Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33

Judah’s Joy at the Oath:

A Sermon to Encourage Christians to Embrace

England’s National Covenant, 1641.





the 2 Chro. 15, 15. for Englands example

in embracing the Parliamentary Covenant

with readineſſe and rejoycing.




Publiſhed by order of the Houſe of Commons.

PSALME 76.11.

Vow and pay unto the LORD your GOD.


Printed by R. Oulton for John Bartlet, and are to be

ſould at the ſigne of the gilt Cup by Saint

Auſtins Gate, 1641.

TrueCovenanter.com Editor's Introduction.

The following sermon is offered as a specimen of English Puritan preaching in favour of Covenanting, the promotion of a Covenanted Reformation, and particularly in the cause of the English Parliament’s Covenant of 1641.  As this document was recently uploaded, with a brief description of the circumstances and with reference to historical resources, the reader is therefore left to consult the documents themselves for information and in order to form an opinion thereof, or apply what is learned for use in modern times.



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Right VVorſhipfull NATHANAEL STE-

PHENS Eſquire, one of the Knights of Parliament,

for the Country of Gloceſter: Grace and peace in



YOur courteous intelligence touching the Parliamentary Vow, occasioned these meditations presented unto you: It is our Office to communicate the good which we our selves are partakers of. That good news much refreshed me, & I thought it my duty to comfort others with the same consolations, that endeavor wanted not present fruit, some expressing present Joy, and very many quickly Joyning in so good a work.  [ The next day after the opening of this text there entered into the Protestation above 400 of the Inhabitants of the Towne of Tewkesbury.This encouraged me to make more common, what was first provided for a few, and then I could think of no fitter Patron than your self, not only for your long continued, and great respect to me, but especially because this, whatsoever it is, had its first rise occasionally from you: I expect not this should add any light to you, but to others it may, and to you life. The work you have in hand needs much encouragement, not only in regard of many difficulties which require Industry, but many affronts, and censures, which need patience to digest them, and some congratulations to balance them: the best need Encouragement: And respective expressions even of Inferiours {} sometimes enliven Superiours in place and grace.  When Paul saw the Brethren’s respect in meeting him; Acts 28.15, he thanked God and took courage.  This Treatise may a little discover unto you, what good acceptance your Endeavours find with the best affected; They rejoice in you, bless God for you, and this I hope will make you with Paul, thank God, and if not add to, yet confirm your courage for all good causes whatsoever the effect be: that is the aim, and shall be the continual and earnest prayer of him who is

Yours, much obliged in the Lord Jesus,


From my Study in Tewkeſ-

bury, Maii 24, 1641.





2 CHR. 15.15.

And all Judah rejoyced at the Oath.

TO be civilly wise (they say) it is requisite that we not only study Books, but men: Experience of the dispositions of men being no less necessary to complete prudence, than the rules of wisdom,—but he that would be wise to salvation, needs but the study of GODS Book; which God hath so contrived, that in studying it, we study men also: For it contains not only hagiographa, holy writings [2 Tim. 3.15], holding forth precepts of divine wisdom, but historica deciphering the tempers and dispositions of all men in Spiritual matters, that it may {} make us expert to work, and win upon them, when we are to deal with them in Spiritual things.  And as all sacred stories conduce to this holy prudence, so none more than these of Chronicles, and yet some it may be, may count them superfluous, because in many things so jumping with what we read in Samuel, and Kings; but that Argument is as strong against Deuteronomy, and 3 of the Evangelists, as against this of Chronicles.  Besides, this is not a bare repetition, but with weighty supplements.  After David’s possessing the Kingdom of Israel, there were some Additions to the Ordinances of Moses, and that more than of mere order, as Musick?  This might have bred scruples in the minds of men, that this was a usurpation by David; or governors have more power of adding to the Ordinances of God, than other Scriptures allow them, had not the story of Chronicles informed us that the rise of this Addition was the command of God by his Prophets, 2 Chro. 29.25.  Furthermore between the former stories and this, there is this remarkable difference: These after the division of the Kingdoms into Israel and Judah, are exact in the story of the Kings of Israel, and touch Judah’s story lightly: on the contrary, Chronicles touch Israel’s story obiter [by the way], but that of the Kings of Judah at large, as may appear by this one story of Asa, which in Kings is comprised in a few verses of one, but here comprehends 3 whole Chapters; Two of which set forth his excellency, the third his infirmity: the one for imitation, the other for caution; the one teaching what we should be, the other what after a long profession we may come to be, though we belong to God, that we may neither be secure of our standing, nor austere in our censures.  In the first {} Chapter is set down his carriage in war, and peace; In peace there is declared his piety and policy.  His piety is commended verse 2, proved verses 3-5; it was complete in putting away evil, and setting up good, and that by command.  Things thus settled, lest Asa should Act Rehoboam’s part, and forsake the Lord, Zera is sent with a mighty Army, to try and exercise his graces; Asa makes preparation, but relies and prays to God, and becomes victorious.  This done he returns, and while their hearts were warm with fresh mercy, Azariah who knew how good a word is, spoken in due season, comes in the Spirit of the Lord, and strikes while the Iron is hot, and gives good counsel, shewing in God’s way, what help they should still find; amplified by the contrary in Israel, forsaking God, and thence he infers a strong exhortation, verse 7. The Son it seems was seconded by the Father, which did so work on the good King that his heart is lifted up in the ways of God, and sets to a more thorough Reformation, puts away the Idols (Idols should be put down as well as Idolatry) and he made this reformation as large as his dominion, and that with great success: God doth use to prosper that courage that is from him, and for him, stirred and directed by his word, and tends to his glory.  The people assemble, offer first their Cattle in Sacrifice, and then themselves in Covenant, make a league offensive, and defensive with God, and that with abundance of affection, as appears, verse 19, and not only in, but after the doing as you hear—And all Judah rejoiced at the Oath.

