(Guthrie, The Christian's Great Interest. part 8)

everlasting, and, not being repented of, bringing endless vengeance; 
especially the last cuts off hope of relief, for anything that can be 
expected in an ordinary way; yet none of these is the unpardonable sin 
against the Holy Ghost: and so under any of these there is hope to him 
that has an ear to hear the joyful sound of the covenant. All manner of 
such sin and blasphemy may be forgiven, as is clear in the Scripture, 
where these things are mentioned. 
II.--What the sin against the Holy Ghost is 
As for the second thing: Let us see what the sin against the Holy Ghost 
is. It is not a simple act of transgression, but a combination of many 
mischievous things, involving soul and body ordinarily in guilt. We thus 
describe it--'It is a rejecting and opposing of the chief gospel truth, 
and way of salvation, made out particularly to a man by the Spirit of 
God, in the truth and good thereof; and that avowedly, freely, wilfully, 
maliciously, and despitefully, working hopeless fear.' There be three 
places of Scripture which do speak most of this sin, and thence we will 
prove every part of this description, in so far as may be useful to our 
present purpose; by which it will appear, that none who have a mind for 
Christ need stumble at what is spoken of this sin in Scripture-- 
'Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be 
forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be 
forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, 
it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, 
it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world 
to come.' 'For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and 
have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy 
Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world 
to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance: 
seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to 
an open shame.' 'For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the 
knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a 
certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which 
shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without 
mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose 
ye, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of 
God, and has counted the blood of the covenant wherewith He was 
sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of 
grace?' (Matt. 12: 23-32; Heb. 6: 4-6; 10: 25-29.) 
   1. Then let us consider the object about which this sin, or sinful 
acting of the man guilty thereof, is conversant, and that is the chief 
gospel-truth and way of salvation; both which come to one thing. It is 
the way which God has contrived for saving of sinners by Jesus Christ, 
the promised Messiah and Saviour, by whose death and righteousness men 
are to be saved, as He has held Him forth in the ordinances, confirming 
the same by many mighty works in Scripture tending thereto. This way of 
salvation is the object. The Pharisees oppose this that Christ was the 
Messiah--'And all the people said, Is not this the son of David? But when 
the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow does not cast out devils, 
but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils' (Matt. 12: 23, 24.) The wrong 
is done against the Son of God--'It is impossible to renew them again 
unto repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, 
and put Him to an open shame' (Heb. 6: 6); and against the blood of the 
covenant, and the Spirit graciously offering to apply these things--'Of 
how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who 
has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the 
covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done 
despite unto the Spirit of grace?' (Heb. 10: 29.) 
   2. In the description, consider the qualifications of this object. It 
is singularly made out to the party by the Spirit of God, both in the 
truth and good thereof. This faith, 1. That there must be knowledge of 
the truth and way of salvation. The Pharisees knew that Christ was the 
heir--'But when they saw the Son, they said among themselves, This is the 
heir, come let us kill Him.' (Matt. 21: 38.) The party hath knowledge-- 
'But if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the 
truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins' (Heb. 10: 26.) 2. That 
knowledge of the thing must not swim only in the head, but there must be 
some half-heart persuasion of it: Christ knew the Pharisees' thoughts 
(Matt. 12: 25); and so did judge them, and that the contrary of what they 
spoke was made out upon their heart. There is a tasting, which is beyond 
simple enlightening--'For it is impossible for those who were once 
enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and have tasted of the 
good word of God, and of the powers of the world to come,' etc. (Heb. 6: 
4, 5.) Yea, there is such a persuasion ordinarily as leadeth to a deal of 
outward sanctification--'Who has counted the blood of the covenant, 
wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing.' (Heb. 10: 29.) 3. This 
persuasion must not only be of the verity of the thing, but of the good 
of it: the party 'tasteth the good word of God, and the powers of the 
world to come' (Heb. 6: 5); and he apprehendeth the thing as eligible. 4. 
This persuasion is not made out only by strength of argument, but also by 
an enlightening work of God's Spirit, shining on the truth, and making it 
conspicuous; therefore is that sin called, 'The sin against the Holy 
Ghost.' (Matt. 12: 31; Mark 3: 29.) The persons are said 'to have been 
made partakers of the Holy Ghost' (Heb. 6: 4); and 'to do despite unto 
the Spirit of grace,' who was in the nearest step of a gracious operation 
with them. (Heb. 10: 29.) 
