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cause 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.
The corcuant 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 Moscs, which was written in a book, comprises at large all the contents of the covenant with the Israelites in the wilderness. This book, 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. xxxi. 9. 25, 26. A brief summary of this law was written on two tables of stone. Deut. iv. 13. Which two tables of stone were, therefore, called the tables of the covenant, Deut. ix. 9, 10, 11. 16. and were also put into the Ark of the covenant. Deut. x. 4, 5. So that we may be as certain of the nature of that covenant, as we can be of the meaning of the Mosiac law.
The Israelites in the wilderness professed a compliance with this covenant, and with no other, as is beyond dispute certain from Exod. xix. 8. And chap. xxiv. 3. Deut. v. 16. And chap. xxvi. 16, 17, 18. Chap. xxviii. 1. 15.58. And chap. xxix. 9-13. compared with chap. xxx. 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 opon them all the words of this law; and to build an altar, and offer sacrifice; and half the tribes were to stand on mount Ebal, and half on mount Gerizziin, 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, twelve 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 late to do them: and all the people shall say, Amen. Deut. xxvii. And this most solemn and affecting affair was accordingly attended, soon after they had passed over Jordan. Josh. viii. 30-35.
So that, by their own act and deed, they did, in the most public and explicit manner, declare their bearty approbation of, and acquiescence in, not Mr. M.'s external covenant, but the perfect law of God, in all its strictness, and with all its 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 so deeply humbled as to accept the punishment of their iniquity. Lev. xxvi. 40, 41. Neh. ix. Dan. ix. 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 honour, which was a type of Christ, whose office it is to magnify the law, and make it honourable, and to open a way for grace to reign. That lid was called the mercy-seat, or rather as critics say, it ought to have been translated, the propitiatory; for it was a shadow of Christ the great propitiatory. And moreover, to coinplete 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 xx. 21. For in repentance toward God, the divine law is heartily acquiesced in, and loved as holy, just, and good; and the whole blame of every transgression is taken to ourselves; with a disposition 10 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 through 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. x. 6-10. compared with Deut. 30. 11-14.; of which inore 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 through 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 destitute of holiness: and so no degree of real compliance can be understandingly and honestly professed. But, if the truth was 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. hiinself professes to be lieve.
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, James ii. 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 be 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 8. They believed that the Sinai covenant required nothing more in religion than they performed. For, as touching the rightcousness 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.
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 Jolin 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 ripers. 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
to it 100 ; 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 oiber, 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, 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 sius; such as stealing, &c. Their consciences will sinite them if they are guilty of any such gross
g For the divine law to require contrary and inconsistent volitions, is to be a self-contradictory and inconsistent law. Mat. vi. 24. But sinful and holy volitions are contrary and inconsistent. John jïi. 6. Rom. viü. 7. Gal. v. 17.
For God to make two laws, one requiring none but holy volitions, the other none but sinful volitions, is to make two laws, contradictory and inconsistent; both of which cannot be in force at the same time : yea, rather, neither of which can be in force at all, as they mutually destroy each other..
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,
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.
h In the dark days of popery there were no professed infidels among Christians. Since the reformation, light and knowledge are greatly incrcased, and infidelity is become very fashionable in Great-Britain. However, there are thousands of professed Christians yet remaining in the visible church, who beliere the bible to be the word of God, not because they understand and believe that scheme of religion which in fact is contained in the bible ;, but because they think it contains their own schemes. Thus Pelagians believe the bible to be the word of God, as supposing it contains a system of Pelagianism ; and Socinians, as supposing it contains a system of Socinianism; and Arminians, Neonomians, and Antinomians do the like; while they ailow themselves to disbelieve, and hate, and oppose that very system of doctrines and practice which in fact it does contain. In this view there may be not a few professed Christians, who are infidels in reality ; i. e. who really disbelieve that scheme of religion which is contained in the bible, while they profess to believe the bible to be the word of God. Thus it was among the Jews. John v. 46, 47. Matt. xxüi. 29–36. Should light still increase, and these men find out that their various schemes are not contained in the bible, if left to their own hearts, they would universally prefer infidelity to Christianity. And in this case there would be nothing to prevent their throwing off the profession of Christianity but their worldly interest. For it is plain fact, that the external evidences of Christianity, when fresh, and before the eyes of the Pharisees, were not sufficient to conquer their aversion to it, so as to prevent their rejecting of it. And human nature is the same that it was seventeen hundred years ago.