« ZurückWeiter »
Nor is there any way to avoid this, but for Mr. M. to say, " A man may be infallibly certain of the truth of the Gospel, and so of God's readiness to be reconciled to sinners, as therein revealed ; and yet after ail remain totally depraved, and an enemy to God." But to say this, would be to give up the fundamental principle on which his whole scheme is built, viz. that the true and the only reason’ of total de pravity, is the apprehension, that it is inconsistent with the divine perfections to forgive sin. In which view self-love and the love of God are inconsistent.' And if this is given up,
his whole scheme sinks of course. For if this is not the true and only reason of total depravity, he is wholly wrong, from the foundation to the top stone. And if an apprehension that it is inconsistent with the divine perfections to forgive sin, is the true and only reason of total depravity, then a belief that God can consistently forgive sin, would at once regenerate us. For it is an old maxiin, remove the cause and the effect will cease. Every man, therefore, according to Mr. M. who believes the Gospel to be true, is at once reconciled to God. Nor may apy be received into the church, until they believe it to be true. And so no graceless man, as such, can be admitted into the church. Because no infidel, as such, may be admitted. And all but infidels are regenerate, if Mr. M.'s scheme is true. And then the scheme of religion which he has advanced, in order to support the external covenant, were it true, would effectually overthrow the grand point he had in view.
The extraordinary methods Mr. Mather has taken to support
his scheme, and keep himself in countenance.
THE ordinary methods of supporting religious principles, by Scripture and reason, which Mr. M. has taken to support his external covenant, we have already attended to. And I
think Mr. M. is much to be commended for coming out boldly, like an honest man, and giving the public such an honest account of his scheme of religion, by which he designed to support what he had advanced in his former piece concerning the external covenant. If every writer on that side of the question would do the same, the controversy would soon come to an end.
Bnt there are various other methods, which Mr. M. has taken to keep himself in countenance, and to persuade his readers that his scheme is right, and that the plan is wrong om which the churches in New-England were formed, when this country was first settled : and particularly, that the Synod at Saybrook were wrong, in that resolve which they unanimously came into, viz. “ That none ought to be admitted as members, in order to full communion in all the special ordinances of the Guspel, but such as credibly profess a cordial subjection to Jesus Christ :” Various other methods, I say, of a different nature, and which are not so commendable.
1. One extraordinary method he takes to keep himself in countenance is, to pretend that I had wholly misrepresented hois sentiments,' and given his scheme 'the bad name of a graceless covenant,' and pointed "all my arguments, not against any thing that he had written,' nor so much as essayed to confute one single argument that he had offered. This pretence is very extraordinary, 1. Because, if his covenant is not a graceless covenant, it will not answer the end by him proposed. For if it does not promise its blessings to graceless men, as such, upon graceless conditions; then graceless men, as such, with only graceless qualifications, cannot enter into it. For he affirms, that none can consistently profess a compliance with the covenant of grace, without the most full and perfect assurance. p. 78, 79, 80. 2. This preience is very extraordinary, because he had in his first book, (p. 58.) declared his external covenant, in express terms, to be distinct from the covenant of grace;' and in this second book sets himself professedly to prove the same point over again. p. 60, 61, 62. But if his external covenant is distinct from the covenant of grace,' it is either the covenant of works or a graceless covenant, or a covenant which requires no condi
tions at all: for no other sort of covenant can be thought of. But if Mr. M.'s external covenant is absolute and unconditional, then a Pagan, a Turk, or a Jew, as such, hath as good right to the Lord's table, as to hear the Gospel preached. And if his external covenant is the same with the covenant of works, then no mere man since the fall is qualified to join with the church. And if his external covenant is the covenant of grace, then no graceless man, as such, is qualified to enter into it and seal it. It is, therefore, nay, it must be, a graceless covenant, or nothing at all. 3. This pretence is very extraordinary, because Mr. M. was so pinched with what I had advanced against his scheme, that he had no way to get rid of my arguments, but to deny first principles, and give up the doctrines contained in the public approved formulas of the church of Scotland, and the churches in New-England, and advance a new scheme of religion, never before published in New-England. And why did not he point out at least one single argument of his, which he judged to be unanswered ? Or why did not he mention one single instance, whereio I had represented his covenant to be more graceless than it was ? Or what need was there, if I had said nothing to the parpose, to expose himself and his cause, by the publication of such a system of new notions, to make all the country stare i?
