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us to attribute to the allwise God any such an absurd and inconsistent constitution.
Mr. W. says, charity obliges the church to understand the words of the professors in the most favourable sense. But charity does not oblige us to understand their words in any other sense than that in which they professedly use them. But in churches which professedly act on Mr. W.'s scheme, (if any such there be, the professors who are admitted, professedly use ambiguous words, or words equally signifying two entirely distinct things, without discrimination or marks of difference; and therefore charity obliges us to understand their words no otherwise than as signifying that they have one or other of those two things; and not that they have one in particular: for their words do not signify this, in the sense they professedly use them. If a man that is indebted to me, professes that he has either gold or brass, which he promises to pay me; or if he uses an equivocal or general term, that equally, and without marks of difference, signifies either one or the other ; charity may oblige me to believe what he says, which is, that he has either gold or brass: but no charity obliges me to believe that he has gold, which he does
Mr. W. in his description of such a profession as Christ has instituted, in order to admission to Sacraments, often mentions two things, viz. A profession of something present, a present believing in Christ, and cordial consent to the terms of the covenant of grace, &c. And a promise of something future. And with regard to the latter, he is very full in it, that what is promised for time to come is saving faith, repentance, and obedience.* Now what reason can be given why we should use words of double meaning in the former part of the profession more than in the latter ? Seeing Mr. W. allows that we must profess gospel-holiness as well as promise it, and seeing we may and must make use of words of indiscriminate and double meaning in professing present gospel-holiness, why should not we do so too in promising what is future ; and so equivocate in our solemn vows and oaths
as the Papists do? If Mr. W. says it is very hard for men to discern the discrimination between moral sincerity and gospel-holiness; I answer, there is as much need to discern the difference in order understandingly to promise gospel-holiness with discrimination, as to profess it with discrimination.
Mr. W. says (p. 8. b. c.) “ It is a received rule among mankind, in all public judgments, to interpret words in the most extensive and favourable sense, that the nature of the words or ex. pressions will bear.” I know not what he means : But if he means (as he must, if he means any thing to the purpose) that it
* Pref. p. 3. d. e. & 5. d. p. 21.6. 25. b. 22. d, 27. a. 58. d. 69. d.
is a received rule among mankind, to trust, or accept, or at all regard any professions or declarations that men make, with professed design, in words of double and indiscriminate meaning, without any marks of difference by which their meaning can be known, for that very end that they may be used with a safe conscience, though they have no dictates of their own consciences, that they have what others are to believe they have; I say, if this be a received rule among mankind, it is a rule that mankind has lately received from Mr. W. Heretofore mankind, societies or particular persons, would have been counted very foolish for regarding such professions. Is this the way in earthly kingdoms, in professions of allegiance to temporal princes, in order to their admission to the privileges of good subjects? Do they choose equivocal terms to put into their oaths of allegiance, to that end that men may use them and speak true, though they are secret enemies ?—There are two competitors for the kingdom of this world, Christ and Satan the design of a public profession of religion is, to declare on which side men are. And is it agreeable to the custom of man. kind in such cases, to make laws that no other than ambiguous words shall be used, or to accept of such in declarations of this kind? There are two competitors for the kingdom of Great Britain, King George, and the Pretender ; Is it the constitution of King George and the British Parliament, that men should take oaths of allegiance, contrived in words of indeterminate signification, to the end that men who are in their hearts enemies to King George, and friends to the Pretender, may use them and speak true? And certainly mankind, those of them that have common sense, never in any affairs of life look on such professions as worth a rush. Would Mr. W. himself, if tried, in any affair wherein his temporal interest is concerned, trust such professions as these? If any man with whom he has dealings, should profess to him that he had pawned for him, in a certain place, a hundred pounds, evidently, yea professedly using the expression as an ambiguous one, so that there is no understanding by it, what is pawned there, whether a hundred pound in money, or a hundred weight of stones: If he should inquire of the man what he meant, and he should reply, you have no business to search my heart, or to turn my heart inside out; you are obliged in charity to understand my words in the most favourable sense: would Mr. W. in this case stick to his own received rule? would he regard such a profession, or run the venture of one sixpence upon it? Would he not rather look on such a man as affronting him, and treating him as though he would make a fool of him? And would not he know, that every body else would think him a fool, if he should suffer himself to be gulled by such professions, in things which concern his own private interest ? ---And yet it seems, this is the way in which he thinks he ought to conduct himself as a minister of Christ, and one intrusted by him in affairs wherein his honour and the interests of his kingdom are concerned.
