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witness the truth and sincerity of their profession, which was tantamount to a solemn oath. Such is the
proper nature and solemnity of making a public profession of religion and entering into covenant with God at this day. It now remains to show,
III. Why the subjects of special grace choose to join the church and enter into covenant with God.--The prophet represents young converts as spontaneously choosing to make a public profession of religion, and to bind themselves to be the Lord's. They choose to make it known, that they belong to the people of God, and to put themselves under the bond of the covenant to walk in the way of his commandments. This has been generally found by observation and experience to be the happy fruit and effect of a saving change or sound conversion. The question now before us, is, Why do such young converts spontaneously desire and choose to join the church and lay themselves under covenant vows and obligations to live in universal and persevering obedience to the whole will of God? There is a variety of weighty and powerful reasons for their freely and voluntarily binding themselves to be the Lord's. In particular,
1. They love the commands of God. A change of heart always produces love to the law of God, or it rather consists in love to the divine law, which is a condition of the covenant of grace. So the apostle says in the eighth of Hebrews. " This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” Paul said, “ I delight in the law of God after the inward
And David said, “ O how love I thy law.” As soon as the love of God is shed abroad in the heart, it never fails to produce love to his law. And those, who love his law, choose to obey it and to bind themselves to obey it forever. This was exemplified in the views and conduct of the converts, that returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. “ In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping, they shall
and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, Let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant, that shall not be forgotten.” The subjects of special grace have had their enmity to the divine law slain ; and of course, love that law, which they hated and choose to love and obey it forever; which is one good reason, why they choose to join themselves to the Lord and to his people.
2. They love the ordinances, as well as the law of God. They love religion, and all the instituted duties of it, which they once neglected and despised. They love to draw near to God, in secret and social prayer, and in his public worship in his house. And for the same reason, they desire to commemorate the death of their divine Redeemer according to his his dying command, “ This do ye in remembrance of me.” Though this be an appropriate duty of the subjects of grace, yet they have no right to attend upon this special ordinance, before they profess Christ before men and bind themselves to walk with his friends in obedience to his commands, by a solemn and perpetual covenant.
The positive and instituted duties of religion are calculated and designed for the benefit of the cordial friends of Christ ;
and as soon as any become his friends, they sincerely desire to name his name and join with his followers in celebrating his special ordinances. This was the case of those, who were converted on the day of Pentecost. We read, “ Then they that gladly received his word were baptised : and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” The same desire to join with the people of God, and to partake of the holy sacrament, is a common effect which flows from the special effusions of the divine spirit. Young converts never fail to flock to Christ as doves to their windows. They spontaneously desire to join the church, and to bind themselves to walk in all the ordinances of the Lord.
3. The subjects of special grace choose to join the church, because their hearts are united to christians. Though they once despised and avoided christians, yet as soon as they possess the spirit of Christ, they feel a peculiar complacency towards his friends, and delight to unite with them in the duties of religion, and in their attendance on divine ordinances. Those, who were converted on the day of Pentecost, were of one heart and of one soul, and united and continued together in social worship, and the celebration of divine or. dinances. The subjects of special grace possess a spirit of mutual brotherly love. They love as brethren, and discern a peculiar beauty and excellence in all, that love the Lord. This christian union and affection is not momentary, but permanent and universal. It extends to all, who appear to be the subjects of special grace. David loved, esteemed and delighted in the saints, as the excellent of the earth. The
apostle John says, “We know, that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.”_ Love to christians is commonly one of the first sensible effects of a saving change, and of the peculiar evidences of it, without which the same apostle says, no other evidence is to be relied on : “ for he, that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen ?” As all the subjects of special grace sincerely love the church composed of the subjects of grace ; so they naturally desire to join the church, and maintain a spiritual union and communion with the church in all gospel ordinances.
4. Those, who possess the grace of God, in truth, desire to promote his cause and interest in the world. They ardently desire, that his cause may prevail, and his kingdom may grow and flourish and fill the earth. And they desire to be workers together with him in building up his kingdom ; and for this reason, wish to put themselves in the best situation, and under the strongest obligations to promote the cause of truth, and the prosperity of Zion. David calls upon the friends of God, “ to pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” and declares with respect to himself, “ If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to my mouth ; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.”
i Though young converts may do something to promote the cause of God, before they make a public profession of religion ; yet by making a public profession of their faith and love, they can do much more to promote bis cause, and lay themselves under stronger obligations to do it. Their professions gives them a greater freedom and creates a greater obligation to speak and act for God, and the good of their fellow men. Besides, by joining the church they increase their number, strengthen their hands, cement their union, and augment their zeal and resolution to promote virtue and piety, and to suppress every thing that obstructs the salutary effects of divine truth and divine ordinances. Young converts have good ground to expect, that they shall derive these great advantages and opportunities of doing good, by joining the church ; and therefore they wish to name the name of Christ, that they may be better able to promote his cause and kingdom. They ought to be more concerned to do good, than to get good, by professing religion and binding themselves to promote it. But the great enemy of God and religion often tries all his artifice, to prevent them from uniting with its friends to do good, by exciting in their minds groundless fears, that they shall endanger the salvation of their own souls, if they attend the sacrament, where men may eat and drink damnation unto themselves. But supreme love to God and a zeal according to knowledge, will banish such fears, and sweetly constrain them to do their duty and leave the event with God.
5. Those, who are the subjects of special grace, desire to grow in grace ; and for that reason desire to join the church, that they may enjoy the best means of spiritual edification and growth in grace. They desire the sincere milk of the word and the nourishment of divine ordinances, that they may grow thereby. All divine ordinances are designed and calculated to promote the spiritual benefit and edification and comfort of the children of God. They have, therefore, always highly prized them and endeavored to enjoy them in the house of God. David says, “One thing