   3. In this description, consider the acting of the party against the 
object so qualified. It is a rejecting and opposing of it; which 
importeth, 1. That men have once, some way at least, been in hands with 
it, or had the offer of it, as is true of the Pharisees. 2. That they do 
reject, even with contempt, what they had of it, or in their offer. The 
Pharisees deny it, and speak disdainfully of Christ--'This fellow does 
not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.' (Matt. 
12: 24.) They fall away, intending to put Christ to 'an open shame.' 
(Heb. 6: 6.) 3. The men set themselves against it by the spirit of 
persecution, as the Pharisees did still. They rail against it; therefore 
it is called 'blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.' (Matt. 12: 24, 31.) They 
would 'crucify Christ again' if they could. (Heb. 6: 6.) They are 
adversaries. (Heb. 10: 17.) 
   4. Consider the properties of this acting. 1. It is avowed, that is, 

not seeking to shelter or to hide itself. The Pharisees speak against 
Christ publicly--'But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow 
does not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.' 
(Matt. 12: 24.) They would have 'Christ brought to an open shame.' (Heb. 
6: 6.) They forsake the ordinances which savour that way--'Not forsaking 
the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is'--and 
despise the danger; for, looking for indignation, they trample that blood 
still. (Heb. 10: 25, 27, 29.) 2. The party acteth freely. It is not from 
unadvisedness, nor from force or constraint, but an acting of free 
choice; nothing does force the Pharisees to speak against and persecute 
Christ. They 'crucify to themselves,' they redact the murder of their own 
free accord, and in their own bosom, none constraining them. They sin of 
free choice, or, as the word may be rendered, spontaneously--'For if we 
sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, 
there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.' (Heb. 6: 6; 10: 26.) 3. It 
is acted wilfully. They are so resolute, they will not be dissuaded by 
any offer, or take most precious means, as is clear in the aforesaid 
scriptures. 4. It is done maliciously, so that it proceeds not so much, 
if at all, from a temptation to pleasure, profit, or honour. It 
proceedeth not from fear, or force, or from any good end proposed, but 
out of heart-malice against God and Christ, and the advancement of His 
glory and kingdom: so that it is of the very nature of Satan's sin, who 
has an irreconcilable hatred against God, and the remedy of sin, because 
His glory is thereby advanced. This is a special ingredient in this sin. 
The Pharisees are found guilty of heart-malice against Christ, since they 
spake so against Him, and not against their own children's casting out 
devils: and this is the force of Christ's argument--'If I, by Beelzebub, 
cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out?' (Matt. 12: 27.) 
They do their utmost 'to crucify Christ again, and to bring Him to an 
open shame.' (Heb. 6: 6.) They are adversaries, like the devil. 5. It is 
done despitefully: the malice must betray itself. The Pharisees must 
proclaim that Christ has correspondence with devils: He must 'be put to 
open shame, and crucified again:' they must 'tread under foot that blood, 
and do despite to the Spirit:' so that the party had rather perish a 
thousand times than be in Christ's debt for salvation. 
   5. The last thing in the description is, the ordinary attendant or 
consequence of this sin; it induceth desperate and hopeless fear. They 
fear Him, whom they hate with a slavish, hopeless fear, such as devils 
have--'A certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, 
which shall devour the adversaries.' (Heb. 10: 27.) They know that God 
will put out His power against them; they tremble in the remembrance of 
it; and if they could be above Him, and destroy Him, they would: and 
since they cannot reach that, they hate with the utmost of heart-malice, 
and do persecute Him, and all that is His, with despite. 