Joy is the enlargement of the heart for some present good.  This Covenant joined with an Oath, was apprehended as a Spiritual good, so they rejoiced. {} Here’s then,  (1) An affection: Rejoiced;  (2) The Subject, Judah with its extent: All Judah;  (3) the Object: The Oath, the Covenant, for cleaving to the true God & true Religion.  This is registered for our learning: hence then,


All that are truly Godly, should rejoice at a National Covenant, made for the suppressing of the false, and the preservation of true Religion.  2 Chro. 30.21,23.  We see joy at the restoration of Religion, then how much more when it is done by Covenant,—yea, after they counselled to keep other 7 days (not another Passover) but to spend seven days in the service of GOD, and who knows whether this counsel were not such as Ezra’s by Covenant, Ezra 10.3. It’s most probable it was, and it was with joy; however we may argue a maiori, so also from that of the Psalmist Psalm 122.1. But more full to our purpose is that [in] 2 Chro. 23.16,17, where you have the Covenant, the fruit of it, and how it was entertained with joy, verse 21. So 2 Chro. 29.10. And this was not personal, but without question National: He did it as a King, and so the Kingdom with him, as appears by the Issue, verse 20.  The Elders go along, verse 28: there’s a Congregation, and was not this with joy? See verses 25, 28, 30, 36.

Reason 1.

Because this is a sign of the graces of God, not only residing, but excelling in the people of God: To keep up Religion in purity, requires grace, but to renew it & that by Covenant argues zeal and undaunted and unconquered resolutions, as it was said of Jehosaphat, 2 Chro. 17.6, his heart was lift up in the ways of God, carried on the grown wings of Faith and zeal over all impediments.  And should not we rejoice in this, to see such signs of grace in a Kingdom?  I am sure {} had we David’s Spirit, we should, 1 Chro. 29.9.  See what joy there was for that one discovery of good affection to God, Phil. 4.10.  The Apostle rejoiced greatly, that their care of him did flourish again, not for the profit he reap’t, but for the grace they shewed in such a National Covenant; mens care of God doth flourish again, care of his service, and should not we much more rejoice? sure we should, and will if we be not wicked, and so hating grace, or proud and envying it, which far be they from us.

Reason 2.

