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of the twelve tribes of Israel. And finally, to sum all in one word, Cursed be the man that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them: and all the people shall say, Amen. Deut. xxvii. And this most solemn and affecting affair was accordingly attended, soon after they had passed over Jordan. Josh. viii. 30–35.
So that, by their own act and deed, they did, in the most public and explicit manner, declare their hearty approbation of, and acquiescence in, not Mr. M.'s external covenant, but the perfect law of God, in all its strictness, and with all its curses, as holy, just, and good. Nor was there, according to that constitution, any hope of pardon in case of transgression, but by the blood of atonement. Nor was there any pardon to be obtained in this way until they repented, until their funcircumcised hearts were humbled, even so deeply humbled as to accept the punishment of their iniquity. Lev. xxvi. 40, 41. Neb. ix. Dan. ix. Then they were to pray for pardon, looking towards God's holy dwelling-place, where the covenant was laid up in the ark, and covered with a lid all made of pure gold, to keep the law in honour, which was a type of Christ, whose office it is to .magnify the law, and make it honourable, and to open a way for grace to reign. That lid was called the mercy-seat, or rather as critics say, it ought to have been translated, the propitiatory; for it was a shadow of Christ the great propitiatory. And moreover, to complete the shadow, without shedding of blood there was no remission. Just thus stands the account in the sacred writings.
This cordial approbation of their law in all its extent, and with all its curses; and this praying for pardon, looking towards God's holy dwelling-place; offering sacrifices, &c. was for substance, the same with what the apostle Paul meant by repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, which was the sum of that Gospel he used to preach to the Jew and also to the Greek. Acts xx. 21. For in repentance toward God, the divine law is heartily acquiesced in, and loved as holy, just, and good; and the whole blame of every transgression is taken to ourselves; with a disposition to say unto God, thou art just when thou speakest, and clear when thou judgest. And in faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, we look only to free grace through him for pardon and eternal life. So that the covenant of grace
in a legal dress, was the very covenant into which they professed to en. ter. So Paul understood it; Rom. x. 6-10. compared with Deut. 30. 11-14.; of which more presently.
But a heart wholly dead in sin, is in a state of total contrariety to the divine law, and to the way of salvation through Jesus Christ; or in the language of Scripture, is enmity against God, is not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. So that there is not the least degree of real compliance with this holy covenant lin one who is entirely destitute of holiness: and so po degree of real compliance can be understandingly and honestly professed. But if the truth was known, and the truth was spoken by graceless sinners, they would all as one man declare agreeable to our confession of faith,“ we are utterly indisposed, disabled and apposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil;" for this is the very truth of the case; as Mr. M. himself professes to believe.
And where now is there the least appearance of Mr. M.'s external graceless covenant in the Old Testament? The contents of Abraham's covenant are justifying faith; he believed in the Lord, and it was counted to him for righteousness, and Gospel obedience ; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And he was called the friend of God. James ü. 23. The contents of the covenant at Sinai, is the holy law of God as the rule of life, and the blood of atonement as the foundation of hope. And where is this unholy covenant? But to be more particular in the confutation of this notion :
1. It is readily granted, that a notion of the Sinai covenant, somewhat like this, was once espoused by the most respectable sect in the Jewish church: I mean the Pharisees. They understood the Mosaic law in this very sense, and in no other. And in this they were more consistent than Mr. Mather : for he understands the Mosaic law in this very sense, and in a sense diametrically opposite to it, at the same time ; for he believes the Mosaic law requires perfect holiness, even that every law wbich was itself the rule of duty in that covenant which was externally entered into; and yet he believes that the covenant externally entered into, did require no holiness at all; but might be really complied with in the sight of God, by a graceless man, dead in sin. But the Pharisees were inore consistent s. They believed that the Sinai covenant required nothing more in religion than they performed. For, as touching the rightcousness of the law, they were blameless in their own eyes. For they lived up to its demands in their sense of it. All these things have. I done from my youth up, said one of them. And it was the spirit of the whole party to say to God, as the elder brother did to his father, lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment. Luke xv. For they were in their own eyes, righteous men who needed no repentance. And this encouraged them to pray to God, and to hope for his approbation ; for they could say as he did, God, I thank thee I am not as other men; for without the law sin was dead; and so they were alive reithout the law. And in this view of themselves, they were bold to claim a covenant relation to God; we have one father, tren God. And they gloried much in having Abraham to their father; and were vexed at John Baptist, and Jesus Christ, for not admitting their claims to be well-grounded; and for representing them to be not the children of Abraham, nor the children of God, but the children of the devil, a generation of vipers. This was shocking treatment, indeed, of those who were not only in covenant with God, as they thought; but who, as they understood it, had lived up to it too : and Mr. M. may be challenged to point out any essential difference between their notion of what the law of Moses required, and his notion of what his external covenang requires. For both agree in this, that a man may live up to the one, and to the other, without really embracing Christianity. They lived up to the law in their sense of it, and openly rejected Christ. And one may live up to Mr. M.'s external covenant and reject Christ in his heart, as he allows. And were it the fashion, he who rejects Christ in his heart, night do it in open profession h. Nay, how many professors are there, who, in their consciences, view the divine law very much in the same light that the Pharisees did ? They are sensible it forbids open, gross, and, (what the world calls,) scandalous sios; such as stealing, &c. Their consciences will smite them if they are guilty of any such gross
g For the divine law to require contrary and inconsistent volitions, is to be a self-contradictory and inconsistent law. Mat. vi. 24. But sinful and holy volitions are contrary and inconsistent. John ïïi. 6. Rom. viii. 7. Gal. v. 17.