III.--Conclusions bearing on the objections 
As for the third thing proposed, viz., the conclusions to be drawn from 
what is said, whereby we will speak directly to the objection. 1. As I 
hinted before, since the sin against the Holy Ghost is so remarkable, and 
may be well known where it is, none should charge themselves with it, 
unless they can prove and establish the charge; for it is a great wrong 
done unto God to labour to persuade my soul that He will never pardon me: 
it is the very way to make me desperate, and to lead me into the 
unpardonable sin; therefore, unless thou can't and dare say that thou 
dost hate the way which God has devised for the saving of sinners, and 
dost resolve to oppose the thriving of His kingdom, both with Himself and 
others, out of malice and despite against God, thou oughtest not to 
suspect thyself guilty of this sin. 2. Whatsoever thou hast done against 
God, if thou dost repent of it, and wish it were undone, thou can't not 
be guilty of this sin; for in it heart-malice and despite against God do 
still prevail. 3. If thou art content to be His debtor for pardon, and 
world be infinitely obliged unto Him for it, then thou can't not, in this 
case, be guilty of the sin against the Holy Ghost; for, as we showed 
before, they who are guilty of it do so despite God that they would not 
be His debtors for salvation. 4. Whatsoever thou hast done, if thou hast 
a desire after Jesus Christ, and dost look with a sore heart after Him, 
and cannot think of parting with His blessed company forever, or, if they 
must part with Him, yet dost wish well to Him, and all His, thou needs 
not suspect thyself to be guilty of this unpardonable sin; for there can 
be no such hatred of Him in thy bosom as is necessarily required to make 
up that sin. 5. If thou would be above the reach of that sin, and secure 
against it forever, then go work up thy heart to approve of salvation by 
Christ Jesus, and so close with God in Him, acquiescing in Him as the 
sufficient ransom and rest, as we have been pressing before, and yield to 
Him to be saved in His way. Do this in good earnest, and thou shalt for 
ever be put out of the reach of that awful thing wherewith Satan does 
affright so many poor seekers of God. 
VI.--Objections from the want of power to believe answered 
Object. Although I be not excluded from the benefit of the new covenant, 
yet it is not in my power to believe on Christ; for faith is the gift of 
God, and above the strength of flesh and blood. 
   Ans. It is true that saving faith, by which alone a man can heartily 
close with God in Christ, is above our power and is the gift of God, as 
we said before in the premises; yet remember, 1. The Lord has left it as 
a duty upon all who hear this gospel cordially by faith to close with His 
offer of salvation through Christ, as is clear from Scripture. And you 
must know, that although it be not in our power to perform that duty of 
ourselves, yet the Lord may justly condemn us for not performing it, and 
we are inexcusable; because at first he made man perfectly able to do 
whatsoever He should command. 2. The Lord commanding this thing, which is 
above our power, willeth us to be sensible of our inability to do the 
thing, and would have us to put it on Him to work it in us. He has 
promised to give the new heart, and He has not excluded any from the 
benefit of that promise. 3. The Lord uses, by these commands and 
invitations, and men's meditation on the same, and their supplication 
about the thing, to convey power unto the soul to perform the duty. 
   Therefore, for answer to the objection, I do entreat thee, in the Lord 
's name, to lay to heart these His commandments and promises, and 
meditate on them, and upon that blessed business of the new covenant, and 
pray unto God, as you can, over them, 'for He will be inquired of to do 
these things ' (Ezek. 36: 37); and lay thy cold heart to that device of 
God expressed in the Scripture, and unto Christ Jesus, who is given for a 
covenant to the people, and look to Him for life and quickening. Go and 
endeavour to approve of that salvation in the way God does offer it, and 
so close with, and rest on Christ for it, as if all were in thy power; 
yet, looking to Him for the thing, as knowing that it must come from Him; 
and if thou do so, He who meets those who remember Him in His ways (Isa. 
64: 5), will not be wanting on His part; and thou shalt not have ground 
to say, that thou movedst toward the thing until thou couldst do no more 
for want of strength, and so left it at God's door. It shall not fail on 
His part, if thou have a mind for the business; yea, I may say, if by all 
thou hast ever heard of that matter, thy heart loveth it, and desireth to 
be engaged with it, thou hast it already performed within thee; so that 
difficulty is past before thou wast aware of it. 
VII.--Objection arising from the complaints of believers as to 
Object. Many who have closed with Christ Jesus, as aforesaid, are still 
complaining of their leanness and fruitlessness, which makes my heart lay 
the less weight on that duty of believing. 
   Ans. If thou be convinced that it is a duty to believe on Christ, you 
may not neglect it under any pretence. As for the complaints of some who 
have looked after Him, not admitting every one to be judge of his own 
fruit, I say-- 
   1. Many, by their jealousies of God's love, and by their unbelief, 
after they have so closed with God, do obstruct many precious 
communications, which otherwise would be let out to them--'And he did not 
many mighty works there because of their unbelief.' (Matt. 13: 58.) 
