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persons publicly and explicitly to own the covenant, in order to their enjoying the outward ordinances of it.” However it falls out something happily for me, that I am not quite alone in this chimera, but have Mr. Williams himself to join me in it; who abundantly asserts the same thing, p. 5, 8, 9, and many other places, who uses the Scripture in the same manner, and supposes the same divine institution ; and who, in p. 5 of the treatise in hand, having stated the following inquiry, “ What is that evidence, which by DIVINE APPOINTMENT the church is to have, of the saintship of those who are admitted to the outward privileges of the covenant of grace ?” makes this answer to it: “The Scripture has determined the matter thus, that the open profession and declaration of a person's believing in Christ,—and a hearty consent to the terms of the covenant of grace, and engagement on his part to fulfil it,” &c., “is the sole and entire ground of that public judgment, which the church is to make of the real saintship of professors.” It is manifest, he cannot intend merely that they should be the posterity of such as thus owned the covenant, or declared their consent to it, and so are looked upon as those that owned the covenant in their ancestors, at the beginning of the covenant line (though sometimes he seems to suppose, this is all that is necessary, as I shall take particular notice by and by): for bere he expressly speaks of a personal owning the covenant, or the open profession and declaration of a PERSON's consent to the covenant. And thus he often speaks of the same matter in like manner, as a personal thing, or what is done by the person judged of, and received. See p. 10, 31, 32, 33, 34, 73, 84, 139. And in the 2d page of his preface, he declares himself fully established in Mr. Stoddard's doctrine concerning this affair of qualifications for the Lord's supper ; who expressly declares it to be his judgment, that “it is requisite that persons be not admitted unto communion in the Lord's supper, without making a PERSONAL and public profession of their faith and repentance,” Appeal, p. 93, 94.
And as Mr. Williams holds that there must be a public, personal owning the covenant ; so he also maintains, that this profession must be explicit, or express. He says, p. 20, “Since we have no direction in the Bible, at what time, nor in what manner any personal, explicit covenanting should be performed, it appears plain to a demonstration, that the people knew nothing of any such institution, as I suppose the Christian church never did until Mr. Edwards discovered it.” But if I was the first discoverer he should have owned, that since I have discovered it, he himself and all my opposers have seen cause to follow me and receive my discovery. For so the case seems to be, if he gives us a true account (in p. 132), where he rejects, with indignation, the imputation of any other opinion. “How often (says he has Mr. Edwards said none but visible saints are to be admitted ? Do not all Mr. Edwards's OPPOSERS say, that no Man is to be admitted, who does not profess his hearty belief of the gospel, and the earnest and sincere purpose of his heart, so far as he knows it, to obey all God's commands, and keep his COVENANT ? None, who do not make as full and EXPRES» a profession as the Israelites did, or was ever required by Christ or his apostles, in any instances that can be produced in the Bible, of bodies of men or particular persons' adınission into visible covenant with God ?" He had before spoken of the words which the Israelites used in their entering into covenant with God, p. 5, which must refer to their entering into covenant in the wilderness ; for we have no account of any words at all, used by that nation, at their entering into covenant, if not there. And this he sometimes speaks of as the covenant they made, when God took them into covenant, p. 8, 36, 37. And p. 20, he allows that to be an instance of explicit covenanting : but ridicules my pretending to show, that explicit covenanting was a divine institution for all;
when he says, we have an account of but four instances of any explicit covenanting with God by the Jews, and those on most extraordinary occasions, and by the body of the people. But what matter is it, whether there were four, or but two, or only that one instance in the wilderness? When he himself with such earnestness declares, that all my opposers hold, every man must make as full and express a profession of the covenant as ever the Israelites did, or was ever required, in any instance that can be produced in the Bible, whether of bodies of men or particular persons' admission, &c. If this be so, and what he said before be also true, then all Israel, even every individual person among them, that ever was admitted to the privileges of the church, throughout all their generations, by his own confession and assertion, did personally make as explicit a profession of the covenant, as the body of the people did in that instance in the wilderness. And not only so, but the same must every individual person do, that erer comes to sacraments, through all ages, to the end of the world. Thus Mr. Williams fights hard to beat down himself. But I will not say in his own language, that in so doing he fights hard to beat down a poor man of straw. we
