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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 distinguish 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 lightened and thundered, 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 suid, will we da; (such manifestations of God, and a people under such deep religious iinpressions, 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. Isai. Ixiii. 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 steadfast in his covenant. Psal. Ixxviii. 37.
Il. 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 Kadesh-barnea ; and at Taberah, and Massah, and at Ki. broth-huttaarah, 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. ix. 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 bim, their God, to love him, and to walk in all bis ways, and to keep all his commandments. Concerning the former cha
facter, 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. ji. 2. Thus saith the Lord, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals; ver. S. Israel was holiness to the Lord. See also Judges ii. 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.
OBJ. But it was the design of Moses to charge in a public manner, as what visibly and publicly 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. xxix. 4. p. 18. 24.
Ans. It is evident, that in the public speech which Moses 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 through 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 though they were the very individual persons that bad committed it. Chap. ix. 23. Then you rebelted against the commandment of the Lord. See also Deut. i. 19.--35. Whereas ibere was not one of those rebels alive; no, not so much as one. Num. xxvi. 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, and wbich were now about to enter into covenant with God, had not been guilty of any public crimes, to give theinselves 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. ïi. 2, 3. Jude ii. 7. Compared to a choice vine, Isa. v. 2. Wholly a right seed, Jer. ii. 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 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, although 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 preceding 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 inanner 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 inquired, 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 bumbling 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. ix. 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 boly and solemn transaction before them, of entering into covenant with the holy One of Israel : that liaving in view how their fathers had entered into covenant at Sinai, and had broken covenant, 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.
19. 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 baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins, by gladly receiring 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 risk 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 honour 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 bave a real right.
14. There is a distinction to be made between a right to sealing ordivances on our own account, and a right on the account of another. Thus pious parents have a right for sealing ordinances for theinselves, 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 baptisın, 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 baptised without respect to any internal qualification, at present inherent in them, either moral or gracious.
OBJ. If, in infant baptism, no respect is bad to any internal qualification in the infant, then the seal is set to a blank.
Ans. 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-baptisen 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 pareat, in