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therefore, notwithstanding they were then visibly married to God in a covenant containing the promises before mentioned, whereby they laid themselves under bonds to keep covenant, yet God was not obliged to give them a heart to keep covenant, by any promise contained in that dispensation, as he would have been, had they been sincere, and as he is to all who are united to Christ by a true and living faith. And so it came to pass that they broke covenant, in an open, public manner; and he regarded them not, but their carcasses fell in the wilderness; whereas God writes his law in the heart of the true believer, and effectually inclines him to walk in his ways. And thus every false professor, whether Jew or Christian, will fall short of the heavenly Canaan ; as it is written, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it that it may bring forth more fruit."
7. But, if any, after all, shall insist that the Sinai covenant was merely a covenant of works, and that the Abrahamic covenant was not in any sense contained in it, they ought to consider, that if this be so, then the Sinai covenant ought to be entirely left out of the account in the present dispute, and circumcision ought to be considered as being in no sense a seal of it; for it was appointed to be a seal of the Abrahamic covenant, and of no other; and therefore, if the Abrahamic covenant was in no sense a part of the Sinai covenant, then circumcision was in no sense a seal of the Sinai covenant; for no new seals to the covenant of works have been appointed since Adam was turned out of paradise. And as for Mr. M.'s external, graceless covenant, it never had any existence; the Bible knows nothing about it, either name or thing. We have already seen that it is not contained in the Old Testament, and we shall presently perceive that it is not to be found in the New.
THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST ESSENTIALLY DIFFERENT FROM MR.
MATHER'S EXTERNAL, GRACELESS COVENANT.
It is true, the gospel consists in an external revelation ; but then the thing revealed is the way of salvation by free grace through Jesus Christ. It is also true, that the call of the gospel is an external call; but then the thing it calls us unto is a
belief and compliance with the way of salvation by free grace through Jesus Christ. The gospel consists in the clearest and fullest external revelation of the way in which God may be just, and yet justify and save sinners; which way of salvation it constantly invites sinners to comply with, that they may be pardoned and saved; saying, “Come, for all things are now ready.” This may be called an external covenant, as it is a visible exhibition of the covenant of grace, with which professors of Christianity visibly comply in a profession of repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. But in this view, it is essentially different from Mr. M.'s external covepant; for the gospel covenant promises pardon and eternal life to those who really comply with it; but one may comply with Mr. M.'s external covenant in sincerity and truth, and yet have no grace, and finally perish. For Mr. M.'s external covenant does not require saving grace, and may be perfectly complied with by one who is dead in sin ; for it is an unholy, graceless covenant; and so it is essentially different from the gospel of Jesus Christ.
John Baptist did not baptize with the baptism of the external covenant, but with the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Luke iii.)
Jesus Christ did not call men to comply with an external, graceless covenant, and be baptized, but to repent and believe the gospel, (Mark i. 15;) having counted the cost, to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him, (Luke xiv. 25—33;) promising eternal life to those who did so, (Matt. xix. 29;) representing graceless professors by salt that has lost its savor, and is good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot. (Matt. v. 13.) He warned his hearers against professing, and not living up to his religion, as an inconsistent conduct. (Luke vi. 46.) He called them to make such a profession as he might own to their honor in the heavenly world, before his Father. (Matt. x. 32.) Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. This is that profession unto which he invited men, and never invited them to any other : rather to false professors Christ declares it will be said, "Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having on a wedding garment?” (Matt. xxii.)
The apostles had no commission to preach and baptize upon Mr. M.'s external covenant; but were expressly ordered to preach the gospel to every creature; a gospel that promised eternal life; and to baptize those who appeared to comply with it. (Mark xvi. 15, 16.) They were sent to make disciples, not to Mr. M.'s external covenant, but to Christianity. (Matt.
xxviii. 19, 20.) In a word, they were sent to preach repentance and remission of sins to all nations in the name of Christ. (Luke xxiv. 47.) And they acted up to their commission.
When the three thousand were pricked in their heart, Peter did not tell them to comply with Mr. M.'s external covenant, and be baptized, which they might have done, and yet have continued impenitent and unpardoned; but exactly according to his Master's orders, he said, “ Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins." (Acts ii. 37, 38.) Repent first, and then be baptized.
And when Peter went to preach to Cornelius, it was not to preach up an external covenant, with which a man may comply and yet perish ; but to declare to him the gospel way of salvation, to tell him words whereby he might be saved, and all his house. (Acts xi. 14.) And accordingly he preached the gospel, namely, that through Christ's name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (Acts x. 43.) But he said not one word about Mr. M.'s external, graceless covenant. And when the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they glorified God, not that the Gentiles were admitted into an external, graceless covenant, a thing not heard of in the apostolic age; but they glorified God, saying, “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” (Acts xi. 18.) For it had been their notion, that an uncircumcised Gentile could not be saved. (Acts xv. 1.)
