|« Prev||SECTION V. Mr. W. inconsistent with Mr. Stoddard.||Next »|
Showing that Mr. Williams, in supposing that unsanctified men may profess such things, as he allows must be professed, and yet speak true, is inconsistent with Mr. Stoddard, and with himself.
Mr. W. denies, that in order to men being admitted to sacraments, they need make any peculiar profession, distinguished from what an unregenerate man may make, (p. 44. c. p. 50. e. 6. c. d. e. 9. c. 10. c. e. 45. e. 46. a. and 53. e.) or that they need to profess any thing but what an unregenerate man may say, and speak true. (p. 47. c.) And that they need make no profession but what is compatible with an unregenerate state, (p. 8. d. e.) And yet the reader has seen what things he says all must profess in order to come to sacraments. One thing he says they must profess, is a real conviction of the heart, of the divine truth of God’s word; that they do sincerely and with all their hearts believe the gospel. And these things, he says, are agreeable to the opinion of Mr. Stoddard, and the doctrine he taught. (p. 32. b. c. and p. 36. a.) Let us compare these things with the doctrine Mr. S. taught. Mr. S. taught, that natural men do not believe the gospel, (Benef. of the Gosp. p. 89. b.) that they do not properly believe the word of God. (Guide to Christ, p. 26. d.) That they do not believe the testimony of God, do not lay weight on the word of God; that they do not believe the report of the gospel. (Safety of Ap. Edit. 2. p. 229. c. e.) that they do not receive God’s testimony, nor lay weight on it. (Ibid. p. 99.) That there is no man, how great soever his profession, how large soever his knowledge, that continues in a natural condition, who thoroughly believes that truth; i.e. that men may be saved by Christ’s righteousness. (Ibid. p. 4. d. and p. 5. d. e.) That common illumination does not convince men of the truth of the gospel. (Benef. of the Gosp. p. 148, 149.) How then could it be the doctrine Mr. S. taught, that natural men may really and with all their hearts believe and be convinced of the truth of the gospel?
And Mr. W. himself, in his sermons on Christ a King and Witness, (p. 114, 115.) says, “man since the fall is naturally ignorant of divine truth, and an enemy to it, and full or prejudices against the truth:” and further, (ibid. p. 114.) “The renewing of the Holy Ghost makes an universal change of the heart and life.—He knows the doctrine contained in the Bible in a new manner.—Before, he had a view of the truth as a doubtful uncertain thing; he received it as a thing which was probably true;—and perhaps for the most part it appeared something likely to answer the end proposed.—But now the gospel appears to him divinely true and real,“ &c. But how do these things consist with men being, before conversion, sincerely and with all their hearts convinced of the divine truth of the gospel? Can that be, and yet men view it as a doubtful uncertain thing, as not yet appearing to them divinely true and real?
Again, Mr. W. supposes, that some unsanctified men may speak true, and profess a hearty consent to the terms of the covenant of grace, a compliance with the call of the gospel, submission to the proposals of it, satisfaction with that device for our salvation that is revealed in the gospel, and with the offer which God makes of himself to be our God in Christ Jesus, a fervent desire of Christ and the benefits of the covenant of grace, and an earnest purpose and resolution to seek salvation on the terms of it, (p. 11. c.) and a falling in with the terms of salvation proposed in the gospel, with a renouncing of all other ways, (which he speaks of as agreeable to Mr. Stoddard’s opinion, p. 32. b. c.) Quite contrary to the current doctrine of Calvinistic divines; contrary to the opinion of Mr. Guthrie, whom he cites as a witness in his favour, (pref. p. 4.) who insists on satisfaction with that device for our salvation which is revealed in the gospel, and with the offer which God makes of himself to be our God in Christ, as the peculiar nature of saving faith. And contrary to the principles of Mr. Perkins (another author he quotes as his voucher) delivered in these very words, which Mr. W. cites in the present point, (p. 11.) “That a desire of the favour and mercy of God in Christ, and the means to attain that favour, is a special grace of God, and hath the promise of blessedness:—That wicked men cannot sincerely desire these means of eternal life, faith, repentance, mortification, reconciliation,” &c. And it is exceedingly contrary to the constant doctrine of Mr. Stoddard, (though he says it was his opinion,) who ever insisted, that all unconverted sinners under the gospel are so far from heartily consenting to the covenant of grace—and complying with the call of the gospel, and falling in with the terms of salvation proposed in it, renouncing all other ways, as Mr. W. supposes—that they are wilful rejecters of Christ, despisers of the gospel, and obstinate refusers of offered mercy. So he says, “The man that has but common grace—sets himself against the way of salvation which God prescribes.” (Nat. of Sav. Conv.) “In awakened sinners, it is not merely from weakness, but from pride and sturdiness of spirit, that they do not come to Christ.” (Safety of Ap. p. 229. c. d.) And in other places he says, that it is from the hardness and stubbornness of natural men’s hearts, that they do not comply with the gospel; That there is a mighty opposition in their hearts to believe in Christ, because it is cross to their haughty spirits; That they are enemies to this way of salvation; That they are dreadfully averse to come to Christ. (See Book of three Sermons, p. 84. Guide to Christ, p. 55. c. Safety of Ap. p. 106. and 194. e.)
