« הקודםהמשך »
» “God pro
who believe in the Mediator. This gracious proposal, which God makes to sinners, comprises all the essential properties of the covenant of grace. It concerns two parties. It requires the mutual consent of two parties. It contains a condition to be fulfilled on the one side, and a promise to be performed on the other. And both the promise and condition are founded in grace.” “ The first exercise of faith confirms the covenant, and gives the believer an infallible title to the kingdom of heaven.” Our Saviour's declaration, that “ he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” Dr. Emmons calls “an infallible definition of the covenant of
grace." posed the covenant of grace immediately after the fall. And many, in every age, from Adam to Moses, complied with it, and secured its spiritual and eternal blessings;" so that "the covenant of grace existed about two thousand years before the Sinai covenant:" and " has existed near two thousand years since the Sinai covenant was dissolved.” Of this covenant of grace Dr. Emmons teaches, that there have been four dispensations: “the first dispensation commenced with Adam, the second with Abraham, the third with Moses, and the fourth with Christ.” The covenant of grace is always precisely the same, “but God has been pleased at different times, to enjoin other duties beside faith in Christ, upon those who embrace the covenant of grace. And these duties may be called its appendages, as they are injoined wholly on the ground of it.” These appendages constitute the different dispensations of the covenant. In the first dispensation, he thinks “God required believers to offer sacrifices, to profess religion, to attend public worship, and to form churches or religious societies.” In the second dispensation, the rite of circumcision was required in addition to the former institutions. In the third, the ceremonial law and national covenant were superadded: and in the last, "instead of all the civil and ceremonial precepts under the third, Christ required his followers only to profess religion, to unite in religious societies, to submit to the ordinance of baptism, and to celebrate the memorials of his own death.” Hence it follows, according to this theory, “that none but real saints are in the covenant of grace;' that “none are required to profess religion but real saints;" that “ none ought to be admit. ted into the visible church but those who appear to be interested in the covenant of grace;" that “the apostles admitted none into the Church, but those who they supposed were true believers;" and that none belong to the visible church but those who make a credible profession that they really are saints.
According to Dr. Emmons, the visible church is founded on the covenant of grace which he has described; and consists of all persons who, with apparent sincerity, profess to lead “a good life,” “to believe the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel;” and to have “those exercises of heart which constitute a real saint.” He teaches of course, “that baptized infants, whether sanctified or unsanctified, belong” NOT “to the visible church;" for says he, “they cannot belong to it by their own act: they cannot belong to it by virtue of their parents' act:” -and“ baptized infants cannot belong to the visible church, by virtue of God's act." The children of visible saints ought to be baptized, he admits; but their baptism is no recognition of their membership in the church; but rather an act expressive of the parents' faith, and a token of his obedience to the precepts of the gospel dispensation.
We have presented this scheme at large, and in the clear language of its ablest advocate, because it is very generally received in New England. With the exception of one appendage to the fourth dispensation of the cove. nant of grace, the baptism of infants, it is the system of the Antipædobaptists, as well as of other congregationalists. It is the system adopted by all who are with propriety denominated Hopkinsians; and, as the reader will observe, is built upon a definition of the English word covenant.
The Rev. J. H. Church entertains the same notion of the nature of the covenant of grace that Dr. Emmons has inculcated; and says the covenant with Abraham " is, essentially, the covenant of grace;”—“could not be made with any, except they had the faith of Abraham;-was to extend to the Gentiles,” who should believe;--and
promised not only eternal life to the believer in covenant, but to the children of the believer, on condition of the parents' fidelity. The promise respecting the seed of believers, he conceives to have been added to the covenant of grace in its simple form, without changing the nature of the original covenant itself. He says, “it was in consequence of Abraham's faithfulness, that the Lord was a God to his children." "Now all other godly parents, who enter into covenant with God, have the same promise made to them respecting their children. For the same covenant, essentially, is made with them, which God established with Abraham. Hence the children of all other godly parents are comprehended in the covenant with their parents, on condition of their parents' being faithful.--Here I wish to have it particularly noticed, that when I speak of childrens' being comprehended in the covenant with their parents, my meaning is—That the covenant has peculiar respect to the children, and contains a promise that they shall be sanctified, if their parents are faithful: They are comprehended in the cove. nant, in this sense, that there is an established connexion between their parents' faithfulness and their piety.” Of this Abrahamic covenant, he teaches that circumcision was the seal, and that baptism_now is; having come in the place of circumcision. “Baptism,” he remarks, “is a sacrament of divine appointment: it is a seal of God's gracious covenant, and a pledge of his faithfulness. It seals God's gracious covenant, in which he promises the believer to be his God, and the God of his seed, to whom it is applied. In this view, baptism will strengthen and confirm the faith of the believer in the divine promise. On having his child baptized, he will feel that God's covenant of promise has been sealed with respect to the child; and that he may now look to God for covenant blessings for it.”
