RELIGIOVS COVENANTING DIRECTED, AND Covenant-keeping perswaded: PRESENTED, In a SERMON preached before the Right Honourable Thomas Adams Lord Major, and the Right Worshipfull the Sheriffs, and Alder­men his brethren, and the rest of the Com­mon-Councel of the famous City of LONDON, January, 14. 1645.

Upon which day the solemne League and Covenant was renewed by them and their Officers, with Prayer and Fasting, at Michael Basing-shaw, London.

By Simeon Ash Minister of the Gospel.

When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it, for the Lord thy God will require it of thee, and it would be sin in thee. Deut. 23. 21.
I will bring the sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrell of my Covenant. Lev. 26. 25.

LONDON, Printed by G. M. for Tho. Ʋnderhill at the signe of the Bible in Wood-street. M. DC. XLVI.

TO THE RIGHT HONOVRABLE THOMAS ADAMS Lord Major, AND THE RIGHT WORSHIPFULL The Sheriffs and Aldermen his Brethren, and to the rest of the Honourable Court of Common Councel of the City of LONDON.

THis plain Sermon which attended your service of Covenant-renewing from the Pulpit, comes now from the Presse, in obedience to your command, to do you and the publike some further service. If upon the perusall of that which you heard preached, it may please the Lord to quicken your zeal in Covenant­keeping, I shall have occasion to blesse his Name with a joyfull heart.

The zeal of the Common-Councell of London, in renewing their solemne League and Covenant, rings thorow the severall Counties of the Kingdom of England: and I am confident, that the sound thereof hath been heard in many other Kingdoms: And doubtlesse there are often enquiries, and earnest expectations to hear what Lon­don now doth in the pursuance of their Covenant heretofore taken, and now again solemnly renewed with holy fasting and prayer. A City set upon an hill cannot be hid; your practices have had, and will have strong influences into the severall parts of this Land, and into other Nations: You have formerly and lately done well and wor­thily in respect to your Covenant: I pray God, that your continued holy zeal may affect and fire many in other Countries in faithfull Co­venant-keeping. [Page] God forbid, that you should ever deserve thus to be stigmatized, either by God or men; Their heart was not right with God, neither were they stedfast in their Covenant, Psal. 78. 37.

I shall not need to tell you, that our solemne League and Covenant is despised, devided, aspersed and opposed by too many: for that which you may read in Pamphlets, and hear from some Pulpits and other places, doth make you both eye-witnesses and ear-witnesses of this evil, which should be greatly bewailed. This contradiction, this opposition should increase your gracious heat for your God. Fire gives out the most scorching heat in the coldest weather. It is time for thee, Lord, to worke (saith David) for they have made void thy Law. Therefore I love thy Commandements above gold, yea above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way, Psal. 119. 126, 127, 128.

My soul desires, that according to the guidance of that wisedom which is from above, you all may make the like gracious improvement of the checks and affronts which you meet with, in your Covenant-keeping. By how much the more, any others do plot and practise to hinder the glorious worke of Church-reformation, by so much the more do you consult and act, to expedite and perfect it. By how much the more any others strive and study to maintain Popery, Prelacie, Schisme, Heresie. by so much the more, do you set your selves against such matters, as be­ing destructive to the welfare both of Church and state. By how much the more others designe and endeavour to break the brotherly union between England and Scotland, by so much the more do you lay forth your selves to maintain it. And that your zeal in these kindes may appear to your selves and others to be pure and sincere, let it be your chief and constant care, to reforme your selves and all yours, in every thing, according to the will of God: That you all may in these parti­culars and in all things else, approve yaur selves faithfull both to God and man, in holy Covenant-keeping, shall be the prayer of him, who is

Your servant, in, and for Jesus Christ, SIM: ASH.


PSAL. 76. II. Vow and pay unto the Lord your God.’

THis Text perswades a double duty. 1. To make vows. 2. To pay vows unto the Lord our God. From whence two truths, seasonable for the service of the day, fall naturally, and easily, without forcing, into our consideration.

Doct. 1 That Gods people must make religious vows, as his hand of pro­vidence doth lead them forth thereunto.

Doct. 2 That such vows being made, must be payed unto the Lord our God.

In the handling of the former of these propositions, I shall briefly give you, 1. The explication; 2. The application thereof.

The explication of the point I shall dispatch under these three heads. 1. The Act required, vow. 2. The Agents, or persons upon whom this duty is pressed: This the following words ex­presse. All those that be round about him. 3. The providences, whereby God calleth forth to this practice of making vows.

First, Holy vows are the solemn engagements of the soul unto the Lord, according to his will: If a man vow a vow unto the [Page 2] Lord, or swear an oath, to binde his soul with a bond, Numb. 30. 2. To vow, to swear, and to covenant, are in Scripture phrase equi­valent, importing the same thing, Jonathan made a Covenant with David, And Jonathan caused David to swear again, 1 Sam. 29. 16, 17. Here I may not spend time, in discoursing concerning the severall sorts of vows, which might be spoken to, under these, or such like heads. 1. They are either made to God, or man. 2. Of things necessary, or arbitrary. 3. Explicite, or implicite, mentall, or vocall. 4. Assertory, or promissory. But let it be suf­ficient, that I now suggest thus much: That the Text is to be un­derstood of such vows, as are promissory obligations unto the Lord. And from hence I shall perswade and direct the managing of such vows unto God, as are necessary and openly unfolded to every ordinary understanding, in the solemn League and Covenant this day to be renewed.

