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Instances of the seventh particular observed in Mr. W’s way of disputing, viz. His wholly overlooking arguments, pretending there is no argument, nothing to answer; when the case is far otherwise.
Thus in his reply to my tenth argument, which was this, “It is necessary, that those who partake of the Lord’s supper, should judge themselves truly and cordially to accept of Christ as their Saviour, and chief good; for this is what the actions, which communicants perform at the Lord’s table, are a solemn profession of.” I largely endeavoured (in p. 75, 76, and 77.) to prove this, from the nature of those significant actions, of receiving the symbols of Christ’s body and blood when offered, representing their accepting the thing signified, as their spiritual food, &c. To all which Mr. W. says,(p. 74. a.) “I do not find that Mr. Edwards has said any thing to prove the proposition, which is the whole argument offered here in proof of the point proposed to be proved, but only gives his opinion, or paraphrase, of the purport and nature of the sacramental actions.”—Since Mr. W. esteems us it no argument, I desire it may be considered impartially whether there be any argument in it or no.
These sacramental actions all allow to be significant actions: they are a signification and profession of something: they are not actions without a meaning. And all allow, that these external actions signify something inward and spiritual. And if they signify any thing spiritual, they doubtless signify those spiritual things which they 515 represent. But what inward thing does the outward taking or accepting the body and blood of Christ represent, but the inward accepting Christ’s body and blood, or an accepting him in the heart? And what spiritual thing is the outward feeding on Christ in this ordinance a sign of, but a spiritual feeding on Christ, or the soul’s feeding on him? Now there is no other way of the soul’s feeding on him, but by that faith, by which Christ becomes our spiritual food, and the refreshment and vital nourishment of our souls. The outward eating and drinking in this ordinance is a sign of spiritual eating and drinking, as much as the outward bread in this ordinance is a sign of spiritual bread; or as much as the outward drink is a sign of spiritual drink. And doubtless those actions, if they are a profession of any thing at all, are a profession of the things they signify. 600600 Mr. Stoddard owns, that the sacramental actions, both in baptism and the Lord’s supper, signify saving faith in Christ. Safety of App. p. 120. “By baptism is signified our fellowship with Christ in his sufferings. That is signified hereby, that we have an interest in the virtue of his sufferings, that his sufferings are made over unto us, and that we do participate in the good and benefit of them.——It was John the Baptist’s manner, before he baptized persons, to teach them that they must believe on Christ. And the apostles and apostolical men would not baptize any adult persons but such as professed to believe on Christ—He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved. Baptism is mentioned as the evidence of faith.”—So concerning the Lord’s supper, ibid. p. 122. e. 123. a. “In this ordinance we are invited to put our trust in the death of Christ Take, eat: this is my body: and drink ye all of it. When the body feeds on the sacramental bread and wine, the soul is to do that which answers unto it. The soul is to feed on Christ crucified; which is nothing else but the acting faith on him.” To say, that these significant actions are appointed to be a profession of something, but not to be a profession of the things they are appointed to signify, is as unreasonable as to say, that certain sounds or words are appointed to be a profession of something, but not to be a profession of the things signified by those words.
Again, Mr. W. in his reply to my answer to the second objection, with like contempt passes over the main argument which I offered, to prove that the nation of Israel were called God’s people, and covenant people, in another sense besides a being visible saints. My argument (in p. 85, 86.) was this: That it is manifest, something diverse from being visible saints, is often intended by that nation being called God’s people, and that the family of Israel according to the flesh—not with regard to any moral and religious qualifications—were in some sense adopted by God, to be his peculiar and covenant people; from Rom. ix. 3, 4, 5.—“I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren according to the flesh; who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, “ &c. I observed, that these privileges are spoken of as belonging to the Jews, not now as visible saints, not as professors of the true religion, not as members of the visible church of Christ, (which they did not belong to,) but only as a people of such a nation, such a blood, such an external carnal relation to the patriarchs, their ancestors; Israelites according to the flesh: inasmuch as the apostle is speaking here of the unbelieving Jews, professed unbelievers, that were out of the christian church, and open visible enemies to it; and such as had no right at all to the external privileges of Christ’s people.—I observed further, that in like manner this apostle in Rom. xi. 28, 29. speaks of the same unbelieving Jews, that were enemies to the gospel, as in some respect an elect people, and interested in the calling, promises, and covenants, God formerly gave their forefathers, and are still beloved for their sakes. “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes; but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
All that Mr. W. says, which has any reference to these things, is, “That he had read my explication of the name of the people of God, as given to the people of Israel, &c. But that he confesses, it is perfectly unintelligible to him. “The impartial reader is left to judge, whether the matter did not require some other answer.
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