To which is prefixed, AN ANSWER, To a Dialogue concerning The Half-Way-Covenant; Lately printed at NEW-LONDON.


To the Law, and to the Testimony.

ISAIAH viii. 20.

NEW-HAVEN: Printed by T. and S. GREEN, in the Old-Council Chamber, M,DCC,LXIX.




SIR, this third visit I am come to make you, for I have lately read a piece, printed at New-London, entituled, "A dialogue between a minister and his parishioner, concerning the half-way-covenant con­tinued;" said to be written by one of the most learned and ingenious ministers in the colony. I hope, therefore, now, if ever, by the assistance of such a patron, to be able to car­ry my point,—Instructed by him, I give up the half-way-covenant; I grant there is but one covenant. I give up the half-way-practice too, as founded only in ignorance, and the mistaken notions of the vulgar. I am convinced, that he that is qualified to have his children baptized, is e­qually qualified to come to the Lord's-table.—I come, therefore, to claim baptism for my child, and a place at the Lord's-table for myself, as my proper right. p. 6.—How­ever, I am not well pleased at the publication of our dis­course in my first visit, altho' I must confess you have gi­ven a fair representation of what passed, because being very dull at that time, I make but a very indifferent figure in the eyes of the public. p. 2.


Be comforted, my friend, no blame is laid on you by the public. I bear it all; and I am willing to bear it for your good: and methinks you have only cause of joy and thankfulness; for, to be convinced, so soon, of your mistake, is no small favour. No doubt the voice of the clergy, who practice the half-way, declaring as one man, that he, who is qualified to offer his child, to baptism, is e­qually qualified to come to the Lord's-table, has wrought your conviction; for your former faith and practice were [Page 4] grounded merely on the custom of the country: this led you to think, that the Lord's-supper was more holy than baptism. But while you hear all the ministers, with whom you converse, declare, they mean no such thing; they prac­tise the half-way only in condescention to the ignorance and groundless, unscriptural scruples of the common people, you are convinced; you give up the point: you own the com­mand of Christ, do this in remembrance of me, is binding on all his disciples.—But, pray, upon what grounds, do you now so boldly claim baptism for your child?


Altho' I was "uncommonly dull and muddy," in my first visit; yet ‘you know, sir, what I wanted was to have my child baptized. As you told me there was but one covenant, so we were agreed, that I had entered in­to that covenant, the very same covenant that you entered into three and thirty years ago, when you was ad­mitted into the church. And, sir, why may I not have the seal of it set upon my child? p. 4.’


Did not I expressly tell you, that ‘If the covenant owned is the covenant of grace, and if the parent acts un­derstandingly & honestly in the affair, he is a good man, he has a right before God to baptism for his children, and an equal right to the Lord's-supper? But that if the covenant owned is not the covenant of grace, those who have owned it, have in the sight of God no right to either of those ordinances which are seals of that covenant, and of no other: no more right than if they had given their assent to any chapter in the aprocrypha?’


True, you did so—and there is but one covenant, says my patron.


This covenant then is the covenant of grace, which, we are all agreed, requires repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ: or else there is no covenant of grace at all—for he says there is but one.—But lay your hand upon your heart, and tell me the truth honestly, did you mean to profess repentance toward God & faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, when you owned the covenant? or in other words, did you mean to profess a compliance with [Page 5] the covenant of grace? Pray, sir, recollect and repeat the very words you spake to me in your first visit.


You make me blush—for I told you the truth in my first visit, from the bottom of my heart; and this is what I said, ‘I knew myself to be unconverted.—I meant to own the covenant, as the phrase is, and have my chil­dren baptised; but I had no design to profess godliness, or to pretend a real compliance with the covenant of grace. This godly people may do; but it had been great hypocrisy in me to do it. To lie to men is bad, but to lie to God is worse. I supposed that owning the cove­nant was what the unconverted might do.’ These were my very words: and on these principles I acted, as do all others, that I am acquainted with, who own the covenant, have their children baptised, and do not come to the Lord's table; and I verily tho't this was right before my first visit.


How is it possible a man, so honest as you then ap­peared to be, should now act such a dishonest part, as you have done? It is my duty as a minister of Christ, to rebuke you sharply; for then you told me, as you now own, that you did not mean to profess a compliance with the covenant of grace, upon which I denied baptism to your child; and yet just now you pretended you did mean to do it.—You have need to blush—This deliberate dissimulation in such an affair, is no small crime. Did your learned patron advise you to this step, to get your child baptised? Is this the way to obtain God's blessing?


Be this as it may, I am willing now to make a pro­fession, and publickly to enter into covenant with God, and I have no objection against the form used in your church. I can make that covenant, and speak truly in the sight of God, notwithstanding I know I have no grace. p. 6, 7.


How can a man who knows he has no grace profess a compliance with the covenant of grace, without wilful lying?


I do not mean to make a profession that shall imply con­version. There would be 'special hypocrisy' in doing so. p. 14.


What then! do you suppose the unconverted do com­ply with the covenant of grace? That the unconverted have [Page 6] repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ? That the unconverted choose the Lord Jehovah for their sovereign Lord and supreme good thro' Jesus Christ, and give up themselves to his service, to walk in all his ways, seeking his glory?


No, sir, by no means. But ‘if it be true that the Lord Jehovah is my sovereign Lord and supreme good thro' Jesus Christ. i. e. if it be true, that he who thro' Christ is the author of being, and of every mercy, to all the liv­ing, is the sovereign Lord and supreme good of every living soul, 'tis no harm to avouch it.’ I mean to give my assent to this truth, and no more.


Doth not the devil believe the truth of this proposi­tion as firmly as any wicked man does? and is he in cove­nant? You have need to be better instructed about the nature of entering into covenant with God, before you can be con­sidered as qualified in point of doctrinal knowledge.


No, sir, I am not so ignorant neither. I know in what sense you mean to understand your covenant. But knowing myself to be unconverted, I cannot profess a compliance with the covenant of Grace in that sense. I cannot pro­fess supreme love to God, and that I do actually take him as my God, my chief good, thro' Jesus Christ. This is not in my heart. Therefore I mean to adopt the words of the covenant in a different sense; even in a sense, in which, an unconverted man, who is at enmity against God, may use them, and yet speak true.


But this is not to profess a compliance with the co­venant of Grace. And therefore should you make it, it could give you no right to sealing ordinances for yourself or your child. Rather is it gross and scandalous dissimu­lation, very much like what is practised by Arians and Socini­ans among the clergy of the church of England, when they subscribe the 39 articles, in order to qualify themselves for a benefice upon the establishment; which practice is con­demned by all honest men.


Be this as it may, I can at least, with moral sincerity promise, "To walk in all his ways and keep all his com­mands, seeking his glory." p. 7.

[Page 7]

The obedience engaged by one who professes a com­pliance with the covenant of grace is that kind of obedience which the covenant requires, viz. An holy obedience, an obedience which proceeds from faith and love. And do you mean to engage this?


No, by no means. I mean only to engage what an unconverted man may do, while such. p. 7. *


But this unholy obedience is not that kind of obedi­ence, which the covenant of grace requires at your hands. So that you mean to profess neither to comply with the co­venant of grace at present, nor to live such a holy life as it requires for the future. In short, you mean to use the words of a saint with the heart of a hypocrite; and so to come into Christ's visible church, with the language of a friend; but with the heart of an enemy. Your proposed conduct may serve to give a very true and just exposition to those words of our Saviour, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? As if he had said, ‘I call [Page 8] you friend, because you, in words, make the same pro­fession which my real friends do. But why do you do this, when at the same time you have the heart of an enemy? why do you act this hypocritical part? Such dissimula­tion is special hypocrisy.—If you could not comply with our covenant in its plain sense, and in the sense you knew we understood it, why did not you rather come like an ho­nest man, and say so, and desire to have it laid aside; and a new covenant, an ungracious covenant introduced in its room; a covenant which you could make, and act an ho­nest part?


I tho't there was but one covenant. I tho't the cove­nant you use in your church, as you understand it, was that one covenant. I tho't there was no other. I tho't that bap­tism and the Lord's-supper were seals of the covenant of grace, and of no other. And so I must profess a compli­ance with the covenant of grace, or I cannot be received a­mong Christ's disciples, or claim the privileges of such. Therefore I put this new sense on the words, that I might consent to them with a good conscience.


But the words, in this new sense, are not the covenant of grace, but an ungracious covenant; in sense and mean­ing exactly like the half-way-covenant, in use in some churches, where they have two covenants: (A number of such churches I could name to you)—so while you cry out against the name of a half-covenant, you take the covenant of grace, and turn it into the very thing, in order to bring it down to a level with your graceless heart; and then put on a bold face, and come and claim the privileges peculiar to those, who profess a compliance with the covenant of grace itself.


Sir, "I am persuaded God has made the Lord's-supper a converting ordinance to many, & he may make it so to me. p. 9.


And, O my friend, will you dissemble in this shocking manner, in order to get into the church, that you may come to the Lord's-table, and be converted! Is this what you mean by moral sincerity? I tell you with that plainness, that becomes my office, that to come thus, is not the way for a [Page 9] blessing, but for a curse. For he that eateth and drinketh un­worthily, instead of being in the way of a blessing, exposes himself to the righteous judgment of God; agreable to the apostle's words to the Corinthians.


Nay, sir, the Corinthians "turned the Lord's supper into a feast of Bacchus." And what is this to me? p 14.


Is not deliberate, designed dissimulation, in the most solemn, religious transaction on earth, even in covenant­ing with the great God, as bad as drunkenness?


Nay, sir, but I am expressly commanded to come to the Lord's supper, by Christ himself. p. 15.


This command was given to none but Christ's disciples. And in the apostolic age none ever pretended to attend the Lord's supper, but those who had made a profession, and were admitted into the christian church. As yet you have not made a profession, to be sure, not such a profession as God ever required; nor is the profession you now propose to make, a profession of a compliance with God's covenant, even with the covenant of grace.


‘I am able to demonstrate, as clearly as any theorem is demonstrated in Euclid, that if an unconverted man may not avouch the Lord for his God, nor resolve to o­bey him, he may not say, Our Father which art in heaven— forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. p. 8. And it is damnable heresy to teach that the unconverted ought not to pray. p. 9. And if they sin in praying, yet it is less sin to pray, than not to pray. p. 12.


It is a greater sin to lie, than to do nothing. Lying is not a means of grace. Lying is not an appointed means of conversion. There are many things unconverted sinners may say to God, and speak true. To speak the truth to God is well. Jam. 2.19. but to say that which they know is not true is a thousand times worse than to say nothing. Mat. 23, 14. Acts 5.3. And for a man who is sensible, that it is not in his heart to forgive those who have trespassed a­gainst him, and that in fact he does not forgive them, to come into the presence of God, and pray, saying, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, is, implicitly, to ask [Page 10] God not to forgive him; but this is a greater sin than not to pray at all, as all will allow; and it will hold true, as true as any "theorem in Euclid," that lying is worse than no­thing, in praying, in covenanting, and in every thing else.


Sir, on your plan, three-quarters of the christian world will be shut out of the church. p. 14.


Were it not better, were it not more for the honour Christ and christianity, in the sight of Pagans, Jews, and Mahometans, and in the sight of the ungodly in christian countries, and more for the good of their own souls, that nine tenths should be shut out of the church, if need so re­quire, than to come in by wilful lying! But for a man to profess a compliance with the covenant of grace, when he knows he has no grace is no better; and yet without such a pro­fession no man can visibly enter into covenant with God. For God has no other covenant extant, of which baptism and Lord's-supper, are seals; for there is but one covenant, as you allow; and to use the words of this covenant in such a sense, as to make it a graceless half-covenant, gives no more right to sealing ordinances, than to repeat any chapter in the apocrypha.


If your scheme "should prevail, it would bring back the country into the antient state of heathenism." §


And pray, sir, who do you think will have the hot­test hell, a heathen who dares not lie, or a christian who allows himself to lie in the most solemn religious transactions? or which will be the likliest to be converted by the preaching of the gospel?


"When men of sense & conscience find themselves de­nied the enjoyment of ordinances for themselves & children in our churches," they will turn to the church of England.§


No man of sense or conscience will desire to make a ly­ing profession to get his children baptised; he would rather they never should be baptised than do such a wicked deed. And we stand ready to baptize the children of all, who can understandingly & honestly make that profession, which God requires.

[Page 11]

"Christ's visible kingdom repuires in its members qualifications like itself, viz. Those that are visible and knowable." p. 16.


And we in receiving them, act entirely on what is vi­sible, viz. On their public profession, attended with an an­swerable conversation, just as they did in the apostolic age.


"Every baptised person is a member of Christ's visible church: but I was baptised in my infancy, therefore I have a right to all the external privileges of a church-member." p. 16.


You remember the answer I gave to this, at your second visit, viz. ‘Baptism alone in the apostolic age, never made any adult person, a church-member, without a profession —profession was first made, & then they were baptised. Those therefore that are baptised in infancy, in order to be members in this sense, must make a profes­sion, when they become adult. The New-England churches, therefore, are right in demanding it.’


You must then have a half-covenant for these half-members.


No, by no means. They are bound by their parent's act and deed, to comply with the covenant of grace itself, as soon as they become adult. With this covenant, & with this alone do we urge them to comply. Whenever they appear to do it, we receive them to full communion. But if they o­penly renounce the God of their fathers & obstinately persist in it, they must be considered and treated as persons who have visibly renounced their baptism, in which their parents devoted them to God thro' Jesus Christ to be for ever his.


"It is certain that the gospel contains no rule whereby to determine with any certainty, that a man is gracious." And therefore your scheme cannot be acted upon. p. 9. 10.


It is equally certain the gospel contains no rule to de­termine with certainty that men are orthodox, or found in the faith. They may make an orthodox profession, but we can­not be certain that they mean as they say. To be sure, if they allow themselves to use orthodox words in a heterodox sense, as you do in the Business of covenanting; and the truth is, let the qualifications be what you please, it is not neces­sary the church should have a certainty that the candidates [Page 12] for admission to sealing ordinances have them really and in the sight of God. It is sufficient, on every scheme, that they appear to have them to a judgment of charity regu­lated by the word of God.


Such inconsistency may by no means be charged on the Deity, as to institute an ordinance with a design that never can be carried into execution; as is the case, it Christ has not given some infallible criterion or mark, whereby to know who may be admitted. p. 9. 10.


Very well, sir, be pleased to take the inconsistence to your self, until you can be infallibly certain, that the candi­date for admission is really orthodox and morally sincere in the sight of God, as searcher of hearts. And in order to this, you will need the aid of that enthusiastical sort of people of whom your minister speaks; (p. 10.) for it cannot be known, without an immediate revelation. You must get their spirit to come and tell you, whether men are as ortho­dox and morally sincere in the sight of God, as they profess to be before men. For their is no infallible mark whereby you can certainly know it. An immediate revelation is ab­solutely necessary for this, "As I am able to demonstrate as clearly as any theorem is demonstrated in Euclid."


Be this as it may; whether the church must be certain or not; yet we ourselves must be certain, that we have the necessary qualifications, or we must not come. p. 10.


We are naturally as conscious of volitions as of spe­culations, of love as of belief, when ever we look into our own hearts, as all will allow. A man whose mind is waver­ing between Arminianism and Calvinism, inclining some­times to one side from the corrupt biasses of his heart, and sometimes to the other, by the force of evidence, may not be able to say, which he believes. So a man whose mind is wavering between God and mammon, inclining some­times to one master with a view to his future interest, and sometimes to the other from an attachment to his present, may not be able to say, which master upon the whole he chooses, for the double minded man is unstable in all his ways. But Christ does not desire men to make a profession of be­ing [Page 13] his disciples till they have sat down and counted the cost, and are come to a settled determination; as is plain from Luke 14.25—33. And when men are come to that settled determination, which our Saviour there describes, they may say, that they have come to it. And this is all the profession which we desire.


Thus far I have acted the part of a disputant, and I have now done. Suffer me therefore once more to reas­sume that honest character which I sustained in my first visit; for let others say, what they will, I design to act an honest part. Now the truth of the case is this, I am not specially concerned to know by what rule the church must be governed in admitting members, neither am I concerned to know what they must do who are in doubt about themselves; the only question about which I am exercised relates to my own particular case. I know I have no grace. I know I am unconverted. I told you so at first, and so I have told all the ministers with whom I have conversed; and how any man, that knows he has no grace, can profess a compliance with the covenant of grace, & speak true, I could not understand years ago. It was this that induced me to own the cove­nant, as the phrase is, & not to join in full communion, that so I might have my children baptised. Not one of the mini­sters with whom I have conversed, appears to justify the prin­ciples upon which I acted; but all as one man, say, there is but one covenant, & this one covenant is the covenant of grace: indeed they explain away the covenant of grace, till they bring it down into a graceless covenant, and then tell me I can comply with that, and ought to do so, and thus join in full communion. But you have fully convinced me of the inconsistence and absurdity of this; and yet I would beg leave to enquire, why might not the covenant of grace be voted out, by the church, and a graceless covenant be sub­stituted in its room? and then such as I am could consist­ently profess a compliance with such a covenant, and have baptism for their children.


But if a church should vote out the covenant of grace, or which is the same thing in other words, should vote out [Page 14] christianity, how could it any longer be considered as a vi­sible church of Christ, or as having a visible right to the visible seals of God's covenant?—And besides, should you bind your child to one of your neighbours, to learn some mechanic art, why, in this case, might not the cove­nant be sealed, ratified and confirmed by the administrati­on of baptism, In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost?


The proposal shocks my mind. It would be a profana­tion of God's holy ordinance, to take God's seal, appropri­ated to God's covenant, and put it to man's covenant.