And now I desire it may be judged by such as are possessed of human understanding, and are not disabled by prejudice from exercising it, whether this notion of Mr. W.'s of making a solemo profession of gospel-boliness in words of indiscriminate meaning, be not too absurd to be received by the reason God has given mankind. This peculiar notion of his is apparently the life and soul of his scheme; the main pillar of his temple, on which the whole weight of the building rests; which if it be broken, the whole falls to the ground, and buries the builder, or at least his work, in its ruins. For if this notion of his be disproved, then, in as much as it is agreed, that true god. liness must be prosessed, it will follow, that it must be professed in words properly signifying the thing by a determinate meaning, which therefore no ungodly men can use, and speak true ; and that therefore men must have true godliness in order to a right in the sight of God to make such profession, and to receive the privileges depending thereon: which implies and infers all those principles of mine which Mr. W. opposes in his book, and consutes all that he says in opposition to them.
Shewing that Mr. Williams, in supposing that unsanctified men
may profess such things, as he allows must be professed, and yet speak true, is inconsistent with Mr. Stoddard, and with himself
Mr. W. denies that in order to men being admitted to sacraments, they need make any peculiar profession, distinguished from what an unregenerate man may make, (p. 44. c. p. 50. e. 6. c, d. e. 9. c. 10. c. e. 45. e. 46. a. & 53. e.) or that they need to'profess any thing but what an unregenerate man may say, and speak true, (p. 47. c.). And that they need make no profession but what is compatible with an unregenerate state, (p: 8. d. e.) And yet the reader has seen what things he says all must prosess in order to come to sacraments. One thing he says they must profess, is a real conviction of the heart, of the divine truth of God's word ; that they do sincerely and with all their hearts believe the gospel. And these things, he says, are agreeable to the opinion of Mr. Stoddard, and the doctrine he taught, (p. 32. b. c. & p. 36. a.) Let us compare these things with the doctrine Mr. S. taught Mr. S. taught, that natural men do not believe the gospel, (Benef. of the Gosp. p. 89. b.) that they do not properly believe the word
of God. (Guide to Christ, p, 26. d.) That they do not believe the testimony of God, do not lay weight on the word of God ; that they do not believe the report of the gospel. (Safety of Ap. Edit. 2. p. 229. c. e.) That they do not receive God's testimony, nor lay weight on it. (Ibid. p. 99.) That there is no man, how great soever his profession, how large soever his knowledge, that continues in a natural condition, who thoroughly believes that truth; i. e. that men may be saved by Christ's righteousness. (Ibid. p. 4. d. &
p. 5. d. e.) That common illumination does not convince men of the truth of the gospel. (Benef. of the Gosp. p. 148, 149.) How then could it be the doctrine Mr. S. taught, that natural men may really and with all their hearts believe and be convinced of the truth of the gospel ?
And Mr. W. himself, in his sermons on Christ a King and Witness, (p. 114, 115.) says, “ man since the fall is naturally ig. norant of divine truth, and an enemy to it, and full of prejudices against the truth :” and further, (Ibid. p. 114.) “ The renewing of the Holy Ghost makes an universal change of the heart and life.He knows the doctrine contained in the Bible in a new manner.—Before he had a view of the truth as a doubtful uncertain thing; he received it as a thing whih was probably true ; —and perhaps for the most part it appeared something likely to answer the end proposed. But now the gospel appears to him divinely true and real," &c. But how do these things consist with men being, before conversion, sincerely and with all their hearts convinced of the divine truth of the gospel? Can that be, and yet men view it as a doubtful uncertain thing, as not yet appearing to them divinely true and real ?
