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cious, or graceless obedience: for neither the one nor the other is requisite to full communion in the visible church, because that is founded on an unconditional covenant, which requires no qualifications at all of the adult any more than of infants eight days old. And therefore,
10. As on this unconditional covenant no qualifications whatever are requisite to a complete standing in the visible church; so by necessary consequence, no crimes, how gross soever, can constitutionally expose any one to excommunication, or to be debarred from church privileges. For, if any crime whatever could regularly expose one to excommunication, then a freedom at least, from that crime, would be a qualification absolutely necessary in order to a complete standing in the visible church; which would suppose, that the church was not founded on a covenant absolutely unconditional.
If, therefore, we will come into Mr. M.'s external covenant, considered as an unconditional covenant, unless we are inconsistent with ourselves, we must give in to all these necessary consequences; and so excommunicate even excommunication itself out of the Christian world, and fling open the doors of the church to all comers, how heretical and vicious soever they be.
But, on the other hand, if we consider the covenant with Abrahain, in Gen. xvii. as the covenant of grace, and so implying the conditions of that covenant, as St. Paul did, as was proved in my former piece, then not one difficulty will lie in our way. That objection relative to infants, and that relative to the Sinai covenant, and to the covenant in the plains of Moab, were answered in my former piece, in Sec. vii. and nothing new is offered by Mr. M. but what is obviated at first sight, only granting a condition to be understood in the covenant, in Gen. xvii. though not expressed. And we must be obliged to grant this with respect to every exhibition of the covenant of grace, from the beginning of the world to that day, all which were delivered in the form of absolute unconditional promises: or else be driven to the dire necessity of saying, that from the beginning of the world to that day, no covenant of grace had ever been revealed.
Thus we have finished what is needful, on Mr. M.'s external covenant, considered as an unconditional covenant. Should any say that it is certain, that Mr. M. cannot intend that his external covenant should be an unconditional one, the reply is ready, viz. That it is certain that no man can tell by what he has published, what he does mean. But granting he meant, as for my part I understood him to mean when I wrote my answer to his first book, that his external covenant should be a conditional covenant; then the conditions are gracious or graceless. If gracious, then no graceless man, as such, can be admitted into the visible church. If graceless, then his external covenant is a graceless covenant. This is its nature, and by this name it ought to be called, to the end its name may point out its nature, and distinguish it from every other covenant.
Indeed, it must be granted, that every man has a right to give a name to his own child. And Mr. M. has given a name to his covenant; he has called it the external covenant : but perhaps on reconsideration he may think that there is no propriety in giving it this name. 1. Because his covenant consists not in externals only, but also in internals, viz. in
a fixed resolution' to forsake all known sin, and practise all known duty for a fixed resolution' is an internal thing, as much as saving grace. 2. Because this name does not at all distinguish it from the covenant of works, or covenant of grace, which are both of them external covenants, as much as is his covenant. But it is the design of different names, to distinguish things of different natures. The covenant of works was an external covenant, as it was administered to Adam, peculiarly worded to suit his circumstances.' p. 67. There was no internal duty expressly required. The only sin expressly forbidden, was an external one, viz. Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat. Eating is an external act; and this was the only action expressly mentioned in the covenant of works, as it was administered to Adam. There is therefore much more propriety in calling that an external covenant, than there is in calling Mr. M.'s covenant by this name. And so the covenant of grace, as it is administered in the Gospel, free from the shadows, rites,
and ceremonies of the old dispensation, is as external a covenant as Mr. Mather's. For it requires that we not only believe in our hearts, but also confess with our mouths; that we not only believe, but also are baptised and attend the Lord's supper, doing this in remembrance of him. Yea, the Gospel requires of professors all external duties to God and man; and particularly, every external duty relative to church order, with much greater plainness than did the Old Testament; and even descends so low, as to require church members to work with their hands. The name of an external covenant, therefore, is not at all adapted to distinguish Mr. M.'s covenant from the covenant of works, or from the covenant of grace. And yet what he means is really and essentially dif ferent from both. For they both require holiness, and nothing else, as qualifications to the enjoyment of the blessings promised in both. But this covenant requires no holiness at all to qualify for the enjoyment of all its peculiar blessings. It requires to this end nothing but graceless duties. The name, therefore, of a graceless covenant, is the most natural, expressive, and distinguishing name in the world. Mr. M. seems to think, that it might do to call it by the name of
the externals of the covenant of grace.' But I think this name by no means will do. For the faith and obedience of the covenant of grace is a holy faith and obedience. In order therefore for any faith and obedience to be the externals of the covenant of grace, they must be professedly and to appearance, a holy faith and obedience. But the faith and obedience of Mr. M.'s covenant, requisite to a title to all its blessings, are professedly such as a graceless man may have, which is professedly a graceless faith and obedience. For he affirms, that all unregenerate sinners are totally depraved.' Again, Mr. M. although in his former book he had said, p. 7. that
after my most careful inquiry, I must own myself at a loss in determining what they' (protestant divines in general)
mean, by being under the external administration of the covenant of grace:' yet now in his second book, p. 61. he is even willing, if this would give content, to call his covenant by the name of the external administration of the covenant of grace.' But this is a very improper name: for when he
takes a man into the church and administers the covenant, the covenant which he administers to the man, is not the covenant of grace, but professedly a covenant distinct from the covenant of grace.' It ought, therefore, by no means, to be called the external administration of the covenant of grace. However, it may with no small propriety be called, the external administration of a graceless covenant.
Objection. The external covenant ought not to be called a graceless covenant, because it is designed as a means of the conversion of sinners; and tends in its own nature to promote their conversion.
Answer. The external covenant in its own nature does not tend to promote the conversion of sinners, but the contrary; for sinners are never converted without conviction of sin: for there can be no sound conversion without true repentance. And there can be no true repentance without true conviction of sin. But there can be no true conviction of sin, without a knowledge of the true rule of duty. And the law of God, which requires holiness, and nothing but holiness, is the only rule of duty that God ever gave to man: by this law is the knowledge of sin. This law is the school-master, which God has appointed to bring us to Christ. Now to send us to school to another school-master than that which God has ap pointed, tends not to our conversion, but to our delusion. But. Mr. M.'s external covenant is another school-master than that which God has appointed, essentially different from it, and in its own nature inconsistent with it.
The perfection of the divine law, and total depravity, inconsistent with the notion of an external covenant appointed by God for the unregenerate, as such, to enter into, requiring graceless qualifications, and nothing else, as the conditions of its blessings.
A LAW, which is a universal rule of life, to saints and to sinners, extending to the whole of our moral conduct, at all times, which forbids all sin, and requires us to be holy as God is holy, is inconsistent with any law, or rule, or covenant, which requires any sin, in matter or manner, at any time, of any man, saint, or sinner, on any pretence whatsoever. If, therefore, God has given such a holy law as above, he cannot be the author of such an unholy covenant. For it is written, Jam. iii. 11. Doth a fountain send forth, at the same place, sweet water and bitter? And again it is written, Jam. i. 13. Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. But for God to require sin, and bind his creatures by a most solemn covenant to sin, and promise them peculiar blessings if they will sin, in the manner his covenant requires, is tempting to sin in a most powerful manner, with great and strong temptations. But,
1. As to the perfection of the divine law, the assembly of divines at Westminster say, That the law is perfect, and bindeth every one to a full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience FOR EVER; so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin.' Larger Cat. in answer to Q. 99, proved by Psalm. xix. 7. Jam. ii. 10. Mat v. 21–48. 2. As to total depravity, they say, The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature; whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good and wholly inclined to all evil, and that conti