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When Mr. Sandeman says, that "a simple belief of the simple. truth," (the heart left out of the account,) is saving faith; Mr. M. will doubtless agree with me in saying, "this cannot be saving faith; because the devil has it." When therefore Mr. Mather, (p. 25.) represents the eunuch, as entering into covenant with God, by the simple belief of the simple truth, by an ungracious, unholy faith, and is resolved to make that phrase," with all thine heart," stand for nothing; I beg leave to reply," this faith cannot bring those into covenant with God that have it; because the devil has it." And I humbly conceive that no man need be at a loss about the meaning of Philip's words, or of the eunuch's answer, that will compare them with Rom. x. 9. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart, that God hath raised him from the dead, THOU SHALT BE SAVED.” And with 1 John iv. 15. "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God." And chap. v. 1. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God." For just this was the profession which Philip demanded, and which the eunuch made.
And in this view of things, it is easy to discern the true reason why the apostolic churches were, in the epistles wrote to them, considered and treated as saints by the writers, who it is not to be supposed had any personal acquaintance at all with many of them; and why they were spoken of as beloved of God. Rom. i. 7. Sanctified in Christ Jesus. 1 Cor. i. 2. Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Eph. i. 4, &c. &c. For such they were by profession before all the world; and such, generally speaking, they proved themselves to be by their practice. Indeed, it was always expected, that tares would, more or less, be among the wheat. But the apostles did not think it their duty to sow tares knowingly and on design. In that age of the church this was thought to be the work of the devil. Mat xiii. 39. And methinks he may now, in our age, do enough at it, fore, was not the covenant which they led them to seal. Nay, the apostles themselves do not appear to have known that there was any such covenant to be preached up by them, or to be sealed by their converts.
without any help from the clergy. And if professors in that age lived up to their profession, and gave abundant evidence of their sincerity, by the holiness of their lives, as Mr. M. observes they did, p. 31, &c. then they were indeed the salt of the earth, and the light of the world, in their profession and in their practice too, as all church-members ought to be. Mat. v. 13, 14, 15. Nor did the apostles think it a thing of dangerous tendency to treat them as such in the most public manner, in the sight of the world; as Mr. M. must have thought on his scheme, p. 51, &c. These were churches of visible saints, who appeared to be the body of Christ, a living body to a living head. p. 48, 49. And not synagogues of satan, to which graceless professors are said to belong, in Rev. ii. 9. To conclude,
When we read the life of John Baptist, and of Jesus Christ; when we read the commission given to the apostles, in Matthew, Mark, and Luke; and when we read the history of their conduct in the Acts, and consider how they treated the churches which they set up, nothing can be plainer, than that they preached the Gospel, made proselytes to Christianity, set up Christian churches on the Gospel plan; and not on the plan of an external graceless covenant, a thing not heard of in that age.
OBJ. But there was not time to examine the three thousand on the day of pentecost, in order to form a judgment of their gracious state: nor to judge of them by their fruits, p. 26.
ANS. They professed to comply with Peter's exhortation, repent and be baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins. Their profession, circumstanced as it was, was to all appearance sincere. And this was enough; for the doctrine of the necessity of an infallible certainty, that professors were what they professed themselves to be, in order to their admission into the church, was not an apostolic doctrine. And besides, they had as much time to examine into their grace, as into their moral sincerity.
OBJ. "How could the character of the apostles be maintained as infallibly inspired guides to the church, when those
they had received did so often prove hypocrites, false brethren, and apostates?" p. 29.
ANS. By infallible inspiration they were taught, that it was God's prerogative to search the heart. They never pretended to do it themselves. They preached repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Their converts professed that repentance and faith which they preached. They received them upon their profession; they expected there would be tares among the wheat. But they did not mean to sow tares knowingly and upon design: this was the work of the devil; and is it not fit that the ministers of Christ should take the work of the devil out of his hands?
OBJ. It is true, Peter said of Cornelius and those that were with him, God put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. But he said this some years after, in which time they had doubtless given sufficient evidence but this is of no weight to prove that they were admitted to baptism on that supposition. p. 28.
