by John Flavel
Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow. - 2 SAM. 23:5
THESE are part of David's last words. The last words of dying saints, but especially of dying prophets, are ponderous, memorable, and extraordinarily remarkable; and such are these acknowledged to be, by all expositors. It is a golden sentence, a divine oracle, fit to be the last words of every dying saint, as well as of David.
They are called his last words, not simply and absolutely, as though he breathed them forth with his last breath; (for he spake many things afterwards) but either they are the last he spoke as a prophet, by Divine inspiration, or because he had them often in his mouth, to his last and dying day. They were his epicedium, his sweet swan-like song, in which his soul found singular refreshment, and strong support, amidst the manifold afflictions of his life, and against the fears of his approaching death.
The whole chapter is designed for a coronis or honourable close of the life of David, and gives us an account both of the worthy expressions that dropped from him, and of the renowned worthies that were employed by him. But all the heroic atchievements recorded to the honour of their memories, in the following part of the chapter, are trivial and inglorious things, compared with this one divine sentence recorded in my text
Table of Contents
To the Virtuous and Much Honoured Madam, Ursula Upton
The Balm of the Covenant
Observation 1. That God's covenant people may be exercised with many sharp afflictions
Observation 2. A declining family is a sore stroke from the hand of God
Observ. 3. That the sure covenant of grace, affords sure relief to all that are within the bonds of it
Proposition 1. That the minds of men, yea, the best men, are weak and feeble things under the heavy pressures of affliction, and will reel and sink under them, except they be strongly relieved and under-propped.
Proposition 2. The merciful God, in condescension to the weakness of his people, hath provided the best supports and reliefs for the feeble and afflicted spirits.
Argument I. Whatsoever disarms afflictions of the only sting whereby they wound us, must needs be a complete relief and remedy to the afflicted soul.
Argument. II. As the covenant of grace disarms all the afflictions of believers of the only sting by which they wound them: so it alters the very nature and property of their afflictions
Argument. III. The covenant doth not only alter the nature and property of the saints, afflictions, but it also orderly disposes, and aptly places them in the frame of providence, among the other means and instruments of our salvation
Argument. IV. As the covenant sorts and ranks all your troubles into their proper classes and places of service, so it secures the special, gracious presence of God with you in the deepest plunges of distress that can befal you
Argument. V. As this covenant assures you of God's gracious and special presence, so it fully secures all the essentials and substantials of your happiness
Argument. VI. As God strikes none of the substantial mercies of his covenant people, so when he doth smite their external accidental comforts, the covenant of grace assures them, that even those strokes are the strokes of love, and not wrath
Argument. VII. Lastly, The covenant doth not only discover the consistence and connection betwixt the love and the rod of God, but it also gives full satisfaction to the saints
Use I. For information, in three corollaries.
Use II. Seeing then that the covenant of God is the great relief and support of all his afflicted people, let the afflicted soul go to this blessed covenant; study and apply it in all distresses.
Use III. The great question to be decided, is, whether God be our covenant-God, and we his people?
Use IV. A word of consolation to your dejected and drooping hearts, upon this sad and mournful occasion.