And this scheme of our author is in a glaring manner contrary to the doctrine of Mr. Williams himself, in his sermon on Isa. xlv. 11. (p. 25, 26, 27.) Speaking to those whose natures remain unrenewed and unsanctified (see his 499 words p. 25. d.) he says, p. 27. b. c. “You are opposing all the means of your own deliverance and salvation. The offers of grace, the allurements and invitations of the great Saviour of the world, have all been ineffectual to persuade you to accept of deliverance from a slavery you are willingly held in. Nay, you strive against the liberty of the sons of God, and labour to find out all manner of difficulties and hinderances in the way of it. If you pray for it, you do not desire it should yet come, but would stay a while longer.” And are these the persons who can truly profess, that they comply with the call of the gospel, and submit to the proposals of it, and are satisfied with the device for our salvation, and with the offers of the gospel, and consent to the terms of the covenant of grace with all their hearts, renouncing all other ways? It is not much more easy to make these things consist with what he says in his answer to Mr. Croswell, (p. 26. b. c.) He there says, “There is not a son nor daughter of Adam excluded from salvation, who will accept Christ upon God’s offer, and take him in his person and offices, and whole work of redemption, to be their Saviour, and they find themselves willing to accept of Christ as so offered to them, and pleased with that device for their salvation, and heartily choosing him to be to them, and in them, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” (See also to the same purpose, Ibid. p. 32. e. and p. 33. a. b. and p. 94. c.)
Mr. W. though he holds, that it is lawful for some unsanctified men to come to sacraments, yet supposes it not to be lawful for those that are lukewarm in religion to come, (p. 35. d. e.) So that according to his scheme some unsanctified professors are above lukewarmness: that is to say, their hearts within them are truly hot or fervent with christian zeal, and they such as Christ will never spue out of his mouth; in a great inconsistence with the Scripture. He suggests, that it is an injury done to the cause of truth, in me, to represent Mr. Stoddard as being of another opinion, (p. 35. c. d. e.) But let us see whether such a representation be an injury to truth or no. Mr. S. taught, that natural men have no sincerity in them. (Guide to Christ, p. 60, 61.) That their hearts are dead as a stone, that there is no disposition or inclination to any thing that is good, but a total emptiness of all goodness. (Ibid. p. 63. b.) That some of them have considerable shows of goodness, there is an appearance of good desires, &c. but there is nothing of goodness in all this; that all they do is in hypocrisy. (Benef. of the Gos. p. 73. d. c.) That they are acted by a lust of self-love in all their religion;—If they are swept and garnished, they are empty: there may be some similitude of faith and love, but no reality, not a spark of goodness in their hearts; though corruption may be restrained, yet it reigns. He speaks abundantly to the same purpose in his sermon, entitled, Natural men are under the government of self-love.
And Mr. W. himself, in his sermon on Psal. xci. 1. describing carnal men, by which he means the same with unconverted men, (as is evident through the book, particularly p. 36. c.) says, p. 27, 28. that to such “Religion looks like a dull unpleasant kind of exercises, and so different from the sensual joys and pleasures which they choose, that they hate to set about it, as long as they dare let it alone; and would do as little as ever they can at it:—That when they durst not let it alone any longer, they set about it, but would fain despatch it as soon and as easily as they can; because it seems to them a miserable uncomfortable sort of life. Ask your own conscience, (says he,) see if this be not the truth of the case.”—Now let the reader judge, whether this be a description of persons whom it would be injurious to represent as having nothing above lukewarmness.
Another thing, which Mr. W. supposes must be professed in order to come to sacraments, and therefore according to him is what an unsanctified man can profess, and speak true, is, “That they with all their hearts cast themselves upon the mercy of God, to help them to keep covenant.” (p. 31. e. and p. 32. a.) And yet elsewhere he mentions a depending on Christ for things of this nature, as a discriminating mark of a true Christian. (Ser. on Christ a King and Witness, p. 19. c.) Under a use of examination, he there says, “Do you depend on Christ to protect you from all your spiritual enemies, to restore you to holiness, to subdue all your heart to the will of God, to make you partakers of his image and moral perfections, and in that way to preserve and lead you to your true perfection and eternal happiness.”
