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come into this covenant, since it is a covenant on a fac crifice. It is an awful thought for a sensible guilty creature to enter into a covenant with a holy jealous God. Our God is a consuining fire; how then can we stand before him, and not be consumed ? The sacrifice being interposed we are safe, Christ going between mediating the peace with his atoning blood, wrath is turned away, and the finner received into favour and friendship. I proceed now to,
Doct. II. Those who now gather unto Chrift, perm Sonally and sincerely entering into his covenant of grace offered to them in the gospel, while others Night bim and his covenant, Jhall at the last day be joyfully gathered to him in the air, to receive their welcome to the kingdom of beaven, while others ball be left on the earth to receive their doom from him, to be driven to the pit.
In discoursing from this doctrine, I shall,
II. Consider finners sincere personal entering into Christ's covenant of grace now, that will secure their joyful gathering to him at the last day.
III. Lastly, Make improvement.
I. I SHALL premise some things on this point in the general.
1. All mankind were by Adam's fall separated and scattered from God, as sheep gone astray, 1 Pet.ü. ult. Mankind was at first joined to God in the bond of the first covenant, and so they were his family about his hand, headed by him, and enjoying his favour. But by fin they broke away from him, and being gone from him the centre of unity, they were separated in affe&tion one from another, Tit. iii. 3. And in this state they remain while out of Christ, scattered and wander ing on the mountains of vanity.
2. To bring scattered sinners to God again, Christ was appointed the head to whom their gathering should be, i Pet. ii. ult. “ For ye were as sheep going Cc 2
- astray ;
aftray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." Chap. iii. 18. “ Christ hath once suffered for fins, the just for the unjuft, that he might bring us to God." The first Adam was the head under whom they went away, and he left them wandering, a ready prey for the devourer; the second A. dam is the head for their return, by whom they may be brought back unto God, and put up in safety with him for ever, John xi. 52. He is the great Shepherd, intrusted by his Father for gathering the strays of mankind, into one flock and fold. : 3. There is a double gathering of scattered linders to Christ. The one is now a doing, has been from the beginning, and will be to the end of the world ; and that is a gathering of finners by the gospel to him into the bo:id of the covenant of grace, Gen. xlix. Io. The other is to come certainly at the world's end, and that is a gathering of them by the angels to meet him in the air, never to set their foot more on the cursed earth, but to go away with him to heaven. And that will be a gathering quickly dispatched, as appears from the text.
4. There are many who will not be gathered to Christ now, whatever pains he is at to gather them, Mat. xxiii. 37._"How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens ander her wings, and ye would not !" He sets up his Standard among them, he calls to them to come in to him; but they get away from him. They love better to wander on, than to return; they prefer a vain world, and their deceitful lufts, to Chrift; and they love rather to be at their liberty, than to be brought into the bond of his covenant. They cannot endure to be fo hedged up, Pf. ii. 3. So they refuse to gather to him.
5. Yet there are still some who with heart and good will gather to him, and willingly come into the bond of his covenant. Efficacious grace makes them willing, Pf.cx. 3. They are weary of their distance from God,
and their wandering life, feeing how in that case they are exposed to the utmost danger, and are in no safety from the roaring lion, who goes about seeking whom he may devour; and so they willingly gather to Christ, and come into the bond of his covenant, as their only safety.
Lastly, At the end of the world, whatever feparation there is between these parties now, the wanderers and those within the bond of the covenant, there will be a greater then. The wanderers and the gathered being both raised out of their graves at the found of the last trumpet ; all those gathered within the bond of the covenant, shall be gathered together to Christ in the air, to go with him, and be ever with the Lord; and the wanderers will be brought together on the earth before him, receive their dreadful sentence to depart from him; and then they going away, the earth will be set on fire.
I SHALL consider finners fincere personal entering into Christ's covenant of grace now, that will secure their joyful gathering to him at the last day. And here three things are to be distinguished.
