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Christ says, Matt. xx. 16.. and again, Matt. xxii. 14.. that many are called, but few are chosen. By which it is evident, that there are many who belong to the visible church, and yet but few real and true saints; and that it is ordinarily thus, even under the New Testament, and in days of gospel-light: and therefore that visibility of saintship, whereby persons are visible saints in a scripture sense, cannot imply an apparent probability of their being real saints, or truly gracious persons.

Answ. In these texts, by those that are called, are not meant those who are visible saints, and have the requisite qualifications for christian sacraments; but all such as have the external call of the word of God, and have its offers and invitations made to them. And it is undoubtedly true, and has been matter of fact, for the most part, that of those called in this sense, many have been but only called, and never truly obedient to the call, few have been true saints. So it was in the Jewish nation, to which the parable in the twentieth of Matthew has a special respect; in general they had the external call of God’s word, and attended many religious duties, in hopes of God’s favour and reward, which is called labouring in God’s vineyard; and yet but few of them eventually obtained salvation; nay, great multitudes of those who were called in this sense, were scandalous persons, and gross hypocrites. The Pharisees and Sadducees were called, and they laboured in the vineyard, in the sense of the parable; for which they expected great rewards, above the Gentile converts or proselytes; wherefore their eye was evil towards them, and they could not bear that they should be made equal to them. But still these Pharisees and Sadducees had not generally the intellectual and moral qualifications, that my opponents suppose requisite for christian sacraments; being generally scandalous persons, denying some fundamental principles of religion, and explaining away some of its most important precepts. Thus, many in christendom are called, by the outward call of God’s word, and yet few of them are in a state of salvation: but not all who sit under the sound of the gospel, and hear its invitations, are fit to come to sacraments.

That by those who are called, in this saying of our Saviour, is meant those that have the gospel-offer, and not those who belong to the society of visible saints, is evident beyond all dispute, in Matt. xxii. 14.. By the many that are called, are plainly intended the many that are invited to the wedding. In the foregoing parable, we have an account of those who from time to time were bidden, or called, (for the word is the same in the original,) verse 3. “And went forth his servants to call them that were called, NOT ENGLISH and they would not come.” This has respect to the Jews, who refused not only savingly to come to Christ, but refused so much as to come into the visible church of Christ. Verse 4. “Again he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, [or called,] Behold I have prepared my dinner,” &c. Verse 8. “They which were bidden [or called] were not worthy,” Verse 9. “Go ye therefore into the high-ways, and as many as ye shall find, bid [or call, NOT ENGLISH ] to the marriage,” or nuptial banquet; representing the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles; who upon it came into the king’s house, i. e. the visible church, and among them one that had not a wedding-garment, who was bound hand and foot, and cast out when the king came: and then, at the conclusion, Christ adds this remark, verse 14. “For many are called or bidden [NOT ENGLISH ] but few are chosen;” which must have reference, not only to the man last mentioned, who came into the wedding-house, the christian visible church, without a wedding-garment, but to those also mentioned before, who were called, but would not so much as come into the king’s house, or join to the visible christian church. To suppose this saying to have reference only to that one man who came without a wedding-garment, (representing one that comes into the visible church, but is not a true saint,) would be to make the introduction of this aphorism, and its connexion with what went before, very strange and unintelligible, thus, ”Multitudes came into the king’s house, who were called, and the house was full of guests; but among them was found one man who was not chosen; for many are called, but few are chosen.

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