternal 
care thy personal duty.? wast not thou charged with thy child's 
soul .? may not God justly blast other teachers' pains as a 
punishment of thy negligence .? and doth not thy bad example 
at home counteract all that others teach them .? Woe, woe, to 
such wicked parents ! 

In the name of God I charge you, as you will not have your 
children accuse and reprobate you in hell for ever, concern 
yourselves deeply about their everlasting state ; think, they can 
never do well, if they do not well for another world : they will 
never be dutiful to you, till they be obedient to God: train 
them up for God, and you consult at once God's glory, the 
good of the church and commonwealth, your own comfort, and 
their eternal felicity : true grace qualillcs persons for every con- 


dition for he tliat is really good will be relatively good — a ^qood 
king or subject, father or child, master or servant. Heathens 
knew this, that the way to form persons into a due mould of civil 
subjection is a literary and virtuous education : thus the king of 
Babvlon conquering Judah ordered the king's seed and princes to 
be trained uj) in the learning of the Chaldeans :* and our own 
history tells us, that when the Romans conquered this island, 
Julius Agricola brought noblemen''s sons to Rome, and caused 
them to be educated in liberal sciences, whereby they gra- 
dually tamed the furious temper of the Britons, so that the 
inhabitants here became of gentle spirit, and peaceable sub- 
jects : much more will Christianity and true piety bring persons 
into regular habits : it expels barbarity and produceth civility, 
hospitality, frugality, and yet a discreet liberality: a divine 
benediction is entailed upon sincere religion : " Godliness is 
profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now 
is and of that which is to come/'i- If your children be pious 
they will be fit for any thing, and all things will conduce to 
their good. 

And you, () children, suffer a word of exhortation from one 
who hath had experience of childhood, youth, and riper age, 
and is arrived at old age, who hath been a teacher of others 
above forty years, and may t»ay to you as Augustus did to his 
niutinous army, " Hear me, young men, whom once when young 
old men heard and obeyed."" :J: God forbid you should be head- 
strong sons of Belial, yokclcss, and so run headlong into the 
pit of destruction. Be not like the wild ass's colt, break not 
through parents' tears, prayers, counsels, and commands, to make 
your wav to hell: alas ! that any young persons should despe- 
rately withstand the pei'suasions of ministers, the suggestions of 
the Spirit, the checks of their own consciences, the sad warn- 
ings of their und<)ne companions, and the rod of God on their 
own backs, and haste through all these to the pit, without ever 
stopping till they be swallowed uj) in that infernal lake which 
burns with fire and brimstone: vou will sav. what will vou have 
us to do .'' I answer, act as rational creatures, enure yourselves 
to solemn consideration : consider that you are creatures of a 

• Dan. i. 3. 4. t 1 Tim. iv. 8. 

^ Andite me, juvenes, quern juveiiem seiies audieiuiit. 


higher rank than brutes, that you have never-dying souls, that 
God made you to glorify and enjoy him; that he hath given you 
a rule to act by, in order to reach another state in another world, 
that sin hath depraved your natures, hath deprived you of God's 
image, and brought you under his cvirse ; that Christ came to 
redeem sinners, that saving faith doth interest souls in Christ, 
and that faith is the gift of God ; that in your baptism you 
were engaged to forsake the world, the flesh, and the devil; con- 
sider your sins since you were baptized, confess them to God ; 
review and renew your baptismal vow, actually renounce all 
other claimants, and give up yourselves to the Lord, under- 
standingly, deliberately, vmiversally, and perpetually; regard 
Jesus Christ, as the way, the truth, and the life ; espouse his 
interests; associate with God's people ; obey all his commands; 
attend on him in all his ordinances ; be sure you be sincere ; 
exercise every grace ; aim at perfection; keep a constant watch 
over your hearts and ways, maintaining a daily warfare against 
all spiritual enemies ; prepare for death ; and consider where 
you must lodge when the king of terrors lays his cold hand 
of arrest upon you ; and make your accounts straight against 
that great reckoning day; especially be sure you put on Christ, 
and employ him as your advocate, that he may answer for you 
at that day. 

These things I do but touch ; for my great design is, to 
quicken and encourage parents on tlie behalf of their posterity ; 
some of whom are left to themselves by the Lord to go astray, 
which occasioned Mr. Laurence's excellent Treatise on Parents'* 
Groans ; nor is it his case only, but many others also, some 
particular instances are fresh in our memory, which have 
brought some pious parents' grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. 
Some well known servants of God having never seen any hope- 
ful symptoms of grace upon some or any of their children in 
their Ufe time, and having on this account sad temptations to 
question the truth of God in his covenant ; yet even in the 
very pangs of death they have embraced and clasped hard this 
blessed word, dying in the hopes of its ellicacy for themselves 
and theirs ; and the subject being recommended to me, was ac- 
cordingly treated in a funeral discourse, which upon request, I 
was willing to transcribe, for the encouragement of poor afflicted 


parents, who are bowed down with heart grief for their offend- 
ing children. I confess the subject is novel and singular, and 
such as I have not seen any treatise upon : and having walked 
in an untrodden path, I hope I may obtain a pardon from God 
and man for any erratic movement, whilst the tendency is God's 
glory and the good of souls. 

I hope none will reject this Treatise, because it seems a limited 
subject, as if they were not concerned in it, for as it is handled 
it extends to all, parents and children ; yea such as have no 
children, are dealt with in this small Treatise, for their in- 
struction and consolation. Such as it is I commend to believing, 
praying parents, following it with my poor prayers, that all the 
children of the covenant, may be covenanted souls, and that 
parents may be comforted with the grace of God in their pos- 
teritv, and both may meet in glory ; and if any reap and re- 
ceive any advantage, I have my reward, and do humbly beg 
the incessant prayers of all that can pray, 

For the poor servant of Christ and the church, 





2 Sam. xxiii. 5. 

Although my house he not so ivith God, yet he hath made with 
me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and snre : 
for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he 
make it not to grow. 



These words contain dying David's living comfort. 
The covenant vi'as the only cordial to his fainting 
spirits ; when the world looked dark about him, here 
light ariseth out of obscurity; just as it was with 
Oecolampadius when dying, and putting his hand on 
his breast, he cried, here is light enough : * so like 
David, a believer looking above, sees all good in 
the covenant ; looking within, he sees the counter- 
part of it, and saith, here, here alone is light, by his 
light I walk through darkness. f This shall be my 
vacle mecnm, my companion throvigh this pilgrimage of 
the world, and this only shall be my viaticuniy my 
support and supply when I pass through the valley of 
* Hic sat lucis. t Job xxix. 3. 


the shadow of death. Farewell, empty, polluted world, 
welcome the immediate presence of my covenant God; 
I am going- from a prison to a palace, from sorrow to 
solace, from sin to the sweet enjoyment of God ; and 
tlie only foundation of my hopes is this gospel cove- 
nant. A i)oor dying miser, ready to breathe out his 
unhappy soul, got a Jacobus piece of gold, BJid clapped 
it to his breast saying, " I will die with this cordial at 
my heart ;" but at last plucketl it away saying, " it 
will not do, alas it will not do." No ; gold itself is no 
cordial, it cannot disarm death, nor arm against it, it 
loses its virtue ; nothing but God's covenant will staml 
in stead ; the dying child of God is like the standard- 
bearer, who when the battle was lost, M^rapped himself 
in his colours and therein was safe, he marches boldly 
through armies of enemies, uninjured into his father's 
palace. () happy soul that enjoys and improves this 
covenant ! 

The context tells us, that these are the last words of 
David, not absolutely as though he breathed his last, 
after he had uttered them (for there were several ex- 
pressions and transactions after) but comparatively, 
they were uttered towards the latter end of David's 
life. Now the dying words of pious men are gracious, 
serious, and ponderous ; they use not to spend their 
breath about trifles. 

In the context, we have, f/ie introduction, and the 
excellency of the gospel covenant. 

Fii*st, In the introduction we have the penman, in- 
strument, or amanuensis, who spoke these words, 
David ; and the Author who dictated them. 

1. The penman or instrument, David, is described 
by his natural descent, " the son of Jesse ;" his rmfal 
dignity, " raised up on high ;" his divine unction ^ 
•' anointed of God;" his employment or exerci/ie, " nweet 


Psalmist of Israel," whose breath is sweet to this 

2. The Author that dictated to David : The Holy 
Ghost, " Spirit spake by nie ; God the Fathei-, " the 
God of Israel ;" Jesus Christ, the mediator of the co- 
venant, called here *' the rock of Israel," as he is called, 
1 Cor. X. 4. 

Secondly, In the expressions which David employs, 
there are also two things considerable : the nature of 
Damd's government^ and the excellency of the cove- 

1. The former which unfolds to us the nature and pro- 
perties of David's kingdom, as the type, and of Christ's 
as the antitype, contains four particidars. 

(1.) The holiness of it, "he that ruleth overmen 
must be just, ruling in the fear of God ;" a fine cha- 

(2.) The happiness of it, " he shall be as the light 
of the morning, when the sun riseth, a morning with- 
out clouds." 

(3.) The increase of it, " as the tender grass spring- 
ing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain." 

(4.) Here is an uncomfortable exception with re- 
ference to David's family and kingdom, in these words, 
"Although my house be not so with God." 

2. Here is an excellent description of the nature, 
properties, and suitableness of the gospel covenant, in 
these four particulars : The durahleness of it, " ever- 
lasting ;" the order of it, " ordered in all things ;" the 
sureness, or certainty of it ; and its suitableness to 
David's circumstances with respect to his present 
desires in this world, and his eternal salvation here- 

You see the text is a full storehouse, a rich treasury, 
a blessed magazine, whence we may fetch both raeat 


and niediiiiie, work and rewai'd, all tilings tliat con- 
cern orrace and p-lorv. 

The text then presents to us David's case and his 
cure. His case is presented negatively, " Although 
my house be not so with God." And his cure positive- 
ly, which is " the covenant," that is a balm for every 
wound, a remedy for every disease, a supply for every 

I am not ignorant, that some give the words a dif- 
ferent sense, in this manner, " Although my house be 
not so with God," that is, my house is not such an un- 
stable, inconstant thing, to alter and change as the 
weather, from a glorious sunshine morning, to a dark, 
cloudy, gloomy evening, so as to prove a stormy, rainy 
day ; no, no, my house and family is fixed, settled, 
splendid, and complete, if not in my outward affairs at 
])resent, yet in the Messiah to come out of my loins in 
the fulness of time; his kingdom will appear, and shine 
most gloriously, and break in pieces all other kingdoms, 
and it shall stand for ever; so we read, Dan. ii. 44. 

But though that be a gi-eat truth, I am apt to in- 
cline to those interpreters, that take this as a conces- 
sion, concerning the defects and imperfection of piety 
and tranquillity in David's family, as if he had said, I 
must needs confess, that neither I nor my children 
have lived so exactly, or ruled so uprightly in the fear 
of God as we ouo-ht ; we have had our faults and follv, 
which have clouded our consciences and reputation, 
and therefore we have not enjoyed such uninterrupted 
prosperity as we might, had we walked more closely 
and circinnspectly, and therefore sad clouds and storms 
have darkened and disturbed our heaven, yea oft be- 
nighted our state, domestic, political, and ecclesiastical, 
as well as personal ; my children have not been like 
tender grass, springing up to maturity, but some of 



tliein cut oft' in the prime of their days ; I have been 
banished from my throne and family, not suffered to 
build God a hou3e, nor abide in his sanctuary, my 
wounded spirit hath sighed out many heavy groans, 
God hath oft withdrawn his grace^ hid his face, and left 
my soul on the brink of despair ; yet for all this I can, 
when most depressed cast my eye upon the gospel co- 
venant, and fetch relief from that in my lowest state, 
inward or outward. 

Many inferences may be drawn from this important 
passage of scripture. 

1. That it is a singular mercy to be entrusted with a 
family. This is implied and owned by David, 1 Chron. 
xvii. 16 — 25. God setteth the solitary in families, 
Psal. Ixviii. 6. 

2. Householders must regard the state of their 
families. So doth David here, and Psalm ci. 2, 3 ; 
he had a large family, and had state affairs on his 
hands, yet he prays with his family, 2 Sam. vi. 20, 
and puts it not off to stewards or chaplains ; see Prov. 
xxvii. 23. 

3. A religious family is to be with God. "Although 
my house be not so with God," he earnestly desires all 
the members of his family might be with God, and 
laments the contrary, for the Lord is with them that 
are with him, 2 Chron. xv. 2. 

4. The best families have their defects and imper- 
fections. David's family for all his care, may be far 
from the rule, not only as to individual members, but 
as to the complex body of a family ; there were dis- 
orders even in Christ's own family. 

5. Family faults bring family calaniitieg, family de- 
fects produce family afflictions. God will not spare 
offending families, though dear to him, nay, they shall 
smart soonest and sorest, Amos iii. % " You only have 

VOL. IV. 2 F 


I known of all the families of the eartli, therefore I 
will punish you." 

6. Family miscarriages do greatly trouble gracious 
householders. He speaks of it with painful feelings. 
O what bitterness is it to a godly father or master, to 
find disorders in such as are under his charge ! 

7. The covenant of grace is extensive and conipre- 
liensive. Pious persons have much comfort and con- 
tent from it, with reference not only to themselves, 
but their hou.^es and families. 

8. The covenant of grace is everlasting. It is from 
all eternity, being connected Avith the covenant of 
redemption, betwixt the Father and Son, Tit. i. 1, 2; 
and endures for ever, Psal. cxi. 9. 

9. There is a beautiful and admirable order in the 
gospel covenant. An order of persons, in the Father's 
election, the Son's redemption, the Holy Ghost's appli- 
cation, and the believer's reception. An order of things; 
supreme, and subordinate causes ; means, instruments, 
promises, privileges, principles, and practices ; all keep 
their places, they do not interfere or thwart one an- 

10. The gospel covenant is sure and stable. Things 
are not left at uncertainties, nor do they depend on 
the mutable will of man, as of old it was with Adam ; 
but they are the siu'e mercies of David, Isa. Iv. 3, and 
liv. 9, 10. 

11. There is that in the covenant which answers a 
Christian's desires. As the Christian's desire is mainly 
carried towards it, so there is that in it which answers 
and satisfies those desires ; desires are vast and im- 
mense, but the blessings of the covenant run parallel, 
and are every way adequate to just desires. 

12. A Christian's salvation is Mrapt up in the gos- 
pel covenant. Upon this may a child of God venture 

ciFvCU^iisTANCEs Til e:\iised. 435 

his soul- Eternal life is contained and comprehended 
in it. 

I wave all these, and shfill consider the text in a 
twofold light, in a domestic, and in a personal respect. 

The former refers to David's house, the latter to his 
personal experience ; this blessed covenant was David's 
chief relief, in both these cases : from the fonner ob- 

That notwithstanding the sins and sufferings in a 
pious man's family which occasion much grief to his 
spirit, yet he is supported and satisfied with God's gra- 
cious gospel covenant. 

From the latter acceptation observe. 

That covenant relation is the foundation of a dying 
Christian's safety, satisfaction, and salvation. 

It is the former observation on which I shall at pre- 
sent enlarge. 



The principal point which I propose for consideration 
relates to David's family, for he mentions his house in 
the beginning of the text ; and in the latter end of the 
verse there is also a reference to it, " although he make 
it," that is, my house, "not to grow," that is, toinci'ease 
in number, power, or honour. 

The former part of the verse is variously rendered, 
*7N* UV "'jTn p K*? O, Nor is my house so great, or of 



SO much worth with God.* Alas, what is my house at 
best, my pedigree is without distinction. David dis- 
dains not to reflect on his humble origin, though ad- 
vanced to the culminating point of civil and spiritvial 
promotion, as a king and prophet : he magnifies God, 
and degrades, yea, nullifies himself, 2 Sam. vii. 18, 
" Who am I, () Lord God, and what is my house that 
thou hast brought me hitherto?" Others thus, there 
is more in the covenant than this my house before 
God.f All the families in the world amount not to 
so much as one Messiah, he, he only is the noble 
flourishing branch springing out of my family, who is 
worth us all, who conveys life and vigour to us all, 
this is the rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch 
growing out of its roots, i and they shall hang on him 
all the glory of his father's house ;j| my whole family 
would fall into ruin but for him, on whose behalf it 
must be upheld, that he may be born in it ; yea, 
who only upholds it. 

Others thus ; although my family and kingdom be 
not so holy, as to perform the conditions of the cove- 
nant so exactly as God requireth, though we are guilty 
in many respects before God, and he hath scourged us 
sore, yet God's covenant is the ground of my hope for 
my family, and I doubt not but my Lord will make it 

And what David saith of his family, any child of 
God may say of his, except in the peculiar case of the 
Messiah springing out of his loins. Thence we may 
safely derive this 

JDoct. That notwithstanding the sins and sufferings 
in a pious man's family, which occasion much grief to 

* Xec tanta est domus mea apud Deum. 

+ Plus est quam hr?c domus mea ante Deum. — Chald. Jon. 

% Isa. xi. 1. II I»ia. xxii. 24. § Quamvis non sit ita. 


his spirit, yet he is supported and satisfied with God's 
gracious gospel covenant. 

In handling this point I shall 

I. Premise some things proper to be known. 

II. Give the proof of the point. 

III. Ansv/er a main objection. 

IV. IMake a short application. 

I. The things to be premised are these : What may- 
befall a godly man's family? Why these are a grief 
to his spirit ? What is the covenant that supports 
him ? What is in the covenant to bear him up? 

A little may be advanced on each of these. 

First, V/liat may fall out in a pious man's family 
which may occasion his grief? 

I shall mention these two things in answer : 

Corruptions breaking out, and afflictions breaking in 
on his house ; sin and suffering, and indeed suffering 
is the proper fruit of sinning. 

1. Corruption may break out in pious families ; I 
shall not need to instance in Adam's, Noah's, Abra- 
ham's, Isaac's, or even in Jacob's, Aaron's, Samuel's, &c. 
I shall keep to David's. Alas, corruption broke out 
sadly, both in himself and in his children. 

(1.) David was guilty of sins of omission, possibly 
not instructing, restraining, or not punishing Amnon 
and Absalom, and not crossing Adonijah, 1 Kings i. 6. 
David was too indulgent for which he smarted.* He 
was also guilty of foul sins of commission; as adultery, 
and the murder of his faithful servant Uriah, 2 Sam. 
xi. 4, 27, rashness tov/ards Mephibosheth, 2 Sam. xix. 
29, sometimes lying, changing his behaviour, &c. 

(2.) His children too were deeply guilty, Amnon of 
incest, Absalom of rebellion, and Adonijah of ambition.f 

* 2 Sam. xii. 9—12. 

t 2 Sam. xiii. 10 — 14. xv. 1. 1 Kings i. 7* 

4-J8 BEST i: NT AIL. 

Alas, that there should be found such grobs abomi- 
uations in pious David's family, yet this was not his 
case only ; it is said of Samuel, that his sons walked 
not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took 
bribes and perverted judgment, 1 Sam. viii. 3. 

2. And what a flood gate of troubles did these sins 
open, which gushed in upon him, deep called to deep, 
all God's waves and billows went over him,* remember 
David and all his afflictions, saith he, how niunerous, 
how ponderous !f some of his children dying in the 
height of their career, by the visible hand of justice, 
one died in infancy to punish his iniquit}'-;]: besides 
foreign enemies; he had a gloomy morning, noon, and 
evening, what bloody wars with Saul and his house, 
with Philistines and Ammonites ! what sad tragedies, 
insurrections, commotions, and confusions, threatening 
a total extirpation, so that David might call some child 
Beriah, as Ephraim did because it went evil with his 
house, 1 Chron. vii. 21 — 23, and so it hath done with 
many a good man's house. 

Secondly, Why are these breakings out of sin, and 
prevalence of sufferings in their families, such a grief 
to pious householders ? 

With respect to the first, it must needs trouble 

1. Because by sin God is greatly displeased, his 
name much dishonoured, religion discredited, the 
hearts of genuine beliexTrs saddened, the Avicked 
scandalized and hardened ; motes in professors are 
beams, are mountains in the eyes of profane; whnt 
■will they say? they are no better than we, what are 
they but a ])ack of hypocrites ? to what purpose is all 
their whining and praying? Our children conduct 
themselves as civilly as theirs, where is the covenant 

* Psal. xlii. 7- t r<?A. cxxxii. 1. ^ 2 Sam. xii. 11. 


they boast of? Hence David, Psal. xlii. 3, "My tears 
have been my meat day and night, while they con- 
tinually say unto me, where is thy God ?" 

2. They are greatly afflicted with the sins of chil- 
dren, because the behjved of their souls are endangered, 
they are ])ieces of themselves, as their own souls, how 
can I endure to see my own flesh scorchtd, and tor- 
mented in eternal flames ? Oh ! shall the child that 
came out of my loins be separated from God, a com- 
panion with devils, afire-brand in hell? the mention 
of it sinks my spirits. Is all my labour lost? shall the 
soul of my child perish ? Oh! who can endure to think 
of it? no wonder if that be the first of Solomon's 
Proverbs, chap. x. 1, "A wise son inaketh a glad fa- 
ther; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother." 
Yea, he frequently repeats it ;* other afflictions lie on 
tlie back, this goes to the heart, see Rom. ix. 1 — 3. 

3. Consciousness in parents of their own guilt, makes 
children's miscarriages more uneasy and afllictive. 
Oh ! I read ray sin in my child's folly ; alas, omission 
of due instruction, admonition, or correction hath 
brought my ciiild to this, I may thank myself, I have 
taught my offspring by my bad example, I have not 
watched over them, prayed for them, or been so jealous 
of them, as to offer sacrifice for them continually, as 
I find Job did, chap. i. 5 ; who can tell, but if I 
had been faitliful, I might have prevented all this ? 
Oh ! my child's sin brings my youthful vanities to my 
remembrance, thus I dealt with my father, to this pitch 
I arrived, God hath punished my sin with my child's ; 
I am verily guilty, this cuts deep, Jer. iv. 18. 

4. The affliction is heavier because it doth in some 
measure weaken the confidence of parents in the cove- 
jiant, and endanger their faith in the promise. Pious 

* rrov. XV. 20. xvii. 2j. 


parents are ready to say wlieii a child is born or bap- 
tized as Samuel of Eliab, surely the Lord's anointed 
is before him,* this is a lovely child, I hope this may 
honour God in his day, but the child grows up, and 
degenerates, answers not expectations, but grows de- 
praved and hopeless, old in sin though young in 
years ; and now the pious parent's hopes are dashed 
and impaired, he is put to a stand, and knov/s not 
what to think or say, but concludes sadly, with the 
two apostles in another case, I trusted that he would 
have been one that should have been an honour to God, 
a comfort to me, and a blessing in the church if but 
oh how am I disappointed ! he proves the greatest 
affliction I have, oh what is become of the covenant ? 
have I not some reason to question either God's faith- 
fulness, or mine own interest ? This was the tempta- 
tion of holy David, with whom the covenant was 
made expressly and immediately, Psal. Ixxxix. 20 ; 
God even gives him all the assurances imaginable, his 
word, his oath, ver. 34, 35; yet ver. 49, he saith, " Lord, 
where are thy former loving-kindnesses, which thou 
swarest unto David in thy truth ?" A sad expostula- 
tion, as if God kept not his faith with David ; why, 
what is the matter? the reason was, because provi- 
dences ran counter to promises ; crosses seem to make 
void God's covenant, ver. 38 — 46 ; " but thou hast 
cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine 
anointed," &c. Alas, David, where is thy faith ? But 
so it is, sense prevails in tlie ])est saints above faith at 
some seasons ; but most of all in this case, when the 
children of the covenant cross the purposes of the cove- 
nant ? and no doubt this becomes a great grief of 
heart to a believer, when he is thus sadly nonplust ; 
till the light of the covenant rightly understood un- 

* 1 8am. xvi. 6. ^ Luke. xxiv. 21. 


riddle this inysterv, the poor Christian is in gi'eat per- 
plexity. David had a promise by Samuel that he 
should be king, yet saith in his heart, I shall certainly 
perish one day by the hand of Saul.* Why so ? why, 
his present danger seemed to be incompatible with the 
performance of that promise, and though he said in his 
haste all men are liars ; f yet when he came to himself, 
he would undoubtedly fret and vex himself, that he 
should so wrong himself and Samuel, yea, and cast 
such an unworthy reflection upon God himself, as 
though he were unfaithful to his promise. Thus will 
a good man do at last, but at present he is upon a 
strange rack, tortured betwixt hope and fear. 



Thirdly, It would be superfluous to say much of the 
nature of a covenant, yet take this short description of it. 
A covenant is a voluntary, mutual compact between 
two parties, containing benefits to be enjoyed, and 
duties to be performed. 

1. It is a compact between two i)arties, for though 
a single person may make a promise, yet a covenant 
is between two or more, and parties formerly at a dis- 
tance : this is the case between God and man, so Gen. 
xxvi. 27, 28. 

2. It is a mutual, reciprocal compact, both parties 
must be engaged, therefore it is called the bond of the 

• 1 Sam. xxvii. 1. t Psal. cxvi. 11. 


coveuaut, Ezek. xx. 37 ; because though they -were 
free before, yet now they are under obligation. 

3. It is a voluntary compact, both parties were free 
before they were obliged by covenant. Covenanting 
is an elective act, God is a free agent ; nothing but 
pure love induced him to covenant with man, Deut. 
vii. 7, 8 ; and though man was not absolutely free, 
being God's creature, and therefore bound to his Creator, 
yet his actually entering into covenant is a voluntary 
act, Psal, ex. 3, " Thy people shall be willing or vo- 
lunteers in the day of thy power." 

4. Between those mIio have entered into a covenant 
eno-afremeut, there is mutual obligation to confer bene- 
fits, and perform duties, called the hahetida and the 
agenda, things to be conferred by God, and received, 
by man, and duties on man's part if he expect any 
benefits from God, Isa. i. 19- " If you be willing and 
obedient, you shall eat the good of the land." 

