FAITH'S PLEA UPON GOD'S COVENANT
This was an evening-exercise on a preparation-day, before the celebration of the sacrament of the Lord's supper at
Kinglassie. The exact time cannot be precisely ascertained; but it is supposed to have been in the year 1733.
“Have respect unto the Covenant.” Psalm 79:20
The psalmist, in pleading for the church and people of God, and that he would appear for them against their enemies, uses several arguments; particularly, in the close of the preceding verse, there is something he pleads God may not forget, “Forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever: “and the rather he uses this argument, (1) because he had said, “The needy shall not be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever,” (Ps. 9:18). There is, in this verse, something he pleads, that God may remember and have regard unto, “Have respect unto the Covenant.” Thon halt brought us into covenant with thee, might he say, and though we are unworthy to be respected, yet, “Have respect unto the Covenant of promise.” When God delivers his people, it is in remembrance of his covenant, “Then will I remember my covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will remember the land,” (Lev. 26:42). We cannot expect he will remember us, till he remember his covenant: hence, therefore, we propose to illustrate the following truth.
Doctrine: That one of faith's strong pleas with God is, that he would have respect to the covenant.
If we would deal with God for mercy, or plead with him for favor, or look to him for any good at this occasion, let us expect it only upon this ground, the respect he hath to the covenant, and plead upon this argument.
The method we would observe, as the Lord shall assist, for briefly handling this subject, shall be the following:--
Show what covenant it is he will have a respect to.
What it is for God to have a respect to the covenant.
What it is in the covenant he hath a respect to.
What kind of a respect he bath to it.
Why he hath respect to it, and so why it is a suitable plea and argument ensuing for mercy.
Make some application of the whole.
I. We are then first to show what covenant it is he will have a respect to. The covenant here spoken of is the covenant of grace and promise, made in Christ Jesus before the world began, and published in the gospel to sinners. “And I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me” (Jer.32:39-40). “A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh,” (Ezek. 36:26) “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people,” (Jer. 31:33;). See also Psalm 89 throughout. It is called a covenant of grace; because grace is the beginning and the end, the foundation and topstone of it: even grace reigning through righteousness. It is called a covenant of mercy; because therein mercy to the miserable is proclaimed through justice satisfying blood; for there mercy and truth meet together; and all the sure mercies of David are conveyed thereby. It is called a covenant of peace and reconciliation; because it both treats of peace with God, and makes it good. --It is called a covenant of promise; because it lies in promises with reference to us; and these to be accomplished upon the condition already fulfilled in Christ's obedience and satisfaction; and because therein the faithfulness of God is pledged, for making out all the promises to believers, the children of promise. --It is called a covenant of salt; because it is an incorruptible word, “An everlasting covenant, well ordered in all things and sure.” --In a word, it is a covenant of help to poor hapless sinners, saying, “I have laid help upon One that is mighty. O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help.” --It is a covenant of pardon to the guilty, saying, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and I will not remember thy sins.” --It is a covenant of supply to the needy, saying, “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I, the Lord, will hear them, I, the God of Israel will not forsake them.” --It is a covenant of gifts, wherein grace and glory are freely given; and, in the dispensation thereof, God says, Come, and take all freely; Himself, his Christ, his Spirit, and all, (Rev. 22:17; Isa. 55:1).
II. We are to show what it is for God to have respect to the covenant.
God hath respect to the covenant when he remembers it, and so remembers us, as in that forecited, “I will remember my covenant, and then will I remember the land,” (Lev. 26:24). Thus “He hath given meat to them that fear him,” (Ps. 111:5). Why, he will ever be mindful of his covenant. If he come to give us meat to feed our souls at this occasion, the ground will be, he will be mindful of his covenant, mindful of his promise.
God may be said to have respect to his covenant, when he regards it. He hath no reason to have respect or regard to us, but he sees reason to have regard to his covenant; he puts honor upon it, for reasons that I shall afterwards show, only I will say here, his honor is engaged therein, therefore he says, “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips,” (Ps. 29:34). He hath more regard to it than he hath to heaven and earth; for he says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” He hath such a regard to it, that he will never break it, but ever keep it.