A National Covenant for reformation, is an excellent means of reformation, of suppressing the false, and setting up the true Religion, so it is to be rejoiced at.  That it is a means of reformation experience may shew.  Where ever was it undertaken that it failed? See here in Asa, in Hezekiah, in Joash, or Jehoiada’s time, when this was made, Idols and Idolatry went presently down, and the service of God as fast up, see 2 Chro. 15.16, and 2 Chro. 23.17,18, and 29.10,35,36, and 34.31,32,33. So Ezra 10.3,5,17.  And how should it be otherwise? For entering into Covenant shews zeal, courage, and resolution, and when it is National, there is outward strength added to strength of Spirit, and what can let? 2 Chro. ult. [31.21], he did it with all his heart, and prospered.  When men Covenant, they do it with all their might, and will prosper: when men come to this to renew their Covenant with God, he will renew his Covenant with them, and bless their undertakings.  And if God be with us, who can be against us? Josh. 1.5,6.  There be two promises made to Joshua, one subordinate to the other: The main the Apostle makes common, and with the same reason we may infer the latter; the {} Condition is this, verse 7.  Be strong.  Now the Covenanting shews this strength of Spirit or resolution, and therefore all lets come down, and reformation will come up; and if reformation be effected, then there is cause of joy.  Reformation is a thing that the people of God have always and should rejoice in. Nehem. 8, the restoration of one ordinance what joy it caused, verse 17.  So likewise, 2 Chro. 30, and if any thing be cause of joy, Reformation is: That which removes causes of sorrow, and brings many causes of joy, that will be rejoiced in.  But this reformation doth, It removes causes of sorrow, for it removes sin, It’s an healing of our backslidings, which is cause of sorrow, so of all corruptions in Religion. Now what cause of sorrow these be, see Ezra 9.3. Pet. 10.1. [?: 2 Pet. 1.4.] Ezek. 36.33. It removes fears, and fear hath torment, 1 John 4.18. When we are in our sins we have cause to tremble at the threatenings, as Ezra 9.3,4. It removes Judgments, so Hezekiah aimed and found, 2 Chro. 29.10, and 2 Chro. 15.2-5.  Again, it brings causes of joy: For hereby God is glorified, God is exalted, who was before neglected: false worship is provocation, giving his glory to another, going a-whoring; Reformation is a setting up his word for rule, and giving him the worship he requires. Now when God is glorified, should not we rejoice? Psalm 97.1. Psalm 42.10. He that was so wounded at God’s dishonours, would not he as greatly rejoice at God’s glory? without question, and nothing else was the cause of the joy. 1 Chro. 29.9.  Again, the good of men’s souls is furthered, for hereby men are brought into the way of life and salvation, Poison is taken out of their food, leaven out of their services, their Souls {} will be edified, services respected, persons saved, and that we should rejoice in: There’s joy in heaven, for this, if for one soul, much more for many, Acts 11.18.  3. This is the way to prosperity, to have God bless us in all we put our hands unto, for now we keep Covenant with him, he will likewise keep Covenant with us, and that is to bless us in all we put our hands unto. Deut. 28.  So 2 Chro. 15.15.  And so in Hezekiah’s time, the Land recovered its pristine honour, and strength lost by wicked backsliding Ahaz.  So then there is great cause to rejoice in a National Covenant of Reformation, because it will produce Reformation which is comfortable many ways; It’s the regeneration of a Nation.

Reason 3.

A National Covenant is a thing that in time of need all Godly hearts do earnestly desire and pray for, therefore they will rejoice at it; they see the need of it, because without it the work will not be done.  The opposites while the standers for purity stand single, are too hard for them, by some way or other, they see the use of it in examples as hath been laid out, they see it is an ordinance of God, and being regulate by the word, they cannot but desire, and pray that God would stir up the hearts of men to it. How often have you in this place heard and joined in prayer with this Petition, that God would move our Sovereign with Josiah, to bring us into a Covenant of reformation.  Now what we pray for, we should praise God for, and can we praise God for that we joy not in; The denying or prolonging of the desire is harsh, but the granting of it, is as the tree of life, most refreshing and strengthening, Prov. 13.12.  All then that have had so much goodness as to desire it, and pray for it, must needs rejoice in it. {}

[ What a National Covenant is ]

Now if you inquire what a National Covenant is: it is a Bond wherein a Nation joins together to bind themselves to God and one another, for the promoting of any public good.  Now this is done in divers forms, sometimes by way of single vow, promise, and Protestation; sometimes there is added an Oath, as here there was, for that which is called a Covenant, verse 12, is here termed an Oath, verse 15.  Yea sometimes there is further expressed a curse against those that will not enter or fulfill it. Nehem. 9.29. [10.29.]  All kinds bind firmly, they differ only in degree, Heb. 6.17,18.  Word, and Oath, are said to be two things which for God to break is impossible, and then for man to break either, must be dishonest and damnable.  Thus for proof.

1. This is useful, first for information, and it may inform us of 2 things,  1. What cause we have in this Nation, of joy, yea of great joy.  May not I as the messenger of the Lord of Hosts, say unto you as the Angels? Luke 2.11, Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people; for in our Nation now is formed a National Covenant against corruptions, and for Reformation.  A Nation is either Collective, or Representative: The Parliament is the Nation representative, and so the whole Nation hath taken it; not one of the house of Commons or Peers who were present refusing: The Peers also subscribing it with their hands, according to that expression Isaiah 44.5, or as in Nehemiah’s [9.38] time they set to their seals.  And this they have published partly for our consolation, partly for our imitation, and have we not in this cause to rejoice? May not Israel rejoice in those that made it? and the Children {} of Sion be joyful in their Parliament, who have begun so good a work?

2. This may shew us, that it is our duty to enter into this Covenant.  That as this Covenant is already by the Act of the Parliament National representative, so it may be National Collective by the Act of every subject in particular.  Ought we not to do that which is matter of joy to the Godly? If it be so bad to make the hearts of the godly sad, and of the wicked glad, Ezek. 13.22, Is it not very good to make the godly glad, and damp the wicked?  Our entering into Covenant will do it. Nehem. 10.28,29.  When the Nobles went before, all that were of understanding, entered into Covenant after them.  Our Nobles have gone before, both noble in blood, and in Office, and ought not we now to follow? he that joys not at the Covenant, is condemned by this text, and he that joys and joins not, will be condemned of himself.