If any should say, that Mr. Williams, when speaking of an express profesa sion, does not mean a profession in words, but only in actions, such as ar outward attendance on ordinances and duties of worship: I answer, if such actions are a profession, yet certainly they are not an express profession; they are no more than an implicit profession. And besides, it is very plain, the profession he speaks of is a verbal profession, or a profession in words. Thus p. 36, when describing the profession which ought to be made, he says, “ It is in as strong WORDS as were used by any whom the apostles admitted.” And elsewhere (as was before noted) he often insists, that a profession should be made in words without any discrimination as to their meaning. Which shows, it is a profession in words that he designs. And although, p. 104, he speaks of a performance of the outward duties of morality and worship, as the only way that God ever appointed of making real saintship visible: yet this is only another instance of his great inconsistence with himself; as appears by what has already been abserved, and appears further by this, that when he speaks of a profession of consent to the terms of the covenant, &c., he often speaks of it as a profesşion which ought to be made in order to admission to these ordinances, p. 5, 10, 35, 36, 132, and other places. If so, then how can the attendance itself, on these ordinances of worship, be all the profession which is to be made ? Must men first come to ordinances, in order to admission to ordinances ? And moreover, Mr. Williams himself distinguishes between engaging and swearing to keep covenant in the public profession, and attending on the ordinances and duties of worship, which he speaks of as belonging to the fulfilment of the engagement and oath, p. 130. And lastly I would observe, though it could be consistently made out (which it can never be) that Mr. Williams does not mean a professing in words, it would be nothing to the purpose. If it be in words, or in other signs which are equivalent to words, and which are a full and express profession (as Mr. Williams says), it is exactly the same thing as to my purpose, and the consequence of the argument, which was, that real godliness must be professed. And indeed this very thing which I endeavored to prove by all that I said on this head, is expressly, again and again, allowed by Mr. Williams. 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 notion of it were very singular, absurd, and mischievous.
II. Mr. Williams says, a great deal in opposition to me, to show that swearpublic coven swear to the gosp
ing by God's name, swearing to the Lord, and the like, does 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 Scripture 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 public 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. Williams 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," 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 thein, 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.”
Mr. Williams 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 (as the reader sees) and yet in the next page but two, he contemns and utterly disallows my interpreting the same phrase in the same manner. Mr. Williams says, p. 21, “ 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 a Hebrew phrase for entering into covenant, it carries its own confutation with it.”
IV. Mr. Williams 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 occasion. 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, 136, “ 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 his mark and seal should be set upon them, AND THEIR CHILDREN, AND THEIR CHILDREN FOREVER, until God casts 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 until God cuts them off, and casts them
And accordingly he supposes John the Baptist never inquired into the doc
trinal 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 2d of Acts, and the Eunuch, as admitted into the church by the apostles, and primitive ministers, p. 9, 10, 59 And so p. 8, 26, he mentions God's taking all Israel into covenant: he mentions the profession which the Israelites made, p. 25; and p. 5, he speaks of the words which the Israelites used, in their entering into covenant with God. And p. 36, 37, he speaks of their profession in Moses's time, which God trusted so far as to admit them into covenant. Whereas indeed, according to Mr. Williams, 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. But then we read of no words, that those patriarchs used at their entering into covenant. And it will undoubtedly follow, on Mr. Williams's principles, that we must go further back still for Israel's being taken into covenant; we must even go 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's 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 Abrahani's ancestors. And though Terah, Abraham's father, was tainted with the then prevailing idolatry; yet there is no appear. ance of the line's being then cut off, in the way Mr. Williams 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 taken into 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. Williams will not allow, that the Jewish converts, received in Acts ii., on this new dispensation, were any more than continued in covenant, and in the church. So that, according to Mr. Williams'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 saintship) 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 forever, until 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. Williams 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. Williams 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 them in Scripture.
V. - As our author abundantly maintains, that unsanctified men in covenanting 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, 26, 28, 76.
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 Williams himself maintains, that men who are unsanctified, do for the present refuse and oppose these things. In a forecited place of his sermon on Isa. xlv. 11, our author says, that “ Unregenerate and unsanctified men oppose all means for the bringing them to these things, are willingly without them, and labor to find out all manner of difficulties and hinderances 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 inconsistent with the most vile perfidy and perjury; then 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, 4, 5, 6! And to what purpose should ungodly men be encouraged to utter such promises and oaths before the church, for the churchs'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 which he has not sufficiency for the performance of; no sufficiency in himself, nor any sufficiency in any other that he has a claim to, or interest in. There is indeed a sufficiency in God to enable him ; but he
• It must be observed, that Mr. Williams often speaks of the promise which an unregenerate mar makes in covenanting with God as his cath, p. 18, 100, 101, 129 130, 143.