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OBJECT. XVIII.

It seems hardly reasonable to suppose, that the only wise God has made men’s opinion of themselves, and a profession of it, the term of their admission to church-privileges; when we know, that very often the worst men have the highest opinion of themselves.

Answ. 1. It must be granted me, that in fact this is the case, if any proper profession at all is expected and required, whether it be of sanctifying grace, or of moral sincerity, or any thing else that is good: and to be sure, nothing is required to be professed, or is worthy to be professed, any further than it is good.

Answ. 2. If some things, by the confession of all, must be professed, because they are good, and of great importance; 476 then certainly it must be very unreasonable, to say, that those things wherein true holiness consists are not to be professed, or that a profession of them should not be required, because they are good, even in the highest degree, and infinitely the most important and most necessary things of any in the world. And it is unreasonable to say, that it is the less to be expected we should profess sincere friendship to Christ, because friendship to Christ is the most excellent qualification of any whatsoever, and the contrary the most odious. How absurd is it to say this, merely under a notion that for a man to profess what is so good and so reasonable, is to profess a high opinion of himself!

Answ. 3. Though some of the worst men are apt to entertain the highest opinion of themselves, yet their self-conceit is no rule to the church; but the apparent credibility of men’s profession is to be the ground of ecclesiastical proceedings.

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