|« Prev||SECTION II. Consequences.||Next »|
Some plain consequences of the foregoing concessions.
If it be as Mr. W. says, that the church ought to admit none to their holy communion, in special ordinances, but visible saints, and that this visibility must be such as to a 493 judgment of rational charity, makes them appear as real saints, and those that are admitted must be such as profess real saintship, gospel-holiness, in distinction from moral sincerity; then the whole of my first argument, from the nature of a visibility and profession of Christianity, is allowed by him, in both premises and consequences. And indeed Mr. W. does not only do thus consequentially, but he is express in it. In (p. 4. c.) taking notice of this argument, he says, ’‘The sense and force of it wholly lies in this compass; a visible saint is one that to the view, appearance, and judgment of the church, is a real saint; and since none but visible saints are to be admitted by the church, therefore none are to be admitted but such as appear to the view and judgment of the church to be real saints.“ But these things, which Mr. W. himself allows as the sum of the argument, both premises and consequence, are expressly allowed by him in what there follows.
2. If there must be a visibility and profession of real piety, in distinction from moral sincerity, so that it can be truly said, as Mr. W. says with discretive terms, and notes of discrimination, that not merely the one must be professed, but the other; and that more than moral sincerity must be professed, &c.—Then it follows (or rather it is the same thing) that men must profess religion with some discrimination, or marks of difference in their words, distinguishing what is professed from moral sincerity; contrary to what Mr. W. strenuously and frequently asserts, (p. 6. c. d. and p. 9. c. and many other places.) For if the profession is made in words that signify no difference, then nothing different is signified or professed by those words; and so nothing MORE; contrary to what Mr. W. also asserts
3. If it be as Mr. W. says, that the Scripture has determined none ought to be admitted, but such as make an open profession and declaration of a hearty consent to the terms of the covenant of grace, such as covenant with God with their whole hearts, and profess gospel-holiness: then the whole of my second argument, concerning explicit covenanting with God, is expressly allowed, in both premises and consequence; though Mr. W. seems at the same time, with much labour and earnestness, to militate against it. For the premises are, that all outfit openly and explicitly to own God’s covenant, or consent to the terms of it. This is the same thing that he asserts, as above. And the consequence, or thing which I inferred from it, was, that all that are admitted ought to make a profession of real godliness: and this also he expressly and often allows.
4. Since it is supposed, that in order to admission, men ought to profess real friendship to Christ, and love to him above the world, and to profess a proper respect to Christ in their hearts, as well as true notion of him in their heads; and that they ought to profess gospel-holiness, and not merely moral sincerity: therefore the whole of what belongs to my third argument, is allowed, both premises and consequence. The premises were, that the nature of things affords us much reason for profaning a proper respect to Christ in the heart, as a true notion of him in the head. This he allows. What I endeavoured to infer from hence, was, that therefore men ought to profess true piety, and not only moral sincerity: and this is also allowed by him.
5. It appears, that the whole of my fourth argument, both premises and consequence, is allowed. The premises were, that the Scripture reckons all visible saints who are not truly pious, to be hypocrites. This Mr. W. expressly allows, (p. 25. e.) The consequence I inferred, was, that visible saints are such as make a profession of true godliness, and not only moral sincerity. This also is very fully allowed by him, (p. 139. a.)
6. Since it is supposed, that when Christ’s rules are attended, they that come to sacraments, do not know themselves to be hypocrites, but most look at such a qualification in themselves, as grace, and make such a pretence, and profess gospel holiness: therefore all is in effect allowed, that I endeavoured from the latter part of the 7th chapter of Matthew, which was to show, that professing Christians in general, all those that said, Lord, Lord, both those that built on the sand, and those that built on a rock, were such as imagined themselves to have a saving interest in Christ, and pretended to be his real disciples, and made such a profession. The same was what I endeavoured to show from the parable of the ten virgins. And therefore all that I argued from thence is in like manner allowed.
7. Hence, in vain is all the opposition Mr. W. makes to what I allege from the Acts of the Apostles, from the story of the eunuch and other parts of that book, concerning the manner and circumstances of the admission of members into the primitive christian church, and the profession they made; seeing he grants the main point I endeavoured to prove by it, viz. That they did make, and all adult persons that are admitted into the church must make, a profession of something more than moral sincerity, even gospel-holiness.
8. Hence, in vain is all he says in opposition to my eighth argument, taken from the manner of the apostles’ treating and addressing the primitive churches in their epistles; since he does either expressly or virtually grant each of those three things, which he himself reckons up as the sum of what I intend under that argument, viz. (1.) That the apostles speak to the churches, and of them, as supposing and judging them to be gracious persons. (2.) That the members of these churches had such an opinion of themselves. (3.) That they had this judgment one of another. Mr. W. allows all these. He abundantly allows and asserts, that the members of churches are such as are supposed, and rationally judged, to be gracious persons, by those that admit them; that they are taken in under that notion, and from respect to such a character appearing on them; and that they are rationally judged to be so by their fellow-Christians; and that they must look at such a character in themselves, and must make such a pretence.