For God to make two laws, one requiring none but holy volitions, the other none but sinful volitions, is to make two laws, contradictory and inconsistent ; both of which cannot be in force at the same time : yea, rather, neither of which can be in force at all, as they mutually destroy each other.
sins: but their consciences never smote them in their lives for not being converted for impenitence, for unbelief, for not loving God and Christ above all things, &c. &c. But they are agreed to a man to justify themselves in these sins, for they say, "we do as well as we can.” And these are the men who claim church privileges with the greatest boldness, and have the bighest notions of their being in covenant with God, and having a right to covenant blessings. If it should ever happen to these men, that their consciences should be so awakened, as to see that a state and course of enmity against God and his law, and of rebellion against the Majesty of Heaven, is as great a sin, in the sight of the Holy One of Israel, as stealing, considered as a crime cominitted against our neighbour ; their consciences would soon tell them, that the one disqualified them in the sight of God, for entering into covenant with God, as much as the other. But if we tell men, that a state and course of eninity against God and his law, and of rebellion against the Majesty of heaven does not, in the sight of God, disqualify thein to enter into covenant with God, though stealing does, it will have, according to Mr. M.'s reasoning, p. 44. “a direet tendency to prevent their minds being impressed with a sense of the heinous nature of such sins, and of God's displeasure against them; but it is highly expedient they should be so dealt with, as to awaken in their minds a sense of the displeasure of God against their conduct.”
h In the dark days of popery there were no professed infidels among Chris. tians. Since the reformation, light and knowledge are greatly increased, and infidelity is become very fashionable in Great-Britain. However, there are thou. sands of professed Christians yet remaining in the visible church, who believe the bible to be the word of God, not because they understand and believe that scheme of religion which in fact is contained in the bible ; but because thoy think it contains their own schemes. Thus Pelagians believe the bible to be the word of God, as supposing it contains a system of Pelagianism ; and Socinians, as supposing it contains a system of Socinianism ; and Arminians, Neonomians, and Antinomians do the like; while they ailow themselves to disbelieve, and hate, and oppose that very system of doctrines and practice which in fact it does contain. In this view there may be not a few professed Christians, who are infidels in reality ; i. e. who really disbelieve that scheme of religion which is contained in the bible, while they profess to believe the bible to be the word of God. Thus it was among the Jews. John v. 46, 47. Matt. xxiii. 29–36. Should light still increase, and these men find out that their various schemes are not contained in the bible, if left to their own hearts, they would universally prefer infidelity to Christianity. And in this case there would be nothing to prevent their throwing off the profession of Christianity but their worldly interest. For it is plain fact, that the external evidences of Christianity, when fresh, and be. fore the eyes of the Pharisees, were not suificient to conquer their aversion to it, so as to prevent their rejecting of it. And human nature is the same that it was seventeen hundred years ago.
2. Jesus Christ did not understand the law of Moses, which was the rule of duty in the Sinai covenant, in the same sense with the Pbarisees, as requiring such a kind of obedience as they performed, and as other unconverted men may perform; but professedly undertook to give another explanation of it. This he did in his sermon on the Mount, which may be considered as a confutation of the Phansaic scheine of religion. But a man may comply with Mr. M.'s external covenant fully, who has not the least degree of that religion taught in this sermon. A graceless man may live up 10 Mr. M.'s covenant, and at the same time be entirely destitute of a compliance with the law of Moses, in our Saviour's sense of it. For, says Christ, he that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, shall be like a man that built his house upon a rock. But a man may hear and do those things required in Mr. M.'s external covenant, and yet finally be like the man that built his house upon the sand ; as he himself allows.
3. The law of Moses, which was the rule of duty in the covenant into which the Israelites entered, required nothing but holiness. That covenant, which was externally exhibit