Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sweetly Receiving the Covenant of Grace

The following is an except from "The Gospel Covenant, or the Covenant of Grace Opened," by Peter Bulkeley, a Congregationalist minister and founder of the colony of Concord, Massachusetts. And apropos of nothing in particular, he is also an ancestor of former President George Bush. I have a facsimile copy of the 1651 edition of his book. He writes so movingly of the covenant, that I thought that any additions from my hand would only lessen its impact. The anachronistic spellings and grammar are from the original, as are also the italicized portions. Words in brackets are my own insertions for the sake of clarity.

"Come with an humble submission to yeeld up thyself to the obedience of the will of God; wee must receive from him the law of our life by which we must live. When you come to make a covenant with God, you must not come to give lawes unto God, but to take lawes from God; not to impose lawes upon him, that he shall save you so and so, but you must leave God free to make the conditions of the covenant after his own minde and will; think it honour enough that you may be a people in covenant with God, and have your life granted by covenant from him, but for the conditions, leave them to God, let him command and require what he will, he must be free, or else he will not make a covenant with you: This is that which Hezekiah [II Chron. 30:7-8] exhorted to, to come and give the hand to the Lord, and serve him, we must come and make a covenant with God, as a servant with his master, as Subjects with their Prince, a covenant of service, not to be our own Lords. The sonnes of David, and Princes of Israel (when Solomon sate upon the throne), came and gave their hand under Solomon, I Chron 29:24. That is, they made a covenant with him, but it was with submission to his power, which submission of theirs unto him, is implyed in those words, They gave the hand under Solomon. And such is the covenant which we must make with God, wee must give the hand under God, submitting to him, to be ruled by him. Thence it is, that we are called upon to deny our selves; If any one will be my disciple, let him deny himself, etc. we must not cleave to our selves, to our wills, and make our own Lawes, we must deny our own inclinations, wills and affections, refuse to be governed by them, and resign up our selves to the will of God; this is the resolution we must come unto, if we will enter into covenant with God; as it was in the sacrifice of the Law, he that offered it, laid his hand upon the head of it, as dedicating it to God, and quitting it from himselfe, as if he should say, I have no more to doe with this bullock, it is now the Lords (that was in part the signification of that action), so if we will be the Lords people in covenant wioth him, we must resigne our selves onely and wholly to be for him, Rom. 12:1-2, we must present our bodies as a living and acceptable sacrifice, consecrate and devote them to God, to live unto him, and to be our own no more: as it is in a marriage-covenant, when a man and woman make a covenant, they doe resigne up themselves one to another, not to be themselves [i.e., to belong to themselves] any more; it is a marriage-covenant that we make with God, I will marry thee to my selfe, saith the Lord, Hos. 2:19. therefore we must doe as the Spouse doth, resigne up our selves to be ruled and governed according to his will."

II Chronicles 30:7-8: Bulkeley says prior to this section that the phrase, "yield yourselves to the Lord," translates "give your hand to the Lord," in the Hebrew. In other words, "give your hand in agreement to His covenant."

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