...we find from the following entries in the Church Records of Stepney, in the handwriting of Mr. Mead, the apprehensions then entertained of a still darker day, and the spirit in which they sought to avert the impending danger.
1679. Tuesday, March 9th, was kept a day of prayer in the church to prepare them for a solemn renewing of their covenant with God.
1679. Tuesday, March 16th. The church in a day of fasting and prayer, solemnly and unanimously renewed their Covenant, it being a time of very great darkness and danger, by reason of the Popish plots and designs on foot; which Covenant was renewed in these words: --
"Wee who are here present before the Lord as a church of Jesus Christ, whom he hath been graciously pleased by his special power and mercy, to call out of the world unto the saving knowledge of himself in Christ, and therein unto the faith and fellowship of the Gospel, having seriously considered, and deeply laid to heart our many and frequent backslidings from God, and sad decays in grace, and manifold failings in duty, both as to faith, love, and obedience; in all which we have greatly reproached our high and heavenly calling, to the great dishonour of Christ, the grief of the Holy Spirit, the scandal of the blessed Gospel, and the wounding of our own souls; by all which we have highly provoked the anger and displeasure of God, not only against the nation, but against the churches, and against this church in particular; so that he may justly remove his candlestick out of this place, and cause the glory to depart from us. Therefore being deeply affected with the dread of his present dispensations, and considering the loud call of his Word, to remember from whence we are fallen, and to repent and do our first works, we do with shame, and self-abhorrency, desire to lie low before the Lord, and humble ourselves with confusion of face for all our sins and abominations, and do as in the sight of the Lord, renounce them with indignation and abhorrency; and being fully convinced, that, under such grievous backslidings, the duty is to take words and to return to the Lord; and setting before the holy example of the churches of God in former ages, who upon sense of their backslidings and revolts, have renewed their covenant with the Lord, we do look upon it as a special duty incumbent upon us as a church of Jesus Christ, to renew our covenant with the Lord, which we have so often violated and broken.
"Wherefore in humble confidence of the Lord's gracious acceptance of us in Jesus Christ, who hath promised upon our hearty return to take away all iniquity, accept us graciously, and love us freely, we do return unto him this day with our whole hearts, and do humbly and solemnly resign up ourselves to him as our God in Christ, and we call heaven and earth to record this day, that we do faithfully engage our souls, that for the time to come, we will constantly adhere to him as our God, and that we will endeavour by the strength of his grace, and assistance of his Holy Spirit to walk more closely with him, and more humbly and fruitfully before him, and that wee will with all diligence observe and do the things which our Lord Jesus hath commanded us, as to all the dutys, ordinances, and institutions of his holy worship, and that we will walk in mutual love among ourselves unto the glory of Christ, and the edification and comfort of each other. And we do each one in particular, male, and female, lift up our hands to the Most High God, as a witness to this our explicite consent hereunto, and to testify unto the Lord, the sincerity of our hearts herein; and the great God, for Christ's sake, accept it, and grant that this holy covenant, which we do now solemnly renew on earth, may for ever be ratified in Heaven." -- Matthew Meade, Pastor, and thirty-four Members.
Thus was this holy man preparing himself and his little flock, for the coming storm, and seeking as a true Patriot, to avert an anticipated National judgment by personal humiliation, repentance, and prayer.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Matthew Mead's Church Covenant
The following is from the memoir of Matthew Mead that appears in The Sermons of Matthew Mead, pp. xviii-xxi, and I thought it might be worth meditating upon in light of our own times: