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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 notions of it were very singular, absurd, and mischievous.
II. Mr. Williams says a great deal in opposition to me, to shew that swearing 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 forctell 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; us: ing that as one thing which confirmed, that this was common. ly 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 them, I think, universally is, that when the gentiles, in God's appointed time, should be brought into covenant quith 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. 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 10 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 an 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 doctține 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 coyenant, 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 out.”
And accordingly he supposes 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 2d of Acts, and il e 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 Iraelites 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 pa. triarchs 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 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's being broken by a visible cutting off, and casting out by God, as we have all reason to suppose. And after the food, 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'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, lo 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 Apostle's 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 for ever, 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 discrim. ination, 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. il, 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 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 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
* It must be observed, that Mr. Williams often speaks of the promise which an unregenerate man makes in covenanting with God as his oath. p. 18, 100, 101, 129, 130, 143,