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OBJECT. XII.

The Lord’s supper has a proper tendency to promote men’s conversion, being an affecting representation of the greatest and most important things of God’s word: it has a proper tendency to awaken and humble sinners; here being a discovery of the terrible anger of God for sin, by the infliction of the curse upon Christ, when sin was imputed to him; and the representation here made of the dying love of Christ has a tendency to draw the hearts of sinners from sin to God, &c.

Answ. Unless it be an evident truth, that what the Lord’s supper may have tendency to promote, the same it was appointed to promote, nothing follows from this argument. If the argument affords any consequence, the consequence is built on the tendency of the Lord’s supper. And if the consequence be good and strong on this foundation, as drawn from such premises, then wherever the premises hold, the consequence holds; otherwise it must appear, that the premises and consequence are not connected. And now let us see how it is in fact. Do not scandalous persons need to have these very effects wrought in their hearts which have been mentioned? Yes, surely; they need them in a special manner: they need to be awakened; they need to have an affecting discovery of that terrible wrath of God against sin, which was manifested in a peculiar manner by the terrible effects of God’s wrath in the sufferings of his own incarnate Son. Gross sinners need this in some respect more than others. They need to have their hearts broken by an affecting view of the great and important things of God’s word. They need especially to fly to Christ for refuge, and therefore need to have their hearts drawn. And seeing the Lord’s supper has so great a tendency to promote these things, if the consequence from the tendency of the Lord’s supper, as inferring the end of its appointment, be good, then it must be a consequence also well inferred, that the Lord’s supper was appointed for the reclaiming and bringing to repentance scandalous persons.

To turn this off, by saying, Scandalous persons are expressly forbid, is but giving up the argument, and begging the question. It is giving up the argument; since it allows the consequence not to be good. For it allows, that notwithstanding the proper tendency of the Lord’s supper to promote a design, yet it may be the Lord’s supper was not appointed with a view to promote that end.—And it is a begging the question; since it supposes, that unconverted men are not evidently forbidden, as well as scandalous persons; which is the thing in controversy. If they be evidently forbid, that is as much to reasonable creatures (who need nothing but good evidence) as if they were expressly forbidden.—To say here, that the Lord’s supper is a converting ordinance only to orderly members, and that there is another ordinance appointed for bringing scandalous persons to repentance, this is no solution of the difficulty; but is only another instance of yielding up the argument, and begging the question. For it plainly concedes, that the tendency of an ordinance does not prove it appointed to all the ends, which it seems to have a tendency to promote; and also supposes, that there is not any other ordinance, appointed for converting sinners that are moral and orderly in their lives, exclusive of this, which is the thing in question.

It is at best but very precarious arguing from the seeming tendency of things, to the divine appointment, or God’s will and disposition with respect to the use of those things. Would it not have had a great tendency to convince the scribes and Pharisees, and to promote their conversion, if they had been admitted into the mount when Christ was transfigured? But yet it was not the will of Christ, that they should be admitted there, or any other but Peter, James, and John. Would it not have had a very great tendency to convince and bring to repentance the unbelieving Jews, if they had been allowed to see and converse freely with Christ after his resurrection, and see him ascend into heaven? But yet it was the will of God, that none but disciples should be admitted to these privileges. Might it not have had a good tendency, if all that were sincere followers of Christ, women as well as men, had been allowed to be present at the institution of the Lord’s supper? But yet it is commonly thought, none were admitted beside the apostles.

Indeed the ever honoured author of the Appeal to the Learned has supplied me with the true and proper answer to this objection, in the following words, p. 27, 28. “The 473 efficacy of the Lord’s supper does depend upon the blessing of God. Whatever tendency ordinances have in their own nature to be serviceable to men, yet they will not prevail any further than God doth bless them. “The weapons of our warfare are mighty through God,” 2 Cor. x. 4. It is God that teaches men to profit, and makes them profitable and serviceable to men’s souls. There is reason to hope for a divine blessing on the Lord’s supper, when it is administered to those that it ought to be administered to; God’s blessing is to be expected in God’s way. If men act according to their own humours and fancies, and do not keep in the way of obedience, it is presumption to expect God’s blessing, Matt. xv. 9. “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” But when they are admitted to the Lord’s supper that God would have to be admitted, there is ground to hope that he will make it profitable.

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