But this ungracious covenant is man's covenant, and not God's. And to take God's seal, appropriated to God's covenant, even to the covenant of grace, and apply it to a covenant which God never made, to a covenant made by men, is to profane the holy ordinance: and knowingly to profane God's holy ordinance is not a duty, nor is this to put ourselves in the way of a blessing.


What need is there of any covenant at all?


It is not the manner of men to put a seal to a clean piece of paper. Nor did God ever appoint seals to be put to a blank. God's seals were appointed to be put to God's covenant; and we have no right to put them to a blank: and besides, it would be to give up the import of the acti­ons, and to render sealing ordinances unmeaning, empty, useless ceremonies.


What shall I do?


Repent and believe the gospel. Thus preached John Baptist: thus preached Jesus Christ; and thus his a­postles.—And therefore, being emboldened by their ex­amples, I say unto you, Enter in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.


I thank you, Sir, for your kind and friendly in­structions.—I ask your prayers.—I must go.


I will detain you but a minute longer.—You re­member your former minister, the author of the Second Di­alogue [Page 15] concerning the Half-way-covenant, said, ‘There is no half-way-covenant. Doubtless it is the covenant of grace. No one disputes its being the covenant of grace;—no one DARE DENY IT.’— And your present patron says much the same.—You remember also, that in your second visit, I told you, that, to say this, was implicitly to "yield up every point for which we contend;" and, in this view, I added, ‘nor do I doubt, if this controver­sy should go on, it will soon appear, that there is one who dares deny it. For otherwise all men of sense will see, that gentlemen on that side of the question, are grossly inconsistent with themselves.’—And now it hath come to pass, that one of the most discerning gentlemen on that side of the question has published a laboured piece, to prove, that in order to enjoy sealing ordinances for our­selves and our children, we are not to profess a compli­ance with the covenant of grace, but only with a grace­less covenant. This therefore is the only point, that needs to be settled, in order to settle the whole controversy; to this point therefore I advise you to give a most serious attention. For, if it can be proved, that baptism and the Lord's-Supper are seals of the covenant of grace, and not of a graceless covenant, the ax will be laid to the root of the tree. Attend, therefore, to the subject with the utmost impartiality, that you may obtain, not only light in your head, but also reap saving advantage to your soul. I have known some christless sinners, by the means of this con­troversy, awakened to a greater concern about their eter­nal salvation, than ever they were before. And, be assur­ed, sir, that the truths of the gospel, if they are not unto your own soul a savour of life unto life, will be a savour of death unto death.—Eternity— an endless eternity lies before you. You have slept secure in sin long enough; it is high time you should awake. Every circumstance of your own soul, and every circumstance of your dear off-spring calls upon you without delay to awake, and turn to God thro' Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth.—O, what joy, would it give me, ere long, to admit you into full communion [Page 16] with the church, on a profession of a compliance with the covenant of grace, in which, you should appear to act un­derstandingly and honestly!—That salvation may thus come to you and to your houshold, may GOD of his in­finite mercy grant, thro' Jesus Christ.

My dear sir, farewell.




But unto the wicked God saith, what hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldst take my covenant in thy mouth?

PSALM l. 16.

NEW-HAVEN: Printed by T. and S. GREEN.



IF we may judge of the sentiments of ministers, in general, by the pieces lately published on this con­troversy, all are agreed in these three propositi­ons, viz.

  • I. There is but one covenant, a profession of a compliance with which is requisite to an admission into the visible church of Christ, in complete standing.
  • II. Those who really comply with this covenant have, in the sight of God, an equal [...]ght to baptism for their children, and to the Lord's-supper for themselves.
  • III. All scruples to the contrary are groundless and un­scriptural.

There is therefore, but one single point, which now needs to be settled, to settle the whole controversy, viz. With what covenant are we to profess a compliance, the covenant of grace, or a graceless covenant?

And this point is of such a nature, that it seems necessary to settle it, before we proceed to act at all in church affairs; in gathering a church, settling a minister, admitting mem­bers, or administring sealing ordinances. For 'till this is settled, we know not upon what covenant the church is to be formed, nor what covenant is to be professed by those who are to be admitted, nor what covenant is to be seal­ed by baptism and the Lord's supper, nor what covenant the minister is to preach up and hold out to public view, as the thing to be complied with by professors and to be sealed by the sacraments. So that if we mean to proceed like rational creatures, in our church-affairs, we must look this matter to the bottom, and come to a determination.

To say, that it is needless to determine this point, is the same thing as to say, that it is of no consequence whether our churches are founded on a right covenant, or on a wrong one; or whether God's seals are fixed to the co­venant he designed, or to a covenant to which he never in­tended they should be affixed; which none will care to say: For, if it is of no consequence what covenant we profess, nor what covenant we seal, a right one, or a wrong one; it is [Page iii] surely of no consequence whether we profess or seal any covenant at all; which to say, is to tear up by the roots all notion of a visible church in the world. But to set a­side a visible church, as a needless thing, is to set aside christianity, as an imposture. There must be christian churches; there must be a public profession of some cove­nant or other; there must be sealing ordinances; these or­dinances must be administered by the ministers of Christ to the proper subjects; it must be determined who they are; it must, therefore, be determined on what covenant church­es are to be formed, and what covenant is to be preached up, professed and sealed. It is a controversy, which no honest man, who means to have any thing to do in church-affairs, can let alone, as a mere circumstantial point. Much less can those, who are already in the ministry, or are about to settle in that work, consistently content themselves to proceed without any settled scheme at all; unless all they aim at, is to live a quiet life, right or wrong; which is what none will profess to do.

OUR churches were originally founded on a profession of a compliance with the covenant of grace, at least, gene­rally. And, indeed, I know not of one church in New-England, of our own denomination, which is now other­wise founded, if we may judge of their foundation by the words of the covenant which is read to those who are ad­mitted to full communion. So far as I know, the for­mulas in use, express the chief things contained in the co­venant of grace, &c. "That they avouch the Lord to be their God and chief good, and give up themselves to him, thro' Jesus Christ, to live to him and seek his glory." And therefore, should we be convinced, that the covenant of grace is not the covenant with which the church of Christ ought to profess a compliance, there ought to be an altera­tion in our formulas. For, as they stand at present, they tend to lead all persons whose consciences are awake, to think they ought to be converted, before they make a profes­sion of religion, & join in full communion with the church. For, such do not think it right to profess a compliance with [Page iv] the covenant of grace, when they know they have no grace. Nor do they think it consistent with moral honesty, to give their consent to the covenant in a sense different from it's plain and natural sense. There is a necessity, therefore, if the covenant of grace is not the covenant which ought to be entered into, to call our churches together, to point out to them plainly this fundamental error in their consti­tution, and to lead them to vote out the covenant of grace, and to vote in a graceless covenant, in order to open a wide and effectual door to let ungodly men as such, into our churches. And in this method, may be adapted regularly, the new scheme advanced, by the Rev. Mr. Moses Mather, an ingenious writer, in his piece lately published, entitled, "The visible church in covenant with God," &c.

This author has offered this doctrine of an external grace­less covenant to public consideration, as taught in the word of God, and as the only consistent plan on which the visible church can be founded, and infant baptism vindicated. He had no desire, it may be presumed, that his scheme should be received by our churches without examination. The strictest scrutiny cannot hurt the truth. The truth, like the sun, can bear to be looked upon, without any diminu­tion of its lusture. A glow-worm is in danger of losing its brightness, if the light of day shines around it. This may be the nature of error; but the truth itself, the more strictly it is examined, the more will it appear to be like the morning light, which shines more and more to the perfect day.

Our confession of faith and plan of church discipline have determined for "the covenant of grace," declaring that "sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace;" and for the necessity of a profession of a "cordial subjection to Jesus Christ." But these are not the word of God. Mr. Mather undertakes to prove his doctrine from the word of God. And we ought, with the utmost readi­ness, to give up all human composures, when found incon­sistent with the word of God. He appeals to scripture: we join in the appeal; and let him that readeth, understand.


SECT. I. The nature of Mr. M's external, graceless covenant it's difference from the covenant of grace, and a general view of the subject.

BY the covenant of grace, Mr. M. means, that covenant with which every true believer complies in the exer­cise of repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, and which promises pardon and eternal life to all who comply with it. Or to use his own words, "A sure promise of eternal life, to all such, as with a true heart, believe in Jesus Christ." P. 4. And in this we are agreed. But he maintains, that this is not the covenant, a compli­ance with which is to be publickly professed by any of the followers of Christ, when they join in full communion with the church. It is a chief design of this piece to prove this point. And in this we differ.

BY the external covenant, he means, not the covenant of grace, externally entered into, by a public profession of a compliance with it, which is what some divines have meant by the phrase; but a covenant specifically different from the covenant of grace. It differs from it in three things. (1.) The covenant of grace requires holiness, a holy faith, a holy repentance, a holy obedience: The external cove­nant requires no holiness at all. (2.) The covenant of grace is complied with by none but the regenerate, in the exercise of holiness: The external covenant may be complied with by the unregenerate, by those that have no grace, in un­gracious, unholy exercises. (3.) The covenant of grace promises eternal life: The external covenant promises no such thing; but leaves those who comply with it, & do no more, under the sentence of the divine law to eternal death. This appears through the whole performance. We main­tain [Page 6] that there is no such covenant—he endeavours to prove that this is the only covenant, a compliance with which was professed by Abraham, by the Israelites in the wilder­ness and by the apostolic converts, when they entered vi­sibly into covenant with God, and became members of God's visible church; as will be plain to any one that reads his book. We affirm that a profession of a compliance with this covenant never was required by God of any man.

THERE is a covenant of grace, indeed, according to Mr. M. which promises eternal life to the true believer, to which this external covenant, he says, serves, as means to the end; p. 9. But a compliance with this covenant of grace never was required, and never was professed, in or­der to sealing ordinances, under the old testament or the new; for the seals were not designed primarily to be seals of the covenant of grace, but of a gracelss covenant, with which graceless men may comply in the sight of God, while such. And so there is no need of a compliance with the covenant of grace, in order to a consistent attend­ance on sealing ordinances. P. 36, 37. As graceless men may comply with this graceless covenant; so they may consistently be active in sealing it. And so there is not the least need of our being born again, or the least occasion of a profession of godliness, or making any pretence of love to God or Christ; or to vital piety in order to a regular admission into the church of Christ. We need not be saints in reality, or in profession; in the sight of God, or in the sight of men; no such thing is required: no such thing is pretended. For "The external covenant does not respect a gracious state of heart, as the qualification requisite, to a person's entering into it." P. 22. A church of Christ, there­fore, is a congregation, in which, there is no visible profession made of real christianity; i. e. of friendship to Christ, or of christian grace, or of any thing but what is consistent with a state of total enmity to God and Christ, and to all spiritual good. This is Mr. M.'s idea of a visible church; and any higher profes­sion, he thinks, of very bad tendency. P. 51, 52, 53.

IF the least spark of grace is required in the external co­venant, [Page 7] or if the least spark of grace is professed in visibly entering into it, then the man that knows he has no grace, but is dead in sin, cannot make a profession, and Mr. M.'s end is frustrated, which was to open a wide and effectual door for such as know themselves to be ungodly to join in full communion with the church.

AND if this external covenant does not require the least degree of grace or holiness; then it requires nothing but ungracious, unholy, sinful performance, (for Mr. M. will not choose to say, that their is a system of religious voliti­ons, affections and actions, which are neither virtuous nor vicious, neither holy nor sinful, neither conformable to the holy nature and law of God, nor unconformable; for this would be to suppose that the divine law is not a universal rule of life.)—So that, altho' Abraham and all Abraham's spiritual seed, when they first comply with the covenant of grace exercise real holiness, and live in the exercise of holi­ness thro' the course of their lives, agreeable to our Savi­our's character of them, in Mat. 7.24. and attend the means of grace in a holy manner, (Mat. 13.8.) and even hate and abhor that impenitent, self-righteous, sinful manner in which all the ungodly attend them, (Prov. 15.8.) Yet when they come to make a public profession, they are to covenant and promise to attend all means in no better man­ner, than that, in which, impenitent, self-righteous sinners do. For they are publickly to profess and promise nothing but a compliance with the external covenant: and the external covenant requires nothing more.—And having made this ungodly profession, and by covenant bound themselves to attend all means of grace in this manner, they set to it God's appointed seal; and this unholy covenant the most holy Christian is to renew and seal every time he comes to the table of the Lord till he dies; which, how it can possibly be done with a good conscience, Mr. M. has not yet told us.*

[Page 8]THUS we have taken a brief and general view of Mr. M.'s scheme of an external graceless covenant. I think I understand him right. But if any of his admirers should say, this is not his scheme, but the external covenant re­quires real holiness, and the public profession is to be ac­cordingly, a profession of godliness, then those, who know themselves to be unconverted, are as much shut out from full communion in the visible church on his scheme, as on the scheme of our forefathers; which Dr. Increase Mather, affirmed to be the scheme of protestants in general, in op­position to papists. "I do readily acknowledge," says he, ‘that as it is only a justifying faith which giveth right to baptism before God, so it is the profession or visibility of this faith that giveth right thereunto before the church. Some have maintained that a dogmatical historical faith, or faith of assent to the truth of the gospel, doth entitle to baptism. But the common protestant doctrine a­gainst the papists, speaketh otherwise.’

But the question now before us is not what was the doc­trine of protestants or papists? but a question much more interesting, viz. What is the doctrine of the bible? the only book we are obliged to believe and obey on pain of God's eternal wrath. And the question is, What is God's covenant, which is to be professed and sealed; a gracious, or an ungracious covenant? What was the Abrahamic co­venant? and what the covenant into which the Israelites pro­fessed to enter in the wilderness? and what is that covenant revealed in the gospel, of which baptism and the Lord's-supper are seals? an holy covenant? or an unholy one?

[Page 9]But before we enter on the subject, it may not be im­proper to observe, that Mr. M. has given up the grounds on which Mr. Jonathan Dickinson, and after him Mr. Peter Clark, vindicated infant baptism, viz. That the covenant with Abraham was the covenant of grace. See Mr. Clark's defence of infant baptism, ch. iv. in which the covenant with Abraham is proved to be the covenant of grace; and Dr. Gill's objections, in his piece against Mr. Dickinson; some of them the same with Mr. Mather's, are answered.— And Mr. M. endeavours to lay a new foundation for in­fant baptism, perhaps never before laid by any writer on that subject, viz. An external graceless covenant; and what the effect among common people will be, if they shall see Mr. M.'s external covenant proved to be a mere non-entity, cannot yet be known. But if any are shaken in their be­lief of infant baptism, when they find Mr. M.'s foundation give way under them, they ought to remember, that the defenders of infant baptism have not built their arguments on this foundation, but always on a supposition, that the covenant with Abraham was the covenant of grace.

Thus Mr. Bostwick, late minister of the presbyterian church, in New-York, in his vindication of infant baptism, p. 19, says, The covenant made with Abraham was a covenant of grace, and the same for substance that is now in force under the gospel. This I look upon to be the grand turning point on which the issue of the controversy very much depends; for if Abraham's covenant, which included his infant children, and gave them a right to circumci­sion, was not the covenant of grace, then I freely confess that the main ground on which we assert the right of in­fants to baptism is taken away; and consequently the principal arguments in support of the doctrine are over­turned.’

SECT. II. The Covenant with Abraham was a holy covenant, and could not be really complied with but in the exercise of real holiness.

SHOULD a dispute arise concerning the contents of any covenant between two of our neighbours, what [Page 10] way would common sense teach all impartial men to advise to take, in order to settle the controversy? Would they not say, ‘Come neighbours, no more dispute about this mat­ter, bring out the writing, let us read it, and see with our own eyes how the bond runs?’

Now these are the contents of the covenant with Abra­ham, in Gen. 12; where it is first of all mentioned; ‘Now the Lord had said unto Abram, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And was this a graceless covenant, or the ve­ry gospel of Christ? Hear what an inspired apostle saith, Gal. 3.8. And the scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen thro' faith, preached before the GOSPEL unto Abraham, saying, IN THEE SHALL ALL NATIONS BE BLESSED. And in Gen. 12.4; follows an account of Abraham's com­pliance. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him. He did not merely "endeavour," but he actually complied. And was this done in faith, or in a graceless manner? Take the answer from an inspired writer. Heb. 11.8. By FAITH Abraham, when he was called to go out, &c. obeyed. Just par­rallel to the conduct of Christ's true disciple, when he was on earth. Mark 2.14. And he said unto him, follow me, and he arose and followed him.

AND this same covenant was renewed on GOD'S part in Gen. 15.5. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them. And he said unto him, so shall thy seed be. And in ver: 6, follows Abraham's compliance; and he believed in the Lord. And the very next words determine, that this was not Mr. M.'s external covenant, in a compliance with which no man is justified, and that Abraham's faith was a true justifying, saving faith; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

AND in chap, 17. This same covenant was renewed again, [Page 11] with this additional declaration, I am God almighty, absolute­ly all-sufficient. For he had before said, chap. 15. I am thy shield, and exceeding great reward; which is something of a higher nature than what is promised by Mr. M.'s exter­nal covenant; yea, it is added, to be a God to thee, and thy seed after thee. In consequence of which he was called the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: and what is implied in this we may learn from, Heb. 11.16. Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city. Yea, all the great blessings of the gospel are summed up in one promise, Rev. 21.7. He that overcometh shall inherit all things, AND I WILL BE HIS GOD. And this divine injunction was added at this season of re­newing this covenant, walk before me and be thou perfect; which implied a life of real holiness, and sincere devoted­ness to God.

