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of its blessings. The covenant of grace requires repentance. toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, as the conditions of its blessings : but what does Mr. M.'s external graceless covenant require, as the condition of its blessings ? What qualifications are requisite to bring a man into this covenant, and to give hiin a right to all the privileges and blessings of it in the sight of God ? If this question cannot receive a satisfactory answer on Mr. M.'s scheme, then his scheme can never be practised upon. He gave no satisfactory answer to it in his first book, as was shown in the 6th section of my reply to it. He has now made another attempt to answer this question in his second book. Let us hear his answer, and consider it.
He says, (p. 64.) 'That perfection is expressly required in this external covenant.' What! as a condition of its blessings ! as a necessary qualification to full cominunion in the visible church ! which was the only point in hand. If so, then no mere man since the fall might join with the visible church.
He says, (p. 64.) * This covenant requires the holy obedience of a gracious state.' What! again, I say, as a condition of its blessings ! as a necessary qualification to full communion in the visible church ! the only point in hand. If so, then no graceless man, as such, can be admitted into the visible church.
He says, (p. 65.) “This covenant requires the utmost endeavours of the unregenerate.' What! still I repeat it, as a condition of its blessings ! as a necessary qualification to full communion in the visible church! the only point in hand. If so, then no unregenerate man, who has not as yet used his utmost endeavours, can, as such, be admitted into the visible church, which will keep out every unregenerale man, because no such unregenerate man ever existed.
Again, having spoken of the convictions, that the unregenerate may have, he says, (p. 65.) under these convictions he may come to a fixed resolution to forsake all known sin, and to practise all known duty; set himself to seek an interest in Christ, and to seek needed influences of divine grace. And he may confirm these resolutions upon his own
soul, by a solemn covenant dedication of himself to God; engaging by divine assistance to obey the whole will of God, one particular of which is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. And I will add, that he may confirm this covenant between God and his own soul by
It cannot be denied that the natural powers of our souls do render us capable of such covenanting with God. And the only question is, whether God has required this of sinners? This is the question in dispute.' Upon which the following observations may be made :
1. Was this the covenant in Gen. xvii.? Was Abraham under conviction?' * Had he come to such unregenerate fixed resolutions?' Did he bind himself in some future time to believe? No, just the reverse.
Abraham had been converted above twenty years before this transaction, (Gen. xvii.) and had both believed, and obeyed, in a saving manner, through all this period. So that the question in dispute,' is not, whether Abraham entered into this covenant in Gen. xvii.; for Mr. M. does not pretend he did. And therefore the covenant with Abraham, (Gen. xvii.) and this covenant of Mr. M.'s, are not the same, but very different. His external covenant, tberefore, is, as he declares, distinct from the covenant of grace,' and of a different tenour,' and for a different purpose.' For nothing was more remote from Abra, bam's mind, than to enter into covenant, and bind himself to a course of unregenerate duties, in order to obtain converting grace. Of this there is no dispute.' So that this is NOT the question in dispute,' whether Mr. M.'s external covenant is the same with that covenant into which Abraham personally entered, (Gen. xvii.) Where then in all the bible will Mr. M. find his external covenant, as above defined? For no such covenant was ever exhibited by the God of Israel. Besides,
4. It may be inquired, what does Mr. M. mean by 'engaging to obey the whole will of God ?' For, 1. Dues he mean, that men who know they have no grace when they join with the church do covenant and promise that they will from that time and forward, as long as they live, be perfectly holy? and so in fact obey the whole will of God? But
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 be 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 con verted 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 presént 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 pertection 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 churchmembersbip, 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 bis 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 doch deny himself, take up his cross, and follow him. And, 3. The candidate for admission into the visible Church, is to come to 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 adınitted 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, 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 heurt to turn from sin to God. And even every sinner who is only a little orthodox in bis 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, (p. 15.) None can suppose, that every male among Abra