i Mr. M. offered five arguments, in his first book, (p. 7, 8.) to support his external covenant. These five arguments the reader may find answered, in my former piece, p. 16, 17, 18. 65, 66. 69. And if he will read my piece through, he may find the two points fully proved, which I undertook to prore, on which the whole controversy turns, viz. That there is but one covenant, of which baptism and the Lord's supper are seals, even the covenant of grace; and that the doctrine of an external graceless covenant is unscriptural. Some wonder why Mr. M. did not make a particular reply, and wonder more why, instead of a particular reply, he should advance such an inconsistent, absurd, shocking scheme of religion, in support of the external covenant, which instead of supporting, rather tends to sink it. For, say they, if the external covenant cannot be supported without going into this scheme of religion, we will give it up. But I wonder not at Mr. M.'s conduct in all this. The external covenant cannot be supported but by overthrowing the scripture scheme of religion, and establishing Mr. M.'s scheme in its room. His scheme of religion is absolutely necessary to. support his external covenant. Without the introduction of Mr. M.'s new scheme of religion, my former piece can receive no answer at all. He could not be silent. He must take this way, or none at all.
2. The loud out-cry which he makes of new divinity, new divinity, is another of the extraordinary methods which he takes to keep bimself in countenance. And it is very extraordinary in him, to raise this cry, on this occasion, in answer to me, and that when lie himself was writing such an answer. 1. Because I was justifying the old scheme, on wbich our churches in this country were originally settled, the good old way; and he wrote with a design to bring in a new scheme, called by the name of the external covenant, both name and thing unknown in all the public formulas approved by our churches, and absolutely inconsistent with some of the fundamental articles of our confession of faith, and catechisms. 2. Because, in order to justify the good old way, and confute his new scheme, I built my arguments on the good old protestant doctrines of the perfection of the divine law, and total deprarity, as held forth in scripture, and in our public formulas, without any one new sentiment; yea, without expressing old sentiments in stronger language than the language of Scripture, and of that confession of faith, which Mr. M. himself professes to believe. While, on the other hand, Mr. M. was writing not only in defence of a new scheme, but endeavouring to justify it by a whole system of new divinity, never before advanced, so far as I know, in New-England. However, it is not entirely new. It was some years ago published in London, by Mr. Cudworth, and an answer to it was printed in Boston, 1762, in An Essay on the nature and glory of the Gospel, before referred to.
3. Another extraordinary method which he takes to keep himself in countenance, is, to impute the most absurd and odious doctrines to those whom he opposes, which neither they, nor any christian writer, ever believed, to be true. Particularly," That the enmity of the carnal mind against God consists in disinterested malice. That in regeneration new natural faculties are created io us. That the unregenerate, being without these new natural faculties, let their hearts be ever so good, are under a natural impossibility of hearkening to the call of the Gospel. That we must be willing to be damned in order to be prepared for Christ. That Christ has no hand in our reconciliation to God.” To be sure, I was neVOL. 111.
ver acquainted with any man, or any book, which held these points. Should it be affirmed concerning a very poor, and very lazy man, that although he is convinced in his conscience, that it is his duty and interest to be industrivus; yet the more he thinks of it the more averse he feels to il: would this amount to saying, that this lazy man has a disinterested malice against industry ? Or should it be affirmed concerning the unregenerate, that God hath not given them eyes to see nor ears to hear; would this amount to saying, that they are destitute of eyes and ears, considered as natural faculties, and su can neither see nor hear; and therefore are not at all to blame for their spiritual blindness and deafness ? Or, should a wise and good father, when bis impudent haughty child, about to be corrected for a crime, insolently say, well, father, if you do whip me, I shall never love you again as long as I live; should a wise and good father say to such a child, ' You de : serve to be whipped, nor will I ever forgive you unul you will owo that it is good enough for you, and that it is not a blemislı, but a beauty in your father's character, 10 be disposed to maintain good governinent in his house, would that amount to saying, that the child must be willing to be whipped in order to prepare him for a pardon? Or, if by the regenerating inAuences of the Holy Spirit, communicated through Jesus Christ, the only Mediator, as the fruits of his purchase, the holiness and justice of the divine nature are viewed as a beau. ty in the divine character, by the true penitent, will it hence follow, that there was no need of Christ to die, or to be exalted, that through bim, repentance and romission of sins might be given unto us, consistently with the divice law. It is true that there is no need of Christ to make us amends for the injury done us in the divine law, and so to reconcile our angry miyds to the Deity, and bring us to forgive our Maker, Such a Christ would suit the taste of a carnal heart. But a true penitent, having a new taste, already grants that God and his law are wholly right, perfect in beauty, without a blemish, prior to the consideration of the gift of Christ : and this prepares him to see the wisdom and grace of God, in giving his Son to die upon the cross, in the manner, and for the purpose, set forth in the Gospel. Rom. iii. 25. 1 Cor. i. 18.