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Our author says, p. 78, 79. This affair of covenanting with God, Moses styles, Deut. xxix. 14. This covenant and this oath.' And will it do to tell people, that they may give a positive evidence, when they have only a prevailing opinion about the fact?' That is, will it do, to tell people that they may enter into covenant with God, and bind themselves under the solemnity of an oath, as the Israelites did to keep covenant, (Deut. xxvi. 27. Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken to his voice,) when they have only a prevailing opinion, that they have such an heart in them; but have not a certain knowledge of it, as they have of facts, which under oath, they can positively declare to be true?

Answer 1. When men have not such a heart in them, they are not qualified to enter into this covenant and this oath. And therefore, if unregeneracy consists in being without such an heart, and in having an heart opposite hereunto, agreeable to St. Paul's doctrine, Rom. viii. 7. then unregeneracy disqualifies us for entering into covenant with God.

2. No man can, with a good conscience, enter into this covenant, unless he is conscious to himself, that he has such an heart, to such a degree of clearness, as to be satisfied in his conscience, that he indeed has such an heart. And therefore, for men who know that they have not such an heart, to enter into this covenant, is gross immorality. But he who is satisfied in his conscience, that he has such an heart, may with a good conscience enter into this covenant. That is, his conscience will approve of his conduct in so doing.

3. A man may be satisfied in his conscience, that he has such an heart by prevailing evidence, short of strict certainty. For instance, Mr. Mather was satisfied in his conscience, that it was his duty to write in the defence of the external covenant, upon prevailing evidence of its truth; but yet if it were put to him, he would not positively declare under oath, that he knows it to be true; as he knows the truth of facts which he sees with his eyes. For he declares in his preface, 'Yet I am not so fond of my own judgment, or tenacious of nyn practice, but that I stand ready to give them both up

when any one shall do the friendly office of setting light before me.' And therefore he cannot swear that his scheme is the true Scripture scheme. He knows that he has writ ten on this subject. This fact he is certain of. He could give oath to this before a civil court. Nor could he give up the truth of this fact, let all the light in the world be set before him. Nor could he with a good conscience, offer to give up the truth of this fact, on any condition: because he knows that the fact is true. He knows it with certainty, with infallible certainty. But he has not equal certainty that his scheme is true. It was only his prevailing opinion. And so, he offers to give it up on further light. Yet he acted conscientiously in writing in its defence. That is, his conscience, instead of condemning, approved of his conduct. For the truth of this I appeal to Mr. M. The application is easy. And yet,

4. It is readily granted, that we are to blame for every wrong judgment we make in moral matters, relative both to truth and duty, how conscientious soever we were in making the judgment. Thus, for instance, Paul, before his conversion, was conscientious in judging and acting against Christianity; but still he was to blame for judging and acting as he did. And if Mr. M.'s external covenant is unscriptural, how conscientious soever he has been in believing and acting as he has, yet he is to blame. So, if we judge that we have such an heart, when in fact we have not, how conscientious soever we have been, yet still we are criminal. For we might have known better. It was our fault that we did not know better. And in this world, or in the next, we shall know that the blame lies at our door. Therefore,

5. Those words of our blessed Saviour ought to be attended to and regarded, by every one who entertains thoughts of making a profession of his holy religion. Luke xiv. 25-35. And there went great multitudes with him, and instead of pressing them to an inconsiderate profession of his religion, as a means of their conversion, he turned and said unto them, if any man come to me, by an open public profession, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, so as to have an

heart to give up all for my sake, he cannot be my disciple ; but will in time of trial désert me. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, with a heart to suffer every thing for my sake, cannot be my disciple; but will in time of trial desert me. Therefore, consider what you do. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first and counteth the cost, &c. &c. So likewise, whosoever he be of you, that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. My disciples are the salt of the earth. Salt is good, if it is salt; but if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned. It is good for nothing. It is neither fit før the land, nor yet for the dunghill: but men cast it out, as good for nothing. And what are such disciples good for, who will desert me in time of trial. Attend to what I say. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

CONCLUSION.