Mr. M.'s external covenant requires no higher kind of faith, than the devil has, & nothing but ungracious, unholy obedience, which those who are dead in sin may perform: But neither this faith nor this obedience were the faith and obedience of Abraham. Mr. M.'s covenant requires what James calls a dead faith, by which no man can be justified; but Abraham's was a living faith, by which he was justified, and by which all others will be justified who have it. And his obedience was an holy obedience, such as is peculiar to the friends of God. Mr. M.'s external covenant, is adapt­ed to the temper and state of the unconverted, requiring only such religious exercises as may take place in them: But Abraham was not in an unconverted state; and so Mr. M.'s external covenant was not adapted to the temper and state in which he was, if the reader will be at the pains to take his bible and turn to Gen. 12, and read the whole his­tory of Abraham's life, he will not find the least hint of more than one covenant with Abraham; nor was one un­holy duty ever required at his hands: rather, on the con­trary, these were the express words of God Almighty to him, walk before me, and be thou perfect.—If therefore we judge of the nature of the covenant with Abraham, as we do of all [Page 12] other written covenants, viz. By the contents of the written instrument, there is no room to doubt.

AND now this covenant being thus made, and thus re­newed from time to time, thro' the space of above twenty years, an external seal was at length by GOD appointed to it. For circumcision was appointed as a token of this very covenant, which was made with Abraham before he was circumcised. For an inspired apostle has said it. Rom. 4.9, 10, 11. Cometh this blessedness, (viz. that spoken of in the foregoing verse, blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin) then upon the circumcision only, or upon the un­circumcision also? for we say, that faith was reckoned to Abra­ham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal (not of Mr. M.'s external covenant, but) of the righte­ousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised; that he might be the father (not of those graceless men, that enter into Mr. M.'s graceless covenant, but) of all them that be­lieve;—that righteousness might be imputed to them also. That all who comply with that covenant as Abraham did him­self, might be justified and saved, as he was. From all which it is evident, that that covenant with which Abra­ham visibly complied, when in obedience to GOD'S call, he seperated himself and his family from the idolatrous world, to worship the true GOD only, and to believe in, and wait for the coming of the Messiah, whose day he saw, and was glad, was not Mr. M.'s external graceless covenant, by which no man can be justified and saved; but the covenant of grace, which promises eternal life to those who comply with it; for God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Mat. 22, 31, 32; and that circumcision was a seal of this very covenant. Which were the points to be proved.

There is not one text in the new-testament where the na­ture of the covenant with Abraham is pointed out, but that it is spoken of as the covenant of grace; for it is always spoken of as the way, and as the only way in which a sin­ner can be justified. Particularly, read the fourth chapter [Page 13] of the epistle to the Romans, and the 3d, and 4th chapters to the Galatians, and this will appear in the clearest light. For, from the manner in which Abraham was justified, Paul illustrates and confirms the gospel way of justification. For he considers Abraham as the pattern, and teaches that all sinners are justified in the same way in which he was; and in this sense he is the father of many nations, as he is the father of all that believe. Rom. 4: 16, 17. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. Ver. 3. Now it is not written for his sake a­lone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. Ver. 23, 24. Know ye, therefore, that they which are of faith, (who are true believers) the same are the children of Abraham. Gal. 3.7. And the scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen thro' faith, preached before the gos­pel unto Abraham, saying in thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which are of faith, (i. e. are true believers) are bles­sed with faithful Abraham. Ver. 8, 9. But, ver. 10, all self-righteous sinners are under the curse; for as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse. But ver. 13, 14. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse—that the blessing of Abra­ham might come on the Gentiles thro' Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the spirit thro' faith. For it is the pecu­liar privilege of believers to have the spirit. Rom. 8.9. Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Gal, 4.6, 7. Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, abba, fa­ther. And if a son, then an heir of God thro' Christ. But, chap. 3, 26. Ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. Ver. 29. And if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. For ver. 16. To Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ. There­fore, if ye are Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs ac­cording to the promise.

So that if we read the contents of the written instrument, [Page 14] as it is recorded in the old testament, or consider how the inspired writers of the new, understood it, nothing can be plainer than that the covenant with Abraham, into which the believing Gentiles are received under the gospel dispen­sation, was the covenant of grace, even that covenant in which, and in which alone justification and eternal life are to be expected. Nor can Mr. M. apply these texts to his external, graceless covenant, without perverting the word of GOD in a most shocking manner. Yea, if these texts do not speak of the covenant of grace by which alone sinners are justified, no such covenant can be found in the bible. There was no other covenant revealed to Abraham; and Paul knew of no way of justification but this. We have as much evidence then that the covenant with Abra­ham was the covenant of grace, as we have that there ever was a covenant of grace, existing since the world began.— Now observe,

1. From the nature of this covenant with Abraham we may learn the nature of GOD'S visible church. For as a real compliance with this covenant renders us the children of Abraham indeed: So a visible compliance with it ren­ders us visibly the children of Abraham. And as this co­venant is but one, so GOD'S church is but one; according to that article in the apostle's creed, so called, "I believe in the holy catholic church." There is but one good olive tree, accord­ing to St. Paul. Rom. 11. Were there two covenants, there would be two churches, two olive trees, answerable to the nature of the two covenants. But the bible knows of but one covenant with Abraham. And so God's church is compared to one good olive tree. And graceless profes­sors are compared to dry branches, in this one good olive tree. Whereas on Mr. M.'s plan the visible church is founded on a graceless covenant: This graceless covenant is the bond of union. So the olive tree itself, root and branch, is dead and dry, wholly graceless; and appears to be so; for their is no pretence to any thing else. Yea, Mr. M. thinks it was GOD'S design, that his real friends should keep hid, so as not to profess their friendship to him [Page 15] publickly before the world: And so that GOD should have, in this sense, no visible church in the world; p. 49; not one open friend upon earth. But Abraham professed to be a friend to GOD, and was by GOD publickly owned as such before the world; for he is called the friend of God. Jam. 2.23.

2. WE may also learn that the seal of the covenant of grace may with propriety be applied to some infants. For all will allow that GOD is the proper judge of propriety in such a case. And all grant that GOD appointed circumci­sion to be applied to some infants. And therefore if bap­tism is a seal of the covenant of grace, yet it may be ap­plied to some infants; provided only they have the same right to baptism, that the children of Abraham had to cir­cumcision.

3. WE may also hence learn the foundation of the right of believing Gentiles to baptism for their children. For if we are Christ's, then are we Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal. 3.29. For, if some of the branches be bro­ken off, and thou being a wild olive, wert grafted in amongst them, that with them thou partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree. Rom. 11.17. But from the very time that the practice of grafting in Gentile converts into the good olive took place, it had also been the custom, by divine appoint­ment, to put the seal of the covenant upon the children, as well as upon the father. Exod. 12.48.

4. IT is self-evident that those, who know that they have no grace, cannot understandingly and honestly profess a compliance with the covenant of grace. But the covenant of grace is that covenant upon which GOD'S visible church is founded. Nor is it lawful to apply the seals of this cove­nant to any other covenant of a nature specifically diffe­rent, devised by men.

[Page 16]5. FOR any church to lay aside the covenant of grace, and introduce a graceless covenant in its room, is so far forth to unchurch themselves: i. e. so far as this has in­fluence, to render themselves not a visible church of Christ; but a society, visibly, of a nature essentially different; even, so different as the covenants are. —But it is time to at­tend to the grand objection against this doctrine, that the covenant with Abraham was the covenant of grace; taken, as Mr. M. says, "from the covenant it self." Other objec­tions, of a more general nature, shall be obviated in Sect. VII. It may be thus summed up.

OBJECTION. That the covenant with Abraham menti­oned Gen. 17. Was not the covenant of grace, is evident, not only from this, that he was in the covenant of grace before; but from the covenant it self, which was merely "as external mark in the flesh." For the circumcision of the flesh was the covenant: as it is written, this is my covenant. But circumcision is not the covenant of grace, but a mere external mark, which may be put upon a man that has no grace. Nay, circumcision cannot be the covenant of grace, for by neglecting to circumcise a child this covenant might be broken, but there is no falling from grace. Therefore circumcision is not the covenant of grace, but an external covenant of a very different nature. P. 5, 6, 7, 8. *

[Page 17]ANSW. This is the foundation of Mr. M's. scheme. And perhaps there never was a fabrick built on a more sandy foundation. For he has mistaken, the external seal of the covenant for the covenant it self. Because it is said, this is my covenant, he at once concludes, that circumcision is the very covenant it self. Just as the papists do in the doctrine of transubstantiation: because it is said, this is my body, they at once conclude, that the bread is the very body of Christ it self. Whereas nothing can be plainer, than that the con­tents of God's covenant had been stated, and Abraham had complied with them, above 20 years before the institution of circumcision. And this very covenant which had, from time to time, been renewed, is again renewed in Gen. 17; and an external seal is appointed to it. So that nothing hin­ders but that the covenant with Abraham may be what the scriptures teach it to be, and what the christian world have always thought it to be; viz. The covenant of grace: and circumcision may still be, what it has been always [Page 18] thought to be; viz. An external seal of the covenant of grace, which God made with Abraham. *—And if God's [Page 19] covenant with Abraham was the covenant of grace, and if the same covenant, which took place then, continues under the gospel dispensation, as Mr. M. asserts, P. 12. Then the dispute is at end. Mr. M's. scheme is demolished.—Howe­ver, because he means to gather strength from the Sinai co­venant, let us proceed to consider that.

N. B. If the Abrahamic covenant was is no sense any part of the Sinai covenant, then circumcision was in no sense a seal of the Sinai covenant: and in this view the Sinai co­venant ought to be entirely left out of the dispute. Be­cause we are all agreed, that the gospel covenant is the same, for substance, with the Abrahamic. However, let us see what evidence there is that the Sinai covenant was a holy cove­nant, which could not be really complied with, but in the exercise of real holiness.

SECT. III. The covenant with the Israelites in the wilderness was a holy co­venant, and could not be really complied with, but in the exer­cise of real holiness.

THE whole law of Moses, which was written in a book, comprises at large all the contents of the co­venant with the Israelites in the wilderness. This book, [Page 20] therefore, was called, the book of the covenant. And the lit­tle chest in which it was put, from the special use to which it was appropriated, was called, the Ark of the covenant, Deut. 31.9, 25, 26. A brief summary of this law was written on two tables of stone. Deut. 4.13. Which two tables of stone were, therefore, called the tables of the covenant, Deut. 9 9, 10, 11, 15; and were also put into the Ark of the covenant, Deut. 10.4, 5. So that we may be as certain of the na­ture of that covenant, as we can be of the meaning of the Mosaic law.

THE Israelites in the wilderness professed a compliance with this covenant and with no other, as is beyond dispute certain from Exod. 19.8. And chap. 24.3. Deut. 5.1—6. And chap. 26. 16, 17, 18. Chap. 28. 1. 15, 58. And chap. 29. 9—13, compared with chap. 30. 10—16.

AND as soon as they should pass over Jordan, they were expressly commanded, to set up great stones, and plaister them with plaister, and write upon them all the words of this law; and to build an alter, and offer sacrifice; and half the tribes were to stand on mount Ebal, and half on mount Gerizzim, and the Levites were to say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice cursed be the man, &c. that breaks this and that law, twelves times successively, accor­ding to the number of the twelve tribes of Israel. And fi­nally, to sum all in one word, Cursed be the man that confirm­eth not all the words of this law to do them: and all the people shall say, Amen. Deut. 27. And this most solemn and affect­ing affair was accordingly attended, soon after they had passed over Jordan. Josh. 8.30—35.

So that, by their own act and deed, they did, in the most public and explicit manner, declare their hearty approbati­on of, and acquiescence in, not Mr. M.'s external covenant, but the perfect law of GOD, in all it's strictness, and with all it's curses, as holy, just and good. Nor was there, ac­cording to that constitution, any hope of pardon in case of transgression, but by the blood of atonement. Nor was there any pardon to be obtained in this way, until they repent­ed, until their uncircumcised hearts were humbled, even [Page 21] so deeply humbled as to accept the punishment of their ini­quity. Lev. 26.40, 41. Neh. 9. Dan. 9. Then they were to pray for pardon, looking towards GOD'S holy dwel­ling place, where the covenant was laid up in the ark, and covered with a lid all made of pure gold, to keep the law in honor, which was a type of Christ, whose office it is to magnify the law, and make it honorable, and to open a way for grace to reign. That lid was called the mercy seat, or rather as criticks say, it ought to have been translated, the propitiatory; for it was a shadow of Christ the Great Pro­pitiatory. And moreover, to complete the shadow, without shedding of blood there was no remission. Just thus stands the account in the sacred writings.

THIS cordial approbation of their law in all its extent, and with all its curses; and this praying for pardon, look­ing towards GOD'S holy dwelling place, offering sacrifices, &c. was, for substance, the same, with what the Apostle Paul meant by repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, which was the sum of that gospel he used to preach to the Jew and also to the Greek; Acts 20.21. For in repentance toward God, the divine law is heartily ac­quiesed in and loved as holy, just and good; and the whole blame of every transgression is taken to ourselves; with a disposition to say unto GOD, thou art just when thou speakest, and clear when thou judgest. And in faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, we look only to free grace thro' him for par­don and eternal life. So that the covenant of grace, in a legal dress, was the very covenant into which they professed to enter. So Paul understood it; Rom. 10.6—10. Compared with Deut. 30.11—14; of which more presently.

BUT a heart wholly dead in sin, is in a state of total con­trariety to the divine law, and to the way of salvation thro' Jesus Christ; or in the language of scripture, is enmity a­gainst God, is not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. So that there is not the least degree of real compliance with this holy covenant, in one who is entirely destitue of holi­ness: and so no degree of real compliance can be under­standingly and honestly professed. But if the truth was [Page 22] known, and the truth was spoken, by graceless sinners, they would all as one man declare, agreeable to our confession of faith, "we are utterly indisposed, disabled and apposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil;" for this is the very truth of the case; as Mr. M. himself professes to be­lieve.

And where now is there the least appearance of Mr. M.'s external graceless covenant in the old testament? The con­tents of Abraham's covenant are justifying faith; he believ­ed in the Lord, and it was counted to him for righteousness; and gospel obedience; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And he was called the friend of God. Jam. 2.23. The contents of the covenant at Sinai is the holy law of God, as the rule of life, and the blood of atonement as the foundation of hope. And where is this unholy covenant? But to be more parti­cular in the confutation of this notion.

1. IT is readily granted, that a notion of the Sinai cove­nant, somewhat like this, was once espoused by the most respectable sect in the Jewish church: I mean, the Phari­sees. They understood the Mosaic law in this very sense, and in no other. And in this they were more consistent than Mr. Mather. For he understands the Mosaic law in this very sense, and in a sense diametrically opposite to it, at the same time; for he believes the Mosaic law requires perfect holiness, even that every law which was itself the rule of duty in that covenant, which was externally enter­ed into; and yet he believes that the covenant externally entered into did require no holiness at all; but might be really complied with in the sight of GOD, by a graceless man, dead in sin. But the Pharisees were more consistent.* [Page 23] They believed that the Sinai covenant required nothing more in religion than they performed. For, as touching the righte­ousness of the law they were blameless in their own eyes. For they lived up to its demands in their sense of it. All these things have I done from my youth up, said one of them. And it was the spirit of the whole party to say to GOD, as the elder brother did to his father, Lo these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment. Luk. 15. For they were in their own eyes, righteous men, who need­ed no repentance. And this encouraged them to pray to GOD, and to hope for his approbation; for they could say as he did, God I thank thee, I am not as other men; for with­out the law sin was dead; and so they were alive without the law. And in this view of themselves, they were bold to claim a covenant relation to GOD; we have one father, even God. And they gloried much in having Abraham to their father; and were vexed at John Baptist, and Jesus Christ, for not admitting their claims to be well grounded; and for representing them to be not the children of Abraham, nor the children of GOD, but the children of the devil, a ge­neration of vipers. This was shocking treatment, indeed, of those, who were not only in covenant with GOD, as they thought; but who, as they understood it, had lived up to it too: and Mr. M. may be challenged to point out any essential difference between their notion of what the law of Moses required, and his notion of what his external covenant requires. For both agree in this, that a man may live up to the one, and to the other, without really embracing Christianity. They lived up to the law in their sense of it, and openly rejected Christ. And one may live up to Mr. M.'s external covenant and reject Christ in his heart, as he allows. And were it the fashion, he, who rejects Christ in his heart, might do it in open profession. Nay, [Page 24] How many professors are there, who, in their consciences, view the divine law very much in the same light that the Pharisees did? They are sensible it forbids open, gross, and (what the world calls) scandalous sins; such as stealing, &c. Their consciences will smite them if they are guilty of any such gross sins: But their consciences never smote them in their lives, for not being converted, for impenitence, for unbelief, for not loving GOD and Christ above all things, &c. &c. But they are agreed to a man to justify themselves in these sins, for they say, "we do as well as we can."— And these are the men, who claim church privileges with the greatest boldness, and have the highest notions of their being in covenant with GOD, and having a right to covenant blessings.—If it should ever hap­pen to these men, that their consciences should be so awakened, as to see, that a state and course of enmity against GOD and his law, and of rebellion against the Majesty of Heaven, is as great a sin, in the sight of the holy One of Israel, as stealing, considered as a crime com­mitted against our neighbour; their consciences would soon tell them, that the one disqualified them in the sight [Page 25] of GOD, for entering into covenant with GOD, as much as the other.—But if we tell men, that a state and course of enmity against GOD and his law, and of rebellion against the Majesty of Heaven does not, in the sight of GOD, dis­qualify them to enter into covenant with GOD, tho' steal­ing does, it will have, according to Mr. M.'s reasoning, p 44. ‘A direct tendency to prevent their minds being impressed with a sense of the heinous nature of such sins, and of GOD'S displeasure against them; but it is highly expedient, they should be so dealt with, as to awaken in their minds a sense of the displeasure of GOD against their conduct.’