Secondly, the Actors in this duty are described to be such, as are round about the Lord. The Psalmist hath reference to Numb. 2. 2. where Israel was commanded to pitch their Tents round about the Tabernacle, which was a signe of Gods speciall presence. And this phrase (as I conceive) describeth Gods people by a double character. 1. Their speciall attendance upon God, their readinesse to receive and obey his commands: As the four and twenty El­ders, are said, Rev. 4. 4. to be round about the Throne, as pres'd to praise the Lord. 2. Gods speciall presence in the midst of them, to hear prayers, and to performe promises, for their preservation and welfare in every kinde; who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God, in all things, that we call upon him for? Deu. 4. 7.

Thirdly, the call unto this imployment I shall note under a five fold providence from the Lord.

1. Sinfull defections from God, that by means of religious vow­ing, his backsliding people might be recovered: Our fathers have trespassed and done that which is evil in the eyes of the Lord our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their face from the habitation of the Lord, and turned their backs. Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burnt incense, nor offered burnt offerings, in the holy place unto the God of Israel. Now it is in my heart (saith He­zekiah) [Page 3] to make a Covenant with the Lord God of Israel, 2 Chron. 29. 6, 7, 10. Thus likewise the people of God resolved in the dayes of Ezra: We have trespassed against our God, &c. Now therefore, let us make a Covenant with our God, Ezra 10. 2, 3.

2. Sad discoveries of divine displeasure, that by holy covenant­ing present judgements might be removed, and future evils pre­vented: The wrath of the Lord was upon Judah and Jerusalem; and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes. For lo our fathers have fal­len by the sword, and our sons, and our daughters, and our wives are in captivity for this. Now it is in mine heart (saith Hezekiah) to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turne away from us, 2 Chron. 29. 8, 9, 10.

3. Famous experiences of Gods goodnesse, that by the right use of religions vows his Majesty may be praised, and his providen­ces improved. The exhortation in the Text was grounded upon some such occasion, as many verses in the Psalme declare: The stout-hearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep, and none of the men of might have found their hands, ver. 5. At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead­sleep, ver. 6. When God arose in judgement to save all the meek of the earth, ver. 8. Hence follows, vow and pay, &c. Interpre­ters judge, that this Psalm was penned, upon Ashurs overthrow, whereupon many brought gifts unto the Lord unto Jerusalam, 2 Chron. 32. 23. according to the advice given in the words im­mediatly following the Text, Bring presents unto him that ought to be feared.

4. Defective improvements (if any improvements at all) of Gods favourable administrations, that by foederall engagements his people might be bettered: These are the words of the cove­nant which the Lord commanded Moses &c. Ye have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes, even in the land of Egypt, &c. The great temptations, and those great miracles: yet the Lord hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear unto this day, Deut. 29. 1, 2, 3, 4. This is propounded as one ground of the Covenant renewed, whereof we reade in the follow­ing verses.

[Page 4]5. Apparent danger of seduction and departure from God. In this regard Gods servants have afresh obliged themselves to his Majesty, for their own establishment and preservation: Ye stand this day before the Lord, to enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, lest there should be amongst you any, whose heart turneth away from the Lord, Deut. 29. 10, 12, 18.

V;se 1 The application of this point followeth; which serves in the first place to informe you of your call to covenant-renewing, the intended service of this day. For give me leave to appeal unto your consciences, Right Honourable, right Worshipfull, and much respected Citizens, whether all the five fore-mentioned parti­culars, do not fully reach you and take hold upon you, both in re­spect of Gods dealings with you, and your miscarriages towards him, since you at first took the solemne League and Covenant. And here I shall make bold to propound unto you some short in­terrogatories, under the five fore-mentioned heads, to which I wish your hearts may returne answers, as in the presence of the All­knowing God.

First, Are you not guilty of sinfull declinings in a great degree from your former engagements unto the Lord? Have you not lost your first love? Have not the matters of Gods house been much sleighted and neglected? Hath not your care to preserve the truth of Religion from corruption been much abated? Have you not connived at the spreading of pernicious errours in this City? Hath not your zeal against schisme and sinfull separations from our Church Assemblies been very much cooled? Is not your love to­wards our Brethren of Scotland in a great measure lessened? Have not your vigorous endeavours to promote the setling of Christs government in our Congregations been wofully diminished? And have you not been lamentably wanting in labouring the thorow reformation of your selves and families? Which of you, hath stri­ven to exceed, to excell others, in advancing the power of godli­nesse in your conversation? Doubtlesse these and such like back­slidings from former engagements, may well warrant your Co­venant-renewing with your God.

Secondly, None of you can be ignorant of the manifold, mani­fest discoveries of Gods heavy displeasure against this poor trem­bling Kingdom. Hath not the Lord delivered us up unto trouble [Page 5] and astonishment, by his severe administrations? How many thou­sands have fallen by the sword of cruell war? What wofull de­solations are made in many Towns, yea Counties in this King­dom, by the prevailing pitilesse enemies? And should not we read Gods wrath against our selves, in the abundance of blood which hath been shed, and the unhappy spoils which have been made in Scotland and Ireland? Besides all this, I pray you consider whe­ther these things do not proclaim and speak alowd Gods anger? Our long looked for reformation in matters of Religion, is still de­ferred: our hopes of the much-needed and much-desired Discipline of Jesus Christ, are still disappointed: the miserable rents and di­visions in families, Congregations, Cities and Counties, by reason of different, yea contrary opinions and practices, in wayes of Re­ligion, are wonderfully increased. And have we not in these re­gards reason to renew our Covenant, that the wrath of the Lord may be turned from us?