Mr. M. speaking of our sentiments of religion, as contained in president Edwards' treatise concerning religious affec tions, which is beyond doubt one of the best books that has been published on experimental religion and vital piety since the days of inspiration, says, (p. 36.) 'These sentiments are surprisingly spread in the land, in the present day.' Yes, and always will spread among people, in proportion as true religion revives and spreads. Nor am I without hopes, that Mr. M. should he thoroughly look into the scheme, and get a right understanding of it, would yet himself become a proselyte to it; and if he should become a proselyte to it, he would soon give up his external covenant, as being wholly inconsistent with it.

And it is quite certain, that when the divine promises, scattered through the sacred writings, relative to the glorious prevalence of true Christianity, come to be accomplished, that Mr. M.'s graceless covenant will become a useless and an impracticable thing. When nations shall be born in a day; when all the people shall be righteous, when the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea; people will not desire to make a graceless profession. Nay, they can never be persuaded to do it in that day. For then they

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will love Christ more than father, or mother, or wife, or children, or houses, or lands; yea, more than their own lives. men who really love their wives and children, are able, ordinarily, to say with truth and a good conscience, that they do love them. Yea, it would be thought a sign, that men, generally, if not universally, hated their wives, in any kingdom, city, or town, should it be known, that ninety-nine in an hundred of them had such doubts, that with a good conscience they could not say that they loved them. Mr. Stoddard, in his Treatise concerning the Nature of Conversion, says, (p. 79.)' We do not know of one godly man in the Scripture, that was under darkness about his sincerity.' And our catechism 'The benefits which in this life do either accomsays, pany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.' And when religion revives in its purity and glory, assurance will become as common a thing among professors, as it was among the apostolic converts, in the apostolic churches. And even now, should a man and woman present themselves before a clergyman, to enter into the marriage-covenant, and at the same time declare, that they doubted their love to each other to such a degree, that with a good conscience they could not give their consent to the form of words in common use, because that would imply a profession of mutual love, no judicious man would think them fit to be married. The application is easy.

Nothing renders a graceless covenant needful, but the prevalence of gracelessness among our people. For did our people all of them love Christ more than father and mother, wife and children, no man would desire to have the covenant of grace set aside, and a graceless covenant substituted in its room, in our churches. When, therefore, that day comes in which satan shall be bound, who at present deceives the nations of the earth, that he may deceive them no more: when the great harvest comes, of which what happened in the apostolic age was but the first fruits; and the stone cut out of the mountain without hands becomes great, and fills the whole earth, and the God of heaven sets up a kingdom, and all peo

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ple, nations, and languages, serve him, and the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven is given to the people of the saints of the Most High, and all dominion shall serve him; then, even then, true godliness will be universally professed, and universally practised.

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Since, therefore, this graceless covenant will ere long be universally exploded, and rooted up, as shall every plant which our heavenly Father hath not planted, why should not we all now unite to give it up, and to invite our people to become Christians indeed, to profess and practise according to the true import of their baptism? It is as much their duty, and as much their interest, to become Christians now, as it will be in any future period of their lives. They have from God no leave to delay. Thanks be to God, that these sentiments are surprisingly spreading in this land, in the present day.' Nor ought it to pass unnoticed, that every attempt to prevent their spreading has hitherto had the contrary effect. For while those who oppose them, how ingenious and learned soever they be, are obliged to run into the grossest absurdities and inconsistencies, in their own defence; as one error leads on to another, it naturally tends to open the eyes of all candid men, who attend to the controversy. And may we not hope that so candid and ingenious a writer as Mr. Mather is represented to be, who is not fond of his own judgment, or tenacious of his own practice, but stands ready to give them both up, when any one shall do him the friendly office of setting light before him,' will, upon a calm review of all that has been said, become a friend to the good old way of our forefathers, the first settlers of New-England, and come into that plan on which the New-England churches were originally formed. Which may God of his infinite mercy grant, through Jesus Christ. AMEN.

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