Mr. W. supposes (p. 36. a. b. c.) that the profession men must make in order to come to sacraments, implies real friendship to God, loving God more than his enemies, loving him above the world; and therefore according to Mr. W. unsanctified men may make this profession also, and speak true: contrary to the whole current of Scripture, which represents unsanctified men as the enemies of God, those that have not the love of God in them, under the power of a carnal mind, &c.—And contrary to the unanimous voice of all sound divines, yea, of the whole christian world. Mr. W. in the forementioned place blames me, that I had intimated (as he supposes) that the profession which Mr. Stoddard taught to be necessary, did not imply real friendship, and loving God above his enemies, and above the world. Let us then compare this with Mr. S—d’s doctrine, as extant in his writings. He speaks of it as a property of saving grace, wherein it specifically differs from common grace, that a true love to God prizes God above all the world. (Nat. of Sav. Conv. p. 7. b. c.) That every natural man prefers vain and base things before God. (Ibid. p. 96. b.) That they are all enemies to God, and the very being of God. (Ibid. p. 5. c. d. and p. 97.) That their hearts are full of enmity to God. (Ibid. p. 55. e.) That they have an aversion to those gracious actions of loving God, and trusting in Christ, and are under the dominion of a contrary inclination. (Ibid. p. 67.) That those of them whose consciences are enlightened, and are reforming their lives, have no love; and that it is a burden to them that they suspect there is such a God, that they wish there was not such an one. And that they are haters of God, and are so addicted to their own interest, that they have a bitter spirit towards God, have an ill affection to him, and are adversaries to his felicity. (Ibid. p. 97. Three Serm. p. 38, 39.) That they are governed by a spirit of self-love, and are wholly destitute of love to God; that some of them confess that they have but little love to God; but indeed they have not one spark of love to God in their hearts. (Three Serm. p. 48.) That they set their interest at the right hand of God’s glory,—as if God’s honour were not to be regarded, compared with their interest, &c. &c. (Ibid. p. 63, 64.)
So Mr. W. himself (Christ a King and Witness, p. 145. e.) plainly supposes, that before conversion men love the world more than God. For, speaking of the nature of the change wrought in conversion, he says, things are quite turned about, God and Christ are got into the place the world had before. Again (Ibid. p. 18. b.) he says, “You must know that there is no man who is not either a true subject to Christ, or his enemy. That man who does not submit to Christ as his King and Lord, by bearing true faith and allegiance to him, is the enemy of Christ and his kingdom. Such are all they who will not depend on him, believe in him, give up themselves and all to him.” And again, (p. 106. e. 107. a) “Man since the fall has a natural unlikeness to God, and hates the holiness and purity of the divine nature.” And in his sermon on Isa. xlv. 11. he says to his hearers, If your nature remain unrenewed and unsanctified,—you are the enemies of God and Christ by wicked works, and an impure heart.—But yet now it seems, some of these may profess real friendship to Christ, and loving him above the world, and speak true.
And these things are no less inconsistent with what Mr. W. says in the very book under consideration. He here says, (p. 36.) “Why should any divine now tell us, that these same professions do not imply that there are any pretences of any real friendship, that they import no pretence of loving God more, yea, not so much, as his enemies, no pretence to love God above the world?” When he himself is the divine that tells us so, or plainly supposes so in this very book of his. For, in p. 8, 9. having mentioned the profession communicants may be required to make, he then says, that such a profession contains all that is essential to true religion in it; and if this is the fruit of the love of God, it is true godliness: plainly supposing, that persons may have these things without the 500 love of God; as the reader will see more evidently if he views the place. So that the profession must imply real friendship, and love to God, even above the world; and yet must contain only such things as may be with or without the love of God indiscriminately.
