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ed. And indeed this very thing which I endeavoured to prove by all that I said on this head, is expressly again and again allowed by Mr. W. Yet he makes a great ado, as if there was a vast difference between him and me in this affair of public covenanting with God; and as though my notions of it were very singular, absurd, and mischievous.
II. Mr. W. says a great deal in opposition to me, to shew that swearing by God's name, swearing to the Lord, and the like, do not mean covenanting with God : But yet (in p. 18.) in the midst of his earnest dispute against it, he owns it.-I mentioned several prophecies, referring to the Gentile converts in the days of the gospel, which foretell that they should swear by God's name, swear to the Lord of hosts, &c. as a prediction of the Gentiles publicly covenanting with God; using that as one thing which confirmed, that this was commonly the meaning of such phrases in the Old Testament. But Mr. W. despises my interpretation of these prophecies, and my argument from them. Nevertheless, in his reply, he owns the very thing : He in effect owns, that entering into covenant, and owning the covenant, is what is meant by these prophecies; mentioning this, plainly with approbation, as the universal sense of Protestant commentators. His words are, (p. 18. d. e.)“ As to all these prophecies, which Mr. Edwards has quoted, referring to the Gentiles, and their swearing by the name of the Lord, the sense of Protestant commentators upon them, I think, universally is, that when the Gentiles in God's appointed time should be brought into covenant with God, it should be as the Jews were, by being persuaded to consent to the terms of the covenant of
grace, and engaging themselves to God, to be faithful to him, and keep covenant with him. He who heartily consents to the terms of the covenant of grace, gives up himself to the Lord, gives the hand to the Lord, engages to own and serve him ; which is the thing signified in all those metaphorical phrases, which describe or point out this event, in the Old Testament language."
III. Mr. W. in these last cited words, explains the phrase of giving the hand to the Lord, as signifying engaging themselves to God in covenant, and consenting to the terms of the covenant; and yet in the next page but two, he contemns and utterly disallows my interpreting the same phrase in the same manner. Mr. W. says, (p. 21. c.) "As to the words of Hezekiah, when he called the Israelites to the passover, bidding them yield or give the hand to the Lord ; and in Ezra, they gave the hand to put away their wives ; which he thinks to be an Hebrew phrase for entering into covenant, it carries its own confutation with it."
IV. Mr. W. often speaks of the professions made by the ancient Israelites and Jewish Christians, when they entered into covenant, and were admitted into the church. Whereas, according to the doctrine of the same author, in the same book, we have no account of any profession made by either, on any such oc. casion. For he insists, that the children of such as are in covenant, are born in covenant ; and are not admitted into covenant; any otherwise than as they were seminally in their ancestors ; and that the profession of their ancestors, at the head of the covenant line, is that individual profession, which brings them into covenant. His words are, (p. 135. e. p. 136. a. b. c.) “ It is one and the same individual profession and engagement, which brings them and their children into covenant. And if there is one instance in the Bible, where God ever took any man into covenant, and not his children at the same time, I should be glad to see it. It is by virtue of their being in covenant, that they have a right to the seals. And if these children are not cast out of covenant by God, their children have as good a right to the seals as they had. It is God's will, that bis mark and seal should be set upon them, and their children, and their children for ever, till God cast them out of covenant. It is certain they have an interest in the covenant, and they have a right to the privileges of the covenant so long as they remain in covenant ; and that is, till God cuts them off, and casts them out.”
