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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 evi dence then that the covenant with Abraham was the covedant of grace, as we bave that there ever was a covenant of grace existing since the world began.-Now observe,
1. Froin the vature 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. xi. 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-t.ee itself, root and branch, is dead and dry, wholly graceless; and appears to be so; for there is no pretence to any thing else. Yea, Mr. M. thinks it was God's design, that his real friends should keep bid, so as not to profess their friendship to him publicly 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 publicly owned as such before the world; for he is called the friend of God. Jam. ii. 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 in
fants; 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 10 baptism for their children. For if we are Christ's, then are we Abrahani's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal. iii. 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 partukest of the root and fatness of the olive-tree. Rom. xi. 17. But from the very time that the practice of grafting in Gentile converts into the goud 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. xii. 484.
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 oiber covenant, of a nature specifically different, devised by men.
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, 10 render themselves not a visible church of Christ; but a society, visibly of a nature essentially different; as different as
d“If you consider the covenant of grace, which was made with Abraham, and by God's express command to be sealed to infants, you will there find a sufficient scripture institution for infant baptism. You will find this covenant in Gen. xvii. 2-10. Here we are taught as plainly as words can teach us, that this covenant was made with Abraham, as he was the father of many nations, the father of the Gentiles as well as the Jews; that this covenant was a covenant of grace, an everlasting covenant; that this covenant was to be sealed to infants From all which it undoubtedly follows, that this covenant was made with us the seed of Abraham, as well as with the Jews; he was the father of believers in our nations as well as theirs.” President Dickinson's Divine Right of Infant Baptism, p. 10. Providence Edition.
And this learned writer adds, p. 13. “That this covenant was a covenant of grace, is abundantly evident from the tenour of the covenant itself;" as he goes on to show. And, p. 16. “ This then is the sum of the matter : Circumcision is a token or seal of the covenant of grace ; Baptism is a token or scal of the covenant of grace: it therefore follows,” &c. &c.
the covenants are. But it is time to attend to the grand ob-
OBJ. 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 itself, which was merely “an 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°
e The reasons which induce me to think that Mr. M. means as above, are these :
complied with; so in the circumcision of the flesh, the external cove-
Answ. This is the foundation of Mr. M.'s scheme. And perhaps there never was a fabric built on a more sandy foundation. For he has mistaken the external seal of the covenant for the covenant itself. Because it is said, this is my covenant, he at once concludes that circumcision is the very covenant itself. Just as the papists do in the doctrine of trapsubstantiation : because it is said, this is my body, they at once conclude that the bread is the very body of Christ itself. 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. xvii.; 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 wbat the Christian world have always thought it to be; viz. the covenant of grace: and circumcision may stiil be, what it has been always thought to be; viz, an external seal of the covenant of grace, which God made with Abraham f. And if God's
de tot Wirs, no
of And if circumcision was a seal of the covenant of grace, then every circumcised Israelite was under covenant bonds, in all things to comply with and live up to the covenant of grace, as administered under that dispensation. Particularly, he was under covenant bonds to separate himself and his household from the idola. trous world, and to love and worship the true God, and to believe in and wait for the promised Messiah, and to look for a better country, that is, an heavenly
And he was under covenant bonds in these views, and with this temper, to aircumcise his children, and bind them in all things to comply with and live up to the covenant of grace. And to neglect this was to be guilty of the breach of the Abrahamic covenant. And those who persisted in this neglect proved themselves to be not the genuine children of Abraham, but rather apostates from the God of their father: and as such they deserved to be cut off according to Gen. xvii. 14. ; for Abraham acted sincerely and from the heart in complying with God's call to leave his native country, and in separating himself and his household from the idolatrous world, to worship and serve the true God, to believe in and wait for the promised Messiah, looking upon the land of Canaan as a type of heaven, which was indeed the country for which he sought. For this world was not his home, But he was a pilgrim and stranger on earth. And all the genuine children of Abraham are of the same spirit. For they do the works of Abraham. John viii. 59. All his seed therefore according to the flesh, by being circumcised on the eighth day, were bound by God to be of the same spirit. And when they became adult, and cluldren were born to them, they were bound in the same spirit to cir
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 in 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. Be
cumcise their children. If they neglected to circumcise their children in this spirit, they broke God's covenant. If they performed the external rite of circumcising their children, they did, by that action, practically profess to be of this spirit. For this was the import of the action. If their hearts were answerable to their external conduct, then they were Abraham's children indeed; and heirs, not only of earthly, but also of the heavenly Canaan. If they had no love to the God of Abraham, or faith in the promised Messiah, they were pagans at heart. Or in other words, they were uncircumcised in heart; and will be considered and treated accordingly, as soon as ever they shall come to stand before the bar of God, as searcher of hearts, in the invisible world. For he is not a Jew, who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart. But if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Rom. ii. 25–29. However, in this present world, God conducted toward them not as the searcher of hearts, but in the character of a visible head; and therefore dealt with them according to visible appearances, trusting their profession, saying, surely they are my people, children that twill not lie. And in this character he considered them as covenant-breakers, not according to what they were in heart secretly, but according to what they appeared to be in external conduct. These hints may serve to show the true import of Gen. xvii. 14. and the meaning of Exod. iv. 24, 25, 26.
There have been four dispensations of the covenant of grace ; the Adamaic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, and the Christian. Repentance toward God, and faith in the promised seed, and holiness of heart and life, have been equally necessary in all times, and under all dispensations; but rites and ceremonies have been varied. Offering sacrifice was always practised from the days of Adam, but circumcision was appointed to the family of Abraham. Melchizedek and Lot were under the Adamaic dispensation, therefore they practised sacrificing, but not circumcision. But there never was a covenant made by God adapted to the temper and conduct of impenitent self-righteous sinners, requiring men to feel and act as they do, in their religious exercises and performances ; but from the early days of Cain to the present period. God has ever refused to smell a sweet savour in such sacrifices. The first persecution and the first martyr was relative to this point. Gen.ir. 3-8,