Mr. W. allows, that in order to come to sacraments men ought to profess a subjection to Christ with all their hearts, (p. 10. d.) and to be devoted to the service of God, (p. 49. d.) and to give up themselves to Christ, to be taught, ruled, and led by him in a gospel-way to salvation, (p. 31. e. and p. 32. a.) And though he and Mr. Stoddard taught, that it is lawful for some unsanctified men to come to sacraments, yet Mr. W. supposes it to be unlawful for any to come to sacraments serving two masters; and says Mr. S. taught that they ought to covenant with God with their whole hearts, and give up all their hearts and lives to Christ. We are therefore to understand Mr. W. that some unsanctified men can profess all these things, and speak true. Strange doctrine for a christian divine! Let us see whether Mr. S. taught such doctrine. He taught that faith in Christ is the first act of obedience that any sinner does perform; that it is by faith that a man first gives himself to be God’s servant. (Safety of App. p. 228. e. p. 229. a.) That all those who are not converted, are under the dominion of sin, enemies to God. (Ibid. p. 5. c. d.) That there is no obedience to God in what they do, who have only common grace; that they do not attend the will of God. (Ibid. p. 7. d.) That all ungodly men are servants of Satan, and live in a way of rebellion against God. ( Ibid. p. 94. b.) That they are enemies to the authority of God; to the wisdom, power, and justice of God, yea to the very being of God; they have a preparedness of heart to all wickedness that is committed in the world, if God did not restrain them; that if they were in the circumstances that the fallen angels are in they would be as the very devils. (Ibid. p. 95.) That their hearts are like the hearts of devils, as full of sin as a toad is full of poison, having no inclination to any thing that is good. (Guide to Christ; p. 68. see also Benef. of the Gos. p. 130. a. b.) That they utterly neglect the end they were made for, and make it their business to serve themselves; they care not whether God’s glory sinks or swims. (Three Sermons, p. 62.) That they hate God, because God crosses them in his laws. (Ibid. p. 38. c.) These are the men, which Mr. W. supposes must, and may (some of them) truly profess a subjection to Christ with all their hearts, and to be devoted to Christ; and the men that Mr. S. taught, might covenant with God with their whole hearts, and give up all their hearts and lives to Christ. Mr. Stoddard taught, that men that have but common grace, go quite in another path than that which God directs to—That they set themselves against the way of salvation God prescribes. (Safety, p. 10.) That man in his natural state is an enemy to the way of salvation ; that he is an enemy to the law of God, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Ibid. p. 106. b. c.) But yet these, if we believe Mr. W. may truly profess a subjection to Christ with all their hearts, and give up themselves to him, to be taught, ruled, and led by him in a gospel-way of salvation. Yet if we believe him, we must have the trouble of disbelieving him again; for in these things he is as inconsistent with himself, as he is with Mr. S. For in his sermon on Isa. xlv. 11. (p. 26, 27.) he says to those whose natures are unrenewed and unsanctified, “If you are without Christ, you are in a state of slavery to sin, led about of divers lusts, and under the reigning power and dominion of your corruptions, which debase your souls, and bring them down from the dignity of their nature, to the vilest, most shameful, and accursed bondage. And by means of sin, ye are in bondage to the devil, the most hateful and accursed enemy of God and your own souls; 588588 And yet now it seems, some such do serve but one master, and give up themselves to Christ to be led by him. —and are opposing all the means of your own deliverance. The offers of grace, the calls and invitations of the gospel, have all been ineffectual to persuade you to accept of deliverance from a slavery you are willingly held in. Nay, you strive against the liberty of the sons of God.” And yet some of these are (if we believe what Mr. W. now says) subject to Christ with all their hearts, give up all their hearts and lives to Christ, and give up themselves to be taught, ruled, and led by him in a gospel-way to salvation.—Mr. W. in his sermons on Christ a King and Witness, (p. 81.) under a use of examination, giving marks of trial, says, “Have you unreservedly given up your souls and bodies to him? [viz. Christ.] You must be all Christ’s, and have no other master. You must be given to him without reserve, both in body and spirit, which are his.” But now it seems, these are no discriminating evidences of true piety: he says, (Ibid. p. 118) “A man naturally hates God should reign. And (p. 119. c.) speaking of the natural man, he says, “He hates to be controlled, and in all things subjected to God;—he really owns no God but himself.” But if so, then certainly he is not subject to God with all his heart.
Our author in the book more especially attended to, says, (p. 31. d. e.) He knows of nobody who has any controversy with me in what he calls my loose way of arguing, in my saying, “The nature of things seems to afford no good reason why the people of Christ should not openly profess a proper respect to him in their hearts, as well as a true notion of him in their heads.” And then, in that and the following page, proceeds to show what respect Mr. S. and those that think with him, suppose men must profess in order to come to the Lord’s supper; and (in p. 33. a.) speaks of such a profession as is equally honourable to Christ with a profession of saving grace. And, as according to Mr. W. no profession discriminating what is professed from common grace, can be required, so common grace must be supposed to be a proper respect to Christ in the heart. Now let us see what Mr. S. says. “There is (says he) an opposition between saving and common grace;—they have a contrariety one to another, and are at war one with the other, and would destroy one the other.—Common graces are lusts, and do oppose saving grace.” (Nat. of Sav. Conv. p. 9. d. e.) “Men that are in a natural condition, such of them as are addicted to morality and religion, are serving their lusts therein. The most orderly natural men do live an ungodly life;—yea, their very religion is iniquity.“ (Ibid. p. 96, 97.)—“Their best works are not only sinful, but properly sins; they are acted by a spirit of lust in all that they do.” (Saf. of App. p. 168. d.)—“Moral virtues do not render men acceptable to God ; for though they look like virtues, yet they are lusts.” (Ibid. p. 81.)—Now the question plainly is, Whether lust can be a proper respect to Christ in the heart? And, Whether a profession which implies no more in it, be equally honourable to Christ, as a credible profession of a gracious respect to him ?
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