The following article is excerpted from a book of the same title by Peter Bulkley, a Puritan pastor in 17th century New England. His book was published in London by Matthew Simmons in 1651. The original spelling has been modernized slightly. We reprint this article to provide further insight into the Puritan recovery of the Bible's use of family language to explain the relationship of God to His people, not to endorse every point in Bulkley's argument.
When a man takes a wife into the covenant of marriage with him, whatever he is, he is wholly hers; he gives himself and that which he has to her; for when the mighty God of heaven and earth takes his people into the covenant with him, he is a husband to them, and marries them to himself, and therefore what ever he is in the glory and excellency of his nature, it is all for the good and comfort of his people. Consider God essentially or personally, all is theirs. God in his essence and glorious attributes communicates himself to them for their good. And God personally considered, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, they all enter into covenant with us, Isaiah 54.5.
1. The Father enters into covenant with us; he promises to be a Father to us. Hence the Lord says, Exodus 4.22. Israel is my son, my first-borne; and, Jeremiah 31.9,20. Is Ephraim my dear son, is he my pleasant child? The Lord speaks as though he were fond of his children, delighting in them, as Psalm 147.11, pitying of them, Psalm 103.13. As a father has a care to provide both heavenly and earthly inheritance for his children; he has a care to nurture and instruct them in his ways, Deuteronomy 32.10.
2. Christ the Son is in covenant with us, and speaks to us, as Isaiah 43.1, Thou art mine; and Hosea 13.14, I will redeem them, I will ransom them; O death I will be thy death; thou hast destroyed my people and I will destroy thee. There is the covenant of the Son with us: He brings us back to this Father, from whose presence we were banished, and sets us before his face forever. He undertakes with us to take up all controversies which may fall between God and us. He promises to restore to us the Adoption of sons, and not only to the Title, but also to the inheritance of sons, that we might be where he is. John 17.24.
3. The Holy Ghost makes a covenant with us, as Hebrews 10.15,16, Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us, testifying of this covenant which he makes with us. For after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them, I will put my Law into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them, etc.The name in the promise is the name or title of relation... which signifies not only a man in general, but a man with a special relation to such a woman as he has by covenant betrothed to himself. So here the name, God's, notes forth the relation in which God stands to us. Hence it is said he is not ashamed to be called their God. Therefore when he had made a Covenant with Abraham, he called himself the God of Abraham, & afterwards the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of Israel. As a woman may say of him to whom she is married, this man is my husband; and so may every faithful soul say of the Lord, he is my God.
I argue from the connection of the promise with the commandment, which are joined together in the Covenant. And here I demand, does not that commandment concerning holy education of children in information of the Lord, does not this commandment bind us as well as Abraham and the Jews to whom it was first given? Are not we to keep the way of the Lord, as the Lord spoke of Abraham? Genesis 18.19. If this commandment does bind us, (as none but Atheists will deny) then say I, the promise belongs to us and to our seed, as well as to them, and their seed.
The promise, I say, is the ground of the duty, as if the Lord should speak unto us in this manner: I will be a God unto your seed, and therefore do I command you this thing, thus to bring them up for me, that they may know me, and fear my Name. And so on the other side, the commandment is the way to the promise; according to that speech of God concerning Abraham, Genesis 18.19, Abraham must teach his household, and charge his children to keep the way of the Lord, that so in this way, the Lord may bring upon Abraham that blessing which he had promised him, even to be a God unto him, and to his seed, Genesis 17.7. Thus God by the promise provokes to the duty, and we by walking in the duty are to expect the promise.
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