   2. It cannot be that any whose heart is gone out after Christ 'have 
found Him a wilderness.' (Jer. 2: 31.) Surely they find somewhat in their 
spirit swaying them towards God in whose two great things, namely, how to 
be found in Him in that day--'Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but 
loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for 
whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, 
that I may win Christ and be found in Him; not having mine own 
righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith 
of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith' (Phil. 3: 8, 9);-- 
and how to show forth His praise in the land of the living, 'Deal 
bountifully with thy servant, that I may live and keep Thy word.' (Psa. 
119: 17.) 'Wilt Thou not deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk 
before God in the land of the living.' (Psa. 56: 13.) They find these two 
things existing in the soul, and that is much. Moreover, they shall, on 
due inquiry, ever find such an emptiness in the creatures, that the 
utmost abundance of the creature cannot satisfy their souls--all is 
vanity, only God can fill the empty room in their heart; and when He 
breathes but a little, there is no room for additional comfort from 
creatures. This shows that God has captivated the man, and has fixed that 
saving principle in the understanding and heart--'Who is God but the 
Lord? Worship Him all ye gods.' (Psa. 97: 7.) Yea, further, those whose 
hearts have closed with God in Christ as aforesaid, will not deny that 
there has been seasonable preventing and quickening now and then when the 
soul was like to fail--'For Thou preventest me with the blessings of Thy 
goodness.' (Psa. 21: 3.) 'When I said, my foot slippeth, Thy mercy, O 
Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Thy comforts 
delight my soul.' (Psa. 94: 18, 19.) Therefore, let none say that there 
is no fruit following, and let none neglect their duty upon the unjust 
and groundless complaints of others. 
VIII.--Objection from ignorance regarding covenanting with God,--The 
nature of that duty unfolded 
Object. Although I judge it my duty to close with God's device in the 
covenant, I am in the dark how to manage that duty; for sometimes God 
offers to be our God without any mention of Christ, and sometimes saith, 
that He will betroth us unto Him: and in other places of Scripture we are 
called to come to Christ, and He is the bridegroom. Again, God sometimes 
speaketh of Himself as a Father to men, sometimes as a Husband; Christ is 
sometimes called the Husband, and sometimes a Brother; which relations 
seem inconsistent, and do much put me in the dark how to apprehend God, 
when my heart would agree with Him and close with Him. 
   Ans. It may be very well said, that men do come to God, or close with 
Him, and yet they come to Christ, and close with Him. They may be said to 
come under a marriage-relation unto God, and unto Christ also, who is 
husband, father, brother, etc., to them; and there is no such mystery 
here as some do conceive. 
   For the better understanding of it, consider these few things--1. 
Although God made man perfect at the beginning, and put him in some 
capacity of transacting with Him immediately--'God has made man upright' 
(Eccl. 7: 29); 'And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree 
of the garden thou mast freely eat,' etc. (Gen. 2: 16, 17); yet man by 
his fall did put himself at such a distance from God, as to be in an 
utter incapacity to bargain or deal any more with him immediately. 
   2. The Lord did, after Adam's fall, make manifest the new covenant, in 
which he did signify he was content to transact with man again, in and 
through a mediator; and so did appoint men to come to Him through Christ- 
-'He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him' 
(Heb. 7: 25); and to look for acceptance only in Him--'To the praise of 
the glory of His grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the Beloved' 
(Eph. 1: 6); ordaining men to hear Christ, He being the only party in 
whom God was well pleased--'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well 
pleased, hear ye Him.' (Matt. 16: 5.) 
   3. This matter is so clear, and supposed to be so evident in the 
Scripture, and so manifest to all who are under the ordinances, that the 
Lord often speaks of transacting with Himself, not making mention of the 
mediator, because it is supposed that every one in the church knows that 
now there is no dealing with God, except by and through Christ Jesus the 
   4. Consider that Christ Jesus, God-man, is not only a fit place of 
meeting for God and men to meet in, and a fit spokesman to treat between 
the parties now at variance--'God was in Christ reconciling the world to 
himself' (2 Cor. 5: 19); but we may say also, He is an immediate 
bridegroom; and so our closing or transacting with God may be justly 
called the marriage of the King's son, and the elect may be called the 
Lamb's wife; Christ Jesus being, as it were, the hand which God holdeth 
out to men, and on which they lay hold when they deal with God. And so 
through and by Christ we close with God, as our God, on whom our soul 
does terminate lastly and ultimately through Christ 'Who by Him do 
believe in God that raised Him from the dead, and gave Him glory, that 
your faith and hope might be in God.' (1 Peter 1: 21.) 
