"I will establish My Covenant between Me and you,
and your seed after you, in their generations, for an everlasting Covenant."
Reader! does your conscience certify that you are a true
disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you cast a helpless soul into His
helpful arms? Have you buried all your guilt and all your fears in the grave
of His wounds? By death unto sin, do you prove that you are crucified
with Him? By life unto righteousness, do you manifest the power of
resurrection with Him? If so, what cause have you to bless God that He
breathed the breath of life into your nostrils, and the Spirit of life into
your soul! For great are your privileges, rich is your portion, bright are
your prospects, sure is your inheritance. Your blessedness is summed up in
the word, the great God is your Covenant-Father. Search your Bible. Study
the charter of your heavenly freedom. Read the title-deeds of your high
estate. This world's miser counts his gold, his jewels, and his fields.
Shall not the heir of two worlds know his imperishable wealth? Clasp
especially to your heart the roll of blessings. They are sanctification of
spirit—adoption into God's family—divine light—and eternal pardon. The
believer may claim them all by covenant pledge. "But this is the new
covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day," says the Lord.
"I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I
will be their God, and they will be My people. And they will not need to
teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their family, saying,
'You should know the Lord.' For everyone, from the least to the greatest,
will already know me," says the Lord. "And I will forgive their wickedness
and will never again remember their sins." Jeremiah 31:33-34
Few are the eyes, which are not dazzled, when such
treasures shine, as fields of light, before them. Wondering thought will
question, How can God—the high, the holy One—whose being is
perfection—whose home is eternity, have fellowship with man, the
low—the vile—the loathsome, the offspring of the dust—the fluttering insect
of a moment? No monarch would make league with the base rebel in the
dungeon. How then can the height of heaven thus descend to misery, disease,
and filth? When nature looks down to the pit, in which human nature grovels,
impossibilities seem many. But still the fact is sure, God is in Covenant
with every child of grace. Let witnesses be called!
First, let Abraham appear. He was born in sin,
prone to evil—the child of wrath, laden with iniquity, just as we are. But
his evidence asserts, that God thus communed with him. "As for Me, Behold My
Covenant is with you." "I will establish My Covenant between Me and you and
your seed after you." Let David next be heard. By natural descent, he
was as we are. But his truthful gratitude exclaims, "He has made with me an
everlasting Covenant, ordered in all things, and sure." Thus far the point
is clear. God covenants with man. But, perhaps some trembling believer may
doubt whether such grace extends beyond the favored elders in the household
of faith. Mercy speeds to give the reply, The Covenant is established with
Abraham and his seed after him. And "if you are Christ's, then are you
Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Reader! this truth is now resplendent as the sun in its
brightness. It cannot be denied, that if you are Christ's, you are a
covenant-child of God. We are thus prepared to examine the nature of God's
Covenant, in its conditions and confirmation. The first step is to settle
deeply in your mind, that this Covenant is no covenant of works. Once,
indeed, such compact was proposed. "Do this," was the requirement. "Live,"
was the recompense. But it saw the light only to perish. Man placed it not
in his heart, but beneath his feet. He touched it only to scatter it to the
winds. The privilege was instantly forfeited. The voice which began in
promise, ended in wrath. The beauteous column fell, never to rise again. The
gracious page was torn, never to be re-written. I fear that there are many,
who in the dark night of nature dream the idle dream, that this Covenant
still lives, and that they shall live through it.
But a broken reed is no support. The sinking sand is no
foundation. A violated treaty is no sound plea. It is a pitiable argument, I
claim, because I have no claim. As well might the prodigal demand, Receive
me again, because I am undutiful: or the rebel, Restore me, because I am a
traitor: or the criminal, Acquit me, because I am guilty: or the debtor,
Release me, because I am fraudulent. Such are the delusions of those who
trust in a vanished Covenant. It began and ended in Adam. The strength of
innocence could not hold it. How then can the weakness of guilt
recover it, or the tongue of transgression plead it?
But far different is the Covenant of grace, which is the
believer's safeguard. It is written in unfading letters of eternal love. It
is based on the rock of changeless purpose. It is such, because "God has
commanded it forever." But where do its birth, its vigor, its undying
freshness come from? It exists, it is strong, it is everlasting, because it
is made with Jesus. He stands before God as the second Adam; the head of a
Spirit-born progeny. God commits to Him terms and promises for them. He
binds Himself to terms and promises for them. Thus God pledges to them,
Christ pledges for them. God stipulates; Christ undertakes.
But what are the conditions? God requires that they be
all cleansed from all sin—all clothed in all righteousness—all renewed in
every faculty of soul and spirit. Christ is responsible for the full
performance. God promises that He will be their God. Christ promises that
they shall be His people. Such is the new Covenant—made and ratified in
Christ. Let us now sit down beneath the tree of Scripture, and catch some
precious fruit, which falls into the lap of faith.