And accordingly he supposes, that John the Baptist never inquired into the doctrinal knowledge of those he baptized, because they were already in covenant with God, and members of his visible church, and not yet turned out : And he suggests, that John knew many of them not to be of a good moral character. (p. 98. So he largely insists, that the three thousand Jews and proselytes that the apostles baptized, (Acts ii.) were not taken into covenant, but only continued in covenant. (p. 46, 47.) So he supposes the Eunuch, before Philip baptized him, was a member of the church, and in covenant with God. (p. 50.) Though he inconsistently mentions those same persons in the 2nd of Acts, and the Eunuch, as admitted into the church by the Apostles, and primitive ministers. (p. 9. e. p. 10. a. p. 59. a.) And so (p. 8. d. p. 26. a.) he mentions God's taking all Israel into covenant : He mentions the profession which the Israelites made, (p. 25. e.) and (p. 5. d.) he speaks of the words which the Israelites used, in their entering into covenant with God. And (p. 36. d. e. p. 37. a. b.) he speaks of their profession in Moses' time, which God trusted so far as to admit them into covenant. Whereas indeed, according to Mr. W. they were not taken in, nor did they enter into covenant, neither in the plains of Moab, nor at Mount Sinai. He says expressly, that they were in covenant before that time, when in Egypt, being taken in their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (p. 91. b.) But then we read of no words that these Patriarchs used at their entering into cove. nant.--And it will undoubtedly follow, on Mr. W.'s principles, that we must go further back still for Israel's being taken into covenant; we must go up even to Adam himself, the first father of mankind, who was visibly in covenant, and so his posterity, in the line of Noah's ancestors, without the line being broken by a visible cutting off, and casting out by God, as we have all reason to suppose. And after the flood, we have reason to think, God had a covenant-race continued in Shem's posterity, especially in the line of Abraham's ancestors. And though Terah, Abraham's father, was tainted with the then prevailing idolatry; yet there is no appearance of the line being then cut off, in the way Mr. W. speaks of, by God's visibly casting him out. On the contrary, God took a special fatherly care of him and his children, in bringing them from Ur of the Chaldees, the land of graven images, to Haran. (Gen. xi. 31.) And God is called the God of the father of Abraham and Nahor, that is, the God of Terah. (Gen xxxi. 53.) And if it be said, that in Abraham began a new dispensation of the covenant; so that Abraham might properly on that account be said to be taken into covenant, as though his ancestors had not been in covenant: I answer, The alteration of the dispensation was in no measure so great as that after Christ's resurrection and ascension ; and yet Mr. W. will not allow, that the Jewish converts, received. (Acts ii.) on this new dispensation, were any more than continued in covenant, and in the church. So that, according to Mr. W.'s scheme, it must be Adam's profession of religion, that was the individual profession which made all his posterity, in the line of the church, even to the apostles' days, visible saints, or, (as he himself explains visible saintsbip,) such as we have rational ground to think are real saints, possessed of gospel-holiness; and on that account have a right to sacraments. For so he says
it is with the children of them that are in covenant, and their children, and their children for ever, till cut off and cast out by God.
So that now we have the scheme in a true view of it.The Pharisees and Sadducees that John baptized, whom Mr. W. supposes John knew to be not of a good moral character, and whose doctrinal knowledge he did not inquire into before he baptized them ; because they had before been admitted in their ancestors ; even these were visible saints, and such as John had rational ground to think had sufficient doctrinal knowledge and were orthodox and real saints, having moral evidence that they had gospel-holiness, because Adam their original ancestor made a profession of religion, in words of double meaning, without any marks of distinction or discrimination by which any might know their meaning.
And if we should go back no further than Abraham, it
would not much mend the matter; supposing the case had been so, that we had the words of both Abraham's and Adam's profession written down in our Bibles: whereas, we have neither ; no, nor have we the words of the profession of any one person, either in the Old Testament or New, at their being taken into the church, if the things which Mr. W. says are true; though he speaks so often of professions, and words of professions, and declarations, made on such occasions, as if we had an express account of thein in scripture.
V. As our author abundantly maintains, that unsanctified men in convenanting with God, may and do promise the exercise of saving faith, repentance, love, &c. ; so he holds, that they promise to begin the exercise of these graces immediately, from this moment, and to live in them from henceforth. (p. 25. c. e. and 29. a. and 28. a. c. 76. a. b. 6.)
