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cy,” he says, " is thereby as really brought into covenant, as one that is baptised in riper years. It conveys the same privileges to the one as to the other." p. 16. But the adult, having made a profession, was, in the apostolic age, by baptism received into full communion with the church, in complete standing, as is evident from Acts ii. 37--47. And in this view Mr. M. considers infant baptism, as“ a valuable privilege ;' “ as it entitles to the appointed means of grace ;" p. 54, 55. that is, to all church privileges : and insists, that those who are baptised in infancy, “should be told that they are really in covenant' with God, that they are members of the visible church, and are entitled to the privileges of it.' And as they have a title to the privileges, so they are in duty bound to seek the enjoyment of, and attend upon these privileges.” p. 55, 56. For, according to Mr. M. “a child dedicated to God in baptism, is thereby brought into covenant with God, and has a promise left to it, of the means of grace, and the strivings of God's holy spirit, in order to render them effectual for salvation : but an unbaptised child is, lefi in the kingdom of darkness.” p. 59, 60. And he adds, “it is but trifling to say, that although baptised persons may be styled members of the church universal; yet they are not members of any particular church.” p. 56. So that, upon the whole, it appears, that by baptisın alone, infants made members of the church, in such sort as to have a divine right and title to all church privileges : which is full as much as can be said of any, who are in full communion, in complete standing. And thus we see what Mr. M.'s scheme is, in this view of it. And here let us stop a moment or two, and look round and consider where we are now. For if these things are true, it will follow,
1. That no internal mental qualifications are now, or ever were, requisite, in order to a right to all church privileges in the sight of God; neither moral, nor gracious; neither faith, nor practice of one sort, or of the other ; no, nothing at a!!, but only “an external mark in the flesh," or water baptism": And therefore,
n The land of Canaan was one chief external blessing of the Abrahamic covenant. Gen. xvii. 8. A compliance with that covenant gave a covenant right to a
2. In order to our being satisfied in our own consciences, that we have a right in the sight of God to come to the Lord's table, we are not " to examine ourselves of our knowledge to discern the Lord's body, of our faith to feed upon hiin, of our repentance, love, and new obedience,” as the assembly of divines imagined an hundred and twenty years ago : nor are we to examine ourselves of our doctrinal knowledge, orthodoxy, moral, sincerity, or of any thing else, of an internal, mental nature. For a right to the Lord's supper has no dependance on any thing of this nature. For, but one thing was needful to satisfy the conscience of the Jew, viz. “ The external mark in the flesh," which might easily be known. And the Christian has nothing to do, but to procure and keep by him, a well attested certificate of his baptism, to give him a full assurance of his right to come to the Lord's table. For,
3. No crime, although of the most scandalous nature, could vacate this right in the sight of God, or in the sight of conscience; because this right was not founded in any moral qualifications whatsoever, but only in “ an external mark in the flesh,” or water baptism. But the idolatry of the Jew did not at all take away “the external mark in the flesh;” nor can the open infidelity and debauchery of the Christian prove, that the certificate which he has of his baptism, is not authentic. Let the idolatrous Jew look on the external mark in the flesh," and let the infidel and immoral Christian look on his certificate, and their consciences may be confirmed, in a full assurance of their divine right and title to all covenant privileges. Therefore,
possession of it. Num. xxxii. 11, 12. The Israelites who came out of Egypt were all circumcised. Josh. v. 5. If in circumcision, they fully complied with that covenant on their part; then their carcasses did not fall in the wilderness, because they on their part broke covenant, but because God broke covenant on his part. They on their part fulfilled the only condition on which the land of Canaan was promised, but God was not true to the covenant on his part. So the fault was not in them, but in him ; and in this view, Lev. xxvi. and Deut. xxviii. are entirely inconsistent with the Abrahamic covenant. And so also is the divine conduct in the expulsion of the Jews out of the land of Canaan by Nebuchadnezzar, formerly, as well as in their present dispersion. For they on their part have always kept covenant. For they have always circumcised their children, from the time they took possession of the land of Canaan to this day. Nor can Psalm 1. 16. Isai. i. 10–15. Ezek. xliv. 9. Mat. v. 23, 24. Heb. iii. 19. and an hundred other texts, be reconciled with this scheme.
And if baptism alone, without respect to any mental qualification, gives a covenant right to all the external privileges of the visible church of Christ ; then no consistent meaning can be given to these texts, Mat xviii. 17. Mat. xxii. 12. Cor. v. 11. and Chap. xi. 28, 29. Tit. iii. 10, 11. Rev. ii. 4, 5. &c. &c. The truth is, by -sealing a covenant we are bound to fulfil it: but it is an actual compliance with a covenant, that entitles as to its blessings. Lev. xxvi, Deat. xxviji. Rom. viii. 13. Mat. iji. 9, 10.
ó This is a short and easy method for dishonest, cheating, promise-breaking professors to come to the Lord's Table with a good conscience; and for those who live in the neglect of family prayer, and who, instead of bringing up their ehildren in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, train them up to live after the Aesh in chambering and wantonness ; while they themselves live in malice and envy towards their fellow professors. Mr. M. is of opinion, that it is of very bad and dangerous tendency, for those who are admitted into the church to make a profession of godliness, lest by their ungodly lives they should disgrace their profession, and tempt others to turn infidels. p. 53, 54. And for the same reason it is not best that any of the professed followers of Christ should pretend to be ho. nest men, lest their dishonest practices should sink the holy religion of Christ into contempt, and promote infidelity in the world. For indeed it is come to this already, that among the Mahometans, it is a common thing when men are charged with cheating or suspected of any dishonest trick, to reply with indignation, “ what! do you think I am a christian ?"