Thirdly, God hath often remembred us in our low estate, be­cause his mercy endureth for ever. Who can recount Gods many marvellous works for our safety and comfort? Have not our deli­verances been wonderfull, and many of our victories little lesse then miraculous? How often hath the subtiil enemy been infatua­ted, the strong enemy weakned, and great Armies broken by a little strength? I shall not need here to minde you of the many wonders which Gods Almighty hand hath wrought for us, both in the Nor­therne and Westerne parts. And as for this City, how admirably and unexpectedly hath it been preserved and provided for, in every kinde by the Lord? How many oppressions are we freed from, by Parliamentary authority, through the goodnesse of our God? Therefore besides other presents of praise which God deserves at our hands, we have just occasion to present our selves unto his Hignesse by Covenant-renewing.

Fourthly, Notwithstanding our various and glorious expe­riences of Gods patience and goodnesse; Have we not too much cause thus to complain, that to this day we want hearts to hus­band Gods remarkable providences, to his honour and our own ad­vantage? Who loves God more, or who serves him better, because of the great things he hath done for us? Is our faith in Gods pro­mises stronger? Is our fear of Gods displeasure greater? Are we [Page 6] more zealous for the Lord of Hosts, or more couragious for his truth, against errour? Dare we say that we do our utmost for the speeding of Church-reformation, that we may not be over-run and undone by Sects, Schismes and confusions? Therefore certainly, we have a call to renew our Covenant, to quicken our improve­ment of Gods gracious providences, both to his praise, others pro­fit, and our own further comfort in Christ.

Fiftly and lastly, That we may not fall from our stedfastnesse, we have need to binde our selves yet further unto our God by so­lemne Covenant. Men are wont (as I have heard) to hoop their vessels with iron bonds, in which they carry their stronger liquors beyond seas, that by the tossings in the ship and the liquors working, the vessels may not be broken into pieces, and the liquor lost. And have not we more need to add the bond of a solemne Covenant to the bond of Gods sacred commands, that we may not be broken from one another, nor divided from God in his truths and ho­ly worships, in these broken, erroneons, stormy, tempestuous times?

For 1. Emulation, variance, strife, seditions, heresies, are rec­koned Gal. 5. up, by the Apostle, amongst the works of the flesh, unto which our corrupt natures do strongly dispose us.

2. There are more then a good many of subtle, busie factours in this City, to promote errours, schismes and factions of severall sorts, to draw disciples after them, and to spread their infection amongst people of all rankes and qualities.

3. It is apparent, by too many instances, that divers persons both wise and godly, have been deceived and drawn aside from the wayes of truth, into the by-paths of errour and schisme, and into practices of bitternesse (I will not say of how many kindes) against their brethren. Therefore in this respect, as in those before mentioned, you have just cause to say one to another; Come, let us joyn our selves unto the Lord in a Covenant, never to be forgotten.

Vse 2 Having thus far endeavoured to clear up your call unto Cove­nant-renewing, I now proceed by way of exhortation, to per­swade your regular and reverentiall cautiousnesse in this weighty businesse. Consider the glorious Majesty of God, unto whom vows are to be made; He ought to be feared, as our translation [Page 7] renders the words following the Text: or, He is fear, as the Ori­ginall hath it. In which phrase we have Nomen affectus, pro ob­jecto. God is a dreadfull and terrible Majesty. And this doubtlesse is added, to awe mens hearts, in the undertaking of such like ser­vices. The advice of Solomon upon this ground is more open, Ec­cles. 5. 2. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter any thing before God, for God is in Heaven, and thou upon earth. In which counsell, the wise man hath speciall reference unto vowing, as the following words declare.

Now for your guidance in this great service, I will give you briefly some plain and necessary rules.

1. You must Covenant knowingly. It is thus openly expressed, of them who covenanted in the dayes of Nehemiah, Every one having knowledge, and having understanding, they clave to their brethren, they entred into an oath to walke in Gods Law, Neh. 10. 29. Ignorance doth nothing well: the light of knowledge must guide our whole course. And in this businesse of a sacred vow, it is necessary that men know, both the nature of the duty, and the matter of the federall engagement. No man should be moved by an implicite faith, but every one should be fully perswaded in his own minde. For as in other cases, so in this, whatsoever is not of faith, is sin.

2. Repentance for former offences must precede, and prepare for Covenant-renewing. Thus it was with those, who sealed and sub­scribed the solemne Covenant in the time of Nehemiah, for they assembled themselves to keep a religious Fast (as we do this day) before they entered into the Covenant, Neh. 9. 1. In which exercise deep sorrow for sin was expressed, their particular evils were ag­gravated and largely confessed, themselves were judged, and God was justified in his severe administrations: All these expressions of repentance, are manifest in that 9th Chapter of Nehemiah, which then was the introduction to the Covenant. And doubtlesse if we do not penitently bewail our former violations of Gods com­mands and our own vows, we cannot with acceptation to God, or with comfort in our own hearts renew our Covenant with him this day.

3. Your hearts must go along with your vows. It is said, [...] ▪ Chron▪ 15▪ 15▪ That all Judah did swear with all their hearts▪ [Page 8] And God will not take up with lesse at our hands this day. It is no better then hypocrisie, to lift up hands before God, when the heart is far from him. We must in our judgements approve and resolve upon the payment of our vows, and all our affections, both concu­piscible and irascible, must be upon the wing, according to the va­rious particularities expressed in the Covenant. The soul should with love, joy and longings, worke towards the speedy setling of Church-governement according to the word of God, and towards the maintaining of brotherly union between the two Kingdoms of England and Scotland, together with the more full reforma­tion of our selves and families. And O how should your souls now rise, in holy dislike, in the hatred of, and in indignation against Popery, and all profanenesse, against Heresies, Schisme, detestable Neutrality, and whatsoever else it is, which is against God and the wellfare of these Kingdoms!

