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upon a senti
on the word of God, viz. That a man BINDS HIMSELF by oath to what is 6,000 and Jus T, that in ANY THING not hnful, it binds to performance; That by a vow we more strictly BIND OURSELVES TO NECESSARY DUTIES. &c. must be grofly erroneous.
2. Instructed by some Papift or fome ring-leader in the perjurious violation of these covenants in the last century, you
have indeed now hits ment, which if proven, would effectually undermine the obligation of our covenants, and for ought I know, all religion -- all morality-all mutual trust and order among mankind along with it. If our promises, oaths, vows or covenants can have r.o binding force except in things to which the revelation and law of God cannot reach; neither Adam, nor Christ as Mediator, could bind themselves to fulfil God's law; and so there must be no proper, no real covenant of works or of grace; and so no religion among mankind. And, for the same reason, the promises of God, in so far as their matter correfponds to his natural excellencies can have no binding force; and thus the foundation of our faith and hope is quite overturned. All engagements in Baptism or the Lord's Supper to believe what God reveals, receive what he offers, and do what he commands, mult be abfolutely null and void, deftitute of all binding force.-- Jesuitical equivocation and mental reserva tion are no more neceflary in the making of
.promifes, covenants or vows, or in swearing promissory oaths of allegiance, fidelity or witness bearing; or in subscribing Articles, Creeds or Confessions of Faith, Calls to ministers, Bonds or Bills of service or debt.
If the law of God, which is exceeding broad can but reach to the matter of them, and require the believing, maintaining or practising of what is there. in engaged, that alone renders them null and void, And not binding to all intents and purposes. And so there can be no such a thing as perjury, perfidy, of breach of promise, except it be with respect to suck things as the law of God could not directly or indi. rectly reach, --which if it be as perfect and exceed ing broad as the Bible affirms, must certainly be very few and very trifling;—for where there is no law, no binding of a law, there can be no transgreffion.Mens' promises, covenants, oaths and vows, in wordt or writ, in fo far as they refpect things to which the law of God can reach, must be mere villainous iinpositions, seeming to bind, while they do not, in the smallest degree; and therefore ought to be detested, instead of being required, made or trufted.--For the. same reason, no commands of parents, masters, magistrates, or any other superiors being human deeds, can have any binding force in any thing relative to religion, equity, kindness, &c. to which the law of God can reach its requirements, and hence cannot be lawfully OBEYED, or their authority regarded, except when they commend what is ahsolutely indiffer. ent and trifting.--If human engagements and commands can only bind men to that which is absolutely indifferent, it is plain, that we can only be answer. able to men for such parts of our conduct as the law of God did not reach;-but, let men once firmly believe, that their promises, covenants, oaths or vows, and the commands of superiors, have no bind. ing force, but in that which is left absolutely indiffera ent by the law of God; and that they are answer able to men only for such parts of their conduct as the law of God could not reach-how naturally they will rush headlong into all manner of profligacy every man doing that which is right in his own eyes in every thing important.
3. How absurd to pretend honouring of religion, or of the law of God by making it the murderer of that deputed authority which God hath, by it, grant. ed to men; or of these covenants, oaths or vows, which He hath therein appointed as means of his worship.--Not only scripture, but even common sense dictates, that the authority of God in his law cannot be rightly regarded, unless in a way of also regarding that authority which he hath deputed to men, and all the commands or self engagements which proceed from it, in due subordination to it. If I read my Bible daily, in obedience to the command of God as my God in Chrift,-in obedience to Chrift as appointed by God to be my mediatorial prophet and king,--and at the same time in due subordination hereto--in obedience to my civil ruler, as the minister of God for good to men,--in obedience to my pastor or Church judicature as the melenger of Christ to me--in obedience to my parents or mafiers as God's deputy-governors over me, --and in fulfilment of the vow, which I as God's deputy governor over myself, have laid myself under, according to his appointment, where is the inconfiftency? Must I wickedly put asunder the immediate and deputed authority of God, which he hath so closely and delightfully joined together? God forbid.
OBJECT. VII. «What have we to do with our fathers' engagements in religion, to which we never gave any personal consent, especially after we have become capable to judge and choose for ourselves --nay to do with engagements, which I cannot prove my ancestors ever took."
'ANśw. 1. To rest obligation to pay debt or pere form duty on the debtor's proving the contraction of it, or engagement to it, is highly absurd in itfelf, and spens a wide door for breaking through almost every engagement. According to this scheme you may hold your ancestors, who lived 130 years ago unbaptized Heathens, and perhaps yourself too, and so renounce your baptism, because you cannot prove that ever you received it. If God, who is our credia Tor in these covenants, can prove our ancestors' taking of them, he will hold us bound by their deed; and even though they did not take them, he will hold us bound by the deed of the society and its representatives.
2. You know, that Lord about four hundred years ago, granted your ancestor, the valuable eftate of
to be held under him and his heirs, for a very small honorary service, as an acknowledgment of vafalage; and that the celebrated farmer A. B. about fix years ago took a ninety-nine years lease of one of your farms at a very high rent. Have you certified the present heirs of that Lord and Farmer, That they are no-wise bound by their progenitors' deeds, unless they have given their own personal confent, and that the one may
recal your estate, and the other may keep your farm, and refuse to pay you any rent?
You have not, nor ever will. You allow such freedoms only to be used with God,not with yourself;-----too Arong a presumption, That you more value your estate and rent, than all that you hold of God in religion, and all the honour you owe to him.
3. If our fathers bound us to any thing in religion which is not warranted by the word of God, we have nothing to do with it, but to bewail their fin in such engagement. But, if they bound us to what is commanded by the law of God, we must stand bound, till we prove from scripture, that vows binding to duty are not lawful; or that fathers have no right to devote their children to God's service. No flothful or wilful ignorance or withholding of personal consent, can so much as excuse the non-performance of such engagements. Nothing can free from their binding force, which would not annul our baptismal vows.
4. Once more, Sir, be pleased to review these public covenants of our fathers, in their principal contents and meaning. They were a folemn acquiefcence in and confirmation of God's grant of the utmost ends of the earth to his Son Jesus Christ for his pofsession. They implied a folemn acceptance of God himself in Chrift as the God, Saviour and portion of the covenanters and their pofterity freely granted to them in the gospel,--and of his oracles and ordi. nances as the means of familiar fellowship with Him; a resolution through his grace to retain him and them, as their inestimable privileges, and a folemn engagement, thankfully to improve these privileges in an holy obedience to all his commandments, to promote his glory, and the temporal, fpiritual and eternal advantage of these covenanters and their feed. Now, Sir, do you fo heartily envy our Redeemer his Father's grant of the ends of the earth for his pofseffion, Psal. ii. 8. that you would gladly renounce our ancestors' folemn acquiefeence in it? Do you so heartily dislike the having of a reconciled God in Christ for your and your posterity's God, Saviour and portion, and his pure oracles and ordi. nances for your privileges, that you would fondly renounce a folemn acceptance of God's gracious grant of them sealed and confirmed by the remarkable influences of his Spirit? Do you so undervalue these enjoyments, and hate a grateful and self-profiting obedience to all the commandments of God, that you would gladly renounce a folemn obligation to it? Or, are you offended with the declared ends of these covenants, viz. the glorifying of God, the preservation and reformation of religion and promoting the welfare of the nation, and that God may delight to dwell among us to the latest posterity?You will perhaps pretend, that you love our reformcd doctrine, worship, Presbyterian government and