Yet in the covenant of grace between God and man, 
there are two things peculiar: 

1. There is an interposing mediator, our blessed 
Jesus, the days-man that lays his hand on both.* Now, 
saitli the apostle, a mediator, is not of one, but God is 
one. Gal. iii. 20 ; that is, his business is to reconcile 
parties not only distinct but different. 

2. This mediator is also surety or sponsor, to under- 
take for both parties, that is, to perform what is neces- 
sary, both wiiat concerns conferring benefits on God's 
part, and performing conditions on man's part; not for- 
mally, as though Christ did believe and repent for us, to 
save us the labour of repenting or believing, but meri- 
toriously, purchasing these graces for us, and efficiently 
working them in us, thus Jesus is made a surety of a 
better testament, Heb. vii. 32 ; he brings in everlasting 

* Job ix. 33. 

righteousness, and makes God at peace with us, and all 
his attributes favourable to us, and employed for us ; 
working also gracious dispositions and virtues in us, 
which are the conditions of the covenant, so the whole 
lies upon Christ, and " he is all in all ;"* he is respon- 
sible for God and man, being alone able and capable, 
as God and man, to fulfil necessary engagements on 
hoih sides ; thus God promises what he requires, and 
gives what he promises ; Jer. iii. 19, " But I said, how 
shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a 
pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the host of nations ? 
and I said thou shalt call me, my Father, and shalt not 
tiu'n away from me." Tkou shalt, here is God's un- 
dertaking, to give a filial disposition and perseverance. 
O infinite condescension of divine goodness and free 
grace ! 

An eminent divine observes,! that the gospel relat- 
ing matters of fact, is a history — declaring terms on 
which God Avill be served, is a law of grace — dis- 
covering promises of life conditionally, is God's cove- 
nant — and as accepted by man, is a mutual covenant 
between God and man. This law and covenant of 
grace, which was obtained by Christ's death, is that 
legacy lie left to the world, dispensed by his ambassa- 
dors, and effectually conveyed to the legatees, or heirs 
of promise, hv his grand executor the Hol)^ Ghost. 
This then is the great security of man's salvation, 
** That God worketli in us, both to will and to do ; 
that we are kept by the mighty i)ower of God through 
faith unto salvation."!. This is the excellency of the 
gospel dispensation of the new covenant ; the old cove- 
nant laid all the stress on the shoulders of mutable 
man, and therefore it is judged, that the covenant of 
God made with Adam in innocency, was peculiar to 
*Col. iii. II. t Mr. Baxters Director y. t Phil. ii. 13. 1 Pet. i. j. 


him ill that estate and went no further, and that it is 
not continued in any force since the fall, for " if there 
had been a law given, which could have given life, 
then righteousness had been by the law," Gal. iii. 21 ; 
but it is by the gospel covenant that we are justified 
and saved. 

Perhaps it may be said, what is all this to the pur- 
pose ? All this seems to be personal, not relating to 
posterity, but you told us, that there were grounds of 
hope for children from the covenant. How come chil- 
dren to be interested in this covenant ? 

This leads me to the fourth thing premised, namely. 
What is there in the gospel covenant, that is ground 
of encouragement to parents on the behalf of their 
children ? 

I answer, in general, parents and children are legally 
one party, and in civil contracts they usually stand in 
the same circumstances; so in the first covenant Adam 
being a public person, represented all his posterity, for 
"judgment was by one to condemnation, even upon all 
men;"* wo suffer for Adam's sin. And under the 
old testiment dispensation of the covenant, God saith, 
G«n. xvii. 7, " I will establish my covenant between 
me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their genera- 
tions." And afterwards in the days of Moses, when 
God renewed the covenant, he saith Deut. xxix. 14, 
15, " Neither with you only do I make this covenant, 
and this oath, but with him that standeth here with 
us this day, befn'e the Lord our God, and also with 
him that is not here with us this day," that is, with 
their posterity, and so the people understood it, Deut. 
V. 3, " The Lord made not," that is, only, " this cove- 
nant with our fathers, but with us, even us who are 
all of us here alive this day." And in the new testa- 
• Rom. V. 16, 18. 


ment, the apostle saith, Acts ii. 39, " For the promise 
is unto you, and to your children ;" this is a covenant 
that passeth to successors.* Bargains, leases, and 
legacies may pass to children ; children may also suffer 
for their parent's faults, a traitor's sons lose their father's 

Now we must look upon children in a double ca- 
pacity : as children of heathens or Jews, Turks or in- 
fidels ; — and as children of christian parents. Con- 
cerning the former we have little to say. It is of 
the latter we treat, and of these also — some are only by 
an external profession in covenant — and others are 
savingly in covenant with God ; we can say little con- 
cerning the former, we insist chiefly on the latter ; and 
of all these — some children die in infancy — and others 
live to years of maturity. I shall say a word or two 
of the former, though it be the latter that I principally 
have in view. 

With respect to children dying in infancy, if one or 
both of the parents truly fear God, we can state the 
following grounds of hope for their salvation ; for, 

1. They are holy, 1 Cor. vii. 14, and though this 
may mean federally or relatively holy, yet they may 
also be partakers of real holiness. 

2. Our Saviour saith, of such is the kingdom of God, 
or of heaven,f Matt. xix. 14, not only such as have the 
disposition of children, but infants themselves may be 
members of the church invisible here, and glorified 

3. Children of pious parents are in covenant with 
God, " Now to Abraham and to his seed were the pro- 
mises made," Gal. iii. 16, natural as well as spiritual ; 
it is true there was a covenant of peculiarity to give 
his seed the land of Canaan, and it is as true, the 

* Foedus ad successores transiens. t Mark x. 14. 


text speaks not of seeds but one seed, that is Christ, 
but the Scripture affirms, that in his seed, Clirist, yea, 
" in thee," saith God, addressing Abraham, " shall all 
the families of the earth be blessed," Gen. xii. 3, for so 
doth the apostle interT)ret and apply it. Acts iii. 25, 
" Ye are the children of the prophets and of the cove- 
nant, which God hath made with our fathers." 

4. David had good hopes that his child was gone to 
heaven, 2 Sam. xii. 23, " I shall go to him, but he shall 
not return to me." 

Observe (1.) He doth not mean only into the state 
of the dead, where the child is, but into heaven where 
I shall find him, for his body was but part of him, 
and the least part. 

(2.) This hope he had of him, though the child was 
the fruit of adultery. 

(3.) Though the child was struck with death, as a 
punishment of David's sin. 

(4.) Though the chihl had not yet circumcision, the 
seal of the covenant, for "he died on the seventh day,'* 
verse 18, and we know that circumcision was not to 
take place till the eighth day.* The stress, then, it 
seems, is not laid on the seal, but on the covenant ; so 
that we see grounds of hope for the eternal salvation 
of the infants of believing parents. But how and 
whence this comes to pass, that such infants become 
capable of eternal salvation, is a difficult question. 

Luther thinks that infants have actual faith, from 
Matt, xviii. 6, " Whoso shall offend one of these little 
ones which believe in me." So reason is in infants in 
its principle, root, or habit, virtually though not yet 
actually produced.-}- Others say — that they are saved 
in some peculiar, unknown, unspeakable way without 
faith. Others are of opinion, that the faith of 

* Gen. xvii. 12. t Tanquam in priiacipio et radice. 


parents is also tliat of djildren, according to the 
tenour of the covenant ; *' I will he thy God and 
the God of thy seed ;" thus children in some sense 
have faith. So the text saith, Rom. xi. 16, " If the 
root be holy, the branches are also holy." So in liii- 
man laws the father and the heir are hut one person ; 
of this opinion was Mr. Perkins,f and lie produc- 
eth the testimony of the ancients, as St. Augnstin and 
Bernard saying, it is meet, and for the lionour of God, 
that to whom age denies their own faith, grace should 
grant to them that benefit by the faith of another. Bel- 
larmine's objection, " That in this way children would 
be born believers, and so be conceived and born with- 
out original sin," He answers thus : " Believing pa- 
rents sustain two characters, one considered as men, 
and thus they procreate children, having man's nature 
with all the corruptions of nature : the other as they 
are holy men, and believers, and thus their infants are 
not so much their children as the children of God; and 
infants are God's children, not by virtue of their birth, 
but in consequence of their parents' faith, which 
entitles them to all the blessings of the covenant." 
Thus he. 

But this is not the subject of our present design and 

* Perk. vol. 1. fol. 480. 



II. The next thing to be done is to establish this doc- 
trine, That notwithstanding the sins and sufferings, 
breaking forth in a godly man's family, or breaking 
in upon it, which occasion much grief to his spirit, 
yet he is, and hath reason to be supported and satis- 
fied from God's gracious gospel-covenant. 

I am very sensible that I have undertaken a difficult 
task, and M'alk in an untrodden path ; but this I may 
confidently affirm, that whatever befalls a believer, he 
may fetch all good out of tliis blessed ti-easury : for — 
either his children shall be laid hold on by converting 
grace — or not : if they be, O what cause will he have 
to magnify covenant love on their behalf! if not, still 
he will exceedingly adore covenant grace, on his own 
account, which hath made him to differ, and in the 
worst case will find something in the covenant for 
supporting his spirit, and sanctifying his bitter cup of 
affliction, in the death of children. As to this latter, 
I shall say nothing but refer you to a treatise of Mr. 
John Flavel's, called the " Balm of the Covenant," 
applied to the bleeding wounds of afflicted saints. 

But my present business is to gather up some gra- 
cious promises, like flowers, out of the garden of scrip- 
ture, which may refresh the drooping hearts of God's 
poor children, sorrowing for the miscarriages of their 
children, that they may turn them into prayer, or use 
them as a cordial to support them, till the Lord shine 
upon the souls of their beloved offspring. 


In general observe, that as the covenant of grace is 
a blessed constellation, so every promise is an orient, 
refulgent star, to shed both light and a cheering influ- 
ence on the weary traveller, amidst dark and dismal 
dispensations, wherein he is appalled with sad fears 
that his child will be a cast-away. 

The question is, what grounds of hope in the scrip- 
tures have pious parents, for their children that are 
grown, or growing up and likely to survive or outlive 
them ? The resolving of this is of exceeding great 
importance, and having searched the sacred records, I 
do find twelve sorts of promises that may encourage 
the hearts of parents. 

1. The first and chief promise is of God himself, 
Gen. xvii. 7, " I will establish my covenant between 
me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their genera- 
tions for an everlasting covenant ; to be a God unto 
thee, and to thy seed after thee." This extends 
both to Abraham's natural seed, and aftervv^ards to his 
spiritual seed, all Gentile believers, Rom. iv. 12, 18. 
O what a j^rivilege is this ! v/hatever God is, hath, or 
can be or do, is for believers, of all that is communi- 
cable, divine power, wisdom, goodness, mercy, holiness, 
justice, is the portion of believers, and their seed, what- 
ever they can ask or expect from a God, shall be in 
due season, laid out in them and for them ; this one 
word is the substance and confluence of all good, tem- 
poral, spiritual, eternal ; 3Iy God is the most extensive 
and comprehensive v/ord in the world.* What can a 
man desire more, and no less will give a gracious soul 
content for himself and his seed ; no less is in the co- 
venant, Jer. xxxi. 33, " Blessed is the nation whose 
God is the Lord," Psal. xxxiii. 12. God in some sense 
may be the God of nations and families, as well as in- 
* Deus mens et omnia. 

VOL. IV. 2 a 


diyiduals, and if some boast of pedigi'ee, wealth, honour, 
a numerous offspring, or worldly prosperity, yet let 
David reckon up the epitome, the sum total of man's 
felicity, he will thu^ conclude, " happy is that people 
whose God is the Lord," Psal. cxliv. 12 — 15. Happy 
parents that bequeath such a legacy to their posterity, 
though they should leave them in poverty. 

2. Next to that and as, a means to enjoy God, is the 
promise of Jesus Christ, the mediator of the covenant. 
Isa. xlii. 6, " I will give thee for a covenant of the 
people, for a light of the Gentiles." It is true, God 
vouchsafed to the Jev/ish nation this privilege, that "of 
them as concerning the flesh Christ should come;"* 
but they cannot monopolize this glorious gift, for now 
in Christ Jesus, " we who sometimes were afar off are 
made nigh by the blood of Christ ;"f and jjoor Gentiles 
laying hold on the covenant, are become free denizens 
of all Jewish privileges that are essential to salvation, 
for "we are all one in Christ Jesus;"; and promises 
are " to us that are afar off, even as many as the Lord 
our God shall call," Acts ii. 39 ; even in Christ himself, 
" in whom all the promises of God ai-e yea, and in him, 
Amen." II Nor can any man have an interest in any 
one promise for himself or his seed, without an in- 
terest in Christ ; there never was or can be any cove- 
nant between God and man since the fall, but through 
Christ ; he then that hath Christ, hath something to 
plead for his children more than another hath ; he only 
" is all and in all for oiu'selves and ours ;^ and they 
shall hang on him all the glory of his Father's house, 
the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity," 
Isa. xxii. 24'. All believers are God's family, and by 
faith in prayer, they may freely hang upon him their off- 

* Rom. ix. 5. + Eph. ii. 13. X Gal. iii. 28. 

II 2 Cor. i. 20. § Col. iii. 11. 

gOURCES OF A pahent's HOrE. 451 

spring, that is,ciiiklren,'grand-cliiidren, the smallest and 
least of the vessels that are in their house, he will not 
reject them, but graciously receive them ; himself will 
take infants into his arms, as himself being an infant, 
was taken into old Simeon's arms, and both old and 
young are blessed by him. O happy parents that lay 
their surviving seed in so kind a bosom I they cannot 
miscarry that have Christ for their guardian. 

3. Another legacy that parents may leave their 
children, are the gracious influences of the Holy Ghost, 
the third person of the blessed Trinity. Isa. xliv. 3, 
4, " For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty. 
I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing 
upon thine offspring, and they shall spring up as among 
the grass, as willows by the water courses." There is 
no interest in God or Christ, but by the operation of 
the Spirit : the Holy Ghost proceeding from Father 
and Son, teacheth believers all things, convinceth of 
sin, renewcth the will, begetteth faith, uniteth the soul 
to God, filleth the empty vessel v/ith divine gifts, 
graces, influences, and comforts ; * all the good things 
of heaven are conveyed into the soul by our Lord's 
substitute ; the Spirit assisteth, quickeneth, enlargeth, 
supporteth, and satisfieth ; }'es, saith the Christian, I 
have had much experience of the Spirit's help in my 
own soul, bnt what reason have I to hope for the like to 
my children ? Look on the text again, *' I will pour 
my Spirit upon thy seed :" it shall not come on them 
by dro])s, but be poured on them abundantly : they 
shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, see the full promise 
in Joel ii. 28. accomplished. Acts ii. 17, 18, " I will 
pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and youi' sons and 
daughters shall prophesy." It is true there is some- 
thing in that promise arbitrary and extraordinary, 
* John xiv. IG, 20. xvi. 8, 13. 
2 G 2 


suited to that dispensation, but Something there is also 
common, permanent, and essentially necessary to true 
Christianity, which God makes good to believers and 
their seed in all ages. O happy children ! that have 
*' the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
and the communion and communications of the Holy 
Ghost," 2 Cor. xiii. 14. 

4. Children of believers are rightful heirs of all gos- 
pel privileges. I may in a sound sense say of them, 
as Paul of the Jewish church, Rom ix. 4, " Vv'ho are 
Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the 
glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, 
and the service of God, and the promises." There are 
two sorts of privileges for them : 

(1.) Externa], as the ordinances ; they being born 
within the pale of the visible church, have the prayers 
of God's people for them. As the children of Abraham 
had "the seal of circumcision, at eight days old;"* so 
children of believers are baptized, being disciples of 
Christ,f and thus have God's sheep-mark set upon them 
betimes, and are taken into his peculiar protection; and 
growing up, and ov/ning their baptismal covenant 
they enjoy, 

(2.) Those essential privileges that accompany sal- 
vation, as reconciliation, adoption, justification, and 
are in a fair way to eternal salvation, for they lie in 
the road of free grace, under the droppings of the 
.sanctuary, wliere the Spirit is v/ont to breatlie the 
breath of spiritual life ; if any be proper heirs of God's 
special care, and ordinances, surely it is the children of 
God's people, Psal. Ixix. 35, 36. " For God will save 
Zion, and build the cities of Judah ;" who shall have 
the benefit of this salvation ? He answers, " the seed 
also of his servants shall inherit it, and they that love 
* Rom. iv. ]]. t Matt, xxviii. 19. 


his name shall dwell therein." Parents have prayed 
for the church's deliverance, and their children shall 
reap the fruit of their prayers, so Psal. cii. 28, '* The 
children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed 
shall be established before thee :" there is a double 
mercy here, first, in restoring ordinances, and then in 
vouchsafing this privilege to the children of believers. 
O what would a child of God give to know that his 
posterity should see better days ? You have it in 
the promise, and may have it in the performance, if 
you reach out the hand of faith to receive it, for your- 
selves and 3'ours. 

5. Children of believing piirents are converted to 
God by ordinances. Psal. ex. f>, " Thy people shall 
be willing in the day of thy power," that is, in dis- 
pensing powerful ordinances, '" in the beauties of holi- 
ness," for holiness is full of glory, "from the womb of 
the morning," that is, from the beginning of Christ's 
entrance upon his kingdom, " thou hast the dew of thy 
youth," that is, those young people of the seed of the 
faithful that shall be born to the Messiah, resembling- 
dew for quality and number, and the wonderful man- 
ner of generation. But a plainer text we have in Isa. 
xxix. 22, 23, " Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither 
shall his face now wax pale," through the loss of good 
blood, or death of the pious ; " but v/hen he seetli his 
children the work of my hands, in the midst of him, 
they shall sanctify my name." O blessed sight ! to be- 
hold God's image and workmanship in the souls of our 
children ! this is far better than to behold our image 
upon them : God's picture is drawn by his own hand, 
with the pencil of his word and Spirit : the discovery 
of this will raise high monuments to tlie glory of free 
grace. " Lift up thine eyes," saith God, Isa. Ix. 4, 5, 
" thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters 


shall be nursed at thy side :" I kfiow it means Gentile 
converts, and it is so much the more of cpncern to us. 
Another text 'saith, " They sliall bring thy sons in 
their arms,"* with great care and tenderness, as nurses 
carry young infants in their bosoms that they be not 
hurt. O what a fine sight is it to see convei'ts flock- 
ing to Christ, and into his church, " like doves to their 
windows or cotes !" f the Seventy translate it, " as 
doves with their young ones unto me." You may 
hope for your children's saving conversion, having 
those encouraging promises. 

6. Pious persons' children may and shall be useful 
instruments of public good to the church of God, Isa. 
x\ix. 17, " Thy children shall make haste," or as others 
render it, " thy builders :" and her children were her 
builders, as Ave read in Ezra and Nehemiah. That is 
a glorious day, when destroyers are gone, and the 
the church's children build Zion's temple and walls ; 
but so it shall be, Isa, Iviii. 12, "And they that shall 
be of thee," that is, thy children spiritual or natural, or 
both, " shall build the old waste places, thou shalt 
raise the foundation of many generations." Is not 
this worth something to liave blessed instnunents of 
reformation raised out of your loins, as magistrates or 
ministers? how did it gladden David's heart, that his 
son Solomon must build God a house, 2 Sara. vii. 13, 
*' He sliall build a house for my name." J3avid echoes, 
verse 18, " AVho am I, O Lord God, and what is my 
house that thou hast brought me hitherto?" And 
what if a Zerubbabel or a Joshua proceed out of thy 
loins ? who knov/s but some of thy posterity may be 
raised up as pious ministers to convert sinners to God ? 
hope and pray, for all things are possible with God, 
and thou hast encouragement from the covenant. 
* Isa. xlix. 22. t Isa. Ix. 8. 


7. Another encouraging word to parents with respect 
to their children is, that principles of grace and a pro- 
fession of godliness shall continue to future generations, 
Isa. lix. 21, "As for me, this is my covenant with 
them, saith the Lord, my Spirit that is upon thee and 
my words which I have put in thy mouth shall not 
depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy 
seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith 
the Lord, from henceforth and for ever." This is a 
large and long-lasting charter ; God's spirit within his 
children, and the owning of his name with their lips, 
and this for ever! What can godly parents desire 
more? Whether this spirit import a spirit of prophecy 
or a spirit of sanctiiication, surely it is a rich kind- 
ness, that it shall run in this straight line and channel 
to many generations, that the name of God, as well as 
your name may be kept up in your family perpetually 
when you are dead and gone ; O happy parents that 
have such children! happy children that had such 
parents ! and blessed be God that embraceth both in 
the bosom of the covenant ! That is a soul support- 
ing word .in Haggai ii. 5, " According to the word that 
I covenanted with" j^our fathers, even with "you, 
when you came out of Egypt, so my Spirit remaineth 
among you ;" fear ye not, be not daunted, there were 
as many and great obstructions in the way of mercy 
then as now, yet grace overcame them, and I have not 
taken away my Spirit from you notwithstanding your 
multiplied provocations for two thousand years, but 
still it is among you and shall continue to many gene- 
rations : may not faith triumph in this promise ? 

8. The children of pious parents shall excite par- 
ticular observation, Isa. Ixi. 8, 9, " I will make an 
everlasting covenant with them, and their seed shall 
be among'the Gentiles," that is, Gentile churches, " and 

4>56 b'est entail. 

their oifspring among the people, all that see them 
shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which 
the Lord hath blessed." Men shall say to each other, 
do you not see the faithful child of such a believing 
father? O how many a precious day have we had 
with such a one's father, mother, or grandfather ! this 
is the pious child of a zealous father, you see it is not 
in vain to seek and serve God, I remember the prayers 
and teai's poured out for his child, and I see the blessed 
fruit thereof ; God is a prayer hearing God : of some 
children we may say, as Paul to Timothy, 2 Tim. i. 5. 
" \Vhen I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith 
that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother 
Lois, and thy mgther Eunice, and I am persuaded that 
in thee also." His grandmother's name was Lois, 
which signifies better, his mother's name Eunice, sig- 
nifying victor, and Timothy is the fear of God. If 
parents choose the better part, God will give them 
victory over the world, sin, and Satan; yea, they shall 
have power with God, and have God-fearing children, 
in whom others will observe and admire the grace of 

9. Children's children to many generations are re- 
membered with covenant kindness: so in the second 
commandment, Exod. xx. 6, " Showing mercy unto 
thousands," that is, of generations, " of them that love 
me and keep my commandments.*" This is transcen- 
dent mercy, punishment extending but to three or 
four of them, verse 5; you will say, mercy and justice 
are God's two arms, is the one longer than the other? 
Answer, no, they are equally infinite, but he maketh 
his church to feel more of his mercy than of his 
justice, " with the Lord there is mercy," why so? be- 
cause " with him is plenteous redemption," Psal. cxxx. 
* Deut. vii. 0. 


7. It is a covenant of grace, and Christ interposeth 
as mediator of it : O the overflotVings of free grace to 
many generations! Psal. ciii. 17, 18, "But the mercy 
of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon 
them that fear him, and his righteousness unto chil- 
dren's children." Mark it, it is called righteousness, 
to shew it is a discharge of his obligatian, by which 
he hath in some sort bound himself to parents to do 
good to their posterity, for it was mercy to Abraham 
to make a covenant, but it is truth and faithfulness to 
perform it to Jacob, and his rising seed many years 
after ;* as it is founded in his eternal purpose, and 
continues to eternity ; and this is the reason of our 
hopes for the calling of the Jews, because they are be- 
loved for their fathers' sake, or rather because of God's 
covenant with their ancestors, Rom. xi. 27, 28. O 
v/hat encouragement is this to parents that God will 
not utterly cast off their seed, but will resume 
thoughts of love to them at last ! 

10. God will restore the wandering children of 
his people by seasonable and sanctified correction ; f 
Psal. Ixxxix. 29 — 35, " If his children forsake my law 
and walk not in my judgments," that is, if they forfeit 
the privileges promised, by non-performance of the con- 
ditions, " then will I visit their transgression with a 
rod, and their iniquity with stripes, nevertheless my 
loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor 
suffer my faithfulness to fail." God hath adopted 
affliction to be a branch of covenant affection ; it is a 
promise, / will visit, not so much a threatening, for 
in faithfulness he afflicts his children ; he will not take 
so much pains with a slave as with a son ;| he will 
make his children thank God for a chastisement ; Lord, 
saith a godly parent, bring home my child though it 

* Mic. vii. 20. t 2 Sam. vii. 14, 15. Tsal. cxix. 75. 


be by weeping cross ; starve my prodigal son, or feed 
him with husks, that he may reflect on his father's 
plenteous table ; afflict his body rather than suffer his 
soul to perish ; cast him on a sick bed, rather than cast 
him into hell; let his purgatory be here and his heaven 
hereafter. Now our gracious God answers his chil- 
dren's prayers ; good Hezekiah's prayers for his ex- 
travagant son Manasseh were answered by God's tak- 
ing him among the thorns, binding him with fetters, 
and carrying him to Babylon, till he had humbled him 
to purpose, and made him know that Jehovah was 
God, 2 Chron. xxxiii. 11 — 13. Doubtless the natural 
as well as the spiritual father of the prodigal Avill wel- 
come home the child, though broken on the wheel. 

