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this, in relation to the divine administrations in the church, is as evident, both from the theory and the fcriptures, as that there is a heaven above and a deep beneath.
The Scribes and Pharifees queftioned with Christ, feeking of him a fign from heaven, tempting him; but he anfwered, This is an evil generation; they feek a fign, and there fhall no fign be given it, but the fign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was a fign unto the Ninevites, fo fhall alfo the Son of Man be to this generation. Woe unto them, to whom no other fign fhall be given, than that of an immerfion, or a burial in waters!
Section 13. The Ordinances of the Covenant,
A conftitution being made, by the faith of God, and a charter given for the new world; and by his grace through faith, a family or fociety being eftablished upon it; ordinances are inftituted for the proper exercife and regulation of the fociety, agreeably to the nature of its eftablishment. The ordinances now inftituted, together with thofe inflituted before and continued in this adminiftration, commonly called the precepts of the fons of Noah, are feven, viz. the Sabbath, Marriage, the Altar of Witnefs, Sacrifice and Offering, Family Government, Abftinence from Blood, and Inquifition for fhedding of the Blood of Man.
Thefe ordinances have the fame relation
to the everlasting covenant, as right ftatutes or laws of civil adminiftrations have to a civil conftitution. And though the breaking of fuch laws or statutes be an offence against the conftitution, and require punishment; yet thousands fo offend and bring evil upon themselves, and be even cut off from the fociety, and the conftitution remain unaffected, Thefe ordinances, indeed, may be confidered diftinctly as a covenant of grace; as obedi ence to them, by the grace and promife of God, connects with the enjoyment of all the bleffings of the redeemed world; and as difobedience not only forfeits the grace of God, but fubjects the offender to the foreft punishment, yet, they must be carefully distinguished from the covenant conftitution, which is the fource of all grace, as has been confidered particularly in the two laft fections.
The want of clearly diftinguifhing the covenant of the ordinances of grace, from the immutable covenant conflitution of grace, has led to innumerable errors, but they are most clearly distinguishable; the one of these covenants exifts from everlasting, and in its nature is everlasting; the other exifts in time, and in its nature is temporary. The parties of the one are God and Chrift; the parties of the other are Chrift and men. The one cannot be broken, changed, or in the leaft varied, for with either party there is no variableness nor fhadow of turning; the other may be broken, as one party is the mutable creature, and it requires to be varied and changed, as all flatutes and laws of ad
ministration do, with the various flates and difpenfations of a changing world. In relation to the one, the reward of obedience is reckoned of debt; but of the other, it is grace; for the condition of the one was the manifeftation of God, even the Father; but the condition of the other is merely the manifeflation of good will to the great undertaking, and of pleasure in the work. Befides efe, they are diflinguifhable, the one from the other, in a great variety of views.
The diftinction laft noticed, leads to the obfervation, that all thefe ordinances carry us to the fubftance of things hoped for, the eternal fource of grace. The ordinance of the fabbath is the fign or memorial of the reft of God; which, in fubflance, is the reft Chrift entered into, when, having finifhed his covenant-work, he fat down at the right hand of God. See Heb. 4th chapter. Marriage, as we are taught by the apoitle, leads to the doctrine of Chrift, and affis to the difcovery of the nature of the eternal covenant principle. Eph. v. 32. The altar of witnefs records in earth, the name and truth of God recorded in heaven. Sacrifice and offering fets forth before our eyes, the gift of Chrill, and the blood of the everlasting covenant. Ecumenical government, as appointed by God, exhibits on earth the form of the adminiftration of heaven; under this government is feen, in a pattern, the order of the family of God, the arrangement of the household of faith, and the direction of the commonwealth of Ifrael. And the two ordinances refpecting
blood, its being prohibited from common ufe, and blood being required for the fhedding of the blood of man, and nothing but the blood of him that, theddeth it to be accepted; which is, doubtlefs, to be underflood, that the blood of man fhould not be fhed, but for the blood of man.,, Thefe ordi nances, I fay, are evidently, defigned to point out the precioufnefs of the blood of atone, ment. By this relation of the ordinances to the everlasting covenant, it appears that they are all of a facred nature.
And as the ordinances are the vehicle of the exhibition of Chrift in the world, they can ceafe only with day and night, or with the final clofe of every difpenfation. They can no more fail of fupport, or of being adminiftered in the world, than the engage ment and truth of God, that Chrift fhall be exhibited, can fail. However generally infi delity may abound, and men may neglect and tranfgrefs the ordinances; and whatever evil and vengeance fhall come upon this ungod ly world on that account, we may be fure that fomewhere in the world, in fome corner, cave or wildernefs, or in the lonely houfe of the poor widow of fome obfcure Sarepta, the truth of God will have effect, and faith will be inviolably preferved, and a remnant fhall be faved. And though the ordinances, as to their fashion, do neceffarily change with the feveral difpenfations or exhibitions of Chrift, as contemplated in the theory, flili, the doctrine held up in them being Chrift, the fame yefterday, and to-day, and for ever,
they are in fubftance ever the fame. Hence it is manifest, that the order of the priesthood of Melchifedec, being founded in the law of this altar, is unchangeable, univerfal, and perpetual.
Some brief remarks, as we have passed along, have been made upon the folemn nature of thefe ordinances; it may be proper, however, in this place, to notice more particularly that refpecting murder; which, after the deluge, was the most deeply impreffed by the divine declarations that accompanied the ratification of the covenant. And furely your blood of your lives will I require: at the hand of every beaft will Irequire it, and at the hand of man: at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whofofheddeth man's blood, by man fhall his blood be fhed: for in the image of God made he man. Gen. 1x. 5, 6.-This most folemn injunction, undoubtedly, is the origin of that law and tradition of the Avenger of Blood, which has existed immemorially among all the tribes and nations of the world.
In the natural state of fociety, which is, as it were, the family state, the avenger is the brother of the flain, or fome one of his nearest connexion; and he is bound to exact the forfeiture, upon the high penalty of the blood fhed being imputed to himfelf; but in the state of civil fociety, this folemn and most indifpenfable obligation devolves upon the magistrate, or upon the country in its organized state, in whatever form it may be emboed; the magistrate or country fo organiz