صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

most "disorderly" things a creature can be guilty of; and that to continue obstinate in this rebellion, after all the external means which God has used to reclaim us, is one of the most "vicious?" Must not his own conscience debar him on Mr. M.'s scheme? Or will it do to tell such a man, had you been guilty of stealing but five shillings from one of your neighbours, for this sin, if considered only as against man, your conscience ought to have debarred you, until you had come to repentance and made restitution; but your conscience ought not to debar you for being an obstinate, impenitent rebel against the God of heaven, the great Sovereign of the universe?" Or might we not, for telling a man thus, be in danger of that rebuke in Mark xxiii. 24. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. For, to rise in rebellion against an earthly prince, would be esteemed more "disorderly and vicious than barely to steal five shillings from our neighbour. And to rise in rebellion against the great God is doubtless more "disorderly and vicious," than to rise in rebellion against an earthly monarch.-In a word, if baptism alone does not entitle to all chuch privileges, both "young and old, moral and immoral," p. 42. without respect to any mental qualification whatsoever, it will not be easy to find a place where a man may set his foot down and be consistent with himself, unless we return back to the good old way, to the apostolic plan, according to which, not baptism, but saving faith, is considered as the condition of the covenant, and that which entitles to all its blessings, Gal. iii. 26. 29. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Mr. M. says, p. 42. "As to baptised children, I allow they have a right to the sacrament of the Lord's supper, but not a right of immediate possession; according to the apostle's representation in Gal. iv. 12. Now, I say, that the heir, 1 as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servunt, though he be lord of all, but is under tutors and governors, until the time appointed of the father.”—But the child, though ever so young, eats bread at his father's table, and no one disputes his right. And when the child is of age, and his father



[ocr errors]

is dead, and the estate is to be divided among the heirs, the child has nothing to do in order to prove his right to a share in his father's estate, but to bring a certificate from the town clerk, in order to prove from the town records, that he is the child of the deceased. Nor is such a child obliged to make any profession, or to enter into any covenant before the court of probate, in order to come to a possession of his right. The law gives him his right without any such pre-requisites. For his right is not founded upon any thing of such a nature, but simply upon his being the child of such a father. This therefore is the only point to be proved. And just the same to be consistent, must be the case on Mr. M.'s plan. The only point which one who was baptised in infancy, has to prove, when he becomes adult, in order to take possession of his right, is that he was baptised. Let him therefore produce a well attested certificate of this, and nothing further can be demanded.

If it should be said, that all that Mr. M. means is, that baptism gives a conditional right to the Lord's table. i. e. a right upon condition of a profession of religion and freedom from scandal; it may be replied, that the unbaptised have a right to sealing ordinances upon these conditions, according to Mr. M.'s own scheme, and therefore this cannot be his' meaning. For this, to use his own words, would be to make baptism" a mere nullity, a thing of naught." But this brings us, in the next place, to observe,

II. That Mr. M.'s ideas of the peculiar privileges of his external covenant are also inconsistent. For if it should be inquired, what advantage hath Mr. M.'s graceless covenanter, or what profit is there in baptism administered upon a graceless covenant? He has no right, upon his scheme, to the apostle's answer in Rom. iii. 1, 2. Much every way, &c. For,

1. As to the oracles of God, which he claims for one of the chief privileges of his external covenant, p. 9. he will grant, that they are common to the unbaptsied, i. e. the unbaptised have as good a right to read and hear the word of God, as the baptised have; and as good a right to believe and embrace the Gospel. For, by Christ's last commission,


the Gospel is to be preached to all nations, to the uncircumcised Greek as well as to the circumcised Jew: yea, to every creature and that, previous to, and in order to prepare men for baptism, Mark xvi. 15, 16. So that there is not the least need of being in his external covenant, in order to have as good a right, to hear and believe, and be justified by the Gospel, as any man on earth has. For there is no difference

Rom. iii. 22. compare Mat. x. 5, 6.

Mat. xxviii. 19.