Objection. But it may be some out of ignorance of the nature of this work, may scruple touching the lawfulness of this present bond, for whose satisfaction these Arguments following may suffice.

1. That which is set before us in the approved examples of Scriptures, and hath been in use in famous Churches and Common-wealths, that may lawfully be undertaken by Christian people: But such is this Protestation for the maintenance of true Religion, therefore it is lawful.  In the days of Asa, 2 Chro. 15.12, and of Josiah, 2 Chro. 34.31,32, of Ezra chapter 10.3, and 5, [and] Nehemiah 9.38.  In all these times they made a Covenant for the maintenance of Religion in its purity, according to the word: So in the Kingdom of Scotland 1580 and 81.  So in our Kingdom to maintain {} the privileges of Magna Charta: Therefore this present bond hath good ground for it.

Objection. The Covenants of Scripture flowed from the King.

Answer. Not all, as that in Ezra’s time, and Nehemiah’s, when they were under foreign power, yet they Covenanted his inconsultis.  Secondly, Num. 30, we read, vows may be made by those under Authority, only superiors have power at the first notice of them to reverse them.  But their silence is consent: for our Sovereign’s suffering is approving, and confirming: besides it cannot be imagined that such things as are so unanimously consented to by both Houses, should not be approved by the King, and the Protestation itself is Printed by the King’s Printer.

2. A Covenant or vow, is an Ordinance of God, for the help of human frailty, to keep us fast to the performance of any necessary duty which we have or are prone to recede from: whence thus I argue; an Ordinance of God undertaken by fit persons on just occasion is lawful, but such is this vow or Protestation, therefore it is lawful.  Persons fit for a vow, must be such as are sui Iuris, that is, free, or at least sui juris, in regard of the thing vowed.

Objection. But here the doubt ariseth, how Subjects that are under a King, can be sui Iuris, and so be free to Covenant, especially in such a thing, wherein there is possibility that their King may be their opponent, by such evil advice, as hath of late been given him.

Answer. One may be sui Iuris, & free in one respect which is not so absolutely, as a servant that hath an estate free to himself, though he be not sui iuris, in respect of his person, and so cannot make a vow to engage it, yet he is {} sui Juris, free in regard of his estate, and may by vow engage that.  Now though we be Subjects, we be free Subjects, under the protection of Laws, which measure our subjection, and our Sovereign’s dominion according to which the King is bound by oath, and equity to govern, receiving his Crown on these terms: whereby it appears, that though the Subjects of England be not sui Iuris absolutely, yet are they so in what the Laws tie them not to subjection. Now in this Protestation we Covenant only to maintain things established by Law, and that in legal ways, and to resist illegal pressures, and therefore in these things we are free to make a vow or Covenant: besides it is to be observed, that this Covenant is made by the Houses of Parliament, the highest Court in the Land, who have power to consult and decree whatever is according to Law for public weale, and by them we are, though not commanded, yet permitted, yea invited to enter into this Covenant, and therefore have freedom to enter into it.  And as the persons are fit, so are the occasions just, for what is a just occasion of a vow or Covenant, to performance of any thing, but human frailty and corruption manifested in former violation? as in Hezekiah’s and Josiah’s time, the Apostacy to Idolatry occasioned the Covenant against it: so likewise in Ezra, and Nehemiah’s time, former deviation produced the present Covenant to prevent future, and res ipsa loquitur, yea clamat, what gross deviations in all the particulars may justly require a Covenant that we may be more strong to prevention.

3. Such bonds as are neither against Law, conscience, nor prudence, may be lawfully entered into: But {} such is this Protestation, therefore it may lawfully be entered into.

1. This bond is not against law, because it is only for the maintenance of the law, and the prevention of oppressions and Innovations against Law, and by lawful means, and in such a way as is forbidden by no law, therefore there can be no illegality in it.

2. Nor is it against conscience, because it binds to nothing unlawful,—that bond only is against conscience, which is a bond of iniquity: Now this binds only by good means to prevent corruptions in Religion, and oppression in civil liberties or persons for standing for them, wherein if the persons to be opposed be sometimes governors, we are bound to oppose not their Authority, but their Lust, not to hinder their Government, but their Tyranny, which we are not bound to submit to; and it’s their honour, and safety, that it should be hindered rather than furthered; it’s better to have power curb’d, than to abuse it: It’s better and rather to be chosen of a conscientious Christian, not to be a King, than to be a Tyrant.

3. Nor is this bond against Prudence,—but this is the hardest task to demonstrate, because it hath not such fixed rules, yet we may prove it thus: That bond which is in matters of weight answerable to the engagement needful and possible, that is not against Prudence: But such is this present Protestation, therefore it is not against Prudence.