2. JESUS CHRIST did not understand the law of Moses, which was the rule of duty in the Sinai covenant, in the same sense with the Pharisees, as requiring such a kind of obedience as they performed, and as other unconverted men may perform; but professedly set himself to give another explanation of it. This he did in his sermon on the Mount, which may be considered as a confutation of the Pharisaic scheme of religion. But a man may comply with Mr. M.'s external covenant fully, who has not the least degree of that religion taught in this sermon. A graceless man may live up to Mr. M.'s covenant, and at the same time be entirely destitute of a compliance with the law of Moses, in our Saviour's sense of it. For, says Christ, he that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, shall be like a man that built his house upon a rock. But a man may hear and do those things required in Mr. M.'s external co­venant, and yet finally be like the man, that built his house upon the sand; as he himself allows.

3. THE law of Moses, which was the rule of duty in the covenant into which the Israelites entered, required nothing but holiness. That covenant, which was externally exhi­bited, and externally entered into, was so far from being altogether a graceless covenant, that it required nothing but true grace and real holiness; nothing but love, with all it's various exercises and fruits, in heart and life; love to God and man; of this we are expressly assured by one who [Page 26] came from GOD, and infallibly understood the nature of that dispensation. Mat. 22.36—40. Master, which is the great commandment in the law? said a Pharisee to our Savi­our, referring to the law of Moses. Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind: this is the first and great command­ment, and the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Thus he had answered the Pharisee's question. But he proceeded to add another sentiment, which overthrew the Pharisaic scheme by the roots. On these two command­ments hang all the law and the prophets; for if the law oblig­ed the Jew to perform every duty in a holy manner, out of love; and required no other kind of obedience but this; if all the law and the prophets hung on these two commands; so that radically love was all; so that this holy love was the ful­filling of the law, Rom. 13.8, 10; then the Pharisees, who were entirely destitute of this, were equally destitute of that kind of religion required in the Mosaic law, and so their scheme was torn up by the roots. §

4. IT is manifest, that Moses himself instructed the Is­raelites [Page 27] to understand the covenant in this sense, and that the blessings of it were promised, not to an ungracious, but to a holy obedience. Moses did instruct the Israelites to understand it in this sense, as requiring holiness, Deut. 6.4, 5. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Lev. 19.18. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self.—And as requiring nothing but holi­ness. Deut. 10.12. And now Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul. —And that the blessings of it were promised to this holy obedience. This was one clause of the covenant, Exod. 20.6. Shewing mercy unto thou­sands of them, that love me, and keep my commandments. And thus it was afterwards explained. Deut. 11.22. For if ye will diligently keep all these commandments which I command you to do them, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him, then will the Lord drive out all these nations from before you, &c. &c. And if any man will read the first eleven chapters of Deut. he will see with what plainness and fidelity Moses explained the covenant to the Israelites: or rather let the whole book be read thro', from beginning to end in this [...].

5. The same, kind of faith in GOD, as their conductor thro' the wilderness to the promised land, which was a type of the heavenly Canaan, was required of the whole congre­gation of Israel in their covenant, as is required of every believer, under the gospel dispensation, in Christ Jesus, the captain of our salvation, on whom we depend to conduct us safe thro' this world to that rest that remains for the peo­ple of GOD; and this they professed, when they professed to take Jehovah for their God. And for the want of this faith their carcasses fell in the wilderness, just as false professors under the gospel fall short of heaven thro' unbelief; as is plain from Num. 14, and from the 3d and 4th chapters of the epistle to the Hebrews. And this, beyond all dispute, is a saving faith, a faith of a holy nature, and not the faith of devils.

[Page 28]6. Paul understood Moses to include the covenant of grace in his law. This is so plain, that any may see it, that will read and compare, Rom. 10.6—10, with Deut. 30.11, 12, 13.

7. Peter also understood the holiness required in the Sinai covenant to be the same kind of holiness, which the gospel requires of true saints, and without which no man shall see the Lord; as is so evident, that none will fail to see it, that will read and compare, 1 Pet. 1.15, 16, with Lev. 19.2.

Thus it appears, that the covenant externally exhibited, and externally entered into, in the wilderness, was, not a graceless, but a holy covenant.

Obj. ‘It will follow, that perfect and sinless obedience was what they prefessed"; for "nothing short of perfec­tion comes up to the demand of loving GOD with all the heart.—Altho' therefore they entered into a covenant which required them to love GOD with all their heart; yet the profession which they then made, cannot consist­ently be understood as a profession that at that time, there was such an heart in them; but that such a heart was their duty, and intended as the object of their pur­suit. But that an unrenewed sinner can, in no sense, be said to seek such an heart, is what, to me, wants proof.’ P. 22, 23.

ANS. Altho' the Israelites did not profess a perfect com­pliance with the law of perfection; yet they did profess a cordial compliance with it, even with the whole of it; but the unrenewed sinner can, in no scripture sense, he said cor­dially to comply with it, in the least degree. But to be more particular,

1. IN this objection Mr. M. grants one main point for which we contend, viz. That the law, which was the rule of duty in the Sinai covenant, required perfect holiness. He must therefore acknowledge, that it forbid every sin, the least as well as the greatest: and that it therefore required nothing but holiness. And that therefore his unholy grace­less covenant was not required by it, or contained in it.

2 IT will on the other hand be readily granted by us, that [Page 29] the law of God (considered, as requiring prefect holiness, and forbidding every sin, the least as well as the greatest) is the rule of life to believers; and as such, is presupposed and implied in the covenant of grace, which is not design­ed to make void, but to establish the Law. Rom. 3.31. And therefore whenever the covenant of grace is complied with in the exercise of faith, the law, in the very act, is cordially received as a rule of life by the believer: even as Abraham received that divine injunction, walk before me and be thou perfect, in the very act of his renewing covenant with God. Gen. 17. —But I have endeavoured already to explain and prove this at large in an essay on the nature and glory of the gospel.

3. NONE can consistently pretend, that Moses intended to lead the Israelites to profess sinless perfection in that cove­nant; because the daily sacrifice of a lamb, the great type of the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world, which was to be offered, morning and evening continually, as well as a great variety of others sacrifices of atonement, were assential parts of the Sinai covenant. But these had been needless institutions, had perfect holiness been professedly expected. For it was professedly expected that they would keep covenant. For they were taken into covenant in that view. Isa. 63.8. For he said, surely they are my people, children that will not lie.

4. AND yet no fact can be plainer than that Moses led them to receive the whole law for the rule of their lives, and that they professed to do this. Exod, 24.3. And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judg­ments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, all the words, which the Lord hath said, will we do: Compared with Deut. 26.17. Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice. For they professed, not merely to give the assent of their under­standings to this truth, viz. That the law of God ought to be the rule of their lives; but, to use the modern phrase, they professed the consent of their wills: "All the words which the Lord hath spoken, will we do." And God declares that [Page 30] this was "well said." And had there been "such an heart in them" answerable to their visible professon, they would have been Israelites indeed: for their hearts would then have been right in the sight of God, and they would have been stead­fast in his covenant. Num. 32.11, 12. Their profession therefore was full enough, but they lied to God will their tongues. Their profession was as full as God desired: but there was not such an heart in them. Psal. 78.36, 37. For,

5. It is the peculiar character of the regenerate cordially to receive the divine law as the rule of their lives. Heb. 8.10. But it is the universal character of the unregenerate to be in a state of total contrariety to the divine law in their hearts. Rom. 8.7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to his law; neither indeed can be. Therefore,

6. As every true believer does cordially receive the law of God for the rule of his life, so he may understandingly and honestly profess it: but one whose heart is in a state of total contrariety to the divine law, if he understands and ho­nestly speaks the truth, must say, ‘I am not subject to the divine law, neither indeed can I be; yea, so far from it, that I am at enmity against God.’ But,

7. None of the religious seekings and endeavours of one, in whom a total non-compliance with God's holy cove­nant takes place, are of the nature of a compliance with that covenant, in the least degree; as is self-evident. For to say otherwise, is an express contradiction. Therefore,

8. THERE is no way left for a profession of a compliance with God's holy covenant, to those who know themselves to be unconverted, (without lying) but to deny the doctrine of total depravity. For since the covenant cannot be proved to be an unholy graceless one, we must pretend that grace­less sinners have some grace, in order to obtain our end. But,

9. IF unconverted sinners have that grace, which is a compliance with the covenant of grace, then they are en­titled to the blessings of the covenant of grace, to pardon, justification and eternal life; which to say, is at once to set aside the whole New-Testament. Thus stands the case.

Now what method Mr. M. will take, to get along with [Page 31] his scheme, after time for reconsideration, is not yet known: or whether a gentlemen of so much good sense will not ra­ther give it up.

OBJECT. But if these things are true, it will follow, that the covenant with Abraham, the Sinai covenant, and the gospel covenant are for substance, one and the same cove­nant; even the covenant of grace: but this does not agree with many scripture texts. For the Apostle Paul distinguish­es between the Abrahamic covenant and the Sinai covenant, between the promise to Abraham and the law which was 430 years after, and calls them two covenants. Gal. 3.16, 17, 18, and Chap. 4.24. And he represents the Sinai covenant, which he calls the law as requiring perfect obedience on pain of the curse. Chap. 3.10. And affirms that by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified. Rom. 3.20. Gal. 2.16. And that Abraham was not justified by the law, but by faith. Gal. 3.6, 7, 8, 9. And that the law is not of faith. Ver. 12. but a School-Master to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Ver. 24 Moreover, it is plainly intimated, that in the Sinai covenant God did not communicate sanctifying grace to those that were under it; but that in the gospel covenant he does. At mount Sinai God wrote the law on ta­bles of stone, and obliged the people to keep it: but did not give them a heart to do so: but in the new covenant God writes his law on the heart. i. e. by the influences of his spirit gives a disposition of mind answerable to the law. Heb. 8.8—12. Therefore Paul calls the Sinai covenant the minis­tration of death and condemnation, and the letter that killeth in distinction from the gospel, which he calls the spirit which giveth life, the ministration of the spirit, and the ministration of righteousness. 2 Cor. 3.6, 7, 8.

ANSW. As Mr. M. maintains that the Abrahamic, the Sinai, and the Gospel covenants are for substance one and the same covenant; so the foregoing objection cannot con­sistently be made by him or by his admirers; nor has he taken any notice of it. It may suffice therefore to say;

1. That every self-righteous Jew was disposed to consi­der the Old-Testament as a covenant of works, and every [Page 32] self-righteous christian is disposed to consider the New Tes­tament in the same light. They attended the externals of that dispensation and expected to find acceptance with God, by what they did. Luk. 18.11. Rom. 9.31.32. And their example is closely followed by too many under the christian dispensation: neither of them understanding the true nature of the divine law. Rom. 7.8, 9.

2. It is readily granted, that St. Paul taught, that all self-righteous sinners, be they Jews or Christians, are under a law which requires perfect obedience on pain of eternal damnation: that this law is holy, just and good; that they are in duty bound to fulfil this law themselves; that GOD is not bound to give them any assistance at all; and that it curses every one that continueth not in all things. And it is readily granted, that this law is a ministration of death and condemnation, and killeth. It was ordained to life, i. e. it promises life to every one that lives up to it; but it is found to be unto death to every one who makes the attempt. Rom. 7.10.

3. It is readily granted, that this law is as different from the Abrahamic covenant, and the gospel covenant, as the covenant of works is from the covenant of grace: And that it was the design of the apostle to set this difference in a clear and striking light, that he might kill all the self-righteous hopes of the self-righteous sinner; and convince him that there is no hope in his case, but of mere free grace thro' Jesus Christ. Gal. 3.10, 24. Rom. 3.9—25.

4. It is also granted, that this law was one principal part of the Sinai covenant: and that every carnal Jew was un­der it, and held bound by it: Yea, that it is the peculiar privilege of the true believer to be delivered from it, and that by being united to and interested in Christ Jesus, the second Adam, who hath completely answered it's demands; Rom. 6.14, and chap. 7.4, 5, 6. Gal. 2.19, 20. and chap. 3.10—14.—And to grant these things is to grant all that the Apostle says about this law. And yet consistently with all these things it may be asserted, that

5. The Mosaic dispensation did reveal a way in which [Page 33] pardon of sin might be obtained: it did exhibit in types a shadow of the gospel way of obtaining pardon. See the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 16th chapters of Leviticus. And it did promise pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace to the pe­nitent believer. Lev. 26.40, 41, 42. Deut. 30.1—6. And the land of Canaan was a designed type of heaven; & long life and prosperity there, of eternal life and blessedness above. Heb. 4.1—11.—But this is the sum of what is intended, when the Sinai covenant is represented as a cove­nant of grace.

6. The Israelites when they entered into covenant at Mount-Sinai in words, did by their unbelief reject the co­venant of grace in their hearts. Psal. 78.36, 37. Heb. 3.19. And therefore notwithstanding they were then visibly mar­ried to GOD in a covenant containing the promises before mentioned, whereby they laid themselves under bonds to keep covenant; yet GOD was not obliged to give them a heart to keep covenant, by any promise contained in that dispensation, as he would have been had they been sincere, and as he is to all who are united to Christ by a true and living faith. And so it came to pass that they broke cove­nant, in an open, public manner; and he regarded them not, but their carcases fell in the wilderness: Whereas GOD writes his law in the heart of the true believer, and effectual­ly inclines him to walk in his ways. And thus every false professor, whether Jew or Christian, will fall short of the heavenly Canaan; as it is written, Joh. 15.2. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it that it may bring forth more fruit.—But,

7. If any, after all, shall insist, that the Sinai covenant was merely a covenant of works, and that the Abrahamic covenant was not in any sense contained in it, they ought to consider, that if this be so, then the Sinai covenant ought to be entirely left out of the account in the present dispute, & circumcision ought to be considered, as being in no sense a seal of it. For it was appointed to be a seal of the Abrahamic covenant, and of no other; and therefore if the Abraha­mic [Page 34] covenant was in no sense a part of the Sinai covenant, then circumcision, was in no sense a seal of the Sinai covenant. For no new seals to the covenant of works have been ap­pointed since Adam was turned out of paradise. And as for Mr. M.'s external graceless covenant, it never had any existence. The bible knows nothing about it, either name or thing.—We have already seen that it is not contained in the Old-Testament, and we shall presently perceive, that it is not to be found in the new.

SECT. IV. The Gospel of Christ essentially different from Mr. Mather's ex­ternal, graceless covenant.

IT is true, the gospel consists in an external revelation; but then the thing revealed, is the way of salvation by free grace thro' Jesus Christ. It is also true, that the call of the gospel is an external call; but then the thing it calls us unto, is a belief and compliance with the way of salvati­on by free-grace thro' Jesus Christ. The gospel consists in the clearest and fullest external revelation of the way in which GOD may be just and yet justify and save sinners; which way of salvation it constantly invites sinners to com­ply with, that they may be pardoned and saved; saying, come, for all things are now ready. Mat. 22.4. This may be called an external covenant, as it is a visible exhibition of the covenant of grace, with which professors of Christiani­ty visibly comply in a profession of repentance toward GOD and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. But in this view, it is essentially different from Mr. M.'s external covenant. For the gospel covenant promises pardon and eternal life to those who really comply with it; but one may com­ply with Mr. M.'s external covenant in sincerity and truth▪ and yet have no grace and finally perish. For Mr. M.'s external covenant does not require saving grace, and may be perfectly complied with by one who is dead in sin. For it is an unholy, graceless covenant; and so it is essentially different from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

JOHN Baptist did not baptize with the baptism of the external covenant, but with the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Luke 3.

[Page 35]JESUS CHRIST did not call men to comply with an ex­ternal graceless covenant, and be baptised: But to repent & believe the gospel. Mat. 1.15. Having counted the cost, to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him. Luke 14.25—33. Promising eternal life to those who did so. Mat. 19.29. Representing graceless professors by salt that has lost it's savor, and is good for nothing, but to be cast out & trod­den under foot. Mat. 5.13. Luk. 14.34, 35. He warned his hearers against professing and not living up to his religion, as an inconsistent conduct. Luk. 6.46. He called them to make such a profession, as he might own to their honor in the heavenly world, before his Father. Mat. 10.32. Who­soever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. This is that profession unto which he invited men, and never invited them to any other. Rather to false professors Christ declares it will be said, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having on a wedding gar­ment? Mat. 22.

THE apostles had no commission to preach and baptize upon Mr. M.'s external covenant; but were expressly or­dered to preach the gospel to every creature; a gospel that pro­mised eternal life: and to baptize those who appeared to comply with it. Mark 16.15, 16. They were sent to make disciples, not to Mr. M.'s external covenant, but to Christia­nity. Mat. 28.19, 20. In a word, they were sent to preach repentance and remission of sins to all nations in the name of Christ. Luk. 24.47. And they acted up to their commission.

When the three thousand were pricked in their heart, Peter did not tell them to comply with Mr. M.'s external cove­nant and be baptised, which they might have done, and yet have continued impenitent and unpardoned; but, exactly according to his Master's orders, he said, repent and be bap­tised in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins. Acts 2.37, 38. Repent first, and then be baptised.

And when Peter went to preach to Cornelius, it was not to preach up an external covenant, with which a man may comply and yet perish; but to declare to him the gospel way of salvation, to tell him words whereby he might be saved, [Page 36] and all his house. Acts 11.14. And accordingly, he preach­ed the gospel, viz. That thro' Christ's name, whosoever be­lieveth in him shall receive remission of sins. Acts 10.43. But he said not one word about Mr. M.'s external graceless cove­nant. And when the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they glorified God, not that the Gentiles were ad­mitted into an external graceless covenant, a thing not heard of in the apostolic age; but they glorified GOD, saying, then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. Acts 11.18. For it had been their notion, that an uncir­cumcised Gentile could not be saved. Acts 15.1.

