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ihe foregoing verse,' blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin,') then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also ? for we say, that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision ? not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal, (not of Mr. M.'s external covenant, but) of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised ; that he might be the father, (not of those graceless men, that enter into Mr. M.'s graceless covenant, but) of all them that believe ; that righteousness might be imputed to them also.” That all who comply with that covenant as Abraham did himself, might be justified and saved, as he was. From all which it is evident that that covenant with which Abraham visibly complied, when in obedience to God's call, he separated himself and his family from the idolatrous world to worship the true God only, and to believe in, and wait for, the coming of the Messiah, whose day he sawe, and was glad, was not Mr. M.'s external graceless covenant, by which no man can be justified and saved ; but the covenant of grace, which promises eternal life to those who comply with it ; for God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, Mat. xxii. 31, 32.; and that circumcision was a seal of this very covenant. Which were the points to be proved. .There is not one text in the New Testament where the nature of the covenant with Abraham is pointed out, but that it is spoken of as the covenant of grace; for it is always spoken of as the way, and as the only way, in which a sinner can be justified. Particularly, read the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and the 3d and 4th chapters to the Galatians, and this will appear in the clearest light. For from the manner in which Abraham was justified, Paul illustrates and confirms the Gospel way of justification. For he considers Abraham as the pattern, and teaches that all sinners are justified in the same way in which he was; and in this sense he is “the Father of many nations, as he is the Father of all that believe.” Rom. iv. 16, 17. “For what saith the Scripture ? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” Ver. 3. “ Now it is not written for his • Know ye,
sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed if we believe on bim that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead." Ver. 23, 24. therefore, that they which are of faith, (who are true believers,) the same are the children of Abraham."
Gal. iii, 7.
“ And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which are of faith, (i. e. are true believers,) are blessed with faithful Abraham.” Ver. 8.9. But ver. 10. “ All self-righteous sinners are under the curse ; for as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse." But ver. 13, 14. “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse, that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the spirit through faith. For it is the peculiar privilege of believers to have the spirit.” Rom. viii. 9. "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Gal. iv. 6, 7. cause ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. And if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." But chap. iii. 26. “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.” Ver. 29. "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abrahain's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” For, ver. 16. “ To Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many ; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ. Therefore, if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
So that if we read the contents of the written instrument, as it is recorded in the Old Testament, or consider how the inspired writers of the New, understood it, nothing can be plainer than that the covenant with Abraham, into which the believing Gentiles are received under the Gospel dispensation, was the covenant of grace, even that covenant in which, and in which alone, justification and eternal life are to be expected. Nor can Mr. M. apply these texts to his exterpal, graceless covenant, without perverting ihe word of God in a most shocking manner. Yea, if these texts do not
speak of the covenant of grace by which alone sinners are justified, no such covenant can be found in the bible. There was no other covenant revealed to Abraham ; and Paul knew of no way of justification but this. We have as much evidence then that the covenant with Abraham was the covenant of grace, as we have that there ever was a covenant of grace existing since the world began.-Now observe,
1. From the nature of this covenant with Abraham we may learn the nature of God's visible church. For as a real compliance with this covenant renders us the children of Abraham indeed; so a visible compliance with it renders us visibly the children of Abraham. And as this covenant is but one, so God's church is but one; according to that article in the apostle's creed, so called, " I believe in the holy catholic church.” There is but one good olive-tree, according to St. Paul. Rom. xi. Were there two covenants, there, would be two churches, two olive-trees, answerable to the nature of the two covenants. But the bible knows of but one covenant with Abraham. And so God's church is compared to one good olive-tree. And graceless professors are compared to dry branches in this one good olive-tree. Whereas, on Mr. M's plan, the visible church is founded on a graceless covenant; this graceless covenant is the bond of union. So the olive-tree itself, root and branch, is dead and dry, wholly graceless; and appears to be so; for there is no pretence to any thing else. Yea, Mr. M. thinks it was God's design, that his real friends should keep hid, so as not to profess their friendship to hin publicly before the world: and so that God should have, in this sense, no visible church in the world, p. 49. not one open friend upon earth. But Abraham professed to be a friend to God, and was by God publicly owned as such before the world ; for he is called the friend of God. Jam. ii.
2. We may also learn that the seal of the covenant of grace may with propriety be applied to some infants. For all will allow that God is the proper judge of propriety in such a case. And all grant that God appointed circumcision to be applied to some infants. And therefore, if baptism is a seal of the covenant of grace, yet it may be applied to some in
fants ; provided only they have the same right to baptism that the children of Abraham had to circumcision.
