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p. 49 *. I hope this may show 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
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 professors give their assent be ever so orthodox, and their profession be ever
x These are Mr. M.'s words. “To set this matter in the clearest light; an unregenerate man, with a fair profession of religion, when received into the visi. ble church, is in reality either a member of it, or he is not : if he is a member, his union must be constituted by something besides the covenant of grace, which extends to none but such as have true grace in 'heart : but if he is not in reality a member of the visible church, then there can be no such thing as a visible church, that has a real existence." Answ. The visible union of the visible church is constituted by a visible credible profession of a compliance with the covenant of grace : just as their real union is constituted by a real compliance with the covenant of grace.
To set this matter in the clearest light; in a Spanish milled dollar there is a certain quantity of silver, the stamp, &c.- Silver is essential to a real dollar. If there is no silver in the seeming dollar, it is not a real dollar, but a counterfeit one. So here-If a body of men profess friendship to Christ, they are a visible church of Christ : but if there is no friendship in their hearts, they are like the counterfeit dollar.
Should any one object, “a pewter dollar, with a good stamp, and well washed, over, is a real dollar, or it is not : if it is a real dollar, then silver is not essential to a real dollar: if it is not a real dollar, then there is no such thing as a visible dollar in the world :” would any man by such logic as this, be induced to receive pewter dollar's, professedly such, in pay for his whole estate?
so true; yet if they profess only “ a simple belief of the sinnple 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. ii. 10. And so did Abraham, the father of all believ
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 lo 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 ng 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?" Wbat, 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 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
can any man know when he complies with it.
The lowest degree of true grace is a real and saving conpliance with the Gospel covenant. This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. John xvii. 3. Where saving grace begins, it shall end in glory. Its special nature can be as certainly deterinined, 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 and 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 thoroughly 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 ; (John iii. 18. 36. Gal. iii. 10.) and incapable of entering into covenant with God, (Ps. I. 16.) and coming into the kingdom of Christ, until they are born again. (John ii. 5.) And how much soever pains such may ake, to escape
everlasting burnings, they can never think, that this labour of theirs 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. John xiv. 6. But self-righteous sinners, with stupid consciences, are good enough 10 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 teorks, 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. vii. 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 selfrighteous 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. iii. 9. John viii. 39–44. John iii. 36.
y Sermon on Rom. ix. 14, 15. p. 28.
Various distinctions stated, to render the subject more easy to
be understood by Christians of the weakest capucities, 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. xvii. ; with which he complied, and which he sealed, Mr. M. must lose bis cause, although 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 and sealed it. As for example, suppose we have a bond of 1000 l. signed and sealed by a man not worth a groat ; it alters not the case, the bond is a bond of 1000 l. as much as if 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 conlents 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 aught 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 950 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.