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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 once;" 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, namely, in having no heart to turn from sin to God. And even every sinner who is only a little orthodox in his 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 “ 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 : “None can sup pose, that every male among Abraham's seed, in all succeeding generations, were truly gracious by the time they were eight days old.” And in his second book, he says, “ Nor can the proof of it, which I before offered, be evaded, without asserting that Abraham had sufficient grounds for a rational judgment of charity, that all his seed would be in a gracious state by the time they were eight days old.” This he says in order to prove that saving grace is not a necessary qualification to church membership, even in the adult. And it equally proves, that such a “fixed resolution” is not necessary; “for pone can suppose, that every male among Abraham's seed, in all succeeding generations, were come to this fixed resolution by the time they were eight days old;” but as he adds, " There was an express command to confirm the covenant with them at the age of eight days; which is an incontestible evidence, that a gracious state" (and not that such a “fixed resolutiou") " was considered as necessary in order to their being taken into covenant, and becoming complete members of the visible church."
Again, this rule of admission into the visible church, laid down by Mr. M., must, according to his own way of reasoning, have secluded in a manner the whole congregation of Israel, who entered into covenant at Mount Sinai ; for they were not come to this “ fixed resolution to forsake all known sin." For he observes, “How soon did they corrupt themselves, when Moses was gone up into the mount," and fell into that “known sin' of idolatry! And therefore, to use his own words, and to turn his own reasoning against himself, “It is beyond the utmost stretch of charity, to suppose that the people who then entered into covenant, were come to a fixed resolution to forsake all known sin.” Indeed, it is certain they were not; and therefore it is certain, according to Mr. M.'s way of reasoning, that such a fixed resolution was “not respected " in the external covenant, as a necessary qualification ; much less, an infallible certainty that they had it. And this consequence he seems to have been aware of, when he said, “ No, it is plain God proceeded to take them into covenant by mere sovereignty; even as in his covenant with Abraliam he included his infant seed." And so again, speaking of the Israelites' covenanting in the plains of Moab, he says, " By absolute sovereignty, God extends this covenant, and this oath, even to such whose consent to it was not so much as asked ; and as the consent to this covenant was not so much as asked of some that were taken into it, it is abundantly evident that they were not taken into it as gracious persons.” . And we may add, that it is equally evident that they were not taken in as persons come to a fixed resolution to forsake all known sin, and to practise all known duty. And thus we see Mr. M., if his reasoning is conclusive, has confuted his own scheme, and has proved that his external covenant, which requires such "fixed resolutions," in order to enter into covenant with God, was not the covenant on which the visible church was constituted. And he lias found out a new way, never before heard of, of taking the adult into covenant, without asking their consent, by mere “sovereignty;" even as infants are taken in, without respect to any qualification in them whatsoever. Because it is said in Deut. xxix., Neither with you only do I make this covenant, etc., but also with him that is not here ; just as it is among us, when a minister is ordained, and some of the members of the church are necessarily absent on the ordination day; the covenant between the pastor and the church is made with the whole church, the consent of the absent members being taken for granted; or else these words have respect to those who were then unborn, even to all future generations, who were comprised in that covenant, just as infants were. But to return :
Mr. M. so far forgets himself as entirely to give up, not only the necessity of such "a fixed resolution,” but of any qualification whatsoever; and even expressly declares, that his external covenant is absolute and unconditional, and that herein it differs from the covenant grace. But if his external covenant is merely an absolute and unconditional grant of certain privileges and blessings, then, since the wall of partition between Jew and Gentile is removed by Christ, it gives the whole Gentile world as much right to the Lord's table, as to the word preached, without respect to any qualification whatever; for a pagan, a Turk, or a Jew, while such, have a right to hear the gospel preached, for the grant is unconditional. “Go preach the gospel to every creature." And if all the privileges of the visible church of Christ were made as common, by a grant equally unconditional, a pagan, a Turk, or a Jew, would have, as such, as good a right to baptism and the Lord's table, as to hear the gospel preached. So now the visible church of Christ becomes invisible, being absorbed and swallowed up in the world, without any mark of distinction, according to Mr. M.