   5. Consider that the various relations mentioned in Scripture are set 
down to signify the sure and indissoluble union and communion between God 
and His people. Whatsoever connexion is between head and members, root 
and branches, king and subjects, shepherd and flock, father and children, 
brother and brother, husband and wife, etc., all is here--'And they all 
shall be one, as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee; that they also 
may be one in us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me. And 
the glory which Thou gavest me I have given them: that they may be one, 
even as we are one. I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be perfect 
in one, and that the world may know that Thou hast sent me, and hast 
loved them, as Thou hast loved me. And I have declared unto them Thy 
name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved me may 
be in them, and I in them.' (John 17: 21-26.) So that whatsoever is 
spoken in Scripture, people may be sure, that God calleth them to be 
reconciled unto Him through Christ, and does offer Himself to be their 
God and husband in Him alone: and men are to accept God to be their God 
in Christ, approving of that way of relief for poor man, and to give up 
themselves unto God in Christ, in whom alone they can be accepted. And 
they who close with Christ, they do close with God and Him, who is in 
Christ, 'reconciling the world to Himself.' (2 Cor. 5: 19; John 14: 
8-11.) And we are not to dip further into the different relations 
mentioned in Scripture between God or Christ and men, than as they may 
point out union and communion, or nearness with God through Christ Jesus, 
and our advantage thereby. 
   These things being clear, we will not multiply words: but since to 
believe on Christ is the great duty required of all that hear this 
gospel, we entreat every one, in the Lord's name, to whom the report of 
this shall come, that without delay they take to heart their lost 
condition in themselves, and that they lay to heart the remedy which God 
has provided by Jesus Christ, whereof He has made a free offer unto all 
who will be content with the same, and to be saved that way; and that 
they lay to heart, that there is no other way of escape from the wrath 
that is to come, because of which men would be glad, at the last day, to 
run into a lake of melted lead, to be hid from the face of the Lamb, whom 
they do here despise;--we say, we entreat all, in the consideration of 
these things, to work up their hearts to this business, and to lay 
themselves open for God, and to receive Him through Christ in the offers 
of the gospel, acquiescing in Him as the only desirable and satisfying 
good, that so they may secure themselves. Go speedily and search for His 
offers of peace and salvation in the Scripture, and work up your heart 
and soul to close with them, and with Christ in them, and with God in 
Christ; and do it so, as you may have this to say, that you were serious, 
and in earnest, and cordial here, as ever you were in any thing to your 
apprehension; and, for aught you know, Christ is the choice of your 
heart, at least you neither know nor allow anything to the contrary; 
whereupon your heart does appeal unto God, to search and try if there be 
aught amiss, to rectify it, and lead you into the right way. 
   Now, this cleaving of the heart unto Him, and casting itself upon Him 
to be saved in His way, is believing; which does, indeed, secure a man 
from the wrath that is to come, because now he has received Christ, and 
believeth on Him, and so shall not enter into condemnation, as saith the 
IX.--Doubts as to the inquirer's being savingly in covenant with God 
Object. When I hear what it is to believe on Christ Jesus, I think 
sometimes I have faith; for I dare say, to my apprehension, I approve of 
the plan of saving sinners by Christ Jesus; my heart goes out after Him, 
and does terminate upon Him as a satisfying treasure; and I am glad to 
accept God to be my God in Him: but I often question if ever I have done 
so, and so am, for the most part, kept hesitating and doubting if I do 
believe, or am savingly in covenant with God. 
   Ans. It is not unusual for many, whose hearts are gone out after 
Christ in the gospel, and have received Him, to bring the same in 
question again: therefore I shall advise one thing, as a notable help to 
fix the soul in the maintaining of faith and an interest in God, and that 
is, that men not only close heartily with God in Christ, as aforesaid, 
but also that they 'expressly, explicitly, by word of mouth, and viva 
voce, and formally close with Christ Jesus, and accept God's offer of 
salvation through Him, and so make a covenant with God.' And this, by 
God's blessing, may contribute not a little for establishing them 
concerning their save interest in God. 
