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that will read all the preceding chapters of the book. We ought not, by giving a wrong sense to the words of Moses, to render his public speech and his public conduct inconsistent; and then to charge him with acting a dishonest part in leading that people to enter into covenant, in the manner in which in fact he did or to deny the fact, under a pretence of saving his character; when indeed his character cannot be saved this way, because the fact is undeniably true.
If it should be inquired, why did Moses speak thus, to this present generation, as they had not been personally guilty of that course of rebellious conduct themselves; but were themselves a godly generation ?—The answer is easy.—He did it to give them a clear view and humbling sense of their national sins, and the justice of God in the national judgments which he brought upon them; that they might know, that it was not for their righteousness that God did bring them into that good land; but merely of his great goodness, and because he had promised it to Abraham. Deut. ix. 5. To the end they might so reflect on the depravity of their own hearts, and be so deeply abased before God, as to be thereby prepared for that holy and solemn transaction before them, of entering into covenant with the holy One of Israel: that having in view how their fathers had entered into covenant at Sinai, and had broken covenant, so that all their carcasses had fallen in the wilderness, they might take warning thereby, and remember and keep the covenant of the Lord their God, that it might be well with them, and with their children after them.
12. We are to distinguish between the character which the three thousand converts on the day of pentecost gave of themselves, in that deep conviction of sin and guilt which they manifested, when they appeared to be pricked at the heart, and in that repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, which they openly professed when they appeared cordially to comply with Peter's exhortation, repent and be baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins, by gladly receiving his word, and offering themselves to baptism, and to join with a persecuted party, whose master had lately been put to a most shameful and
scandalous death, in the most public manner, on the most public occasion, at the risk of every thing dear to them in the world and the character which men ordinarily give of themselves in offering to join with the church, without any special concern about their souls, when it is esteemed no small honour to be church members, and enjoy church privileges. The former, to a judgment of charity, appeared to be true converts, whatever may be thought of the latter.
13. We are to distinguish between what is visible, and what is real. Many in the eyes of men are reputed godly, who in the eyes of God, as searcher of hearts, are not so. The former have a right in the sight of the church, to enter into the covenant of grace, in a public profession, and to seal the covenant; but the latter only have a right in the sight of God. For the former appear to be godly; but the latter only are really so. The former have a visible, the latter have a real right.
14. There is a distinction to be made between a right to sealing ordinances on our own account, and a right on the account of another. Thus pious parents have a right for sealing ordinances for themselves, on their own account, as being themselves really in covenant with God, by a compliance with it: but their infant children have a right to baptism, not on their own account, but simply on that of their parents, considered as parts of their parents, branches grown out of the old root: and so may be baptised without respect to any internal qualification, at present inherent in them, either moral or gracious.
OBJ. If, in infant baptism, no respect is had to any internal qualification in the infant, then the seal is set to a blank.
ANS. Then the seal is set to a blank, when there is no covenant entered into: but when there is a covenant entered into and sealed, there is no room for the objection. But in infant-baptism there is a covenant entered into. For God says to the pious parent, "I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed." And the pious parent replies, "I choose thee for my God and the God of my child." So that here is a covenant entered into between God and the pious parent, in
behalf of himself and his infant, in the very act of offering it to God in baptisın. And baptism is a seal, not to a blank, but to this covenant, which in fact takes place between God and the pious parent.
15. We are to distinguish between covenanting with God actively, in a visible manner, as a pious parent does when he dedicates his child to God in baptism, and promises to bring it up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; and being laid under the bonds of the covenant passively, as is the case with the child. God speaks to the pious parent in that ordinance, saying, "I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed, i. e. if they will take heed to walk in my ways." The pious parent answers, in the act of offering the child to baptism, "I choose thee for my God, and for the God of my child. And I promise to bring up my child for thee. And, oh, that it might live in thy sight, be thy child, and walk in thy ways!", The parent is active; but the child is merely passive. We may bring ourselves under the bonds of the covenant, by our own act and deed, as the adult did in the plains of Moab, when they renewed covenant there or we may be brought under the bonds of the covenant, by the act of another authorized by God so to do. Thus Moses laid all the infants in the congregation, in the plains of Moab, under the bonds of the covenant. And thus parents, in offering their children to baptism, lay them under the bonds of the covenant.