Again, Mr. W. supposes, that some unsanctified men may speak true, and profess a hearty consent to the terms of the covenant of grace, a compliance with the call of the gospel, submission to the proposals of it, satisfaction with that device for our salvation that is revealed in the gospel, and with the offer which God makes of himself to be our God in Christ Jesus, a fervent desire of Christ and the benefits of the covenant of grace, and an earnest purpose and resolution to seek salvation on the terms of it, (p. 11. c.) and a falling in with the terms of salvation proposed in the gospel, with a renouncing of all other ways, (which he speaks of as agreeable to Mr. Stoddard's opinion, p. 32. b. c.) Quite contrary to the current doctrine of Calvinistic Divines; contrary to the opinion of Mr. Guthrie, whom he cites as a witness in his favour, (pref. p. 4.) who insists on satisfaction with that device for our salvation which is revealed in the gospel, and with the offer which God makes of himself to be our God in Christ, as the peculiar nature of saving faith. And contrary to the principles of Mr. Perkins (another author he quotes as his voucher) delivered in these very words, which Mr. W
cites in the present point. (p. 11.) “ That a desire of the favour and mercy of God in Christ, and the means to attain that favour, is a special grace of God, and hath the promise of blessedness :—That wicked men cannot sincerely desire these means of eternal life, faith, repentance, mortification, reconciliation,” &c. And it is exceedingly contrary to the constant doctrine of Mr. Stoddard, (though he says it was his opinion,) who ever insisted, that all unconverted sinners under the gospel are so far from heartily consenting to the covenant of grace—and complying with the call of the gospel, and falling in with the terms of salvation proposed in it, renouncing all other ways, as Mr. W.supposes--that they are wilful rejecters of Christ, despisers of the gospel, and obstinate refusers of offered mercy. So he says, “ The man that has but common grace-sets himself against the way of salvation which Gud prescribes." (Nat. of Sav. Conv.) “ In awakened sinners, it is not merely from weakness, but from pride and sturdiness of spirit, that they do not come to Christ.” (Safety of Ap. p. 229. c. d.) And in other places he says, that it is from the hardness and stubbornness of natural men's hearts, that they do not comply with the gospel ; That there is a mighty opposition in their hearts to believe in Christ, because it is cross to their haughty spirits ; That they are enemies to this way of salvation ; That they are dreadfully averse to come to Christ. (See Book of three Sermons, p. 84. Guide to Christ, p. 55. c. Safety of Ap. p. 106. & 194. e.)
And this scheme of our author is in a glaring manner contrary to the doctrine of Mr. Williams himself, in his sermon on Isaiah xiv. 11. (p. 25, 26, 27.) Speaking to those whose natures remain unrenewed and unsanctified (see his words p. 25. d.) he says, p. 27. b.c. “ You are opposing all the means of your own deliverance and salvation. The offers of grace, the allurements and invitations of the great Saviour of the world, have all been ineffectual to persuade you to accept of deliverance from a slavery you are willingly held in. Nay, you strive against the liberty of the sons of God, and labour to find out all manner of difficulties and hindrances in the way of it. If you pray for it, you do not desire it should yet come, but would stay a while longer." And are these the persons who can truly profess, that they comply with the call of the gospel, and submit to the proposals of it, and are satisfied with the device for our salvation, and with the offers of the gospel, and consent to the terms of the covenant of grace with all their hearts, renouncing all other ways? It is not much more easy to make these things consist with what he says in his answer to Mr. Croswell, (p. 26. 6. c.) He there says, “ There is not a son nor daughter of Adam excluded from salvation, who will accept Christ upon God's offer, and take him in his person and offices, and whole work of redemption, to be their