The Ordinance of Covenanting

The Ordinance of Covenanting

Author:
John Cunningham
Author:
John Cunningham
Format:
epub
language:
English

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Author: Cunningham, John, 1819-1893
Covenant theology
The Ordinance of Covenanting

THE
ORDINANCE
OF
COVENANTING.

BY

JOHN CUNNINGHAM, A.M.

“HE HATH COMMANDED HIS COVENANT FOR EVER.” Ps. cxi. 9.
“THOUGH IT BE BUT A MAN’S COVENANT, YET IF IT BE CONFIRMED, NO MAN DISANNULETH, OR ADDETH THERETO.” Gal. iii. 15.
GLASGOW:—WILLIAM MARSHALL.
SOLD ALSO BY JOHN KEITH.
EDINBURGH:—THOMAS NELSON AND JOHN JOHNSTONE.
LONDON:—HAMILTON, ADAMS, & CO.
MANCHESTER:-GALT & ANDERSON.
BELFAST:—WILLIAM POLLOCK.

TO
THE REVEREND ANDREW SYMINGTON, D.D.,
PROFESSOR OF DIVINITY
IN
THE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH,
THIS VOLUME
IS MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED.


CONTENTS.

Introduction 1
CHAPTER I.
NATURE OF COVENANTING.
Term Covenant defined, 5
Sinners Redeemed, are in Covenant with God, 6
This relation not a mere law, 7
has parties, 7
has conditions, 7
is the Covenant of Grace, 8
Term Covenanting defined, 8
By Covenanting men make a Covenant with God, 8
This Covenant not distinct from that of Redemption, or that of Grace, 9
The formal exercise of Covenanting not indispensable to an interest in the Covenant of Grace, 11
God’s Covenant may, for the first time, be entered into in the exercise of Covenanting, 12
In Covenanting, if God’s Covenant has been laid hold on before, it is then renewed, 14
THE VOW.
Definition, 15
Vow made to God alone, 15
a solemn promise to God, 16
to be made voluntarily, 17
must be consistent with duty, 17
never made but in Covenanting, 17
THE OATH.
Definition, 18
To swear, to use an oath, 19
It is by the Lord that all ought to swear, 19
Oath sworn with the lifting up of the right hand, 20
Swearing a devotional exercise, 21
In the oath is implied a condensed adoration, 21
The oath a solemn appeal to God, 23
In swearing a lawful oath, a Covenant with God is made, 23
whether given to confirm an assertion, 23
or given to confirm an explicit promise, 26
The civil or moral use of the oath depends on its spiritual character, 29
The oath distinct from the vow, 30
CONFESSION.
To confess, to perform services which include Covenanting, 31
—in the Old Testament, 32
—in the New, 33
To confess Christ, to Covenant, 36
To profess, sometimes, to confess, 37
Then, profession equivalent to confession, 38
PERSONAL COVENANTING.
This an act, of adherence to God’s Covenant, 38
approving of the way of salvation through Christ, 39
of accepting Christ and all his benefits, 39
of renouncing satan and sin, 42
of self-dedication to God, 43
in which duty is promised to God, 44
SOCIAL COVENANTING.
This also an act of acquiescence in God’s Covenant, 44
Performed by the Church in an ecclesiastical capacity, 45
Performed by Covenanting in a national capacity, 46
That may be performed by various communities in one confederation, 47
Implying all that is included in Personal Covenanting, 48
An act of acceptance of the benefits of God’s Covenant, 49
Of vowing general and specified obedience, 50
Of federal engagement among the members of the Covenanting community, 51
Of public acceptance of the truth of God and of renouncing error, 52
Performed in the name of those who engage in it, and in the name of posterity, 53
COVENANT RATIFICATION.
By oath, 54
Oath and Covenant associated, 54
Oath for confirmation, 55