4. Our Covenanting must be accompanied with humility. 1. From the sense of our own weaknesses to keep touch with God, in comming up fully to the Covenant; we should lean to his promise, and take hold on his strength: Say, as the Church, Through God we shall do valiantly, Psal. 60. 11. And as the blessed Apostle did; Phil. 4. 13. I can do all things through Jesus Christ strengthen­ing me.

2. And being apprehensive of our own unworthinesse, to receive any ability from the Lord, seeing by our sins, we have enfeebled our own spirits, therefore we should humbly petition for divine assistance. Herein imitate David, who having thus in resolution and promise expressed himself before God, I will keep thy statutes, he immediatly adds, O forsake me not utterly, Psal. 119. 8. The more of the spirit of self-deniall and prayer is in your hearts, when you take the Covenant, the more hope there will be of your keep­ing it afterwards.

5. Come to the Covenant conscientiously. Be not acted only by the appointments, expectations or practices of men in this par­ticular: Let not this be the alone motive upon your spirits; Co­venant-renewing is ordered by the Court of Common-Councel: But rather reason thus; The manifold providences of God before specified, do call unto this service, and therefore we will undertake it. If you respect not God in the worke, you shall lose both accept [...]

[Page 9]6. Covenant fiducially: If your spirits act sincerely, according to the fore-named directions, then be you confident that the con­sequence of this dayes service will be comfortable. Although your weaknesses are many and great, yet if your hearts be herein found upright with God, you may hopefully perswade your selves that the Lord will so far regard his own ordinance, and have re­spect unto the mediation of Christ (the Messenger, the Media­tour of the new-Covenant) that your worke shall be crowned with good successe. You heard before, that Enemy-conquering providences made way unto the exhortation in the Text, Vow and pay unto the Lord your God. And I conceive that the verse following is considerable, being the language of faith; He shall cut off the spirit of Princes, he is terrible to the Kings of the earth: The most potent adversaries of the Church shall be brought down, by holy Covenant-making and Covenant-keeping with God.

Now this lets me into the consideration of my next Doctrine;

Doctr. That vows made, must be paid unto the Lord our God.

Although a vow must not be made a bond of iniquity, and there­fore unlawfull vows rather call for repentance then performance, (as Davids rash revengefull resolution against churlish Nabal.)

Yet such Covenants as we make according to Gods will, we must make good, in conscience to his commandment: Pay that which thou hast vowed (saith Solomon,) Better it is that thou shouldest not vow, then that thou shouldest vow and not pay it. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin, Eccles. 5. 4, 5. The Scribes and Pharisees were but sleighty superficiall Expositours of Gods Law, yet they were wont thus to publish Gods command: Thou shalt not forswear thy self, but shalt performe unto the Lord thine oaths, Mat. 5. 33.

In the prosecution of this plain, profitable, seasonable and neces­sary point, I shall faithfully endeavour three things. 1. To perswade this duty by arguments. 2. To guide this practice by rules. 3. To promote your obedience herein, by some short directions.

The motives whereby we may be induced to make good our honest and holy vows, shall be cast under severall heads, that my Motives. progresse in them, may be the more easie and edifying.

1. From the nature of a vow in generall, and from sundry [Page 10] circumstances considerable in our Covenant particularly.

In generall; 1. All vows are sacred obligations upon our con­sciences: If any (saith Moses) vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath, to binde his soul with a bond, Numb. 30. 2. &c. In this respect the holy Psalmist resolved upon this duty, Psal. 56. 12. Thy vows are upon me, O Lord, I will render praises: And doubtlesse every gracious heart will be sensible of this great spiri­tuall engagement. 2. By means of vows we become Gods deb­tors: Hence it is, that the Text calls for payment, Vow and pay. I here remember the speech of the Prophet unto the poor widow, 2 King. 4. 7. Go sell thine oyl, and pay the debt. And the Holy Ghost gives in this, as a note of a wicked man, Psal. 37. 21. He borroweth, and payeth not again. You Merchants, who have great dealings in the world, would you not be ashamed to appear upon the Exchange, if you were not carefull to pay your debts unto men? Therefore, vow and pay unto the Lord your God.

More particularly, there are sundry weighty circumstances con­siderable, in regard of our solemn League and Covenant, which may worke our hearts unto serious resolutions to keep it.

1. The materials of our Covenant are lawfull and justifiable; we vow to endeavour the extirpation of Popery, Prelacy, Super­stition, Heresie, schisme, profanenesse, and whatsoever shall be found to be contrary to sound doctrine and the power of godlinesse. And have we not good reason thus to do? For have not these things much endangered the welfare both of this Church and Common­wealth already? and will not the indulging of such matters, prove destructive both to our publike hopes and comforts? We vow sincerely, really, constantly, through the grace of God, to en­deavour the reformation of Religion, in Doctrine, worship, Dis­cipline and Government, according to the word of God, and the example of the best Reformed Churches. I shall not need to spe­cifie our engagements, to defend the Kings person and authority in the preservation of the true Religion, to preserve the priviledges of Parliament, as also to continue a firme peace and union be­tween the Kingdoms of England and Scotland. These and other things expressed in the Covenant, are by you Covenanters account­ed just and equall. I remember Davids resolution, Psal. 119. 106. I have sworn and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous [Page 11] judgements. And if we judge the materials of our Covenant righ­teous, we should in that regard lay the greater charge upon our con­sciences to keep it.