PETER, before he began his sermon, was well assured that Cornelius was a real saint; for Cornelius had known so much about the Jewish religion, that altho' born a Pa­gan, yet he had renounced idolatry, and had become a true and acceptable worshipper of the GOD of Israel. He was a believer in the same sense that Nathanael was, who was an Israelite indeed in whom there was no guile, and who however did not at that time know that Jesus was the Messiah who was to come. John 1.43—47. For without faith it is im­possible to please God. Heb. 11.6. But Cornelius obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts, by an angel from heaven, which appeared to him. Acts 10.4. And by a vision which appeared to Peter, and a voice de­claring Cornelius, tho' uncircumcised, yet in the sight of GOD to be not unclean, but clean; for that GOD himself had cleansed him; ver. 9—16. Peter therefore began his sermon with a declaration, that Cornelius, altho' uncircumcised, was nevertheless in a state of acceptance with GOD; ver. 34, 35. It had been mad work therefore now for Peter to preach up Mr. M.'s external graceless covenant to one, who was already really in the covenant of grace, and whom Pe­ter had just declared to be so. But, Peter, far from this, knowing his business well, gave to him and to the whole company a brief narrative of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; exhibiting the evidence there was, that he was indeed the promised Messiah, and that through his name whosoever believeth in him, shall receive the remission of sins. Ver. [Page 37] 36— 43. And it happened to the hearers, while he was preaching, as Christ said it would to them that believe, even in the very commission which he gave to his apostles. (Mark 16.15, 16.) The Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word. And that not only in his extraordinary gifts, but also in his sanctifying influences, and that to a great degree; for they not only "spake with tongues," but "MAGNIFI­ED GOD;" as the blessed Virgin did, when filled with the Holy Ghost, Luke 1.46. Or rather, as those, who, on the day of Pentecost, spake the wonderful works of God. Acts 2.11.—This appearance struck Peter and all the saints pre­sent with astonishment. Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost, as well as we? said Peter. And exactly in this point of light did Peter afterwards set this fact, when he gave a narrative of it to the council at Jerusalem. Acts 15.8, 9. And God which knoweth the hearts, beareth them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us, and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.—And again,

When Paul had the awakened jailor to instruct, and to prepare for baptism, he said not one word to him, about Mr. M.'s external covenant, either name or thing; but preached the gospel to him, saying, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Acts 16.30, 31. And thou shall be "saved." He did not preach up an un­saving, graceless faith, the faith of devils: but a saving faith. To that, and to no other, did he exhort the jailor, in order to prepare him for baptism. §

When Mr. Sandeman says, that "a simple belief of the simple truth," (the heart left out of the account) is saving faith; Mr. M. will doubtless agree with me in saying, "This [Page 38] cannot be saving faith; because the devil has it." When therefore Mr. Mather (p. 25) represents the eunuch, as entering into covenant with GOD, by the simple belief of the simple truth, by an ungracious, unholy faith, and is resolv­ed to make that phrase, "with all thine heart," stand for nothing; I beg leave to reply, "this faith cannot bring those into covenant with GOD that have it; because the devil has it." And I humbly conceive that no man need be at a loss about the meaning of Philip's words, or of the eunuch's answer, that will compare them with Rom. 10.9. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart, that GOD hath raised him from the dead, THOU SHALT BE SAVED." And with 1 John 4.15. "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of GOD, GOD dwelleth in him, and he in GOD." And chap. 5.1. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God." For just this was the profession which Philip de­manded, and which the eunuch made.

And in this view of things, it is easy to discern the true reason, why the apostolic churches, were, in the epistles wrote to them, considered and treated as saints, by the wri­ters, who it is not to be supposed had any personal acquain­tance at all with many of them; and why they were spo­ken of as beloved of God, Rom. 1.7. Sanctified in Christ Jesus. 1 Cor. 1.2. Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Eph. 1.4. &c. &c. For such they were by profession be­fore all the world; and such generally speaking they proved themselves to be by their practice. Indeed it was always expected, that tares would, more or less be among the wheat. But the apostles did not think it their duty to sow tares knowingly and on design, as Mr. M. would have us do. In that age of the church this was thought to be the work of the devil. Mat. 13.39. And, methinks, he may, now in our age, do enough at it, without any help from the clergy.—And if professors in that age lived up to their profession, and gave abundant evidence of their sincerity, by the holiness of their lives, as Mr. M. observes they did. P. 31, &c. Then they were indeed the salt of the earth, and [Page 39] the light of the world, in their profession and in their practice too, as all church members ought to be. Mat. 5.13, 14, 15. Nor did the apostles think it a thing of dangerous tenden­cy to treat them as such in the most public manner, in the sight of the world; as Mr. M. must have thought on his scheme, p. 51, &c. These were churches of visible saints, who appeared to be the body of Christ, a living body to a living head. P. 48, 49. And not synagogues of satan, to which graceless professors are said to belong, in Rev. 2.9.—To conclude,

When we read the life of John Baptist, and of Jesus Christ; when we read the commission given to the apostles, in Mathew, Mark, and Luke; and when we read the his­tory of their conduct in the Acts; and consider how they treated the churches which they set up; nothing can be plainer, than that they preached the gospel, made proselytes to Christianity, set up Christian churches, on the gospel plan; and not on the plan of an external graceless covenant, a thing not heard of in that age.

Obj. But there was not time to examine the three thou­sand on the day of Pentecost, in order to form a judgment of their gracious state: nor to judge of them by their fruits. P. 26.

Ans. They professed to comply with Peter's exhortation, repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus for the re­mission of sins. Their profession, circumstanced as it was, was to all appearance sincere. And this was enough; for the doctrine of the necessity of an infallible certainty that pro­fessors were what they professed themselves to be, in order to their admission into the church, was not an apostolic doctrine. And besides, they had as much time to examine into their grace, as into their moral sincerity.

Obj. ‘How could the character of the apostles be main­tained as infallibly inspired guides to the church, when those they had received, did so often prove hypo­crites, false-brethren and apostates?’ P. 29.

Ans. By infallible inspiration they were taught, that it was GOD'S prerogative to search the heart. They never [Page 40] pretended to do it themselves. They preached repentance toward GOD and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ: Their converts professed that repentance and faith which they preached: They received them upon their profession; they expected there would be tares among the wheat. But they did not mean to sow tares knowingly and upon design: this was the work of the devil; and is it not fit that the mini­sters of Christ should take the work of the devil out of his hands.

Obj. It is true, Peter said of Cornelius and those that were with him, God put no difference between us and them, pu­rifying their hearts by faith. But he said this some years af­ter, in which time they had doubtless given sufficient evi­dence: but this is of no weight, to prove that they were ad­mitted to baptism on that supposition. P. 28.

Ans. If he did say this some years after, and if they had in that time given ever so great evidence of the sincerity of their conversion; yet Peter says not one word about this consequent evidence, nor gives the least hint that they had given such evidence. He mentions not one single fact, on which his charity for them was founded, but that only which happened before they were baptized, viz. Giving them the Holy Ghost even as he did unto us. But the Apostles received not only the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost on the day of pentecost, but also large effusions of his sanctifying influences, filling their hearts with love to divine things: And out of the abundance of their hearts, their mouths spake of the wonderful works of God. Acts 2.11. And it hap­pened to Cornelius and his houshould just as it had to the Apostles on the day of pentecost, and their hearts were fil­led with divine Love; and out of the abundance of their hearts their mouth spake, MAGNIFYING GOD, extolling and praising him for the glorious display of his perfections in the work of redemption by Jesus Christ. Acts 10.46. By which Peter and the saints who were with him perceived to their full satisfaction, that these Gentile converts had the same holy views, and holy affections, which they themselves had; which led Peter to say, God bare them witness, giving them [Page 41] the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference be­tween us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. This is the plain and natural sense.

SECT. V. Baptism and the Lord's Supper, are seals of the covenant of grace, and of no other covenant.

MR. Mather says, p. 36, ‘Seals are rites of confir­mation.—Nothing is confirmed by the seal, but what is expressed in the written instrument to which it is annexed. And thus, GOD confirms and ratifies no­thing by the sacraments, but what is contained in the declarations of his word." And, p. 37. "These seals with respect to us, confirm the profession which we make, and the engagements we come under." So that if the written instrument’ is the covenant of grace; GOD, by affixing his seal, ratifies his promise to save those that com­ply with it; and this on God's part, is the import of the action of sealing. And, if the "written instrument" is the covenant of of grace; the professor, by actively receiving the seal, declares, on his part, that he does comply with that covenant, and ratifies his engagements to live up to it. For, thus it is, in all mutual covenants among men, where both parties seal; they do, by sealing, declare a present compliance with the bargain and mutually oblige themselves to act up to it for the future. To the bargain, I say, as contained in the written instrument; to that, and to no­thing else. So that when once it is determined what is con­tained in the written instrument; it is at the same time de­termined, what is sealed, and what is the import of the act of sealing. But Mr. M. says, "The sealing ordinances; by which the external covenant is sealed and confirmed, do equally seal and confirm the the covenant of grace." P. 36. Upon which it may be observed, that, to be consistent, it will follow,

1. That when a graceless man seals the external graceless covenant, binding himself to perform all the graceless du­ties which it requires; he does at the same time equally seal [Page 42] the covenant of grace, and equally bind himself to per­form all the gracious duties which this requires. And where­as these two covenants require religious exercises of a con­trary nature, even as contrary as graceless and gracious, which in other words, are as contrary as sin and holiness; so Mr. M.'s unconverted covenanter, in the act of sealing these two contrary covenants, binds himself to perform all religious duties in these two contrary manners; and that at the same time; for he binds himself by sealing both co­venants at once, to perform every duty as both covenants require, from day to day as long as he lives; and every time he comes to the Lord's-table, he binds himself a fresh. But our Saviour says, No man can serve two masters.—Besides, on this plan, the door of the visible church is shut against all who know themselves to be graceless. For they can­not make a profession of a compliance with the covenant of grace; and so the end and design of Mr. M.'s whole scheme is frustrated.

2. It will also follow from Mr. M.'s own words, that when (a Godly man) Abraham, for instance, sealed the external covenant, and the covenant of grace both at once, he e­qually bound himself all his life long to perform all religi­ous duties, both in a gracious and ungracious manner, at the same time. But how could Abraham, at the same time, serve these two contrary masters, requiring things as contra­ry as sin and holiness? Or how could he, being a Godly man, with a good conscience, bind himself by covenant to perform all religious duties in an unholy manner? Surely he could not do it! and so on Mr. M.'s plan, the door of the visible church is shut against both the Godly and the wicked. The Godly cannot come to sacraments, be­cause they are seals of an unholy covenant, binding them to live in a course of unholy duties; and the ungodly, knowing themselves to be such, cannot come, because they are seals of a holy covenant, binding them to live in a course of holy duties. * Therefore,

[Page 43]3. Mr. M. must give up the common notion of a seal, as de­claring a present compliance with, & binding both parties to act up to what is contained in the written instrument, or else he must honestly leave the covenant of grace out of the written instrument, or he must give up his scheme as wholly incon­sistent.—To solve this difficulty he says, "In their primary re­ference they may be seals of the external covenant; and yet, consistently, in their ultimate reference, may be seals of the covenant of grace." P. 36.—But if they, in fact, really seal both covenants, then the man who comes to the sacraments, does, in fact, really bind himself to fulfil both covenants. For, let him ask any lawyer on the con­tinent, and he will be told, that by sealing a "written in­strument," if it contains two or ten covenants, we oblige ourselves, either to fulfil all of them, or none of them.— The truth is, Mr. M. had proposed this objection against his scheme, viz. ‘The preceeding discourse represents the sealing ordinances of the gospel, not as seals of the cove­nant of grace, but of the external covenant with the vi­sible church.’ And he had no way to get rid of it, ac­cording to his scheme, but to run into these inconsistences, or roundly to deny the received doctrine of the Christian church, that baptism and the Lord's supper, are seals of the covenant of grace. He has denied it implicitly: but he did not choose to deny it expressly; but seems to own it; and so runs himself into these inconsistences.

But if we turn our eyes off from Mr. M.'s inconsistent scheme, to the New-Testament, which was designedly a­dapted to the capacities of common people, we shall see not the least appearance of two covenants of which baptism and the Lord's-supper are the appointed seals; we shall find no covenant but the covenant of grace; no gospel, but the gos­pel [Page 44] of Jesus Christ, which promises pardon and eternal sal­vation to the penitent believer; and baptism & the Lord's-supper are represented as seals to no other covenant but this.—For, to use Mr. M.'s phrase,

In the "written instrument" GOD promises salvation to the true believer. Mark 16.16. Therefore, if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest be active in receiving the seal of the covenant, said Philip, divinely inspired. Acts 8.37.

Again. In the "written instrument" GOD promises re­mission of sins to the true penitent thro' Jesus Christ, Luke 24.47. Therefore, repent and be baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins, Acts 2.38. (that is, com­ply with the covenant, and then be active in receiving the seal;) was the language of a divinely inspired apostle.—And, another divinely inspired minister of Christ, already know­ing the man to be a true penitent, and so prepared to be active in receiving the seal of the covenant, said, arise, and be baptised, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Acts 22.16.—Thus we see what covenant is rati­fied and confirmed by this seal, on GOD'S part.

And because the apostolic professors, in offering them­selves to baptism, and in being active in receiving the seal of the covenant, did, on their parts, thereby bind themselves to live according to all things contained in it, therefore Paul said, Gal. 3.27. As many of you as have been baptised into Christ, have put on Christ; not put on the external covenant; but put on Christ. i. e. put on Christianity: So as to be entituled to the heavenly Canaan, granting their hearts to answer to their external conduct; for, he adds, ver. 29. And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs, ac­cording to promise. Heirs to what? To all the blessings of the covenant; particularly, to the heavenly Canaan, of which the earthly Canaan was a type, and which Paul had just said, was given to Abraham by promise, ver. 18.

And because in baptism, in the apostolic age, men pro­fessed a cordial compliance with the covenant of grace, & bound themselves in all things to be affected and act ac­cordingly; therefore, when it was objected, that Paul's [Page 45] doctrine of justification by faith, without works, tended to make men licentious, and to encourage them to live in sin, that grace might abound; he thought it sufficient to say, "This can never be, for we have been baptized, and so we are dead to sin and alive to GOD." Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Fa­ther, even so we also should walk in newness of life; for if we have been (in baptism) planted together in the likeness of his death: we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.—For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace. Rom. 6.1—14. Which proves, that in baptism they professed a compliance with Christianity itself, and not with Mr. M.'s external graceless covenant, with which a man may comply, while under the dominion of sin.

And, indeed, for men to come to the apostles to be bap­tised in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, could, consistently, mean nothing less than a public practical declaration of a present compliance with what the gospel reveals concerning the Father, the Son, and the Ho­ly Ghost; and an engagement to act accordingly in all future time: in which the whole of Christianity consists. To be­lieve what the gospel reveals concerning the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; and to receive God for our Father, and Christ for our Mediator, and the Holy Ghost for our Enlightener and Sanctifier; and to be affected and act accordingly, is the whole of Christianity. But to be active in offering our selves to be baptised in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and in the very act, to refuse in our hearts, & in the sight of GOD, to have God for our Father, or Christ for our Saviour, or the Holy Ghost for our Sanctifier, is to contradict ourselves, in the sight of GOD. It is, to lie to the Holy Ghost. It is to renounce Christianity in heart, at the very moment when we embrace it in our visible conduct. But such wicked dissimulation is not an appointed means of grace.

[Page 46]As to the Lord's-supper, our Saviour teacheth us, that it is the seal of the new-covenant, in which remission of sins is offered thro' the blood of Christ. Mat. 26.28. For this is my blood of the New-Testament, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins: Which is essentially different from Mr. M.'s exter­nal covenant, by which no remission of sins can be obtained.

At the Lord's-table, Christ, by the mouth of his mini­ster, says, this is my body, take ye, eat ye all of it. This is my blood, take ye, drink ye all of it. Hereby sealing to the truth contained in the "written instrument." But it is therein written, in so many words, I am the living bread, which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give him is my flesh, which I give for the life of the world. He that eateth my flesh, and drink­eth my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. John 6.51, 56. Thus it is written, and thus it is sealed on Christ's part.— On the other hand the communicant by his practice declares, "I take his flesh, and eat it: "I take his blood, and drink it,"—and seals the covenant on his part—and thus the "written instrument" is externally and visibly sealed, ratified and confirmed on both sides, with as much for­mality as any "written instrument" is mutually sealed by the parties in any covenant among men.—And now, if both parties are sincere in the covenant, thus sealed; and if both abide by and act according to it, the communicant will be saved. For salvation is promised in the "written instru­ment" to those who eat his flesh and drink his blood. Joh. 6.51. This promise is sealed by Christ at the Lord's Table. The condition of it is externally complied with, in the sa­cramental actions, by the communicant, who visibly eats his flesh and drinks his blood. And if the exercises of his heart answer to his external actions, the covenant is on his part complied with, sealed, ratified and confirmed. And if the gospel is true, he will be saved.

But if the communicant's heart does not answer to his external sacramental actions; but on the contrary, if when he visibly and sacramentally eats his flesh, and drinks his blood, even at that very time, in his heart and in the sight of [Page 47] God, he rejects his flesh and his blood, his atonement, and all the blessings purchased by his death, his visible actions are a lie: and lying is not a converting ordinance.