2. As to sealing ordinances, he is full in it, that baptism alone gives no right to them, for ourselves, or for our children, which can be enjoyed without a profession of the Christian religion, p. 21. and freedom from scandal, p. 44.; and one who never was baptised, may on his scheme, be admitted to sealing ordinances, for himself and his children, upon the same terms; no higher, nor lower, being required. So that there is no advantage, in this respect, in being in his external covenant.-And,

3. As to the influences of the spirit, whereby the means of -grace are rendered effectual to the salvation of sinners, he holds, that no unconverted man has a covenant right to them; but that God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy: and has been at the pains to publish a laboured sermon on the subject, to prove the point, and to answer objections; which was printed but six years ago. And if this be true, the baptised cannot claim a covenant right to these influences of the spirit, any more than the unbaptised. And therefore, although in the book now under consideration, p. 59, 60. he says, "a child dedicated to God in baptism is thereby brought into covenant with God, and has a promise left to it, of the means of grace, and the strivings of the Spirit, in order to render them effectual for salvation: but an unbaptised child is left in the kingdom of darkness;" yet it is true, on his own scheme, that such a baptised child, while in a Christless state, is under the wrath of God, the curse of the law, a child of the devil, and an heir of hell, and is dependant on God's sovereign mercy, as really as any other child. Yea, he declares, in his sermon on Divine Sovereignty, p. 5, 6. that "sometimes those who to an eye of reason are the most likely to partake of the blessings of the Gospel, are pass

ed by; and others of whom we have little or no hope, are recovered by sovereign grace, and enriched with saving mercy. Thus we should have thought Judas, who was one of Christ's disciples, and his constant follower, was more likely to obtain the blessing of saving mercy than Saul, who was a fierce, zealous, and open enemy to Christ: but we see God ordered it otherwise." And he adds, p. 7. "This was not a thing peculiar to that generation: but is is the sovereign grace of God, by which any one, at any time, is brought to obey the truth to the saving of his soul."

4. As to the advantage of church discipline, Mr. M. grants, what every body knows to be too true, that the baptised are taken no more care of, generally, than the unbaptised. p. 56. Nor will it mend the matter, if we should all embrace Mr. M.'s scheme, and fill up our churches more and more with ungodly men. For Gospel discipline never was, and never will be, maintained by ungospel churches. For so long as men are themselves at heart enemies to the religion of Christ, its doctrines and duties, they will not themselves be cordially subject to its doctrines and duties; much less join heartily to bring others to be in subjection to them. As it is written, Mat. vii. 16, 17. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit ; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth corrupt fruit.

III. Nor are his ideas of the seals of the covenant any more consistent. For,

His notion of a seal is, that it is a rite of confirmation, whereby, in a mutual covenant, both parties bind themselves to comply with the covenant contained in the written instrument. But he grants, that in the written instrument, in the present case, the covenant of grace is contained, and is the principal thing; and yet, by sealing this instrument we do not pretend to a compliance with the covenant of grace in our own consciences, or profess any such thing before the world. Nay, we do not profess to have, in the lowest degree, a heart to comply with it, nor mean that the act of sealing should have this import; although in all other matters, except those of religion, this is what is meant by sealing. But instead of a compliance with the covenant of grace, which

is the principal thing, according to him, contained in the written instrument, we only profess a compliance with his graceless covenant, and bind ourselves to such religious exercises and endeavours, as are consistent with a total rejection of the covenant of grace in our hearts: even such a total rejection, as God threatens with eternal damnation. p. 36, 37. But of this we have spoken before, Sect. V.

Thus inconsistent are Mr. M.'s notions of his external covenant, its conditions, its peculiar privileges, and its seals.

To mention but one inconsistence more in Mr. M.'s scheme. The external covenant is, according to him, the appointed means; and saving faith and conversion, or a compliance with the covenant of grace, is the end. p. 10, 11. And yet he says, p. 8. " Although a person was in a state of grace, and was consequently included in the covenant of grace, yet this covenant remained to be complied with: Abraham was a true believer before, yet he must needs be circumcised." But if Abraham was converted and justified before he was circumcised, then circumcision was not instituted as a means of his conversion, or as a pre-requisite to his justification. Mr. M. adds, p. 12. that his external graceless covenant is also to be a means " to train up believers in holiness." That is, holy Abraham, instead of those holy exercises in which he had lived above 20 years, even ever since he began a holy life, was in Gen. xvii. by God Almighty laid under covenant bonds, to enter into a course of unholy religious exercises, such as take place in impenitent self-righteous sinners, to the end that he might "be trained up in holiness." Gal. iii. 3. Are ye so foolish? having begun in the spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Besides,

That believers should be under the bonds of two covenants, of a nature as contrary and inconsistent as sin and holiness, is what cannot be rendered consistent. And to say, that this external covenant is neither sinful nor holy, is either to say, that there is a whole system of religious exercises of heart, which are neither conformable nor unconformable with the holy law of God: which is to deny, that the law of God is a universal rule of life, contrary to the whole tenour of Scripture. Gal. iii. 10. Mat. xxii. 37-40. 1 Cor. x. 31.

« السابقةمتابعة »