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that distinguished individual on one occasion, seeing Him coming unto him, said, “ Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."83 And this act of appropriation, as well as of bearing testimony, he afterwards repeated. Nathaniel was a believing expectant of the Messiah. Of him Jesus made honourable mention when he said, “ Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile;" and he, immediately on perceiving proofs of his Divine character, professed his acceptance of him. “ Nathaniel answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel."84 And Thomas and Peter, as instances of those who have received him, testifying in the exercise of Covenanting to their cordial acceptance of him, said in the solemn act of confessing his name, the one, “ My Lord and my God;" 35 and the other, in language implying the same avouchment, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee."86
They receive the Father as a God in Covenant, who receive the Son; and they receiving the Son receive the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of promise. The acceptance of the Redeemer therefore is the acceptance of a Three-one-God, as a Covenant God. In Covenanting, that acceptance is made by the saints. And all things are theirs, and they are Christ's, and Christ is God's. Of the Father as reconciled unto them, as having drawn them to himself, and justified them, and adopted them into his family, they accept in that exercise. In that, too, they accept of the Redeemer as their prophet and king, and acquiesce in his priesthood held on their behalf. And in that, the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of Christ, the Remembrancer, the glorious Agent who brings from death to life, who illuminates the understanding, who gives comfort and 83 John i. 29. 84 John i. 49.
85 John xx. 28.
86 John xxi. 17; see also Deut. vi. 5.
consolation, and who sanctifies, and proves the earnest of the purchased possession, they solemnly accept. And, accordingly, all that sovereign mercy has done for them, or wrought in them, or will accomplish on their behalf, in that they solemnly receive.
Thirdly. This is a solemn act of renouncing the claims of the devil, the world, and the flesh, upon the heart and life. When Christ is received, Satan is cast out; actually by Divine power, and resolutely by the subjects of Divine grace. And the resolution to abandon Satan and his cause enters into the covenant engagement.
66 O Lord our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us; but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.” 87 “ Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously : so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us ; we will not ride upon
horses; neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods." Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols ?”88 “What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and
ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” The injunction , “ Be ye separate, inculcates not merely the performance of the act of separating from what is evil, but the exercise of Covenanting to accomplish it. The corresponding command in prophecy is, “ Be ye clean." And the verb in the Hebrew is that rendered by the term purge in the passage, “I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond 87 Is. xxvi. 13.
88 Hosea xiv. 2, 3, 8. 89 2 Cor. vi. 16–18.
of the covenant. And I will
purge out from
among you the rebels, and them that transgress against
The Lord purged out the heathen from among the Jews who returned to Jerusalem, and who, under Nehemiah, entered into a covenant with God. These Jews themselves, at God's command, and to the accomplishment of his purpose, separated themselves from those heathens, not merely actually, but also by solemn covenant. In like manner, the Nazarite separated himself from certain things, not merely in reality, but likewise by vow. And since the separation was one, though the terms in the sacred original denoting that of the Nazarite and of the returned Jews were each different from that used in the prophets, we are warranted to conclude that the injunction of the Apostle, “ Be ye separate,” implies not less than the covenant engagement to separate, which those other cases of separation include.
Fourthly. This solemn act includes voluntary self-dedication to God. It is a willing acknowledgment of the right which God, by creation and redemption, has in the whole man; it harmonizes with the claim, “ Thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and be that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not; for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by my name; thou art mine;"91 and is expressed in the language, “ Lord, I am thine, save
It is the cheerful offer of perpetual obedience to his law. It is thus required, “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth,”93 and is thus tendered, “ O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid." 66 Take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments. So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever."95 “I will abide in 90 Ezek. xx. 37, 38.
91 Is. xliii. 1. 92 Ps. cxix. 94. 93 Josh. xxiv. 14. 94 P3. cxvi. 16. 95 Ps. cxix. 43, 44.
thy tabernacle for ever; I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah. For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.”96 Both to the world and to God himself, in vowing to him, “ One shall say, I am the Lord's ;” and of many, individually as well as collectively, it might be declared, as of those of Macedonia, that they “ gave their ownselves to the Lord.”97 These were saints; and, accordingly, this testimony was not borne to their first subjection to the gospel, but to an act of selfsurrender to God, on the occasion of their making, in the spirit of true benevolence, provision for his poor.
Finally. This is a solemn act in which is made to God a promise to perform certain specific duties. There is no exercise that would be acceptable to God, that should not come within the range promise made in such a service. Abstinence from besetting sins, increased diligence in the use of the means of grace, positive benevolent or religious services, the exercise of all the christian graces, and whatever observance the enlightened mind may apprehend as peculiarly incumbent, in this act may be engaged to. Illustrations of this are afforded by the vow of Jacob at Bethel, the vow of Hannah, the vow and oath of David to provide a place for the ark of the Lord, the vow of the Nazarite, the vows paid by offerings laid on the altar of God, and all offerings of obedience acceptable through Jesus Christ.
Like that which is Personal, is an act of acquiesence in God's Covenant. They who are accepted in it are the saints. All invited to join in it are required to have regard to all the institutions of 96 Ps. lxi. 4, 5.
97 2 Cor. viii. 5.
religion. When an injunction to engage in the service is delivered, the Covenant of God is exhibited ; and the blessings of that Covenant are promised to those who will properly perform the exercise, and fulfil their obligations.
First. This act is performed by the Christian church in a collective ecclesiastical capacity. One in opinion regarding her doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, her members, having one origin, upheld by the same grace, designed for one end, called to the same privileges, enjoined to perform the same duties, expectants of the same glorious consummation, and harmonious in their sentiments regarding special incumbent duties, and concerning the manner of performing them, come forward, and as one body in this unite. Unity of existence is necessary to the body confederated in the social covenant. Those who hold the truth cannot enter into it with the infidel, the unbeliever, the erroneous or profane. All who unite in it must have the same motives, and contemplate the same ultimate end. All must have the same sentiments of a Covenant God, and harmonize in their views of the means to be employed in order to the attainment of that end. There is no church so free from imperfection as not to need an enlargement or correction of its views. Yet no body of professing Christians are warranted in uniting in covenant with those who hold not the truth. The unity of the Spirit is necessary in the bond of peace. No church, in entering into Covenant, includes so much in her engagements as the word of God requires. And, hence, a standing of Christian profession higher than has yet been attained to by any, has to be aspired at. cure that, a closer regard to what should be the character of the true church than has been paid, is requisite. To unite with the people of God is good; but to unite with any elsewhere than on the