11. The covenant engageth for a blessing on parents' 
instruction and correction of their erring children : this 
is of great use, (1.) For instruction, Prov. xxii. 6, 
" Train up a child in the way he should go ;" there is 
the parent's duty, do thy duty to set him right in the 
beginning of his way, so some read it, " and when he 
is old he will not depart from it," that is, not easily, 
or ordinarily, as if he had said, if thou that art the father 
wilt do thy duty faithfully, I will undertake to do my 
part ; set thou their faces in the right road, and I will 
keep them in it ; I will bless thy instructions, admoni- 
tions, counsels, and example, see Gen. xviii. 19, God 
saith of Abraham, " I know him that he will command 
his children, and his household after him ;" you will 
say, what is he better for that? they will choose 
whether they will obey or not ; nay, God saith, but I 
will undertake for them, " and they shall keep the way 
of the Lord, to do justice and judgment." His labour 
shall not be in vain ; I live, saith God, to make his 
words take impression on his surviving children, when 
he is dead ? (2.) For correction you have a remarkable 

SOURCES or A tarent's hope. 459 

promise, Prov. xxiii. 13, 14, " Withhold not correction 
from the child, for if thou beatest him with the rod, he 
shall not die," I will take care of him ; "thou shalt 
beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from 
hell." O blessed scourging ! surely such a scourge as 
fotcheth blood is easier than hell torments ; but a 
benediction shall be upon that correction. That is a 
cruel pai'ent, who would rather see his child a flaming 
faggot in the scorching fire, than try to whip folly out 
of him, that is cruel pity, better he should cry here, 
than wail hereafter, yea and curse thee for ever, who 
wouldst not speak a word or give him a tap, to prevent 
these intolerable torments. O the good that season- 
able correction may do ! if thou prevail not to make 
thy child good, yet thou wilt have comfort in the dis- 
charge of thy duty, there is good hope of both by the 
blessing of God, Prov. xxix. 17, " Correct thy sdn, and 
he shall give thee rest, yea he shall give delight unto 
thy soul ;" yet take this caution, that these promises 
must not be understood absolutely, necessarily, and 
universally producing this effect, but ordinarily so it 
is, and this is a sufficient motive to parents to do their 
duty, and encouragement therein. 

12. The last encouragement to parents from the 
covenant of God, with respect to their surviving chil- 
dren, is, that God will take care of their outward con- 
cerns in the world, Prov. xx. 7; " the just man walketh 
in his integrity, his children are blessed after him," if 
their father hath not heaped up riches by cunning and 
covetous devices, and so leaves them but little in the 
world, yet he hath left them in the hands of a good 
Father, who will take care of them, when their earthly 
parents are gone ; for this blessed covenant is not con- 
fined to the persons of the pious, but entailed on their 
posterity, Psal. cxii. ], 2, "Blessed is the man that 


fearetli the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his cora- 
mandments, his seed shall be mighty upon earth, tlie 
generation of the upright shall be blessed." Corres- 
pondent with this, I call to mind an anecdote, told me 
by a reverend minister in London, who knew a poor 
and pious preacher in Wiltshire, that had many chil- 
dren, and little to maintain them, one asked him, how 
he thought they could shift when he was gone, he 
answeredj I am not at all afraid about that, I am more 
afraid for them if they should ride up and down Lon- 
don streets in their coaches ; which came to pass, for 
some of them came to be aldermen of that famous city. 
Our frequent experience confirms this truth, that God 
takes care of his upright-hearted servants' seed when 
they are laid in the dust ; let us remember holy David's 
observation, Psal. xxxvii. 25, " I have been young, and 
now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, 
nor his seed begging bread." If there have been some 
few exceptions, yet these do not destroy the truth of 
a general proposition ; howbeit temporal promises 
were more express and positive to the Jews of old, than 
to Christians in the times of the gospel, which consists 
more in spiritual things. But this will remain a trvith 
that children of pious parents are usually provided for 
comfortably, even in things that concern this life, if it 
tends to God's glory, and their good, and if God see it 
good in his infinite wisdom, which limitations must al- 
ways be annexed to temporal promises ; but if they be 
poor, defamed, sick, in prisons, or banished, yet " all 
these work together for their good," Rom. viii. 28. 



III. Another thing in the general division of the 
doctrinal part, is an answer to a main objection, which 
is the following : 

You have produced many promises as branches of 
the gospel covenant, that the children of godly parents, 
shall have converting grace, that God the Father, Son, 
and Holy Ghost shall be theirs, that they are heirs of 
gospel privileges, that they shall be sanctified, and be 
useful instruments in the church, that they shall adorn 
their profession with a holy conversation, and if they 
should wander that God will restore them ; that he 
will bless parents' instructions, and corrections, and 
take care of their outward concerns, &c. 

Now do we not see by daily observation the direct 
contrary to all this, how many worthy ministers have 
had worthless sons ? how many profligate children are 
there of gracious parents ? nay, do we not see some 
children of pious parents miscarry more than others of 
their civil but worldly neighbours, more proud, scorners 
of godliness, companions of drunkards, swearers, de- 
bauched persons, who have proved a great dishonour 
to God, scandal to religion, grief to real Christians, 
and heart-breaking to their parents, have even so pre- 
judiced the spirits of wicked men, that they say, this 
religion is but a fancy, praying so much is needless, 
and what is become of the covenant you so much boasted 
of? nay, have we not seen some children of pious pa- 
rents live and die visibly graceless, under tokens of 
God's wrath, yea, hastening their death by intemper- 
ance and unbridled wickedness ? how is this consistent 


with all that you have spoken ? how is God true to 
his covenant? 

This is a sad truth, and cannot be denied, an awful 
consideration, which possibly hath staggered the faith 
of some, and strengthened the hands of wicked men 
against the power of godliness, and is too palpable an 
observation to be denied. But yet I hope to throw 
some light on this aAvful providence from the holy 
scriptures by proposing these seven considerations: 

1. Some of the children of God's people can set their 
seal to God's faithfulness, in the covenant made to 
their parents and their seed ; this illustrates God's 
truth and the goodness of religion. I doubt not but 
some children of the covenant can speak the language 
of Solomon, in 1 Kings viii. 23, 24, " Lord God of 
Israel, there is no God like unto thee, who keepest co- 
venant and mercy with thy servants that walk before 
thee with all their heart, who hast kept with thy ser- 
vant David my father, that which thou promisedst 
him, thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast ful- 
filled it with thine hand as it is this day ;" will not 
some stand forth and say, I bless God for pious pa- 
rents, my soul hath found the benefit of their prayers^ 
and the fruit of God's promise, I prefer this charter to 
all earthly privileges ; let others say what they please, 
I will for ever adore free grace, that brought me forth 
under so good a covenant, it is better to me than to be 
born of a royal race, and being heir to a crown, " he is 
my God, and I will prepare him an habitation, my fa- 
ther's God, and I will exalt him ;"* and cannot one 
and another parent say, God hath " spoken well of his 
servant's house for a great while to come ;"f behold I 
see the buds of grace in this or that child, and a saving 
growing work in another ; blessed be free grace, I can 
* Exod. XV. 2. t 2 Sam. vii. 19. 


hold forth this token fOr good against all the cavils of 
profane spirits, and against my own unbelieving fears. 

2. God never forsakes the children of pious parents 
till they forsake him ; poor children run away from 
God before he turns them off, 1 Chron. xxviii. 9, " If 
thou seek him he will be found of thee, but if thou 
forsake him he will cast thee oflf for ever." If Solo- 
mon, or any other child or children of a pious father, 
put on a cloak of religion, to please parents or accom- 
plish n selfish pvu-pose while they live, and cast off 
religion, and perversely turn their backs on God, and 
embrace wicked ways ; without true repentance they 
have freed God from any obligation to perform his 
promise, because they have voluntarily discarded the 
condition on their part; now being at ripe age, when 
they are fit to make a choice, it is a A^okmtary act, 
proceeding from their own wilfulness, " You will not 
come unto me ;"* and then it becomes a judicial act in 
God to forsake them, because they first forsook him ; 
and neither they nor their parents can bring any charge 
against God for withdrawing from them that grace 
which they have abused, and which he is not bpund to 
give them. 

3. Parents have no reason to call God to an account 
for non-performance of the terms of the covenant, but 
themselves for their neglect of duty to their children ; 
this is ordinarily the reason of their children's mis- 
carriage : even pious parents are too apt to miss it, by 
over-fondness and negligence in their education, not 
admonishing, counselling, or correcting them ; David 
had been too indulgent to Adonijah in not crossing 
him, and doubtless his conscience disturbed him for his 
ambition; this is a plain case, good Eli honoiu-ed his 
sons above God, 1 Sam. ii. 29, by permitting them to 

, * John V. 40. 


dishonour him, choosing rather to offend God by con- 
nivance at their sin, than displease them by sharp 
rebukes, effectual restraints, and severe punishments, 
for as a father, and as a magistrate he ought to have 
curbed them : therefore God saith, " I will judge his 
house for ever, for the iniquity which he knoweth of, 
because his sons made themselves vile, and he re- 
strained them not." O what secret twitches do the 
consciences of parents give them, when their children 
grow up and take not good ways ! alas, I sinned 
against God, and now God leaves them to themselves ; 

1 have no cause to censure God, but condemn myself; 
God is righteous, their sin is a glass in which to see 
my own. Lord humble me, and convince them ; O 
pardon my iniquity, that I may pray believingly for 
my offspring. 

4. God may pass by the immediate descendants of 
his faithful children and work upon their more remote 
posterity : free grace sometimes runs under ground for 
a season and breaks out at a distance, a son is bad, 
but grace lays hold on a grandson; Jehoshaphat was a 
good man, 2 Chron. xx. 32, but Jehoram, his son, 
proved wicked, 2 Chron. xxi. 6 ; also Ahaziah, his 
grandson, walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, 

2 Chron. xxii. 3, 4; Uzziah did right in the sight of 
the Lord, 2 Chron. xxvi. 4 ; and Jothani, his son, 
2 Chron. xxvii. 2 — 6 ; but Ahaz, the next descendant, 
cast off the fear of God, 2 Chron. xxviii. 1, 2; yet 
electing love broke out again in good Hezekiah, 
2 Chron. xxix. 2 ; it continued however dormant for a 
considerable time, and laid not hold of Manasseh, 
2 Chron. xxxiii. 2. Some even think his repentance 
was forced, and not sincere and saving ; however the 
grace of God withdrew from Amon his son, 2 Chron. 
xxxiii. 22 ; but laid hold on good Josiah, his grand- 


son, 2 Cliron. xxxiv. 3. You see how grace passes 
over the head of one, and hiys its hand upon that of 
another, yea, sometimes it crosses hands, and as Jacob 
guided his hands wittingly laying his right hand on 
Ephraini and his left hand on Manasseh, setting tlie 
younger before the elder, contrary to Joseph's desire 
and desimi :* so God crosses our natural affections 
and expectations, blessing such as we least thought of, 
and leavinsr others whom our hearts were most set 
upon, to convince us of the freeness of his grace : but 
thus his covenant doth stand sure. 

5. Delays are no denials. God hath his time to 
bring in the prodigal sons of pious parents ; the King 
of heaven can take what time he pleaseth to work on 
the hearts of men ; Said shall long persecute the 
church, yet become a chosen vessel. It deserves at- 
tention that the children of many pious parents sowed 
their wild oats in youth; even Jacob was guilty of 
many faults, especially of stealing the blessing by a lie: 
several of Jacob's sons had foul spots, Reuben and Judali 
were guilty of incest, Simeon and Levi of rash anger, 
treachery, and murder; yet all distinguished patriarchs: 
several of them combined out of envy to sell Joseph, 
whereby they almost broke their father Jacob's honest 
heart; but let not religious parents make too hasty 
conclusions; he that believes makes not haste; it may 
be God defers to hear because he loves your company, 
and would make you an errand to the throne of grace, 
your prayers are yet too cold, he thinks fit to quicken 
importunity : the answer will come doubly loaded, and 
pay for all your pains and patience; give God the glory 
of his wisdom, he knows how to husband your mer- 
cies better than you. It is worth observing that those 
women in sacred writ that waited longest for children 
* Gen. xlviii. 14, 20. 
VOL. IV. 2 H 


had the hest, as Sarah, Re]>ecca, Rachel, Hannah, 
Manoah's wife, and Elizabeth. Indulge not despon- 
dency, you may see God's salvation before you die. 

6. If God never shews inercy to your seed, you 
must not so much murmur at his justice, as bow to 
his sovereignty; he is the absolute disposer of his own 
grace; such an act of prerogative may be adored, but 
must not be questioned : the apostle Paul having gone 
as far as Scripture led him on the subject of God's 
easting off the covenanted seed of believing Abraham, 
and adopting the forlorn and forsaken Gentiles, stands 
on the brink of the unfathomable abyss, and cries, 
" Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and 
knowledge of God ! how unsearchable are his judg- 
ments and his ways past finding out!"* The im- 
mensity and ineflability of these counsels are such 
depths ! as he saith in Job xxxiii. 13, " He giveth not 
account of any of his matters ;" they are oft unac- 
countable, but never unrighteous ; kings have mys- 
teries of state, not proper to be communicated to 
vulgar capacities,! and much more the infinite God; 
" secret things belong to God."t It is presumption to 
pry into God's ark, our weak eyes cannot behold this 
glorious sun : poor sinner, dov/n on thy knees, and say 
thus to God: Lord, I will rather admire the riches of 
thy grace to my own soul, than quarrel with thee for 
not giving my child grace ; it is an inscrutable depth, 
my humble ignorance shall stop at thy pleasure, my 
will shall be melted into thy will; if my offspring 
must glorify tiiy justice, I will acquiesce therein and 
say, though " clouds and darkness are round about 
thee, yet righteousness and judgment are the habita- 
tions of thy throne," Psal. xcvii. 2. 

7. Yet for all this, religion must be owned and vin- 
* Q, (duOoc, Rom. xi. 33. t Arcana imperii. X Deut. xxix. 29. 


dicated, " God is good to the soul that seeks him;'' to 
them " that wait for him."* He never said to the 
seed of Jacob, seek " ye me in vain."t If God never 
shew mercy to any of my descendants, yet I will never 
justify the wicked, by saying, " It is in vain to serve 
God."| No, God forbid, I will never say, that prayer- 
less families are as good as praying families, my own 
experience, and thousands more, besides the infallible 
verity of the faithful God, will contradict that atheisti- 
cal maxim. " In the keeping of God's commandments 
I have found great reward :"|1 yea, I have found that 
the miscarriage of my child, which is the greatest cross 
that ever I met with, hath been blessed for the good of 
my soul ; as the good woman said, bearing my chil- 
dren and my crosses has cost me dear, but I could not 
be without either. It is not fit that I should choose 
my affliction, and what God lays on is welcome, I will 
esteem Christ no worse for his cross ; for I find these 
bitter waters most medicinal, and the sweetest fruit 
grows on this bitter tree ; the depravity of my child 
hath helped to make me better; this heart-breaking 
hath proved a heart-melting ; it is true, wicked men 
are hardened by seeing the children of the covenant 
thus miscarry, even as divisions and offences amongst 
God's people, are occasions of their ruin, yea, the 
gospel preaching is the savour of death to some,J but 
as God is just therein to them, so my soul hath cause 
to bless the physician of souls, that so tempers this 
poison, as to make it wholesome physic to my poor 
soul ; my crosses are better than their comforts. I 
will commend religion, though I mourn over my irre- 
ligious child; godliness is gain, though I gain not 
grace for my child by it. 

*Lam. iii. 25. f Isa. xlv. 19. + Mai. iii. 14, 

II Psal. xix. 11. § Matt. x. 34, 35. 2 Cor. ii. 16. 

2h 2 



On a reveiw of what has been advanced the reflections 
I shall make, are intended to produce conviction and 

If it be true, that notwithstanding the sins and 
sufferings in a pious man's family, which occasion 
much grief to his spirit, yet he is comforted and 
satisfied with God's gracious, gospel covenant ; then 
it follows by the rule of contraries that those fa- 
milies that have no right to this gospel covenant 
are in a dreadful state, have no grounds of comfort 
or satisfaction, no hopes of salvation ; so remaining 
they are not imder a blessing, but vmder a curse, Prov. 
iii. 33, " The curse of the Lord is in the house of the 
wicked ;" the plague is in that house ; set a cross on 
the door, and say. Lord, have mercy upon it ; wicked 
families, read your doom, and a train of curses. Dent, 
xxviii. 15 — 19; you make a great reckoning of your 
estates, alas there is no covenant blessing on any thing 
you have, they are in themselves great blessings of 
God, but to you they are cursed, Mai. ii. 2, " If you 
will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give 
glory to my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even 
send a curse upon you, and will curse your blessings, 
yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not 
lay it to heart ;" this is an awful, flaming declaration 
uttered against impenitent, inconsiderate sinners ; not 
only tiieir persons, but all their domestic concerns are 
under a curse ; your meat, money, houses, wives, chil- 
dren, garments, employments, enjoyments, all that you 
do, all that you have shall be accursed ; this is a heavy 


curse ; a curse uttered by man has sometimes operated 
long and dreadfully; Noah pronounced a curse on 
Ham's offspring, which never left them till the Ca- 
naanites were extirpated by Sliem's posterity. * 

The subject is important and affecting, I shall say 

First, To irreligious parents, and then to irreligious 

I begin with addressing parents within the bounds 
of the visible church. 1. Some understand not this 
covenant, they never set themselves to consider it; 
they bring their infants to be baptized according to 
custom, because others do so, and it would be a shame 
not to have them christened, neighbours would cry 
out against them ; but they neither know the meaning 
of baptism, nor covenant, nor have they any mind to 
know them. 2. They take no pains to get their own 
souls interested in this covenant, but " are strangers 
from the covenants of promise,"-]- and so have no hope 
for themselves or children. We find great fault with 
prodigal parents that waste and alienate their ancestors' 
inheritance, which should have descended to their chil- 
dren, but it is a thousand times worse for parents, to 
cut off this blessed entail of the gospel covenant. 3. 
Most are negligent in doing their duty to children. 
Alas, how few will take pains to instruct them in the 
principles of religion, the nature, use, ends of the seals 
of the covenant, in praying for them, as if there were no 
such text in the bible, or they had never made such a 
promise, "as to bring them up in the nurture and 
admonition of the Lord !" t Ah ! wretched father, or 
mother, out of your own mouth are you condemned, 
who promise what you never intend to perform ; how 
notoriously do you falsify your words, and betray your 
* Gen. ix. 25. t Eph. ii. 12. % Eph. vi. 4. 


trust. 4. There are too many parents tbat are scan- 
dalous, profane, and atheistical, and teach Lheir young 
ones to lie and swear, to be drunk and unclean, by the 
evil example they set before them. A child brought 
up with Plato, coming home, and hearing his father in 
a furious passion, could say, I never saw or heard the 
like in Plato. Alas, sirs, you lessen your esteem ^vith 
your children by sinful courses, you bring guilt upon 
your family, yea, you do your endeavour to root out 
your family ; " the seed of the wicked shall be cut off," 
Psal. xxxvii. 28. The whole Psalm, and daily ex- 
perience testify the same. Ah sinner, " thou hast con- 
sulted shame to thy house,"* and some generations 
hence may reap the fruits of thy folly. The text 
saith, " God will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon 
the children to the third and fourth generation of them 
that hate him."f There are some hereditary sins, and 
some hereditary punishments bequeathed as a heptage 
to children ; divines vindicate God's justice by proving 
that God may righteously punish sins of relations in 
their correlates, for children, say some, are portions of 
parents,! as people are the riches and strength of 
princes ; yea, they have in them something of the pa- 
rent, they are parts of them. }| So David was punished 
in his child's death. But I shall not spend more time 
on this point, because so much has been said on it by 
many others. 

How could you see your children perish in hell 
through your fault ? How could you hear their cries, 
and see their torments in the infernal lake, gnashing 
their teeth, and with devouring flames about their cars, 
saying, oh wretched parents, that by your soul-destroy- 
ing negligence, have brought yourselves and me into 

* Hab. ii. 10. t Exod. XX. 5. + Filii junt res parentum. 
II Aliqiiid parentis. 


this lamentable state! why would you not speak a word 
to me, nor seek an interest in the covenant of grace tor 
me, to prevent these eternal torments ? that saw me 
go on in sin, and would not stop my course betimes, 
by faithful admonition and sound correction, nay, that 
set me a bad example, and were content that I should 
perish with you, cursed be the day that ever I should 
know such criminal parents, well had it been for me, 
that I had never been born, or had been brought fortli 
a brute without a rational soul, that I might have died 
like a brute; I had even been comparatively happy if 
you my parents had put me to death, or like the hea- 
then Thracians, lamenting my birth, had buried me 
betimes, and rejoiced at my death, because of the 
miseries of human life ; but O I was born and brought 
up for the murderer, the murderer of souls; I had then 
gone as a condemnc-d person, out of a dark prison to 
the place of execution, but now, having lived so long 
in the world, I have fought against God, and sunk my 
soul deeper in hell. Oh ! woe is me, that I lived under 
such cruel parents, and as the dying j}erson said, I am 
going to hell and my wicked mother must follow after. 
And oh, the agonizing feelings of lost parents on 
the hideous outcries of the fruit of their own bodies ! 
here neighbour's fare is not good fare, but the ridi 
man's torments are aggravated by his fine brethren's 
coming into the same condemnation. Every shriek of 
the child will tear the heart of the self-condemning fa- 
ther ; how easily, will he say, might I have prevented 
these despairing groans by a faithful discharge of duty ! 
what if I had followed my wandering child with sigh^ 
and tears to God and instructed him while there was 
hope, but now all too late, all too late, the guilt of my 
child's blood is now required at my hands; had I 
Kcoui-ged him so as to fetch blood at every lash, it 


would not have been so dreadful as the lashes of divine 
vengeance; had I disinherited him for his faults, it 
would not have been so overwhelming, as my being- 
banished with him from the presence of the Lord, and 
from the glory of his power ; oh ! what is temj^orary 
punishment to eternal torments ; oh ! that God would 
strike the hearts of poor, careless parents with feelings 
of pity towards their poor perishing offspring. 

In the next place I would address graceless, irreli- 
gious children, grown up. It is no excuse for you to 
be bad, because your parents are bad, are you so wildly 
sociable as to go to hell for company ? This is like 
the miserable Indians that leap into their parents' 
graves to be buried with them ; or like tlie Italian, 
who on visiting his father's sepulchre, and washing 
all parts of the monument with lamentable tears, fell 
dov/n dead ; God may say, who requires this at your 
hands ? But still it is worse to follow their pernicious 
examples, as too many children do;* you may reve- 
rence the memory of }'our ancestors, yet examine their 
dictates by the word of truth, and not be what the 
young novice entering into a monastery was advised 
to be, namely, like an ass, to swallow down all that 
comes.-f No, no, you are redeemed from your vain con- 
versation, received by tradition from j-our fathers, and 
therefore must inquire not simply for the old way, but 
which is the good way. t It is too much like what 
Cicero, the heathen orator, thinks a commendable piece 
of religion, to live and die in the religion of our an- 
cestors. It rather becomes children to take warning 
by their fathers' sins and faults, and to avoid them and 

"* Progenies viperai'um nominat potius quam viperas iit toti 
ordini ex]>robret virulentam nialiliam; totum corpus damnare 
voluit. — Cdlv. in Harm. Evan, in Matt. iii. 7- Jei'- vi. 16. 

t Tu et asinus unum eslote. i 1 Pet. iv. 18. 


their bad conseqiiences. So God saith, " If the father 
beget a son, who seeth all his father's sins, considereth 
and turneth, he shall not die for his father's iniqnity :"* 
but if you follow their sinful courses, you justify them, 
condemn God's ways, and destroy your own souls; yea, 
you bring upon yourselves the guilt of your fathers' 
sins besides your own ; wicked parents are set before 
you as sea-marks, to avoid, not as land-marks, to guide 
you. The heathen orator said, parents are as house- 
hold gods, their words should be as oracles;! but alas, 
they are only men, and may mistake and miscarry, but 
God in his word is an unerring guide : follow the 
Lord and you cannot do wrong or miscarry, but you 
may miscarry by following the best men, you will 
certainly miscarry if you follow bad men. The woman 
of Samaria erroneously pleads the place of her ances- 
tors' worship ; \ and Jeremiah confutes the fond plea 
of the foolish Jews alleging their fathers' practices, 
Jer. xliv. 20—23. 

But I shall rather suggest a few words for the con- 
viction of the irreligious children of pious parents, 
who so degenerate from their ancestors, that it may be 
said as in Isa. Ixiii. 16, "Abraham is ignorant of us, 
and Israel acknowledgeth us not ;" that is, as some 
take it, if our godly ancestors, Abraham and Jacob, 
were now alive, or raised up from the dead, they would 
not own us for their own legitimate offspring, we are 
so unlike them. I fear this is too true of the children 
of pious predecessors gone to rest, who tread not in 
their fathers' steps, but take a contrary course ; their 
fathers prayed in their families, but the children have 
left off that practice; the fathers frequented religious 
societies, but the children frequent alehouses and bad 
company; the fathers walked closely with God, but 

* Ezek. xviii. 1-i— 18. t Otol 'E^tariot. t John iv. 20. 


tlie children desert him and his institutions. Woe. 
woe, to such children ! 

1. They are perjured covenant-breakers, who in 
their baptism engaged to be the Lord's servants, sub- 
jects, and soldiers, and to fight under Christ's banner 
against the world, the flesh, and the devil, and took 
listing money, but now have turned their backs on 
Christ, and fight the devil's battles against Christ. 
Woe be to such perfidious rebels ; what is the doom of 
such as outrun their colours? is it not death ? Cove- 
nant-breakers are ranked amongst the worst of sinners : 
amongst heathens, Rom. i. 31 ; and such as make 
perilous times in the latter days, 2 Tim. iii. 3. If it 
were but a man's covenant it is a great crime to violate 
it, much more this ; the covenant of marriage is in 
some sense the covenant of God,* but this more imme- 
diately, and he will avenge the Cjuarrel of his covenant. 
Lev. xxvi. 25. Oh sirs ! how dare you look God in 
the face whose covenant ye have broken ? What have 
you to do " to take his covenant in your mouths,-]" 
when conscience flies in your face ? 