9. Since Mr. W. abundantly allows, that visible Christians must be believed in charity to be truly pious; and that they are such as have the moral image of Christ appearing in them, and supposed to be in them, and that they are to be loved on that account: therefore very impertinent and inconsistent is the opposition he makes to my ninth argument, from the nature of that brotherly love required towards all visible Christians; which was to show, that visible Christians by the rule of Christ were to be apprehended to be true Christians.
10. In like manner, vain and to no purpose is the opposition he makes to my tenth argument, from the nature of sacramental actions, supposed in their intent and signification to be a solemn profession of those things wherein real piety consists, viz. a cordial acceptance of Christ and his benefits; from thence arguing, that a profession of these things is necessary, and so inferring, that those who perform these actions, should suppose themselves truly to accept of Christ: since both these things are in effect granted, that communicants must judge that they have sanctifying grace, and also that they must profess gospel-holiness, a compliance with the call of the gospel, and falling in with the terms of salvation proposed, &c.
11. In vain also is the opposition he makes to my eleventh argument, from 1 Cor. xi. 28. ” Let a man examine himself; and so let him eat.”—Inferring from thence, that a man ought to inquire concerning such a qualification in himself, as grace, in order to know whether he may come to the sacrament of the Lord’s supper. Since Mr. W. himself plainly supposes this very thing. That men ought to look at such a qualification in themselves, as grace, and to inquire whether they have it, in order to determine whether they may present themselves to christian sacraments.
12. If it be true, according to Mr. W.‘s representation of his own scheme, That persons may not be admitted to sacraments, but under a notion of their being truly godly, and with respect to such a character appearing on them; and that persons themselves had need to look at such a qualification in themselves, and inquire whether they have it, in order to determine whether they may come to sacraments; it must be because if they find they have it not, they may not come, or (which is the same thing) it is not lawful for them to come. For it would be ridiculous to say that others must look at such a qualification in them, and must not admit them but from respect to such a character 494 on them; and that they themselves also must look at such a qualification in themselves, and inquire whether they have it in order to determine whether they may come; when yet they may come whether they have it or no, and have as much of a lawful right without it as with it. So that Mr. W. has in effect determined against himself the grand point, which he himself insists on, as the point in dispute, according to the true state of the question. And therefore,
13. It follows from the foregoing concessions, that Mr. W. is inconsistent with himself in all his arguings that men may come to sacraments without such a qualification or character as that of true piety. Because God has given no certain rule by which sacraments may be restrained to such; 573573 See. Mr. W’s book, p. 106, &c. or because that otherwise none might come but those that know they have such a character; 574574 Ibid. p. 108, &c. or because the contrary doctrine tends to bring saints into great perplexities in their attendance on sacraments; 575575 P. 120, &c. or from the lawfulness of unregenerate men’s attending other duties. 576576 P. 123, &c. If there be any force in this arguing from other duties to an attendance on sacraments, then the argument will infer, that men must not be admitted to other duties, but under the notion of their being truly godly, and from respect to such a character appearing on them, &c.—as Mr. W. insists with regard to christian sacraments. And so if these things which Mr. W. concedes and asserts, are true, in vain is all arguing from the like tendency in sacraments to convert men, as in other duties; 577577 P. 126, &c. and in vain is it to argue the lawfulness of men’s coming without this character, from their obligation to perform external covenant-duties, 578578 P. 128, &c. and to carry themselves like saints; 579579 P 131. and in vain is all arguing from the pretended bad consequences of the contrary doctrine. 580580 P. 131, &c.
14. The opposition Mr. W. makes to my argument from Isaiah lvi. 6, 7 especially those words, “The sons of the stranger that join themselves to the Lord, to love the Lord, and be his servants—will I bring into my holy mountain”—to prove that none have a right in the sight of God to the privileges of the christian church, but those that love God, and are truly pious; I say, the opposition Mr. W. makes to this argument is frivolous, since he in effect grants the same thing, (as above,) yea, expressly allows, that they must make pretences of being God’s real friends, and loving God more than the world, p. 36. c.
15. If it be true, as Mr. W. allows and abundantly asserts, that in order to persons being admitted to holy communion in special ordinances, the Scripture has determined, that there must be an open profession and declaration of a person’s believing, or of a personal believing, in Christ, (which is the same thing,) and of a hearty consent to the terms of the covenant of grace, 581581 See how Mr. W. expresses himself, p. 5. b. c. and that therein must be a profession of gospel-holiness: then nothing to the contrary avails that great argument of his, taken from the state of baptized infants, that they are already in the church, and in covenant, and are members in complete standing, &c. and that therefore no owning the covenant or professing godliness can be demanded of them: 582582 See especially, p. 3. and in vain is all that he has said to prove this in his discourse on the wheat and tares. 583583 P. 99, 100.
