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Deuteronomy 29:10-15 -

National covenanting.

This covenant—

I. WAS MADE WITH THE NATION AS SUCH . National covenanting finds modern exemplifications in the Scotch covenants, and in the " Solemn League and Covenant " of 1643-44. Irrespective, however, of the particular stipulations of these covenants, the propriety of such engagements must be pronounced doubtful. The case of Israel can scarcely be pleaded as a precedent. Certainly, were God to reveal himself to any nation now as he did to that chosen race, grant it a revival of religion, give it laws and judgments, and summon it by positive command to an engagement of the kind, it would, as of old, be its duty to obey. Even then: 1. The covenant would involve a remodeling of the constitution of the State. It would be meaningless save on a theocratic basis, Church and State merging in one body, and breaches of covenant obligation being regarded and punished as crimes.

2. The arrangement would require for its successful working conditions of strictest isolation—such conditions as God in his wisdom devised for Israel. The difficulties in the way of such a covenant amount now practically to impossibility. In ancient times, the units of society were families, tribes, nations, the sense of individuality being comparatively weak; now the sense of individuality is strong, and every arrangement must take large account of the individual conscience. In Israel, again, Church and State were one, but they are so no longer, Christ's kingdom refusing to identify itself with any earthly polity. The modern state, based on popular representation, and declining to take cognizance of differences of creed, is least of all favorable to the coalescence of civil with spiritual functions. Oaths are to be deprecated in any case, save where absolutely called for. They ensnare consciences, and lead to profanation by the disregard of them by the irreligious. Large sections of the community must always be left outside of such covenants, and in so solemn a transaction, the right of the majority to bind the minority, and still more to bind posterity, must be questioned. The covenants, in Scotland especially, were the source of great religious inspirations, but the good was not unmixed with evil. On the other hand, the fact of such obligations being freely undertaken by a nation must be admitted to involve it in grave responsibility, and greatly aggravates the guilt of subsequent apostasy.


1. It included children ( Deuteronomy 29:11 ). Whatever may be said of national covenants, it is undoubted that, in the spiritual sphere, parents and children stand in very close relation. The act of a parent, himself in covenant with God, in dedicating his child to God—probably naming the Name of God upon it in baptism—entails on that little one the weightiest responsibilities. It is a child of the covenant, stands within its bonds, and is pledged to love, serve, and worship the God of its fathers.

2. It bound posterity . Covenanting apart, the people that is faithful to God and zealous for his glory, abounding in fruits of righteousness, may expect his blessing to distant generations; whereas the nation that forgets him, and abounds in impiety, infidelity, and wickedness, with equal certainty provokes his indignation, brings down his scourge, and bequeaths to posterity the inheritance of a curse.—J.O.

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