[3.]1. This is in matters weighty, as in matters of Religion, for which if we prefer the soul and the glory of God (as all ought to do) before life and all outward things, we may enter into the strongest engagements: so for the King’s person, estate, and honour, {} they that rightly esteem the work and care of Sovereignty for the Subject, and thence the bond of respect from the Subject to the Sovereign, will judge that they ought not to think any thing too dear to engage for the safety of the King and his regal State and dignity, and for the liberties of Parliaments, and of Subjects,—he that considers that in these the comfortable enjoyment of all we have is involved, will think nothing too much to engage for the maintenance of them; so for mutual defence, if any suffer for a common cause, all suffer in him, and therefore should stand for him as for themselves, and for bringing to punishment the opposers of these, this is as weighty as the things themselves which cannot otherwise be maintained, but by suppressing those which undermine them.  And lastly, for the peace of the 3 Kingdoms, they being now as it were one, the division of them is the way to ruin, and so the whole matter of this Protestation is most weighty.

[3.]2. This bond was needful, for these things have been so violated, and the violation and the violators so strengthened, that the friends of these privileges have not been, nor would in likelihood be able to maintain them, unless strengthened by such an unviolable Bond of union.

[3.]3. This Bond is a probable means to effect the thing Covenanted: If it were impossible or improbable, then it were a certain or likely share which Prudence would dissuade, but it’s neither, there be so many that have so great and cordial engagement in the things themselves, both Religion, Liberties, and Concord, that if they do unite, the opposites are no considerable part, so that the friends of these things {} want nothing to make them prevalent but union, which this Covenant confirming, is a most probable means to make able for the things Covenanted.

Objection. But what if some fall off, or enough will not come in, or these things should be opposed by foreign force?

Answer. If so many should fall off, or that so great force should oppose that the parties Covenanting could not by force maintain the things Covenanted, I conceive the intent of the bond then is not to tie men to run on certain ruin, but to maintain these things in a prudential way, to venture state and life, when there is probability such adventure may effect the thing, or else to wait for an opportunity when it may, and not to be drawn by any means fair or foul, from this purpose or resolution.

Objection 2. A man by this Covenant may be engaged to further the punishment of his Father, Son, or dearest friend, and is not that a snare?

Answer. In matter of seducing from the true to false Worship, the case is clear, we must bring any to punishment, how near or dear soever, Deut. 13.6-10; which may be confirmed by that of our Saviour, Matt. 10.37, He that loveth Father or Mother more than me, is not worthy of me, and he that loveth Son or Daughter more than me, is not worthy of me:  And in case of public weale, if any persist enemies to it, and will not be reclaimed, affection to the Country, and community must overrule natural and private affection. Cicero in his third book of Offices (a precise book for matter of Justice) moves certain cases of this nature, and concludes that though the things be most heinous, if they reach not further than some present damage, {} as in the robbing of Churches or the Treasury.  A Son conscious should be silent,[1] but if his Father affect tyranny, or would betray the Country when the things tends to the ruin of the Common-wealth, then he must prefer the safety of the Country before his Father, and further his punishment, and this resolution is rational, therefore the persons we Covenant against, being such as endeavor what tends to the ruin of the Common-wealth, the Father, and so all of kin, if they will not be reclaimed by warning, may by us be furthered to punishment.

Use 2.

This is useful likewise for trial, whether we be true Jews, true friends to Religion, yea or no: All Judah rejoiced at the Oath: They then that rejoice not at our National Covenant, are not of Judah, not true Israelites in whom there is no guile, [John 1.47]: Were they (if they mistake it not) they would surely rejoice, Psalm 126.1,2.  When the Israelites had their Captivity returned, they were even transported with joy.  This Covenant is a kind of returning of a Spiritual Captivity under which our Religion and Religious men have been. And can we choose but rejoice?  The Parliament are about to enact that the taking or refusing of this Vow shall be a Touch-stone to discover who in profession be of us, who against us; who of Israel, who of Amaleck; But this text will be a closer discovery. [In] Rev. 2.9, & 3.9, there is speech of some that say they are Jews and are not, but of the Synagogue of Satan; in shew with the Jew, in substance with Satan: so some there be that be in word with us, in heart with Rome. Now these will take the Protestation (if urged) so that cannot discover them, but they will not rejoice in it, they will not be Cordial, this will convince them: A Jew indeed {} will not only take it, but rejoice at it, he that loves a thing will rejoice at the promotion of it, and no man is Religious indeed, but he that loves Religion, 2 Thess. 2.10.  Now this Covenant is a means to promote Religion. Never did Shibboleth better distinguish an Ephraimite than this Joy an Hypocritical professor of our Religion. He may offer to take the Protestation, but he will say but shibboleth, he will lispe, he will not speak out cordially, rejoicing at the Oath, & so is laid open.

Use 3.

