justifying faith which giveth right to baptism before God, so it is the profession, or visibility of this faith, that giveth right thereunto before the church. Some have maintained that a dogmatical historical faith, or faith of assent to the truth of the gospel, doth entitle to baptism; but the common Protestant doctrine against the Papists speaketh otherwise." *

But the question now before us is not, What was the doctrine of Protestants or Papists? but a question much more interesting, namely, What is the doctrine of the Bible, the only book we are obliged to believe and obey on pain of God's eternal wrath ? And the question is, What is God's covenant, which is to be professed and sealed a gracious, or an ungracious covenant? What was the Abrahamic covenant ? and what the covenant into which the Israelites professed to enter in the wilderness ? and what is that covenant revealed in the gospel, of which baptism and the Lord's supper are seals - a holy covenant, or an unholy one ?

But before we enter on the subject, it may not be improper to observe, that Mr. M. has given up the grounds on which Mr. Jonathan Dickinson, and after him Mr. Peter Clark, vindicated infant baptism; namely, that the covenant with Abraham was the covenant of grace.t And Mr. M. endeavors to lay a new foundation for infant baptism, perhaps never before laid by any writer on that subject ; namely, an external, graceless covenant; and what the effect among common people will be, if they shall see Mr. M.’s external covenant proved to be a mere nonentity, cannot yet be known. But if any are shaken in their belief of infant baptism, when they find Mr. M.'s foundation give way under them, they ought to remember, that the defenders of infant baptism have not built their arguments on this foundation, but always on a supposition that the covenant with Abraham was the covenant of grace.

Thus Mr. Bostwick, late minister of the Presbyterian church in New York, in his Vindication of Infant Baptism, (p. 19,) says, - The covenant made with Abraham was a covenant of grace, and the same for substance that is now in force under the gospel. This I look upon to be the grand turning-point on which the issue of the controversy very much depends; for if Abraham's covenant, which included his infant children, and gave them a right to circumcision, was not the covenant of

* Discourse concerning the subject of Baptism.

+ See Mr. Clark's Defence of Infant Baptism, ch. iv., in which the covenant with Abraham is proved to be the covenant of grace; and Dr. Gill's objections, in his piece against Mr. Dickinson, some of them the same with Mr. Mather's, are answered.

grace, then I freely confess that the main ground on which we assert the right of infants to baptism, is taken away; and consequently, the principal arguments in support of the doctrine are overturned."




SHOULD a dispute arise concerning the contents of any covenant between two of our neighbors, what way would common sense teach all impartial men to advise them to take, in order to settle the controversy? Would they not say, “Come, neighbors, no more dispute about this matter; bring out the writing ; let us read it, and see with our own eyes how the bond runs"?

Now, these are the contents of the covenant with Abraham, in Gen. xii., where it is first of all mentioned : Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great ; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” And was this a graceless covenant, or the very gospel of Christ ? Hear what an inspired apostle saith: “And the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” And in Gen. xii. 4, follows an account of Abraham's compliance: “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him.” He did not merely endeavor," but he actually complied. And was this done in faith, or in a graceless manner ? Take the answer from an inspired writer : “ By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out .... obeyed." Just parallel to the conduct of Christ's true disciple, when he was on earth : “And he said unto him, Follow me, and he arose and followed him.”

And this same covenant was renewed on God's part in Gen. xv. 5: “And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them. And he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.” And in ver. 6, follows Abraham's compliance : “and he believed in the Lord.” And the very next words determine that this was

not Mr. M.'s external covenant, in a compliance with which no man is justified, and that Abraham's faith was a true justifying, saving faith : " and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

And in chap. xvii. this same covenant was renewed again with this additional declaration : "I am God Almighty," absolutely all-sufficient. For he had before said, (chap. xv.,)“ I am thy shield, and exceeding great reward; which is something of a higher nature than what is promised by Mr. M.'s external covenant; yea, it is added, "to be a God to thee, and thy seed after thee." In consequence of which he was called “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;" and what is implied in this we may learn from Heb. xi. 15: “Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city.” Yea, all the great blessings of the gospel are summed up in one promise : “He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God.” And this divine injunction was added at this season of renewing this covenant : “ walk before me, and be thou perfect ;” which implied a life of real holiness, and sincere devotedness to God.