Peter, before he began his sermon, was well assured that Cornelius was a real saint ; for Cornelius had known so much about the Jewish religion, that although born a pagan, yet he had renounced idolatry, and had become a true and acceptable worshipper of the God of Israel. He was a believer, in the same sense that Nathanael was, who was an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile, and who, however, did not at that time know that Jesus was the Messiah who was to come. (John i. 43—47 ;) for without faith it is impossible to please
(Heb. xi. 6.) But Cornelius obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts, by an angel from heaven, which appeared to him, (Acts x. 4;) and by a vision which appeared to Peter, and a voice declaring Cornelius, though uncircumcised, yet in the sight of God to be not unclean, but clean; for that God himself had cleansed him. (Ver. 916.) Peter therefore began his sermon with a declaration, that Cornelius, although uncircumcised, was nevertheless in a state of acceptance with God. (Ver. 34, 35.) It had been mad work, therefore, for Peter to have preached up Mr. M.’s external, graceless covenant, to one who was already really in the cove
nant of grace, and whom Peter had just declared to be so. But Peter, far from this, knowing his business well, gave to him and to the whole company a brief narrative of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; exhibiting the evidence there was, that he was indeed the promised Messiah, and that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive the remission of sins. (Ver. 36–43.) And it happened to the hearers, while he was preaching, as Christ said it would to them that believe, even in the very commission which he gave to his apostles. (Mark xvi. 15, 16.) “The Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word;" and that not only in his extraordinary gifts, but also in his sanctifying influences, and that to a great degree; for they not only “spake with tongues,” but “magnified God;" as the blessed Virgin did, when filled with the Holy Ghost, (Luke i. 46 ;) or rather, as those who, on the day of Pentecost, spake the wonderful works of God. (Acts ii. 11.) This appearance struck Peter and all the saints present with astonishment. Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" said Peter. And exactly in this point of light did Peter afterwards set this fact, when he gave a narrative of it to the council at Jerusalem. (Acts xv. 8, 9.) “And God which knoweth the hearts, beareth them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us, and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”
And again, when Paul had the awakened jailer to instruct, and to prepare for baptism, he said not one word to him about Mr. M.'s external covenant, either name or thing; but preached the gospel to him, saying, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." And thou shalt be "saved.” He did not preach up a graceless faith, the faith of devils; but a saving faith. To that, and to no other, did he exhort the jailer, in order to prepare him for baptism.*
When Mr. Sandeman says, that “a simple belief of the simple truth" — the heart left out of the account — is saving faith, Mr. M. will doubtless agree with me in saying, “ This cannot be saving faith, because the devil has it." When, therefore, Mr. Mather represents the eunuch as entering into covenant with God by the simple belief of the simple truth,
* It is not looked upon among men, ingenuous, fair, and honest, to lead any to sign and seal a bond before we let them know the contents of it. But the apostles led their converts to set their seal in baptism, without saying one word to them about Mr. M.'s external covenant, name or thing. This, therefore, was not the covenant which they led them to seal; nay, the apostles themselves do not appear to have known that there was any such covenant to be preached up by them, or to be sealed by their converte.
by an ungracious, unholy faith, and is resolved to make that phrase “ with all thine heart” stand for nothing, I beg leave to reply, “ This faith cannot bring those into covenant with God that have it, because the devil has it.” And I humbly conceive that no man need be at a loss about the meaning of Philip's words, or of the eunuch's answer, that will compare them with Rom. x. 9: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved ;” and with 1 John iv. 15: “ Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God;" and chap. v. 1: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.” For just this was the profession which Philip demanded, and which the eunuch made.
And in this view of things, it is easy to discern the true reason why the apostolic churches were, in the epistles wrote to them, considered and treated as saints by the writers, who it is not to be supposed had any personal acquaintance at all with many of them; and why they were spoken of as “beloved of God,” (Rom. i. 7;) “sanctified in Christ Jesus," (1 Cor. i. 2;)" chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world,” (Eph. i. 4,) etc. For such they were by profession before all the world; and such, generally speaking, they proved themselves to be by their practice. Indeed, it was always expected, that tares would, more or less, be among the wheat ; but the apostles did not think it their duty to sow tares knowingly and on design. In that age of the church, this was thought to be the work of the devil. (Matt. xiii. 39.) And methinks he may now, in our age, do enough at it, without any help from the clergy. And if professors in that age lived up to their profession, and gave abundant evidence of their sincerity, by the holiness of their lives, as Mr. M. observes they did, then they were indeed “the salt of the earth, and the light of the world,” in their profession and in their practice too, as all church members ought to be. (Matt. 'v. 13—15.) Nor did the apostles think it a thing of dangerous tendency to treat them as such in the most public manner, in the sight of the world; as Mr. M. must have thought on his scheme. These were churches of visible saints, who appeared to be the body of Christ, a living body to a living head ; and not synagogues of Satan, to which graceless professors are said to belong, in Rev. ii. 9.
To conclude : When we read the life of John Baptist, and of Jesus Christ; when we read the commission given to the apostles, in Matthew, Mark, and Luke; and when we read