2. You have lost the benefit of your infant privileges ; 
your infant membership was but calculated for your 
infant state; now you are grown up adult persons, you 
must stand for yourselves, and no longer your parents 
for you ; now you must " live by your own faith ;" | 
you must enter personally into covenant with God, 
repent, and obey the gospel yourselves, or else if thou 
be a breaker of this gospel law, " thy circumcision be- 
comes uncircumcision; II that is, thy privileges are 
made void and insignificant : so God reckons the un- 
circumcised in heart with the uncircumcised in flesh, 
Jer. ix. 26; and saith, they were "as the children of the 

* Gal. iii. 15. Prov. ii. 17- t Psal. 1. 16. 

t Rom. i. 17- II Rom. Li. 25. 


Ethiopians unto him,"* and in the new testament it is 
repeated again and again, " Circumcision is nothing, 
and uncircuincision is nothing, but the keeping of the 
commandments of God, faith which worketh by love, 
and a new creature."f You boast of your pious pa- 
rents, as the Jews once did, and claim the privileges of 
Abraham's seed, but alas, you may be a " generation 
of vipers," as John the Baptist tells them,:j: and " of 
your father the devil," as our Lord saith, except you 
*' have the faith and do the works of Abraham."|| A 
famous family will avail nothing without personal 
piety ; without holiness in your hearts and lives you 
cannot be saved ; think not that God is bound, and 
you are loose ; the covenant is mutual and reciprocal, 
you cannot expect the privileges without performing 
the conditions. 

3. It is a distressing observation, and often proves 
too true, that if the children of God's people turn 
apostates they become the worst of men, and run 
deeper into sin, and further from God than many, yea, 
any others. The sons of good old Eli ran into unpa- 
ralleled wickedness, 1 Sam. ii. 12, 22. We have many 
sad instances of Cain, Ham, Ishmael, Esau, Amnon, 
and Absalom ; of Solomon, Rehoboam, and Manasseh, 
and few recovered, and with great difficulty. The 
tribe of Dan, Jacob's son, turned idolaters, and scarce 
ever returned to God, therefore are not reckoned 
amongst the " sealed ones," Rev. vii. 5 — 8 ; because 
they set up Micah's graven image, and had Jonathan, 
the son of Gershom, as priest to the tribe of Dan, and 
his sons after him, imtil " the day of the captivity of 
the land," Judg. xviii. 30, 31. The Israelites are said 
to overpass the deeds of the wicked,^ that is, of hea- 

** Amos ix. 7- +1 Cor. vii. 19. Gal. v. 6. vi. 15. 

t Matt. iii. 7—9. !! John viii. 33, 44. § Jer. v. 28. 


thens ; yea, they go beyond Sodom and her daughters, 
and change God's judgment more than the heathen.* 
The reason is clear, because they sin against more 
light, love, helps, means, convictions, pious examples, 
as well as a good education, and therefore are justly 
forsaken of God, and left to greater abominations. Oh 
tremble lest this be your case ! 

4. The children of pious parents may be cast into 
eternal torments. Abraham the father of the faithful 
may have a son lifting up his eyes in tormenting 
flames, f The children of the kingdom shall be cast 
out into " outer darkness, there shall be weeping and 
gnashing of teeth," | they that would not weep peni- 
tently here, must weep despairingly hereafter ; they 
that scorned rebukes from parents, must have dreadful 
rebukes from God and conscience, their education was 
■with saints, their conclusion with devils. There have 
many gone to hell with baptismal water on their faces. 
Baptized Magus must perish with his money ; he was 
in the " gall of bitterness, and bonds of iniquity,'" || and 
thus dragged to hell. Yea, the damnation of such sin- 
ners will be characterized with more vengeance than 
others ; the worm of conscience will bite harder, being 
fed with more materials to strengthen her ; the flame 
will be hotter, having more fuel ; the higher men are 
exalted towards heaven, if they reach it not, the lower 
do they fall to hell, and in hell ; ^ if they plead their 
birth-right, as when a criminal pleaded that he was a 
gentleman, and the judge told him, he should therefore 
have a higher gallows ; or as lord Sturton, who was 
hanged for murder in a silken halter ; so must these 
well-bred persons be dealt with, the more they know 
of their master's will,^j the more stripes are laid on 

* Ezek. xvi. 47. V. 6. t Luke xvi. 24, 25. t Matt. viii. 12 
II Acts viii. 13, 20, 23. § Matt. xi. 23. IF Luke xii. 47 


them; the more the}^ glory in their privileges, tlie 
more misery in their loss, and the higher their hoi)es, 
the greater their disappointment ; these are both hj^po- 
crites and apostates, whose sin and shame are more 
aggravated and augmented than others.* O what 
flaming faggots, and scorching oil, will parent's prayers, 
tears, counsels, admonitions, exhortations be to dis- 
solute young men ! when they shall see their parents 
glorified, and themselves condemned ; read Pro v. 
V. 11—13. 



There are four classes of persons concerned in the 
doctrine under discussion, who may be instructed in 
their respective duties from it. Children of uncove- 
nanted jxireiits, chddren of covenanted imrents, per- 
sons married without children, and perso7is that have 
a family. 

A few words may be addressed to each of these. 

1. There are some children attending on God in 
ordinances whose immediate parents were not in cove- 
nant with God, and knew him not. You may lay this to 
heart and lament it as your infelicity, but this is no 
bar to your reception with God ; for how can you tell 
but some of your remote ancestors might be godly ? 
or if not, grace is free, " those that come unto him, he 
will in no wise cast out ;"f you may and must venture; 
* 'Ma.X.t. xxiv. 51. t John vi. 37, 


sinners of the Gentiles are grafted into the true olive, 
even contraiy to nature, when they were wild by na- 
ture, so mayest thou be.* Jephthah was a bastard, 
thrust out by his brethren, but received by God.f Be 
not discouraged, though thou be sinful, and thy pax*ents 
sinful, yet " God is no respecter of persons ;" barbarian 
and Scythian, all are one in Clirist Jesus ; grace makes, 
but regards no difference. ^ And if the grace of God 
hath passed over others' heads to touch your hearts, 

(1.) Adore the sovereign actings of free grace, give 
God glory, discriminating grace should have the crown 
set upon its head. I was, may one say, doubly polluted 
in my birth, from my first, and immediate parents. 
O what a privilege that I should be permitted to enter 
into the congregation of the Lord ; || that God should 
receive me amongst his saints on earth, and give me 
hopes of heaven, O wonder of grace ! 

(2.) Be humble all your days, and low in your own 
eyes. Young professors are apt to be proud, but it ill 
])ecomes you of all persons to be proud, whom God 
hath lifted up from the dunghill, to sit with princes 
the king's children, read and apply, 2 Sam. vii. 18 — 20. 

(3.) Make up your parents' deficiency by your own 
diligence, what time was lost in your childhood and 
youth, now redeem ; the more ignorant your parents 
were, the more knowledge do you acquire ; the further 
they were from God, the nearer do you get to him ; 
the more disadvantages you have had, the more pains 
must you take for your souls, seeing it is of absolute 

(4.) If God have laid hold on your hearts, be more 
laborious for the good of your families. You have 
had sad experience of the want of careful education, 

* Rom. xi. 24. t Judg. xi. ], 2, 29. 

I Col. iii. 11. Gal. iii. 28. \\ Deut. xxiii. 2. 


let not your children have the same, but instruct them, 
pray for them, do what you can to bring them into 
covenant with God, give them not occasion to complain 
of your neglect also. 

2. Children of covenanted parents, God forbid you 
should act contrary to your baptismal covenant re- 
lation, or act inconsistently with your obligations, that 
thorns should grow instead of lillies, or offensive 
weeds, where sweet smelling-flowers have been seen ; 
it is dreadful that cursing should be heard, where 
prayers have been offered, or idle profane songs, where 
hosannas have been addressed to the King of heaven. 

(1.) Review and renew your baptismal covenant. 
You were early devoted to God in minority, confirm 
•it now at age ; you took bounty money to be the Lord's 
soldiers, to fight against Satan, the world, and the 
flesh. Beg the graces and privileges exhibited and 
sealed in that ordinance, " regeneration, adoption, 
mortification, union to Christ, remission of sin ;" say, 
Lord, didst thou promise before I could ask them, and 
now wilt thou not bestow them, when I am become an 
humble suitor for them?* I here produce thy charter, 
the deed of gift under thine own hand ; thou didst in 
my infancy Confer a right, give me now possession of 
it, let me know the seed was sown by the crop grow- 
ing up, that I may at last reap the blessed harvest. 

(2.) Repent for your breach of covenant. Alas, I have 
not come up to my vow in baptism ; I have failed by 
omission, transgressed by commission, my conscience 
condemns me, God may justly censure me for trans- 
gressing his laws, changing his ordinances, breaking 
the everlasting covenant,! I have abused his kindness, 
rejected his gracious offers, neglected his worship, and 

* Tit. iii. 5. Roni. vi. 1, 2. Gal. iii. 26. Acts xxii. 10. 
t Isa. xxiv. 5. 


God may justly draw up a black bill of indictment 
against me, pass sentence upon me, and execute it as 
against an apostate ; but " Lord, heal my backslidings, 
love me freely, turn away thine anger from me,"* and 
deal with me according to the tenor of this new cove- 

(3.) Plead your fathers' covenant, prayers, and prac- 
tice ; " The Lord our God be with us as he was with 
cvu* fathers, let him not leave us, nor forsake us ;"+ 
Psal. xxii. 4, 5, "our fathers trusted in thee, they trusted, 
and thou didst deliver them, they cried unto thee, &c." 
Blessed be God, the God of my fathers, that gave them 
a believing, praying heart, and signal answers of pray- 
er; I will build on that foundation, and surely my 
Lord will not be worse to me than he was to them. 
How strong a plea this hath been accounted, see in 
David's case, 1 Chron. xii. 17 ; Jehoshaphat's, 2 Chron. 
XX. 6, 7 ; thus may you plead. Lord, my pious father 
was in many straits, and still he made thee liis only re- 
fuge, and thou didst not leave him. O cut not off tliis 
blessed entail from me his child, be as good to me as 
thou wast to him. 

(4.) Walk in the steps of your pious ancestors, plead 
and practice as they did, say as Moses, Exod. xv. 2, 
" He is my God, and I will prepare him an habita- 
tion ; my father's God, and I will exalt him ;" " God 
forbid that I should sell the inheritance of my fathers;":]: 
*' my fathers' friend I will not forsake" |1 by sinning 
or apostatizing, he never gave me occasion to with- 
draw from him, " what iniquity have my fathers 
found in God ?"^ shall I disoblige an old friend, to 
gratify an inveterate enemy? no, God forbid, I will 
own, love, and serve "the God of my fathers for ever;"^ 

* Hos. xiv. 4. t 1 Kings viii. 57- + 1 Kings xxi. 3, 4. 
II Prov. xxvii. 10. § Jer. ii. 5. IT Acts xxiv. 14. 


the God of my fathers help me to adhere close to my 
dear Lord in duty. 

ff. This doctrine concerns persons that are married, 
who yet have no children to pray and care for, and 
in this class, I shall also rank unmarried persons ; both 
these may learn these four practical lessons : 

(1.) Be sure you lay hold of this covenant for your 
own souls, be concerned for yourselves, if you have 
none else to care for, yet you have a great charge up- 
on your hands ; you are either gods or devils to your- 
selves ; either God or Satan is with us, even when 
alone ; yea, every man is the worst devil to himself,* 
" every man is tempted when he is drawn way of his 
own lust and enticed ;"f your business is therefore to 
secure your best interests, whether you shall have chil- 
dren or not ; and the only course is to lay hold on this 
gospel covenant ; Isa. Ivi. 4, 5, " For thus saith the 
Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and 
choose the things that please me, and take hold of ray 
covenant ; even unto them will I give in my house, 
and within my walls a place and a name better than 
of sons and of daughters ;" mark it, you both secure 
your own souls and your name. How much is this 
better than Absalom's pillar, which became an eternal 
shame ? You obtain honour for yourselves by em- 
bracing covenant terms, practising covenant duties, im- 
proving covenant promises, and spiritualizing covenant 
seals, believing in Christ the mediator of the covenant, 
being sprinkled with the blood of the covenant that 
you may enjoy covenant privileges ; then shall yoiu* 
names be enrolled in the sacred calendar, and " written 
among the living in Jerusalem."! God and good men 
will esteem and honour you, yea, your name shall be 
had in everlasting remembrance ; your memory shall 
* Quisque sibi Satan. + James i. 14. + Isa. iv. 3. 

VOL. IV. 2 I 


be blessed on earth, and your souls happy in heaven.* 
Ohow much is this better than sons to perpetuate your 
name ? that is but a temporal, this a spiritual mercy ; 
that common to all, this peculiar to saints ; that uncer- 
tain, this 'fixed; that temporary, this eternal ; be sure of 
this and you are happy. 

(2.) Be humble and mortified. You are without 
children, they are an earthly blessing,f Psal. cxxvii. 3, 
4, 5, " For children are the heritage of the Lord and 
the fruit of the v/omb is his reward, as arrows are in 
the hands of a mighty man, so are the children of 
youth, hajipy is the man that hath his quiver full of 
them." These are not contemptible, though temporal 
mercies, you must not throw up the head, and say, 
tush, I care not, I have more ease, and draw a light 
arrow, I may take my pleasure, and make even with 
my estate, for I have no family of ray own to leave it 
to when I die. This is perversely spoken, God would 
have you humbled under the want of children, though 
but a temporal mercy ; God's servants have looked on 
it as an affliction. You may hereby take occasion to 
exercise repentance, and inquire what sin he is now 
punishing you for ; thus you may make a virtue of 
necessity. Your deficiency of family may prove an 
increase of your graces ; but beware of despising the 
blessing, or taking occasion of revelling away your 
estates ; that is an extreme one way, as penuriousness 
is unreasonable in you on the other hand ; both are sins 
to be avoided, and mortified ; study Col. iii. 5, " Mor- 
tify therefore your members which are upon the earth, 
fornication, uncleanness, inordinate aftection, evil con- 
cupiscence, and covetousness which is idolatry."' Away 
with all licentious practices ; live chastely, modestly, 
moderately, humbly, diligently in all circumstances. 
(3.) Adopt some child or children, if you be persons 
* Prov. X. 7- + Psal. cxxviii. 3, 4. 


of any estates ; this is Mr. Paul Bain's advice, " they 
must, saith he, not revel with their substance, nor must 
they live like idle persons and busy-bodies for want of 
employment, but they must save the matter of their 
estate, and depute some as adopted children, and be 
helpful in educating others ;" thus he. Adoption hath 
been used in all civilized nations, and it is " a passing 
legally out of one family into another."* And amongst 
the Romans it was done either by the pretor or by the 
people ; that which took place through the pretor 
was called adoption ; that which was through the peo- 
ple was called arrogation. They had many formalities 
about it, needless here to be recounted. But by this 
means you may have children whom you may account 
as your own. You rich men, to whom God hath 
denied the fruit of your bodies, have you no near kins- 
men, or poor neighbours to whom God hath granted 
a lovely offspring? surely it would be acceptable 
both to God, to them, and yourselves, to select an 
ingenuous child, to help him to learning, to train 
him up for God, to make a trial of him while you live, 
and to bequeath your estates to him ; so may you have 
comfort of him, and he may bear up your name. Do 
good with your estate, and be serviceable in church 
and commonwealth. I know some rich men grudge 
and envy any that are likely to enter into their labours; 
but as their glory will not descend after them, so 
usually those estates do no good when they are gone ; 
" For who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or 
a fool, that shall have rule over his labour." f 

(4.) Take more time and pains for the good of your 

own souls, and lay out yourselves for the good of 

others ; if you be unmarried study that text, 1 Cor. vii. 

33 — 35, " He that is unmarried careth for the things 

* In alienam familiam transitus. t Psal. xiix. 17- Eccl. ii. 19. 

2 1 2 


that belong to the Lord," how he may please the Lord 
Not that married persons have an exemption from soul 
concerns ; but tlie unmarried have more leisure and a 
fairer opportunity for immediate acts of devotion. 
Married persons have some avocations in themselves 
lawful, from which the unmarried are free. The 
married may have numerous children, and so have 
many distractions, which childless persons are not en- 
tangled with, and so may be more at leisure for God, 
or as the words signify, " attend on the Lord without 
distraction ;"* like the faithful servants who depart 
not from their masters side. O happy individuals 
who have a heart and leisure to keep so close to God ! 
you have more time than others, see that your feet and 
hands, and heart coincide ; your opportunities are 
double to those of others, let your improvement be 
doubled ; j'ou have no children to lay up for, lay out 
the more for God ; he expects more from you than 
from others. You have no children to maintain," " hon- 
our the Lord with your substance;"! buy bibles, and cate- 
chisms for poor children, maintain them at school, re- 
lieve the poor, encourage a gospel ministry, give the 
tenth part at least of your yearly incomes to charitable 
uses ; let your own hands be your executors ; trust not 
others when you are dead ; for as there are no thanks 
due to you for bequeathing legacies when you are forced 
to leave all, so you know not how they will be squan- 
dered or disbursed; besides, you lose the opportunity of 
shewing your charitable disposition. Living springs 
send forth streams liberally ; dead pits afford nothing 
but what is drawn out with buckets. Watch and 
seize objects and occasions of doing good. Be sparing 
iu laying out upon yourselves, but be liberal in good uses, 

* 'Ew— poo-tSpov "CO Kvpio) a-irspi<T7rua-TiL'c. Indivisa cum 
Domino conjunctione vivatur. + Prov. iii. 9. 


let your superfluities give way to your brother's con- 
veniencies, your conveniences to his necessities ; yea, 
your necessities must go to supply his extremities ; 
fear not wanting yourselves ; you put all into a good 
bank ; dare you not trust God with respect to bills of 
his acceptance and notes of promise ? If you lend to 
the Lord, doubtless he will repay ; do you fear the all- 
sufficient God will turn bankrupt ? Consult the ex- 
perience of God's servants, and see if the Jewish proverb 
have not proved true, Pay tythes that thou mayest be 
rich.* Remember what our Lord saith, Luke vi. 38, 
" Give, and it shall be given you, good measure, pressed 
down, shaken together, and running over, shall men 
give into your bosoms." 

4. The last consideration respects the obligation of 
all parents to endeavour to the utmost to bring then* 
children and leave them under this covenant. Alas ! 
what signifies your leaving them great estates, hun- 
dreds a year, or thousands of gold and silver, in com- 
parison of this ? David was a king, his many sons 
were noble princes, and Solomon one of the most 
glorious monarchs that ever the sun saw ; so that it 
became a proverb, " Solomon in all his glory."f David 
also saw him in peaceable possession of the kingdom, 
" and the Lord magnified him exceedingly :" yet all 
this did not cheer up dying David's heart so much as 
this blessed covenant. That is but a carnal heart that 
can boast what treasures of worldly riches he leaves 
his children. The gracious soul would rather bequeath 
a promise to them, than all the wealth of the Indies.^ 
Xenophon tells us, that one being asked, where is yoiu* 

* Decima ut dives fias. t ^Matt. vi. 29. 2 Chron. i. 12. 

J Laurence Saunder wrote to his wife : Riches I have none to 
endow you with, but that treasure of tasting, how sweet Christ is, 
which I feel, I bequeath to you — Fox Mon. 


treasure ? He answered hiin, where Cyrus my friend 
is.* Much more may a Christian say, Christ is my 
friend, and my all. Oh that I could leave him to my 
dear child! that is the height of my ambition, to have 
iny children gracious and glorified. As an honest 
minister said, if I should but see the fear of God in my 
children, I have enough, and myself, wife, sons, daugh- 
ters, are all well provided for ; I need no more.f Oh, 
that God would set parents' hearts towards the cove- 
nant of God ! I shall furnish some motives and 
directions. In the first place as motives, I beseech you 
to consider, 

1. That youi' children are "children of wrath as 
well as others.":): Thi'ough you they became men, not 
holy men, for grace is adventitious. Adam begat a 
son " in his own likeness, after his own image," || not 
God's, which he had lost. For grace comes by spi- 
ritual regeneration, not by natural generation. You 
gave them a sinful and miserable being ! O be con- 
cerned that they may have a holy and happy being. 
They are born in sin ; " travail over them till Christ be 
formed in them."^ If you cannot make them good, yet 
lament that they are so bad : labour to do them the kind- 
ness of being instrumental in planting grace in them. 

2. Your children are more inclined to vice than 
virtue; they are born "like the wild ass's colt,"^ with 
a bias the wrong way, and an antipathy in their 
nature to what is good : for " the carnal mind is 
enmity against God."** ^lian tells of a couitezan, 
that boasted she could easily get scholars away from 
Socrates, but Socrates could get no scholars from her. 

* Otts Kvpog (piXoc. 

■f Satis habeo satisque mihi, uxori, filiis et filiabus perspexi. 
t Eph. ii. 3. II Gen. v. 3. § Gal. iv. 19. IT Job .m'. 12. 
** Rom. viii. "J. 


Wrong is always before right ; naturally the left hand 
before the right. Children need not be taught what 
is bad, they learn that fast enough ; but you will find 
much ado to drill them into what is good. 

3. Yet they must learn divine truths, and tlieir 
duty, or never be happy. " One thing is needful;"* 
if they die as they are born, with their backs on God, 
they are undone for ever ; they are become like the 
brutes that perish. But it is better to be a brute, than 
to be a rational man like a brute. The one goeth up- 
wards to be judged by God, and condemned to eternal 
torments; but the sensitive spirit of a beast goeth 
downwards to the earth. f And though some may think 
the beast shall not lose its existence, yet it is not ca- 
pable of moral evil, and therefore not the subject of 
punishment in hell, as a rational, but graceless soul is. 
Would you have them to escape a condition far worse 
than that of the animal race ? Oh, take pains that 
they may have grace, else there can be no salvation ! 
Matt, xviii. 3, 4. 

They are capable of instruction. For this end 
was the book of Proverbs written, " To give sub- 
tilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and 
discretion.''^ Aristotle indeed saith, that a young man 
is not a ^t hearer of moral philosophy, or of ethics ; 
but he speaks of what is usually, not what ought to 
be. II Children can learn games and trades, why not 
scriptures and catechisms? It is not enough to 
describe the capacity of many children; were they 
idiots or natural fools, destitute of common reason, it 
were a lamentable judgment of God, and a sore afflic- 
tion to parents ; but they have members of body, and 
use of reason. Oh, do what you can to obtain grace ! 

• Luke X. 42. t Eccl. iii. 21. t Prov. i. 4. 

II De facto, non de eo quod fieri debet. 


You are taken with their outward features, wits, or 
parts ; these qualify them not for heaven, till God's 
image be superinduced. 

5. Parents have great advantage in beginning with 
their children v/hilst young : now their minds are 
tender, soonest impressed, like young twigs speedily 
bended, or a young horse easily broken, or a young 
havrk soonest brought to the lure. Take them be- 
times, before they be hardened in sin, and you may 
most likely prevail ; but if they be let alone awhile, 
they will be past dealing with. Custom in sin makes 
them like the "^Ethiopian with his skin, or the leopard 
with his spots."* Besides, teach them betimes, and 
they will more likely retain it. It is a usual saying, 
children's memories are soft, and readily take impres- 
sion, and being clear or free from disturbance, retain 
it longest.! Season a new vessel, and it will keep the 
savour long.t Let cloth be dyed in wool, and after- 
wards in cloth, the coloui* will be most lively and 
durable. The application is easy. 

6. Parents are entrusted with their children's souls 
as well as bodies. "All souls are mine,"]] saith God, 
and he commits them to the tuition of parents as a 
precious talent, or depositum, saying as Pharaoh's 
daughter to Moses' mother, "take this child a\Yay, and 
nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages."^ 
So when the child is born and baptized, God saith to 
parents, I devolve the charge of this child on you, look 
to it, if it miscany through your fault, its blood will I 
require at your hand ;^ you must give an account for 
its soul ; go then to God and say as Manoah concern- 
ing his son Samson, " How shall we order the child? 

• Jer. xiii. 23. + Liquidse sunt puerorum memorias. 

i Quo semel est imbuta recens servabit odorem testa diu. 
II Ezek. xviii. 4. § Exod. ii. 9. ^ Ezek. iii. 18. 


And how shall we do unto him?"* Fetch your in- 
structions from God, and assistance also for your chil- 
dren's good, think of a reckoning day. 

7. By this you will manifest your own sincerity or 
deficiency, your love to God and your children, or your 
hatred ; remember, no man is really good, who is not 
relatively good ; "When thou art converted strengthen 
thy brethren,"! saith our Lord, that is, evidence the 
sincerity of thy conversion, by endeavouring after the 
good of others. Grace is like fire that turns what it 
toucheth into its own nature ; if you do not your endea- 
vour to bring others, especially your offspring, into co- 
venant, it is a shrewd sign that you are not yourselves 
in covenant with God ; then woe be to you, O wretched 
parents of wretched children ! Are you so indifferent 
whether Christ's kingdom be reared and erected in your 
family, that you will scarce put up a prayer, or speak a 
word to promote it? Where is your love to Christ that 
loved souls so dearly? And where is your true love 
to your natural offspring ? If a beast be fallen into a 
pit, will you not help him out ? Hast thou more care 
of an animal than the soul of thy child ? 

8. Satan lies at the catch for your children, that fiend 
of hell hunteth daily for the precious soul of thy dear 
child ; he got possession when he came into the world, 
and he makes it his business to keep possession, and 
will do till Christ, who is " stronger than he,"| cast 
him out ; and wilt thou, man, see a dog, a bear, the 
lion of hell hurry away thy child, and not cry out to 
heaven for aid ? O hard-hearted being ! doth not 
nature teach the hen to fly at the glede that would 
take her chickens, even the sheep to turn upon the 
dog that would seize her lamb ? And art thou so far 
degenerated as to cast off all pity for thine own bowels? 

