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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
“ 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 plırase 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 cclour 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 Resh to be a compliance with the external covenant with Abraham; so he sometimes represents baptisın 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. 8, 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.
cy,” he says, “is thereby as really brought into covenant, as one that is baptised in riper years. It conveys the same privileges to the one as to the other." p. 16. But the adult, having made a profession, was, in the apostolic age, by baptism received into full communion with the church, in complete standing, as is evident from Acts ii. 37-47. And in this view Mr. M. considers infant baptism, as“ a valuable privilege ;" “ as it entitles to the appointed means of grace ;" p. 54, 55. that is, to all church privileges; and insists, that those who are baptised in infancy, “ should be told that they are really in covenant with God, that they are members of the visible church, and are entitled to the privileges of it.' And as they have a title to the privileges, so “they are in duty bound to seek the enjoyment of, and attend upon these privileges.” p. 55, 56. For, according to Mr. M. “a child dedicated to God in baptism, is thereby brought into covenant with God, and has a promise left to it, of the means of grace, and the strivings of God's holy spirit, in order to render them effectual for salvation : but an unbaptised child is left in the kingdom of darkness.” p. 59, 60. And he adds, “it is but trifling to say, that although baptised persons may be styled members of the church universal ; yet they are not members of any particular church.” p. 56. So that, upon the whole, it appears, that by baptism alone, infants are made members of the church, in such sort as to have a divine right and title to all church privileges : which is full as much as can be said of any, who are in full communion, in complete standing. And thus we see what Mr. M.'s scheme is, in this view of it. And here let us stop a moment or two, and look round and consider where we are now. For if these things are true, it will follow,
1. That no internal mental qualifications are now, or ever were, requisite, in order to a right to all church privileges in the sight of God; neither moral, nor gracious; neither faith, nor practice of one sort, or of the other ; no, nothing at all, but only
“ an external mark in the flesh," or water baptism". And therefore,
n The land of Canaan was one chief external blessing of the Abrahamic cove. nant. Gen. xvii. 8. A compliance with that covenant gave a covenant right to a
2. In order to our being satisfied in our own consciences, that we have a right in the sight of God to come to the Lord's table, we are not “ to examine ourselves of our knowledge to discern the Lord's body, of our faith to feed upon hiin, of our repentance, love, and new obedience," as the assembly of divines imagined an hundred and twenty years ago :' nor are we to examine ourselves of our doctrinal knowledge, orthodoxy, moral sincerity, or of any thing else, of an internal, mental nature. For a right to the Lord's supper has no dependance on any thing of this nature. For, but one thing was needful to satisfy the conscience of the Jew, viz. “ The external mark in the flesh,” which might easily be known. And the Christian has nothing to do, but to procure and keep by him, a well attested certificate of his baptism, to give him a full assurance of his right to come to the Lord's table. For,
3. No crime, although of the most scandalous naturè, could vacate this right in the sight of God, or in the sight of conscience; because this right was not founded in any moral qualifications whatsoever, but only in “ an external mark in the flesh," or water baptism. But the idolatry of the Jew did not at all take away “the external mark in the flesh ;" nor
possession of it. Num. xxxii. 11, 12. The Israelites who came out of Egypt were all circumcised. Josh. v. 5. If in circumcision, they fully complied with that covenant on their part; then their carcasses did not fall in the wilderness, because they on their part broke covenant, but because God broke cove. nant on his part. They on their part fulfilled the only condition on which the land of Canaan was promised, but God was not true to the covenant on his part. So the fault was not in them, but in him ; and in this view, Lev. xxvi. and Deut. xxvii. are entirely inconsistent with the Abrahamic covenant. And so also is the divine conduct in the expulsion of the Jews out of the land of Canaan by Nebuchad. nezzar, formerly, as well as in their present dispersion. For they on their part have always kept covenant. For they have always circumcised their children, from the time they took possession of the land of Canaan to this day. Nor can Psalm 1. 16. Isai. i. 10-15. Ezek. xliv. 9. Mat. v. 23, 24. Heb. iii. 19. and an hundred other texts, be reconciled with this scheme.
And if baptism alone, without respect to any mental qualification, gives a covenant right to all the external privileges of the visible church of Christ'; then no consistent meaning can be given to these texts, Mat xvii. 17. Mat. xxii. 12. Cor. v. 11. and Chap. xi. 28, 29. Tit. iii. 10, 11. Rev. ii. 4, 5. &c. &c. The truth is, by sealing a covenant we are bound to fulfil it: but it is an actual compliance with a covenant, that entitles us to its blessings. Lev. xxvi. Deut. xxviji. Rom. viïj. 13. Mat. iii. 9, 10.
can the open infidelity and debauchery of the Christian prove,
that the certificate which he has of his baptism, is not authentic. Let the idolatrous Jew look on the external mark in the flesh," and let the infidel and immoral Christian look on his certificate, and their consciences may be confirmed, in a full assurance of their divine right and title to all cuvenant privileges'. Therefore,
.. This is a short and easy method for dishonest, cheating, promise-breaking professors to come to the Lord's Table with a good conscience; and for those who live in the neglect of family prayer, and who, instead of bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, train them up to live after the flesh in chambering and wantonness ; while they themselves live in malice and envy towards their fellow professors. Mr. M. is of opinion, that it is of very bad and dangerous tendency, for those who are admitted into the church to make a profession of godliness, lest by their ungodly lives they should disgrace their profession, and tempt others to turn infidels. p. 53, 54. And for the same reason it is not best that any of the professed followers of Christ should pretend to be honest men, lest their dishonest practices should sink the holy religion of Christ into contempt, and promote infidelity in the world. For indeed it is come to this already, that among the Mahometans, it is a common thing when men are charged with cheating or suspected of any dishonest trick, to reply with indignation, “ what! do you think I am a christian ?”
Nor can it be justified, in Mr. M.'s way of reasoning, for the church to require a profession of moral honesty, of those whom they admit to full communion. For every one of his objections against a profession of godliness are of full force against a profession of a disposition honestly to pay our debts, and act up to our word and promise in our dealings with our fellow-men. For, 1. such an honest disposition is an invisible qualification, and we cannot be certain that men have it in their hearts ; and therefore on this plan there can be no visible church. p. 48. Besides, 2. according to this, the design of God must have been to have made a visible distinction between honest and dishonest men.
But this is contra, ry to Scripture, which represents the visible church like a net which catches all sorts, good and bad. p. 49, 50. 3. Admission to full communion on this plan will do hurt to men's souls, tend to make them think they are honest when they are yot, and to blow up pride in their hearts, and to make them say with the Pharisee, God, I thank thee, I am not as others are, extortioners, unjust, &c. p. 52, 53. And, 4. it will tend greatly to wound religion, when afterwards they neglect to do as they say, and are not honest to pay their debts. p. 54. Besides, 5. This scheme makes infant baptism a mere nullity. For if moral honesty is a necessary qualifi. cation for sealing ordinances, then infants cannot receive the seal. For the church can have no positive evidence that they have an honest disposition. The Anabaptists, therefore, are right in rejecting the baptism of infants. p. 54.
These are Mr. M.'s“ most weighty and material objections, an answer to which he has never yet seen attempted.” p. 48. But it so happens, that they are of equal weight against himself, unless he will say, that moral honesty is not a qualiacation necessary for church.membership.