Church-government and church-covenant discussed, in an answer of the elders of the severall churches in New-England to two and thirty questions, sent over to them by divers ministers in England, to declare their judgments therein. Together with an apologie of the said elders in New-England for church-covenant, sent over in answer to Master Bernard in the yeare 1639. As also in an answer to nine positions about church-government. And now published for the satisfaction of all who desire resolution in those points.
Mather, Richard, 1596-1669., Mather, Richard, 1596-1669. Apologie of the churches in New-England for church-covenant., Peters, Hugh, 1598-1660., Davenport, John, 1597-1670.

But might not faith in Christ, beleeving in heart on the God of Is∣rael,*be all the taking hold of the Covenant that is here meant.

Not so, but over and above that, here is also meant their open* profession of their Faith in the God of Israel, and open binding of themselves by Covenant to all such duties of faith and obedience, as God required of the Church of Israel, and the members there∣of. Now distinctly take the Answer to this Objection in three or foure particular Propositions. First, There was a Covenant be∣tween the Church of Israel and God, Exod. 19. 5, 6, 7, 8. Ezek 16. 8. Deut. 29. 10. &c. Secondly, This Covenant was mutuall; not Page  17 onely a promise on Gods part to be their God, and to take them for his people, but also reciprocally on their part to give up them∣selves unto God to be his people, and to doe the dutie of people to their God; The Covenant is not meerely to receive from God, and promise nothing back againe to him; nor doth God binde himselfe therein, and leave men at libertie, but it is mutuall on both parts, as these Scriptures declare; Gen. 17. 1. Exod. 197. 8. Deut. 5. 27. & 26. 16, 17. Hos. 2. 23. & Zach. 13. 9. Thirdly, Hereupon it followes, that if men had not promised, and also performed, in some measure of truth, the duties of Faith and obedience unto God, they had not taken hold of the Covenant, but had discove∣nanted themselves, notwithstanding all the promises of God unto their Fathers or others. Thus though God promised Abraham to be a God to him, and to his seede in their generations, Gen. 17. 7. yet the Ishmaelites and Edomites descending from Abraham, were discovenanted by not promising nor performing those duties of Faith and obedience, which God required on the peoples part: when a Covenant containes promises on Gods part, and duties al∣so on mans, he doth not take hold of the Covenant that takes one part, and leaves another. Fourthly, To beleeve what God promi∣sed in the Covenant for his part, and to promise in a private way the duties of obedience on mans part, was not sufficient to make these strangers members of the Church, but they must doe it open∣ly and in the view of the Church, else the Church could have had no warrant to have admitted such into their Fellowship, if their faith and obedience had not been visibly professed, Exod. 12. 43. 48 2 Chron. 23. 19.

And in as much as the Covenant was mutuall, when these stran∣gers did manifest their taking hold of the Covenant, they manife∣sted and professed both Faith and obedience, both that they belee∣ved what God promised, and that they would be obedient to what he required; If any should have claimed Church-fellowship, say∣ing, I beleeve the promises, but would not binde himselfe to any duties of Evangelicall obedience, this had been a taking hold of the Covenant by the halves, a taking of one part of it in seeming and pretence, and a leaving of another; but it would not have been sufficient to have brought a man into the fellowship of the church: Such of the Congregation of Israel as would not come to Hierusa∣lem to enter into Covenant, were to be separated from the Church Page  18 in the dayes of Ezra, Ezra 10. 8. And therefore such as being strangers should refuse to enter into it, could not be admitted into the Church; So that the taking hold of Gods Covenant, which is there required to make these strangers members of the Church, is a beleeving in heart on the God of Israel, and an open profes∣sion that they did beleeve, and likewise a promise of obedience or subjection unto the God of Israel, and an open professing of such obedience and subjection; and that is the joyning in Covenant which we stand for, before a man can be a member of a Church, even an open profession of Faith and of Obedience.

A third Argument is taken from those Scriptures which shew* that men become members by being added to the Church, or be∣ing joyned to them, Act. 2. 47. & 5. 13. & 9. 26. If men become members of the Church by being added or joyned, then joyning in Covenant (or professing of subjection to the Gospel or Cove∣nant of God) is that whereby a man becomes a member of a Church: But the former is true, as appeares by the Scriptures fore∣mentioned, and therefore the latter is true also.

But all the doubt in this Argument will be concerning the con∣sequence of the Major Proposition; but that may be made good by this reason, and the confirmation of it, viz. that a man cannot be added or joyned to the Church by any other meanes without this joyning in Covenant. The truth of which Assertion will ap∣peare by shewing the insufficiency of all other means, without this joyning in Covenant, and that may be done in Answer to the Objections ensuing.