Certain things premised concerning personal covenanting 
Before I speak directly to this express covenanting with God, I premise 
these few things:--1. I do not here intend a covenanting with God 
essentially differing from the covenant between God and the visible 

church, as the Lord does hold it out in His revealed will; neither do I 
intend a covenant differing essentially from the transacting of the heart 
with God in Christ, formerly spoken unto: it is that same covenant; only 
it differeth by a singular circumstance, namely, the formal expression of 
the thing which the heart did before practice. 
   2. I grant this express covenanting and transacting with God is not 
absolutely necessary for a man's salvation; for if any person close 
heartily and sincerely with God, offering Himself in Christ in the 
gospel, his soul and state are thereby secured, according to the 
Scripture, although he utter not words with his mouth; but this express 
verbal with God is very expedient, for the better well-being of a man's 
state, and for his more comfortable maintaining of an interest in Christ 
   3. This express covenanting with God by word of mouth is of no worth 
without sincere heart closing with God in Christ joined with it; for, 
without that, it is but a profaning of the Lord's name, and a mocking of 
Him to His face, so 'to draw near unto Him with the lips, whilst the 
heart is far from Him.' 
   4. I grant both cordial and verbal transacting with God will not make 
out a man's gracious state unto him, so as to put and keep it above 
controversy, without the joint witness of the Spirit, by which we know 
what is freely given to us of God; yet this explicit way of transacting 
with God, joined with that heart-closing with Him in Christ, contributes 
much for clearing up to a man that there is a fixed bargain between God 
and him, and will do much to ward off from him many groundless jealousies 
and objections of an unstable mind and heart, which uses with shame to 
deny this hour what it did really act and perform the former hour. This 
explicit covenanting is as an instrument taken of what passed between God 
and the soul, and so has its own advantage for strengthening of faith. 
   As for this express covenanting, we shall 1. Show that it is a very 
warrantable practice. 2. We shall show shortly what is previously 
required of those who do so transact with God. 3. How men should go about 
that duty. 4. What should follow thereupon. 
I.--The thing itself is warrantable 
As to the first, I say, it is a warrantable practice and an incumbent 
duty, expressly and by word to covenant with God; which appeareth thus: 
   1. In many places of Scripture, if we look to what they may bear, 
according to their scope and the analogy of faith, God has commanded it, 
and left it on people as a duty--'One shall say, I am the Lord's.' 
'Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.' 
(Isa. 44: 5; 45: 24.) 'Wilt thou not from this time cry unto Me, My 
Father, Thou are the guide of my youth.' (Jer. 3: 4.) 'They shall say, 
the Lord is my God' (Zech. 13: 9); 'Thou shalt call Me Ishi' (Hos. 2: 
16); and in many places elsewhere. Now, since God has so clearly left it 
on men in the letter of the word, they may be persuaded that it is a 
practice warranted and allowed by Him, and well pleasing unto Him. 
   2. It is the approved practice of the saints in Scripture thus 
expressly to covenant with God, and they have found much comfort in that 
duty afterwards. David did often expressly say unto God, that He was his 
God, his portion, and that himself was His servant. Thomas will put his 
interest out of question with it--'And Thomas answered and said unto Him, 
My Lord, and my God.' (John 20: 28.) Yea, I say, the saints are much 
quieted in remembrance of what has passed that way between God and them - 
-'Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I 
desire besides Thee.' 'I cried unto Thee, O Lord, I said, Thou art my 
refuge, and my portion in the land of the living.' (Psa. 73: 25; 142: 5.) 
We find it often so in the book of the Canticles. Now, shall the chief 
worthies of God abound so much in a duty, which produces so much peace 
and satisfaction to them in many cases, and shall we, under the New 
Testament, unto whom access is ministered abundantly, and who partake of 
the sap of the olive; shall we, I say, fall behind in this approved 
method of communion with God? Since we study to imitate that cloud of 
witnesses in other things, as faith, zeal, patience, etc., let us also 
imitate them in this. 
