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this is to promise to do what they infallibly know they shall not do; which is a piece of scandalous immorality: for such promises are no better than wilful lies. And this therefore cannot be the thing he means. Or, 2. does he mean, that a sinner under conviction enters into covenant with God that he will in fact repent and believe the moment he joins with the church, and from that time and forward, as long he lives, persevere in a life of faith and holiness, pressing forward toward perfection? But this, again, is not much better than wilful lying. For it is to promise that which he has no sufficient reason to expect that he shall do, as he has no heart to do it, and no title to the divine assistance,' to give him a heart to do it. And, besides, if he expected to be converted so soon, he might wait only one week longer, and so be converted before the next sabbath; and thus put an end to all controversy about the affair. This therefore I suppose is what no awakened sinner ever meant when he joined with the church; and what Mr. M. would not have them to mean. And therefore, 3. All that awakened sinners can mean, or that Mr. M. can be supposed to intend that they should mean, when they engage to obey the whole will of God,' is no more than that they should endeavour to do it ;' as he expressed himself in the first book, p. 21. 'And I will allow that none but such as profess the Christian religion, and will endeavour to conform their practice to the rules of it, ought to be admitted into the church.' And if this be his meaning, why did not Mr. M. answer the questions which were put to him in my former piece? (p. 171.) But pray how much must they endeavour?' &c. &c. And besides, if all they mean is to bind themselves to unregenerate, unholy graceless duties and endeavours, then it will follow, that these graceless duties, according to Mr. M. are the whole will of God ;' for they engage to obey the whole will of God; and, on the present hypothesis, unregenerate duties are all they engage. And therefore these unregenerate duties are all that God requires of them. But will Mr. M. say this? No, by no means. For he expressly declares, (p. 27.) nothing short of perfection may be looked upon as the whole of what is required.' What then does Mr. M. mean? In his Preface,
he says, 'I have endeavoured, both in this and in my former piece, 'to set my sentiments in a plain and intelligible light.' We believe he has endeavoured' to do it, but yet he has not done it. For no consistent meaning can be put upon his words. But,
3. Perhaps it will be said, that Mr. M. has with great plainness exactly stated the requisite qualifications for churchmembership, in these words, "a fixed resolution to forsake all known sin, and practise all known duty," if we only understand his words in their plain common literal meaning. But is this his meaning? or will he stand to it? For, 1. The candidate for admission is to come to a fixed resolution to forsake "all known sin." But enmity to God, impenitence, and unbelief, are "known sins," as all acknowledge, but groes Antinomians. 2. And to practise "all known duty." But to repent and believe the Gospel, to love God and our neighbour, to lead lives of universal holiness, are "known duties." For all who profess to believe the bible to be the word of God, do in fact acknowledge these to be duties indispensibly required of all the disciples of Christ; yea, of all to whom the Gospel comes; gross Antinomians excepted. To be sure, our Saviour affirms, that no man can be his disciple unless he doth deny himself, take up his cross, and follow him. And, 3. The candidate for admission into the visible Church, is to come to " a fixed resolution" to do all this; to a resolution which is fixed,' in opposition to one that is unfixed; so that his goodness shall not be like the morning cloud and early dew, which quickly passeth away; or like the stony and thorny ground hearers in the parable, (Mat. 3.) All whose religion came to nothing, because their resolutions were not 'fixed.' Now will Mr. M. stand to this, that none ought to be admitted into the visible church, but those who are thus, in deed and in truth, 'come to a fixed resolution to forsake all known sin, and practise all known duty? And who are so infallibly certain that they are come to this 'fixed resolution,' that they could give oath to it, with the same assurance as they could to any matter of fact which they see with their eyes? Without which assurance, according to him, no one can with a good conscience make a public profession
of religion, and enter into covenant with God. p. 79. If he will, every unregenerate man in the world will be secluded, as will appear before we have done.
Look through the bible, and you will find no class of unregenerate men so very self-conceited, as to be habitually confident, that they have a fixed resolution to forsake all known sin, and practise all known duty,' but the Pharisees. They could say, All these things have I done from my youth up: and, lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment. And the very reason and ground of their confidence was their ignorance of the true nature of the divine law. As it is written, for without the law sin was dead. And so I was alive without the law For every sinner who knows himself to be unregenerate, under genuine conviction, knows that he is under the dominion of sin, dead in sin, having no heart to repent, and forsake" all known sin," and to turn to God, and to the practice of "all known duty." For in this unregeneracy consists, viz. in having no heart to turn from sin to God. And even every sinner who is only a little orthodox in his head, knows that, according to scripture, the resolutions and religion of unregenerate sinners, instead of being "fixed," is like that of the stony and thorny ground hearers; and like the morning cloud and the early dew, which quickly passeth away. Besides, the Pharisees really thought that they were godly men. So that indeed there is not one single instance of a man in scripture, who, knowing himself to be unregenerate, yet thought himself, as such, to come to such a fixed resolution ;' much less, that was infallibly certain' of it.
