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Of Covenants: Covenant Obligation

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  • Jerry
    Covenant Obligation When a covenant is entered into, the parties are bound to perform the duties outlined in the covenant until the duties are discharged, or
    Message 1 of 67 , Oct 1, 2002
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      Covenant Obligation

      When a covenant is entered into, the parties are bound to perform the
      duties outlined in the covenant until the duties are discharged, or
      until one or both of the parties in covenant die. The Scriptures
      teach that this is so even in covenants involving only men – "Though
      it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man
      disannulleth, or addeth thereto" (Galatians 3:15). The marriage
      covenant is an example of permanent covenant obligations, as the
      parties engaged therein are bound one to another until one of the
      parties dies (Romans 7:2). Another example of this is seen in the
      Covenant of Works, under which fallen man stands condemned until he
      is considered dead to it in Christ (Romans 6; Galatians 2:19,20).

      Just as in the case of individuals who have entered into covenant,
      political, national, familial, or ecclesiastical bodies are also
      bound until the duties outlined in the covenant are fulfilled or
      until the parties covenanted cease to exist. This also means that
      progeny can also be bound into a covenant. Take the case of Joshua
      and the Gibeonites, for example. Joshua entered into covenant with
      the lying Gibeonites, promising not to vanquish them (Josh. 9).
      About 400 years later, we find David praying to God, asking the cause
      of the famine in Israel. God's answer: "It is for Saul, and for his
      bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites" (2 Samuel 21:1ff).
      Again, God complains, "The house of Israel and the house of Judah
      have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers" (Jeremiah
      11:10). Though the nation of Israel was split into two kingdoms, yet
      they both were bound by the covenants of their common forefathers.
      Though generations may pass, though none of the people living
      actually swore the covenant themselves, though kingdoms may split,
      the covenant still binds. Those who break it are still counted

      "The principle that covenant obligation binds posterity, is as
      ancient as human society, and has been constantly recognized by men
      and by communities in transactions of a civil kind. Scripture history
      furnishes several apt illustrations. The case of Joseph and his
      brethren is in point. Shortly before his death he exacted from them a
      sworn promise and engagement that, on leaving Egypt, they would carry
      with them his bones for the purpose of interment in land covenanted
      to his fathers. "And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel,
      saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones
      from hence." Gen 50:25. What is the subsequent history of this
      transaction? Did the children of Israel in their haste to leave Egypt
      forget or dishonor the promise of their ancestors? The religious
      observance of the oath is a subject of distinct record by the sacred
      historian. "And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him; for he had
      straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit
      you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you." Ex. 13:19.
      The ground upon which the transportation of the patriarch's bones is
      distinctly put, is the oath taken by the representatives of the
      nation generations prior to their actual removal. Besides, as Joseph
      certainly knew that all his brethren and all that generation would
      die [before] God would visit his people with deliverance, it is
      evident that he must have regarded those immediately addressed by him
      as the representatives of their successors and have considered the
      oath exacted of them as binding on their posterity. The covenant made
      with the Gibeonites shortly after the entrance of Israel into Canaan,
      supplies another apposite illustration. The history of the
      transaction is recorded in the 9th chapter of the book of Joshua, and
      is familiar in its detail to Bible readers. That wily people, by
      pretences and false representations, imposed upon the elders of
      Israel, and induced them to become parties to a league stipulating
      the safety of the Gibeonites, engaging to preserve them alive. The
      Hebrews, on discovering the fraud, expressed dissatisfaction with the
      conduct of their rulers, in that they had acted with culpable
      incautiousness; at the same time as the treaty has been ratified by
      the proper representatives of the nation, the people held themselves
      bound by its stipulations. "And the children of Israel smote them
      not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by
      the Lord God of Israel." There is unquestionable significance, too,
      in the fact that near four hundred years subsequent to the conclusion
      of this treaty, the violation of it by the bloody house of Saul, was
      visited with the severe and manifest judgments of heaven; God thus
      attesting in a manner unequivocal and awful, that He holds posterity
      sacredly bound by the covenanted engagements of their ancestors,
      remote as well as immediate. Analogous to these inspired facts, at
      least in its bearing on the present argument, is the statement in
      Amos 1:9. "Thus saith the Lord, for three transgressions of Tyrus,
      and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because
      they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the
      brotherly covenant." The brotherly covenant, with the violation of
      which the Tyrians were charged, there is reason to suppose, was no
      other than the league that existed between David and Solomon, kings
      of Judah, and Hiram, king of Tyre, and in this view a disregard of
      the principle that covenants bind posterity is expressly adduced as a
      reason justifying, and a crime calling for the infliction of divine
      judgments. There is nothing hazarded in asserting that a denial of
      this principle in its application to civil society, would unsettle
      and overturn its foundations, introduce misrule and disaster under
      every form. Ignore the doctrine in question, and it results that
      national treaties--treaties of amity and peace, treaties of commerce,
      national debts, and every possible form of national contract
      negotiated by one generation, may, without any reason beyond a wish
      to have it so, be disowned and repudiated by the generation that
      follows. A doctrine so pernicious in its tendencies, so baleful in
      its consequences and issues, so repugnant to national justice,
      morality and virtue, cannot be true." – Omicron, 1865.