* Judges xiii. 12. t Luke xxii. 32. t Luke xi. 22. 


O monster of mankind ! hast thou laid aside humanity, 
as well as Christianity ? 

9. The church and coimnonwealth require this office 
of love from you in relation to your children ; and if 
you neglect their education you take a course to cor- 
rupt both. It is worth observing, that the heathen 
Romans in their courts of judicatiu-e, brought actions 
against such persons as were not careful in educating 
their children ; Cicero laid this to the charge of Verres, 
that he hoA debauched his son, by intemperance, riot, 
and lewdness ; it seems it was actionable among hea- 
thens, and it were well if it were punished among pre- 
tended Christians. Woe be to that town where the 
springs are poisoned ; sad is the case of that church 
and state where academies and inns of court are cor- 
rupted, yea, corrupters, where strange children are 
bom and brought up ; * no reformation can be expected 
till public schools be reformed. It is said of Protagoras 
that he lived sixty years, and forty years in corrupting 
youth ; if not only old trees in an orchard be rotten 
but young also, what fruit can be expected ? it is fit 
they should be digged up, by this we may divine what 
would become of a church or kingdom without edu- 
cation. Consider, 

] 0. The painful consequence of parents' neglecting 
the education of their children. '• A child left to him- 
self bringeth his mother to shame," Prov. xxix. 1 5 ; 
throw the reins on a child's neckj and whither will he 
not run ? "A foolish son is the heaviness of his mo- 
ther," and the " calamity of his father ;" neither father 
nor mother has joy in a wicked child, and usually they 
may thank themselves for it.f The Switzers had a 
law, that if a child was condemned to die, the parent 
should execute him, because though a pious man may 
* Isa. i. 4. H08. V. 7' + Prov. x. 1. xix. 15. xvii. 21. 


have a bad son, yet it is neglect in parents which is 
usually the ruin of their children. O what shame will 
cover the face, and horror fill the conscience of a bad 
father, or a good father conscious of guilt, when he 
shall see his child running the downward road to ever- 
lasting woe ! I advise you therefore to a timely care to 
prevent these dreadful consequences. 

But what course should parents take that sin may 
be restrained in their children, and that they may be 
principled with grace, and brought within the cove- 
nant of God ? 

I answer this is an extensive and ordinary topic on 
which I cannot now insist. Practical divines lay four 
great duties before parents, for the bringing up of their 
children: j^'ovislon^ correction, instruction, and prayer. 

1. Providing food, raiment, and a calling. This, 
though a great duty, I pass as belonging not to our 
case ; only I find this remarkable passage, that the 
Athenians ordered in their laws, that if parents had 
not brought up their children in a lawful calling, the 
children should not be bound to keep their parents. 
Thus all were set to trades. 

2. Correction. Here I shall not enlarge, only observe, 
that it should be done seasonably, Pro v. xix. IS, 
" Chasten thy son while there is hope," some put it off 
till children become too stubborn; do it with self-reflec- 
tion, humiliation, moderation, and prayer, instructing 
them respecting their fault, and the way to mend it. 
I pass this. 

3. Instruction. If I had more leism*e, I might treat, 
at length, both on the matter, and the manner of per- 
forming the duty, something however may be said, 

(1.) As to the matter. Instruct your children in 
the main fundamental principles of oiu- christian reli- 
gion, namely, that there is a God, concerning his na- 


tui'e and perfections ; the persons of the God-head ; 
the creation of the world, and of man ; the immortality 
of the soul, the natui'e of sin, the fall of Adam, and the 
sad fi-uits thereof; the remedy by Christ, his humiliation, 
offices, exaltation ; the duty of man ; the nature of a 
church ; the privileges and character of believers ; the 
ordinances ; the state of all men after death ; rewards 
and pimishments, &;c. 

You are likewise to instruct them relative to the co- 
venant of grace ; the nature, use and ends of it ; the 
difference between this and the old covenant of works; 
the mediator of it ; the terms, privileges and conditions 
thereof; the seals of it, baptism and the Lord's supper; 
the importance and necessity of souls being within it ; 
press them with arguments to enter into it, give di- 
rections about it. 

(2.) With respect to the manner of instructing your 
children. You must do it — early, as soon as they are 
capable, when only drawn from the breasts, that "they 
may suck in knowledge with their mother's milk, as 
Timothy.* — Frequently, once is not enough, but you 
must inculcate truths on them, whet them, as you go 
oft with the knife to the whet-stone, so the word sig- 
nifies, f — Experimentally, not by rote or hearsay, work 
things on your hearts, learn and speak the truth as it 
is in Jesus ; t speak feelingly, from the heart, as one 
that believes himself. — Wisely ; observe the tempers of 
your children, some must be drawn, others driven, pro- 
voke not the tender-hearted to fretting or discontent. || 
— Seasonably ; observe proper yielding seasons, as a 
good humour, affliction or conviction, speak to them 
words upon the wheel, or at some favourable time 
when they will be best taken. { — Kindly, winningly, 

* Isa. xxviii. 9. 2 Tim. iii. 15. t Deut. vi. 7- i Eph. iv. 21. 
II Jude 22, 23. Col. iii. 21. § Eccl. viii. 5. Prov. xxv. 11. 


meekly, not in a passion, but draw with cords of love, 
oil them with aflfection, and they will go gently; 
even bitter pills coated with sugar will be well taken.* 
— Plainly and familiarly, not in high-flown language, 
but using similitudes, speak as they are able to hear, 
come on gradually, by drops, here a little and there a 
little. f — Faithfully; search the wound, do not skin it 
over, a tender hand makes a foul wound, a weak dose 
rather stirs, than purge th out bad humours, rebuke 
sharply. :j: — Scripturally ; bring your authority along 
with you, shew them chapter and verse, God's autho- 
rity joined with yours may prevail much, these are 
spiritual weapons, j] — Devoutly; pray solemnly^ by 
ejaculation before instruction ; it is not your work but 
God's to make it successful ; be sensible that all is lost 
if God commence not by striking with the great ham- 
mer, the hammer of his quick and powerful word. 

4. The last duty of parents in reference to their 
sm'viving children is prayer. This is a natural duty, 
and a general relief to the aching hearts of pious parents, 
not only for obtaining children, as in the case of Hannah, 
but for grace in children, when they go astray ; hence 
it was that holy Abraham, with whom this covenant 
was first made, breathes out his longing soul in a short 
ejaculation for his wild son, " O that Ishmael might 
live before thee !" Gen. xvii. 18, as if he had said, I 
thank God for Isaac, but I am not satisfied with Isaac 
only, I must beg spiritual and eternal life for my ex- 
travagant son Ishmael, though he be not the son of 
the promise, yet let him be a son of promise ; if 
Isaac must have the earthly Canaan, let not Ishm.ael be 
excluded out of the heavenly. Thus must you plead 
with the Lord for children. 

* Hos. xi. .3, 4. t Isa. xxviii. 10, 11. ^ Luke xix. 22. Tit. i. 13. 
II Acts xviii. 24, 28. 2 Cor. x. 4, 5. § Rom. x. 1. 


To assist you herein, I shall subjoin some pleas, 
arguments, and encouragements, not to move God, but 
to quicken your faith, hope, and importunity. Thus 
then say :— 

(1.) Lord, this covenant which thou hast made with 
believers and their seed, did spring only from the 
fountain of thy free grace ; this promise commenced 
before I had a being, and therefore could not depend 
on any worthiness in me. The Lord did not set his 
love on Israel because they were better than others, 
but' because he loved them,* the love of benevolence 
produced the love of complacency, it is an everlasting 
love both in its origin and duration ;f it hath no cause 
but in God's breast, and shall have no end. Lord, for 
thy word's sake, yea, " for thy servant's sake," namely, 
Christ, who is God's essential word, and according to 
thy own heart, hast thou done all these great things ; t 
hadst thou seen any obstruction on my part, thou would- 
est have forborne making this covenant. But such a 
covenant there is, and as grace made it, so let grace 
perform it. 

(2.) Lord, thou art true and faithful in the perform- 
ance of thy promises. Mercy made this covenant with 
Abraham, truth performs it to Jacob ; thou art not as 
man that thou shouldst lie, thou hast sworn by thy 
holiness that thou wilt not lie unto David. || Well, 
Lord, in hopes of the performance of thy covenant, I 
gave up my children to thee in baptism, wherein thou 
tookest them as thine own, and dost thou now repent 
of thy choice ? O no, thou hast told me in thy word, 
that thy covenant promises are as sure as the waters of 
Noah not again overflowing the world ; yea, the moun- 

* Deut. vii. 7y 8. f Jer. xxxi. 3. 

t 2 Sam. vii. 21, compared with 1 Chron. xvii. 19. 
II Mic. vii. 20. Numb, xxiii. 19. Psal. Ixxxix. 35. 


tains and hills will sooner depart, than God go back 
from his word. His covenant is as sure' as the ordi- 


nances of heaven, sun, moon, and stars ; as sure as day 
and night.* Lord, my soul having got such good hold 
of thee by faith, I will not let go this hold, but ad- 
here to thee till thou make good thy promise to me and 
my offspring; I am resolved to plead thy bond, by 
faith and prayer, till thou pay this debt. 

(3.) Lord, thou hast made this covenant good to 
others ; thou hast performed the mercy promised to 
our fathers, and remembered thy holy covenant; there 
hath been a performance of the things spoken by the 
Lord ;f never could any stand forth, and charge thee 
for breach of promise, from the beginning of the world 
to this day ; and I humbly hope thou wilt not begin 
with me. Thou madest a promise to Abraham of a 
numerous offspring and the possession of Canaan ; I 
and thou didst perform all to a tittle, yea, to a mini.te, 
the least iota did not fail or fall to the ground; and 
thou art as great, as good, as powerful, as merciful 
now as ever. Thou sayest, " Is any thing too hard for 
the Lord?" My soul echoes, no: I know that thou 
canst do every thing. || With God all things are pos- 
sible, "I believe. Lord, help my unbelief ;" thou art 
able to bring back my prodigal child, to convert my 
stubborn child ; oh give a proof of thy power in this 
great concern. 

(4.) Lord, thou hast made good the promise to my 
own soul ; my parents improved and pleaded thy 
covenant for me, a sinful creature, and wilt thou not 
make the same good to mine ? I must say as once So- 
lomon did, " Thou hast kept with thy servant David 
my father, that which thou promisedst him ; thou 

* Isa. liv. 9, 10. Jer xxxi. 35—37. + Luke i. 45, 55, 72. 
X Gen. xiii. in. xvii. (J — 8. || Gen. xviii. 14. Job xlii. 2. 


spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with 
thy haud, as it is this day."* Blessed be the God of 
my fathers, that hath not cut off his kindness from 
me, who am the seed of those faithful ones that are 
now at rest with thee. I myself can rise up and bear 
witness to thy faithfulness. Behold a testimony of 
divine love ; thou hast " shewed me a token for good," 
who am " the son of thy handmaid ;"f and I take this 
as a pledge of more kindness to mine; thou hast loosed 
my bonds,! wilt thou not also knock off the fetters of 
sin from my poor child ? I was as wicked as any, and 
cost my father and mother many a groan, but thou 
heardest their prayer, wilt thou not also hear me? 

(5.) Lord, I do find all that I want for myself and 
children within the compass of the covenant ; for as 
thou hast promised to be my God, and to pardon sin, 
so thou hast undertaken to work the conditions thou 
requirest, as absolutely necessary for obtaining the 
privileges of the covenant. Thou sayest " They "shall 
all know me from the least to the greatest of them ;"|| 
that is, as I understand it, young as well as old. 
Thou sayest, " The Lord thy God will circumcise thy 
heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy 
God."^ Again thou sayest, " They that dwell under 
his shadow shall return ;"^ amongst whom are chil- 
dren; and that " He will turn the hearts of the fathers 
with the children."** This is enough Lord ; may my 
children be savingly converted, I have all my desire, 
for this shall be their salvation ; and I have these pro- 
mises under thy hand, and surely they are not insig- 

(6.) Besides, Lord, thou hast converted some whose 

* 1 Kings viii. 23, 24. + Psal. Ixxxvi. 16, 17. t Psal. cxvi. 16. 
II Jer. xxxi. 34. § Deut. xxx. 6. IF Hos. xiv. 7* 

** iMal. iv. 6. So some read it. 


immediate parents were not in covenant, and whether 
their remote parents were so, who can tell ? I plainly 
discern thou sometimes steppest out of the ordinary 
course, reaching over the heads of some more nearly 
related, to lay hold on strangers' hearts, and I do not 
grudge them this mercy, but adore the freeness of 
divine grace; only my soul fetcheth some encourage- 
ment thence, will my Lord " graft into the true olive" 
some " wild branches," and not take in those which 
are natural ? Wilt thou say, ammi my people, to them 
that were not thy people,* and wilt thou say lo ammi,^ 
to such as cling to thee, and are resolved not to let 
thee go? O my Lord, the exuberancy of free grace 
to strangers is an encoiu'agement to me ; and thus I 
say, will my father give such large portions of bread 
to dogs, and can he not afford a crumb to a child ? I 
see some, whose parents never spake a word to God 
for them, eminent in religion, and monuments of free 
grace, and shall any of my children, which thou hast 
taken into thy family, be shut out of thy doors ? I 
hope not. 

(7.) Lord, if thou hadst a design to deny my suit 
thou wouldst have shut my mouth in prayer ; for thy 
word saith, " Thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt 
cause thine ear to hear.":}: An enlarged heart in 
prayer is not only a means, but a pledge of gracious 
audience ; surely thou wilt not send thy Spirit into my 
heart, and draw out my heart to thee in vain ; when 
a father bids his child ask, he designs to give : thou 
wilt not let this blessed Spirit breathe in vain in my 
soul. Wilt thou enlarge my heart, and not grant my 
request ? Lord, all my desire is before thee, and my 
groaning is not hid from thee."|| In thee, O Lord, do 

* Rom. xi. 17, 23. Hos. ii. 23. t Not my people, 

i Psal. X. 17. II Psal. xxxvriii. 9, 15. 



I hope; thou wilt hear me, O Lord, my God." Thou 
hast raised my heart in expectation, wilt thou not give 
me the mercy I expect ? 

(8.) Lord, is not thy glory concerned in this affair 
as well as my comfort? and even my comfort is some- 
thing in thine eye ; for thou sayest, " The voice of 
rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the 
righteous."* And alas ! what joy can there be in a 
family, when a foolish son is heaviness both to father 
and mother, and a distiu'bance to the whole house ?f 
But oh ! thy name is dishonoured by my own flesh ; 
wicked men hardened ; some scandalized by the mis- 
carrying of the children of the covenant. And on the 
other hand, if covenant grace be spread upon my child's 
heart, by converting grace, many will " glorify God.":}: 
His own soul will be the lively trumpet of divine 
glory, by confessing sin, and turning to God ; thy 
omniscience, grace, and omnipotence, will be. made 
glorious. And who can tell how many may be won 
to God by his example ? and every convert " glorifies 
God in the day of visitation," and at the great day 
God will be " glorified in his saints." || Lord, consult 
thy glory ! 

(9.) Lord, thou hast given me some encouragement 
concerning this child I am praying for. When my 
child was young he was very hopeful ; now he is 
grown up, my hopes are obscured ; he hath now em- 
braced the world, he hath fallen into bad company 
and courses ; the less are my hopes now, because he is 
a criminal apostate, and sins against more light than 
others, this daunts and damps my spirit. However, I 
will pray and wait still, for what is discouraging to me, 
is rather an opportunity for thee. " In the mount of 

* Psal. cxviii. 15. t Prov. x. 1. t Gal i. 24 

II 1 Pet. ii. 12. 2 Thess. i. 10. 


the Lord it shall be seen,"-'- when the knife is at 
Isaac's throat; "the valley of Achor is a door of hope."f 
When men say, " our bones are dried, our hope is lost, 
we are cut off for our parts, then the graves are 
opened,":]: and there is life from the dead. The case is 
mine ; I am saying as Jonah, " I am cast out of his 
sight ; yet will I look again toward thy holy temple." 
The other look may fetch the mercy ; there is a may 
he in the case. Can a child of so many prayers and 
fears miscarry ? 

This brings to mind a passage in Melchior Adamus, 
De vitis Theol. Germ. pag. 724 ; it is this, the mother 
of Hunnius, being with child of him, had a vision, she 
thought she was in the church, and took uj) a reed, or 
a straw, or such a small thing; while she held it in 
her fingers, it so increased, that she was almost op- 
pressed with its weight, even to death ; she again pre- 
sently saw it turned into a pillar of the temple, then 
she was eased of her burden. This was verified in her 
son Hunnius, who though religiously educated, and 
hopeful in childhood, yet fell into bad company, and 
then into horrible temptations, and a sad apprehension 
that he had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, 
but by grace was recovered, and proves an excellent 
instrument in the church of God. This may be of use 
to poor afflicted, desponding parents. 

(10.) Lord, if thou deny my suit, and glorify tliy 
justice, in the rejection and condemnation of my child ; 
I must and will acquiesce in thy sovereign, righteous 
will. It is hard to bring my heart to do it, but I will 
say. Thy will be done. " Oh the depth of the riches 
both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ! how un- 
searchable are thy judgments, and thy ways jiast find- 
ing out ?" II I myself deserve to be forsaken and cast 
* Gen. xxii. 14. t Hos. ii. 15. % Ezek. xxxvii. II, 12. || Rom. xi.33 

2 K 2 


into hell. I have many a time told thee, I must for 
ever justify thee, if thy justice be glorified in my des- 
ti-uction for ail ray abominations ; and if thou deal 
tlius with my beloved offspring, I will sa)'', " The Lord 
is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works." 
Righteousness bt- longeth unto thee, but unto me and 
mine confusion of face.* I submit my all to thee, and 
thank thee for grace in my own soul, and hopes of 
glory ; and if my v.'ilful child may not bring a revenue 
of glory to free grace, I vrill be submissive. 

But say you, what tender-hearted parent can be con- 
tented to see his child lost? 

[i.] You must distinguisli betwixt nature and grace. 
Nature loves its own, and cannot bear to see part of 
itself in miser3% Yea, grace cannot but desire, cannot 
but earnestly breathe after the spiritual and eternal 
good of our children. And it is not only lawful, but 
our duty to desire it ; yet if God deny it, grace brings 
man's will to a due submission to the divine disposal ; 
for the more a Christian is like to God, the more is his 
''.'/ill melted into God's will ; and therefore will a child 
of God say. Amen, on the execution of God's justice 
upon relatives at the great day. As sanctified Levi in 
the cause of God, said to his father and his mother, " I 
have not seen ; neither did he acknowledge his bre- 
thren, nor knew, his own children."! Nature will be in 
a sort swallowed up by grace in God's good pleasure. A 
religious gentlewoman had a vicious son, who fell into 
many debaucheries, and into one heinous act, which 
sunk her tender spirit ; but recovering herself, she 
said to him with some warmth, Ah, my depraved son, 
thou hast cost me many a tear and groan, and bitter 
hour, but a day is coming when I shall triumph in 
seeing the just vengeance of God executed upon thee ; 

* Psal. cxlv. 17- Dan. ix. 7« + Deut. xxxiii. 9. 


this did so ajjpal the young gentleman, that he laid it 
to heart, repented, and became a new man, to the joy 
of his pious mother. But, 

[ii.] You must consider a state of final condemnation, 
in a double light. — As a state of unchecked sinning, 
blaspheming and hating of God to the utmost. God 
calls you not to be content with this, which is so di- 
rectly contrary to the grace of God in the Christian ; 
nor yet may you be content to have your child separated 
from God, the chief good ; which is the worst part of 
hell. But, — Hell may be considered as a place or 
state of torment and misery, to the rational creature ; 
and on this account, though you cannot have satisfac- 
tion in having your child tormented, which is abhorrent 
to nature, but your souls must be so overruled with the 
divine pleasure, as that, where his will is manifested, 
you must rest satisfied with that by which God thinks 
proi)er to glorify himself. 

(11.) Yet further, say. Lord, if thou refuse to hear 
me for this or that particular child, yet I will thank 
thee for free grace displayed towards another child, or 
more of my children that are hopeful. God forbid, 
that my sorrow for our child should drown all my 
comfort in another, or my complaints should silence 
my gratitude ; I will praise thee for what I enjoy, and 
hope for more. Nature teacheth persons to beg a fu- 
ture, by acknowledging a former kindness. I bless 
the Lord, I have a praying, obedient child, that was 
born as destitute of grace as this, and I humbly take 
this as a pledge of more ; thou hast grace enough for 
all my children, I will not despond, but be thankful ; 
such a child I hope, hath embraced the covenant of 
God. " Who am I, O Lord God ! and what is my 
house ? that thou hast brought me hitherto ; and this 
was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God ! but 


tlioii hast spoken also of thy servant's Iiouse for a great 
wliile to come ; and is this the manner of man, O Lord 
God?"* thou didst not owe me anything, and yet 
thou hast given me the best things. It is true I have 
a Cain, yet I have a righteous Abel, I have a Shem as 
well as a Ham, an Isaac as well as an Ishmael, a Jacob 
as well as an Esau, a Solomon as well as an Amnon 
or Absalom. All my children were born in sin, and 
God might have suffered all to have died in sin ; but 
blessed be free grace, that hath plucked this or that 
as a brand out of the fire ; God hath heard prayer and 
taken of my seed to be the Lord's, he hath not dealt 
so with all families. I own this as a higher preferment 
for my children than if they were the greatest princes 
on earth, I vAW be thankful for them, yet jealous of 
them, and mix my praises with prayers, the heart is 
very deceitful ; I will give God glory, yet not glory in 
my children. But my jealousy shall not obscure the 
glory of this mercy ; Ebenezer, hitherto God hath 
helped ; I will rejoice with trembling ; something God 
hath done that I may love and praise him, and be en- 
couraged to hope for more ; much is yet to do that I 
may still have an errand to the throne of grace, thus 
my Lord keeps me in a waiting, depending posture, I 
uiust have something to evidence that God is my God, 
and a hearer of prayer ; I must not have all, that I 
may know I am on earth, and not in heaven. It may 
be religion may live in my family when I am dead and 
gone ; and if all my offspring be not happy, I hope 
some may; however, God hath done my own soul good, 
and laid a foundation of grace in my heart, and will 
lay the top-stone in glory. It was a notable speech of 
a gracious minister of Christ, Mr. Avery ;-j- passing to 
New England, in a storm at sea, expecting every wave 
* 2 Sam. vii. 18—20. t See the life of 31v. J^.Icither, pag. 131. 


to bring death, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and 
said. Lord, I cannot claim preservation of my life, but 
according to thy covenant I claim heaven ; immediately 
a wave wafted him to heaven-^he, his wife, and five 
children, being then drowned. And is this nothing 
that thou mayest with gratitude and confidence claim 
a j^romise for thy own salvation, if it reach no farther? 
(12.) Lastly, Lord, notwithstanding all the dis- 
couragement I have, I will believe, hope, and pray till 
thou take me off by my own death, or till the death of 
my child. As I will follow on to know, and love, and 
serve the Lord, whatever thou do with me, so I am 
resolved to pray, and hope, and wait whatever thou 
say to me, for I am sure, it is good for a man both to 
hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.* 
God is worthy to be waited on, even upon my knees, I 
cannot be in a better exercise. I confess, my dear 
Lord, I am a poor worm, have a wicked heart, am of 
polluted lips, and a sinful life ; I deserve not the least 
crumb of bread, or drop of water, I have forfeited my 
right to all covenant as well as common mercies, for 
myself and offspring ; I have a child bearing my own 
image, not thine ; a child of wrath by nature as well 
as others, but thou in thy love hast made a covenant 
witii believers and their seed, thou hast brought me into 
the bond of the covenant; the like mercy I beg for 
mine, my child must have thy image as well as mine, 
oi- it is undone for ever, and it is not in my power to 
convey it, but thou canst. My daily errand to the 
throne of grace, is to beg the blessings of the covenant 
of grace, for me and mine, I will not go from thy 
door without alms; thou shalt have a troublesome 
guest of me till thou grant me my request ; O remem- 
ber thy word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast 
* Lam. iii. 26. 


caused me to hope.* Come, Lord, let covenant grace 
enter into the soul of my child, which is part of myself, 
and I will take it as done to myself; if I had not the 
mercy I beg under a promise, I dui'st not ask it, but 
thou hast made thyself a debtor, and I will plead thy 
bond by faith in prayer ; thou canst not deny thy own 
hand- writing ; thou art faithful, and wilt perform it 
to some, and why not to me ? 

God loves such importunate beggars, and our dear 
Lord Jesus hath proposed two parables, f to encourage 
importunity ; therefore it is not unmannerly intrusion, 
but only earnestness and approved perseverance, where- 
in God most delights ; the end thereof is not to move 
God to alter his purpose, but that our own souls may 
have the condition of the promise ; thus the Canaani- 
tish, or Syrophenician | woman cries out for her 
daughter, " Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of 
David, my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil," 
Matt. XV. 22 — 28 ; she received a first, a second, and 
a third repulse, but she perseveres still, and will have 
no denial, and at last obtained her suit, with a high 
encomium and large grant, " O woman, great is thy 
faith, be it even unto thee as thou wilt." Go thou and 
do likewise. You cannot be too importunate, only do 
not limit the Holy One of Israel ; as long as there is 
life, there is hope, therefore continue your prayers as 
long as the children, for whose spiritual and eternal 
interests you have so much solicitude, continue in the 
land of the living, and as long as the breath of life 
animates your own frame. 
* Psal. cxix. 40. t Luke xi. 5, 8, 9. xviii. 1—8. t ^^ark vii. 6. 