2. Our vows are deliberate. The nature of this ordinance hath been unfolded, the severall Articles in the Covenant have been considered of, and therefore the rather to be observed. Rash vows binde conscience, if the keeping of them prove only in inexpedien­cies prejudiciall to our selves, and contradict not any of Gods ever­binding laws. Therefore Solomon calling for the payment of vows, tells people, that they must not thinke to put off that obliga­tion, by saying, It was an errour, Eccl. 5. an inconsiderate oversight. And we all know, that when Israel was bound to the Gibeonites by an oath, through a mistake, being over-reached by a cheat, All the Princes said to all the Congregation, We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel, now therefore we may not touch them, Josh. 9. 19. How then shall we be excused, if our premiditated vows be not performed?

3. We have vowed before many witnesses. Men who stand much upon their credit and reputation in the world, will be taken with this argument. When King Herod was caught in a snare, by his heady vow, and being troubled, because the dancing Damsell demanded the head of John the Baptist, it is said, Neverthelesse for the oath sake, and them which sate with him at meat, he com­manded it to be given her, Mat. 14. 9. Consider how many have seen you lift up your hands unto the most High possessour of Hea­ven and earth, in holy Covenanting: Remember how many thou­sands know that the vows of God are upon you, and be you hereby prevailed with to keep touch with him.

4. Hereto I might add the consideration, both of the multitude of all rankes, qualities, callings in this Kingdom, in Scotland, Parliament-men, Souldiers, Citizens, Divines, &c. who are here­in mutually engaged with us. I might also minde you of the often reiterations and renewings of your vows and Covenants: Doubt­lesse these things will not be sleighted by them who are ingenuous; but I may not insist upon them, having divers other heads of argu­ments to speak unto.

The second sort of arguments to perswade Covenant-keeping, shall be taken from our God, the only true and blessed God, unto [Page 12] whom our vows oblige us. And under this head these particulars are considerable: 1. His Majesty takes exact notice of all such engagements, together with all the circumstances of time, place, companies, occasions, &c. which belong thereto: O God thou hast heard my vows, saith David, Psal 61. 5.

2. His Highnesse well remembers these obligations: The Lord rounds Jacob in the ear with this Memento, I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointest the pillar, and where thou vowest a vow unto me, Gen. 31. 13.

3. He calls for paiment, he will not be taken off from demand­ing his debt in this kinde: When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not be slack to pay it, for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee, Deut. 23. 21.

4. He is the most High possessour and commander of Heaven and earth. The Psalmist layes strength upon this consideration, Psal. 50. 14. Pay thy vows unto the most High. And this thought was prevailing upon the hearts of Jephihah and his daughter, in a case very difficult in a course very crosse to the stream and strength of naturall affection: you all know his vow, therefore I shall not need to name it, but marke I pray you the expressions, both of the father and of his childe, Judg. 11. 35, 36. I have opened my mouth (saith Jephthah) unto Jehovah, and I cannot go back. And she said to him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto Jehovah, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth.

5. He is a most faithfull Covenant-keeping God: He is God, the faithfull God, which keepeth Covenant and mercy, Deut. 7. 9. Although meer mercy move his Majesty to make Covenant, yet will he make it good: How much more should we keep our holy Covenants, which both duty and necessity call us to renew.

6. Although our well-doing, doth not, cannot reach the Lord with advantage, yet his Highnesse will account himself honoured by our faithfullnesse in Covenant: Hence it is, that these two du­ties are conjoyned in the Scripture; Offer to God thankesgiving, and pay thy vows unto the most High, Psal. 50. 14. And Psal. 65. 1. Praise waiteth for thee O God in Sion, and unto thee shall the vow be performed. Consider I pray you, Do we not owe God praise? Do we not pray, Hallowed be thy Name? Will it not be [Page 13] our Honours to set the Crown on his head? Therefore let us all re­solve to performe our vows unto the Lord our God.

The third head of arguments follows to be considered, and it is drawn from the various precious benefits to be received, by con­scientious Motive 3. Covenant-keeping with the Lord our God. 1. Care in this kinde will evidence our effectuall conversion to God. The Prophet Isaiah foretelling the calling of the Gentiles, speaketh thus, The Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation, yea they shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and performe it, Isa. 19. 21.

2. Good Covenant-keepers lye very near unto the Lords warme heart, he loves them dearly: If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my Covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people, Exod. 19. 5. Covenant-keepers are Gods jewels, and all other persons are accounted as the lumber of the world, in comparison of them. Men will adventure much to ingratiate them­selves with great ones; and shall not we pay our vows, that we may enjoy the favour, the estimation of God, whose loving kindnes is better then life?

3. Hence issueth hope to prevaile with the Lord by our pray­ers: The Psalmist having said, Psal. 65. 1. Ʋnto thee O God shall the vow be performed; he adds immediatly, O thou that hearest prayers. And so soon as this counsell was given, Psal 50. 14. Pay thy vows unto the most High, in the next verse, this follows by way of connexion, And call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorifie me. As you desire the audience of your prayers, make you conscience to pay your vows.

4. The sanctification of all our concernments, is a rich privi­ledge appertaining unto honest Covenant-keepers: All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, unto them who keep his Cove­nant, Psal. 25. 10. Gods sweet mercy, in the performance of his promises, runs throug the veins of all his providences for the good of them, who in reference to Covenant, keep touch with him: And who knows fully the worth of this one prerogative; therefore as you desire a share herein, make conscience to pay your vows unto the Lord your God.

5. What need I descend unto any more particulars, seeing all the [Page 14] precious promises of the Covenant of Gospel-grace, are assured up­on them, who are faithfull in Covenant with God. The Psalmist having moved this question, Psal. 24. 3. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, and who shall stand in his holy place? part of his answer is this; He that hath not sworn deceitfully, he shall re­ceive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousnesse from the God of his salvation: Therefore be prevailed with through holy selfe­love and desires of blessednesse, to pay your vows unto the Lord your God.