He hath respect to his covenant, when he establishes it. And when we pray, that he would have respect to the covenant, we not only pray he would remember the covenant, and regard the covenant, but establish the covenant betwixt him and us, as he said to Abraham, “I will establish it between me and thee, and thy seed after thee,” (Gen. 17:7). He shows respect to the covenant, when he makes the covenant take hold of us, and makes us take hold of the covenant; for then he makes us put respect upon him and upon his covenant.
He hath respect to the covenant, when he performs the covenant-promises, according to Micah 7:20, “Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn to our fathers from the days of old;” and he does this, when he acts according to the covenant, or according to the mercy that made the promise, and the truth that is engaged to make out the promise.
In short, the sum of this prayer, as it concerns the import of the word respect, “Have respect to the covenant,” is, “Lord, remember the covenant, and so remember me; Lord, have regard to the covenant, and let me be remembered on this ground, when there is no other reason why I should be regarded; Lord, establish thy covenant with me, and so put honor upon thy name manifested in that covenant, and do to me according to the promise of the covenant. Cause me to hope in thy word, and then remember the word on which thou hast caused me to hope; and deal with me, not according to my sin and desert, but according to thy covenant and mercy in Christ Jesus.”
III. We are next to show what it is in the covenant he hath a respect to, or that we should plead upon.
Have respect to the covenant; that is, to the Mediator of the covenant. Though thou owest no respect to me, yet dost thou not owe respect, and hast thou not a great respect to the Mediator of the covenant, to Christ, whom thou hast given to be a covenant of the people? For his sake let me be pitied; have respect to the relation he bears to the covenant, even to him who is the Mediator, Testator, Witness, Messenger, Surety, and All of the covenant. Have respect to his offices, and let him get the glory of his saving offices. It is a strong plea to plead with God upon the respect he bears to Christ; God cannot win over such a plea as that. He must own his regard and respect to Christ, who paid such respect to him, and finished the work he gave him to do.
Have respect to the covenant, by having respect to the blood of the covenant. The blood of Christ, that is represented in the sacrament of the supper, it is the blood of the covenant, called the new testament in his blood; because all the promises are sealed therewith, and so Yea and Amen in Christ: this is the condition of the new covenant. The covenant of works had only the active obedience of the first Adam for its condition; but the condition of the covenant of grace properly, is both the active and passive obedience of the second Adam, his doing and dying. Now, Lord, have respect to that blood that sealed the covenant; since the condition is fulfilled to thy infinite satisfaction, let the promised good be conferred upon me.
Have respect to the covenant, by having respect to the oath of the covenant. The promise is confirmed with the oath of God; (Heb. 6:17). “That by two immutable things, wherein it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation,” (Heb. 6:18). Now, Lord, wilt thou not have respect to thine own oath? Hast thou not sworn by thy holiness, thou wilt not lie unto David? (Ps. 89:35).
Have respect to the covenant, by having a respect to the properties of the covenant. This would be a large field; I sum it up in a few words. Have respect to the covenant; that is, Lord, have respect to the fulness of the covenant, and let me be supplied, for there is enough there; it contains all my salvation, and all my desire. Have respect to the freedom of the covenant, and let me, however unworthy, share of the grace that runs freely thence. Have respect to the stability of the covenant, and let me be pitied, though unstable as water, and infirm, yet the covenant stands fast; remember thy word that endures forever. Have respect to the order of the covenant, that is well ordered in all things, as well as sure. “Though my house be not so with God, says David, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, well ordered in all things, and sure.” Though my house be out of order, and heart out of order, and my frame out of order, and all be in confusion with me, yet see, according to thy covenant, to order all well.
IV. We proceed to show what kind of a respect he hath to the covenant, that we may be the more engaged to plead upon it.
He hath a great and high respect to the covenant. It is the covenant of the great God, with his great and eternal Son, for the honor and glory of his great name; and therefore he cannot but have a great and high respect unto it. His great name is manifested in it; and therefore, when we plead his respect to the covenant, we plead, in effect, saying, “What will thou do for thy great name?”
