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OBJECT. VIII.

If sanctifying grace be a requisite qualification in order to due access to christian sacraments, God would have given some certain rule, whereby those who are to admit them, might know whether they have such grace, or not.

Answ. This objection was obviated in my stating the question. However, I will say something further to it in this place; and would observe, that if there be any strength in this objection, it lies in the truth of this proposition, viz. That whatever qualifications are requisite in order to persons’ due access to christian sacraments, God has given some certain rule, whereby those who admit them, may know whether they have those qualifications, or not. If this proposition is not true, then there is no force at all in the argument. But I dare say, there is not a divine, nor Christian of common sense, on the face of the earth, that will assert and stand to it, that this proposition is true. For none will deny, that some sort of belief of the being of a God, some sort of belief that the Scriptures are the word of God, that there is a future state of rewards and punishments, and that Jesus is the Messiah, are qualifications requisite in order to a due access to christian sacraments; and yet God has given those who are to admit persons no certain rule, whereby they may know whether they believe any one of these things. Neither has he given his ministers or churches any certain rule, whereby they may know whether any person that offers himself for admission to the sacrament, has any degree of moral sincerity, moral seriousness of spirit, or any inward moral qualification whatsoever. These things have all their existence in the soul, which is out of our neighbour’s view. Not therefore a certainty, but a profession and visibility, of these things, must be the rule of the church’s proceeding; and it is as good and as reasonable a rule of judgment concerning saving grace, as it is concerning any other internal invisible qualifications, which cannot be certainly known by any but the subject himself.

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