-UlVINE providence having of late removed from the stage 
of this world, many worthy ministers, pious relations, and 
choice christian friends, I bethought myself how their removal 
might be improved, though their bodies are laid in the silent 
dust ; and in that respect, are in the circumstances of a 
*' dead man out of mind, in the land of forgetfulness."" * 
Whether active or passive, themselves not remembering any 
thing, nor others remembering them ; yet notwithstanding, they 
are alive to God, and with God, *' and the memory of the just 
is blessed,''-!- and must not be altogether forgotten by survivors. 
If it become us not " to be slothful, but followers of them, who 
through faith and patience, inherit the promises,"" :}: then must 
we also remember them for that piurpose ; and if God write a 
book of remembrance concerning them, surely we should ; |1 and 
not only of their conduct, whilst in the flesh with us, but of 
their present circumstances and employment in their blessed 
«tate above, so far as our limited capacities can conceive of them 
from scripture revelation ; and we should conform ourselves to 
tliem according to the platform of prayer taught us by our 
Saviour, " Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. § 

This conformity to the saints above, and communion with 
them, is a duty seldom studied, and as rarely practised. Divines 
tell us of a sevenfold communion that saints have.^l — They 
have communion with God the Father, 1 John i. 3. — With 
Christ the Son, 1 Cor. i. 9. — With the Holy Ghost, 2 Cor. xiii. 14. 
With the holy angels, Heb. i. 14. — With all the true members 
of Christ's mystical body on earth, Eph. iv. 1 2, 13. — With the 

* Psal. xxxi. 12. Ixxxviii. 12. + Piov. x. 7. + Heb. vi. 12. 

il Ulal. iii. 16. § Matt. vi. 10. ^ Dr. Pearson on the Creed, p. 71 1. 


members of the same society, 1 Cor. x. 16. — And with the 
saints departed. The last is that which is handled in the en- 
suing Treatise. 

That this communion of saints is a fundamental article of a 
Christian's faith cannot be denied ; though by many misinter- 
preted and practically decried, yet many that stand up for it, will 
not stand up to practise it without reserve ; most men confining 
their communion to their own party, excluding all from their 
fellowship, that differ from them, though in things not essential. 
Most understand not how Christians at a distance, can have any 
communion in spirit, though Paul saith to the church at Colosse, 
" Though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the 
spirit."" * IVIany are dark, most of a private, few of a catholic 
spirit, so as to think and act according to the latitude of this 

I think it is beyond all question, that the church of God is 
rightly distributed into militant here on earth, and that called 
triumphant in heaven ; there is an upper and lower part of the 
New Jerusalem. That " above is free, which is the mother of 
us all.""-}- The cabalists observe that the word Jerusalem, is of 
the dual number, to denote doth a heavenly and earthly "city ; 
and they say, the taking away of the letter jod out of Jerusalem, 
2 Sam. V. 13, □'?u;T"i q doth intimate the taking away of 
the earthly and establishing the heavenly. But that above, 
and this below, differ not in kind, but degree ; both are children 
of one father, have union to one head, are members of the same 
body, are animated by one and the same spirit, and employed 
in tire same service, for the same common end, the advancement 
of God's glory. These in the lower room, have the " earnest of 
of the Spirit,"" which is a pledge of that felicity which those above 
enjoy ; they are endeared to them in affection, reverence their 
memor}', imitate their holiness, hope and long to be with them; 
but dare not adore them, nor beg their suffrages for them in their 
prayers, or their merits to pass for them, which were contrary to 
scripture ; and irrational, because they knov/ not our hearts ; in- 
jurious to Christ our mediator, and absolute idolatry, as Pro- 
testant divines have demonstrated sufficiently against the Papists. 

Another opinion of some of the ancients has degraded the 

• Col. ii. 5. t Oal. iv. 26. 


saints departed ; some thinking that their souls are shut up in 
some subterraneous places till the day of judgment, and that 
only martyrs enter paradise, which, they say, is a place beneath 
the heavens ; but we believe according to Paul's description of 
paradise, that it is in the third heaven, 2 Cor. xii. 2, 4. — that 
the angels carried Lazarus into Abraham's bosom* — that the 
thief upon the cross went immediately into that paradise where 
Christ himself was-f- — and that the spirits of just men, are 
upon their dissolution made perfect in the immediate enjoyment 
of God. There was but a moment of interval betwixt Paul's 
being in the flesh, and his being with Christ in glory.;]: 

Well then, we do firmly believe, that our pious friends and 
relations, dying in the Lord, are wafted through the air, 
the devil's territories, into the empyrean heavens, where they 
" shall be ever with the Lord, and see God face to face ; where 
God is glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that be- 
lieve."" II Yea, the " saints shall judge the world, and sit with 
Christ on his throne." § O happy day ! O triumphant joy ! 
doth it not make our hearts leap within us, to consider that our 
parents, children, husbands, wives, dear christian friends, with 
whom we have walked, watched, fasted, and prayed, are now 
safely lodged in the mansions above ? It is true, we miss their 
company, but should not love to them drown our sorrow for 
them ? should not godly sympathy make us rejoice with them 
that rejoice ? shall we not by faith see them standing on the 
shore, arrived in that blessed haven, where we hope in God's 
time to arrive, though now tossed on this tumultuous sea ? They 
behold us, and wish us safe with them, as we pray for the re- 
surrection of their bodies. We may be glad that the society 
above is increased, though ours be diminished here below ; yet 
praying and hoping the " Lord will add unto his church daily 
such as shall be saved, and will be with it to the end of the 
world." ^ 

What a blessed prospect can faith display, when her piercing 
eye can peep through the curtains of mortality, and with stoned 
Stephen behold " God, the Father^ and Jesus in our flesh, at 

• Luke xvi. 22. f Luke xxiii. 43. J Phil. i. 23, 24. 

II 1 Thess. iv. 17- 2 Thess. i. 10. § 1 Cor. vi. 2. Rev. jii. 21. 

% Matt, xxviii. 20. 


God*'s right hand, an innumerable company of angels, tlie gene- 
ral assembly and church of the first-born, written in heaven, 
and the spirits of just men made perfect;" even those who but 
lately were accounted the scorn and off-scouring of the world; 
hated, nick-named, fined, imprisoned, banished, not judged 
worthy of room in the church, nor on earth, by the malignant 
world. O surprising change? to see these very saints enter- 
tained with applause, " clothed with white robes, and palms in 
their hands,""* in token of triumph, and admitted into the pre- 
sence-chamber, whilst their cruel adversaries are thrust down 
amongst devils, in regions of darkness for ever. O who would 
not be a child of God in rags, rather than sit with profane 
princes in their greatest glory ! 

Consent and harmony is the perfection of tlie universe, as 
being the music of the spheres. Divines tell us of a three- 
fold unity. — Of persons in one nature ; as the three persons of 
the trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. — Of two natures in 
one person ; the divine and human in Christ. — Of many per- 
sons and natures of one quality and disposition ; this is in the 
mystical body of Christ. This is in some measure begim here, 
and perfected in heaven, when all shall sing the song of Moses 
and of the Lamb, and there shall be no jarring in the music. 
O happy day, when they shall see eye to eye, and serve God 
with one consent ! Who would not be glad to join in that 
concert and choir ? Who would not long and say, " Woe is 
me that I sojourn in IMesheeh, that I dwell in the tents of 
Kedar ! My soul hath long dwelt with them that hate peacc'^f 
In heaven there are no Babel builders, no confusion of lan- 
guages ; as they are intelligible one to another, so they all 
speak the language of Canaan, which some think will be the 
Hebrew tongue, if indeed they employ any articulate sound. 
There have been fine and ingenious projects of a universal 
character, for words or things, to make all the world understand 
one another, a curious invention ! but if that fail, this will hold — 
ill heaven the saints are sweetly concentred. 

Would to God there were more of this blessed society ! the 
more and welcomer, there is room for all, the mansions are 
large, the feast plenteous ; there are rivers of pleasures, an 
• Rev. vii. 9. t Psal. cxx. 5, C. 



ocean of delight ; they must enter into their master's joy ; as 
thousands of vessels cast into the sea, all are filled, but all can- 
not contain it. 

Who would not be of this number ? O ye sons of men, how 
long will ye love vanity, and slight this celestial glory ! Dread- 
ful is your case if you be found out of Christ, in a state of 
nature. You that have attended ordinances, conversed with 
believers, professed to be of their number, how astonishing will 
it be to see so many come from all parts of the world, and " sit 
down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,'' and you the professed 
children of the kingdom shut out .?* Virgins foolish, because 
without oil, rapping at the door, and howling, rejected with 
/ knoiv you not; while the wise are admitted with honour. 
Look to it, every one is not accepted ; what is your choice now, 
must be your case for ever. If now you walk in the way of 
genuine Christians, you shall have a reward with them. If 
you despise them as a company of frantic, or melancholy fools, 
because they have prayed, wept, and kept a needless stir in 
religion, you are like to be expelled out of their society for ever. 
I shall say no more at present, but acquaint the world with 
the occasion of this short Tract. God had removed a very 
excellent minister, who left a solitary widow, and many sad 
hearts ; this ' Sermon was studied and preached to comfort 
mourners ; God made it useful for that end. A stranger of 
another county providentially heard it, and desired a copy of 
it ; I transcribed it, and committed it to his disposal, to send 
it to the press or not, at his option. 

Such as it is, I refer it to the reader's judgment, and myself 
to the prayers of Christians, for a sinful creature, yet a mes- 
.senger of Christ, 


• Matt. viii. I, 12. 


Hebrews xii. 23. 
-And to the spirits of just men made perfect. 

These words are to be considered in two points of 
view : 

1. Absolutely, or abstractedly, as in themselves : or, 

2. Relatively, or in their connection. 

A word or two may be advanced on the text in the 
former sense, from whence may arise these obser- 

Obs. 1. That there are spirits distinct from the 
bodies of men. 

I remark this the rather, because Sadduceeism pre- 
vails much amongst us ; the Sadducees say, " There is 
no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit," Acts xxiii. 
8. Practical atheists are numerous, and speculative 
dogmatizing atheists are too many, notwithstanding 
the many volumes written against them. The Sadducees 
judged the soul to be only a crasis or temperamicnt of 
the body and its humours. The ancients say of them, 
that they affirmed God himself to be corporeal ; but 
God is a spirit, and the souls of men are spirits ; hence 
God is said to be " The Father of spirits,* who formed 
• John iv. 24. Heb. sii. 9. 

VOL. IV. 2 L 


the spirit of man within him ;"* the constitution of 
man's nature proves this, yea, the exercise of his rea- 
son supposes it ; he that denies it contradicts his very 
being. There is, saith Elihu, " A spirit in man, and 
the inspiration of the Ahnighty giveth them under- 
standing."! It is true, it is hard to conceive what 
this soul is, and harder to define it ; it is a heavenly 
spark, lighted by the breath of God, of the same na- 
ture with that of angels ; spirit is the genus, angel is a 
species comprehended under it. The soul of man is a 
faint resemblance of God ; the faculties of the soul re- 
semble the Trinity in vital action, intellection, and 
volition ; therefore it has been defined to be a vital, in- 
tellectual, volitive spirit, animating a human organized 
body. The powers of the soul are the instruments of 
reason. I need not however insist on this, but shall 
take it for granted amongst rational creatures. 

OZ>.9. 2. That spirits are substances, having an ex- 
istence separate from bodies. 

When men breathe out their last, the soul expires 
not ; it hath an existence and agency without the body. 
The essence of the soul is eternal, it had a beginning, 
but shall have no end ; it is a blossom of eternity ; 
while it is in the })ody, it is called the soul ; when it 
is separated from t-lie body, it is not properly a soul, 
but a spirit. Hence, in the text, we read " the spirits 
of just men," and our Saviour saith, " A spirit hath 
not flesh and bones ;" and Stephen dying, saith, "Lord 
Jesus, receive nn' spirit." | 

That the soul is a substance, not a m.ere accident, is 
thus proved : 

(1.) That which is nothing, can do nothing. |j But 
the soul doth move, understand, will ; therefore it hath 

* Zech. xii. 1. t Job xxxii. 8. X Luke xxiv. 39. Acts vii. §9. 

(I Xon existentis, iion est actus. 

INTTl()DU( TIOX, 515 

an existence. A YtnUty it hath, though purely spirit- 
ual, and invisible to sense, but no less real ; for it is 
said Prov. xvi. 2, " The Lord weigheth the spirits ;" 
therefore they have some weight. 

(2.) The soul is the subject of properties ; and that 
which is a subject capable of habits, or affections, is a 
substance. Now the soul is capable of love, desire, 
hope, delight, joy, sorrow, in a natural sense ; of culti- 
vating arts and sciences, in a civil sense ; of exhibiting 
graces and vices, in a moral sense ; therefore must 
needs be a substance. 

(3.) The soul is a being of itself; not an accident, or 
quality inhering in another subject ; hence David saith, 
" Into thy hands I commit my spirit ;"* and the ajiostle 
Peter requires us to "commit the keeping of our souls 
to God."f Here is the cage, the bird is flown ; the 
soul is God's creature as well as the body, and will 
have its existence after the body is dissolved into dust 
and corruption ; so our Lord saith. Matt. x. 28, " Men 
may kill the body, God the soul." 

(4.) The soul is the man.ij: Man hath his denomi- 
nation from the better part ; Gen. xlvi. 26, " All the 
souls that came with Jacob into Egypt," that is, all the 
persons ; yea, the soul is so noble a part of man, that 
sometimes the body is excluded as inconsiderable ; 
2 Cor. V. 8, " We are willing rather to be absent from 
the body, and to be present with the Lord." Still he 
harps on this string, insisting on the soul, as if the 
body had no personality with the soul ; therefore else- 
where he accounts the body as a perishing, a vile 
thing,|| but reckons upon the soul, the "inward man, 
being renewed day by day."^ This is the man worth 

* Psalm xxxi. 5. t 1 Peter iv. 19. 

.:.?:. :}: Animus cujusque est quisque. || Phil. iii. 21. 

§ 2 Cor. iv. 16. 

2 L 2 


speaking of, and reckoning upon. Thus the soul is a 

I might add, that it was the soul that Christ came 
principally to redeem, and the body by consequence. 

Obs. 3. That as soon as the soul leaves the body at 
death, it launcheth into an eternal state. 

This is clear from the text. The soul of Judas went 
to its " own place ;'"* that is, into the state of the 
damned, whither his deserts cast him. Believers go 
straight to heaven, being carried by the safe convoy of 
guardian " angels, into Abraham's bosom."f Hence it 
it is said, "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord,"i 
a7^ap^^, from henceforth, that is, from the first instant 
their immortal soul is breathed out of this mortal 
body, they are with ChrLst : doubtless Paul understood 
his soul would be with Christ as soon as it was loosed 
from the body, which made him so earnestly to long 
for it, Phil. i. 23. Yea, Christ said to the thief on the 
cross, " To-day slialt thou be ^ith me in paradise," 
Luke xxiii. 43. 

(1.) Then surely the soul at death is not annihilated, 
that is, turned into nothing ; it is a spirit, and consists 
not of parts, as the body doth, and therefore is not 
divisible, and so cannot be subject to dissolution, but 
continues in its being. 

(2.) The soul sleeps not, for it ceaseth not in its acts 
and operations v/hen the body is asleep,'* as is clear from 
dreams, wherein the soul is apprehensive and lively in 
its imaginations, as it is when the body is most waking 
and vigorous. 

(3.) The soul is not buried with the body, to rise 

with it at the resurrection, as a gentleman in these 

parts hath lately asserted ; because it is not mortal, 

nor subject to death, for Solomou saith, Ecdes. xii. 7, 

* Acts i. 25. t Luke xvi. 22. i Revel, xiv. 1.3. 


" The spirit shall return to God who gave it," to re- 
ceive its final sentence of absolution or condemnation ; 
and this is at death, " when the dust returns to the 
earth, as it was." 

(4.) The soul goes not to purgatory, as Papists affirm, 
to be cleansed from venial sins : we deny it, as having 
no warrant from the word of God, which mentions 
only two places for men after this life, heaven and 
hell, joy and torment.* All the ancient fathers are 
against it: Augustin saith, " After this life, there 
remains no compunction or satisfaction. Christ's blood, 
applied in this life, is the only purgatory for sins," 
1 John i. 7. Heb. i. 3. 

Obs. 4. The spirits of just or pious persons, and 
only they, are made perfect after this life. 

Perfection must be taken in a double sense : first, 
of parts ; secondly, of degrees. In the former, every 
sincere Christian is perfect in this life, with a gospel 
perfection of sincerity in heart and life ; but no man 
on earth will attain to the latter. Paul himself re- 
nounceth it, Phil. iii. 12, " Not as though I had already 
attained, either were already perfect." As to the 
former, he asserts it of all sincere saints, verse 15, 
" Let us therefore as many as be perfect be thus 
minded." We juust hold this distinction, or make 
Paul contradict himself. But as soon as the breath 
of a child of God departs out of his body,, he is com- 
pletely perfect. " When that which is perfect is come, 
then that which is in part shall be done away," 1 Cor. 
xiii. 10. O happy day ! O blessed state! " When 
such as are feeble shall be as David, and the house of 
David as God, as the angel of the Lord before them : 
when every one shall arrive at a })erfect age, at the 
* Luke xvi. 25, 26. John iii. 3. Rev. xxii. J 4, 15. 


measure of the stature of the fuhiess of Christ !"* But 
this is not the subject of which I shall treat. 

We must consider the text as relating to the con- 
text ; and then we must go back to verse 22, wherein 
we have a most excellent description of the gospel 
dispensation, as contra-distinguished from the legal 
economy. We have the following particulars : Jf^e 
are come; that is, new testament believers, being 
united and associated, have come, 

1. To mount Sion, the blessed place of worship 
where the temple stood, whither all the males went 
yearly to worship ; it was holy by God's special conse- 
cration. So believers are come to whatsoever was 
typified thereby, gospel worship, and most excellent 
privileges, Eph. ii. 14 — 22. 

2. To the heavenly Jerusalem, that is, to the church 
catholic, of a heavenly descent, and as heavenly an 
ascent ; it comes from above, is part of that Jerusalem 
above; governed by heaven's laws in the gospel charter; 
of invincible strength, " the gates of hell shall not pre- 
vail against it;" of wonderful beauty and harmony. f 

3. To an innumerahle company of angels. A thou- 
sand thousands minister unto him, ten thousand times 
ten thousand stand before him. To these, saints be- 
low are gathered, in Christ; with these they have 
communion, as being all of one family.i Holy angels 
are God's officers for the saints' good, and guard them 
to heaven. 

4. To the general assembly and church of the first- 
horn, which are written in heaven. Instead of all the 
males coming to worship, now we are come to all the 
members of the church, Jews and Gentiles, through- 

* Zeeh. xii. «. Eph. iv. 13. t Gal. iv. 26. 3Iatt. xvi. 18. Col. ii. 19. 
+ Dan. vii. 10. Eph. i. 10. iv. 10, 15. 


out the world ; who are all real saints, elect souls, 
written in the Lamb's book of life, animated with one 

5. To God the judge of all, that is, the Lord para- 
mount of his church, the object, author, and end of all 
gospel transactions. We have interest in a propitious 
God, are accepted in the beloved ; he is the defender 
of his saints, punisher of their enemies, recompenser 
of upright services, comforter of their hearts, all in all.f 

6. To the spirits of just men made perfect, that is, 
freed from sin, complete in grace, in full communion 
with God, having received their full rev/ard in God's 
immediate presence, " having fought the good fight, 
finished their course, and kept the faith," and who are 
now wearing the triumphant crown of righteousness 
which they will wear to all eternity.:}: 

7. To Jesus the mediator of the new covenant. This, 
this is the Alpha and Omega, partaking of a human 
and divine nature. He is the author and finisher of our 
faith, the bright and morning star, the corner-stone of 
our salvation ; || a prophet transcending Moses, a me- 
diator of a better covenant, confirming all by his 

8. To the blood of sprinkling, that precious blood 
which is of more value than heaven and earth ; this 
sprinkling of blood was the highest performance in 
his mediatorial office on earth ; and this he manages 
now when he is in heaven, having entered into the 
holy of holies, to apply the benefits of his undertaking, 
and to appear in the presence of Grod for us.^ But 
to return to the words of the text : 

* Rev. xxi. 27. Rom. viii. 17- Eph. iv. 5 — 11. 
t Eph. i. a Isa. liv. 17- 2 Tim. iv. ^. Rom. viii. 32. 
t 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. !| Rev. i. ) 1. Heb. xii. 2. 

i Heb. ix. 14, 24. vii. 25. Isa. Hi. 13—15. 


To the spirits of just men made perfect, that is, ye 
are come — for the word Trpoo-fXrjXu^arE, ver. 22, must be 
understood here. Calvin interprets it, as signifying, 
that we Cliristians are gathered to those holy souls, 
which having put off their bodies, have left all the 
pollution of this world behind them ;* whether it was 
the ancient patriarchs, or such as died successively till 
that time, and even to this very day. Made perfect'^ 
You will say, 

Doth not the same apostle thus express himself? 
Heb. xi. 40, " God having provided some better thing 
for us, that they without us should not be made per- 

Answ. 1. They borrowed their perfection from our 
gospel dispensation ; for the law made nothing perfect, 
but the bringing in of a better hope did ; the law had 
" but a shadow of good things to come, they were but 
carnal ordinances imposed on them till the time of re- 
formation ; Christ being the end of the law to every 
one that believeth."f 

2. Believers under the legal dispensation, were justi- 
fied and saved by Christ to come ; Abraham rejoiced 
to see Christ's day, and believed in him, and it was 
counted to him for righteousness, t So David, and all 
the old testament saints ; and when they had finished 
their course, they entered into a state of perfection, 
they saw God innnediately, which the Hebrews call, 
a being put under the throne of glory ; j] and they 
judged that those spirits entered into that state of per- 
fection, sobner or later, as they depart out of this life, 
more or less purified. To them. Christians are said to 

* Ut significet iios aggregari ad sanctas animas, quae corporibus 
exutae, omnes mundi sordes reliqueruiit. — Calv. in loc. 
t Heb. vii. ]9. x. 1. ix. 10. Rom. x. 4. 
X John viii. 56. Rom. iv. 22. || Poni sub solio glorite. 


come, by faith, hope, love, and sweet iutercourse, or 

Observe it, ye are come, not only yon shall come at 
your death, but while you live in the flesh, you are 
with them in spirit, by a blessed connection in one 
body, under Christ, the head ; and some kind of com- 
munion in spirit, 

Doct. There is a way whereby saints glorified in 
heaven, and believers sanctified on earth, come to each 

Or, there is a union and communion maintained be- 
tween gracious souls on earth, and the spirits of just 
men made perfect in heaven. This is a mysterious 
point, yet a truth. We believe such a thing as com- 
munion of saints here below, though living at a vast 
distance in place, and though they never saw one ano- 
ther, or could understand one another's language, yet 
there is a communion in spirit: so it is in this case, 
only saints above are at the upper end of the table, or 
rather in the upper room, we below ; they are in God's 
immediate |>resence, we in a foreign country ; they 
drink deep of those rivers of pleasures, we do but taste 
how good God is ; they are at full age, saints below 
in their minority ; yet both are children, dear to God ; 
we live by faith, they by vision and sensible fruition ; 
we have but the earnest, they have full possession of 
the celestial inheritance. 

In the prosecution of this doctrine, I shall observe 
the following method : 

I. Declare how the spirits of just men made perfect 
in heaven come to, or have communion with saints 

II. How saints on earth com€ to the saints above? 

III. In what way this takes place ? 

IV. Conclude all with some practical inferences ? 


1. How do the spirits made perfect above, come to 
the saints below ? 

Answ. 1. By consent and communion in ordinances. 
The worship above is a counterpart to that of the 
saints below ; as we sing hosanna, they resound halle- 
lujah ; wherever gospel worship is offered on earth, 
they above concur therewith. 

Whether the saints glorified be present in the assem- 
blies of saints here below, as scripture asserts the holy 
angels are, I know not;* but some understand such 
as join with the angels, Rev. vii. 11, singing, "Bless- 
ing and glory, and wisdom, thanksgiving, and honour, 
and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and 
ever," to be saints glorified : for it is said, ver. 14, 
" These are they which came out of great tribulation, 
and have washed their robes, and made them white in 
the blood of the Lamb." 

O how do the glorified spirits echo to the saints' 
praises here ! adoring free grace, the merits of Christ's 
blood, and the blessed conquests of the Holy Spirit. 
The worship is of the same nature, diff'erently circum- 
stanced ; they being in the heavenly temple, in the 
royal presence, with harps well tuned ; but we wor- 
ship afar off, with jarring music, and on a lower key. 

2. By some kind of sympathy with their suffering 
fellow members on earth ; so far as their glorified state 
will bear, they have tender compassionate feelings, to- 
wards such as are still in the road, labouring, striving, 
fighting with temptations, persecutions, and corruptions, 
well remembering that themselves were lately in the 
same condition. These glorified saints, now arrived at 
the haven, stand upon the shore, and see their brethren 
in the ship on this tempestuous sea, tossed with storms, 
beset with pirates, endangered by rocks and sands, and 

* 1 Cor. xi. 10. Eph. iii. 10. 


their hearts long to see us also safely landed ; and as 
far as they know any of our conditions more hazardous, 
so are they concerned for us ; nor doth this sympathy 
abate their present joy, but rather increases it, to see 
themselves out of danger. Nor is it inconsistent with 
this heavenly glory, any more than Christ's having 
" compassion on the ignorant, and them that are out 
of the way ;" * for though he hath laid aside his 
passion, or liability to suffering, yet not his com- 

w. Saints glorified come to us below by joy and ex- 
ultation ; so far as the spirits above know the pros- 
perity of the church below, so far do they triumph and 
rejoice. Hence it is said, Luke xv. 7, " That joy shall 
be in heaven over one sinner that repentcth." How 
glad are they when one is added to their number ! 
That this joy is of saints glorified, is confirmed, ver. 
10, for it is said, " There is joy in the presence of the 
holy angels," or angels of God. Additions to the 
church on earth, form an augmentation of the celestial 
inhabitants, and add to the honour of our Lord and 
master. It is melody to their spirits, and accents 
their triumphal songs, that another soul is snatched out 
of Satan's hands, and put into safe state for heaven. 
This way they themselves went, they travelled through 
thesq several stages, to salvation ;f they experimentally 
know what blessedness attends every step, and find the 
issue to be good ; and the more the happier. There is 
no envy. in spiritual things. 

