Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

scheme. Nay, and persist in such arguments, after their fallacy has been pointed out, without saying one word in excuse for such a piece of conduct.

Thus he insists upon it, that if infants may have the seal of the covenant without saving grace, then also may the adult. And therefore, saving grace is not needful to qualify any one for sealing ordinances. And therefore, the covenant to be sealed, is not the covenant of grace, but an external covenant, distinct from the covenant of grace,' which only requires, as a necessary qualification for sealing ordinances, that sinners should be under such convictions,' as to come to a fixed resolution to forsake all known sin, and practise all known duty. But have all infants these convictions, and such a fixed resolution? Does be believe they have? Is there any

evidence of it? No; he does not believe they have. Nor is there any evidence, that there ever was one infant since the world began, that had these conrictions, and such a fixed resolution. What then does Mr. M. mean? Does he mean to give up infant baptisın? no, by no means. What then does he mear? Odd as it is, he means to confute our scheme by an argument which cousutes his own ; i.e. by an argument, built on a principle which he himself does not believe to be true, viz. That the same qualifications are necessary in infunts as in the adult, to qualify them for baptism. For Mr. M. does not believe this principle to be true. For he does not believe that infants need any qualification at all. And

yet

he does believe that the adult must have some qualification. Now how extraordinary is it, for a man of learning to conduct thus; and to go on and persevere in this conduct without a blush, or the least excuse, in the sight of all the country, after the absurdity had been pointed out before his eyes, in my former book, p. 64, 65, 66.

And thus again, he insists upon it, that if saving grace is necessary, then no man can with a good conscience join with the church, without assurance, an assurance equal to that certainty which we have of facts, which we see with our own eyes, and to the truth of which we can give oath before any civil court. p. 78, 79. But ' ninety-nine in a hundred of true believers' are destitute of this assurance, he says, (p. 80.)

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

and therefore, saving grace is not needful. Nothing more is needful, than to come to a fixed resolution to forsake all known sin and practise all known duty. But does Mr. M. believe that no man can, with a good conscience, join with the church, without being thus infallibly certain that he has the requisite qualifications for on the supposed truth of this proposition is his argument built. But does Mr. M. believe this proposition ? does he teach his people to believe it? had all his church-members this high degree of infallible assurance, that they had the requisite qualifications, when they joined with the church ? and have they the infallible assurance every time they altend sealing ordinances; an assurance equal to that certainty, which they have, that they ever saw the sun shine! That they are come to a fired resolution to forsake all known sin, and practise all known duty ? Does he insist upon it in his public preaching, and in his private instructions, that without this high degree of assurance, without this infallible certainty, they cannot with a good conscience come to baptism or to the Lord's table? that' they are guilty of gross prevarication, and double-dealing with God,' if they do. p. 82. Because no man' ought to come without this infallible certainty, that he has the requisite qualifications : I say, does Mr. M. believe these things himself? or does he teach them to his own people ? I appeal to his conscience. I appeal to his people, for my witnesses. Mr. M. does not believe that inen must have this infallible certainty, that they have the requisite qualifications, in order to attend sealing ordinances with a good conscience. Nor does he teach this doctrine to his people. What then does he mean, in all he says upon this subject to us? Why, he means to confute our scheme, by an argument built on a principle which he does not believe to be true ; and which, were it true, would effectually overthrow his own scheme. And all this, after the fallacy of this manner of reasoning had been pointed out before his eyes, as clear as the sun, in Mr. Edwards' last piece on the sacramental controversy, to which no answer has ever been made. Now is it not extraordinary, that a man of so good sense, should urge against us arguments, built on principles which he himself does not believe; and which, if VOL. III,

46

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

they were true, would effectually overthrow his own scheme : For no unregenerate man in this world is, or ever was, or ever will be, while such, infallibly certain, as he is of what he sees with his eyes, that his resolution to forsake all known sin, and practise all known duty, is' fixed,' so that his religion will not prove like that of the stony and thorny ground bearers. For if the common protestant doctrine of the saints' perseterance is scriptural, yet Mr. M. does not believe the doctrine of the perseverance of graceless sinners, in their religious resolutions, is taught in scripture. So that there is no possible way in which an awakened sinner can be certain that his resolution is fixed,” without an immediate revelation from heaven, lo give him this assurance. But Mr. M. does not believe, that an immediate revelation from heaven ever was, or ever will be, made for this purpose. But be well knows, that without any such revelation, Peter was able to say, Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee. And he well knew that the saints in the apostolic age are spoken of, without exception, as having received the spirit of adoption, whereby they cried Abba, Father ; with an assurance that they were the children of God. Rom. viii, 14, 15, 16. Nor is there one instance, among all the apostolic converts, that can be mentioned, of a doubting saint. Nor does it appear, by the acts of the apostles, or by their epistles, but that' assurance did in those days attend the first acts of faith ainong