Oath essential to a Covenant with God, 55
CHAPTER II.
MANNER OF COVENANTING.
Preliminaries, 57
Intelligently, 61
Cordially, 62
Deliberately, 63
Sincerely, 63
In the first ages by sacrifice, 64
Phrase considered, 64
What intended by the bisection of the victim, 67
Swearing symbolized by sacrifice, 67
Explicit proof, 69
Covenants ratified by blood of sacrifice, 70
In all ages by faith, 71
Devotionally, 73
In solemn assemblies, 73
A holy exercise, 74
Should be performed with godly fear and reverence, 74
With confession of sin, 75
Vow made in prayer, 76
Sometimes with the living voice, 77
Sometimes by subscription, 77
Covenanting a distinct exercise, 78
Though entering into other duties, yet by itself not unnecessary, 79
CHAPTER III.
COVENANTING A DUTY.
According to the will of God as King and Lord, 83
Obedience to Christ as possessed of all power in heaven and in earth, 83
Believers engage in it as under law to Christ, 84
Covenanting in an ecclesiastical capacity, obedience, 86
Covenanting in an ecclesiastical and in a national capacity, obedience, 88
Commanded in the Moral Law, 92
In the first three precepts of the decalogue, 92
In statutes that illustrate these, 94
commands to glorify God, 94
to worship God, 95
enjoining faith, 96
forbidding federal transactions with what is evil, 96
Enjoining the vowing of the vow, 98
Explanation of Deut. xxiii. 22, 100
of Eccles. v. 5, 102
inculcating the swearing of the oath, 103
The duty of swearing the oath not abrogated, 104
enjoining the exercise in all its parts, 106
The exercise inculcated in threatenings of Divine judgment against such as disregard it, 106
Personal Covenanting commanded, 108
Social— 109
in an ecclesiastical capacity, 110
in a national capacity, 112
Nations whose constitutions are immoral and unscriptural, called to the duty, 118
Nations that have not heard the gospel, not guiltless for not Covenanting, 119
in various capacities, 120
Assemblies for the investigation of Divine truth, 122
Bible societies, 122
Missionary Societies, 125
None may be excused for not engaging in Covenanting, 128
CHAPTER IV.
COVENANT DUTIES.
Covenanting ought to embrace present and permanent duty, 131
Duties to each one’s self, 132
The cultivation of personal religion, 133
Sobriety and temperance, 134
The cultivation of the various powers of the soul, 135
The proper application of every capacity, 136
All such different from restraints imposed by human authority, 137
Duties to society in general, 138
To families, 139
To civil communities, 141
Owing by masters and servants, 142
Lawful civil governors and the people under them, 143
Duty of the civil magistrate, 144
Duties of the people in regard to the choice of their civil rulers, 145
—and to their obedience to them, 148
Duty of people living under civil governments not sanctioned by God’s authority, 151
The doctrine evil, that so long as any law exists it ought to be obeyed, 155
To promote the real welfare of civil society, the duty of nil, 156
To classes of men, of whatever kind, 157

