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speaking of the covenant with Abraham, he says, 'the covenant of grace was evidently and confessedly contained, set forth, and confirmed, by the particular appointment of circumcision.' But if baptisin and the Lord's supper are seals of the covenant of grace, how can those who knowingly reject the covenant of grace in their hearts, seal it with their hands, consistently with honesty and a good conscience? Here it may not be amiss to repeat some of the articles of the creed published in my fourth dialogue, that the reader may judge for himself whether they are true or not. I believe that any man who seals any covenant, doth, in and by the act of sealing, declare bis compliance with that covenant which he seals : because this is the import of the act of sealing. I believe that it is of the nature of lying, to seal a covenant, with which I do not now, and never did comply in my heart ; but rather habitually and constantly reject. Therefore, I believe that a man who knows he has no grace, cannot seal the covenant of grace, honestly and with a good conscience. It belongs to Mr. Mather, if he means to maintain, that those who know they have no grace, can seal the covenant of grace honestly and with a good conscience, to say how. For as yet he has said nothing on this point. And indeed, we must either give up the import of sealing ; or give up the covenant of grace, as the covenant to be sealed; or say that graceless men have some grace, and do in a measure truly and really comply with the covenant of grace, and so have really a title to pardon and eternal life, or we cannot be consistent: nor then neither. For to say, that graceless men have some grace, is a contradiction. And to say they have no grace, and yet may honestly seal the covenant of grace, is to deny the import of sealing; for scaling a covenant always denotes a present consent of heart to the corenant sealed. And therefore, to seal a covenant which I reject with my whole heart, is a practical falsehood. But if I do not reject it with my whole heart, I have a degree of true love to it; that is, I have a degree of true grace: and so am in a pardoned and justified state. But still it remains true, that those who know they have no grace, cannot seal the covenant of grace with a good conscience, because it is a practical falsehood. Indeed,
men may be so far gone in wickedness, as to allow theinselves in lying to God and man; but their conduct cannot be justified, when, with the assembled universe, they appear before the bar of God. For as has been said, sealing a covenant always denotes a present consent of heart to the covenant sealed. In this sense it has always been understood by mankind in their covenants between one another in deeds, in bonds, &c. Sealing denotes a present consent of heart to the contents of the written instruinent; and therefore no honest man will seal the written instrument until in heart he consents to the contents of it. And should any man seal a written instrument, and at the same time declare before evidences that at present he did not consent to it, it was not his free act and deed, the act of sealing would in its own nature be of no significance. The whole transaction would be perfect trifling. Mr. M. says, p. 65. I am very sensible, that the Christian church has always esteemed sealing ordinances as seals of the covenant of grace. On God's part, they are seals to the truth of the whole revaled will of God. On our part, they are seals bioding us to pay a due regard to the whole revelation. And accordingly, any breach of moral rule or gospel-precept, has been esteemed by the church as a breach of covenant in its members.' He, therefore, who is habitually, totally destitute of that holiness which the law of God requires, and of that repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, to which in the Gospel we are invited, and lives in a total neglect of that religion which flows from the love, repentance, and faith required in the law and Gospel : even he does not consent to the covenant of grace in his heart, in the least degree, but lives habitually, totally, and universally in the breach of it, without ever complying with it in one single act. And can a man, conscious to himself that this is his character, with a good conscience seal this covenant! Or can : Christian church allow of such bypocrisy !
3. The other point wbich I designed to prove was this, that there is no graceless covenant between God and man existing ; that is, no covenant in which God promises relis gious privileges and spiritual blessings to graceless men, upop
graceless conditions ; i. e. to graceless qualifications, which graceless men, while such, may have : and that, therefore, baptism and the Lord's supper cannot be seals to such a covenant.-And Mr. M. in his preface seems as if he intended to give up this point also : for he calls this graceless covenant' a graceless phantom :' which is really to grant the whole which I contend for. For this is the very point I meant to prove, viz. the non-existence of such a covenant. For God's covenant requires holiness, and nothing else. And it promises eternal life to those who comply with it. But its blessings are not promised to graceless men, as such, nor to graceless qualifications.
