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they declare that whosoever is not dead or dying to sin and alive to righteousness, is not truly regenerate, and has nothing of baptism but the outward and visible sign. In the 27th of our articles they mention, that baptism is not the new birth, but a sign of regeneration or new birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they who receive baptism rightly are grafted into the church. And if our church returns thanks for the regeneration of the infants, whom she has admitted to baptism, it is chiefly upon a charitable supposition, tha tthey have received it rightly, and will, for their part faithfully perform the promises made for them by their sureties. If they refuse to do it when they come of age, far from treating them as her regenerate children, she denounces a general excommunication against them, and charges them not to come to her holy table, lest Satan brings them, as he did Judas, to destruction both of body and soul.
VIII. INFER. If the fall of mankind in Adam, does not consist in a capricious imputation of his personal guilt, but in a real, present participation of his depravity, impotence and misery; the salvation that believers have in Christ is not a capricious imputation of his personal righteousness; but a real present participation of his purity, power and blessedness, together with pardon and acceptance.
Unspeakably dangerous then is the delusion of those, whose brains and mouths are filled with the notions and expressions of imputed righteousness; while their poor, carnal, unregenerate hearts remain perfect strangers to the Lord our righteousness.
I say chiefly, because our church gives thanks also for Christ's general grace and mercy to children, declaring herself persuaded of the good will of our heavenly Father towards this [unbaptized] infant, through Christ, who said, that of little children is the kingdom of heaven. The truth lies between the error of the pelagians, who suppose that unbaptized infants are sinless like angels; and that of the papists, who affirm that they are graceless as devils.
IX. INFER. If the corrupt nature which sinners derive from Adam, spontaneously produces all the wickedness that overspreads the earth; the holy nature which believers receive from Christ, is also spontaneously productive of all the fruits of righteousness, described in the oracles of God: Good works springing out * necessarily of a true and lively faith.
Such ministers therefore, as clearly preach our fall in Adam, and that faith in Christ, which is productive of genuine holiness and active love, will infallibly promote good works and pure morality: When those who insist only upon works and moral duties, will neither be zealous of good works themselves, nor instrumental in turning sinners from their gross immoralities. The reason is obvious: Evangelical preachers follow their Lord's wise direction: Make the tree good, and the fruit shall be good also, but moralists will have corrupt trees bring forth good fruit, which in the nature of things is impossible, Matt. xii. 33. Luke vi. 43. Therefore, as nothing but faith makes the tree good, and as without faith it is impossible to please God: the christian, that will come to him with good works, must not only believe [as heathens] that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him; but also that he was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himfelf, &c.
X. INFER. If corruption and sin work so powerfully and sensibly, in the hearts of the unregenerate, we may, without deserving the name of enthusiasts, affirm that the regenerate are sensible of the powerful effects of divine grace in their souls; or to use the words of our 17th article, we may say, They feel in themselves the workings of the Spirit of Christ: For where the poison of sin hath abounded, and has been of course abundantly felt: grace, the powerful antidote that ex
* This is to be understood of a moral, and not of an absolute, irresistible necessity, for faith never unmans the believer.
pels it, does much more abound, and consequently may be much more perceived.
Therefore the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of sins, the assuraace of faith, and the peace of God passing all understanding, are the experienced blessings of the converted; as certainly as a guilty, conscience, the gnawing of worldly cares, the working of evil tempers, the tumults of unbridled appetites, and the uproars of rebellious passions, are the experienced curses of the unconverted.
Reader, if these inferences are justly drawn, is it not evident, that the * principles generally exploded among us, as enthusiastical or methodistical, flow from the doctrine demonstrated in this treatise, as naturally as light from the sun? These consequences lead you perhaps farther than you could wish; but let them not make you either afraid or ashamed of the gospel. Prejudicies, like clouds, will vanish away; but truth, which they obscure for a time, like the sun, will shine for ever. A great man in the law said, Fiat Justitia, ruat mundus. Improve the noble sentiment, and say with equal fortitude, Stet Veritas, ruat mundus: Let truth stand, though the universe should sink into ruins.