He that hath a dear and lovely respect to the covenant; for it is the covenant of his grace and love, wherein he shows his infinite love to Christ and through him to a company of wretched sinners. It is a covenant of kindness; “My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee,” (Isa. 54:10); intimating, his covenant of peace is a covenant of kindness, wherein he manifests his dearest love; therefore, he hath a dear respect to it.
He hath a full respect to the covenant, a respect to every promise of it: “They are all Yea and Amen, to the glory of God,” (2 Cor. 1:20). He hath a respect to all of them, because they are all Yea and Amen, and because they are all ratified in Christ, to the glory of God. He that hath a respect to every article of the covenant, “Not a jot shall fall to the ground.”
He hath an everlasting respect to the covenant; therefore it is called an everlasting covenant; it is secured by an everlasting righteousness; it is made between everlasting parties; it is replenished with everlasting blessings; it is rooted in his everlasting love: therefore he is ever mindful of his covenant, and will never cease to have a respect to it.
Well then, say you, what need we pray and plead, that he would have respect to his covenant? Why, if it be sure that he hath, and will forever have, a respect to the covenant, then we may pray with more assurance and confidence; so that there is here strong footing for our prayer; but besides, when we pray, and say, “Have respect unto the covenant,” we seek, that he would show the respect that he hath unto it, that he would show and make it manifest unto us, that we may have the faith of it, and enjoy the fruits of it, and the blessed effects of that respect to it, in our participations of the blessings thereof.
V. The next thing was, To show why he will have respect to his covenant; and consequently, whence it is such a suitable plea and argument for us. Why,
When he hath a respect to the covenant, he hath respect to himself; the framer of it he owns himself to be; “I have made a covenant with my chosen,” (Ps. 89:3). Why then, the strength of the plea is, “Have respect to the covenant,” and so have respect to thyself, and thy own glorious name and attributes, and let them be glorified, in showing regard to the covenant. Have respect to thy wisdom that shines in the contrivance of the covenant, “The manifold wisdom of God, yea, the wisdom of God in a mystery,” that here appears. Have respect to thy power, that shines in the efficacy of the covenant, not only for overpowering principalities and powers, but overcoming thyself, and the power of thine own wrath, by the power of thy love. Have respect to thy holiness, that shines in the holy oath of JEHOVAH, by which it is confirmed, and the holy obedience of Jesus, by which it is fulfilled; so that, as by the sinful disobedience of one, many were made sinners, by the holy obedience of another Glorious One, many are made righteous. Have respect to thy justice that shines in the blood of the covenant, the sacrifice by which justice hath got condign and infinite satisfaction. Have respect to thy mercy and grace that reigns through this righteousness to eternal life. Have respect to thy truth and faithfulness, that shines in accomplishing all the promises of the covenant, upon the ground of Christ's having fulfilled the condition. Have respect unto thy eternity and immutability, in the unchangeableness of the covenant; show that thou art God, and changest not. Thus have respect to thyself.
When he hath respect to the covenant, he hath respect to his Son Christ, the center of it, and in whom it stands fast, as he owns; “My covenant shall stand fast with him “Why, then, the strength of the plea is, “Have respect to the covenant,” (Ps. 29:28), and so show respect to thy Son: have respect to him in his person, as he is thy Son and our Saviour; Immanuel, God-man: in his divinity, wherein he is equal with God; in his humanity, wherein he is the master-piece of God's work. Have respect to him in his purchase, which is the substance of the covenant bought with his blood. Have respect to his death and resurrection; for thou lovest him on this account; “Therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it up again,” (John 10:17); where we see that Christ, as dying and rising in the room of his people, is the object of the Father's love, delight, and esteem. Have respect unto his intercession, wherein he prays for all the blessings of the covenant that he hath purchased: doth not the Father hear him always? Have respect to his commission, which is sealed by thee; for “Him hath God the Father sealed,” anointed, and authorized unto all saving offices, relations, and appearances; let him get the glory of all these. O strong plea!
