Page images
PDF
EPUB

gin to consider and exercise his reason, Mr. M. would soon stop him, by saying, “ The unenlightened do not know that character of God which is revealed in the Gospel, and so cannot love it : and to love that character of God which is revealed in the law, is the same thing as to love their own misery, which is contrary to the law, and ought not to be done." What then shall the sioner do? or what shall he strive to do? Mr. M. says, (p. 51.) that such a conviction of our guilt, and just desert of suffering the curse of the law, as shall humble us, and bring us to submit to a sovereign God, is necessary to fit and prepare our hearts to close with Christ.' But by what means shall such convictions be obtained? How will you convince the sinner, that he deserves eternal dampation for not continuing in all things written is the book of the law to do them, particularly, for neglecting to love God, while he firmly believes, that the love of God and self-love are absolutely inconsistent ?' and that, therefore it is

contrary to the law,' which requires self-love, to love God. The more the sinner considers, and exercises his reason, the more clearly will be see the inconsistence of these things.Or, will Mr. M. tell the sinner, (as in p. 53.) to strive to obtain those discoveries of God through Christ, by which he will be reconciled to God?' But why, seeing on Mr. M.'s scheme, the sinner has no prejudices against this character of God to combat and strive against, but is naturally disposed to love it, as soon as known; why, if this be the case, should not the discoveries, already made in the bible, be immediately received and embraced ? Did not Jacob love Rachel the first time he saw her? or did he spend two or three months, or as - many years, after the first sight of her person, striving for a discovery of her beauty ?

8. Mr. M. says, p. 9. That to Adam, after his fall, it must appear in every view, inconsistent with the divine perfections,' that he should escape the curse of the law. But in these circumstances, (p. 10.) ' to delight in God was the same thing as to delight in his own misery ;' and therefore, he adds, that Adam, by becoming guilty, was totally depraved.' Because now the love of God and self-love were absolutely inconsistent.' And he says, (p. 10.) · This was

[ocr errors]

the true reason, and the only reason, why Adam could not love God after the fall.' And therefore as soon as a door of hope was opened by the revelation of a Mediator, Adain instantly returned to the love of God.

* And there is nothing in our fallen circumstances to prevent our doing so too. p. 44. And that without any new principle of grace. p. 43. But if these things are true, it will follow, 1. That as soon as any man believes that there is forgiveness with God for sinners through Jesus Christ, he will cease to be totally depraved: because now the true reason, and the only reason, of his total depravity, is removed : and therefore, 2. Every man who believes the Gospel to be true, is regenerate. And therefore, 3. Every man who knows, that he believes the Gospel to be true, does with equal certainty know that he is regenerate. Because this belief and regeneration are infallibly connected, according to Mr. M. But, 4. According to hith, none but such as profess the Christian religion ought to be admitted into the churcb.' And, 5. According to him, none ought to profess, that they believe the Gospel to be true, unless they are infallibly certain that they do believe it to be true. For, speaking of the profession which is made when any join with the church, he says, (p. 79.) Suppose a man brought into a civil court, as a witness to a particular fact; and, being sworn, should positively declare the thing to be fact: and after he comes out of court, bis neighbour should ask him, whether he had any certain knowledge of the fact, about which he had given his evidence: and he should say, “ No, I am not certain of it ; but I hope it is so, it is my prevailing opinion ; although I must confess, I have many doubts and fears, whether there is any truth in it, or not.” Would not all mankind agree to call such a one a perjured person, who had taken a false oath? No one, therefore, according to his scheme, may profess that he believes the Gospel to be true, unless he is infallibly certain of the fact, that he does believe it to be true. But if regeneration and this belief are infallibly connected, then this professor must be infallibly certain of his regeneration, and so not one soul, on Mr. M.'s scheme, may, or can be admitted into the chrurch, as graceless. And thus his scheme overthrows itself.

Nor is there any way to avoid this, but for Mr. M. to say, “ A man may be infallibly certain of the truth of the Gospel, and so of God's readiness to be reconciled to sinners, as therein revealed ; and yet after all remain totally depraved, and an enemy to God.” But to say this, would be to give up the fundamental principle on which his whole scheme is built, viz. that the true and the only reason' of total depravity, is the apprehension, that it is inconsistent with the divine perfections to forgive sin. In which view self-love and the love of God are inconsistent.' And if this is given up, his whole scheme sinks of course. For if this is not the true and only reason of total depravity, he is wholly wrong, from the foundation to the top stone. And if an apprehension that it is inconsistent with the divine perfections to forgive sin, is the true and only reason of total depravity, then a belief that God can consistently forgive sin, would at once regenerate us. For it is an old maxim, remove the cause and the effect will cease. Every man, therefore, according to Mr. M. who believes the Gospel to be true, is at once 'reconciled to God. Nor may any be received into the church, until they believe it to be true. And so no graceless man, as such, can be admitted into the church. Because no infidel, as such, may be admitted. And all but infidels are regenerate, if Mr. M.'s scheme is true. And then the scheme of religion which he has advanced, in order to support the external covenant, were it true, would effectually overthrow the grand point he had in view.