4. By a daily accordance with the saint's j^rayers, 
and Christ's intercession for the militant church. The 
spirits of just men made perfect above are continually 
present with Christ, and know what our blessed advo- 
cate presents to the father on the behalf of the church 

* Heb. iv. 15. V. 2. ! Hac itur arl a^^tra. 

524 ui:avf.ni.v convkuse, 

militant, and have a similar concern for it. Our di- 
vines confess, that saints departed do in general pray 
for the church on earth, desiring the final deliverance 
of their fellow members from all miseries ; * so the 
souls under the altar, cried with a loud voice, " How 
long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and 
avenge our blood, on them that dwell on the earth." f 
Full glad would they be that an end were put to these 
days of sinning, and they lift up their desires to God, 
which is their praying. But this doth not warrant men's 
invocation of saints ; for they are ignorant of parti- 
cular cases ; '' The dead know not any thing,"i: nor can 
they impart any merits to men. What Papists say of 
glorified spirits seeing all things in the glass of the 
Trinity, 'j is a fancy ; for that would make them omni- 
scient as God is. 

You will say, do saints glorified know nothing of 
affairs here below? I answer affirmatively, 

(1.) Because they are intellectual spirits, of a large 
capacity; for they are equal with the angels.^ 

(2.) Possibly the angels, whom God sends as mes- 
sengers into this lower world, may communicate what 
they know to them of church affairs ; for they have a 
peculiar way of signifying their minds to each other. 

(3.) As God's children die, and depart hence to 
heaven, they may bring them notice how things go on 
in this lower world. 

(4.) Possibly they may learn something by reve- 
lation immediately from God ; for doubtless, such as 
are in paradise must know vrhat the apostle Paul 
knew when he was rapt up thither ;^ though even 
angels are ignorant of some things, for so our Lord 

* Perkins on the Creed, p. 311. + Rev. vi. 10. 

t Eccles. ix. 5. !l In speculo Trinitatis. 

$ Luke XX. 36. IT 2 Cor. xii. 4. 


affirms, Matt. xxiv. 36, " Of that day and hour 
knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my 
Father only." Much less can men know all things, 
yet the glorified spirits are on a level with the angels. 

Thus much for the agency of these spirits of just 
men made perfect, for promoting this communion. 

II. How do the saints on earth come to the spirits 
of just men made perfect, and wherein consists this 
communion ? 

This being the subject of my text, I shall state it in 
these seven particulars : 

1. Saints on earth come to the spirits of just men 
above in point of adoration ; not of them, but of God 
with them, when we perform any part of worship in 
reference to the divine Majesty ; we below are doing 
the same thing that the courtiers do in the presence 
chamber : we are fully assured that he is encompassed 
with angels and glorified saints ; one cries to another, 
and saith, " Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the 
whole earth is full of thy glory."* To this the saints 
on earth echo, saying, "Amen, so be it;" see Rev. 
V. 13, 14, " Every creature M'hich is in heaven, and 
on the earth, and under the earth, — heard I, saying, 
blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto 
him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb 
for ever and ever." There we find precentors and 
succentors in this blessed choir, saints above and saints 
below. He that converseth with a great king, hath 
relative communion with his whole court; wor- 
shippers on earth have some intercourse with those 
heavenly choristers and courtiers in the upper region. 

L'. In point of conversation, saints on earth walk 
by the same rule, according to which they act who are 
above ; hence we pray, " Thy will be done on earth 
* Isa. vi. 3. 


as it is in heaven :"* spirits below walk in the same 
road that led the glorified saints to that iipliill city ; 
that strait and narrow way;f that way of the righ- 
teous, which is above to the wise, and hath a direct 
tendency to heaven : hence saith the apostle, concern- 
ing himself and all sincere Christians, Phil. iii. 20, 
" For our conversation is in heaven ; TroXiTeiiua, our 
citizenship, our civil intercourse.''^ We act as free- 
men of the Jerusalem that is above, from whence 
we sprang, and whither we tend ; living by heaven's 
laws, and going about our business with heavenly 
hearts. So the pearl grows in the sea, but shines in 
the sky. Christians are holy pilgrims, askmg the 
way to Zion ; these march through thick and thin to 
be where their brethren are : desiring the way as well 
as the end ; holiness as well as happiness ; yea, holi- 
ness is part of their happiness. These holy brethren 
are "partakers of the heavenly calling ;"|| and make it 
their business to " walk worthy of this calling." ^^ 

3. Saints below come to those above in point of 
delight and affection. Pious souls loved God's children 
whilst they were in the flesh ; in this imperfect state, 
" saints on the earth were the excellent ones, in whom 
was all their delight." It was natural to them, they 
were taught of God to love one another.^ This divine 
nature connects and unites hearts: as fraternity is a 
charm to the affections, much more do the spirits of 
just men made perfect, now purified and freed from the 
dregs of corruption and unloveliness, become the objects 
of the saints' love. Nor is it distance of place that 
alienates their affections; for the soul is not** where 

* Matt. vi. 10. t Matt. vii. 14. 

+ Ut municipes coelorum nos gerimus — Piscat. \\ Heb. iii. 1. 
§ Eph. iv. 1—3. IT Psal. xvi. 3. 1 Thess. iv. 9. 

** Anima non est ubi animat, sed ubi amat. 


it animates, but where it loves ; men may love au 
object a thousand miles off. " Whom having not 
seen, ye love,"* saith Peter. So, though saints below 
converse not personally with them above, yet their 
hearts are knit to them by a thousand bonds ; they 
that are risen with Christ, set their affections on 
things, of course on persons, above, Christ, and all his 
lovely shining members with him.f The lover can go 
without actual locomotion ; his heart removes to the 
object beloved though in a far country;! yea, some- 
times distance endears cordial friends ; and there is 
no such communion as by endeared affection; men 
may converse and not love ; but they that truly love, 
do actually converse. 

4. In point of imitation. The gracious soul on 
earth would be like the glorified saint in heaven. This 
is the command, Heb. xiii. 7, " Remember them which 
have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the 
word of God ; whose faith follow, considering the end 
of their conversation." One while the Christian re- 
flects on the exact life, fervent prayers, and great use- 
fulness of such and such ministers and Christians as he 
was wont to converse with here below ; and saith in 
himself, O that I had such firm faith, such flaming 
love, such exact holiness as I saw in such and such a one! 
I remember how such a one prayed, M^ept, wrestled, 
walked, and watched, I recollect his zeal for God, and 
his patience under the cross ; O that I were like him ! 
Anotiier while the Christian considers, what such a 
saint is now, in heaven ? what a bright taper of hea- 
venly knowledge? what a flaming cherub of holy love? 
what a flying seraph of lively obedience ? When, O 
when shall I be like to him ? How far I am short ! I 
• 1 Pet. i. 8. t Col. iy. 1. t Cant. iv. 8. 


must follow, though not with equal paces : * I cannot 
go so fast as they, but! will hold forward as hard as 
I can, and hope to overtake them at last. Lord, help 
me, " that I may not be slothful, but a follower of 
them, who through faith and patience do now inherit 
the promises."! I will fly high, and aim at perfection. 
5. In point of desire, hope, and expectation. " My 
soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the 
Lord ; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living 
God." " Woe is me, that I sojourn in Meshech, and 
dwell in the tents of Kedar." ^ This world is a pri- 
son ; my companions, jailors, or prisoners ; when shall 
I be set at liberty ? come. Lord Jesus, come quickly ; 
break down the prison door of flesh ; say to the pri- 
soner. Come forth. I thank God for ordinances, and 
communion of saints ; " but I desire to depart, and ta 
be with Christ, which is far better." || O what a fine 
lovely company are those hundred and forty foiu* thou- 
sand, " that have their father's name written in their 
foreheads, harping with their harps," ^ singing a new 
song. Methinks it were worth a world to be a day 
with that palm-bearing company, and to be employed 
in that heavenly music ; well, I am with them already 
by hope ; we are saved by hope, why may I not be 
with them in possession?^ my title to that blessed state 
is the same as theirs ; O that I were fit for it ! I am 
often casting this firm and stedfast anchor of my soul, 
even hope, into that within the vail, and there it ad- 
heres, and there will I fix my confidence, and not on 
the fluid waves of this tumultuous sea !** I confess my- 
self to be a stranger, and a pilgrim in the earth ; I am 
seeking a better country, whither most of my best 

" Non passibus aequis. t Heb. vi. 12. t Psal. Ixxxiv. 2. cxx. 5. 
11 Phil. i. 23. § Rev. xiv. 1—3. H Rom. viii. 24. »* Heb. vi. 19. 


kindred are gone, and whither I am aspiring* — O for 
the dawning of that blessed day ! 

6. In point of encouragement. It is not to be told 
what encouragement a Christian receives from a con- 
sideration of the spirits of the jvist now made perfect 
in heaven ; partly, by thinking what they endured, and 
how grace bore their heads above water, and hearts 
above terror, under their sore trials. The apostle 
Peter sets Sarah, and other holy women, before the 
righteous women of his time, as remarkable examples, 
and saith, " Whose daughters ye are, as long as you 
do well, and are not afraid with any amazement," 1 
Pet. iii. 5, 6. These holy souls have broken through 
the pikes, God was with them, they fainted not, but 
though their "outward man perished, yet their in- 
ward man was renewed day by day ;"f they are arrived 
at the end of their hopes, the salvation of their souls."; 
And why may not I ? God is the same God, I have 
the same spirit of faith ; I believe, and therefore I 
speak; II but above all, when I consider whither free 
grace hath brought them. O the perfect rest their 
souls have ! " In God's presence is fulness of joy, at 
his right hand, there are pleasures for evermore." 
And why may not my heart be glad ? why may not 
my flesh rest in hope ? O happy souls, shall I ever 
reach you ? why not ? I have heard the same com- 
plaints from those here on earth, who are now triumph- 
ing in heaven ; God is admired in them, and why not 
in me ? " For he shall come to be glorified in his saints, 
aud to be admired in all them that believe." J And if 
ever God was admired in bringing a forlorn creature 
to heaven, he may have the greatest revenue of glory 
from me. 

* Heb. xi. 14. t 2 Cor. iv. 16. :J: 1 Peter i.. 9. 

II 2 Cor. iv. 13. § 2 Thess. i. 10. 
VOL. IV. 2 M 


7. Once more, saints below come to the spirits of 
just men made perfect above, and that in point of 

You will say, these things are contradictory : are 
they in heaven ? I answer, 

They are, and they are not. Their souls are not 
gone out of their bodies, and ascended into the upper 
r^ion, to be totally free from sin, and perfect in grace; 
they are yet in this lower world, in a state of imper- 
fection, and so far they are different from the spirits of 
just men made perfect.* But yet a gracious soul on 
earth hath possession given to him already : — 

(1.) In capife, in the head, that is, Christ : so mem- 
bers are eminently and representatively where the 
head is ; Eph. ii. 6, " And hath raised us up together, 
and made us sit together in heavenly places, in Christ 
Jesus." Christians below, have already taken up their 
places in Christ ; as the country sits in parliament, by 
its representatives. 

(2.) In p'lg-nore, in the pledge; or rather, in <7/T/m- 
hoiie, in the earnest, f For the pledge is restored, but 
the earnest is kept ; as it is part of the payment, and 
ensures the whole sum ; God hath given us both, for 
owv Lord's resurrection and ascension to heaven, is a 
pledge and anticipation of our advancement ; " For 
Christ is become the first fruits of them that slept fX as 
first fruits assured Jews of the Avhole harvest ;|| so it is 
here. Yea, Christians have the blessed earnest of the 
spirit within them, that is, beginnings, foretastes of 
glory, like tlie grapes of Canaan in the wilderness of 
this world. 

(3.) In signo, m the sign and seal, that is, either 
external, as in baptism and the Lord's supper ; $ or 

* 1 Cor. xiii. 10. t Pignus redditur, arrhabo retinetur. 
; 1 Cor. XV. 20. II Eph. i. 14. § Eph. i. 13. iv. 30. 


internal, "the seal of the holy spirit," 2 Cor. i. 22. 
Thus the merchant seals his property. This is the 
grace of God in truth ; the graces of t!ie Spirit, faith, 
love, hope ; which are the clearest evidences of the 

(4.) In pretio, in the price. It is a purchased pos- 
session. This is the foundation of all the rest, though 
I mention it last. Heaven was forfeited by us, Christ 
has recovered it for us. 

But, you ask, doth God sell heaven for a price? In 
reply let me say, 

The principal design of Christ, in laying down his 
life, was to deliver us from the wrath of God, and the 
curse of the law, with the guilt and condemnation due 
to us for sin ; f and God was so well pleased with 
Christ's satisfaction, that he withholds nothing from 
us ; no, not his dearest love, nor a room in the highest 

Now go backward, for the certainty of the believer's 
arrival in heaven, as if he were already possessed. + — 
It is paid for, and God will be just to his Son in per- 
forming his part. — God hath given outward and in- 
ward seals to secure it to them. — There is a pledge and 
earnest, which is a good part of the possession. — And 
they have actual possession in Christ their head. And 
surer ways than these cannot be expected or devised. 
Thus we have brought the Christian below, to the 
spirits of just men above. 

3. I shall very briefly shew how this is brought to 

(1.) This proceeds from God the Father's everlasting 
love ; for both saints glorified, and those who are 

* Eph. i. 14. +1 Thess. i. 10. Gal. iii. 13. Rom. viii.31,32. 
X Ad quos accessimus etiam in hac vita, adhuc militantes, 
quia una fide ac Spiritu, cum capite Christo societatem habemus. 

2 M 2 


sanctified, are the objects of GotFs purpose ; " The 
foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the 
Lord knoweth them that are his," 2 Tim. ii. 19. They 
are carried as by a river under ground, till converting 
grace distinguisheth them from others. As there are 
elect angels, so there are elect saints ; and God's pur- 
pose according to election must stand ;* " All that the 
Father hath given to me, saith Christ, shall come unto 
me ;"f this is the first spring of motion in the work 
of man's salvation ; the first link in the golden chain, 
which draws God and sinners together ; " Whom he 
he did predestinate, them he also called," &c. Rom. 
viii. 29, 30. 

(2.) From Christ's meritorious undertaking. He 
that was God became man, that he might bring man 
to God ; he suffered the "just for the unjust, that he 
might bring us to God," 1 Pet. iii. 18. Christ's blood 
is the only cement that unites God and man together; 
" He makes peace through the blood of his cross." 
The rending of the vail of his flesh, opened a new and 
living way to the holy of holies. ± But that is not all, 
this blood also hath connected men together ; Eph. ii. 
14, 15, " He is our peace, who hath made both," that 
is, Jews and Gentiles, " one, and hath broken down 
the middle wall of partition between us." Jesus in 
Hebrew, and Christ in Greek, to signify the uniting of 
both, that both might be fellow-citizens with the 
saints." II And Christ's prayer is, "That all his may 
be one."^' Nay, still m.ore than this, " He gathers to- 
gether in one, all things in Christ, both which are in 
heaven and which are on earth, even in him," Eph. i. 10. 
CroiA'ned saints, and unsinning angels, all are brought 
ui)der one head, Christ, so the word ai-aKt^aXatwo-ao-S-ai 

* Rom. ix. 9. t Jolm vi. 37- t Col. i. 20. Heb. x. 19—22. 
II Eph. ii. 19. § John xvii. 21. 


doth signify ; relating either to houses broken down 
and scattered pieces, being brought together ; or an 
army shattered and restored to its ranks under its 
general. Thus our Lord brings sinners together. 

(3.) This proceeds from the sanctifying operations of 
the Holy Ghost. God chooseth his children to salva- 
tion, " through sanctification of the Spirit," 2 Thess. ii. 
13. The same Spirit works in all God's saints, whether 
under the old testament, or under the new, in all ages, 
among all nations ; " We having the same spirit," 
saith Paul, that is, with David of old; 2 Cor. iv. 13, 
" For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, 
and have been all made to drink into one spirit."* 
All God's children are animated by the same spirit ; it 
runs through all the veins of Christ's mystical body, 
and makes them have a tendency towards each other ; 
the saints above towards those below, and those on 
earth towards the spirits of just men made perfect. 
As the saints in heaven, with great acclamations, be- 
hold the church's conflicts and triumphs here below, 
and long for the completing of their number. So, 
God's poor children in this afflicted, conflicting state, 
being supported and quickened by the Spirit, expect a 
rest ; Gal. v. 5, " For we through the Spirit wait for 
the hope of righteousness by faith." Nor will the 
waters of tribulation quench, but rather kindle the fire 
of this zeal ; for in these fiery trials, " the Spirit of 
glory, and of God, resteth upon them,"! by which 
they are carried out of themselves, and beyond them- 
selves to heavenly objects, as Stephen was. 

(4.) This proceeds from the gospel covenant, the 

blessed new testament dispensation. The covenant of 

grace binds God and souls together, and it binds souls 

to one another ; all believers are connected in this 

* 1 Cor. xii. 13. t 1 Peter iv. 14. 


bond, and become "one stick in God's hand."* Re- 
ligion is of a binding nature, it gathers pereons and 
things homogeneous, or of the like kind ; they are knit 
together, and both joined to the " Lord in a perpetual 
covenant."! Nor doth death disannull, but complete 
it, and consummate its purpose ; for on behalf of the 
glorified, all their graces are perfected ; love has reached 
its proper element, ^vhich as it mounts upv/ards to 
God, so it descends to all fellow members in this lower 
world ; this permanent love reigns triumphantly in 
the world above ; i and faith is the chief grace by which 
we live in this world ; these two fulfil law and gospel; 
they who are of faith, " the same are the children of 
Abraham ;" and doubtless Abraham will have respect 
unto his seed, and take them into his bosom when they 
die, as he mjist be endeared to them while they live. || 
But you will say, Abraham is ignorant of us, and 
Israel doth not acknowledge us.^ I answer, good in- 
terpreters understand the passage thus: That "Israel 
was so degenerate, that if those pious patriarchs were 
alive, they would not own them for their legitimate 
posterity. It may however be a truth, that glorified 
saints in heaven have no personal knowledge of parti- 
cular persons on earth ; but in general they understand 
their dispositions and circumstances, and so far regard 
them as is allowable by the laws of that heavenly 
country. By virtue of this covenant all the saints are 
of the " household of faith, the family in heaven and 
on earth;" all one Father's children, fellow heirs ;^ 
so it is said even of the Gentiles, Eph. iii. 6, " That 
they should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and 
partakers of his promise, in Christ by the gospel." 

* Ezek. xxxvii. ] 7- + Jer. 1. 5. X 1 Cor. xiii. 13. 

II Heb. xi. 39. Rom. xiii. 8 1 John iii. 23. Gal. iii. 7- 
§ Isa. Ixiii. 16. ^ Gal. vi. 3, 10. Eph. iii. 15. 


This is an important text, which details the privileges 
of Christians.— They are co-heirs.— Concorporated, 
being of the same body.— They have excellent compa- 
nions, all this proceeding from a gospel promise.— And, 
that promise founded on Christ, the mediator of this 
blessed covenant. See another similitude, 1 Pet. ii. 4, " 
5. Thus much for the doctrinal part. 

From this subject the following inferences may be 
drawn for the purpose of information^ 

1. That the soul of man is of a peculiar and wonder- 
ful nature. 

(1.) It is far beyond and above the soul of a brute. 
Of the beast it is said. Gen. ix. 4, " But flesh, with the 
life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall you not 
eat." So that let out the blood of the animal, you let 
out all its vital power ; it is dissolved at death ; the 
spirit of a beast goeth downward.* Whether beasts 
shall retain, or regain their existence, I have nothing 
to say, though some maintain it. Yet, doubtless, the 
soul of man is more excellent than that of a brute, 
in either its present operations, or future existence. A 
beast can only look on objects of sense present before it. 
But the soul of man can look backward by recol- 
lection, inward by reflection, forward by anticipation, 
and upward by contemplation ; it hath a wonderful 
sagacity, and excellent faculties, it is capable of moral 
good and evil ; having a conscience that can bear wit- 
ness of actions or thoughts, to excuse or accuse.f It 
can ascend to heaven, descend to hell, and travel 
thi'ough the universe in the twinkling of an eye. 

(3.) As for its future existence in a separate state, 
that I have proved before. In Matt. xvi. 26, the passage 
speaks of " losing a man's own soul;" and again we read 
of " God's destroying both soul and body :"t but you 

* Eccl. iii. 21. + Rom. ii. 15. + Matt. x. 28. 


must not understand this, as thouo-h men should have 
no souls, or that they should be reduced to nothing, 
but only of losing the happiness of the soul, by its 
being cast into hell, to be tormented for ever. In this 
case, men will wish they had no souls, or that they never 
had a being. But that there are different states for 
immortal spirits in the other world, the parable of 
Dives and Lazarus doth sufficiently demonstrate. 

2. Though in the other world it is said, the spirits 
of just men are made perfect ; yet this doth not ex- 
clude the perfection of their bodies : these also, 

(1.) Shall be made perfect at the resurrection; for 
the apostle saith, " The body is sown in corruption, it 
is raised in incoriTiption," &c. " He shall change our 
vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glo- 
rious body;"* that is, Christ's: which, doubtless, 
shines as bright now or brighter than it did at his 
transfiguration, when his " face did shine as the sun, 
and his raiment was white as the light." + Such spark- 
ling glory shall the bodies of saints have ; indeed they 
shall be more like spirits than bodies, so transparent, 
that as one saith, all the veins, nerves, and muscles, 
shall be seen, as in a glass ; so agile and nimble, that 
they shall instantaneously move from one end of the 
heavens to the other, even as a thought; so powerful, 
that they shall be able to move mountains. They 
shall be freed from all imperfection, and be absolutely 
perfect as Adam's body was before he sinned, possibly 
better. And as the bodies of the dead shall be raised 
and glorified at the great day, so shall also such as 
shall be found alive, be changed, perfected, and glo- 
rified ; which is a mystery possibly declared to Paul 
when rapt up into the third heavens,|^ 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52. 

* 1 Cor. XV. 42—44. Phil. iii. 21. t Matt. xvii. 2. 

+ 2 Cor. xii. 4, 5. 


*' The dead in Christ shall rise first, and they which 
are alive, shall be caught up together with them in the 
clouds, and so shall we ever be with the Lord."* 

(2.) But though the text speaks of the spirits of 
just men made perfect, yet it doth not exclude even 
the bodies of just men made perfect ; for there were 
then three bodies in heaven already, Enoch before the 
law, Elijah under the law, and Christ under the 
gospel : how they were taken up, whether Enoch was 
taken up in a whirlwind, as Elijah was, or as Christ 
in a cloud, we know not ; but they were escorted into 
paradise, the third heaven, the place of the blessed, and 
have taken possession of the land of life. So they are 
not only definitely in heaven, as souls are in a state, 
but circumscriptively as bodies are said to be in a 
place ; and there we shall find them. But it is only 
said of their spirits that we are come to them, not of 
their bodies. 

3. It follows that wicked men on earth have com- 
munion with devils and lost spirits in hell. This I 
gather from the rule of contraries, and it is intimated 
1 Cor. X. 20, " I would not that you should have fel- 
lowship with devils." This is done two ways : 

(1.) Sensibly, knowingly, or by plain contract: that 
such a thing hath been, testimonies might be produced. 
Some indeed have denied that there are any such 
beings as witches or persons confederate with the 
devil ; but scripture and history speak another lan- 
guage. Scripture tells us of Jannes, Jambres, Balaam, 
Manasseh, Simon, Elymas, and the witch of Endor ; 
and of the law condemning such to be cut off by the 
sword of justice. But I shall not enlarge here, since 
Mr. Glanvill's treatise and others are full of stories of 
* 1 Thess. iv. 16, 17- 

5 'j 8 M r. A V E N I , V C f ) N '»• KilUE, 

such as have, by wicked ceremonies, maintained 
familiar correspondence with the infernal fiend. 

(2.) Some maintain familiarity with Satan, who 
little suspect it, and will not believe it ; as all wicked 
AV'orkers and graceless sinners; Satan tempts, they 
consent, and are led captive in invisible chains at his 
pleasure. " He is that prince of the power of the air, 
the spirit that works effectually Ivipyowrog, in the 
children of disobedience;"* he commands, they obey; 
they hold a frightful correspondence with him, and 
maintain conformity to the devil's sins, and those of 
lost souls, lying, cursing, envy, pride, hatred of true 
godliness, heart-murder, and such like spiritual wick- 
edness ; which are the devil's proper sins, who is the 
"ruler of the darkness of the -world,"! ^-^^ holds his 
black hand over their eyes ; " for he is the god of this 
world, that blindeth the minds of them that believe 
not."! Poor sinners will defy the devil, shudder at 
mentionino; him, vet cordiallv deifv him, and enlbrace 
his criminal suggestions. Woe, woe to such poor 
sinners ; " he that committeth sin is of the devil I" |j 
Look to it : you are acting the devil's part when you 
commit sin, and show yourselves to be of your father 
the devil. ^ You are your own tempters; so saith the 
apostle, James i. li, "Every man is tempted, when 
he is drawn a^vay of his own lust and enticed." 

4. Great is the privilege of Christianity, w^herein 
God hath delivered us from the " power of darkness, 
and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear 
Son," Col. i. 13. O blessed change! "To be turned 
from darkness to light ; from the power of Satan to 
God !"^ What a mercy it is to a malefactor con- 

• 2 Tim. ii. 26. Eph. ii. 2. f Eph. vi. 12. i 2 Cor. iv. 4. 
II 1 John Hi. 8. § John viii. 44. IT Acts xxvi. 18. 