When he hath respect to the covenant, he hath respect to his Spirit, the great applier of the covenant-blessings, and executor of the testament, sealed with the blood of Christ, and by whom covenant-love is shed abroad upon the heart, (Rom. 5:5). Why then, the strength of the plea, “Have respect to the covenant;” that is, have respect to thy own Spirit, that he may get the glory of applying, by his power, what Christ hath purchased by his blood. Have respect to the promise of the Spirit that thou hast made, that when he is come, he shall convince the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and testify of Christ, and glorify Christ, by showing the things of Christ. Have respect to the offices of the Spirit, as he is a Convincer, Sanctifier, and Comforter, according to the order and method of the covenant. Have respect to the honor of the Spirit, who is the all in all of the covenant, in point of power, and powerful manifestation, communication, and operation. Have respect unto the relations of the Spirit, as he is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, the Spirit of the covenant, and of all the covenanted seed. Hence,
When he hath respect to the covenant, he hath respect to his people, on the account of the covenant of promise; for, “They, as Isaac was, are the children of promise,” (Gal. 4:28). Why then, the strength of the plea and argument here is, Lord, “have respect to the covenant,” and so show regard and respect to us. We have no confidence to claim any respect at thy hand, but merely upon the account of the respect thou hast to thy covenant. Have respect to our persons on this ground, since the covenant provides acceptance in the Beloved, (Eph. 1:6). Look upon us in the face 0f thine Anointed, and in the glass of the new covenant. Have respect to our prayers and performances on this ground, since the covenant hath provided much incense, to perfume the prayers and offerings of all saints, upon the golden altar that is before the throne, (Rev. 8:3). Have respect to our tears, when we sigh and groan, and mourn and weep before thee, since the covenant provides a bottle for our tears; “Put thou my tears in thy bottle,” (Ps. 56:8). Have respect to our needs on this ground, when we are hardened, that we can neither pray nor weep, nor shed a tear, since the covenant provides supply to the poor and needy; “My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches, in glory, by Christ Jesus,” (Phil. 4:19).
VI. I would now proceed to make some Application of the subject in these four Inferences.
Hence see a mark and character of true believers that are fit for a communion-table, they are of God's mind; he hath a respect to the covenant, and they have a respect unto the covenant; and hence they know what it is to plead with God upon the respect that he hath to the covenant: they could not do so, if they had not a high respect to it themselves; they have such a respect to the covenant in kind as God hath. --They have a great respect to it, so as they esteem it more than all things in the world; they would not give one promise of it, on which they have been caused to hope, for all the gold of Ophir. They have a dear and kindly respect to it, as all their salvation and all their desire; yea, and all their delight also. The word of grace is sweeter to them than the honey and the honey-comb. They have a full and universal respect unto it, and to all the promises of it; they respect the promise of purity, as well as the promise of pardon; the promise of salvation from sin, as well, and as much as the promise of salvation from hell; the promise of holiness as well as of happiness. As they have a respect to all God's commandments; so they have a respect to all God's promises; and particularly as David had his golden psalms, so they had their golden promises that they are made to hinge upon. Yea, they have an everlasting respect to the covenant, and to the promises thereof, even when their frame fails them; when their sweet enjoyments fail them, yet their respect to the covenant remains, and their respect to the Maker of the covenant, to the Mediator of the covenant, to the blood and oath of the covenant, to the Spirit of the covenant and to the blessings and benefits of it. They have an everlasting respect to the grace of the covenant of grace; they are adorers and admirers of free grace. They have an everlasting respect to, and remembrance of the words of the covenant, particularly these words that have been let in with any life and power upon their soul, or that they have been caused to hope upon; whatever they forget, they can never forget, such a word, that brought life to their souls: “I will never forget thy words,” says David; “for by them thou hast quickened me.” They have such an everlasting respect to the covenant, that when they have nothing in the world to trust to, they will rely on the covenant, and confide in such a promise, and plead upon it, saying, Lord, “Have respect to the covenant.”