6. And yet once more give me leave to presse this argument ab utili, upon the hearts of you who are affectionate parents: I know your bowels earn towards your children, and you desire their good, as your own comfort; now be you well assured, that you can take no course, which will be more probable to entaile Gods bles­sing upon your posterity, then this of conscientious Covenant­keeping with God. How admirable and desirable is that promise in Psal. 103. 17, 18. The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting, upon them that fear him, and his righteousnesse unto childrens children, to such as keep his covenant?

These benefits of Covenant-keeping I leave in your bosomes, desiring that through the blessing of God, they may do you good.

I might here mention a further motive, to perswade the paiment Motive 4. of vows, from the sad consequences of falsenesse and unfaithfull­nesse in this kinde. 1. The Psalmist gives in this as a character of a wicked man, Psal. 55. 20. He hath broken (or profaned) his Co­venant. 2. All the sins of men are greatly aggravated by this circumstance, that they are not only transgressions of Gods Law, but violations of their own vows. Thus Solomon brands the adul­terous woman, Prov. 2. 17, She forgetteth the Covenant of her God. 3. Breach of Covenant brings Gods burning displeasure up­on people: This thought did awe Israel, in reference to their rash League made with the Gibeonites, Josh. 9. 20. We will let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware un­to them.

4. Gods anger in this kinde kindled, may bring a consumption upon our hopes and comforts. That Item which the Wise man gives in this case should be seriously minded, Eccl. 5. 5, 6. Better it is that thou shouldest not vow, then that thou shouldest vow and not [Page 15] pay; wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the worke of thine hands? Never were greater works under hand for Church and Common-wealth, in our dayes, or the dayes of our fore-fathers, then are in agitation amongst us at this day; there­fore let us take heed, lest our unfaithfullnesse in our Covenant pro­voke the Lord to dash all our endeavours into pieces, with the dis­appointment of all our golden hopes. Gods curse is annexed unto his Covenant, to enforce the keeping of it. It is said, Neh. 10. 29. They entered into a curse, and into an oath to walke in the Law of God. And the sword of cruell war is drawn by the hand of Di­vine justice, to avenge the quarrel of the Covenant, Lev. 26. 25. This sword of Civil war is eating mans flesh, and drinking mans blood in this Kingdom at this day; and how can we expect that the Almighty should command it to returne into its scabbard, and to be quiet, if we continue carelesse in keeping Covenant? I pro­fesse (beloved) that I have often trembled to thinke upon that dis­covery of Gods severity, in punishing Israel with three yeers fa­mine in Davids time, because Saul had broken the rash vow, 2 Sam. 2 1. which the Elders of Israel had made long before with the Gibeon­ites. For thus I reason, If the violation of an unadvised oath with subtill sinfull men, by the posterity of them who made it, did bring a sore nationall judgement; what then may we expect from the hand of God, for contradicting both by words and deeds, both by opinions and practices, the solemn sacred League and Covenant which our selves have upon deliberation, both made and renewed with man and God? These are weighty considerations, and worthy your often and serious thoughts, unto which many more might be added; but I forbear the enlarging of this subject, because you have so fully been acquainted with this matter, by my Reverend bro­ther,M. Calamy. who hath largely to satisfaction set forth the exceeding great danger of truce-breaking, from 2 Tim. 3. 1. Covenant-breaking makes the times perillous: unfaithfullnesse in Covenant is a Land­destroying, a Kingdom-devouring sin.

Now (my beloved) to summe up all my arguments: If there be in your hearts, 1. Either respect unto the sacred obligation of a so­lemn vow, 2. Or unto the most High possessour of Heaven and earth. 3. If you either prize the promises of his grace, and desire to be partakers thereof through Christ; 4. Or dread the disco­veries [Page 16] of the wrath of the Almighty, and would preserve your selves and your posterity, your selves and the Kingdom from breaking blows of vengeance, pay your vows unto the Lord your God.

These arguments I hope will not be sleighted by you: God for­bid, that matters of so great, so publike concernment, should be disregarded by them, who professe so much zeal and respect to God and to his cause, unto the prosperity of this famous City, and the wellfare both of Church and Common-wealth, as you worthy Citizens have done, and persevere to do: Therefore I proceed in this service, to set down some Scripture-rules to guide you in the Faithfull payment of your vows unto the Lord your God.

Pay your good vows universally: Pay thy vows, saith the Psalm­ist, Rule 1. Psal. 50. 14. All thy vows, none excepted; whatsoever you have vowed according to his word, you must make good according to his command: Thus much is open in the text, vow and pay unto the Lord your God. Take good King Josiah for a president for your paterne in this particular, of whom it is thus said, upon his covenanting with God, 2 Chron. 34. 33. And Josiah took away all the abominations, out of all the countries which pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to swear, even to serve the Lord their God. You see that he spares nothing, no where within the reach of his authority, which might be displeasing unto his God, or destructive to his people. I pray you peruse the particulars to be opposed by vertue of your Covenant, Popery, Prelacy, Profanenesse, Schisme, Heresie; and do not dare to indulge any abomination, which you have vowed to oppose: Take heed that no sinfull biasse of near relations, or any self-advan­tages, take you off from your faithfullnesse in this kinde. The Holy Ghost makes this a character of an heir of Heaven, Psal. 15. 4. He sweares and keeps it, though to his own hinderance: Therefore let not fear of losing a customer, a friend, an office, a good bargain, or any other outward advantage, hinder you in keeping your Cove­nant. I will not further enlarge this head, which I leave to your thoughts, but will conclude the rule, with reading the practice of King Asa in the pursuance of his Covenant, 2 Chron. 15. 16. And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the King, he remo­ved her from being Queen, because she had made an Idol in a grove; And Asa cut down her Idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the [Page 17] brook Kidron. There are Idols of mens heads; and of mens hands, there are Idol-opinions and Idol-practices to be opposed by vertue of our Covenant, and you must beware lest through respect of per­sons, you prove partiall and unfaithfull.