To the Church of Christ, 158
To abide by all the ordinances of divine grace, 159
To support the ordinances of religion, where enjoyed, 159
To maintain the rights and privileges of the Church, 160
To unite the various Churches of Christ, 161
To enlarge the Church, 163
—through Bible Societies, 163
Missions, at home, 164
—to the heathen, 165
—to the Jews, 167
To the Mediator, as Lord of all, 168
To declare the glory of God, 169
To maintain the truth, by profession and practice, 169
—of God’s character, 170
—of God’s government, 171
—of the relations of the persons of the ever-blessed Trinity in the Everlasting Covenant, 171
—of the mediatorial character and glory of Christ, 171
—of the influences of his word and Spirit, 172
—of the atonement and intercession of Christ, 172
—of the Headship of Christ, 172
over the Church, 172
over the nations, 173
—of man’s depravity and inability to restore himself, 175
Covenanting should engage all to every former good attainment, 176
—to cleave to new correct views of truth and duty, 177
—to abandon the evil in the vow unobserved at the making of it, 178
Covenanting does not shackle inquiry, 179
CHAPTER V.
COVENANTING CONFERS OBLIGATION.
Covenanting confers obligation by the authority of God, 181
Personal and social—on the Covenanting parties, 182
Such are represented as bound—are said to be joined to the Lord—to take hold of his covenant—to cleave to him, 183
God enjoins obedience as the fulfilment of Covenant duties, 184
—that the vow be paid, 186
Difficulty considered, 187
He threatens those who keep not his covenant, 187
Social Covenanting entails obligation on the society till the end of the covenant be attained, 189
Because by it, Covenants are made in the name of posterity, 189
Because the Church is one in all ages, 190
Because of the Church’s social character, 192
Every adult member of the Church engaged to its privileges and duties, 193
Children of church members are members of the Church, and therefore under obligation, 193
The privileges enjoyed by children show them to be under obligation, 194
Social Covenanting entails obligation on the society till the end of the covenant be attained—Because Social Covenanting, approved in Scripture, conferred obligation, 196
Because the ends of such covenants may not be attained during the lives of those who entered into them, 197
Because the people of God view themselves bound by anterior engagements of his Church, 198
Because the Lord himself views his Church as bound by these, 199
Covenanting entails obligation even on the unbeliever who vows and swears, 201
Even those in the Church who do not formally Covenant are under obligation, 203
A minority in a church or nation are bound by Covenant engagements, though the others cast them off, 204
Covenanting does not implicate conscience, 205
That men are bound by previous engagements is no reason why they should not Covenant, 207
CHAPTER VI.
COVENANTING PROVIDED FOR IN THE EVERLASTING COVENANT.
SECTION I.
In regard to sinners, the exercise provided for in the Covenant of Redemption, 210
That covenant considered, 210
In that, Christ represented the elect, 211
In that, the promises accepted in Covenanting made to the Surety, 212
The people of God Covenant on the ground of the righteousness of Christ—the condition of that Covenant, 214
Believers given to Christ in that Covenant, 215
The elect chosen in Christ, that in union to him they might perform the duty, 216

SECTION II.
Covenanting, under every dispensation, provided for, 218
Exhibitions of Christ the chief blessings of the Covenant, common to all of them, 219
The erection and continuance of the Church in the world flows from that, 220
True religion represented as a covenant with God, 221
Revelation of the will of God termed a covenant, 223
In the Everlasting Covenant, provision made for Covenanting under the patriarchal and levitical dispensations, 224
The acknowledgments and conduct of believers in those times illustrate this, 224
Provision made through promises, 226
Provision made through types, 226
—typical persons, 227
—places, 227
—things, 228
—seasons, 228
—acts, 229
—miracles, 230
—teaching of prophets, 232
—whole of Old Testament, 232
Designations, 232
Terms, 233
Reconciliation and atonement, 233
Provision made for Covenanting under last dispensation, 236
This acknowledged by believers in the apostolic age, 236
Provision made through injunctions of last inspired writers, 237
—whole of New Testament, 238
New Testament contains same kind of expressions as the Old in reference to Covenant, 238
Covenant of God a testament, 241
Covenanting not a mere Jewish thing, 244
CHAPTER VII.
COVENANTING ADAPTED TO THE MORAL CONSTITUTION OF MAN.
Adapted to that, when in innocence, 246
according to scripture account of that constitution, 246
Because the law of God to him in innocence, of a covenant form, 248
To Adam, as an individual, 248
—as representative of his posterity, 250
Adapted to that, when in a state of grace, 251
Inasmuch as gracious capacities lead to acquiescence in what God requires, 251
—as invitations to accede to it are accepted by the regenerate, 254
The Covenant of Works a reality, 256
The wicked alone not in covenant, 259
Those who are in covenant with God make and keep covenant engagements, 263
State of those not in covenant with God dreadful, 265
CHAPTER VIII.
COVENANTING ACCORDING TO THE PURPOSES OF GOD.
Argument for Covenanting, from the Divine purposes, stated, 268
System of things pre-determined in order to Covenanting, Creation, 268
Arrangements of an ordinary providence, 268
Covenant of God ordained by him, 271
That was Appointed, 271
established, 272
and therefore according to his purpose, 273
commanded, 274
stands according to a sovereign decree, 275
A people were foreordained to make solemn vows, 277
were formed, 277
were appoint

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