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favor to those who are not of the church. But there are promises that the means of conversion shall be bleffed to those who are in the covenant; that God will circumcife their heart, and the heart of their feed to love him : That he will give them a new heart, take away the heart of stone, and give them a heart of flesh: That he will write his laws in their minds and hearts: That he will pour his spirit on their feed, and his bleffing on their offspring.-Converting grace is a covenant blessing to those who are in the covenant. And the conversion of fuch regular church members as may be unconverted (and no doubt there may be many such among the children of the covenant) is the fulfilment of a gracious promise to the church, whereby an uninterrupted fucceflion is preserved therein, chiefly of the natural branches, who are born members. The promise indeed being indefinite, cannot be ablolutely claimed for himself by any one in particular; but it shall have its accomplishment within the church: It fecures a blessing to them. And hence we find Ephraim pleading his covenant relation to God in prayer for converting grace. Turn thou me and I shall be turned, for thou art the Lord God.
So that they who are of the church have much the advantage of others. Those invisible bleslings of divine grace, pardon, reconciliation to God, sanctification, which are connected with eternal salvation, belong only to those who are in the covenant. They can no otherwise be obtained by any than by admission into the number of God's peculiar people, aceording to the terms or rules of the gospel. There are also external privileges, to wbich none but those who are in covenant and of the church may be admitted. There are special ordinances, which others have no right to use, and may not be admitted to them. And though the common means of conversion are not so confined to the church, but that they are also in uncovenanted bounty granted to many others; and though the special blessings of grace are often conveyed to such in the use of these means, as has been faid; yet even these common means of conversion are more efpecially the privilege of the church : To them only are they granted and secured by covenant. It is in the church that these ordinances are ordinarily and statedly used and enjoyed: They are especially designed for the benefit of its members, and the promife of a special blessing to render these ineans effe&ual is to them.
But we are not to conceive that all who are in the covenant, and rightful members of the church, according to the gospel rule, are entitled to all the fame or equal privileges. Some have a much greater interest, a richer and more valuable inheritance of spiritual blessings conveyed or promised to them than others. All are entitled to fome special favors and advantages above the rest
of the world. And ever thofe privileges in which thofe who are not in covenant are allowed to share with them, the church holds by a special and firmer tenure, even a corenant grant or promise, But some are entitled to, and endowed with more ample and important privileges than others. For instance.
Every true saint is undoubtedly interested in the covenant ; a member of Christ's mystical body; a partaker of those blessings of divine grace which shall issue in his eternal salvation. But if he has not, or exhibits not such evidence of godliness as the gospel rule makes necessary to give one a right of admission and access to the privileges of outward communion in an instituted church, he has not then a covenant right, nor can regularly or warrantably come, or be admitted to them.
Again, the minor child of a regular member of an instituted ehurch is confefiedly in covenant, a member of the church, and according to the gospel rule is a proper subject of baptism, with other fpecial privileges: Yet we have no reason to think that all fuch children are the fubjects of spiritual regeneration, or entitled to the promise of eternal life. And however we may hope charitably concerning individuals, yet they may not be admitted to full communion till they appear to be regularly qualified for it; tho' their right of membership remains, till according to gospel rule they are cut off and uncovenanted.
As every true faint is not entitled, according to the rule of the gospel, to the external privileges which belong to regular members of instituted churches ; so the members of instituted churches are not all entitled to the peculiar privileges of true faints. Not is there a neceffary connection, or implication of the respective qualifications, or privileges which according to the covenant belong to each respectively. Tho' all covenant blesfings, external and internal, are granted or promised to the church, yet every member is not entitled to all. There are special privileges which belong only to the members of inftituted visible churches as such. There are other gospel bleffings which belong only to the invisible or mystical church. Though every true faint is in covenant, and of the church; yet many such belong not to any visible instituted church ; and so have no right to use the special ordinances which are appropriated to visible laints. And though every visible saint is in covenant, and has a right to special external privileges; yet many such are not true saints, and so belong not to the invisible church of true faints, nor are entitled to those special and important benefits which are granted or promised to such alone.
The evangelical charter, which forms the church, contains feveral articles or branches. Some of the privileges it grants are outward and visible; others are inward and invisible. The form
er are annexed to outward and visible, the latter to inward and invisible qualifications. And hence, though the church in its general acceptation is but one, yet it is divided into several branches or classes, each of which is distinguished by peculiar characteristic denominations, and has peculiar and appropriate privileges granted to the members of which it is composed. The visible instituted church is distinguished by outward visible qualifications, has an interest in the covenant, in respect of its outward administration, and a grant of outward blessings and privileges. The
а invisible or myftical church is distinguished by inward invisible qualifications, has a more important interest in the covenant in respect of its inward and invisible administration, and has a grant of inward and invisible blessings. It is however to be noted, that the invisible and visble church are not wholly diverse in respect of the members of which they are composed, though in respect of their descriptive formal characters, they are distinct. For the invisible and visible church mutually include each other in part : many being at the same time both inward and visible saints; and interested both in the internal and external blessings of the covenant. But there are, besides, many regular church members who are not inward saints, and so not entitled to those blessings which are granted peculiarly to the mystical church. And there is yet a third class consisting of inward, but not visible saints, who are entitled only to internal, but not to external covenant blessings.