When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not be slack to pay it, Deut. 23. 21. And, thou shalt not defer to Rule 2. pay it, Eccles. 5. 4. I might here speak much to perswade the spee­dy paiment of our vows; hereby your comfort will be increased, and the publike worke of reformation quickned and expedited, your acts will be exemplary and of common influence both thorow the City and the whole Kingdom. How many thousands enquire, what is done in London against Popery, Profanenesse, Schisme and Heresie, in the pursuance of their solemn League and Covenant? The seasonablenesse of an action betters it, doubles it: Bis dat qui citò dat: and I may truly say in the case under hand, Bis facit qui citò facit: ply the work of reformation now it is upon the wheels, and you may do much worke in a little time: principium est di­midium totius; gain-say growing evils, tread upon the Cocka­trice in the shell, oppose those opinions and practices in the bud, in the birth, which if suffered to grow, to live longer, will threaten the peace both of Church and state; by delayes your own guilt will be multiplied and greatened, your hopes of reformation will be enfeebled, and the whole Kingdom endangered: Businesses of ne­cessity call for quick dispatch? and is there any worke of greater concernment, then the worke of your God, in endeavouring your own reformation, and the reformation of his Church according to his word, which is the matter of your Covenant? I remember the words of Moses to Aaron, Go quickly to the Congregation, for there is wrath gone out from the Lord, the plague is begun, Num. 16. 46. And it is said that Aaron did run. Blame me not, but bear with me, I beseech you, if I appear warme, in perswading your speed in acting according to your Covenant, for I speak for the safety of a sinking Kingdom. Are we not all on a flame? which way can you cast your eyes, but you shall see the sparkes of unbro­therly contentions, rising as out of a furnace? Alas, alas, we shall burne into ashes, and from confusions fall into a ruinous heape, if through Gods blessing upon Covenant-keeping-endeavours, our misery be not prevented.

Pay your vows boldly, with so much opennesse, that the wit­nesse of your bonds may be witnesses likewise of your faithfull­nesse Rule 3. in discharging them: The resolution of David is herein imi­table, which he expresseth once and again in the same Psalme, I will pay my vows unto the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the presence of all his people, yea in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem, Psal. 116. 14, 18, 19. Is it any shame for a man to be honest, and to pay his debts? Wherefore then should men be loth to appear in the pursuance of their Covenants? Act so publikely, so couragious­ly for a full reformation according to the word of God, and against Malignancy, Sedition, Heresie, together with all other things de­structive to the welfare of the three Kingdoms, that both City and Countrey may understand your undaunted resolutions to keep Covenant with your God: And if in this way of zeal and faith­fullnesse, you should meet with checks and affronts, make ye that answer unto your opposers, which brave-spirited David made unto mocking Michal, If this be to be vile, I will yet be more vile, 2 Sam. 6.

Keep Covenant with the Lord conscientiously: Have respect unto God in paying as in making vows: My text holds forth this Rule 4. openly, as many other parallel Scriptures, which I have formerly made use of. Whatsoever we do, which is materially comprehend­ed in our Covenant, we should do it, because of the oath of God, Eccles. 8. 2. Do not only intend man-pleasing, or selfe-seeking in the pursuance of your Covenant; be not popular and vain-glorious, but sincere and single-hearted in this service. As in other acts of obedience, so in this of Covenant-keeping, have an eye unto your heavenly father who sees in secreet, and he will reward you openly. God forbid, God forbid that any one of you should act against your brethren with an envious or malicious spirit, under pretence of making good your Covenant. O take heed unto your selves, that you disgrace not this holy ordinance, nor open the mouths of them, who maligne our Covenant, and would upon such like observa­tions, reproachfully asperse both you and it. I will conclude this rule, with the caution given by worthy Nehemiah: Ought ye not to walke in the fear of our God, because of the reproach of our ene­mies? Neh. 5. 9.

Be vigorous in the payment of your vows: The command of Rule 5. [Page 19] God given unto Moses for the guiding of this businesse, is here very considerable, Le [...] 22. 21. Whosoever offereth a sacrifice to accomplish his vow, it shall be perfect to be accepted, there shall be no blemish in it. When you pay your debts to God, bring your best coyn; put not off your light gold to God; imploy and improve your very best for your God; give him the flower of your wise­dom, strength, authority and interests; sit down and consider where your chiefest ability lyes, and resolve with that to pay your vows. Say thus unto your own souls seriously in secret; I will beat mine own brains by study, I will stir up my best friends by importunity, and I will industriously take all courses within the compasse of my generall and particular calling, that my selfe and my family, that this Church and Common-wealth may be reform­ed, and that unity betwixt England and Scotland, may be pre­served according to the solemne League and Covenant: to quicken your care in this kinde, remember those smart words, Mal. 1. 14. Cursed be the deceiver, who hath a male in his flock, and voweth and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and my Name is dreadfull among the heathen. Look to it therefore, I beseech you, thinke not to put God off, with supine, superficiall sleightnesse in Covenant-keep­ing: If you have male-consolations, male-affections, male-en­deavours, male-adventures for other things, God will not ac­cept your female, your cold, faint, feeble actings for him, in the payment of your vows: Therefore if you have any talent bet­ter then ordinary, trade that for your God, in the pursuance of your Covenant.