This is for reproof of such as do not joy at the Oath, at our National Covenant, that have not their hearts enlarged with consideration of the graces of God shining in our Parliament-men, with the hopes of the flourishing of Religion, to see the expectation of Papists utterly dashed: be not these matters of greatest joy? Are you not then like those that dream [Psalm 126.1], doubting whether these things be so, because they are so transcendent?  If not, if you want Joy, then tell me where is your zeal for GOD? Where is your love to Religion? See you not your desires fulfilled, your prayers returned, and are you yet heart-bound? What will then enlarge you?  Our Brethren of Scotland when they renewed their National Covenant, they of them especially that had seen the making, the breaking, and renewing of their National Covenant, wept as fast for joy at the renovation, as ever they had for grief at the breach of the Covenant.  And shall we have no enlargement of heart? what shame, what sin is this?  When we bring a man some special thing which we suppose he highly prizeth, If he look disdainfully, nay carelessly upon it, we will presently repent that we have done it for him. Is not this Covenant a mercy that God looks England {} should prize?  Will not sleighting of it, in not being affected with it, show an unworthiness of it, and make God blast it, curse it?  Oh then let them be grieved and ashamed that joy not in it: It shews a cold Spirit, a carnal Spirit, not like that of the godly, whose praise is in the Scripture.

Use 4.

Hence we may draw a threefold Exhortation,  1. To rejoice in this Covenant: was there ever such a work in the Church without joy? Let not us degenerate.  Do you love God? Rejoice to see him glorified.  Do you love the Parliament? Rejoice to see their zeal and other graces flourish.  Do you love your selves? Rejoice to see salvation coming to you.  Do you love the Nation? Rejoice to see God’s displeasure removed, his favor procured, fear of judgments vanishing, peace and prosperity approaching.  Do you love your Brethren? Rejoice that the evil shall be restrained, the weak preserved, the good protected.  If Ministers now be silenced against Law for Preaching down Innovations, or people vexed for refusing subjection to them, they may go to any Peer or Parliament-man, and by his National Covenant (he himself having first taken it) require and enjoy his assistance, to be righted, and to have his oppressing persecutor punished, whatever he be, layman or Prelate: Nay if thou canst not look so high as these Spiritual considerations, yet our Covenant is such as may make thee glad: For if any shall now come upon thee with unlawful taxes, will strain thy goods, imprison thy person, &c. thou mayst go to any Peer or Parliament-man, and by virtue of this, require assistance: and is not here cause of joy?  Oh then be joyful all the People of the Land, and serve the Lord with gladness.  But because it is the work of our Office, not to have dominion over your faith, but to be helpers of your joy, {} 2 Cor. 1.24, Give me leave to lay down a few means to further this joy in you.

Means 1.

Then ponder the benefits of this Covenant. It’s the head that must move the heart,—holy motions flow from holy notions: the more you apprehend and ponder the cause of any affection, the more it stirs: what the eye sees not, the heart rues not, it is true in evils, and it is as true in goods: What the mind apprehends not, the heart joys not, Psalm 63.5,6.  David was satisfied as with marrow and fatness, with joy in God: but it was by meditating on him.  So we by meditating on this Covenant, and the benefits of it, may have our hearts delighted as with marrow and fatness: you may be helped in pondering to see the good in it by the reasons before alleged , which are convincing.

2. Look upon the examples of Scripture, in this and other places, and that will work upon you; affection is very catching, seeing others’ grief or joy is very apt to move us, and so will the consideration of the affection of the Saints in Scripture: The Scriptures are a glass, but they are a strong glass, a transforming glass that changeth our souls to the likeness of that we see, 2 Cor. 3.18, But we all with open face beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord are changed into the same Image from glory to glory: so is the word to use, when in it, as in a glass, we behold the gracious affections of the Saints: Sure I am, they will make us blush if we be far short and unlike them, and shame will stir us up to reform, as 2 Chro. 30.15. The forwardness of the people did shame the Priests and Levites, and make them sanctify themselves.

3. Excite and stir up your hearts: you know though a man find a damp on his Spirit sometimes, yet if he see cause of joy, and set himself to be cheerful, he may attain it, as they did, Nehem. 8.9-12.  Call upon {} your hearts then to be merry in the Lord, and say it’s not a time of drooping but of rejoicing.

4. If you find any of this holy flame inkindled in you by this Sermon cherish it, blow it up, keep it up,—The word is moving for the present, but the impression will not stay long without renewing it: Repeat it therefore in your houses in your minds: rub it again and again upon your Souls.

5. Pray: Joy is the fruit of the Spirit; pray for the Spirit to work this affection to anoint you with this oil of gladness, to enlarge you to rejoice in this good work: this will be acceptable to God, and no less to us; for when we rejoice in God’s service, God will bless us, as may be seen, 2 Chro. 30.26,27.

Exhortation 2.