An impenitent sinner under legal terrors may forsake bad company, lay aside the practice of uncleanness, of drunkenness, of backbiting, of lying and cheating, &c. he may make restitution to those whom he has injured in name and estate: he may spend much time in hearing and reading the word of God, in meditating on death and judgment, hea­ven and hell, in comparing his thoughts, words and acti­ons with the law of God, and with the gospel of Christ: and he may spend much time in secret prayer, and in trying to get his heart deeply affected with eternal things, &c. &c. without lying.—And thus reforming his life and attending these means may be useful to promote a conviction of his sinful, guilty, helpless, ruined state: But lying tends to sear his conscience and harden his heart in sin.—To make a profession of a compliance with the covenant of grace with his mouth, when he knows he does not comply with it in his heart; and to renew this covenant at the table of the Lord in visible actions, while he continues to reject it in his heart, and knows this to be the case with him, is wilful lying, and tends directly to the eternal ruin of the sinner's immortal soul.

OBJECT. By my sacramental actions I mean to acknow­ledge, that the gospel is true; but not to profess a compli­ance with it. P. 41.

ANSW. Should your neighbour treat you thus, in any covenant depending between you; should he say, "I own the things contained in it are true, but I do not mean to bind myself to fulfil covenant, by signing and sealing it be­fore evidence;" you, and all the world, would look upon him as a dishonest quibbler.

OBJ. But I mean "to have the truths of the gospel deeply impressed upon my heart by the ordinance." P. 41.

ANSW. This end might be as well obtained, if you tar­ried as a spectator. Those who stand by as witnesses, when a bond is signed and sealed may know what is done, as well as those who are parties, and who bind themselves. Men [Page 48] that mean not to bind themselves should not sign and seal the bond. No one seals a bond, unless he means to bind himself to fulfil it. Sould a man offer to sign and seal a bond, which he did not mean to bind himself to ful­fil, in order to get his heart affected with what is contained it, his neighbours would think him delirious.

OBJ. But I mean to bind myself to "endeavour" to fulfil it; i. e. to "endeavour to conform my practice to the rules of it." P. 21.

ANS. Should you offer your house and farm to your neighbour upon the most reasonable terms, which, if he had a heart, he might fulfil with ease and pleasure, Mat. 11.28, 29. Prov. 3.17. And should he plainly tell you, that at present he could not find it in his heart to comply with your offer; nor could he promise that he ever should comply; but however he was willing to bind himself to "endeavour" to comply, and no more; you would doubt­less think best to put off the bargain till you should find him of another temper. And what our Saviour thinks best in the present case is most plainly expressed in Luk. 14.25—33.

SECT. VI. It cannot be determined what Mr. M's external covenant requires, and wherein a real compliance with it doth consist, so that any man can ever know that he has complied with it.

NEGATIVELY, Mr M. has determined with great exactness, what it does not require, and what is not necessary in order to a perfect compliance with it: viz. holiness. For it requires no holiness at all: no, not the least spark of true grace. So that, if we could know what it did require, it might be perfectly complied with, by one, who is quite dead in sin. This is very plain.

POSITIVELY, he has not determined, what it does re­quire, so that any man can ever know, that he has com­plied with it: nor can it be determined by him, or by any other.—For it cannot be determined from scripture: for the scripture knows nothing about such a covenant, either name, or thing.—And it cannot be determined from rea­son: for it is supposed to be a matter of pure revelation.

[Page 49]Indeed, Mr. M. has attempted to settle this matter, he says, p. 21. ‘I will allow, that none but such as profess the christian religion, and will endeavour to conform his practice to the rules of it, ought to be admitted into the church.’ Upon which, it may be observed,

1. That Abraham made no profession at all, of any faith, but of a saving faith. He believed in the Lord, and it was counted to him for righteousness. And if Abraham is to be our pattern, as Mr. M. insists, then we must make a profession of this faith, or of none. To set aside Abraham's faith, which was, as James asserts, a living faith; and to introduce into it's room a dead faith, which James calls the faith of devils; and to substitute this in the stead of the faith of Abraham, and to put God's seal, which belongs to God's covenant, to this new invented covenant of human device, is not "to conform our practice to the rules" of God's word; nor so much as to "endeavour" it.—Besides,

2. Mr. M. says, p. 7. ‘That by which ANY ONE was to enter into this" external "covenant was an external mark in the flesh.’ But faith, altho' a dead faith, is an internal thing, and is as much invisible, as any other mental qualification whatsoever: and therefore is not necessary on his scheme, to be in the heart of the professor: nor need he profess it to be in his heart. For "to require more of the person to be admitted into the church, than is made neces­sary by the covenant on which it is framed, is really absurd." p. 22.—For, to imitate his manner of reasoning, it may be said, ‘to set this matter in the clearest light, an Infidel, or an Atheist, with a fair profession of the external cove­nant, when he is received into the visible church, on Mr. M's scheme, is in the sight of God either a member of it, or he is not. If he is a member, then the faith of devils is not necessary. If he is not, then on Mr. M's scheme there can be no visible church.’ This is Mr. M's manner of reasoning, p. 49. * I hope this may shew [Page 50] the inconsistence of excluding a living faith, because it is an invisible mental qualification; and yet retaining a dead faith, which is equally an invisible mental qualification. To make Mr. M's scheme consistent, no mental qualification ought to be professed. Nothing but baptism, which is sub­stituted in the room of circumcision, is needful. Baptism alone, without any profession at all, is the only requisite to constitute any man a member of Mr. M's visible church. But in the apostolic age no man was ever received into the visible church by baptism alone, without a profession. Mr. M. is obliged therefore to allow of the necessity of a pro­fession. But this supposes the necessity of some mental, in­visible, internal qualification to be professed: But this is in­consistent with the notion, that nothing is necessary but what is external and visible. So his scheme cannot hang together.—Besides,

3. To have no other faith than the devil has, and to profess no other faith than he has professed, is not to enter into covenant with God, unless the devil is in covenant with God. Therefore let the articles of faith to which [Page 51] professors give their assent be ever so orthodox, and their profession be ever so true; yet if they profess only "a sim­ple belief of the simple truth," it is not a visible entering into covenant with God. It is not a covenanting transac­tion. Where there is no consent of the will professed, there is no covenant visibly made, in any case whatsoever. But if they profess not only to believe, but to love the truth, this is what no ungodly man can understandingly and honestly do. For to receive the truth in the love of it, is the scripture cha­racter of a true saint. 2 Thes. 2.10. And so did Abra­ham the father of all believers —So again,

4. "To conform our practice to the rules of the christian religion," is to be real christians. This therefore must not be professed. But without this, there is no compliance with the gospel covenant. He who does conform his prac­tice to the rules of the gospel, does really comply with the gospel. And he who doth not, does really reject it. The one will go to heaven, and the other will go to hell. In this we are all agreed.

5. But Mr. M. says, they must profess, that they "will endeavour" to conform their practice to the rules of the christian religion.—But, pray, how much must they endea­vour? Not so much as actually to conform: for in this real christianity consists. How much then? Can any man tell? Will you say, "as much as they can?" What! quite as much? What, every day, every hour of their lives? This is what no ungodly man ever did, or ever will do. Will you say, "they must sincerely endeavour?" But how sincere must ungodly men be? "As sincere as they can?" What, quite as sincere as they can, every day and every hour? This is what no ungodly man ever was, or ever will be.—Will you say, "they must endeavour so much, and so sincerely, as to keep from open scandal?" But is this enough? What if they live allowedly in secret sins, in enmity to God, in enmity to their neighbours, in stealing, in adultery, in sodomy? Will this do? Is this enough in the sight of God and conscience, that they are free from open scandal, while they live secretly in such and such like sins?—Will you [Page 52] say, "No, they must endeavour to forsake all sin and to con­form their practice to all the rules of the christian reli­gion?"—But the question still returns, how much must they endeavour? Not so much as to get free from the do­minion of sin. For this is peculiar to the godly. Rom. 6.14. How much then? No son of Adam can ever tell!

IT can be determined what that repentance toward GOD, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ is, which the gos­pel requires; and a man may know when he complies with the gospel covenant; but it cannot be determined what Mr. M.'s external covenant requires; nor can any man know when he complies with it.

THE lowest degree of true grace is a real and saving com­pliance with the gospel covenant. This is life eternal to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. Joh. 17.3. Where saving grace begins, it shall end in glo­ry. It's special nature can be as certainly determined, as the nature of the gospel way of salvation can; for it con­sists in a compliance with the gospel. But this external covenant is neither law, nor gospel.

No man will say, that "the least degree of endeavour," which ever takes place in an ungodly man, is all that is re­quired, to bring men into the external covenant. Nor will any man say, "that the greatest degree of endeavour" that ever takes place in an ungodly man, is necessary to this end. Nor can any man fix upon any certain degree, between the least & the greatest, that is the very degree necessary to bring a man into this covenant. It is a blind affair, and is adapt­ed only to a blind conscience.

Every ungodly man, whose conscience is thoro'ly awa­kened to know the truth about himself, knows that he is dead in sin, an enemy to God, "utterly indisposed, dis­abled and opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil;" as Mr. M. will allow. And therefore, were such men to make a profession of the truth, they would profess this▪ and confess themselves to be altogether helpless and undone, under the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and condemned by the gospel; (Joh. 3.18, 36. Gal. 3.10.) [Page 53] and incapable of entering into covenant with God, (Ps. 50.16.) and coming into the kingdom of Christ, until they are born again. Joh. 3.5.—And how much soever pains such may take, to escape everlasting burnings, they can never think, that this labour of their's brings them into covenant with the holy One of Israel, so long as they find themselves dead in sin, enemies to God and rejecters of Jesus Christ. But rather, in the midst of all their diligence and endeavours, they do, as Mr. M. elsewhere observes, * "in their own apprehensions grow worse and worse."

Yea, the best saint on earth would not dare, with his eyes open, to enter into covenant with the holy One of Israel, without a Mediator; or in the neglect of him whom God has provided, on the foot of his own righteousness. No saint can have impudence enough, with his eyes open, to offer such a thing to God. For such know no way to come to the Father but by the Son. Joh. 14.6. But self-righ­teous sinners, with stupid consciences, are good enough to come nigh to God in their own names, and enter into co­venant with God in their own strength and in their own righteousness, while, with their whole heart, they reject the Mediator and the Sanctifier revealed in the gospel. But that baptism and the Lord's-supper should be so degraded and prostituted, as to become seals to this self-righteous, graceless covenant of works, must be not a little shocking to many pious minds. Nor indeed can sinners under deep and genuine conviction come into this scheme. For,

This external covenant is not adapted to the state of a sinner under genuine and deep conviction. For it is with such agreeable to Rom. 7.9. The commandment came, sin re­vived, and I died. Rather, it is suited only to the hearts of secure, self-flattering, self-righteous sinners, of blind and stupid consciences; and is of no use but to build them up in their self-righteous ways; to lead them to cry, "We have Abraham to our father, yea, we have one father, even God." When in the language of Christ, the meek and lowly Jesus, they are the children of the devil, and the wrath of God abideth on them. Mat. 3 9. Joh. 8.39—44. Joh. 3.36.

[Page 54]

SECT. VII. Various distinctions stated, to render the subjct more easy to be understood by Christians of the weakest capacities, and to enable them to answer the usual objections, at least to their own satis­faction.

1. WE are to distinguish between objections, which are taken from the nature of the covenant, as con­tained in the written instrument, and those objections which are taken from the character of many that have sealed it. If there was not one unholy graceless duty required of A­braham, in that covenant, Gen. 17. With which he com­plied, and which he sealed, Mr. M. must lose his cause, al­tho' the names and seals of thousands of graceless hypo­crites are found annexed to it. For the nature of a written covenant is to be determined from the contents of it, and not from the hypocrisy of the men that have signed & sealed it. As for example, suppose we have a bond of £. 1000, signed and sealed by a man not worth a groat; it alters not the case, the bond is a bond of £. 1000, as much as it was signed and sealed by a man ever so rich. For all mankind are agreed in this, that the nature of the bond is to be de­termined from the contents of the written instrument, and not from the poverty or knavery of the signers and sealers.

If the covenant with Abraham was the covenant of grace, yet possibly thousands of graceless men might be active in sealing it. Or if the covenant with Abraham re­quired only freedom from open scandal, yet possibly it might be sealed by thousands who lived in open scandal. The ten tribes, for ought that appears, practised circumci­sion without one exception; and yet they lived in open idolatry from the time of their revolt to their captivity: That is, about 250 years. And if we are to determine the nature of the covenant from the character of the sealers; then, from this, it will follow, that freedom from open ido­latry was not required of the Israelites, in the covenant which they were under, and of which circumcision was a seal.

[Page 55]2. We ought to distinguish between fact and right, and to understand, that there is no conclusive arguing from the one to the other. As for instance. It is fact that there were tares sowed in the field; but it does not follow, that it was right that the servants should sow them there: this was the work of the devil.—It is fact, that there was a man who came into the visible church without a wedding garment; but it does not follow, that it was right for him so to do.—It is fact, that there were false professors, who unawares crept into the apostolic churches. But it does not follow, that it was right, that they should creap in thither.—It is fact, that the net gathered bad fishes as well as good; but it does not follow that the fishermen were employed to gather any but good fish.—It is fact, that in the apostolic age, some impenitent hypocrites made a profession of faith and re­pentance, and were baptized; but it does not follow, that it was right in them to make such a false profession.—It is fact, that the Israelites at Mount Sinai made a false profession, that they lied to GOD with their tongues, & flattered him with their lips; but it does not follow, either, that it was right for them to do as they did, or that it is right for us to imitate their wicked example.—It is fact, that there have been in all ages graceless men in the visible church; but it does not follow, either, that they had a right to be there, or, that we ought to lay aside the covenant of grace and to introduce a graceless covenant merely in order to open a door for their regular admission.—It is fact, when the doctrines and discipline of the gospel are brought down to the taste of carnal men, that they appear to be better pleased with both; but it does not therefore follow, that it would be right for ministers to combine to set aside truth and strictness and to introduce error and looseness, in order to please a wicked world.

3. There is a distinction to be made between an adult person's really entering into covenant, and visibly entering into covenant. He who complies with the covenant of grace, really enters into it: but he who professes to comply with it, visibly enters into it. The former is peculiar to the [Page 56] godly; but ungodly men may do the latter; for none but the godly comply with the covenant of grace; but many ungodly men profess to comply with it. And these are like dry branches.

4. There is a difference between being in the covenant of grace, by a compliance with it; and being under the bonds of the covenant of grace, without a compliance with it. The former is peculiar to the godly; and from this state of grace none fall away; the latter is true of the most scandalous professor. An adultress woman may be under the bonds of the marriage covenant; and that even while she persists obstinately in her adulteries; but this gives her no right to the peculiar privileges of a virtuous wife. In this sense the idolatrous Israelites, were in covenant with GOD, notwithstanding their obstinacy in that most scan­dalous practice of idolatry. Jer. 3.14 But this gave them no right to covenant blessings. For it is our compliance with the covenant of grace, which gives an interest in it's bles­sings; and not our being under the bonds of it.—For, the ten tribes, who are said, in Jer. 3.14. to be married to the Lord, and who had lived in idolatry ever since the days of Jerebo­am the son of Nebat, for thus playing the harlot had been put away, ver. 1. and a bill of divorce had been given to them. ver. 8. They had been turned out of the promised land and sent into captivity, above an hundred years ago. 2 Kin. 17.6. And so had not only forfeited, but were actually dis­possessed of all the external privileges of the Abrahamic co­venant: and yet they were still under covenant bonds. And so an excommunicated person may, in this sense, be said, to be in covenant, even in the covenant of grace. For the en­gagement he came under to live according to that covenant all his days, when he made a profession of religion, is as binding in the sight of God as ever. But being in covenant in this sense, altho' it may increase obligation and guilt; yet entitles to no covenant privileges.

5. We are to distinguish between the means which God useth to bring us to comply with the covenant of grace, and our consenting to seal it in token of compliance. Those [Page 57] who have not complied with the covenant of grace may attend the former without lying: but we ought in all cases to consent to a covenant in our hearts, before we are active in sealing it with our hands. For to seal a covenant with our hands, when we reject it in our hearts, is in the sight of God to lie: but lying is not a means of grace.

6. We are to distinguish between the man's rule and the church's rule of judging concerning his fitness publickly to enter into covenant, and publickly to seal it. The man himself makes his judgment by looking into his own heart; but the church make their judgment by looking only to what is visible. Just as it is when men swear allegiance to the king and renounce the pretender. The man who takes the oath of allegiance and abjuration, sees his way clear to do so, by looking inward, and finding such an heart in him; but he who administers the oaths, judges concerning the propriety of his own conduct in so doing, only by what outwardly appears. And thus it is also when persons en­ter into the marriage covenant; they see their way clear to act, by looking, each one, into his own heart, and find­ing such affections in themselves, as are answerable to the external transaction before them: but he who leads them to enter into the marriage covenant, judges of the propriety of his conduct only by what is visible. A man by looking into his own heart may be certain, that he believes and loves the doctrines of the gospel; but the church by out­ward appearances can be certain of neither. Peter was cer­tain he believed. Mat. 16.16. And as certain that he loved. Joh. 21.15, 16, 17. And it is the duty of all to believe and love as he did. The blame is wholly in ourselves, if we do not. But we ought not to profess faith and love, till we see our way clear; so as that in professing we may act an honest and conscientious part: even as it would be a wicked thing, for persons to enter into the mar­riage covenant, if the prevailing judgment of their own minds, were, that they were not in a proper state for such a transaction.—However, it must be owned, that not to love Christ above all things, not to be willing to forsake [Page 58] all for his sake, and not to espouse his cause and interest heartily before men is most inexcusable wickedness.