Nor can it be justified, in Mr. M.'s way of reasoning, for the church to require a profession of moral honesty, of those whom they admit to full communion. For every one of his objections against a profession of godliness are of full force against a profession of a disposition honestly to pay our debts, and act up to our word and promise in our dealings with our fellow-men. For, 1. such an honest disposition is an invisible qualification, and we cannot be certain that men have it in their hearts ; and therefore on this plan there can be no visible church. p. 48. Besides, 2. according to this, the design of God must have been to have made a visible distinction between honest and dishonest men. But this is contra. ry to Scripture, which represents the visible church like a net which catches all sorts, good and bad. p. 49, 50. 3. Admission to full communion on this plan will do hurt to men's souls, tend to make them think they are honest when they are not, and to blow up pride in their hearts, and to make them say with the Pharisee, God, I thank thee, I am not as others are, extortioners, unjust, &c. p. 52, 53. And, 4. it will tend greatly to wound religion, when afterwards they neglect to do as they say, and are not honest to pay their debts. p. 54. Besides, 5. This scheme makes infant baptism a mere nullity. For if moral honesty is a necessary qualifi. cation for sealing ordinances, then infants cannot receive the seal. For the church can have no positive evidence that they have an honest disposition. The Anabaptists, therefore, are right in rejecting the baptism of infants. p. 54.
These are Mr. M.'s“ most weighty and material objections, an answer to which he has never yet seen attempted." p. 48. But it so happens, that they are of equal weight against himself, unless he will say, that moral honesty is not a qualifie cation necessary for church-membership.
4. No public profession of any kind, nor freedom from public scandal, are necessary in order to a visible right to all church privileges, in the sight of men. For, if our real right in the sight of God, does not depend on any internal qualification, either moral or gracious; no pretence need to be made to any such qualification, in order to a visible right. The Jew had nothing to do, in order to prove his right, but only to make it appear, that he had been circumcised. And the christian has nothing to do, in order to prove his right, but only to make it appear, that he has been baptised. Nor can the church consistently demand any thing further, on Mr. M.'s scheme. For what he says, p. 22. is the plain, simple truth : “ To require more of the person to be admitted into the church, than is made necessary by the covenant on which it is framed, is really absurd.” But if all these things are true, then it will follow,
1. That Mr. M. is inconsistent with himself, in putting an “outward profession" along with “ an external covenant relation,” as he does in p. 9., and for saying as he does, in p. 21. “ I will allow that none but such as profess the christian religion, and will endeavour to conform his practice to the rules of it, ought to be admitted into the church ;" and for asserting, p. 44. that “the disorderly and vicious should be debarred.” For, if baptism alone is all that is necessary to a covenant right to all church privileges; then baptism alone is all that ought to be required in order to an admission into the church. Nor is a public profession, or freedom from public scandal, at all requisite. If baptism alone gives a covenant right to all church privileges, if there is “ a promise left” by God to those who have this; no man, nor any number of men under heaven, have a right to require any thing else. So that, to insist that “none but such as profess the christian religion, and will endeavour to conform his practice to the rules of it, ought to be admitted into the church;" and that “ disorderly and vicious persons ought to be debarred;" “and to keep such back from enjoying the privileges and means appointed for the good of their souls,” is a very strange affair. p. 59. And therefore, to use Mr. M.'s own words, and to apply them to his own conscience, p. 58. “ I would
request such as bave thought and acted upon this scheme, inpartially to examine what I have offered. It is surely no small matter to shut the kingdom of heaven, (as the visible church is often called,) against men, and not to suffer such to enter as would.” A horrid crime, indeed! And yet the very crime, of which Mr. M. stands publicly convicted out of his mouth. For he shuts the kingdom of heaven against all baptised persons, and will not admit one of them into the church, " but such as profess the christian religion, and endeavour to conforın their practice to the rules of it:" although, according to his own scheine, they are as much in the church as he is, and have as good a right to all church privileges as himself. Therefore,
2. Mr. M. may be publicly called to an account, and admonished out of his own mouth, in his own words, for making infant baptism “ a mere nullity, a thing of nought," “ And what is a baptised infant to be accounted of ? Is he a member of the visible church, or is he not ?" p. 54. And to be rebuked for his conduct, for practically “representing and treating such as are baptised, as if they were not really in covenant,” p. 56. by refusing to admit them to covenant privileges without a profession, when, according to his own scheme, he ought to tell all baptised persons, that “they are really in covenant with God; that they are members of the visible church; and are entitled to the privileges of it,” p. 55, 56. merely by their baptism, without any profession at all, and without any endeavours at all, even all of them, “old and young, moral and immoral.” p. 42. For,
3. To say, that “ the disorderly and vicious ought to be debarred,”-p. 44, and so “ to require more than is made necessary by the covenant, on which the church is framed, is really absurd.” p. 22. For if baptism gives a covenant right 10 the Lord's supper, nothing else is necessary.
4. To say, that “the disorderly and vicious ought 10 be debarred” by the church, is to say implicitly, that such ought to debar themselves; their own consciences ought to pronounce sentence upon them. But what it a man's conscience should happen to be convinced of this plain Scripture truth, that to rise in rebellion against the great God, is one of the