On this subject Dr. Emmons says, “ we will not deny that he (God) has absolutely engaged to sanctify them [children] all, if their parents faithfully discharge their covenant obligations." Neither Mr. Church nor Dr. Emmons, however, consider baptized infants in relation to whom this promise of salvation may apply, as belongVOL. I. 2 Z.
ing to the church, until they profess to have the faith of Abraham.
Dr. Hemmenway admits the distinction made by Dr. Emmons between the covenant of grace and the covenant of redemption to be correct; but he uses the words new covenant in a more extensive sense, than his opponent would, to denote all that is intended by the new testament of our Lord and Saviour. The visible Church of God in the world is, he correctly says, “the whole body of professed and visible Christians, together with their children.” This church, according to his theory, is founded on the new covenant, which he defines to be, “a divine and gracious constitution respecting fallen man, founded in the mediation of Christ, and ad. ministered by him, according to which the church is formed and governed. It contains a law, or rule of duty and obedience, inforced by penalties; and also a grant
of special privileges; and establishes a mutual relation and connection between the duties prescribed and the privileges granted to those who are therein interested or concerned.” “ The preceptive part of the covenant contains all the laws of Christ.” “All to whom the cove. nant is proposed are required and bound to consent to it, accept of it, voluntarily come under its bonds, and so perform the covenant duties therein prescribed. It has the authority of a divine law, and needs not our consent to give it a binding force.” All who hear the gospel are, he says, under the bond of this covenant, so soon as they come under vows of obedience by their own personal act; and the children of such persons, “by the stipulation of those who are authorized to act for them." " Some who are not inwardly sanctified, are yet so far in cove. nant, that they are rightful members of the visible church.” “ All therefore, who are comprehended in that convenant by which the church is formed, are relatively or federally holy.” “ They are so far owned by God, that he calls them his people; externally adopts them; puts his name upon them; endows them with special privileges; gives them his word and ordinances; all outward means adapted to persuade and win their hearts to love and fear him, and keep his commandments.”
The condition of abiding in the visible Church, Dr. Hemmenway states to be “abiding in a credible profession of Christianity, not falling away from, or overthrowing the credibility of it, either by open defection from the faith, or a scandalous life, obstinately persisted in, after admonition with other gospel means have been faithfully and patiently used with him, to recover him from the error of his way.” All the adult members of the visible church, he considers entitled to all its external ordinances, and of course to the baptism of their families.
According to this theory, the visible church of God in the world began to exist, so soon as God made any revelation of the new covenant, (which Dr. Emmons very well says is the covenant of redemption,) and any persons acceded, by a credible profession, to the divine proposals of reconciliation. To accede to the proposed terms of reconciliation with God in sincerity and in truth, is actually to enter into what Dr. Emmons calls the covenant of grace; to profess to do this in such a way as to give the church reason to think the fact corresponds with the profession, is, according to Dr. Em. mons, such a credible profession as makes the professor a member of the visible church. Dr. Hemmenway differs from Dr. Emmons chiefly about the introduction of infants into the church with their parents, and about the propriety of admitting an adult to the church who makes no such profession of his being savingly united to Christ as the church judges to be true. Dr. Emmons would admit no professor whom he did not verily believe to be regenerated; but Dr. Hemmenway would admit all of a moral life, and competent knowledge, who should profess“ that, so far as they understand the gospel, and know their own minds and hearts, they do believe, approve and consent to it without reserve, and are willing to give up themselves to God in Christ according to the terms of the new covenant, resolving without delay to forsake every known sin, and persevere in the practice of every known duty.”
Their other differences are of little moment, for one says the covenant of redemption is the covenant by which