all their converts.' See Acts ii. 41–47. and viii. 39. and x. 44 --47. and xvi. 30—34. For, to use the apostolic language, “ Being justified by faith, they had peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of the glory of God: because the love of God was shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost." Rom. v. 15. And they knew that they had passed from death to life. John iii. 14. And this renders the conduct of Mr. M. so much the more extraordinary, that he with so much zeal, should push an argument, which, were it well grounded, is much more against his own scheme than it is against the apostolic practice. For it does not appear but that their converts universally knew that they were passed from death to life. Whereas it is capable of full proof, that no one unregenerate man ever did know that his religious resolutions

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

were · fixed, so that his goodness should not be as the morning cloud and as the early dew, which quickly passeth away.

Besides, we are naturally as conscious of our volitions and affections, as we are of our speculations; and therefore we are as capable of knowing what we choose and love, as what we believe : and therefore, we may as well know that we love God and Christ, if we really do, as know that we have right speculative ideas of the true and real character of God and Christ, and of the doctrines of revealed religion, in which they are exhibited. Many are confident they believe aright, who are heretics; and many are confident they love aright, who are hypocrites : and yet this hinders not but that true saints, whio believe aright, and love in sincerity, may know it: and know the one as well as the other. And it cannot be proved, but that there are as many who have doubts about the truth of Gospel doctrines, as there are that have doubts about the sincerity of their love to Gospel doctrines. It cannot be proved, that there is one professor who doubts the sincerity of his love, who has an infallible assurance which is the right scheme of religion, among all the schemes in vogue. It is very evident, that there is a great degree of scepticism among the professors of Christianity in this age, and as much among the learned as among the unlearned; as is obvious to every one who is acquainted with books and men. And, for auglit that appears, it might be as difficult to find men who believe Christianity to be true, real Christianity I mean, to that degree as to have no doubts about what is uuth; as to find men that love it, so as to have no doubts about their love. This is certain, that it was the constant doctrine of Mr. Stoddard, that no unregenerate man does know the Gospel to be true, as every one knows who is acquainted with his writings. And it is also certain, that in the apostolic age, it was the universally received doctrine of the whole Christian church, that whosoever believeth that JeEus is the Christ, is born of God. 1 John v.]. And it was in that age believed, that the unregenerate, however they might, for a time, believe and rejoice ; yet neither their faith, nor their affections, were ' fixed,' because they had no root in themselves: and therefore in time of temptation they would

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

h the

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

fall away from both. Mat. xii. And therefore, if we open the door wide enough to let in the unregenerate, as such, into the church, we must not insist on their being fixed' what to believe, or fixed' what to do; for there is no root in them. Much less must we affirm, that they must be infallibly certain that they are ' fixed,' when, if the bible is the word of God, it is infallibly certain, that they are not ‘fixed.' And their very confidence, that they are “fixed,' is a full proof that they do not understand and believe the Gospel, wbicb declares that they are not 'fixed,' that they have no root in themselves.

But to return :

Our author says, (p. 79.). If it is a real gracious state, that gives us a real right to join with the church; then it is a known gracious state that gives us a known right.' And he adds, “This is a self-evident proposition. And this he says in order to prove,' that no man can, with a good conscience, make this profession, without as certain a knowledge of the gracious state of his own heart, as he must have of any particular fact about which he is called to give an evidence in a civil court.' But if this argument is conclusive, then his own scheme is overthrown. For, turn the tables, and the argument stands thus:

“ If it is real orthodoxy, that gives us a right to join with the church ; then it is kuown orthodoxy, that gives us a known right.” And I may add, this is a self-evident proposition. And therefore, according to Mr, M. “no man can with a good conscience, join with the church, without as certain a kaowledge of his orthodoxy, as he must have of. any particular fact about which he is called to give an evidence in a civil court.” So then, according to Mr. M. unregenerate, graceless men, must be as certain which of all the various schemes of religion in vogue, in the Christian world, is the right one, as they are of any fact which they see with their eyes, to the truth of which they can make oath ; or they cannot, with a good conscience, join with the church : i. e. they must have as high a degree of infallibility as the apostles had under inspiration, or they cannot, a good conscience, join with the church. But does Mr. M.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

with

bud fo

« ZurückWeiter »