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Mr. W.‘s inconsistence with himself, in what he says in answer to my third and fourth arguments, and in his reply to my arguments from the Acts, and the Epistles.
The last thing observed in Mr. W.‘s way of disputing, is his alleging and insisting on things wherein he is inconsistent with himself. His inconsistencies are of many sorts. Sometimes he alleges those things that are inconsistent with the doctrine of those whose principles he pretends to maintain.—He abundantly urges those things against my scheme, which are in like manner against his own. He often argues against those things which he allows, and strenuously insists on. He denies what he affirms, and affirms what he utterly denies; laying down and urging those things which are contrary to what he says in other books; and sometimes contrary to what he says in the same book. Yielding up the thing wherein the argument lies, yet strenuously maintaining the argument.—Allowing both premises and consequence, yet finding fault, and opposing. Sometimes he urges things which are contrary to what he says under different arguments; and sometimes contrary to what he says under the same argument. Sometimes he contradicts himself in the plain sense and meaning of what he says; at other times even in plain terms. Sometimes in effect contradicting himself in the same breath, and in the same sentence.
These various kinds of inconsistence have many of them been already observed. And will further appear by a particular consideration of what he says on several heads, in what remains.
In my third argument, I insisted, that it could not be much to God’s honour, for men to profess the assent of their judgment to the true religion, without pretending to any real friendship or love to God in their hearts. Mr. W. in opposition, (p. 34. d. e.) speaks of it as an honour to God, that secret hypocrites openly declare their conviction of the truth of God’s word, &c. as in the multitude of subjects is the king’s honour. And yet he himself represents the matter quite otherwise in his sermons on Christ a King and Witness; there (p. 87. a.) he has these words, ” to promote the kingdom of Christ, is not to do that which may prevail with men to make pretences that they are Christians, or that they own Jesus Christ as their Saviour, and to call him Lord, Lord, when really he is not so.”
In answer to my fourth argument (p. 35. d.) Mr. W. says, I make great misrepresentation of the matter, in insinuating that according to Mr. S—d’s scheme, (of which scheme he declares himself to be,) they who are admitted make a pretence of no more than moral sincerity, and common grace. And yet he insists, that when Philip required a profession of the eunuch’s faith his question designed no more than an assent of the understanding, (p. 51. a. b.) which he there distinguishes from saving faith: and says, that it is morally certain that his inquiry amounted to no more. And yet in his discourse on the same head (p. 49. c.) he inveighs against me for supposing it a consequence of the opinion of my opposers, that the eunuch, in order to come to sacraments, had no need to look at any such qualification in himself as saving faith.—Certainly the eunuch in making answer to Philip’s inquiry, had no need to look at any more than Philip inquired after. In p. 50. a. he says, “It does not seem at all probable, that Philip inquired any thing about the regeneration or sanctification of the eunuch.“ And yet in the next preceding sentence, he refers me over to another judgment, for representing as though my opposers supposed, that it was no matter whether a person coming to gospel-ordinances had any grace or not, and had no manner of need to inquire any thing about his sincerity.
And though he highly blames me for insinuating, as above, that my opposers require a pretence of no more than common grace and moral sincerity; yet in opposition to my insisting on a profession of saving faith, speaking of the profession which the apostles required, he says, (p. 58. c.) “It is certain, that a profession in these words, which was wont to be required, do sometimes import no more than a conviction of the understanding on moral evidence.” So he says concerning those whose admission into the christian church we have an account of in Acts ii. (p. 45. e.) “There is not one word said about any other faith, but believing that Jesus was the Messiah.“ And if so, then certainly no more was professed.
In p. 35. e. he allows, that all visible saints who are not truly pious, are hypocrites; and yet maintains, that the profession they make is no more than what they may make and speak honestly and truly. (p. 105. d. and 47. c.) How then are they all hypocrites, if they are honestly and truly what they profess to be?
In supporting the argument from John’s baptism, he insists, that the profession the people made, did not imply, that they had savingly repented: and that John openly supposed, that their profession did not imply it, in what he said to them. (p. 97. a. b. c.)—And (p. 98. a. b.) he says, “We read not a word of John’s inquiring whether these people made a credible profession of true piety.” And he there manifestly suggests, that John knew they were not pious, as he knew they were a generation of vipers. Yet how often elsewhere does Mr. W. insist, that men in order to come to sacraments must make a credible profession of true piety and gospel-holiness, and that they must in a judgment of charity be supposed to have real godliness?
In answer to my argument from the instance of the converts in Acts ii. Mr. W. speaking of their convictions, and being pricked in their hearts, (p. 45. c. d. e.) says, “They were convinced that Jesus was the true Messiah and Saviour, whom God had promised to Israel,—whereupon convinced of their sin, they cry out, What shall we do? To which the apostles reply, Repent and be baptized,—in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.—There is not one word said about any other faith, but believing that Jesus was the Messiah.“—And in the two next pages Mr. W. insists, that their gladly receiving the word can by no necessity from the text imply more, than that they now believed that Jesus was the Messiah, and that it was matter of joy to them that the Messiah was come.—So that we have this inconsistent account of the matter from Mr. W. that these people are first convinced that Jesus is the Messiah, and this is cause of distress to them: and they ask, what they shall do? Hereupon the apostles direct them to believe that Jesus is the Messiah; which they believed already, before they asked the question: but however, when they heard this, they believed that Jesus was the Messiah. They now found it out, as a new thing they did not know of before, and are glad at the joyful discovery; though just before they believed the same thing, and the discovery filled them with distress.