      Because vows, oaths, and covenants are binding in this way, we ought
      to be very careful not to enter into them carelessly or hastily. The
      time to enquire about whether or not to enter into a bond is BEFORE
      the bond is entered into, NOT after. "It is a snare to the man who
      devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry"
      (Proverbs 20:25). Great care is to be taken prior to entering into a
      solemn bond, for even those entered into in the context of being
      deceived are binding (as in the case of Joshua and the Gibeonites).
      Even those bonds which are hastily and unwisely entered into are
      binding (as in the case of Jepthah and his daughter – Judges 11:29-
      40). If the Scriptures hold forth bonds hastily made as obliging men
      and nations, why would we think that a carefully considered, solemnly
      sworn covenant would NOT be binding?

      Next up: What warrant did the Covenanters have for swearing national

    • Fredrick Fleming
      Jerry: If the King broke the covenant as we see in the anerican Colony Then are the people free to make a new covenant with God, without the King? Declaration
      Message 67 of 67 , Dec 24, 2002
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        If the King broke the covenant as we see in the
        anerican Colony Then are the people free to make a new
        covenant with God, without the King? "Declaration of

        Oh this is does in Opera. *smile
        --- "Jerry <raging.calvinist@...>"
        <raging.calvinist@...> wrote:
        > Next in the series on Covenanter History we'll look
        > at the Third
        > Article of the Solemn League and Covenant:
        > Article 3
        > "We shall, with the same sincerity, reality, and
        > constancy, in
        > our
        > several vocations, endeavour, with our estates and
        > lives, mutually to
        > preserve the rights and privileges of the
        > Parliaments, and the
        > liberties of the kingdoms; and to preserve and
        > defend the king's
        > majesty's person and authority, in the preservation
        > and defence of
        > the true religion and liberties of the kingdoms;
        > that the world may
        > bear witness with our consciences of our loyalty,
        > and that we have no
        > other thoughts or intentions to diminish his
        > majesty's just power and
        > greatness."
        > In this article we see that the Covenanters, far
        > from making
        > themselves enemies of the Government, swore
        > themselves to preserve
        > the rights and privileges of the Parliaments, to
        > preserve and defend
        > the king's person and authority. It is important to
        > note the
        > phrase "in the preservation and defence of the true
        > religion and
        > liberties of the kingdoms." The Covenanters were
        > not swearing
        > themselves to unconditional loyalty to usurpers,
        > tyrants, or public
        > enemies of the true religion. This is an important
        > distinction that
        > we will touch on, Lord willing, a bit later in this
        > series. This
        > article reiterates what was sworn to in the National
        > Covenant of
        > Scotland: "We protest and promise... to defend the
        > king's royal
        > person and authority in defence of Christ's gospel,
        > the liberty of
        > the subject, the administration of justice, and the
        > punishment of
        > iniquity."
        > Thomas Case notes that in this article the
        > Covenanter binds himself
        > to 1)Use the best means to inform himself of the
        > particular rights
        > and privileges of Parliament, the particular
        > liberties of the
        > kingdoms, etc., so that he may 2)Conform himself
        > to what he is
        > informed to be his duty. In other words, we are to
        > gain an
        > understanding of what rights and privileges of
        > government we are
        > swearing to preserve, so that we may best carry out
        > our duty to
        > preserve them.
        > Now, we all occupy various stations in life. And
        > therefore we are
        > not all bound to the same level of understanding of
        > the rights and
        > privileges involved, nor are we all bound to the
        > same manner of
        > preserving them. The Covenanters bound themselves
        > according to
        > their "several vocations." The king, a lawyer, a
        > minister, a
        > farmer,
        > a soldier, may all have varying levels of
        > understanding and varying
        > levels of responsibility in the preservation of the
        > rights and
        > privileges of the civil government and of the King's
        > person and
        > authority.
        > J.W. Shaw explains concerning the Third Article,
        > "In their day, these covenants were charged with
        > being seditious,
        > and
        > subversive of all government; in modern times, they
        > have been opposed
        > as leaning too strongly to kingly government.
        > Neither charge can be
        > sustained. They admit the validity of royal power;
        > their framers
        > understood too well their own rights, and the claims
        > of Christ, to
        > sanction the principle of absolute or irresponsible
        > power. In the
        > National Covenant, the ends and obligations of civil
        > authority are
        > clearly stated and the engagement is to maintain
        > that authority
        > `in
        > defence' of these ends. In the Solemn League the
        > rights of
        > Parliament
        > are put first, and then what relates to the King's
        > majesty: and this
        > they will `preserve and defend' only `in defence of
        > true
        > religion and
        > the liberties of the kingdoms.' They evidently
        > regarded the
        > king,
        > not as a law-maker, but as the executive, and were
        > determined to
        > restrain the royal authority within its proper
        > limits. Their deeds
        > evidently so declare."
        > By "their deeds" Shaw refers to the fact that the
        > Covenanters, at the
        > time of the first swearing of this Covenant, were
        > standing in
        > opposition to the King's attacks against religion
        > and liberty.
        > Later, when the King proved to be an incorrigible
        > and treacherous
        > public enemy of the Church of Jesus Christ and an
        > enemy of liberty,
        > the Covenanters produced the Sanquhar Declaration of
        > War, and
        > excommunicated the King from the Church. Again, we
        > will, Lord
        > willing, look at these things a bit later. For now,
        > here are some
        > Scriptures related to the Christian's duty to the
        > civil
        > authorities,
        > for further study:
        > Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1-7; Tim. 2:1-3; Titus 3:1; 1
        > Peter 2:17.
        > Next up in the series on Covenanter History: Article
        > Four of the
        > Solemn League and Covenant.
        > gmw.

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