SECTION XI.

The extraordinary methods Mr. Mather has taken to support

his scheme, and keep himself in countenance.

THE ordinary methods of supporting religious principles, by Scripture and reason, which Mr. M. has taken to support his external covenant, we have already attended to. And I think Mr. M. is much to be commended for coming out boldly, like an honest man, and giving the public such an honest account of his scheme of religion, by which he designed to support what he had advanced in his former piece concerning the external covenant. If every writer on that side of the question would do the same, the controversy would soon come to an end.

But there are various other methods, which Mr. M. has taken to keep himself in countenance, and to persuade his readers that his scheme is right, and that the plan is wrong on which the churches in New-England were formed, when this country was first settled : and particularly, that the Synod at Saybrook were wrong, in that resolve which they unanimously came into, viz.“ That none ought to be admitted as members, in order to full communion in all the special ordinances of the Gospel, but such as credibly profess a cordial subjection to Jesus Christ :” Various other methods, I say, of a different nature, and which are not so commendable.

1. One extraordinary method be takes to keep himself in countenance is, to pretend that I had 'wholly misrepresented his sentiments,' and given his scheme. 'the bad name of a graceless covenant,' and pointed all my arguments, not against any thing that he had written, por so much as “essayed to confute one single argument that he had offered. This pretence is very extraordinary, 1. Because, if his covenant is not a graceless covenant, it will not answer the end by him proposed. For if it does not promise its blessings to graceless men, as such, upon graceless conditions; then graceless men, as such, with only graceless qualifications, cannot enter into it. For he affirms, that none can consistently profess a compliance with the covenant of grace, without the most full and perfect assurance. p. 78, 79, 80. 2. This pretence is very extraordinary, because he had in his first book, (p. 58.) declared his external covenant, in express terms, to be distinct from the covenant of grace;' and in this second book sets himself professedly to prove the saine point over again. p. 60, 61, 62. But if his external covenant is distinct from the covenant of grace, it is either the covenant of works or a graceless covenant, or a covenant which requires no condi

[ocr errors]

tions at all: for no other sort of covenant can be thought of. But if Mr. Mi's external covenant is absolute and unconditional, then a Pagan, a Turk, or a Jew, as such, hath as good right to the Lord's table, as to hear the Gospel preached. And if his external covenant is the same with the covenant of works, then no mere man since the fall is qualified to join with the church. And if his external covenant is the covenant of grace, then no graceless man, as such, is qualified to enter into it and seal it. It is, therefore, nay, it must be, a graceless covenant, or nothing at all. 3. This pretence is very extraordinary, because Mr. M. was so pinched with what I had advanced against his scheme, that he had no way to get rid of my arguments, but to deny first principles, and give up the doctrines contained in the public approved formulas of the church of Scotland, and the churches in New-England, and advance a new scheme of religion, never before published in New-England. And why did not he point out at least one single argument of his, which he judged to be unanswered ? Or why did not he mention one single instance, wherein I had represented his covenant to be more graceless than it was? Or what need was there, if I had said nothing to the purpose, to expose himself and his cause, by the publication of such a system of new notions, to make all the country

stare i ?

i Mr. M. offered five arguments, in his first book, (p. 7, 8.) to support his external covenant. These five arguments the reader may find answered, in my former piece, p. 16, 17, 18. 65, 66. 69. And if he will read my piece through, he may find the two points fully proved, which I undertook to prové, on which the whole controversy turns, viz. That there is but one covenant, of which baptism and the Lord's supper are seals, even the covenant of grace; and that the doetrine of an external graceless covenant is unscriptural. Some wonder why Mr. M. did not make a particular reply, and wonder' more why, instead of a particular reply, he should advance such an inconsistent, absurd, shocking scheme of religion, in support of the external covenant, which instead of supporting, rather tends to sink it. For, say they, if the external covenant cannot be sup. ported without going into this scheme of religion, we will give it up. But I wonder not at Mr. M.'s conduct in all this. The external covenant cannot be supported but by overthrowing the scripture scheme of religion, and establishing Mr. M.'s scheme in its room. His scheme of religion is absolutely necessary to support his external covenant. Without the introduction of Mr. M.'s new scheme of religion, my former piece can receive no answer at all. He could not be silent. He must take this way, or none at all.

« PreviousContinue »