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The fourth thing observed in Mr. W.‘s method of managing the controversy, particularly considered, viz. His advancing new and extraordinary notions, not only manifestly contrary to truth, but also to the common and received principles of the christian church.
Thus it is with regard to many things which have already been taken notice of. As, that men may be ungodly, and yet truly profess to love God more than the world; that men may be professors of religion and have no true grace, and yet not be lukewarm, but serve God as their only master; that such may profess to be subject to Christ with all their hearts, and to give up all their hearts and lives to Christ, and speak true, &c. &c.
I shall now take notice of another remarkable instance, viz. That Mr. W. in his reply to my argument from the epithets and characters given by the apostles to the members of visible christian churches, in their epistles, represents, (p. 56. d.) That there “is no difference in all the epithets and characters, which I had heaped up from the New Testament“ from those that are given in the Old Testament, to the whole body of the Jewish church; which he elsewhere abundantly suppose to be the whole body of the Jewish nation; yea, even in their worst times, till the nation was rejected and cast off by God from being any longer his people; as I shall have occasion particularly to observe afterwards.
That it may be the more easily judged, how manifestly this is contrary to truth, I shall here repeat some of those epithets and characters I before mentioned, to which Mr. W. has reference. This is very manifest concerning most of them; but that I may not be tedious, I will now rehearse but a few instances: viz. Being “made free from sin, and becoming the servants of righteousness;” Having “the spirit of adoption:” Being “the children of God, heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ:” Being “vessels of mercy, prepared unto glory:” Being such “as do not live to themselves, nor die to themselves; but live to the Lord, and die unto the Lord;” and who “living and dying are the Lord’s:” Being those that have “all things for theirs, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; because they are Christ’s”: Being “begotten through the gospel:” Being such as “shall judge the world:” Being “washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God:” Being “manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, written not with ink, but by the Spirit or the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart:” Being such as “behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and are changed into the same image, from glory to glory:” Being “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before him in love; and predestinated unto the adoption of children:” Being “sealed by that holy spirit of promise:” Being “quickened, though once dead in trespasses and sins:” Being “made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:” Being “dead, and having their life hid with Christ in God;” and being those who, “when Christ who is our life shall appear, shall also appear with him in glory; having put off the old man with his deeds, and having put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him:” Being “begotten again to a living hope—to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them; who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation; who love Christ, though they have not seen him; in whom, though now they see him not, yet believing, they rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; having purified their souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit; knowing him that is from the beginning; 514 having their sins forgiven; having overcome the wicked one; having an unction from the Holy One, by which they know all things; who are now the sons of God; and who, when Christ shall appear, shall be like him, because they shall see him as he is.”
Now let the christian reader judge, with what face of reason our author could represent as though there were nothing in all these epithets and characters, more than used of old to be given to the whole nation of the Jews, and that even in times of their greatest corruption and apostacy, till the nation was rejected of God! One would think, there is no need of arguing the matter with any that have read the Bible.
This representation of Mr. W.‘s is not only very contrary to truth, but also to the common sentiments of the christian church. Though I pretend not to be a person of great reading, yet I have read enough to warrant this assertion. I never yet (as I remember) met with any author that went the same length in this matter with Mr. W. but Mr. Taylor, of Norwich, in England, the author who lately has been so famous for his corrupt doctrine. In his piece which he calls A Key to the Apostolic Writings, where he delivers his scheme of religion, (which seems scarcely so agreeable to the christian scheme, as the doctrine of many of the wiser heathen,) he delivers the same opinion, and insists largely upon it; it being a main thing to establish his whole scheme. And it evidently appears, in the manner of his delivering it, that he is sensible it is exceeding far from what has hitherto been the commonly received sentiment in the christian world. He supposes that as all those epithets and characters belong to the whole nation of the Jews, even in their most corrupt times, so they belong to all christendom, even the most vicious parts of it; that the most vicious men, who are baptized, and profess to believe Jesus to be the Messiah, are “chosen before the foundation of the world, predestinated according to the foreknowledge of God, regenerated, justified, sanctified, children of God, heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ, the spouse of Christ, the temple of God, made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ, being the family of heaven,” &c. &c. And certainly he may with as good reason, and with the same reason, suppose this of all christendom, even the most vicious parts of it, as of the whole nation of the Jews, however corrupt, till there was a national rejection of them.
Indeed, it is manifest there is no other way of evading the force of the argument from the epistles, but by falling into Taylor’s scheme. If his scheme of religion be not true, then it is plain as any fact in the New Testament, that all the christian churches, through the whole earth, in the apostles’ days, were constituted in the manner that I insist on. The Scripture says ten times as much to demonstrate this matter, as it does about the manner of discipline, officers and government of the church, or about the several parts of the public worship, or the sanctification of the christian sabbath.
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