Now I desire this matter may be looked into, and thoroughly examined. Not only the holy scriptures, and agreeable to them, Mr. Stoddard, and sound divines in general teach us, but Mr. W. bimself maintains, that men who are unsanctified do for the present refuse and oppose these things. In a fore-cited place of his sermon on Isaiah xlv. 11. our author says, that unregenerate and unsanctified men oppose áll means for bringing them to these things, are willingly without them, and labour to find out all manner of difficulties and hindrances in the way of them; and if they pray for them, do not desire they should come yet, but would stay a while longer. Now, how is this consistent with such persons promising, with any sincerity at all, that they will comply with and perform these things immediately, from henceforth, without staying one moment longer ? If God calls a man this moment to yield his whole heart to him in faith, love and new obedience; and if he in answer to the call solemnly promises and swears* to God, that he will immediately comply with the call, without the least delay, and does it with any sincerity, how does he now willingly refuse, oppose, and struggle against it, as choosing to stay a while longer ?
Besides, such promises and oaths of unregenerate men must not only be contrary to sincerity, but very presumptuous upon these two accounts. (1.) Because herein they take an oath to the Most High, which, it is ten thousand to one they will break as soon as the words are out of their mouths, by continuing still unconverted; yea, an oath which they are breaking even while they are uttering it. And what folly and wickedness is it for men to take such oaths; and how contrary to the counsel given by the wise man, in Eccl. v. 2–6. And to what purpose should * It
be observed, that Mr. W. often speaks of the promise which an unregenerate man makes in covenanting with God, as his oath. (p. 18. d. p. 100. p. 101. a. p. 129. a. p. 130. 6. p. 143. b.)
ungodly men be encouraged to utter such promises and oaths before the church, for the church's acceptance; which are so far from being worthy to be credited, or a fulfilment of them to be expected, that it is many thousands, and perhaps millions of times more likely to be otherwise. That is, it is so much more likely they will not be converted the very next moment. (2.) When an unconverted man makes such a promise, he promises what he has not to give, or that for which he has no sufficiency. There is indeed a sufficiency in God to enable him ; but he has no claim to it. For God's helping a man savingly to believe in Christ is a saving blessing : And Mr. W. himself owns, that a man cannot by promise claim any saving blessings, till he has fulfilled the conditions of the covenant of grace. (p. 22. e, and 28. e.) So that in vain it is said by Mr. W. (p. 27. e.)“ I pray that it may be thoroughly considered what is propounded in the covenant of grace, and on what stock a man is to finish.” Mean. ing (as appears by the sequel,) the stock of God's sufficiency. To what purpose is this said? When the covenant of grace promises or makes over no such stock to him who has no interest in the promises of it, as having not yet complied with the condition of its promises. Nor does an unconverted man promise any thing in a humble dependence on that stock; no such men do lay hold on God's strength, or trust in God's sufficiency. For this is a discriminating mark of a true saint; as our author bimself observes, in that fore-cited passage in his Sermons on Christ a King and Witness, (p. 19. c.)
I would here take notice of it as remarkable, that though Mr. W. had owned that a natural man can claim no saving blessings by God's promise, yet to help out his scheme of a natural man engaging and promising, even with an oath, the exercises of saving grace, he, (in p. 27, 28. especially p. 28. e.) speaking of the great encouragement on which unsanctified men can promise these things, supposes God has given such encouragement to them who promise and engage themselves to God, with that degree of earnestness and sincerity which he often speaks of as requisite to communion, that we have reason to determine that God never will fail of bestowing on them saving grace; so that they shall fulfil their promises. I say, he supposes that we have reason to determine this, because he himself determines it. His words are these :—“ Though there be no promise of saving good, exclusive of faith, yet there being a command and encouragement, there are suitable springs of his endeavour and hope, in his engaging himself to God and casting himself upon his mercy with
all the earnestness and sincerity he God never will be worse than his encouragement, nor do less than he has encouraged; and he has said, To hi
that hath shall be given.” Now if this be so, and if this will make it