1. The proposal of the covenant.
2. The finner's entering into it in a saving manner, so as to secure his gathering to Christ at the last day.
3. The profession and declaration of that entering in. to it, by some fit fign.
FIRST, The proposal of the covenant. It must be proposed to us, before we can enter into it; and so it is indeed proposed to us to be entered into.
First, Consider how it can be proposed or offered to .us. The covenant of grace being determined to be
Christ's covenant, made and concluded from eternity betwixt his Father and him, and its conditions perfect. ly fulfilled already by Christ, and all its promises made to him; it is a difficulty with some, how that covenant already concluded can be proposed or offered to us to be entered into. But, 2. Suppose one in a town makes a bargain with the C c3
master in his own name, and the name of his neigh. bours there, fulfils the condition, and the benefit only remains to be received; and all this is done without advising with them, or their knowledge of it; may not that man'when he comes home offer that covenant to his neighbours, and they enter into it just by acquies. cing in it? If any of them will not, it will not be forced on them; but if they acquiesce and accept, it is as good and valid as if they had been at the making of it. So it is in this case.
2. Adam's covenant was also made without us in the name of mankind, and broken too while we were not; yet by our very descending from him by natural generation, we are personally instated in it to our condemnation ; and this without waiting our acquiescing or consent to that covenant. How much more may the second Adam's covenant be offered to us, and we instated in it to our salvation, by our express approbation and acceptance ? * Secondly, Consider how it is actually proposed and offered to us. It is proposed and offered to us in the gospel, by Jesus Christ in his own and his Father's name; therefore he is called, “ the Messenger of the covenant,” Mal. iii. 1. who came from heaven, and proclaims and offers the covenant to finners. Now it is offered to us in the gospel. · 1. At large, in its several articles and clauses, both the conditionary part as fulfilled, Rom. i. 17. and the promissory part to be fulfilled, Heb. viii. 10, 11, 12. Ezek. xxxvi. 25. and downwards, and so the reft of it promises to be found through the whole Bible. All are proposed and offered under the name of the covenant at large, Isa. lx. 3. “ Hear and your soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you,” which takes in all the promises..!
2. In compend, in the offer of Christ himself the head of the covenant. Say not, How shall we take up the covenant that is such a large and ample transaction,
and withal the parts thereof scattered through the whole * Bible! It is set before you abridged, viz. in Jesus - Christ, to be taken up with one glance of your eye, i Ifa. xlix. 8. “I will give thee for a covenant of the 2 people.” The offer of Christ to you is the offer of the
covenant ; even as if a father who has made a benefi. cial bargain for his family, should offer to adopt you; that offer of himself for a father to you, would be the offer of that bargain. Now you have this offer of the covenant.
(1.) Under Christ's hand in his written word, which ye have in the scripture. A wise man will make no offer in writing to one, but what he minds to perform ; his hand-writing will bind him, if it is accepted. And may not the offer of the covenant made you in writing, under the hand of the great God our Saviour, fatisfy you in that point ? Take heed then, left when “God has written to you the great things of his law, ye count them as a strange thing," Hof. viii. 12.:
(2.) By public proclamation in his name, by the voice of the ministers of the gospel, his criers appointe ed for that effect, Prov. ix. 3. If a prince proclaims an offer of indemnity to rebel.subjects, may not that satisfy them as to the reality of the offer! And should not this offer actually proclaimed to you finners, in the gospel, by Christ's ambassadors, fully satisfy you 'as to the reality thereof? Object. Ministers are but fallible men. Answ. True ; but their commission is infallible; and so far as they stick by that, which they do in offering the covenant to sinners, you have an infallible ground of faith in what they say. And as the . crier's voice in a proclamation is in effect the king's, so is theirs in this case. Hence the apostle says, Heb... xii. 25. “ See that ye refuse not him that speaketh; for if they escaped not who refuseth him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn am way from him that speaketh from heaven.". And says