Mr. M.'s external covenant requires no higher kind of faith than the devil has, and nothing but ungracious, unholy obedience, which those who are dead in sin may perform. But neither this faith nor this obedience were the faith and obedience of Abraham. Mr. M.'s covenant requires what James calls a dead faith, by which no man can be justified; but Abraham's was a living faith, by which he was justified, and by which all others will be justified who have it. And his obedience was a holy obedience, such as is peculiar to the friends of God. Mr. M.'s external covenant is adapted to the temper and state of the unconverted, requiring only such religious exercises as may take place in them. But Abraham was not in an unconverted state ; and so Mr. M.'s external covenant was not adapted to the temper and state in which he was: if the reader will be at the pains to take his Bible and turn to Gen. xii. and read the whole history of Abraham's life, he will not find the least hint of more than one covenant with Abraham ; nor was one unholy duty ever required at his hands; rather, on the contrary, these were the express words of God Almighty to him: “Walk before me, and be thou perfect." If, therefore, we judge of the nature of the covenant with Abraham, as we do of all other written covenants, namely, by the contents of the written instrument, there is no room to doubt.

And now this covenant being thus made, and thus renewed from time to time, through the space of above twenty years, an external seal was at length by God appointed to it. For

circumcision was appointed as a token of this very covenant, which was made with Abraham before he was circumcised. For an inspired apostle has said it. Rom. iv. 9-11: "Cometh this blessedness" - namely, that spoken of in the foregoing verse, * Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin " "then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also ? for we say, that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned ? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision ? not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal, (not of Mr. M.'s external covenant, but] of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised; that he might be the father (not of those graceless men, that enter into Mr. M.'s graceless covenant, but) of all them that believe ; that righteousness might be imputed to them also ; " that all who comply with that covenant, as Abraham did himself, might be justified and saved, as he was. From all which it is evident that that covenant with which Abraham visibly complied, when, in obedience to God's call, he separated himself and his family from the idolatrous world to worship the true God only, and to believe in, and wait for, the coming of the Messiah, whose day he saw, and was glad, was not Mr. M.'s external, graceless covnant, by which no man can be justified and saved, but the covenant of grace, which promises eternal life to those who comply with it; “ for God is not the God of the dead, but of the living," and that circumcision was a seal of this very covenant ; which were the points to be proved.

There is not one text in the New Testament where the nature of the covenant with Abraham is pointed out, but that it is spoken of as the covenant of grace; for it is always spoken of as the way, and as the only way, in which a sinner can be justified. Particularly read Rom. iv. and Gal. ii. and iv., and this will appear in the clearest light. For from the manner in which Abraham was justified, Paul illustrates and confirms the gospel way of justification. For he considers Abraham as the pattern, and teaches that all sinners are justified in the same way in which he was; and in this sense he is the father of many nations, as he is the father of all that believe. (Rom. iv. 16, 17.) “For what saith the Scripture ? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness." Ver. 3: “Now it is not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead." Gal. iii. 7: “ Know ye, therefore, that they which are of faith, who are true believers,] the same are the children of Abraham, And

the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which are of faith, (that is, are true believers,) are blessed with faithful Abraham. (Ver. 8, 9.) But (ver. 10) all self-righteous sinners are under the

curse ; “ for as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse." But (ver. 13, 14.) “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse, that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the spirit through faith.” For it is the peculiar privilege of believers to have the spirit. Rom. viii. 9: “ Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Gal. iv. 6, 7: “Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your heart, crying, Abba, Father. And if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” But (chap. iii. 26 :) “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.” Ver. 29: And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” For (ver. 16) “to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. Therefore, if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

So that if we read the contents of the written instrument, as it is recorded in the Old Testament, or consider how the inspired writers of the New understood it, nothing can be plainer than that the covenant with Abraham, into which the believing Gentiles are received under the gospel dispensation, was the covenant of grace, even that covenant in which, and in which alone, justification and eternal life are to be expected. Nor can Mr. M. apply these texts to his external, graceless covenant, without perverting the word of God in a most shocking manner. Yea, if these texts do not speak of the covenant of grace by which alone sinners are justified, no such covenant can be found in the Bible. There was no other covenant revealed to Abraham ; and Paul knew of no way of justification but this. We have as much evidence, then, that the covenant with Abraham was the covenant of grace, as we have that there ever was a covenant of grace existing since the world began. Now observe, —

1. From the nature of this covenant with Abraham we may learn the nature of God's visible church. For as a real compliance with this covenant renders us the children of Abraham indeed, so a visible compliance with it renders us visibly the

« VorigeDoorgaan »