3. We may also hence learn the foundation of the right of believing Gentiles to baptism for their children. For if we are Christ's, then are we Abrahana's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal. iii. 29. For, if some of the branches be broken off, and thou being a wild olive, wert grafted in amongst them, that with them thou partakest of the root and fatness of the olive-tree. Rom. xi. 17. But from the very time that the practice of grafting in Gentile converts into the good olive took place, it had also been the custom, by divine appointinent, to put the seal of the covenant upon the children, as well as upon the father. Exod. xii. 48 d.
4. It is self-evident that those who know that they have no grace, cannot understandingly and bonestly profess a compliance with the covenant of grace. But the covenant of grace is that covenant upon which God's visible church is founded. Nor is it lawful to apply the seals of this covenant to any other covenant, of a nature specifically different, devised by men. 5. For any church to lay aside the covenant of grace,
and introduce a graceless covenant in its room, is so far forth to unchurch themselves: i. c. so far as this has influence, to render themselves not a visible church of Christ; but a society, visibly of a nature essentially different; as different as
d“ If you consider the covenant of grace, which was made with Abraham, and by God's express command to be sealed to infants, you will there find a sufficient scripture institution for infant baptism. You will find this covenant in Gen. xvii. 2-10. Here we are taught as plainly as words can teach us, that this covenant was made with Abraham, as he was the father of many nations, the father of the Gentiles as well as the Jews; that this covenant was a covenant of grace, an everlasting covenant; that this covenant was to be sealed to infants. From all which it undoubtedly follows, that this covenant was made with us the seed of Abraham, as well as with the Jews; he was the father of believers in our nations as well as theirs.” President Dickinson's Divine Right of Infant Baptism, p. 10. Providence Edition. And this learned writer adds, p. 13.
" That this covenant was a covenant of grace, abundantly evident from the tenour of the covenant itself;" as he goes on to show. And, p. 16. “ This then is the sum of the matter : Circumcision is a token or seal of the covenant of grace ; Baptism is a token or scal of the covenant of grace : it therefore follows,” &c. &c.
the covenants are. But it is time to attend to the grand objection against this doctrine, that the covenant with Abraham was the covenant of grace; taken, as Mr. M. says,
«s from the covenant itself.' Other objections,
Other objections, of a more general nature, shall be obviated in Sect. VII. It
be thus sum
OBJ. That the covenant with Abraham, mentioned Gen. 17. was not the covenant of grace, is evident not only from this, that he was in the covenant of grace before; but from the covenant itself, which was merely an external mark in the flesh.” For the circumcision of the flesh was the covenant: as it is written, this is my covenant. But circumcision is not the covenant of grace, but a mere external mark which may be put upon a man that has no grace. Nay, circumcision cannot be the covenant of grace, for by neglecting to circumcise a child, this covenant might be broken, but there is no falling from grace. Therefore circumcision is not the covenant of grace, but an external covenant of a very different nature. p. 5, 6, 7,8
e The reasons which induce me to think that Mr. M. means as above, are these : 1. Because, speaking of the external covenant, in order to prove that it is not the covenant of grace, and to show the difference, he says, “ that by which any one enters into this covenant, is an external mark in the flesh ; viz. Ciroumcision ; but that by which any one enters into the covenant of grace, is the circumcision of the heart.” p. 7. By entering into covenant, he means complying with it. For this is his argument: viz. As in the circumcision of the heart, the covenant of grace is complied with ; so in the circumcision of the flesh, the external cove. nant is complied with: therefore they are not one and the same covenant, but two, of a nature as different as these two kinds of circumcisions. 2. He says, p. 8. That circumcision was a compliance with the external covenant. These are his words : This covenant appears to be an external covenant, in that although a person was in a state of grace, and was consequently included in the covenant of grace, yet this covenant remained to be complied with. Abraham was a true believer before, yet he must needs be circumcised.” Which implies, that circumcision itself was a compliance with the external covenant. And on this hypothe. sis, he teaches, that baptism which comes in the room of circumcision, gives a right to all the blessings of the external covenant; makes us“ Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” p. 12, 13. Even baptism alone, p. 16. 59. which it could not be supposed to do, were it not supposed to be the only condition of the blessings, i. e. the only thing required in the external covenant, necessary to give us a title to its blessings. So that we have beyond doubt Mr. M.'s true meaning in the objection above, however inconsistent it is with some other things in his book ; of which hereafter, sect. vir. VOL. III.