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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 creep 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 bat good fish. It is fact, that in the apostolic age, soine impenitent hypocrites made a profession of faith and repentance, and were baptised; 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, and 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 Guspel 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 entersi nto it: but he who professes to comply with it, visibly enters into it. The former is peculiar to the godly ; but ungodly inen may do the latter ; for none but the godly

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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. iii. 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 its blessings, and not our being under the bonds of it. For the ten tribes, who are said, in Jer. iii. 14. to be married to the Lord, and who bad lived in idolatry ever since the days of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, for thus playing the harlot, had been put away, ver 1. and a bill of divorce bad been given to them. ver. 8. They had been turned out of the promised land and sentinto captivity, above an hundred years ago. 2 Kings xvii. 6. And so had not only forfeited, but were actually dispossessed of all the exterval 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 corenant, even in the covenant of grace. For the engagement he came under to live according to that covenant all his days, when be made a profession of religion, is as binding in the sight of God as ever. But being in covenant in this sense, although it may increase obligation and guilt; yet entitles to no covenant privileges,

5. We are to distinguish between the means which God uses to bring us to comply with the covenant of grace, and our consenting to seal it in token of compliance. Those 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,

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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 publicly to enter into covenant, and publicly to seal it. The man bimself makes his judgment by looking into his own heart; but the church inakes their judginent 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 louking inward, and finding such an beart 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 inan by looking into his own heart may be certain, that he believes and loves the docuines of the Gospel ; but the church, by outward appearances, can be certain of neither. Peter was certain he believed. Mat. xvi. 16. And as certain that he loved. John xxi. 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 lo 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 all for his sake, and not to espouse his cause and interest heartily before men, is most inexcusable wickedness. Therefore,

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

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VOL. II.

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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 bence 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 scheine; 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 into the gracious state of the three thousand converts on the day of pentecost; we may answer, that he had as much time for this, as to examine into their doctrinal knowledge and moral sincerity. So also, those objections ought to weigh nothing, wbich 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

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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 publicly 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, “ wbich 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 minister can be able to judge whether any are fit to be warried? 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 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. Meanwhile, the failings of married women will be more taken notice of, to their dishonour, 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 sentiments! But if this class of women were the majority, they might make a

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