What rich supplies come from Isaiah 42:6, and 49:8! Here
Jehovah communes with His co-equal Son. We are brought into the
council-chamber of eternity. God, in His majesty, says, "I, the Lord, have
called You in Righteousness, and will hold Your hand, and will keep You, and
give You for a Covenant of the people." And again, "I will preserve You, and
give You for a Covenant of the people." We are here bade to gaze on Jesus,
as Himself the Covenant. And such He is: for it has no being, no
continuance, no power but in Him. He is its essence, its reality,
its fullness, its all. It is founded, erected, concluded
in Him. No Christ, no Covenant. Receive Him, and it is yours in all its
truth and riches. Reject Him, and you perish, because you have not the
shadow of a plea. He is the Covenant, because, as Jehovah's fellow, He
designs it, and wills it, and orders it, and frames it, and accepts it. He
is the Covenant, because, as God-man, He takes it into His own hand, and
works out its every condition.
Receive next the evidence of Mal. 3:1, "The Lord, whom
you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the
Covenant, whom you delight in." Here Christ is the Messenger of this
Covenant. But what is the office of a messenger? He conveys tidings from
party to party. Just so, Jesus comes traveling in the greatness of His
strength, flying on the wings of His love, hastening in the zeal of His
heart to proclaim, that a Covenant is made, and to tell what the Covenant
contains. In the Word, through His ministers, by sealing ordinances, He
reads to us, line by line, the provisions of this charter. He shows us, as
in a glorious mirror, God reconciled, peace established, all grace
purchased, and heaven's portals opened. O my soul! has Jesus caused the
sweet notes of this message to be the music of your holiest delights?
But the messenger flies back to the courts above, and
gives report to His heavenly Father, These poor sinners have heard of Your
Covenant-grace; they have hidden their faces in the dust of penitential
shame; they have clasped the records with the eager hand of adoring faith;
old things are passed away from them, all things are become new; out of
darkness they are light: from hatred they are love: they are no more aliens,
but children. O my soul! are you thus brought within the bonds of the
Again, glean the tidings of Heb. 7:22, "By so much was
Jesus made a Surety of a better testament," or Covenant. Here Christ
is the Surety of this Covenant. But what is the work of a Surety? He
engages, that each party shall fulfill the contract. There was no surety in
the Covenant of works, and it quickly failed. But here the God-man Jesus is
the Surety. He is Surety for the Father. He is Surety for His people.
I need not repeat what boundless blessedness the Father
promises. All shall be given. Not one drop shall be withheld. The cup shall
overflow. It must be, for Jesus is Surety. The conditions of believers are
alike secure. They shall kneel in penitence; and live by faith; and cling to
the refuge; and be fruitful trees of righteousness. In due time Jesus will
call them all, and work in them to will and to do, and at last present them
cleansed, and washed, and beautified, and sanctified, a glorious Church, not
having spot or wrinkle or any such thing. The truth, the love, the power of
the Surety will accomplish this.
What delights, too, flow from Heb. 12:24, "To Jesus the
Mediator of the new Covenant." As Mediator, He stands between God and man.
He is one with God, and one with man. He places His hands on each. Thus they
become one in Him. Separation vanishes: union is effected. Thus
Covenant-blessings never fail to wing their way from heaven. Thus the
Covenant-incense of holy love, and filial fear, and willing service never
ceases to ascend.
Feast, moreover, on the truth of Heb. 9:15, "He is the
Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of
the transgressions which were under the first Testament, they which are
called, might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." Covenants of old
were rendered valid by a victim's blood. When God showed Abraham the
Covenant of grace, a smoking furnace and a burning lamp passed between the
slaughtered limbs. Hence the everlasting Covenant must be sealed with blood.
An atoning, a peace-making sacrifice dies. It is none other than the
Mediator Himself. The Father is well-pleased, and cries, "My Covenant will I
not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips." The believer
responds with overflowing praise, God is my Covenant-Father forever and
ever. His Covenant is sure with me; by the Spirit's help, my covenant shall
be inviolate with Him.
Reader! is such the language of your thanks-giving and
thanks-living heart? Many, alas! prefer to enter into treaty with the world.
Its easy terms are easily proposed. It demands compliance with its
fashions—adoption of its principles—putting on its habits—neglect of the
Bible—worship in mere forms. It offers in return a full-frothed cup of
carnal and mental joy. The deluded victims sign. They take the
tinsel-goblet. They drink nothing but the dregs of disappointment and of
shame. Then comes the end. An eternity of woe puts a seal to the truth, that
the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Flee from this deceiving
truce-breaker! Come out. Stand apart. Be separate. Lost souls discover too
late that a league with the world binds them over to hell.