(lemned, going pinioned up the ladder to be hanged, 
when he immediately receives a pardon, a new life, a 
new nature, high privileges and blessings. What a 
mercy, when a man is taken out of prison from fetters, 
fellow-slaves, a sturdy imperious gaoler, and is carried 
into his prince's presence-chamber, where he con- 
verseth familiarly with the prince and his favourites? 
Such is the case of a convert ; he hath familiar inter- 
course with God, Christ, holy angels, and with quick 
and dead, whom he may call brethren, though he never 
saw them here below. Though God be a dreadful 
Judge, a consuming fire, yet in Christ he is a reconciled 
Father, and makes all the creatures to l)ecome friends, 
and angels attendants, " for they are ministering 
spirits to the poorest heirs of salvation." All things 
in this world are theirs in Christ, and tending to their 
good. * 

O what a large charter hath a child of God! " he 
inherits all things." Devils cannot hurt him, all crea- 
tures shall help him; saints on earth pray for him, 
and are his companions ; saints in heaven are his 
friends. O happy souls ! Grace makes a Cliristian 
a friend to himself, a friend to God, a favourite of 
heaven, and he shall be at last an inhabitant in the 
glorious mansions above. All this comes by the 
gospel dispensation. O admire the riches of grace ! 
2 Tim. i. 9, 10. 

The passage which has been considered may lead to 

Who are those that have arrived at this privilege, 
that are thus come to the spirits of just men made per- 
fect ? It is not every one's attainment ; there are 
some souls, " without Christ, aliens from the common- 
wealth of Israel, strangers from the covenant of pro- 
• Heb. i. 14. 1 Cor iii. 21. Rom. viii. 28. 


inise, having no hope, and without God in the world."* 
This is a forlorn state : better have no souls than 
graceless souls : better never to have been joined to 
the living, than not to be united to departed saints, 
that live in heaven. Alas ! how few understand what 
this means ? 

It would be too tedious to run over the characters of 
gracious souls, that are members of Christ's mystical 
body on earth, and so associated in near relation to, 
and communion with, the glorified spirits above. 

I shall but briefly glance at these two things in the 
text, that men are considered as just^ and as made 

And how are these in unison with the character of 
all pious persons here on earth ? 

1. Pious persons are just or righteous, and that in 
these two respects : as having inherent, and imputed 

(1.) Inherent; and so by consequence, a practical, 
exercised justice and righteousness : Gen. vi. 9> " Noah 
was a just man, and perfect in his generations ; and 
Noah walked with God ;" the goodness of his state 
produced the goodness of his life. There must be a 
right principle, or there ean never be a right practice : 
the tree must be good, or there can be no good fruit. 
Are your hearts renewed ? Has sin lost its dominion ? 
Do you square your actions according to Scripture 
rule? A godly man is called a just man in Scripture ;f 
he is just to God, giving to God the things that are 
God's ; to man the things that are man's ; to the soul, 
to the body, to the world, their dues and no more. 
Do you make it your business to do "justice, to love 
mercy, and to walk humbly with God ?" Mic. vi. 8. 

• Eph. ii. 12. 

t Job. xxvii. 6. Psalm xxxvii. 12. Prov. xxix. 10. Isa. xxvi. ^ 



Alas, friends, it is not an assent to truth, a profession 
of godliness, nor a mere notion that will do, but a sav- 
ing work on the heart ; " a putting on the new man, 
which after God is created, in righteousness and holi- 
ness of truth ;"* and then being righteous before God, 
as Zechariah and Elizabeth, " walking in all the com- 
mandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless ;" f 
and doing " righteousness at all times." \ This is a 
being suited and squared to the whole will of God. 
No man is just, but such a one as makes it his business 
to be universally upright : so saith the apostle, 1 John 
iii. 7, " Little children, let no man deceive you, he 
that doth righteousness is righteous, even as he is 

(2.) They are just, or righteous also by the imputed 
righteousness of Jesus Christ, who is *):pi3i mn^ the 
"Lord our righteousness;" the author is God alone; "it 
is God that justifieth ;" the efficient cause is free grace, 
" We are justified freely by his grace," and not our 
deserts; the meritorious cause is the redemption, which 
is in Christ ; the means of applying Christ's righteous- 
ness is faith; receiving this free gift, " We are justified 
by the faith of Christ." \\ By this means it is, that a 
poor sinner standing at the bar of God, as a guilty 
malefactor condemned by the law, is cleared and ac- 
quitted, and accepted by God as if he had never offend- 
ed. So that neither Satan, nor conscience, nor law, 
nor justice, hath any thing to lay to his charge ; hence 
the apostle's challenge, Rom. viii. 33, " Who shall lay 
any thing to the charge of God's elect ?" If the judge 
acquit the prisoner, no matter what the jailor, or fellow 
prisoners say. This, this is that which all the ser- 
vants of God own, desire, stand by, and delight in, above 

• Eph. iv. 24. + Luke i. 6. t Psalm cvi. 3. 

II Jer. xxiii. 6. Rom. viii. 33. iii. 22, 24. Gal. ii. 16. 


any inherent righteousness ; so Paul must be found in 
Christ, or he is lost for ever, " Not having" saith he, 
" mine own righteousness, which is by the law, but that 
which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness 
which is of God by faith." Thus the church is 
clothed with the sun, * that is, the righteousness of 
Christ ; " These are they that have washed their robes, 
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."f 
No standing before the holy, righteous, sin-avenging 
ji':dge, but in a righteousness, commensurate with the 
demands of infinite justice, and that is Christ's only, 
who was, and is God equal with the Father, whose 
deity gives value to his sufferings in the humane na- 
ture. O blessed souls that are thus just ! These shall 
enter amongst the just ones. 

2. As they are just ones, so they are perfect : and 
none can come to the spirits made perfect, but such as 
are in a gospel sense made perfect, even in this world, 
two ways : by integj-itij, and by jwqficiency, and a 
constant tendency towards perfection. 

(1.) A believer is in some sense perfect. God bids 
Abraham, and all his spiritual seed, to v/alk before 
him, and to be perfect. X Job was perfect and up- 
right ; that is, with an evangelical perfection of parts, 
though defective in point of degree ; for he saith, " If 
I say I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse."|| 
In this sense Paul disclaims perfection, but asserts it 
as the characteristic of all believers in the former 
sense ; " As many as be perfect, let them be thus 
minded :"^ and elsewhere, " We speak wisdom among 
them that are perfect," ^j that is, serious Christians. 
Our Lord himself .tells us what is requisite to this 

• Phil, iii.8, 9. Rev. xii. 1. t Rev. vii. 14. 

* Gen. xvii. 1. || Job i. 1. ix. 20. 
§ Phil. iii. 12, 15. ITl Cor. ii. 6. 


gospel perfection : Matt, xix, 21, " If thou wilt be 
perfect, go and sell that which thou hast, and give to 
the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and 
come and follow me :" Mark adds, " Take up the 
cross." * A cheerful, real, universal, perpetual com- 
pliance with gospel terms is this gospel perfection ; 
there is an endeavour to resemble Jesus Christ — 
" Every one that is perfect shall be as his Master," -f 
both in character and possession of glory. This is the 
great business of poor ministers, " warning and teach- 
ing every man, that we may present every man perfect 
in Christ Jesus." :j: A child is a perfect man as to the 
number of Ijodily members, though defective in size : 
so the convert hath all the limbs and lineaments of the 
new creature — he hath light in the understanding, recti- 
tude in the will, regularity in the affections, tenderness 
and faithfulness in the conscience. A gracious soul hath 
all the graces of the Spirit — faith, love, repentance, the 
fear of God, and humility; though alas ! but in an infe- 
rior degree. I may trul}'' say, that the same grace for 
kind is in the meanest saint on earth, as is in the 
most elevated child of God on earth or in heaven, yet 
not the same measure of grace. The apostle Peter 
writes to them that have " obtained like precious faith 
with himself," || and other apostles : like precious, not 
like glorious ; like for quality, not for quantity : there 
are babes in Christ, as well as strong men : § a child 
may hold a ring in his hand as well, though not so fast 
as a strong man. Grace hath its different degrees, 
and even its ebbings and flowings : but is there truth 
in the in^vaid i)arts ? Hast thou given the key of thy 
heart to God ? Barest thou set thyself before the 
heart-searching God, as a glass in the sun, that he may 

• aiark X. 21. + Luke vi. 40. + Col. i. 28. 

II 2 Pet. i. 1. § Heb. v. 12—14. 


look into thee, through thee ? Dost thou say as Job, 
" Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God 
may know mine integrity ?" * and as David, " Exa- 
mine me, O Lord, and prove me, try my reins and my 
heart ?" f Do you love trying truths, sermons, and 
providences, approving your hearts entirely to God, 
doing all as in his sight, and aiming at his glory ? 

(2.) A proficiency in grace. " The path of the just 
is as the shining light, that shineth more and more 
unto the perfect day." ^ Christians are never at the 
summit in this world ; " They go from strength to 
strength, till every one in Zion appears before God."|[ 
It is as natural for a living child to grow, as to breathe. 
Grace came from above, and like pillars of smoke 
ascends upwards. Heaven is the Christian's centre ; 
" They that are risen with Christ, seek the things 
above." ^ Every thing tends to the perfection of its 
being, grace much more. The Christian is still short, 
and would be better ; still something is lacking in his 
faith, hope, love, or patience ; it grieves him at his 
heai't, that he can serve God no better, that he hath so 
many strong corruptions, such distractions in holy du- 
ties, such deadness, forgetfulness, or levity of spirits : 
he is still labouring at the pump to draw out grace, to 
remove defilement, to rub off spots, to " cleanse away 
all filthiness both of flesh and spirit, that he may per- 
fect holiness in the fear of God." ^ The Christian is 
never right unless with God, never well till he be with 
God above in his immediate presence : he almost envies 
the happiness of glorified spirits, and aspires to be as 
good as they; watching, warring, wrestling, praying, 
obeying, and acting, if by any means he may " attain 

• Job xxxi. 6. t Psalm xxvi. 2. cxxxix. 23. 

+ Prov. iv. 18. II Psalm Ixxxiv. 7- § Col. iii. 1. 

IT 2 Cor. vii. 1. 


to the resurrection of the dead,"* namely, that blesssed 
state which saints attain, at the great day of resur- 
rection. Hence saith blessed Paul, " I follow after, — 
reaching forth to things before ; I press towards the 
mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ 
Jesus." f That is a low strain of spirit, and below a 
Christian frame, which aims at no more grace, than will 
keep soul and hell asunder ; that is, he is afraid of dam- 
nation, therefore would have some grace, but studies 
not to be perfect, as God is perfect ; longs not for com- 
munion with God, but is well content to live without 
God, if only he may not perish ; not considering that 
the enjoyment of God is heaven, and banishment from 
God is the worst part of hell. Oh, saith the good Chris- 
tian, let me have more grace, more sensible intercourse 
with God ! more exchange of affection with my dear 
Lord, and this will stay me till I arrive at the haven 
of rest, and see God on those mountains of spices. 

Further, something tei^ding to conviction and con- 
ducive to humiliation may be addressed to sinners and 
saints, on several accounts. 

First, Poor graceless sinners are deeply guilty and 
unadvised : 

1. In neglecting and slighting this blessed relation 
to God, to saints on earth, and glorified spirits above. 
How can men think they shall go to heaven where 
saints are, when they are not saints ; nay, that do not 
so much as pretend to be saints? though they have 
often heard, " that without holiness no man shall see 
the Lord ; and that no unclean thing shall enter into 
that city ;"t yet they live in sin, and are in danger of 
dying in sin. Some pretend a desire to go to heaven, 
but will not so much as associate themselves with such 
here, as shall go to glory ; they are mere strangers to 
* Phil. iii. 11. t Verse 12—14. |. Heb. xii. 14. Rev. xxi. 27- 

VOL. IV. 2 N 


the life of heaven, the road to heaven, and the man- 
ner and employment of the celestial inhabitants ; as 
though men could leap from the dunghill of sin to the 
throne of glory ; " Let no man deceive you, God is not 
mocked; such as a man sows, such shall he reap;"* 
again, " Let no man deceive you with vain words." f 
Sin will exclude you out of heaven, bring down God's 
Avrath, and shut you up in hell ; think not to dance 
with devils all day, and sup with Christ at night ; to 
associate with wicked men here, and be joined with 
saints above ; when you die you will be wofully mis- 
taken. You cannot lie in Delilah's lap now, and in 
Abraham's bosom in the other world. You must be 
made ready liere, or never meet God hereafter. 

2. Some magnify, yea, almost deify departed saints, 
but vilify and condemn, and despise living saints, that 
walk by the same rule, are actuated by the same spirit, 
and are marching to the same goal of glory with the 
other. How much do Papists honour the memory of 
the apostles, and how liberally canonize as saints the 
ancient fathers, Ignatius, Jerome, Augustin, Chrysos- 
tom, and others ; yet vent their spleen at those who 
preach the same doctrine, live by the same rules, serve 
the same God, and hope to enjoy him in the same hea- 
ven with those pious ancient fathers and martyrs. But 
Papists, and some others follow the copy of their pre- 
decessors, the Scribes and Pharisees in our Saviour's 
time, to whom he said, Matt, xxiii. 29, " Woe unto 
you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you 
build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepul- 
clires of the righteous." Even Horace could observe 
this, i "Invidious spirits hate virtue which they see 
living, but admire what is gone out of their sight :" 

* Gal. vi. 7- + Eph. V. 5, G. 

* Virtuteni incolumen odimus, sublatam ex oculis quaerimiis 

IXFlillENCES. 547 

present truth galls them, but what is past hurts not. 
If Peter were now alive they would hate him as they 
do his successors : but this fallacy men willingly put 
upon themselves, that they may sin more freely, and 
sleep in sin with more security. 

3. Some are flat atheists, and disbelieve the life to 
come ; or do not regard the state of the blessed or 
the lost, in another world. They look upon a future 
state of retribution but as a romance, hatched in the 
brains of melancholy fools or cunning priests, to keep 
the world in awe; but they shall find it otherwise, 
and death will open their eyes : whom the light doth 
not convince, the fire shall. Men will be first liber- 
tines, then atheists ; these are near akin. But if 
there is a God, he must be just, and not indifferent to 
good or evil, and then there will be a final judgment, 
and a sentence to heaven or hell. But this point hath 
been so fully handled by excellent pens, that I shall 
wave it, only wish, that before this description of men 
leap desperately into another world, they would make 
a pause, and consider. Whether they be brutes or men? 
who made them ? what they were made for ? whether 
there be not moral good and evil ? whether conscience 
does not sometimes rebuke them for their faults ? 
whether scripture be from God, or man, or Satan ? 
whether the greatest tyrants have not been afraid of 
a future judgment ? whether they be able to disprove 
a future state ? whether prudence would not prompt 
them to take the safest side ? Men are undone for 
want of consideration ; the invited guests " made light 
of it," Matt. xxii. 5, afxtXnaavTig, they would not take it 
into their thoughts. This is the grand disease of this 
lethargic age ; nothing sinks into their minds : " But 
in the latter days they shall consider these things." * 
* Jer. XXX. 24. 


4. The most part of men are surprisingly slothful ; 
they stand idle all the day in the market-place. Few- 
will take such pains for their souls, as they take for 
their bodies, yea, or for their beasts. It is a shame to 
compare the pains the Greeks took at their Olympic 
games, running, wrestling, &c. which they did for a 
corruptible crown, (it may be of flowers or bays,) but 
alas, hoAV few^ will strive and endeavour to take the 
kingdom of heaven, or an incorruptible croAvn by a 
holy violence.* Men sit still and think it should 
dro]) into their hands; or that they should be rocked 
asleep, and whirled to heaven unawares in a dream: 
'' But if the righteous scarcely be saved," that is, wdth 
great difficulty, "'where shall the ungodly and sinner 
appear ?"f Do not you read in the Bible, and ecclesi- 
astical histories, what sweat, tears, labour, hazard, 
blood, and torments it hath cost the saints to enter in 
at this strait gate ? and do you think God hath altered 
the terms of salvation to gratify your sloth ? No, no, 
if you would go to heaven, you must shake off sloth, 
ply the oars, " work out your ow^n salvation with fear 
and trembling," and " give diligence to make your 
callinsr and election sure." t But more of this anon. 

Secondly, God's people are much to blame on four 
accounts : 

1. In mourning for their departed relations as per- 
sons "without hope."i| Some are affected and sorrow as 
if their dead relatives were quite extinguished and lost. 
Indeed if they w'ere graceless, there is groimd for la- 
mentation, though in this you exceed bounds, and 
ought to submit to the will of God ; but if they were 
truly religious, they are not lost, but safe with God. 
There is a difference worth notice, between David's 

* 1 Cor. ix. 24, 25. f 1 Pet. iv. 18. 

t Phil. ii. 12. 2 Pet. i. 10. I! 1 Thess. iv. 13. 


mourning for wicked Absalom, and the child born in 
adultery, of which he had good hopes. * It becomes 
Christians to moderate their passions. It is true, it is 
due to the dead that they be lamented at funerals, and 
the contrary incurs a threatened judgment; but this must 
be done submissively and piously. Are you grieved at 
their felicity, when angels attended their departing souls 
through the devil's regions, uninjured ? they left their 
body of death with that of earth, their graces were per- 
fected, the whole court of heaven came forth to bid them 
welcome with acclamations, and they were embraced in 
the arms of the blessed Jesus. Surely they would be loth 
to return back again to us in this polluted world : me- 
thinks I hear them saying as our Lord did, " Weep not 
for us, but weep for yourselves,"-] that you are so long 
detained from this felicity which we possess. 

2. What a shame it is that Christians are no more 
ready to follow this blessed company who are landed 
safely in heaven. May we not cry out as Monica, 
Austin's mother. What do I here, \ when so many 
of our choice friends are gone ? We linger behind, as 
Lot in Sodom. A good man finding himself unwilling 
to die, cried out. Go out, my soul, go out of this sinful 
flesh. II Our relations are gone, they want our com- 
pany to fill up the number of the church triumphant : 
have we not as much need to be with them ? You 
will say, we cannot go till God set us at liberty. I 
answer, but you may reach out your arms, and say, 
" Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly :" this is the cha- 
racter of all good souls : " The Spirit and the bride 
say, come :" it is the badge on the saint's sleeve, " to 
wait for the Son from heaven." ^ You, will say, I 

* 2 Sam. xii. 23. xviii. .33. + Luke xxili. 28. 

J Quid hic facio? || Egredere^ anima mea, egredere. 

§ Rev. xxij. ] 7, 20. 1 Thess. i. 10. 


doubt my interest in him, I am at uncertainties. I 
answer, whose fault is that? God hath given you 
time and means to obtain assurance ; it is our sloth 
and negligence that keep us under : be humbled for 
sin, and make more haste ; " be not slothful, but fol- 
lowers of them who through faith and patience inherit 
the promises." * 

3. We do not, so profitably as we ought, improve 
the departure of our friends, and especially the death of 
our christian friends, those now in the presence of 
God, in such proper and laudable ways as I have men- 
tioned before. — Quickening our hearts in God's wor- 
ship : O, do saints above praise God at this rate ? — ^Do 
I live with such exactness and circumspection as might 
be expected ? — is my heart carried out with delight in 
God, and saints above for God's sake ? — Do I imitate 
the piety, zeal, and heavenliness, which I saw in them, 
and which must be much more now ? — Do I desire, 
long, and make all ready to be with them ? — Do I ani- 
mate myself in my christian course, from a considera- 
tion of what they were, and what they now are ? — Or, 
do I already possess foretastes of that blessed state, 
such as God allows and grants me ? Alas, friends, we 
plod on in ordinary duties, but I fear we have not yet 
reached this high and noble gospel duty and privilege, 
of coming to the spirits of just men made perfect; and by 
this means we lose many motives, helps, engagements, 
and encouragements in our christian course. Where is the 
Christian almost that hath studied this point? Woe 
is me, such a one set out in the christian race after me, 
but is now got beyond me ! I am a poor, dull scholar 
in this petty school, but he hath commenced in the 
university above ! I am labouring under corruptions, 
temptations, desertions, such a one is got above all ; 
* Ileb. vi. 12. 


surely my time will come : oh when shall it once 

4. Alas, Christians are to blame that they improve 
christian society here to no better purpose. You see 
many of our dear friends have left us, we can have no 
personal converse with them any more in this world, 
there are some yet left behind, arid God only knows, 
how long, or short a time we may enjoy them. — Alas, 
that we should so seldom meet together for conference, 
prayer, or such religious exercises. It is said, Mai. iii. 16, 
" Then they that feared the Lord, spoke often one to 
another." Oh, whence this strangeness ? Is it not 
want of love, which is a uniting grace ? — When we do 
meet, alas, how unsavoury, how unprofitable is our 
discourse? how little to edification? We squander 
away much time in telling news, or impertinent 
things. Is this the language of heaven? will this afford 
comfort in reflecting upon it ? — Do not we fall out, and 
contend, wrangle, and pick quarrels, provoke one an- 
other to anger, fly out into passion, and which is worse, 
let the sun go down on our wrath ? Do we not main- 
tain endless grudges, grow implacable, stand upon 
terms, and refuse to be reconciled ? Alas for us ! Is 
this the language or carriage of saints in heaven ? 
Can we think to go to heaven and not agree in the way? 
Shall one heaven hold us, and shall not one church hold 
us ? Surely God will humble us for this before death, 
if we belong to him, or else woe to us. Will these 
grudgings be a comfort to us at death when the judge 
is at the door ? * Away, away with such unbecoming 
frames. — Narrowness or selfishness of spirit, is very 
unbecoming the children of God : have we not all one 
Father ? are we not members one of another ? should 
not every member contribute to the good of the body ? 

* James v, 9. 


should not all the bees bring honey to the hive ? That 
was a sad complaint, " All seek their own, none the 
things of Jesus Christ ;" * never such selfishness as at 
this day ! Alas, we are fallen into the dregs of time, 
" when the love of many waxeth cold :f love seeketh 
not her own." t Can we think this selfish frame is 
according to the pattern above ? Do not those celestial 
inhabitants unite in this centre, God's glory and their 
mutual comfort ? How far are we short of them ? 
nay, do v/e not act contrary to them? 

But you say, they are not of my way or opinion. I 
answer, examine the difference : is it enough to pro- 
duce separation, and cause distance amongst them that 
own so many unities as you find in Eph. iv. 4 — 6 ? 
"' Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus 
mkw'led ; and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, 
God shall reveal even this unto you." Phil. iii. 16, 
" Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let 
us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing." 

But you object that they are faulty in their conduct. 
And let me ask, art not thou so too in some respects? 
If however, they are professors, praying persons, will- 
ing to join Vv'ith Christians, thou must admonish, in- 
struct, and seek to recover them ; " Restore them with 
the spirit of meekness," Gal. vi. 1. Think them not 
incorrigible, till thou hast tried all means. 

But, say you, I live quietly, and such a course will 
beget trouble. In reply I would say, man is a sociable 
creature, " ^Voe be to him that is alone !"|| You must 
have some society, why not christian society ? David 
would choose to be a companion of them that feared 
God. " Fellowship in the gospel " commenced the 
first day of the Phiiippians' conversion to Christ, Phil. 

* Phil. ii. 21. t Matt. xxiv. 12. + 1 Cor. xiii. 5. 

II Eccles. iv. 9—12. § Psalm cxix. 63. 


i. 5. As soon as Paul was converted, he essayed to 
join with the disciples. * Suspect your Christianity, 
if you live loose : it is natural for Christians to asso- 
ciate. Be sure you study duty, not consequences. 

O but, say you, such a one is of a cross, peevish hu- 
mour, not sociable. That may be, but there are also 
Christians of a sweet, mild, and condescending disposi- 
tion, take these for thy intimate associates ; and if any 
prove morose, churlish, and untoward, remember God 
tries thy patience, and exercises thy faith, love, humi- 
lity, and forbearance, which it is very fit should be im- 
proved : and they must bear with thee, as well as thou 
with them : God bears with you both, and if there 
were no provocation, forbearance would not be a duty. 

Once more, the subject furnishes instruction in 
righteousness. If it be so, that there is such an associ- 
ation, and communion between saints on earth, and the 
spirits of just men made perfect in heaven, then learn 
these seven lessons : 

1. That humility and condescension is no diminution 
of persons' honour and advancement. It is said of the 
infinite God, Psalm cxiii. 4 — 6, " The Lord is high 

above all nations, his glory is above the heavens, 

who humbleth himself to behold things in heaven and 
earth." -f The holy angels are attendants on the 
meanest saint on earth : the glorified spirits forget not 
what once they were, and what their brethren still are 
on earth, and do good offices for them. Precious 
Mr. Baxter thinks saints in heaven contribute to the 
happiness of saints on earth. His words are these : 
" The sun shines on the stars, and stars shine one 
upon another, and upon this lower world. This is no 
diminution of Christ's honour, that he makes use of 
fellow-creatures to our joy. Christ himself stooped to 
* Acts ix. 26. + Heb. i. 14. 


wash his disciples' feet ; and the more generous men's 
spirits are, the more humble they are." Be clothed 
with humility :* it is the finest ornament that any can 
put on; it is the crown of every virtue, and the grace of 
every grace. Let us learn from hence, " to condescend 
to men of low degree :" j- glorified spirits stoop lower 
to us, than we can do to the meanest saint on earth. 
Away with supercilious scorning of the meanest crea- 
ture, much less of the humblest child of God : think it 
no degrading of yourselves to stoop to the meanest of- 
fices ; yea, the apostle exhorts to a hard task, Phil. ii. 
S, " Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory, 
but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better 
than himself." A gracious spirit