In p. 47. b. whereas it is said concerning these new converts,—” That such were added to the church, as were the saved“—Mr. W. says, the like appellation is given to the whole church of Israel. And in this and the foregoing page, he insists, that these converts were before in the church of Israel, and were not now admitted, but only continued as some of God’s people. But if these things were so, they were the saved before their conversion to Christianity, as much as after; and others that were in the Jewish church, that were not yet converted to Christianity, were as much the saved as they. And then why is their being saved spoken of as what was now brought to pass, and as a thing that distinguished the believing Jews from others?
In the same page, c. Mr. W. says, “we do not dispute but that the apostles supposed and believed in charity, so far as they had any thing to do to suppose or believe any thing about it, that God had given these persons saving repentance, and a heart-purifying faith.” And yet in p. 61. he speaks of the apostles as supposing the contrary of many of those that had been admitted into the primitive church; in that they speak of them, as such temples of God as might be destroyed: “which (says Mr. W.) cannot be true of sanctified persons, unless they can fall from grace.”
In his answer to the argument from Philip and the eunuch he supposes, that believing with all the heart is 519 only such a belief of the doctrine of Christianity as unsanctified men may have. And yet in that forementioned place, (Christ a King and Witness, p. 144.) he says, a man before he is renewed by the Holy Ghost, has a view of the truth as a doubtful uncertain thing. And in the book now especially attended to, he in effect owns the thing, which he earnestly disputes against in reply to this argument. He greatly insists, that the phrase, with all the hearty does not signify gracious sincerity; and yet he owns it does. (p. 51. e. and 52. a. b.) He owns, that according to the usual way of speaking among mankind, both in our days, and also in the times when the Scriptures were written, “god requires men to give him their hearts, intending by it such a sincerity as God will own and accept; which be sure (says he) is nothing less than a gracious sincerity; which never can be, unless the whole soul and all its faculties be engaged for God.” Then afterwards adds, “But how will this any ways prove, that when men use the same expressions, it must necessarily be understood in the same sense?” And yet in the same breath, he had observed that god in thus using the phrase, uses it according to the usual manner of speaking among mankind. He gives this reason, why the phrase need not be understood in the same sense when used by men, that men are not searchers of hearts. But the argument is about the phrase as Philip put it to the eunuch’s own conscience, which was or ought to be a searcher of his heart.
And by the way I must observe, that Mr. W. would have done well, if he was able, to have reconciled these repugnant things, taken notice of in my book; “That with the heart man believeth to righteousness,” and that if men believe with the heart that God raised Christ from the dead, they shall be saved; agreeable to Rom. x. 9, 10. And yet that men may believe this with their heart, yea, and with all their heart, and still not believe to righteousness, nor ever be saved. So likewise that “whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God;” as in 1 John iv. 15. And that ” whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God,” 1 John v. 1. And yet, that a man may believe this very thing ” with all his heart, and confess it with his mouth;” and this in the language of the same apostles and primitive ministers; and still not be born of God, nor have a spark of grace in him.
It may also be worthy to be considered, whether it be reasonable to suppose, that the faith which a man must profess, in order to being in the visible kingdom of Christ, and not in the visible kingdom of the devil, must not be some other sort of faith than that which the devil has: that seeing the very design of a public profession of religion is to declare on which side we are, whether on Christ’s, or on the devil’s, no other faith is required to be professed, than such as Satan himself has, and such as is not at all inconsistent with being a willing, cursed servant and slave of the devil, and enemy to Christ; as Mr. W. says all unsanctified men are.
Mr. W. in his reply to my argument from the epistles, (p. 55.) speaks of it as an unaccountable thing, that I should represent as if according to the principles of my opposites, the primitive Christians were not admitted under any such notion of their being really godly persons, or with any respect to such a character: 602602 So in p. 132. c. he exclaims against me thus; ” After all this, to repeat it again and again, that these persons have no visibility to reason of real, saintship, &c. I think, gives better ground to retort Mr. Edwards’s words and yet in his discourse on the same head, he abundantly insists, that it was not real holiness, but only federal holiness, which was the qualification to which the apostles had respect in admitting them; expressly, from time to time, distinguishing federal holiness from real. In p. 56. e. and 57. a. “It makes it evident (says he) that this manner of treating churches and bodies of men, and such expressions used to them and of them, are to be understood in no other sense, than to signify federal holiness.”—So in p. 60 he affirms the same thing, once and again, distinguishing federal holiness from real. He says, they formed no positive judgment of their real piety.—And knew nothing at all about them, but only that they were federally holy. And again, “They did not make a positive judgment, that these persons were really godly; and the high characters they gave them, and the hopes they expressed concerning them, could be understood in no other sense than as holding forth a federal holiness.”—So that by this, they expressed no hopes concerning any thing more than their federal holiness, as distinguished from real. And he argues earnestly, through the two next pages, that they could not be looked upon, many of them, as having real holiness. How does this consist with their being treated as visible saints; under the notion of their having real holiness, and from respect to such a character appearing on them? or with none being visible saints, but such as have a credible visibility of gospel-holiness?
So in p. 63. b. he speaks of the gross scandals of many of those to whom the apostles wrote, as an absolute proof, that they considered them only as federally holy; which he in the same place distinguishes from real holiness. Then how were they treated (as he insists) as those that had the character of real piety appearing on them, and as making a credible profession of gospel-holiness, and real Christianity? Which, he abundantly allows, all must make in order to being visible saints. See also p. 64. e.
In p. 58. Mr. W. insists, that it does not appear, that those who were admitted into the primitive church, made a declaration that they had saving faith, but only that they engaged to that faith.—But how does this consist with what he abundantly says elsewhere, that they must pretend to real piety, make a profession of gospel-holiness, exhibit moral evidence, that they have such holiness, &c.? These things are something else besides engaging to saving faith and gospel-holiness for the future.
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