Those divines who speak of an outward and inward covenant are not to be understood as suggesting the idea that there are two distinct covenants of grace proposed to mankind. But the gospel covenant contains a grant, promise, or proposal of outward and inward blessings. It contains a rule for the administration of a visible and invisible government over the church and its members. If we speak of the mystical church consisting only of true saints, this is an invisible society; since sanctifying grace, which is the essential distinguishing qualification of all its members, cannot be certainly seen hy men. Now the gospel covenant contains grants and promises of spiritual blessings to them ; but these blessings are also invisible: no man can certainly know, whether another has received them; and even they who are partakers of them are often doubtful of their own interest therein. But Christ, who knows them that are his, administers an invisible government over his faints according to the rule of the covenant, and dispenses the promised blessings of his grace to all who have a title to them.
But visible instituted churches are societies which may be seen, and distinguished from all others by outward marks, and apparent qualifications. Though it cannot be known who are inwardly fanctified, yet it may be known in whom those evidences of sanctification appear, which the gospel rule requires to qualify for external communion. And the gospel covenant contains rules and ordinances for the administration of an external government in and over visible churches. According to this rule, visible saints who have, and exhibit the signs, expressions and evidences of faith and repentance, which the gospel requires as a qualification for the privileges, of external communion : Persons of this dess cription, I say, with their children, are regular and rightful church members; and it is their duty and right to use those ordinances and privileges of instituted churches to which others, not church members, have no right; what these evidences are in particular may be considered in its proper place. But in general we may say that certain evidences of inward sanctification are not necessary, but fallible signs are sufficient, to give one a right of admission, and access to these privileges.
The sum of what has been said is; the privileges granted by the covenant are either internal or external; some of which are in uncovenanted goodness vouchsafed to such as are not in covenant; who have then a lawful right to possess and improve them. But the church alone has a covenant right to, or grant of any of them: And some special privileges belong only to rightful members.-Not every one who has an interest in the covenant is entitled to all its blessings. They are divided to each severally, according to the different qualifications of each one, and according to the interest he has in the covenant. There is an invisible and a visible government in and over the church, administered according to the gospel covenant, which grants and assigns invisible hlessings to true saints, and external privileges to visible saints : The former being in the covenant in respect of its internal, the the latter, in respect of its external administration.
All in Covenant entitled to special Privileges.
SOME have supposed that persons may be in covenant and yet have no right to any of its privileges. They may be under its bonds, but not be conformed to them, and so not be subjects of the condition. Now, conformity to the terms of the covenant, it is said, is the thing which gives right to all its bene. fits; and not merely a being under ties to that conformity. Pri
vileges are not annexed merely to obligations, but to compliance with obligations.
But I conceive that all who are in covenant, in any proper fense, are not only under its bonds, but invested with its priviJeges. The covenant forms the church. All who are interested in the one are rightful members of the other. And surely rightful church members have a covenant right to some special privileges above others.
It is true, fome who are not in covenant, and so have no corenant right to any of its blessings, may by means of it be laid under the ties of duty to consent and conform to it. This is the case of all the hearers of the gospel : And by having the covenant proposed to them, they are admitted to have and use some valuable privileges. But the obligations they are under are not the bord of the covenant, nor are they entitled to any privileges by a covenant grant till they become members of the church. But such bonds of daty as suppose men to be in covenant, have privileges annexed to them : For an intereit in the covenant gives a right to privileges, as soon as it lays one under its bonds; and this right is ablolute, and not fufpended on future conditions. It is impoffible for any one to be in the covenant till he has the qualifications necessary in order to his having an interest in it, And these qualifications are all the condition or conformity to the covenant, necesary to give one a right to some privileges. But it does not follow, that because a man is in covenant, and so entitled to fome of its blessings, he is therefore entitled to all of them. Many of its grants, and those of the higheit importance, may still remain fulpended on conditions which have not yet been complied with by fome whə, yet according to the gospel rule, are rightful members of the church. And though such are under covenant bonds to comply with these further duties or conditions, yet the bona's neither give them a right to those further bieffings, promised on these conditions, nor is a right thereto any way annexed to them: For conditional grants are not claiinable by those who poffefs not the condition. I am not now enquiring who are rightfully in covenant, and of the church, and what qualifications are required to constitute cae a regular memter. But th: a right o: church membership, and a title to fpecal privileges, belongs to all who are in any proper sente in corenant, meninas no intelligent chriftian, who maturely contiders the matitr, can or will cail in queition.
T! henever any by their scandalous wickedness impenitently pertified in, lcie their right to all covenant privileges, they are no longer in the covenani, however the ties of duty which i bey tad taken on ikeanleives nay yet be binding on them. To ipeak