However, if we will read Mr. M.'s book through, we shall see that he is so far from giving up this covenant, as 'a graceless phantom,' that he has exerted himself to the utmost to save this 'graceless phantom' from non-existence. Because, without it, he knows no way in which graceless men, as such, can be admitted into the visible church of Christ. For he does not pretend, that they can make a profession of godliness : yea, he is confident, that none may warrantably make a profession of godliness, unless they have the highest degree of assurance. (p. 79.) There must therefore be a graceless covenant for graceless men, as such ; to profess which, requires nothing more, nothing higher, than graceless qualifications as necessary conditions of its blessings; or graceless men, as such, cannot profess a present consent to any covenant at all ; and so cannot be admitted as members of the visible church, which he says 'is in covenant with God;' or have a covenant right to covenant blessings. For they who are destitute of the qualifications necessary to a covenant right to covenant blessings, can have no covenant right to them. To say otherwise, is an express contradiction.
The method which in my former piece I took to prove the non-existence of such a graceless covenant as has been described, was, 1. To turn the reader to the covenant with Abraham, the covenant at Sinai and in the plains of Moab, and to the Gospel covenant, that he might see with his own eyes, that these were, each of them, holy covenants, which required a holy faith, a holy love, a holy repentance, a holy obe
dience; and that those who have these holy qualifications are entitled to eternal life. Nor is there any matter of fact in Scripture plainer than this. So that none of these were that graceless covenant for which Mr. M. contends : which promises its blessings to graceless men, as such. Nor has Mr. M. pointed out one unholy duty in that covenant with Abraham, (Gen. 17.) nor one unholy duty in that covenant at Sinai, or in that covenant in the plains of Moab, or in the Gospel covenant. Nor has he denied, that eternal life is promised to every one who complies with God's covenant, as exhibited in these various ways, at these several times. So that my argument, from the nature of the covenant, as it is to be found in the written instrument, stands unanswered. And let it be remembered, that this argument is conclusive, without determining the nature of holiness, or faith, or repentance, or entering at all into the disputes which subsist beiween the Calvinists, Arminians, Neonomians, Antinomians, &c. relative to the perfection of the divine law, total depravity, regeneration, &c. &c. For if it be proved that God's covenant, to which God's seals are annexed, promises salvavion to those who consent to it, and that there is a certain connexion between a real compliance with it and eternal life, then Mr. M.'s external covenant, to which he says the seals are annexed, which does not promise salvation to those who consent to it, nor establishes any certain connexion between a real compliance with it and eternal life, is essentially different from God's covenant, and so is, strictly speaking, ' a graceless phantom. But, 2. In order to prove the non-existence of a graceless covenant, I introduced the doctrines of the perfection of the divine lazo, and of total depravity, into the argument, as thus, since the divine law requires holiness, and nothing but holiness, and since the unregenerate are totally destitute of the holiness required, there is therefore no covenant existing between God and man, with which the unregenerate, while such, do comply in the least degree. Upon which Mr. M. declares,' that he is become sensible that our different sentiments in this particular, (terms of commu. nion,) is in a great measure, owing to our thinking differently upon other important points.' And so he has offered to the
public his own scheme of religion, which may be summed up in these eight articles.
1. That self-love is essential to moral agency. And,
2. That this self-love, which is essential to moral agency, is by the divine law required of us as our duty.
3. That this self-love, which is essential to moral agency and our required duty, is in our present guilty state absolutely inconsistent with that love to God which the law originally required of Adam before the fall, and which is still required in the moral law.
4. That our natural total depravity arises merely and only from its being thus inconsistent with this self-love to love God.
5. That in these circumstances it is contrary to the law of God, and so a sinful thing, for us to love God.
6. That our natural total depravity not being of a criminal nature, doth not disqualify us for sealing ordinances ; as it entirely ceases to be our duty since the fall, to love that character of God which was exhibited in the law to Adam.
And more especially,
7. That now since the fall we are naturally inclined and disposed, our total depravity notwithstanding, to love the new character of God which is revealed in the Gospel, so that we shall'without fail, love it as soon as known, without any new principle of grace. For these things being true, it will follow,
8. That upregenerate sinners, who are awakened and externally reformed, must be considered as being in the temper of their hearts as well affected to the Gospel, did they but know it, as the regenerate ; and their religious desires and endeavours as being of the same nature and tendency. And therefore they may enter into covenant with God, and attend sealing ordinances, with as much propriety as the regenerate.
This is the sum and substance of his scheme. And in this scheme of principles we may see the fundamental grounds of his thinking differently from us, in the particular point under consideration, viz. the terms of communion. The design of the following sheets is, first of all, to review