   3. The thing about which we here speak is a matter of the greatest 
concernment in all the world. 'It is the life of our soul' (Deut. 32: 
47.) Oh! shall men study to be express, explicit, plain, and peremptory, 
in all their other great businesses, because they are such: and shall 
they not much more be peremptory and express in this, which does most 
concern them? I wonder that many not only do not speak it with their 
mouth, but that they do not swear and subscribe it with their hand, and 
do not everything for securing of God to themselves in Christ, and 
themselves unto God, which the Scriptures does warrant--'One shall say, I 
am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and 
another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself 
by the name of Israel.' (Isa. 44: 5.) 
   This also may have its own weight, as an argument to press this way of 
covenanting with God, that the business of an interest in Christ, and of 
real and honest transacting with Him, is a thing which, in the experience 
of saint, is most frequently brought into debate and in question; 
therefore, men had need all the ways they can, even by thought, word, and 
deed, to put it to a point. 
   This also may be urged here for pressing this as a duty, that God is 
so formal, express, distinct, and legal, to say so, in all the business 
of man's salvation, namely, Christ must be a near kinsman to whom the 
right of redemption does belong; He must be chosen, called authorized, 
and sent; covenants formally drawn between the Father and Him, the Father 
accepting payment and satisfaction, giving formal discharges, all done 
clearly and expressly. Shall the Lord be so express, plain, and 
peremptory in every part of the business, and shall our part of it rest 
in a confused thought, and we be as dumb beasts before Him? If it were a 
marriage between man and wife, it would not be judged enough, although 
there were consent in heart given by the woman, and known to the man, if 
she did never express so much by word, being in a capacity to do so. Now, 
this covenant between God and man is held out in Scripture as a marriage 
between man and wife--'And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I 
will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in 
loving kindness, and in mercies: I will even betroth thee unto Me in 
faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord.' (Hos. 2: 19, 20.) 'For I am 
jealous over you with godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one 
husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.' (2 Cor. 
11: 2.) The whole song of Solomon speaketh it. The Lord uses similitudes, 
to signify unto us what He intends; and surely this is a special 
requisite in marriage, that the wife give an express and explicit consent 
unto the business: the man saith--'So I take thee to be my lawful wife 
and do oblige myself to be a dutiful husband.' The woman is obliged, on 
the other part, to express her consent, and to say--'Even so I take thee 
to be my lawful husband, and do promise duty and subjection.' It is so 
here; the Lord saith, 'I do betroth thee unto me in faithfulness, and 
thou shalt call me Ishi,' that is, my husband. (Hos. 2: 16.) I will be 
for thee as a head and husband, if 'thou wilt not be for another.' (Hos. 
3: 3.) The man ought to answer, and say, Amen, so be it; Thou shalt be my 
God, my Head, and Lord, and I shall and will be Thine, and not for 
another--'I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine.' (Cant. 6: 3.) And 
so this making of the covenant with God is called 'a giving of the hand 
to Him,' as the word is--'Now be ye not stiff-necked, as your fathers 
were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into His sanctuary, 
which He has sanctified for ever; and serve the Lord your God, that the 
fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you' (2 Chron. 30: 8); which 
does intimate a very express, formal, explicit, and positive bargaining 
with God. So then, we conclude it to be an incumbent duty, and an 
approved practice necessary for the quieting of a man's mind, and his 
more comfortable being in covenant with God, and more fully answering 
God's condescension and offer in that great and primary promise--'I will 
be your God, and ye shall be my people.' 
   Not only may and should people thus expressly close with God in Christ 
for fixing their heart; but they may upon some occasions renew this 
verbal transaction with God, especially when, through temptations, they 
are made to question if they have really and sincerely closed covenant 
with God. As they are then to put out new acts of faith, embracing Christ 
as the desirable portion and treasure, and also upon other occasions, so 
it were expedient, especially if there remain any doubt as to the thing, 
that by viva voce and express words they determine that controversy, and 
'say of the Lord, and to Him, that He is their refuge and portion' (Psa. 
91: 2; 142: 5.) We find the saints doing so, and we may imitate them. 
   1. In the time of great backsliding, people were wont to renew the 
covenant with God, and we should do so also. Our heart should go out 
after Christ in the promises of reconciliation with God: for He is our 
peace upon all occasions, and our Advocate; and we are bound to apprehend 
Him so, when we transgress--'If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the 
Father, Jesus Christ the righteous' (1 John 2: 1); and to express so much 
by word, as the saints did in their formal renewing of the covenant. 

(continued in part 9...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-03: gutcgi-8.txt