16. To what purpose is it, to object from the parable now mentioned, that the church ought not to make a distinction between wheat and tares, in their admission of members, by pretending to discern the difference? When it is so apparent, that there is no pretence to any proper discerning in the case, nor any other distinction pleaded, than what is made by a judgment of charity. According to Mr. W—‘s own scheme, churches are obliged to make a distinction, in the rational judgment they pass, and to admit none, but what they judge to be true saints; so that those who are wheat, in the eye of their judgment, only are to be admitted, and such as are tares, in the eye of their judgment, are to be excluded.
17. What is said by Mr. W. of the visible church being the school of Christ, and men being admitted into it as disciples or scholars, some of them in order to attain grace, (p. 81, and 83.) is nothing to the purpose, if it be as Mr. W. allows and asserts, that in order to be admitted into this school, they must be supposed, in a reasonable judgment, to have this attainment already, and make a pretence to it, and a solemn profession of it, and must give moral evidence that they have it, and must be admitted into the school under no other notion than that of their being already possessed of it.
18. If it be as Mr. W. expressly says, That persons are not visible saints without a credible profession, visibility, and moral evidence, not only of moral sincerity, but true holiness, (p. 139.) then all is wholly insignificant and vain, that is said to prove, that the children of Israel were visible saints without any evidence of such holiness, by reason of the idolatry and gross and open wickedness of vast multitudes of them, who are yet called God’s people. And so likewise, all that is said to prove, that the members of the primitive christian church had no other visibility of saintship than they, because they are grafted into the same olive; and also all that Mr. W. has said to prove, that many of the members of the primitive churches were as grossly wicked as they.
19. Since according to Mr. W. the terms of admission to the Jewish ordinances, were the same as to christian ordinances, the like profession and the same visibility of saintship required, and no other; as he strenuously asserts, (p. 57. e. p. 61. e. and p. 65. c.) it will therefore follow from his foregoing concessions and assertions, that none were, by God’s appointment, to come to the passover, and to have their children circumcised, but such as openly professed and declared that they were convinced of the truth of God’s word, and believed it with all their hearts; and professed a hearty consent to the terms of the covenant of grace: such as covenanted with God with their whole hearts, and gave up all their hearts and lives to Christ; such as subjected themselves to Christ with their whole hearts, and gave up themselves to him, to be ruled, taught, and led by him; such as with all their hearts cast themselves on the mercy of God to enable them to keep covenant; such as professed to love God above the world, and professed more than common faith and moral sincerity, even true holiness, real piety; and who gave moral evidence, that they had such a qualification; and were received to the passover, &c. under that notion, and with respect to such a character appearing in them, and apprehended to be in them. And if these things are so, what is become of the argument from the passover and circumcision, against the necessity of the qualifications I have insisted on?
20. To what purpose does Mr. W. insist, (p. 98. a.) That we read not a word in Scripture about John the Baptist’s making any inquiry, whether the people he baptized made a credible profession of true piety? when he himself insists, that in order to admission to christian sacraments, men must make a credible profession of true piety. And why does he urge, (p. 96. e. and p. 97.) That the profession the people made which John baptized did not imply that they had saving repentance, but only an engagement to repent, hereafter? when he himself holds, that in order to admission to sacraments, men must profess something more than common grace, and not only promise it hereafter.
21. It makes nothing to any point in controversy between Mr. W. and me, whether Judas partook of the Lord’s supper or no, since according to the fore-mentioned principles, as well as mine, he could not be admitted there under any other notion than that of being truly pious, and from respect to such a character appearing on him, and a credible profession of gospel-holiness; and since he might not lawfully come without some qualifications he had not, viz. such a friendship for Christ, as is above lukewarmness, and above serving two masters, Christ and Mammon, and a giving up all his heart and life to Christ, and a real determination of his judgment and affections for Christ’s word, &c.
22. If it be true, as Mr. W. allows, that ministers and churches ought not to admit adult persons to sacraments, without a pious character appearing on them, and their professing and exhibiting moral evidence of gospel-holiness, then no good argument can be brought against such a way of admission, from the success of ministers in another way, or in any way whatsoever. 495
Besides these plain and obvious consequences of Mr. W.‘s concessions, some other consequences will hereafter be observed under particular heads.
Thus Mr. W. has in effect given up every point belonging to the whole controversy, every thing material insisted on through that whole book which he undertakes to answer. He has established every part of my scheme, and every particular argument I have used to confirm it; and answered, or overthrown every argument which he brings, or pretends to support, against it. And I should have no further occasion to say any thing in reply to him, if he had not really, through great part of his performance, argued for other things, opposite to those that have been rehearsed, which he so strenuously insists belong to his scheme. That arguing may seem to support another scheme, though nothing akin to his, any otherwise than as it is indeed a mixture of many schemes, one clashing with and destroying another; as will appear in the ensuing part of this reply.
|« Prev||SECTION II. Consequences.||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version