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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 between 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 salvation 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 law, 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 communion,) 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 unregenerate 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
Mr. M.'s external covenant, to see if its true and real nature can be known; and then to show its inconsistence with the doctrines of the perfection of the divine law, and of total depravity, as held forth in the public formulas approved by the church of Scotland, and by the churches in New-England. After which the leading sentiments of his scheme of religion shall be considered, his mistakes be pointed out, and the opposite truths be briefly stated and proved from the word of God; that the nature of ancient apostolic Christianity may be ascertained from the infallible oracles of truth; to the end that the right road to heaven may be kept open and plain for the direction of awakened sinners, and for the confirmation and comfort of young converts.
Several phrases explained, and questions stated.
IN order to prevent and cut off all needless disputes, and that the reader may clearly understand the following sheets, the meaning of several phrases shall be explained. Particu larly,
1. By a conditional covenant is meant, a covenant which promises its blessings upon some certain condition; so that no one can claim a covenant right to its blessings, if destitute of the requisite qualifications.
2. By the covenant of works is meant, that covenant which promises eternal life upon condition of perfect obedience, through the appointed time of trial, and threatens eternal death for one transgression.
3. By the covenant of grace is meant, that covenant which promises pardon, justification, and eternal life through Jesus Christ, to all who repent and believe the Gospel; i. e. to real saints, and to no others.
4. By a graceless covenant is meant, a covenant which promises its blessing to graceless men, as such, on certain conditions, or qualifications, which are professedly graceless, and which may take place in graceless men, while such.
5. By complying with a covenant is meant, doing that, or having those qualifications which, according to the tenour of the covenant, entitles to its blessings. Thus, for instance, Adam could not have been said to have complied with the covenant of works which he was under, until he had persevered in perfect obedience, through the whole time of trial. For nothing short of this would have entitled him to a confirmed state of holiness and happiness, i. e. to eternal life; as all grant. And thus a sinner cannot be said to have complied with the covenant of grace, whatever legal terrors he has had, and whatever pains he has taken in religion, until by the first act of saving faith he is united to Jesus Christ; for -nothing short of this entitles him to pardon, justification, and eternal life, according to the Gospel. As is written, John iii.
18. 36. He that believeth not is condemned already, and the wrath of God abideth on him. Indeed Mr. M. says, p. 29. 'that no man, short of perfection, can be properly said to have complied with the Gospel.' But our Saviour declares, with great solemnity, John v. 24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life. So that on the first act of saving faith a sinner becomes entitled to eternal life. (Gal iii. 26. 29.) For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Again, a man may be said to have complied with any supposed graceless covenant, when he has the graceless qualifications to which the blessings of that covenant are promised, but not before. So that if a 'fixed resolution to forsake all known sin, and practise all known duty,' is a requisite qualification to the blessings of this covenant, then no man has a covenant right to the blessings of it until he is 'come to this fixed resolution ;' i. e. if there is an external covenant, distinct from the covenant of grace,' promising to the visible church all the 'external means of grace, and the strivings of God's holy spirit, in order to render them effectual for salvation,' by which the visible church is constituted. And if this fixed resolution is absolutely necessary to church-membership, and so to a title to these promises, then no man has a title to these promises, or' is qualified to be admitted a member of the visible church, until he is, in fact, come to this fixed resolution :' but whenever he is 'come to this fixed resolution,' he ought to be considered as having complied with the external covenant; and so as having a covenant right to its blessings. Mr. M. says, (p. 64.) that I have a very singular notion about the nature of covenanting; as if it required a present compliance with EVERY thing required by the covenant into which they enter.' This I never said.-But indeed I do think, that it is a contradiction in terms, to say that "a covenant promises certain blessings to those, and to those only, who have certain qualifications; and yet some who have not the required qualifications have a covenant right to the blessings promised."