Hence we may see the misery of these that are unbelievers, and remain strangers to the covenant of promise, and have no respect to the covenant. It is misery enough, that God hath no respect to you; no respect to your person or prayers, as it is said, “To Cain and his offerings God had no respect,” (Gen. 4:5). So God hath no respect either to your persons or performances; they are an abomination to him. Your prayers to him are but like the howling of a dog, if you have never taken hold of his covenant, nor seen the respect that God hath to the covenant. You have no respect to God, while you have no respect to that which he respects so highly. And as he hath no respect to your persons or performances, so he hath no respect to your tears; they never flowed from faith's views of a pierced Christ. He hath no respect to your souls, the redemption thereof ceaseth forever, because you have no due respect to the Redeemer's blood and righteousness. He hath no respect to your communicating; nay, he disapproves of it, and discharges you to sit down at his table, on peril of eating and drinking your own damnation. God hath no regard nor respect to your salvation, because you have no regard nor respect to the Saviour he hath provided and offered. God thinks as little to damn you, as you think little to dishonor him. God thinks as little of you, as you think little of sin; and he hath as little respect to you, as you have little respect to Christ and to the covenant. Woe to you, if you remain in this case; for the day is coming, wherein God will, before all the world, show no more respect to you, than to say to you, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” But,
Hence we may see the happiness of believers, that have such a respect to the covenant, as I was speaking of, a great, dear, full, and perpetual respect to it, and to the Mediator of it, who have taken hold of the covenant through grace, and who knows what it is to take hold of God in the covenant, to take hold of God in a promise, and to hold him by his word, and rely upon him in it saying, “Lord, have respect to the covenant;” here is your great happiness, God hath a respect to you: What respect? Even to your persons and offerings, as it is said of Abel, (Gen. 4:4); God hath a respect to him and to his offering. Though you be saying in your heart, Oh! how can he have a respect to me, black and vile, and guilty me? Why? not for your sake indeed, be it known unto you, but for his covenant's sake, and his name's sake. He hath a respect to your praying and praising, and communicating; because he hath a respect to the covenant. He hath a respect to your name; though the name of the wicked shall rot, your name shall be in everlasting rememberance; for God hath put his name in you; something of Christ in you, something of the covenant in you. Some observe when Abram's name was turned to Abraham, that there was some of the letters of the name JEHOVAH put in Abraham's name. Indeed, God gives the believer a new name that he hath a respect unto. He hath a respect to your suits and supplications; “I have heard Ephraim bemoaning himself. O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs; let me hear thy voice, let me see thy countenance; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. He hath a respect to his beloved doves, when pouring out their hearts before him; that voice that the world laughs at, God hath a respect to it. He hath a respect to your blood; “Precious in his sight is the blood of his saints.” He hath a respect to your souls; and hence he gave his blood to be a ransom for them; and when your souls languish, he sends his Spirit to restore them; and when you die, he will send his angels to bring them to heaven. He hath a respect to your bodies: you ought, being bought with a price, to glorify him in your souls and bodies, which are his. When your body goes to the dust, he will take care of that dust, and lose nothing of you but raise you up at the last day, and make your vile bodies like unto his glorious body; and so shall ye be ever with the Lord. He hath a respect to you, such a respect, that he puts honor upon you; “Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable.” He hath made you kings and priests to your God. Jacob was crowned a prince on the field of battle, the field of prayer, when he wrestled with the Angel and prevailed as a prince. The poor wrestling man is a prince, and the poor wrestling woman a princess, in God's sight; “This is the honour of all the saints.” They have power with God, therefore no wonder that they have power over the nations, to rule them with a rod of iron: they judge and torment them that dwell on the earth, even here: And know you not, that hereafter the saints shall judge the world? God hath a respect to you, and he will show it in due time, because he hath a respect to the covenant, and filled your heart with a respect to it also.