But to be more particular :
If none may be admitted into the visible church, but those who are come to this fixed resolution,' and who are quite certain that their resolution is fixed,' then what will Mr. M. do with infants? For, according to this rule, if his own reasoning is conclusive, when disputing against us, all infants ought to be secluded. For we have no evidence concerning any one in particular, that it is come to this fixed resolution. For thus he reasons against us, in his first book, . 15.) None can suppose, that every male among Abra
ham's seed, in all succeeding generations, were truly gracious by the time they were eight days old.' And in his second book, p. 63. he says, nor can the proof of it, which I before offered, be evaded, without asserting that Abraham had sufficient grounds for a rational judgment of charity, that all his seed would be in a gracious state by the time they were eight days old.' This he says, in order to prove that saving grace is not a necessary qualification to church-membership, even in the adult. And it equally proves, that such a fixed resolution' is not necessary. For none can suppose, that every male among Abraham's seed in all succeeding generations, were come to this fixed resolution by the time they were eight days old.' But, as he adds, p. 63. 'there was an express command to confirm the covenant with them at the age of eight days; which is an incontestible evidence, that a gracious state,' and not that such a fixed resolution," was considered as necessary in order to their being taken into covenant, and becoming complete members of the visi
Again, this rule of admission into the visible church laid down by Mr. M. must, according to his own way of reasoning, have secluded in a manner the whole congregation of Israel, who entered into covenant at Mount Sinai for they were not come to this fixed resolution to forsake all known sin.' For he observes, p. 71. How soon did they corrupt themselves, when Moses was gone up into the mount,' and fell into that known sin' of idolatry. And therefore, to use his own words, and to turn his own reasoning against himself, p. 71. "It is beyond the utmost stretch of charity, to suppose that the people who then entered into covenant,' were come to a fixed resolution to forsake all known sin.' Indeed, it is certain they were not. And therefore it is certain, according to Mr. M.'s way of reasoning, that such a fixed resolution was not respected' in the external covenant, as a necessary qualification: much less, an infallible certainty that they had it. And this consequence he seems to have been aware of, when he said, p. 71. no, it is plain God proceeded to take them into cove nant BY MERE SOVEREIGNTY; even as in his covenant
with Abraham he included his infant seed.' And so again, speaking of the Israelites' covenanting in the plains of Moab, he says, p. 72, 73. By ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGNTY, God extends this covenant, and this oath, even to such whose con- sent to it was not so much as asked; and as the consent to this covenant was not so much as asked of some that were taken into it, it is abundantly evident that they were not taken into it, as gracious persons.' And we may add, that it is equally evident that they were not taken in as persons' come to a fixed resolution to forsake all known sin, and to practise all known duty.'—And thus we see Mr. M. if his reasoning is conclusive, has confuted his own scheme, and has proved that his external covenant, which requires such 'fixed resolutions,' in order to enter into covenant with God, was not the covenant on which the visible church was constituted. And he has found out a new way never before heard of, of taking the adult into covenant,' without asking their consent, by mere sovereignty;' even as infants are ta ken in, without respect to any qualification in them whatsoBecause it is said in Deut. 29. Neither with you only do I make this covenant, &c. but also with him that is not here. Just as it is among us, when a minister is ordained, and some of the members of the church are necessarily absent on the ordination day, the covenant between the pastor and the church is made with the whole church, the consent of the absent members being taken for granted. Or else these words have respect to those who were then unborn, even to all future generations, who were comprised in that covenant, just as infants were. But to return,
Mr. M. so far forgets himself as entirely to give up, not only the necessity of such a fixed resolution,' but of any qualification whatsoever; and even expressly declares, that his external covenant is absolute and unconditional, and that herein it differs from the covenant-grace. p. 60, 61, 62. But if his external covenant is merely an absolute and unconditional grant of certain privileges and blessings; then since the wall of partition between Jew and Gentile is removed by Christ, it gives the whole Gentile world as much right to the Lord's table, as to the word preached, without respect to any qualifi