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which he believes. So a man whose mind is wavering between God and Mammon, inclining sometimes to one master with a view to his future interest, and sometimes to the other from an attachment to his present, may not be able to say, which master upon the whole he chooses; for the double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. But Christ does not desire men to make a profession of being his disciples till they have sat down and counted the cost, and are come to a settled determination; as is plain from Luke xiv. 25–33. And when men are come to that settled determination, which our Savior there describes, they may say that they have come to it. And this is all the profession which we desire.
P. Thus far I have acted the part of a disputant, and I have now done. Suffer me therefore once more to reassume that honest character which I sustained in my first visit ; for let others say what they will, I design to act an honest part. Now the truth of the case is this: I am not specially concerned to know by what rule the church must be governed in admitting members, neither am I concerned to know what they must do who are in doubt about themselves; the only question about which I am exercised, relates to my own particular case. 1 know I have no grace. I know I am unconverted. I told you so at first, and so I have told all the ministers with whom I have conversed ; and how any man, that knows he has no grace, can profess a compliance with the covenant of grace, and speak true, I could not understand, years ago. It was this that induced me to own the covenant, as the phrase is, and not to join in full communion, that so I might have my children baptized. Not one of the ministers with whom I have conversed, appears to justify the principles upon which I acted; but all as one man say, there is but one covenant, and this one covenant is the covenant of grace ; indeed, they explain away the covenant of grace, till they bring it down into a graceless covenant, and then tell me I can comply with that, and ought to do so, and thus join in full communion. But you have fully convinced me of the inconsistence and absurdity of this; and yet I would beg leave to inquire, why might not the covenant of grace be voted out by the church, and a graceless covenant be substituted in its room ? and then such as I am could consistently profess a compliance with such a covenant, and have baptism for their children.
M. But if a church should vote out the covenant of grace, or, which is the same thing, in other words, should vote out Christianity, how could it any longer be considered as a visible church of Christ, or as having a visible right to the visible seals
of God's covenant ? And besides, should you bind your child to one of your neighbors, to learn some mechanic art, why, in this case, might not the covenant be sealed, ratified, and confirmed by the administration of baptism, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ?
P. The proposal shocks my mind. It would be a profanation of God's holy ordinance, to take God's seal, appropriated to God's covenant, and put it to man's covenant.
M. But this ungracious covenant is man's covenant, and not God's. And to take God's seal, appropriated to God's covenant, even to the covenant of grace, and apply it to a covenant which God never made, to a covenant made by men, is to profane the holy ordinance : and knowingly to profane God's holy ordinance, is not a duty, nor is this to put ourselves in the way of a blessing.
P. What need is there of any covenant at all ?
M. It is not the manner of men to put a seal to a clean piece of paper. Nor did God ever appoint seals to be put to a blank. God's seals were appointed to be put to God's covenant; and we have no right to put them to a blank; and besides, it would be to give up the import of the actions, and to render sealing ordinances unmeaning, empty, useless ceremonies.
P. What shall I do?
M. Repent and believe the gospel. Thus preached John the Baptist: thus preached Jesus Christ; and thus his apostles. And therefore, being emboldened by their examples, I say unto yoni, “Enter in at the strait gate ; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat ; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
P. I thank you, sir, for your kind and friendly instructions. I ask your prayers. I must go.
M. I will detain you but a minute longer. You remember your former minister, the author of the second Dialogue concerning the half-way covenant, said, “ There is no half-way covenant. Doubtless it is the covenant of grace. No one disputes its being the covenant of grace; no one dare deny it.” And your present patron says much the same. You remember, also, that in your second visit I told you that to say this, was implicitly to "yield up every point for which we contend ;” and, in this view, I added, "nor do I doubt, if this controversy should go on, it will soon appear, that there is one who dares deny it; for otherwise all men of sense will see, that gentlemen on that side of the question are grossly inconsistent with themselves." And now it hath come to
pass, that one of the most discerning gentlemen on that side of the question, has published a labored piece, to prove that in order to enjoy sealing ordinances for ourselves and our children, we are not to profess a compliance with the covenant of grace, but only with a graceless covenant. This, therefore, is the only point that needs to be settled in order to settle the whole controversy; to this point, therefore, I advise you to give a most serious attention. For, if it can be proved that baptism and the Lord's supper are seals of the covenant of grace, and not of a graceless covenant, the axe will be laid to the root of the tree. Attend, therefore, to the subject with the utmost impartiality, that you may obtain, not only light in your head, but also reap saving advantage to your soul. I have known some Christless sinners, by the means of this controversy, awakened to a greater concern about their eternal salvation than ever they were before. And, be assured, sir, that the truths of the gospel, if they are not unto your own soul a savor of life unto life, will be a savor of death unto death. Eternity, an endless eternity lies before you. You have slept secure in sin long enough ; it is high time you should awake. Every circumstance of your own soul, and every circumstance of your dear offspring, calls upon you without delay to awake, and turn to God through Jesus Christ, in sincerity and truth. O, what joy would it give me, ere long to admit you into full communion with the church, on a profession of a compliance with the covenant of grace, in which you should appear to act understandingly and honestly! That salvation may thus come to you and to your household, may God of his infinite mercy grant, through Jesus Christ.