Keep Covenant with the Lord constantly: I will sing praises Rule 6. to thy Name for ever (saith David,) that I may daily performe my vows, Psal 61. 8. you must not be like those Tenants, who bring in their rents readily, and misse not a day for the first year, but grow carelesse afterward, in making paiment according to their compacts and agreements. The same heat which is in your hearts to day (this day of your Covenant-renewing,) for reform­ation according to Gods word, and against the hindrances and hinderers thereof, must be kept burning in your bosomes so long as you shall live. It is to be bewailed with tears of blood, that the tract of time takes off the fervency of mens spirits for God [Page 20] in the worke of vowed-reformation. How have we lost our first love? How is our zeal for good, and against evil of late abated? The time was, when our Covenant was much in our thoughts, much in our mouthes, when we moved others, and provoked our selves to make conscience to keep it: but now (I am ashamed to speake it,) our Covenant is forgotten, our Covenant is laid aside; yea (O that I had not occasion to add) many repent their taking of the Covenant, and some are not afraid to plead against it: I heartily wish, that the true causes of this great change were well enquired after. My beloved, Is Church-reformation ac­cording to Scripture grown lesse desireable? Are pure ordinan­ces lesse lovely in our eyes? Is there now lesse danger of our un­doing by malignancy, popery, divisions and heresie, then hereto­fore? Remember, I pray you, from whence you are fallen, and do your first works, in reference to your Covenant, the obligation whereof continues upon your consciences. Our God keeps Co­venant to a thousand generations, Deut. 7. 9. Let his example in this particular perswade your constancy. Be not weary of well doing; be not discouraged by disappointments▪ be not beaten off by difficulties, delayes, oppositions; but proceed according to your callings and conditions, to promote that blessed reformation which is under hand: In due time you shall reap, if you faint not; Finis coronat opus; Be you faithfull in your Covenant unto death, and you shall receive the crown of life.

I have done with my Rules; now give me leave to give in some few helps that you may act accordingly, and I will con­clude all.

That you may be able to keep touch with God in point of Cove­nant, take these very short directions.

1. Worke well into your hearts the knowledge of all the fore­mentioned Directions. particulars produced to perswade Covenant-keeping: A wise man (saith Solomon) is strong, yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength (or strengtheneth might,) Prov. 24. 5. Scri­pture-truths clearly understood, convey according to Gods Ordi­nance, spirituall abilities into the souls of men to act accordingly; As the warme beams of the summer sun administer vivacity to the creatures, both vegetative and sensitive: Therefore I humbly ad­vise you, to put your selves often under the power of those truths, [Page 21] which may convince you of the necessity and equity of paying your vows unto the Lord your God; and I doubt not, but by means of serious meditation, you shall finde more activity herein to do your duty: While I was musing (saith David) the fire burned, Psal. 39. 3. The bellows of meditation will produce the flame of zeal, out of the small heat of holy desires to keep Covenant with God.

2. Act conscientiously, according to that measure of strength which you have received. We all know by experience, that exer­cise increaseth bodily strength, and questionlesse Christians finde the truth hereof in their souls. Solomon assures us, Prov. 10. 29. The way of the Lord is strength to the upright: The further we walke on in the wayes of faithfullnesse with God, and for God, the more able we shall be to make good our foederall engagements un­to his Majesty. Do you not all remember that famous story of the well-minded widow, lamenting her inability to pay her debts, whose little stock of oyl was multiplied by pouring forth, 2 King. 4. I beseech you make a spirituall improvement of this experi­ment; give out those gifts, graces, which you have received in the paiment of your vows, and be you confident of increase: In this sense habenti dabitur; trade your two talents, or your five for your Masters use, and they shall be doubled, arise and be doing, and the Lord will be with you. Many of you know to your comfort, that a small stock traded, is grown up to a great estate; I pray you make practicall application.

3. Minde your selves, and minde one another often of your so­lemne Covenant: This was Gods own direction in this case, 2 King. 17. 39, The Covenant which I have made with you, ye shall not forget. Among men, many promises are not performed, because they are not remembred: And so it is likewise in many of our obligations unto God, forgetfullnesse is sometimes one cause of some unfaithfullnesse. The Psalmists connexion, Psal. 103. 18. is considerable; Those that keep his Covenant, and those who re­member his Commandements to do them. There is an Order of Parliament, requiring Ministers to reade the solemne League and Covenant in the Congregation, upon our Monethly Fast dayes; And I humbly move, that there may be an Order of the Common-Councel of this famous City, that the Covenant which you this [Page 22] day renew, may once at least in every quarter of the year be read amongst you; by means hereof, you would be quickned to appear both jointly and severally, in courses to promote both private and publike reformation according to your Covenant.

4. Seek strength from Heaven, by faith and prayer: The holy Apostle, holding up to Jesus Christ by humble confidence, could say, I can do all through Christ strengthening me, Phil. 4. 13. And the Psalmist makes this report of the successe of his prayer; In the day when I cried, thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul, Psal. 138. 3. Your selves best know, wherein Covenant-keeping sticks most with your selves, you are acquainted with your own remoraes, your own difficulties in this service. Consider that your helpe lies in the Lord your God, therefore fetch it thence by fervent believing prayers; plead the promises of Gods Covenant with you through Christ, that you through him may be able to deal faithfully, to do wor­thily; and be you confident that the Lord will ne­ver be wanting unto the soul which seeks him in truth, He hath not said to the house of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain.


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