Hence see the duty incumbent upon us in pleading with God for his favor, presence, and blessing; let us go to him both in secret prayer, and in solemn approaches to his table, crying, Lord, “Have respect to the Covenant.” I know not a case you can be in but the covenant exhibits a cure, and you are allowed to plead it, (Ezek. 36:37). After many new-covenant promises, it is said, “For this will I be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them:” and how are we to enquire, but by pleading the respect he hath to the covenant. --Have you a polluted heart with the filth of sin, a polluted conscience with the guilt of sin? Why, here is an article of the covenant; “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you,” (Ezek. 36:25). O then, go to God for cleansing, and plead, saying, O Lord, “Have respect to the Covenant.” --Have you the old hard stony heart still within you, and would you have it renewed and softened? Here is an article of the covenant, “A new heart will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you; I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” O then, go to God, and plead it, saying, “Have respect to the Covenant.” --Are you destitute of the Spirit, sensual, not having the Spirit? Do you find such a want of the Spirit, that you cannot walk in God's way? Well there is an article of the covenant here, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes,” (Ezek 36:27). O plead for this great blessing, and say, Lord, “Have respect to the Covenant.”
In a word, when you consider what kind of a sinner you are, consider also what kind of a covenant this is; it is enough to say, that it is a covenant of grace, of all sorts of grace, for all sorts of sinners that are out of hell. Are you under dreadful guilt? Here is a covenant of pardoning grace, saying, “I will blot out thy sin as a cloud, and thy transgression as a thick cloud: return to me, for I have redeemed thee,” (Isa. 44:22). O then plead he may have respect to the covenant. --Are you under fearful pollutions? O here is a covenant of purifying grace, saying, “There is a fountain opened to the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.” O then, plead he may have respect to the covenant. Are you in darkness and ignorance, having no knowledge of God? O here is a covenant of enlightening grace, saying, “They shall be all taught of God.” O then plead it, saying, Lord, “Have respect to the covenant.” Are you under deadness, and like dead and dry bones? O here is a covenant of quickening grace, saying, “I am come to give life, and to give it more abundantly. The hour cometh, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” O then plead that he may have respect to the covenant. Are you in confusion, and know not what way to take? O here is a covenant of directing grace, saying, “I will bring the blind by a way they know not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight.” Are you under sad plagues and soul-diseases, over-run with sores from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot? O here is a covenant of healing grace, saying, “The Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings. --I am the Lord that healeth thee. I will heal your backslidings.” O then plead, saying, Lord, “Have respect to the covenant.” --Are you in extreme danger of hell and damnation, because of your sin and guilt? O here is a covenant of delivering grace, saying, “Deliver his soul from going down to the pit, for I have found a ransom.” O then plead it, and say Lord, “Have respect to the Covenant. --Are you in bondage unto sin, Satan, and the world, a captive unto lusts, and shut up in unbelief as in a prison? O here is a covenant of liberating grace Proclaiming liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. Are you a stupid soul that cannot move toward God, nor stir heavenward, by reason of a backward will, like a brazen gate, that resists all the force of moving means? Well, but, O! here is a covenant of drawing grace, saying, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” As the power and virtue of the loadstone draws the iron, so the virtue of an exalted Christ draws the iron bar of the will; “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” O then, plead it, saying, Lord, “Have respect to the Covenant.”
What other concerns have you? --Are you concerned for your children, that they may be partakers of covenant-blessings, and saved of the Lord? O here is a covenant of extensive grace, entailing blessing on us and our offspring, saying, “I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed.” O then, look to God in behalf of your children, saying, Lord, “Have respect to the Covenant.” --Are you concerned for the church, and the dangerous circumstances she is into by reason of cruel enemies? This seems to be the great concern of the psalmist here as appears from the body of the psalm, and the words following the text: “For the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.” These that live in the darkness of ignorance and error, and in the works of darkness, are full of cruelty against the church and people of God, and they are surrounded with them, in so much that the church is like a lily among thorns, or a sheep among wolves; what shall become of it? Why, here is a covenant of defense, and of defending and protecting grace, saying, “Upon all the glory there shall be a defense; “therefore, even when enemies break down the carved work with axes and hammers, (Ps. 74:6); when they are casting fire into the sanctuary, (Ps. 74:7); when they are saying, “Let us destroy them together,” (Ps. 74:8); Yea, when it shall come to this, that a bloody sword that is raging abroad, shall come over to us, --
Several foreign Powers, at this time, were at open war with one another, and, as formerly observed, our own nation was alarmed with an open rupture with the court of Spain; who, as was then confidently affirmed, had entered into a formidable alliance with different Powers, in order to recover Gibraltar and Port-mahon; and to favor their designs the better, gave out that their intention was to invade Britain, and place the Pretender on the throne. However, this rupture did not actually take place, till the year 1739; or the attempt to enthrone the Pretender, till the year 1745.
