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The unreasonableness and inconsistence of Mr. W.‘s answer to my argument from the man without a wedding garment, and concerning brotherly love, and from 1 Cor. xi. 28. and of what he says in support of the 15th objection.
Mr. W. in answering my argument from Matt. xxii. 11. allows that the king’s house, into which the guest came, is the visible church, (p. 43. c. and 44. d.) So that the man’s coming in hither, is his coming into the visible church. Nor does he at all dispute but that by the wedding garment is meant saving grace; (for truly the thing is too evident to be disputed;) and yet he says, (p. 43. b. c.) “We read nothing of Christ condemning the man for coming into the church without saving grace.” So that Mr. W.‘s answer amounts plainly to this; the king, when he comes to judgment, will say, I do not at all condemn thee for coming in hither without a wedding garment; but friend, how comest thou in hither without a wedding garment? And no wonder; the case is too plain to allow of any other than such a lamentable refuge as this is.—If the wedding garment be saving grace, which is not denied; and if coming into the king’s house be coming into the visible church, as Mr. W. owns; then if the king condemns the man for coming into the house without a wedding garment, he condemns him for coming into the visible church without saving grace.
It is plain, the thing the man is blamed for, is something else than simply a being without grace, or without a wedding garment. The king’s words have respect to this as it stands in connexion with coming into the king’s house. If Christ has commanded men who are not converted, to come into the church, that they may be converted, he will never say to them, upon their obeying this command, Friend, how comest thou in hither before thou wast converted? Which would be another thing than blaming him simply for not being converted. If a man, at his own cost, sets up a school, in order to teach ignorant children to read; and accordingly ignorant children should go thither in order to learn to read, would he come into the school, and say in anger to an ignorant child that he found there, How comest thou in hither, before thou hadst learnt to read? Did the apostle Paul ever rebuke the heathen, who came to hear him preach the gospel, saying, How came you hither 520 to hear me preach, not having grace? This would have been unreasonable, because preaching is an ordinance appointed to that end, that men might obtain grace. And so, in Mr. W.‘s scheme, is the Lord’s supper.—Can we suppose, that Christ will say to men in indignation, at the day of judgment, How came you to presume to use the means I appointed for your conversion, before you were converted!
It is true, the servants were to invite all. both bad and good, to come to the feast, and to compel them to come in: but this does not prove, that bad men, remaining in their badness, have a lawful right to come. The servants were to invite the vicious, as well as the moral; they were to invite the heathen, who were especially meant by them that were in the highways and hedges: yet it will not follow, that the heathen, while remaining heathen, have a lawful right to come to christian sacraments. But heathen men must turn from their heathenism, and come: so likewise wicked men must turn from their wickedness, and come.
I endeavoured to prove, that that brotherly love, which is required towards the members of the christian church in general, is such a love as is required to those only whom we have reason to look upon as true saints. Mr. W. disputes, through two pages, (p. 66, 67 ) against the force of my reasoning to prove this point; and yet when he has done, he allows the point. He allows it (p. 68. d, e.) as an undisputed thing, that it is the image of God and Christ appearing or supposed to be in others, that is the ground and reason of this love. And so again (p. 71. d e.) he grants, that there must be some apprehension, and judgment of the mind, of the saintship of persons, in order to this brotherly love. Indeed he pretends to differ from me in this, that he denies the need of any positive judgment: but doubtless the judgment or apprehension of the mind must be as positive as love founded on that apprehension and judgment of the mind.
In p. 78, 79. he seems to insist, that what the apostle calls unworthy communicating, is eating in a greedy, disorderly, and irreverent manner: as though men might communicate without grace, and yet not communicate unworthily, in the apostle’s sense. But if so, the apostle differed much in his sense of things from Mr. W.—The latter says, in his sermon on Christ a King and Witness, (p. 77, 78.) “These outward acts of worship, when not performed from faith in Christ, and love to God, are mocking God—in their own nature a lie—the vilest wickedness;—instead of being that religion, which Christ requires, it is infinitely contrary to it—the most flagrant and abominable impiety, and threatened with the severest damnation.“ Is not this a communicating unworthily enough of all reason?
In p. 132, 133. Mr. W. strenuously opposes me in my supposition, that the way of freely allowing all that have only moral sincerity to come into the church, tends to the reproach and ruin of the church. On the contrary, he seems to suppose it tends to the establishing and building up of the church. But I desire that what Mr. Stoddard says, in his sermon on the danger of speedy degeneracy, may be considered under this head. He there largely insists, that the prevailing of unconverted men and unholy professors among a people, is the principal thing that brings them into danger of speedy degeneracy and corruption. He says, that where this is the case, there will be many bad examples, that will corrupt others; and that unconverted men will indulge their children in evil, will be negligent in their education; and that by this means their children will be very corrupt and ungoverned; 603603 If we have reason to expect it will be thus with ungodly parents, with respect to their children, then certainly such cannot reasonably expect ministers and churches should admit their children to baptism, in a dependence that they do give them up to God, and will bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, if they make no profession that implies more than moral sincerity; and none but what wicked men may as well make as the godly, and speak true. that by this means the godly themselves that are among them, will be tainted, as sweet liquor put into a corrupt vessel will be tainted; that thus a people will grow blind, will not much regard the warnings of the word, or the judgments of God; and that they will grow weary of religious duties after awhile; and that many of their leading men will be carnal; and that this will expose a people to have carnal ministers and other leading men in the town and church.
And I desire also, that here may be considered what Mr. W. himself says, in that passage forecited, (p. 86,87.) of his sermons on Christ a King and Witness; where, in explaining what it is to promote the kingdom of Christ, he says negatively, “That it is not to do that which may prevail on men to make pretences, that they are Christians, and that they own Jesus Christ as their Saviour, and to call him Lord, Lord, when really he is not so.” Which he supposes is the case with all unsanctified professors; for in the same book, he abundantly declares, that they who make such pretences, and have not true faith and love, make false and lying pretences; as has been several times observed.
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