My dear sir, farewell.
A REPLY TO THE PARISHIONER'S LETTER, CONCERNING QUALI
FICATIONS FOR CHRISTIAN COMMUNION, PRINTED AT NEW HAVEN.
Parishioner. Sir, three times I have been with you heretofore, to get my child baptized ; and I am now come to make you a fourth visit, with the letter lately printed at New Haven in my hand.
Minister. I am willing, sir, and ever have been, to oblige you in all things wherein I lawfully may; and particularly, I
am willing to baptize your child, if you really, understanding the true import of the action, are willing to offer your child in baptism ; even to dedicate it to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; in whose name it is to be baptized. But, if you do indeed love God so well, as that you are willing to give him your child, to be his forever, why are you not as willing to give him yourself? And why should you not, first of all, give yourself up to God through Jesus Christ; and then, after that, give your child to him? In this way, God will become your covenant God and Father in this world, and your eternal portion in the next. This is all I wait for; and this is what I have, from the beginning, been urging upon you, as your immediate, indispensable duty. You remember what I said to you in your first visit, “ If you love God so as to be willing to have him for your portion; if you love Christ so as to be willing to deny yourself
, take up your cross, and follow him ; you may have your choice; you may do as you like : come, for all things are now ready. And if you would now in fact make this choice, it would put an end to your present difficulties about your child. Nothing, therefore, can hinder the baptism of your child, but your continuing to reject God and the Redeemer, by which you practically renounce your own baptism, and forfeit all the blessings of the covenant." And you remember my parting words in your last visit, “ Every circumstance of your own soul, and every circumstance of your dear offspring, calls upon you without delay, to awake, and to turn to God through Jesus Christ, in sincerity and truth. O, what joy would it give me, ere long, to admit you into full communion with the church, on a profession of a compliance with the covenant of grace, in which you should appear to act understandingly and honestly!” And you are my witness, that at all times I am ready to instruct you, to pray for you, and if need be, to rebuke you with all tenderness and kindness.
P. Inspired by the spirit which runs through the New Haven letter, I must say, that I despise your rebukes, and do not desire your prayers. “Could I sufficiently dissemble, I should give you joy, and gain a speedy, easy admittance into your church ;” but, for my part, I look upon you as little or nothing better than the very worst of heretics; for "
your principles, sir, are too near of kin to those most shocking principles lately broached in the land, by several who have a fondness for being authors; particularly by Mr. Sandeman, and Mr. Hopkins. Mr. Sandeman says, that faith is obtained, as the most remarkable discoveries have been obtained, the use of the magnet, Jesuit's bark, and many chemical discoveries; that is, not when
these things, but something else, was looked for. Mr. Hopkins says, it is indeed as great an absurdity as can be thought of, to suppose that the corrupt, vicious heart does any thing towards becoming holy, etc., for all the exercises and volitions of the corrupt, unregenerate heart are certainly the exercises of sin."
" These principles, sir, I look upon of the most dangerous tendency of any that were ever broached in the Christian world, Deism itself not excepted.”
M. My dear sir, be cool, and think a minute or two who you are, and what you say, and what you have been doing. You are my parishioner. In this character you have made me three visits before this. In this character you are now talking with me. You knew my principles before you ever desired me to baptize your child; and you knew that the church under my care profess to be in the same scheme of religion with me. And would you desire that your child should be baptized by the worst of heretics! Or would you desire to join with such a church! Where is the honesty or consistency of your conduct! You are inspired with a spirit, indeed; but I fear you know not what spirit you are of.
As to our sentiments touching total depravity, works done by unregenerate men, and the sovereignty of divine grace in the conversion of sinners, we profess to agree with the Assembly of divines at Westminster; and you know, that their confession of faith, and larger and shorter catechisms are adopted by the church of Scotland, as their test of orthodoxy; and are much the same with the Savoy confession of faith, which is adopted, in general, by the churches in Massachusetts and in Connecticut. But these public formulas declare, as to total depravity, that
we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil." And as to works done by unregenerate men, that “although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use to themselves and others; yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith, nor are done in a right manner, according to the word, nor to a right end, the glory of God; they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God. And yet their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing to God." And, as to the divine sovereignty in the conversion of sinners, they say, that “all those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased in his appointed and accepted time effectually to call,” etc. " This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man, who is altogether