and that foreign or domestic enemies, or both, shall devour and destroy, and, perhaps, burn up all the synagogues of God in the land, as it is, (Ps. 74:9); and when we shall not see our signs, and there is no more any prophet, nor any among us that know the time how long, (Ps. 74:9). In all such cases, what course shall we take, but that of the psalmist here? Lord, “Have respect unto the Covenant.”
Are you concerned about inward enemies, spiritual enemies, and molested with the powers of darkness? Is your heart full of the habitations of cruelty, and fearfully inhabited with cruel devils, cruel lusts, cruel corruptions, that master and conquer, and prevail against you, so as you lie many a time wounded and dead at the enemy's feet? O here is a covenant of sin-conquering grace, not only a covenant of mercy to your soul, but of vengeance to your lusts, saying, “The day of vengeance is in mine heart, the year of my redeemed is come,” (Isa. 63:4). O then, implore the promised vengeance on all your cruel soul-enemies, saying, Lord, “Have respect to the covenant.”
Are you concerned about your soul-poverty and indigence, not only as oppressed with enemies without and within, but oppressed with wants and necessities, being absolutely poor and needy, and destitute of all good? O here is a covenant of soul-supplying grace, and of all needful provision, saying, “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Jacob will not forsake them; I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.” O then, plead the covenant, as the Psalmist here in the following verse, “O let not the oppressed return ashamed; let the poor and needy praise thy name.” “Have respect unto the Covenant.”
In a word, let your case be the worst case out of hell, this covenant contains all salvation, as a covenant of grace; of all grace, of all sorts of grace for all sorts of sinners, and of all sorts of cures for all sorts of cases; and if you can get yourself wrapt within the bond of this covenant, by believing and pleading it, then you draw God upon your interest, so that your concern is his concern, your interest is his interest, your cause is his cause, as the Psalmist shows here, “Arise, 0 God, plead thine own cause,” (Ps. 74:22). It stands upon his honor, and he will do his own work in his own time. If ever you got grace to draw a bill upon God, as covenant-promising God in Christ, and have any bills lying tabled before the throne, and are sometimes unable to plead and pursue the bill, with a Lord, “Have respect unto the Covenant;” you have the strongest encouragement to wait on him, and expect his answering the bill in due time; for he will rather work marvelously, and create new worlds, rather turn all things to nothing, than quit his concern in, or give up with his respect unto the covenant.
Are you concerned for the advancement of the kingdom of Christ in the earth as you ought to be? Here is a covenant of grace to the Jews, and grace to the Gentiles; grace to the heathen nations, saying, “I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” Are you concerned about generations to come, about the rising generation, when there is little hope of the present? O here is a covenant of grace to succeeding generations till the end of the world, saying, “I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations; therefore the people shall praise thee for ever and ever.”
Are you concerned about your latter end, and how it shall fare with you when in the swellings of Jordan, how you will fight the last battle? O here is a covenant of death-conquering grace) saying, “Death shall be swallowed up in victory: O death, I will be thy plague! O grave, I will be thy destruction! “Are you concerned about a gospel ministry and thoughtful whether it shall be continued? There is many a word in this covenant about it; but especially that, Christ is exalted to maintain and support a gospel-dispensation to the end of the world, (Mat. 28:20). Whatever spot of the earth he chooses or refuses, he having ascended on high, hath received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them, (Ps. 73:18).