ANS. If he did say this some years after, and if they had -in that time given ever so great evidence of the sincerity of their conversion; yet Peter says not one word about this consequent evidence, nor gives the least hint that they had given such evidence. He mentions not one single fact on which his charity for them was founded, but that only which happened before they were baptised, viz. giving them the Holy Ghost even as he did unto us. But the apostles received not only the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost on the day of pentecost, but also large effusions of his sanctifying influences, filling their hearts with love to divine things. And out of the abundance of their hearts, their mouths spak of the wonderful works of God. Acts ii. 11. And it happened to Cornelius and his household just as it had to the apostles on the day of pentecost, and their hearts were filled with divine love; and out of the abundance of their hearts their mouth spake, MAGNIFYING GOD, extolling and praising him for the glorious display of his perfections in the work of redemption by Jesus Christ. Acts x. 46. By which Peter and the saints who were with him perceived, to their full satisfaction, that these Gentile converts had the
same holy views, and holy affections, which they themselves had; which led Peter to say, God bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. This is the plain and natural sense.
Baptism and the Lord's Supper, are seals of the covenant of grace, and of no other covenant.
MR. Mather says, p. 36, "Seals are rites of confirmation. Nothing is confirmed by the seal, but what is expressed in the written instrument to which it is annexed. And thus, God confirms and ratifies nothing by the sacraments, but what is contained in the declarations of his word.” - And p. 37. "These seals, with respect to us, confirm the profession which we make, and the engagements we come under." So that if the "written instrument," is the covenant of grace, God, by affixing his seal, ratifies his promise to save those that comply with it; and this, on God's part, is the import of the action of sealing. And, if the "written instrument" is the covenant of grace; the professor, by actively receiving the seal, declares, on his part, that he does comply with that covenant, and ratifies his engagements to live up to it. For, thus it is in all mutual covenants among men, where both parties seal, they do by sealing declare a present compliance with the bargain, and mutually oblige themselves to act up to it for the future. To the bargain, I say, as contained in the written instrument; to that, and to nothing else. So that when once it is determined what is contained in the written instrument, it is at the same time determined, what is sealed and what is the import of the act of sealing. But Mr. M. says, "the sealing ordinances, by which the external cove nant is sealed and confirmed, do equally seal and confirm the covenant of grace." p. 36. Upon which it may be observed that, to be consistent, it will follow,
1. That when a graceless man seals the external graceless covenant, binding himself to perform all the graceless duties which it requires; he does at the same time equally seal the covenant of grace, and equally bind himself to perform all the gracious duties which this requires. And whereas these two covenants require religious exercises of a contrary nature, even as contrary as graceless and gracious, which, in other words, are as contrary as sin and holiness; so Mr. M.'s unconverted covenanter, in the act of sealing these two contrary covenants, binds himself to perform all religious duties in these two contrary manners; and that at the same time; for he binds himself by sealing both covenants at once, to perform every duty as both covenants require, from day to day, as long as he lives; and every time he comes to the Lord's table, he binds himself afresh. But our Saviour says, No man can serve two masters. Besides, on this plan, the door of the visible church is shut against all who know themselves to be graceless. For they cannot make a profession of a compliance with the covenant of grace; and so the end and design of Mr. M.'s whole scheme is frustrated.
2. It will also follow from Mr. M.'s own words, that when a godly man, Abraham, for instance, sealed the external covenant and the covenant of grace, both at once, he equally bound himself through life to perform all religious duties, both in a gracious and ungracious manner, at the same time. But how could Abraham, at the same time, serve these two contrary masters, requiring things as contrary as sin and holiness? Or how could he, being a godly man, with a good conscience, bind himself by covenant to perform all religious duties in an unholy manner? Surely he could not do it! and so on Mr. M.'s plan the door of the visible church is shut against both the godly and the wicked. The godly cannot come to sacraments, because they are seals of an unholy covenant, binding them to live in a course of unholy duties; and the ungodly, knowing themselves to be such, cannot come, because they are seals of a holy covenant, binding them to live in a course of holy duties. Therefore,
7 Mr. M. thinks, that there "was a manifest propriety in choosing Abraham, a man of eminent holiness," to be the head of this graceless covenant, p. 9.-But