We should praise God for it always: that which is matter of joy, is matter of praise too: For they are both for good things wherein we are interested: That praise is heartless that comes not from joy, and that joy is carnal which ends not in praise, and therefore these two are usually twins in the hearts of the Godly: joy is the elder Brother, but praise holds him by the heel, Psalm 126.2.  When their mouths were filled with laughter, their tongues were also taken up with singing.  When David settled the Ark it was not only with joy, and exultation, but with a Psalm of praise, 1 Chro. 16.7,8, and truly this day is Religion settled in our Land, and therefore this deserves praise, a Psalm of Praise, a day of Praise, and God move the heart of the Parliament to this solemn thankfulness, as well as to this courageous resoluteness, that as they abound in other, so they may in this grace also: In the mean time let us glorify GOD that hath given such grace to them, such mercy to us in time of need; Let this thankfulness then begin in the soul in inward convincement of engagement, and enlargement to God answerable {} to such a blessing, let thankfulness as a precious spice, flow out in thankful speeches, blessing God with Ezra, who hath put such a thing into the heart of the Parliament to restore and beautify Religion, Ezra 7.26,27.  And let us add thankfulness of life, which is the life of thankfulness, giving our selves to God in all holy obedience, and specially to make and keep this Covenant, which is the third and last Exhortation.

Exhortation 3.

Enter into this Covenant, you have been informed it is a duty, and every duty is to be practiced: There is a service which is freedom, the service of Christ: and there is a freedom which is servitude, freedom to sin, John 8.31,32,34.  There is a liberty which is bondage, as that which is carnal, and here’s a bondage which is liberty: Take this Vow, it will make you free from the Antichristian yoke and illegal Pressures: Fear not, for you have the Peers of the Land, and Lower house of Parliament fast bound to protect you in this, with life and state.  To excite you, consider the examples in the Scripture, wherein upon all occasions the people have been tractable, as hath been formerly shewed: And to them the noble example of both Houses of Parliament.  It’s a very Jade that will not follow, & he must needs be a dull Christian who cannot be moved with such a cloud of such leaders.  Shall we see the men of Israel and Judah contending about priority, in bringing David back to his Kingdom, and shall not we rather strive than strain courtesy, who shall be first hereby to bring Christ back again to us, who was departing from us (as well he might) for he was driven from amongst us; his truths being some suppressed, some disgraced, and Popery countenanced, and by degrees introduced. Shall we show less respect to the Antitype than they to the Type, to Christ than they to David?  Hath not the Scotch Nation in {} this given us a brave example? shall we be behind them in duties, whom God hath made to out-strip in outward mercies?  2. If we enter not this Protestation, we shall seem to desert the Houses of Parliament, especially the House of Commons, from which this Protestation did first flow: The House of Commons are chosen by us, entrusted by us, bear the burden for us, spend their time, their strength for us, employ their gifts, engage their persons and estates for us, and in this way have entered into this Protestation.  If they should stand alone in it, it might be misinterpreted, so become a snare, and when they have done it for us, should we discourage them? what ingratitude were that? what unworthiness? who would serve? who would venture any thing for such unworthy ones? That Honourable House represents this whole Nation: we have virtually all entered into it, in them we are engaged in all their just and Honourable Actions, and ought to stick to what they have done, so that our entering into this Protestation, will not be much more than what already we are by consequent engaged unto, save only a more formal and actual expression of that in our own persons, which we have already virtually done in the persons of others.

3. If we entered not this Covenant, we shall desert the cause of God and be ill Christians, for this is undertaken as an effectual means to confirm true Religion, and wound Popery in these Kingdoms to the heart: And sure if any means under heaven can extirpate Popery, this is it, which engageth men not only to reject it, but oppose it, not only in their own persons to depart from it, but with all their might to keep it from coming in amongst us by the wicked and profane plots of others.  Now shall we pull our hand from such a work wherein the honour of Christ, and the salvation of men’s souls is so deeply concerned?  God forbid! {}

4. If we be not ready to this we shall desert the King and be wanting in the duties of good Subjects, for herein we are to protest to maintain his Majesty’s Royal person, honour, and estate; and can we be backward to that without impeachment to our Allegiance?  Besides, much of the matter of this Vow is concurrent with that of the Oath at his Majesty’s Coronation, so the entering into this will be a strengthening unto the performance of that, and thereby we shall do no mean duty of Allegiance.  5. In denying this Vow, we shall desert our beloved Country, and betray the liberties of it, which we herein should protest to maintain, and this Protestation is a means to vindicate them, so far intrenched upon.  Now to be wanting to our Country, is to be worse than Heathens, who for the preserving of public weal, have not shunned the greatest dangers or sufferings, & Christianity should elevate humanity, not take it off, but enable and carry on to all civil duties on better & higher grounds.  6. Unless we be ready to this Vow, we shall be injurious to the Court of Parliament for ever, which is the glory, safety, and sinews of our Nation, the privilege whereof, if once impeached, farewell all that’s glorious in free Subjects, we shall hear no more of such glorious things done by Parliaments: These have been secunda Tabula post Naufragium, to save a sinking State, these have been the refuge of the oppressed, if we want Parliaments, if ever we grow downward, we shall have little hope of recovery: and if Parliaments lose their power and privilege, we shall want them, though we have them.  7. If we refuse we shall be enemies to our own comfort and honour! For you see it is a thing to be joyed at, and a man cannot refuse, but suspicions must needs rise concerning him; either that he is ill affected to Religion, or tainted in Loyalty, or no good Patriot, lies under some secret guilt, that makes him loath to enter {} into that which may return upon his own head, or that he is a man of a base self-seeking Spirit, without true publick generosity to put on for any high and holy work and so indeed a Christian of no value: but we have need of direction how to do it, as well as of Argument to encourage to it: we must then observe these rules;