It may be observed that our author says, that in my former piece, I have “wholly misrepresented his sentiments,” and given his scheme the “bad name of a graceless covenant." And if he all along meant that his external covenant was a mere absolute, unconditional grant, which has "no respect to a gracious state of heart," nor to any other qualification whatever, then I own I have wholly misrepresented his sentiments in my former piece. But then he ought as frankly to own, that he has in his former piece “wholly misrepresented” them also; and that he has carried on the same misrepresentation in this second book, in which he speaks of his external covenant, not as a mere unconditional grant, but as a mutual covenant between God and the visible church, which is to be entered into by us, and sealed on our part; in order to which, some qualifications are absolutely necessary on our side, namely, that we "come to a fixed resolution to forsake all known sin, and practise all known duty.” But I submit it to the judgment of the judicious candid reader, whether the truth of the case is not this, that Mr. M. himself does not distinctly know what his external covenant is; and however ingenious he may be, yet it is beyond his abilities to give a consistent account of this creature of his own imagination ; for let his external covenant be conditional or unconditional, it is merely a creature of his own imagination. For if it is conditional, the conditions of it are merely unholy, graceless duties; and so it is a graceless cove
nant, which is a "graceless phantom,” as was proved in my former piece. And if it is unconditional, it wholly destroys the visible church, as it leaves no mark of distinction between the church and the world ; and Philip had no right to say, " If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest ;” for, believe or not believe, he had an equal right to baptism ; and so baptism must cease to be an external badge of a Christian. Let a pagan Indian, merely that he may be in the fashion, demand baptism for himself and his children, and unqualified as he is, we have no right to refuse him; for he has the same right to baptism as to hear the gospel preached. But that the covenant with Abraham was really the covenant of grace, which Mr. M. owns is a conditional covenant, I have proved in my former piece. But let us hear Mr. M. speak for himself.
MR. M.'S EXTERNAL COVENANT, REPRESENTED BY HIM AS AN UN
CONDITIONAL COVENANT, EXAMINED IN THIS VIEW OF IT.
OUR author says,
6 Whoever reads that covenant with Abraham, recorded Gen. xvii., with attention, must unavoidably see,
," " that although the covenant of grace is set forth in it;' (for he says, "the covenant of grace was contained in every dispensation of God to mankind; each of them contained promises of eternal salvation to believers ; ")" yet that covenant, as then made with Abraham, was not strictly the covenant of grace.” I grant, that besides pardon, grace, and glory, temporal good things were promised in that covenant; and so they are under the goşpel. (Matt. vi. 33.) But God's fatherly care of believers in the world is one of the blessings of the covenant of grace, in the strictest sense. But this is not the thing. Mr. M. has respect to the nature of the promise, which, being unconditional, is inconsistent with the covenant of grace; and therefore cannot be reconciled to it, the blessings of which are promised only conditionally, if we believe ; but the blessings of this covenant in Gen. xvii. are promised unconditionally, believe or not believe. For thus Mr. M. says, “ It has some peculiarities which are not reconcilable with it.” And this appears from that “chief promise contained in the covenant:" " And I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting cove
nant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee." But, pray, why is not this chief promise reconcilable with the covenant of grace? This is the reason Mr. M. gives ; because “ this promise is as full, as express, as absolute and unconditional to his seed, as it was to Abraham.” Nay, but the apostle Paul, , when preaching pure gospel, said to the jailer, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house;" so that the promise was as full and express to his seed, as it was to the jailer himself. But Mr. M. will say, that this promise to the jailer and his house was conditional ; but the promise to Abraham and his seed was "absolute and unconditional ;” and this being so, it not only is not the covenant of grace, but it cannot be reconciled " with it. I believe Mr. M.'s external covenant is in its very nature so inconsistent with the covenant of grace,
that it cannot be reconciled with it. The whole Christian world, the Anabaptists excepted, have till now thought that the covenant with Abraham was the very covenant of grace itself; but it seems, it is so inconsistent with it, in Mr. M.'s view of it, as “not to be reconcilable with it,” because the covenant of grace promises the heavenly Canaan to us and to our seed, and that God will be a God to us and them conditionally, if we and they believe ; but the covenant in Gen. xvii. promised the earthly Canaan, and that God would be a God to Abraham and his seed “unconditionally.”
But Mr. M. goes on : “ This difference between the tenor of the covenant of grace and the covenant with Abraham, could not escape the Doctor's notice; but being resolved to make out his scheme, he puts in a supplement into the covenant, which has not the least countenance from the covenant itself, or from any other place in the Bible. God speaks to the pious parent in that ordinance, (baptism,) saying, “I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed,' that is, if they will take heed to walk in my ways.
This last conditional clause is a mere arbitrary addition to the covenant with Abraham, invented only for the sake of making that reconcilable to the covenant of grace; but no such clause is ever once represented as belonging to the covenant of grace, or to the covenant with Abraham." To which we reply,
That the Assembly of divines, in their larger Catechism, say, that “the covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect, as his seed." And yet, in order to enjoy the blessings of this covenant, it was necessary, on Christ's part, that he should make his soul an offering for sin; and on our part, that we should become Christ's seed by a true and living faith. If Christ had not