7. We are to distinguish between things not at all com­manded to any man; as eating blood: and things cer­tainly commanded to some men; as to confess Christ before men. It is wrong to eat blood, if we at all doubt of the lawfulness of it, because it is not a commanded duty to any man. So he that doubteth is damned if he eat; i. e. is self-condemned, because in such a case as this he ought not to eat. But it will not hence follow, that we shall be self-condemned, if we confess Christ before men without full assurance. For, by the command of Christ we are bound in duty, if we are on his side in our hearts, openly to con­fess him before men. If we neglect it, in this case, we sin. And if we do it in hypocrisy, we sin. A man's conscience in all such like cases will lead him to act according to his prevailing judgment. It is in fact thus, with the consci­entious part of mankind, in all doubtful matters; if they are obliged to act one way or the other; they make con­science of acting according to prevailing evidence.

8. We are to distinguish between objections, which ap­pear to be equally against both schemes, and other objec­tions: and are to look upon the former as of no weight to settle the controversy. If they say, it is difficult to know whether we comply with the covenant of grace; we may answer, that it is as difficult, and more so, for any man to know whether he complies with the external covenant. If they say, the church cannot be certain that any man has sa­ving grace; we may answer, neither can the church be cer­tain that any man believes in his heart, the doctrines which he professes with his mouth. If they say, assurance of our right to come is necessary on our scheme; we may answer, that it is no more necessary on one scheme than on the other. Besides, assurance of a right to come is attainable by true saints; but no man can know that he has a right on Mr. M's scheme. Because no man can know what his external co­venant requires. If they say, Peter had not time to exa­mine [Page 59] into the gracious state of the three thousand converts on the day of pentecost; we may answer, that he had as much [...] for this, as to examine into their doctrinal know­ledge and moral sincerity.—So also, those objections ought to weigh nothing, which are taken merely from the wick­edness of mankind, and which would vanish of themselves, should the Spirit of God be poured from on high, as it was when the first christian church was set up. For there is no more reason, that the discipline of Christ's house should be brought down to suit our corruptions, than that the doc­trines of the gospel should also.

9. We ought to distinguish between an appeal to reason, and an appeal to corruption. For example, these words are contained in the marriage covenant, unto which we oblige the woman to give her consent, viz. "You take this A. B. for your married husband, and promise to be a loving, faith­ful and obedient wife to him," &c. Should a few women object against this covenant, and publickly propose an al­teration, saying, "We pray, that the words, loving, faithful and obedient may be left out, for the sake of some young women of tender consciences, who cannot see their way clear to use them." The only question would be this, "ought the alteration to be made in the marriage covenant, or in the young women?" Or in other words, "which is wrong, the woman's heart, or the covenant?" A question, which may easily be decided, if we appeal to reason or to scripture: but if we appeal to corruption, the more we wrangle, the more we may, some might say, ‘If the covenant is not altered, no woman can be married without full assurance. For it is not lawful to enter into this covenant in doubt. For he that doubteth is damned. An infallible assurance therefore is necessary. But who has this? Or what wo­man, on this plan, can be married, with a good con­science? And, besides, what priest can be able to judge, whether any are fit to be married? By what rule shall it be certainly known, when a woman is really disposed to be a loving, faithful and obedient wife, and when she is not? Moreover, it will only tempt bad women to make [Page 60] a lying profession, while women of tender consciences will be kept back; and those who are married will grow proud because they are judged to be qualified. Mean while, the failings of married women will be more taken notice of, to their dishonor, for using this covenant. Upon the whole, it is a very bad plan, and a thing of a very dangerous tendency; therefore, we propose, that in all future times, these words, loving, faithful, obedient, be left out of the marriage covenant.’—How ridiculous would any woman make herself, that should advance such stuff! But if this class of women were the majority, they might make a shocking noise, but there would be no more sense in it, than if but one single woman was in the scheme.

10. We are to distingush between that character which the Israelites gave of themselves, when Mount Sinai was covered with a thick cloud, and the Lord appeared in the flame of a devouring fire on the top of the mount, and it lightned and thundred, and the voice of the trumpet was exceeding loud, and the people trembled under a sense of the greatness and majesty of the holy One of Israel, and every one, even all the people answered with one voice, and said, all the words, which the Lord hath said, will we do; (such manifestations of God, and a people under such deep reli­gious impressions, never had been before heard of, since the world began: so that even God himself, judging ac­cording to appearances, was ready to say, Surely, they are my people, children that will not lie. Isa. 63.8.)—And that cha­racter, which they afterwards gave of themselves, by their conduct forty years in the wilderness.—In the former, they appear heartily disposed to comply with God's covenant. In the latter, they appear a rebellious generation, whose hearts were not right with God, neither were they stedfast in his covenant. Psal. 78.37.

11. We are to distinguish between that character which the Israelites gave of themselves, by their conduct forty years in the wilderness, by which it appeared, that they had not eyes to see, nor ears to hear, nor a heart to understand; (for they made a calf even before the Mount of God. And rebelled at [Page 61] Kadesh-barnea; and at Taberah, and Massah, and at Kibroth-hattaavah, they provoked the Lord to wrath. So that Moses might well say, Ye have been rebellious against the Lord, from the day that I knew you. Deut. 9.7—24.)—And that cha­racter, which that pious generation gave of themselves, who, in the plains of Moab, heard Moses rehearse all God's ways to that nation, and their ways to God, forty years in the wilderness, and now on a review of the whole, manifested a disposition unitedly to become God's people, to enter into God's covenant anew, and to bind themselves to him, as their God, to love him, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep all his commandments.—Concerning the former character, more severe things are spoken in scripture, than of any other, which that people ever gave of themselves, under that dispensation; and concerning the latter, more good things. The piety of this new generation God re­membered many ages after, Jer. 2.2. Thus saith the Lord, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine es­pousals—ver. 3. Israel was holiness to the Lord. See also Judg. 2.7. And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that out lived Joshua. So that they transmitted the true religion to the next generation, and kept it up all the days of their lives.—And if these things are well considered, and the great comparative darkness of that age of the world, and the abundant pains which Moses took in the plains of Moab to explain the covenant, and to render them deeply sensible of their obligations to comply with it, with all their hearts, no man will find cause to say, that Moses acted an unfaithful part, in leading that people, to enter into that very covenant, in the manner he did.

OBJECT. But it was the design of Moses to charge in a public manner, as what visibly and publickly appeared to be the truth of the case, those very individual persons with being unregenerate, on that very day, in which he led them to enter into covenant. For he says, the Lord hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear unto this day. Deut. 29.4. p. 18.24.

ANS. It is evident, that in the public speech which Mo­ses [Page 62] made to the Israelites, in the plains of Moab, of which these words are a part, he constantly addresses them in their national capacity, and not as individuals. Thus, in the pa­ragraph in which these words are contained, ver. 2. Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, ye have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes, in the land of Egypt, &c. Where­as every one in the congregation, who were but one month under forty years of age, which was doubtless by far the greatest part of the congregation, never were in Egypt, for they were born in the wilderness, since their fathers left Egypt. And instances of the like nature are to be observed thro' the whole speech. Thus, we know, that the carcasses of the men that sinned at Kadesh barnea, on the return of the spies, were all of them fallen in the wilderness; and yet he speaks to the present generation, who personally had no hand in that sin, as tho' they were the very individual persons, that had committed it. Ch. 9.23. Then you rebelled against the commandment of the Lord. See also Deut. 1.19—35. Where­as there was not one of those rebels alive; no not so much as one. Num. 26.63—65. And this is precisely the truth of the case, with the text under consideration. For,

Moses brought in no public charges against the nation, but for public crimes, not an instance can be produced from the beginning of Deuteronomy to the text under considera­tion. But this new generation, which were grown up, & which were now about to enter into covenant with God, had not been guilty of any public crimes, to give themselves a bad character. It does not appear from the whole story, that Moses had any public grounds, for a public charge a­gainst them, as being an ungodly generation. Nay, the fact is, that they always behaved so well, both before and after, that they were by God himself, after they were dead and gone, represented as a very religious and godly generation, Jer 2.2, 3. Jud. 2.7. Compared to a choice vine, Isai. 5.2. Wholly a right seed, Jer. 2.21.

To suppose Moses charged them in a public manner, as an unregenerate, ungodly generation, unjustly, without e­ver mentioning one single fact to the disadvantage of their [Page 63] character, is very unreasonable: especially as the sense be­fore given to the words under consideration is an easy and natural sense, and removes all difficulties, and renders the speech and conduct of Moses perfectly consistent. For, as to all the instances of public conduct contained in the long narrative, which Moses had given, from the time they left Egypt, to that very day, which were evidences, of blind eyes, deaf ears, and hard hearts, this present generation were not active in them. Those facts, those public crimes, altho' committed by that nation, were not done by the in­dividual persons, which made up the present congregation, who entered into covenant with God, but by the old gene­ration, whose carcasses were fallen in the wilderness; as any man may see that will read all the preceeding chapters of the book, We ought not, by giving a wrong sense to the words of Moses, to render his public speech and his public conduct inconsistent; and then to charge him with acting a dishonest part, in leading that people to enter into cove­nant, in the manner in which, in fact, he did: or to deny the fact, under a pretence of saving his character; when indeed his character cannot be saved this way, because the fact is undeniably true.

If it should be enquired, why did Moses speak thus, to this present generation, as they had not been personally guilty of that course of rebellious conduct themselves; but were themselves a godly generation?—The answer is easy. —He did it to give them a clear view and humbling sense of their national sins, and the justice of God in the national judgments which he brought upon them; that they might know, that it was not for their righteousness, that God did bring them into that good land; but merely of his great goodness, and because he had promised it to Abraham. Deut. 9.5. to the end they might so reflect on the depra­vity of their own hearts, and be so deeply abased before God, as to be thereby prepared for that holy and solemn transaction before them, of entering into covenant with the holy One of Israel: that having in view, how their fathers had entered into covenant at Sinai, and had broken cove­nant, [Page 64] so that all their carcasses had fallen in the wilderness, they might take warning thereby, and remember and keep the covenant of the Lord their God; that it might be well with them, and with their children after them.

12. We are to distinguish between the character which the three thousand converts on the day of pentecost, gave of themselves, in that deep conviction of sin and guilt which they manifested, when they appeared to be pricked at the heart, and in that repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ which they openly professed, when they appeared cordially to comply with Peter's exhortation, Repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins, by gladly receiving his word, and offering them­selves to baptism, and to join with a persecuted party, whose master had lately been put to a most shameful and scanda­lous death, in the most public manner, on the most public occasion, at the risque of every thing dear to them in the world:—And the character which men ordinarily give of themselves, in offering to join with the church, without any special concern about their souls, when it is esteemed no small honor, to be church members, and enjoy church pri­vileges.—The former, to a judgment of charity, appeared to be true converts, whatever may be thought of the latter.

13. We are to distinguish between what is visible, and what is real: Many in the eyes of men are reputed godly, who in the eyes of God as searcher of hearts are not so. The former have a right in the sight of the church to enter into the covenant of grace, in a public profession, and to seal the covenant: but the latter only have a right in the sight of God. For the former appear to be godly; but the latter only are really so. The former have a visible, the latter have a real right.

14. There is a distinction to be made between a right to sealing ordinances on our own account, and a right on the account of another. Thus pious parents have a right for seal­ing ordinances for themselves, on their own account, as being themselves really in covenant with God, by a com­pliance with it: but their infant children have a right to [Page 65] baptism, not on their own account, but simply on that of their parents, considered as parts of their parents, branches grown out of the old root: and so may be baptized with­out respect to any internal qualification, at present, inherent in them, either moral or gracious.

Object. If, in infant baptism, no respect is had to any internal qualification in the infant, then the seal is set to a blank.

Answ. Then the seal is set to a blank, when there is no covenant entered into: but when there is a covenant en­tered into, and sealed, there is no room for the objection. But in infant-baptism there is a covenant entered into. For God says to the pious parent, "I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed." And the pious parent replies, "I choose thee for my God and the God of my child." So that here is a covenant entered into between God and the pious pa­rent, in behalf of himself and his infant, in the very act of offering it to God in baptism. And baptism is a seal, not to a blank, but to this covenant, which, in fact, takes place between God and the pious parent.

15. We are to distinguish between covenanting with God actively, in a visible manner, as a pious parent does, when he dedicates his child to God in baptism, and promises to bring it up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; and being laid under the bonds of the covenant passively, as is the case with the child. God speaks to the pious pa­rent in that ordinance, saying, ‘I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed, i. e. if they will take heed to walk in my ways.’ The pious parent answers, in the act of of­fering the child to baptism, "I choose thee for my God, and for the God of my child. And I promise to bring up my child for thee. And, Oh, that it might live in thy sight, be thy child, and walk in thy ways!" The parent is active; but the child is merely passive. We may bring our­selves under the bonds of the covenant, by our own act and deed, as the adult did in the plains of Moab when they re­newed covenant there: or we may be brought under the bonds of the covenant, by the act of another, authorized by [Page 66] God so to do. Thus Moses laid all the infants in the con­gregation, in the plains of Moab, under the bonds of the covenant. And thus parents, in offering their children to baptism, lay them under the bonds of the covenant.

16. IF no one is to be baptized, till, by his own act and deed, he enters into covenant with God, be it the covenant of grace or a graceless covenant; then no infant is to be baptized on either plan: because no infant, by his own act and deed, enters into any covenant of any sort; or so much as knows, that there is any covenant of any sort, to be en­tered into.—If the child has a right to baptism, on it's pa­rents account, and not on it's own, infant-baptism, can be vindicated, as well on the plan of a gracious covenant, as on the plan of an ungracious one; but if the child's right to baptism is founded on it's own personal compliance with the covenant, infant-baptism must be given up on the plan of a covenant of moral sincerity and a right doctrinal belief; for no infant was ever thus qualified: But some infants have been sanctified from the womb, and so in this sense have been in the covenant of grace. Luk. 1.15.

17. IT must apparently be an unspeakable advantage, to be under the watch and care of a godly church, who have a real spirit of fidelity in them; and, like Abraham, will command all, under their care, to fear the Lord. Gen. 18.19. And it is equally evident, that it can be of no advan­tage, to be under the watch and care of an ungodly church, who will neither walk in the ways of God themselves, nor bring up those committed to their care for God. God put confidence in Abraham, I know him, that he will command his children and his houshold after him, &c. But there is no con­fidence to be put in an ungodly man, that he will be faith­ful to God, with respect to his own soul, or the souls of his children. Hos. 6.4. Mat. 7.16, 17, 18.

SECT. VIII. Mr. Mather's scheme inconsistent with itself.

THERE are three things in Mr. M.'s external cove­nant, viz. The conditions required, the privileges promised and the seals; and his ideas concerning each of these, as expressed in his book, are inconsistent.

[Page 67]I. As to the conditions required, in order to a covenant right to all covenant privileges, his ideas are inconsistent.—For,

1. Sometimes he makes circumcision the only condition. "For that by which," says he, ‘any one was to enter into this covenant, was an external mark in the flesh. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep between me and you, and thy seed after thee; every man-child among you shall be circum­cised. But that by which any one enters into the cove­nant of grace is the circumcision of the heart. p. 7. * So that the circumcision of the flesh brings men into the exter­nal covenant, and gives them a covenant right to all it's privileges; just as the circumcision of the heart brings men into the covenant of grace, and gives them a covenant right to all the blessings of that. But the circumcision of the heart as the phrase is used in scripture, is a real compliance with the covenant of grace, and is connected with eternal life. Rom. 2.29. And accordingly he speaks of the cir­cumcision of the flesh as a compliance with the external co­venant, p. 8. "This covenant remained to be complied with:—Abraham must needs be circumcised."

And, indeed, if Mr. M. was disposed to turn the covenant with Abraham into his external covenant, of necessity the circumcision of the flesh must be the only condition of it; because there was nothing else external which took place in that covenant recorded in Gen. 17. to which Mr. M. could with any colour lay claim, for Abraham made no profession, [Page 68] but a profession of saving faith. But this was a visible com­pliance with the covenant of grace, and not with the exter­nal covenant. If, therefore, he did any thing at all, by way of compliance with Mr. M.'s external covenant, it was on­ly, merely & simply making 'an external mark in the flesh.'