16. If no one is to be baptised, till by his own act and deed he enters into covenant with God, be it the covenant of grace, or a graceless covenant; then no infant is to be baptised on either plan: because no infant, by his own act and deed, enters into any covenant of any sort, or so much as knows, that there is any covenant of any sort to be entered into. If the child has a right to baptism, on its parents' account, and not on its own, infant-baptism can be vindicated, as well on the plan of a gracious covenant, as on the plan of an ungracious one; but if the child's right to baptism is founded on its own personal compliance with the covenant, infant-baptism must be given up on the plan of a covenant of moral sincerity, and a right doctrinal belief; for no infant was ever thus qualified: but some infants have been sancti
fied from the womb, and so, in this sense, have been in the covenant of grace. Luke i. 15.
17. It must apparently be an unspeakable advantage, to be under the watch and care of a godly church, who have a real spirit of fidelity in them; and, like Abraham, will command all under their care to fear the Lord. Gen. xviii. 19. And it is equally evident, that it can be of no advantage to be under the watch and care of an ungodly church, who will neither walk in the ways of God themselves, nor bring up those committed to their care for God. God put confidence in Abraham, I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, &c. But there is no confidence to be put in an ungodly man, that he will be faithful to God, with respect to his own soul, or the souls of his children. Hos. vi. 4. Mat. vii. 16, 17, 18.
Mr. Mather's scheme inconsistent with itself.
THERE are three things in Mr. M.'s external covenant, viz. The conditions required; the privileges promised; and the seals; and his ideas concerning each of these, as expressed in his book, are inconsistent.
I. As to the conditions required, in order to a covenant right to all covenant privileges, his ideas are inconsistent.→→ For,
1. Sometimes he makes circumcision the only condition. "For that by which," says he, "any one was to enter into this covenant, was an external mark in the flesh. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep between me and you, and thy seed after thee; every man-child among you shall be circumcised. But that by which any one enters into the covenant of grace, is the circumcision of the heart." p. 7 m. So
m "That by which any one enters into the covenant of grace is the circumciSion of the heart :" and yet he is obliged to deny this, p. 21.; and to affirm that the circumcision of the heart intends no more than entering into his external
that the circumcision of the flesh brings men into the external covenant, and gives them a covenant right to all its privileges; just as the circumcision of the heart brings men into the covenant of grace, and gives them a covenant right to all the blessings of that. But the circumcision of the heart, as the phrase is used in Scripture, is a real compliance with the covenant of grace, and is connected with eternal life. Rom. ii. 29. And accordingly, he speaks of the circumcision of the flesh as a compliance with the external covenant, p. 8. "This covenant remained to be complied with. Abraham must needs be circumcised."
And indeed, if Mr. M. was disposed to turn the covenant with Abraham into his external covenant, of necessity the circumcision of the flesh must be the only condition of it: because there was nothing else external which took place in that covenant recorded in Gen. xvii. to which Mr. M. could with any colour lay claim; for Abraham made no profession but a profession of saving faith. But this was a visible compliance with the covenant of grace, and not with the external covenant. If, therefore, he did any thing at all by way of compliance with Mr. M.'s external covenant, it was only merely and simply making an external mark in the flesh.'
2. And as Mr. M. thus sometimes represents the circumcision of the flesh to be a compliance with the external covenant with Abraham; so he sometimes represents baptism as entitling to all the privileges of his external covenant, under the Gospel dispensation. For, according to him, all who are baptised " are Abraham's children, and heirs according to the promise." p. 13. "For a child baptised in infan
graceless covenant, in order to get rid of that plain text, Ezek. xliv. 9. Thus saith the Lord God, no stranger, uncircumcised in heart, &c. shall enter into my sanctuary; which is a prophecy of the glorious state of the church spoken of, Isa. ii. 9, 4, 5. Chap. xi. 1-9. and Ix. 21. When satan will be bound, agreeable to Rev. xx. and when Mr. M.'s external covenant will be no more practised upon in the whole earth for a thousand years. For in that day, Thus saith the Lord God, no stranger, uncircumcised in heart, shall enter into my sanctuary; i. e. none shall be admitted but such who in their profession, life, and conversation, appear to be godly. For in that day right doctrine and right discipline will universally take place, and then all will be agreed: For they shall see eye to eye. Isai. lii. 8.