Direction 1.

We must do it understandingly, though we do it with company, yet not only for company: Others examples may be inter Motiva, but not fundamenta, be motives, not the only grounds of entering into the Covenant: we must understand what the Covenant is that we undertake, and how good it is, and so embrace it.  A man being a reasonable creature, must do every thing understandingly, or else it is not reasonable, and so cannot be acceptable service, Rom 12.1.

[ Direction 2. ]

2. We must do it sincerely, not with the mouth alone, but with the heart: God discerns, & abhors Hypocrisy,—As they Covenanted 2 Chron. 15.12, To enter into a Covenant with all their heart, so they performed it, verse 15.

[ Direction 3. ]

3. We must do it willingly and freely, not forcedly, no not in a mixt sense, for fear of censure or punishment, but voluntarily choosing it as that which is good and eligible: No action is acceptable, but what is done willingly: some things are sinful which are involuntary, but none good.

[ Direction 4. ]

4. Yea, we should do it joyfully, being glad of an opportunity to do good, and approve ourselves to God as they did here.

[ Direction 5. ]

5. We must do it reverently; a Vow is an Ordinance of God, it is made with God, before God, and when we have to deal with God more solemnly, who is glorious, or with Ordinances that are so holy, should not we be reverent.

[ Direction 6. ]

Lastly, we must do it conscientiously, not carelessly, I mean so that when we have done it, we remember it, and make conscience of the observation of it, else we profane it, we lose the end of it, we break many a strict charge in the word of paying our Vows we have made and so indeed {} may get a curse instead of a blessing, being to God as deceivers, which thing Jacob feared then, Gen. 27.12. Our Ancestors, at least, the Peers have bound their posterity in a Curse, if they did not uphold the liberties of Magna Charta, which how well (or ill rather) it hath been observed, is no hard thing to conjecture, and why may not that Curse be one main thing causing our woes? I am sure in the Original the words in Jeremy [23.10,] may be rendered thus, For the curse or execration the Land mourns: This Covenant is wiselier contrived, being personal, not for posterity, who having not our occasions may want our care, and may degenerate as we sometimes did: let us therefore who do it out of fresh bleeding occasion, be conscientious in it to observe it,—to help us it’s good to keep a Copy of what we have entered into: keeping it on a table in our houses, may further the keeping of it on the table of our hearts. And oh that that God, who when he had put it into the heart of Hezekiah to keep a Passover in purity, and declare it by Proclamation, gave to Judah one heart to do the commandment of the King, and the Princes, by the word of the Lord, would give England one heart in this manner, to enter this Covenant according to the rule of God’s word: then would God give us rest round about, as he did to these Jews, 2 Chron. 15.15. Then would he do according to his promise, subdue our enemies, make the haters of the Lord submit themselves, and feed us with the finest of the wheat, Psalm 81.14-16.  He would do, do I say? nay do we not see he hath done? For is there not newly a grievous plot discovered, defeated, and we preserved, which is like to turn to the further confusion of the adversaries, the glory of the truth, and perfection of reformation: oh then let this confirm us, and comfort us, in this blessed way, that we may prosper here, and being faithful unto death, may inherit the Crown of life: Which God vouchsafe, to whom be glory for ever,  Amen.



1. This statement is here punctuated as the original, so there is some reason to doubt whether what seems to be affirmed is actually stated by the author. The context also must be remembered, which is the quoting of Cicero, a respected pagan philosopher, and not the direct reasoning of a Christian minister. His above quotation of our Saviour from Matthew 10 is sufficient to disprove what Cicero would concede. Nevertheless, the general observation that a son ought to refrain from exposing his father’s sins in many serious cases, and yet in various other cases must bewray his father’s deeds, rather than betray his nation’s safety, is what Christians and Philosophers should all agree upon. As for the practical question of how readily near relations ought to be to testify against one another in matters relating to the honour of God and respect of his Church, it will be helpful to consider, besides Deuteronomy 13, cited above, also the case of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, where it is evident that Sapphira, in verse 8, ought to have done otherwise than she did.—JTKer.