But happily for us, the danger is all on the side of the opposite doctrine; and that you may be convinced of it, I present you next with a view of the
* Those doctrines, pointed out in the ten abovementioned inferences, are..... The alarming severity of the law....2. The need of a deep, heart-felt repentance....3. The divinity of Christ..... The infinite merit of his sacrifice....5. Salvation by faith in him.. 6. The influences of his Holy Spirit....7. The reality of the new-birth....8. The necessity of a present salvation...9. The zeal of believers for good works, and 10. The comfortable assurance which they have. of their regeneration.
Necessarily resulting from the ignorance of our depravity and danger.
I. As the tempter caused the fall of our first parents, by inducing them to believe, that they should not surely die, if they broke the divine law: So now we are fallen, he prevents our recovery by suggesting, "the bitterness of death is past," and "we are in a state of safety."....Hence it is, that you sleep on in carnal security, O ye deluded sons of men, and even dream, ye are safe and righteous. Nor can ye escape for your lives, till the veil of unbelief is taken away, and ye awake to a sight of your corrupt and lost estate : For there is no guarding against, nor flying from, an unseen, unsuspected evil: Here, as in a conspiracy, the danger continually increases, till it is happily discovered.
2. If we are not sensible of our natural corruption, and the justice of the curse intailed upon us on that account; can we help thinking God a tyrant, when he threatens unconverted moralists with the severest of his judgments, or causes the black storms of his providence to overtake us and our dearest relatives?
Answer, ye self-righteous pharisees, that so bitterly exclaim against the ministers, who declare by the authority of scripture, that, except ye repent, ye shall all perish. Answer, fond mother, whose tears of distraction, mix with the cold sweat of the convulsed, dying infant on thy lap. Dost thou not secretly impeach divine justice and accuse heaven of barbarity? Ah! if thou didst but know the evil nature, which thou and thy Isaac have brought into the world; if thou sawest the root of bitterness, which the hand of a gracious Providence even now extracts from his heart; far from being ready to curse God and die with thy child, thou wouldst patiently acquiesce in the kindly-severe dis
pensation: Thou wouldst clear him when he is judged by such as thyself, and even glorify him in the evil day of this painful visitation.
3. Though man's heart is hardened as steel, it does not frequently emit the hellish sparks of such murmurings against God, because it can seldom be struck by the flint of such severe afflictions; yet the mischief is there, and will break out, if not by blasphemous despair, at least, by its contrary, presumptuous madness. Yes, reader, unless thou art happily made acquainted with the strength of thy inbred depravity thou wilt rashly venture among the sparks of temptation: With carnal confidence thou wilt ask, "What harm can they do me?" And thou wilt continue the hazardous sport, till sin and wrath consume thee together. Nor will this be more surprising, than that one, who carries a bag of gun powder, and knows not the dangerous nature of his load, should fearlessly rush through the midst of flames or sparks, till he is blown up and destroyed.
4. This fatal rashness is generally accompanied with a glaring inconsistency. Do not you make the assertion good, ye saints of the present age, who pretend to have found the secret of loving both God and the world? Do not we hear you deny to men, that you are condemned; and yet cry to God to have mercy upon you? But if you are not condemned, what need have you of mercy? And if you are, why do you deny your lost estate? Thou too, reader, wilt fall into this absurdity, unless thou knowest thy just condemnation. But the mischief will not stop here; for,
5. Ignorance of the mystery of iniquity within you, must, in the nature of things, cause you to neglect prayer, or to pray out of character. As unhumbled moralists, instead of approaching the throne, of grace, with the self-abasement of the penitent publican, saying, God be merciful unto me a sinner: you will provoke the Most High, by the open prophaneness of the sadducee; or insult him by the self-conceited services of the pharisee, boasting ye do no harm, and thanking