2. And as Mr. M. thus sometimes represents the circum­cision of the flesh, to be a compliance with the external co­venant with Abraham; so he sometimes represents baptism, as entitling to all the privileges of his external covenant, under the gospel dispensation. For according to him, all who are baptized "are Abraham's children, and heirs ac­cording to the promise." p. 13. "For a child baptized in infancy," he says, ‘is thereby as really brought into cove­nant, as one that is baptized in riper years.—It conveys the same privileges to the one as to the other.’ p. 16. But the adult, having made a profession, were, in the apos­tolic age, by baptism, received into full communion with the church, in compleat standing, as is evident from Act. 2.37—47.—And in this view, Mr. M. considers infant baptism, as "a valuable privilege"—"as it entitles to the appointed means of grace," p. 54, 55. that is, to all church privileges. And insists, that those, who are baptized in infancy ‘should be told, that they are really in covenant with God, that they are members of the visible church, and are entitled to the privileges of it.’ And as they have a title to the privileges, so "they are in duty bound to seek the enjoyment of and attend upon these privileges." p. 55, 56. For, according to Mr. M. ‘a child dedicated to God in baptism, is thereby brought into covenant with God, and has a promise left to it, of the means of grace, and the strivings of God's holy Spirit, in order to render them effectual for salvation: but an unbaptized child is left in the kingdom of darkness.’ p. 59, 60. And he adds ‘it is but trifling to say, that altho' baptized persons may be stiled members of the church universal; yet they are not members of any particular church.’ p. 56.—So that, upon the whole, it appears, that by baptism alone, infants are made members of the church, in such sort, as to [Page 69] have a divine right and title to all church privileges: which is full as much as can be said of any, who are in full commu­nion, in compleat standing.—And thus we see what Mr. M's scheme is, in this view of it. And here let us stop a mo­ment or two, and look round, and consider where we are now. For if these things are true, it will follow,

1. That no internal, mental qualifications are now, or ever were requisite, in order to a right to all church privi­leges in the sight of God; neither moral, nor gracious; neither faith, nor practice, of one sort, or of the other; no, nothing at all, but only "an external mark in the flesh," or water baptism. * And, therefore

2. In order to our being satisfied, in our own conscien­ces, that we have a right in the sight of God to come to the Lord's-table, we are not ‘to examine ourselves of our knowledge to discern the Lord's body, of our faith to feed upon him, of our repentance, love and new obedience’ [Page 70] as the assembly of divines imagined an hundred and twenty years ago: Nor are we to examine ourselves of our doctri­nal knowlege, orthodoxy, moral sincerity, or of any thing else, of an internal, mental nature. For a right to the Lord's-supper has no dependance on any thing of this na­ture. For, but one thing was needful to satisfy the con­science of the Jew, viz. "The external mark in the flesh," which might easily be known. And the christian has no­thing to do, but to procure and keep by him, a well attes­ted certificate of his baptism, to give him a full assurance of his right to come to the Lord's-table. For,

3. No crime, altho' of the most scandalous nature, could vacate this right, in the sight of God, or in the sight of conscience; because this right was not founded in any mo­ral qualifications whatsoever, but only in "an external mark in the flesh," or water baptism. But the idolatry of the Jew did not at all take away "the external mark in the flesh;" nor can the open infidelity and debauchery of the christian prove, that the certificate, which he has, of his baptism, is not authentick. Let the idolatrous Jew look on "the external mark in the flesh," and let the infidel and immoral christian look on his certificate, and their consci­ences may be confirmed, in a full assurance of their divine right and title to all covenant privileges. § Therefore,

[Page 71]4. No public profession of any kind, nor freedom from public scandal are necessary in order to a visible right to all church privileges, in the sight of men. For, if our real right, in the sight of God, does not depend on any internal qualification, either moral, or gracious; no pretence need to be made, to any such qualification, in order to a visible right. The Jew had nothing to do, in order to prove his right, but only to make it appear, that he had been circum­cised. And the christian has nothing to do, in order to prove his right, but only to make it appear, that he has been baptized. Nor can the church consistently demand any thing farther, on Mr. M's scheme. For what he says, p. 22. is the plain, simple truth: ‘To require more of the person to be admitted into the church, than is made necessary by the covenant on which it is framed, is really absurd.’ But if all these things are true, then it will follow,

1. That Mr. M. is inconsistent with himself, in putting [Page 72] "an outward profession" along with "an external covenant relation," as he does, in p. 9. and for saying as he does, in p. 21. ‘I will allow, that none but such as profess the christian religion, and will endeavour to conform his practice to the rules of it, ought to be admitted into the church;’ and for asserting, p. 44. that "the disorderly and vicious should be debarred." For, if baptism alone is all that is necessary to a covenant right to all church pri­vileges; then baptism alone is all that ought to be required in order to an admission into the church. Nor is a public profession, or freedom from public scandal, at all requisite. If baptism alone gives a covenant right to all church pri­vileges, if there is "a promise left" by God to those who have this; no man, nor any number of men under heaven have a right to require any thing else. So that to insist, that "none but such as profess the christian religion and will endeavour to conform his practice to the rules of it, ought to be admitted into the church;" and that ‘disor­derly and vicious persons ought to be debarred:"— And to keep such back from enjoying the privileges and means appointed for the good of their souls, is a very strange affair.’ p. 59. And, therefore, to use Mr. M's own words, and to apply them to his own conscience; p. 58. ‘I would request such as have thought and acted upon this scheme, impartially to examine what I have offered. It is surely no small matter to shut the kingdom of heaven (as the visible church is often called) against men, and not to suffer such to enter as would.’ A horrid crime indeed! And yet the very crime, of which Mr. M. stands publickly convicted out of his mouth. For he shuts the kingdom of heaven against all baptized persons, and will not admit one of them into the church, ‘but such as profess the christian religion, and endeavour to conform their practice to the rules of it:’ altho', according to his own scheme, they are as much in the church as he is, and have as good a right to all church privileges as himself. Therefore,

2. Mr. M. may be publickly called to an account, and admonished out of his own mouth, in his own words, for [Page 73] making infant baptism "a meer nullity, a thing of naught." —‘And what is a baptized infant to be accounted of? Is he a member of the visible church, or is he not?’ p. 54. And to be rebuked for his conduct, for practically ‘repre­senting and treating such as are baptized, as if they were not really in covenant,’ p. 56. by refusing to admit them to covenant privileges, without a profession, when, accor­ding to his own scheme, he ought to tell all baptized per­sons, that ‘they are really in covenant with God; that they are members of the visible church; and are entitled to the privileges of it,’ p. 55, 56. merely by their baptism, without any profession at all, and without any endeavours at all, even all of them, "old and young, moral and im­moral." p. 42. For,

3. To say, that "the disorderly and vicious ought to be debarred," p. 44. and so "to require more than is made ne­cessary by the covenant, on which the church is framed, is really absurd." p. 22. For if baptism gives a covenant right to the Lord's-supper nothing else is necessary.

4. To say, that "the disorderly and vicious ought to be debarred," by the church, is to say, implicitly, that such ought to debar themselves; their own consciences ought to pronounce sentence upon them. But what if a man's con­science should happen to be convinced of this plain scripture truth, that to rise in rebellion against the great God is one of the most "disorderly" things a creature can be guilty of; and that to continue obstinate in this rebellion after all the external means which God has used to reclaim us, is one of the most "vicious"? Must not his own conscience debar him on Mr. M's scheme? Or will it do, to tell such a man, ‘had you been guilty of stealing but five shillings from one of your neighbours, for this sin if considered only as against man, your conscience ought to have debarred you, 'till you had come to repentance and made restitution; but your conscience ought not to debar you for being an obstinate, impenitent rebel against the God of heaven, the great Sovereign of the universe?’ Or might we not for telling a man thus, be in danger of that rebuke in Mat. [Page 74] 23.24. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. For, to rise in rebellion against king George, would be esteemed, more "disorderly and vicious than barely to steal five shillings from our neighbour. And to rise in re­bellion against the great God is doubtless more "disorderly and vicious" than to rise in rebellion against an earthly mon­arch.—In a word, if baptism alone does not entitle to all church privileges, both "young and old, moral and im­moral," p. 42. without respect to any mental qualification whatsoever, it will not be easy to find a place where a man may set his foot down, and be consistent with himself, unless we return back to the good old way, to the apostolic plan, according to which, not baptism, but saving faith is consi­dered as the condition of the covenant, and that which en­titles to all it's blessings. Gal. 3 26, 29. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Mr. M. says, p. 42. ‘as to baptized children, I allow they have a right to the sacrament of the Lord's-supper, but not a right of immediate possession; according to the apostle's representation in Gal. 4.12. Now, I say, that the heir as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a ser­vant, tho' he be lord of all, but is under tutors and governors, until the time appointed of the father.—But the child, tho' ever so young, eats bread at his father's table, and no one disputes his right. And when the child is of age, and his father is dead, and the estate is to be divided among the heirs, the child has nothing to do, in order to prove his right to a share in his father's estate, but to bring a certifi­cate from the town clerk, in order to prove from the town records, that he is the child of the deceased. Nor is such a child obliged to make any profession, or to enter into any covenant before the court of probate, in order to come to a possession of his right. The law gives him his right with­out any such prerequisites. For his right is not founded upon any thing of such a nature, but simply upon his being the child of such a father. This therefore is the only point to be proved. And just the same, to be consistent, must be [Page 75] the case on Mr. M's plan. The only point, which one who was baptized in infancy, has to prove, when he becomes adult, in order to take possession of his right, is that he was bap­tized. Let him therefore produce a well attested certificate of this, and nothing farther can be demanded.

If it should be said, that all that Mr. M. means is, that baptism gives a conditional right to the Lord's Table. i. e. a right upon condition of a profession of religion and freedom from scandal; it may be replied, that the unbaptised have a right to sealing ordinances upon these conditions, accor­ding to Mr. M.'s own scheme, and therefore, this cannot be his meaning. For this, to use his own words, would be to make baptism "a meer nullity, a thing of naught."—But this brings us, in the next place, to observe,

II. THAT Mr. M.'s ideas of the peculiar privileges of his external covenant are also inconsistent.—For, if it should be enquired, what advantage hath Mr. M.'s graceless co­venanter, or what profit is there in baptism administred up­on a graceless covenant? He has no right, upon his scheme, to the Apostle's answer in Rom. 3.1, 2. Much every way &c. For.

1. As to the oracles of God, which he claims for one of the chief privileges of his external covenant, p. 9. he will grant, that they are common to the unbaptized. i. e. the unbaptized have as good a right to read and hear the word of God, as the baptized have; and as good a right to believe and em­brace the gospel. For, by Christ's last commission, the gos­pel is to be preached to all nations, to the uncircumcised Greek as well as to the circumcised Jew: yea, to every creature: and that, previous to, and in order to prepare men for baptism, Mar. 16.15, 16. So that, there is not the least need of being in his external covenant, in order to have as good a right, to hear and believe and be justified by the gospel, as any man on earth has. For there is no difference. Rom. 3.22. compare Mat. 10.5, 6. Mar. 28.19.

2. As to sealing ordinances, he is full in it, that bap­tism alone, gives no right to them, for our selves, or for our children, which can be enjoyed, without a profession [Page 76] of the christian religion, p. 21, and freedom from scandal, p. 44 and one who never was baptised, may, on his scheme, he admitted to sealing ordinances, for himself, and his chil­dren, upon the same terms; no higher, nor lower, being required. So that there is no advantage, in this respect, in being in his external covenant. —And

3. As to the influences of the spirit, whereby the means of grace are rendered effectual to the salvation of sinners, he holds, that no unconverted man has a covenat right to them; but that God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy: and has been at the pains to publish a laboured sermon on the subeject, to prove the point, and to answer objections; which was printed but six years ago. And if this be true, the bapti­zed cannot claim a covenant-right to these influences of the spirit, any more than the unbaptized. And therefore, altho' in the book now under consideration, p. 59, 60, he says, ‘a child dedicated to God in baptism is thereby bro't into covenant with God, and has a promise left to it, of the means of grace, and the flrivings of the Spirit, in order to render them effectual for salvation: But an un­baptized child is left in the kingdom of darkness;’ yet it is true, on his own scheme, that such a baptized child, while in a Christless state, is under the wrath of God, the curse of the law, a child of the devil and an heir of hell, and is dependant on God's sovereign mercy, as really as any other child. Yea, he declares, in his sermon on Divine so­vereignty, p. 5, 6. that, ‘sometimes those who to an eye of reason are the most likely to partake of the blessings of the gospel are passed by; and others of whom we have little or no hope, are recovered by Sovereign Grace, and enriched with Saving Mercy. Thus we should have thought, Judas, who was one of Christ's disciples, and his constant follower, was more likely to obtain the bles­sing of saving mercy than Saul, who was a fierce, zealous and open enemy to Christ: but we see God ordered it otherwise." And he adds, p. 7. "this was not a thing peculiar to that generation: but it is the Sovereign Grace of God, by which, any one, at any time, is brought to obey the truth to the saving of his soul.’

[Page 77]4. As to the advantage of church discipline, Mr. M. grants, what every body knows to be too true, that the bap­tized are taken no more care of, generally, than the un­baptized. p. 56. Nor will it mend the matter, if we should all embrace Mr. M's scheme, and fill up our churches more and more with ungodly men. For gospel discipline never was, and never will be maintained by ungospel churches. For so long as men are themselves at heart enemies to the religion of Christ, it's doctrines and duties, they will not themselves be cordially subject to it's doctrines and duties; much less join heartily to bring others to be in subjection to them. As it is written, Mat. 7.16, 17. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bring­eth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth corrupt fruit.

III. Nor are his ideas of the seals of the covenant any more consistent.—For,

His notion of a seal is, that it is a rite of confirmation, whereby, in a mutual covenant, both parties bind them­selves, to comply with the covenant contained in the written instrument. But he grants, that in the written instrument, in the present case, the covenant of grace is contained, and is the principal thing, and yet, by sealing this instrument, we do not pretend to a compliance with the covenant of grace in our own consciences, or profess any such thing be­fore the world. Nay, we do not profess to have, in the lowest degree, a heart to comply with it, nor mean that the act of sealing should have this import; altho' in all other matters execpt those of religion; this is what is meant by ing. But instead of a compliance with the covenant of grace, which is the principal thing, according to him, con­tained in the written instrument, we only profess a com­pliance with his graceless covenant, and bind ourselves to such religious exercises and endeavours, as are consistent with a total rejection of the covenant of grace in our hearts: even such a total rejection, as God threatens with eternal dam­nation. p. 36, 37. But of this, we have spoken before. Sect. V.

Thus inconsistent are Mr. M's notions of his external co­venant, [Page 78] it's conditions, it's peculiar privileges and it's seals.

To mention but one inconsistence more in Mr. M's scheme: The external covenant, is, according to him, the appointed means; and saving faith and conversion, or a com­pliance with the covenant of grace is the end. p. 10, 11. And yet he says, p. 8. ‘Altho' a person was in a state of grace, and was consequently included in the covenant of grace, yet this covenant remained to be complied with: Abra­ham was a true believer before, yet he must needs be cir­cumcised.’ But if Abraham was converted and justified before he was circumcised, then circumcision was not insti­tuted as a means of his conversion, or as a prerequisite to his justification. Mr. M. adds, p. 12. that his external grace­less covenant is also to be a means ‘to train up believers in holiness.’—That is, holy Abraham, instead of those holy exercises in which he had lived above 20 years, even ever since he began a holy life, was in Gen. 17. by God Almigh­ty laid under covenant bonds, to enter into a course of un­holy religious exercises, such as take place in impenitent self-righteous sinners, to the end that he might "be trained up in holiness." Gal. 3.3. Are ye so foolish? having begun in the spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Besides,

That believers should be under the bonds of two cove­nants, of a nature as contrary and inconsistent, as sin and ho­liness, is what cannot be made to hang together.—And to say, that this external covenant is neither sinful nor holy, is, either, to say, that there is a whole system of religious exer­cises of heart, which are neither conformable nor uncon­formable with the holy law of God: which is to deny, that the law of God is a universal rule of life, contrary to the whole tenor of scripture. Gal. 3.10. Mat. 22.37—40. 1 Cor. 10.31. Or, which is equally absurd, to say, that no exercise of heart is required in his external covenant; no­thing but bodily motions, unconnected with the heart.

Indeed, the very notion of two rules of duty, a holy, and an unholy one, which is essential to his notion of two cove­nants, is an inconsistence. For two contrary laws, instead of binding, both at once, must mutually destroy each other, [Page 79] and can, neither of them, bind to any thing.—That law which is a school master to bring us to Christ, requires sinless perfection on pain of eternal damnation. Compare Gal. 3.24. with verse 10.

And thus I have finished the remarks, which I design to make on Mr. Mather's book. There are other things con­tained in it equally exceptionable; but if his external cove­nant, which is the foundation of his whole scheme is prov­ed to be an unscriptural and inconsistent thing, his whole scheme is sufficiently confuted. Besides, while the whole controversy is reduced to one single point, the common peo­ple will be under better advantages to make a judgment for themselves. But now the only point which the reader has to determine, in order to settle the whole Controversy, in his own mind, is this, viz. Are baptism and the Lord's supper seals of the covenant of grace, or of a graceless covenant?

Therefore to conclude,


LET it be remembered, that "the Westminster confession of faith," which is adopted by the church of Scotland; and the Savoy confession of faith," which is adopted by the churches in the Massachusets and in Connecticut; declare that "sacraments are holy signs & seals of the covenant of grace." And let it be remembered, that these confessions of faith know nothing of Mr. M's external graceless covenant, either name or thing. And let it also be remembered, that "the heads of agreement" which were assented to in England in the last century, by those called Presbyterians & Congregationalists, and which are adopted by the churches in Connecticut, declare, ‘that none shall be admitted as members, in order to com­munion in all the special ordinances of the gospel, but such persons, as are knowing and sound in the fundamen­tal doctrine of the christian religion, without scandal in their lives; and to a judgment regulated by the word of God, are persons of visible holiness and honesty, credibly professing cordial subjection to Jesus Christ. Ezek. 44.9. Rom. 10.10.—And further, let it be remembered, that this is the plan, on which, these churches are professedly founded.

[Page 80]For the general council at Say-Brook, A. D. 1708, came unanimously into this result, viz. ‘As we assent to the foregoing heads of agreement, so we unanimously resolve as the Lord shall enable us to practice according to them.’

Now the question is, whether this plan is agreeable to the word of God, or not. For we are all agreed, that the word of God is the only standard by which all creeds and con­fessions, of human composure, are to be tried. Mr. Mather has offered what he thought proper on the one side, and I have offered what to me appears needful on the other, and now it belongs to ever reader to judge for himself.

And now, therefore, Oh, reader, as this grand and im­portant question, in which thy soul is deeply interested, as well as the souls of many thousands of others, is referred to thee, that thou mayest make a judgment for thyself, so I intreat thee, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, who are spectators in this controversy, to set aside all carnal affections and worldly considerations, and to view the whole in the light of God's holy word, and to make up a judgment for thyself, as in the presence of God, and with the same uprightness and impartiality, as tho' the last trum­pet was to sound on the morrow, concerning this question, viz. Whether baptism and the Lord's-supper are seals of the co­venant of grace, or of a graceless covenant? For on this single point turns the whole controversy.—And now may God Almighty, the Father of lights, grant unto thee a discern­ing mind and a sound judgment, of his infinite mercy thro' Jesus Christ. AMEN.


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