« PreviousContinue »
privileges, and are never lawfully given or received but under that notion. Whereas, it is not so with prayer and hearing the word: And therefore they who have no interest in the covenant of grace, and are in no respects God's covenant-people, may lawfully hear the word and pray. But it is agreed on all hands that they who are not in some respects God's covenant-people, may not come to sacraments: And the reason is this, because sacraments are covenant-privileges. And this same reason will prove, that none but true believers, or those that have saving faith, the only condition of the covenant of grace, have a right to sacraments. For, as was observed before, the condition of any covenant is the condition of all the benefits or privileges of that covenant. (See Part II. sect. 8.)
The fourth thing observed in Mr. W.'s method of managing the controversy, particularly considered, viz. His advancing new and extraordinary notions, not only manifestly contrary to truth, but also to the common and received principles of the Christian church.
Thus it is with regard to many things which have already been taken notice of. As, that men may be ungodly, and yet truly profess to love God more than the world; that men may be professors of religion and have no true grace, and yet not be lukewarm, but serve God as their only master; that such may profess to be subject to Christ with all their hearts, and to give up all their hearts and lives to Christ, and speak true, &c. &c.
I shall now take notice of another remarkable instance, viz. That Mr. W. in his reply to my argument from the epithets and characters given by the apostles to the members of visible Christian churches, in their epistles, represents (p. 56. d.) that there is no difference in all the epithets and characters, which I had heaped up from the New Testament," from those that are given in the Old Testament, to the whole body of the Jewish church; which he elsewhere abundantly supposes to be the whole body of the Jewish nation; yea, even in their worst times, till the nation was rejected and cast off by God from being any longer his people; as I shall have occasion particularly to observe afterwards.
That it may be the more easily judged, how manifestly this is contrary to truth, I shall here repeat some of those epithets and characters I before mentioned, to which Mr. W. has refer
ence. This is very manifest concerning most of them: but that I may not be tedious, I will now rehearse but a few instances, viz. Being made free from sin, and becoming the servants of righteousness: Having the spirit of adoption: Being the children of God, heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ: Being vessels of mercy, prepared unto glory: Being such as do not live to themselves, nor die to themselves; but live to the Lord, and die unto the Lord; and who living and dying are the Lord's : Being those that have all things for theirs, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; because they are Christ's: Being begotten through the gospel: Being such as shall judge the world: Being washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God: Being manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, written not with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart: Being such as behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and are changed into the same image from glory to glory: Being chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before him in love; and predestinated unto the adoption of children: Being sealed by that holy spirit of promise: Being quickened, though once dead in trespasses and sins: Being made meet to be takers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Being dead, and having their life hid with Christ in God; and being those who when Christ who is our life shall appear, shall also appear with him in glory; having put off the old man with his deeds, and having put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him: Being begotten again to a living hope-to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them; who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation; who love Christ, though they have not seen him ; in whom, though now they see him not, yet believing, they rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; having purified their souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit; knowing him that is from the beginning; having their sins forgiven; having overcome the wicked one; having an unction from the holy one, by which they know all things; who are now the sons of God; and who, when Christ shall appear, shall be like him, because they shall see him as he is.
Now let the Christian reader judge, with what face of reason our author could represent as though there were nothing in all these epithets and characters, more than used of old to be given to the whole nation of the Jews, and that even in times of their greatest corruption and apostacy, till the nation was rejected 69
of God! One would think there is no need of arguing the matter with any that have read the Bible.
This representation of Mr. W.'s is not only very contrary to truth, but also to the common sentiments of the Christian church. Though I pretend not to be a person of great reading, yet I have read enough to warrant this assertion. I never yet (as I remember) met with any author that went the same length in this matter with Mr. W. but Mr. Taylor of Norwich, in England, the author who lately has been so famous for his corrupt doctrine. In his piece, which he calls A Key to the Apostolic Writings, where he delivers his scheme of religion, (which seems scarcely so agreeable to the Christian scheme, as the doctrine of many of the wiser Heathen,) he delivers the same opinion, and insists largely upon it; it,being a main thing to establish his whole scheme. And it evidently appears, in the manner of his delivering it, that he is sensible it is exceeding far from what has hitherto been the commonly received sentiment in the Christian world. He supposes that as all those epithets and characters belong to the whole nation of the Jews, even in their most corrupt times, so they belong to all Christendom, even in the most vicious parts of it; that the most vicious men, who are baptized, and profess to believe Jesus to be the Messiah, are chosen before the foundation of the world, predestinated according to the foreknowledge of God, regenerated, justified, sanctified, children of God, heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ, the spouse of Christ, the temple of God, made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ, being the family of heaven, &c. &c. And certainly he may with as good reason, and with the same reason, suppose this of all Christendom, even the most vicious parts of it, as of the whole nation of the Jews, however corrupt, till there was a national rejection of them.
Indeed, it is manifest there is no other way of evading the force of the argument from the epistles, but by falling into Taylor's scheme. If his scheme of religion be not true, then it is plain as any fact in the New Testament, that all the Christian churches, through the whole earth, in the apostles' days, were constituted in the manner that I insist on. The scripture says ten times as much to demonstrate this matter, as it does about the manner of discipline, officers and government of the church, or about the several parts of the public worship, or the sanctification of the Christian sabbath.
Instances of the fifth and sixth particulars, in Mr. W.'s method of disputing, viz. his using confident and peremptory assertions, and great exclamations, instead of arguments.
We have an instance of the former, in his reply to my answer to the 14th objection, viz. That it is not unlawful for unsanctified men to carry themselves like saints. I objected against this, if thereby be meant, that they may lawfully carry themselves externally like saints in all respects, remaining ungodly; and mentioned some things which belonged to the external duty of godly men, which no ungodly man, remaining such, may do. To which Mr. W. makes no reply; but to prove the point says, " Mr. S. knew, and all divines know, That the external carriage of some unsanctified men is to the outward appearance, and the public judgment of the church, the same with the carriage of the saints; and they know they are bound to such a behaviour." And this peremptory confident assertion is all the argument he brings to prove the thing asserted.
Again, I observe, that sometimes Mr. W. uses great exclamation, as though he intended to alarm, and excite terror in his readers, and raise their indignation; though they are perhaps never likely to know for what. We have two very remarkable instances of this, (p. 136 and 137.) where he says, “I shall further take notice of two extraordinary and surprising passages, if I understand them. And I have with great diligence tried to find out the meaning of them. One is p. 129. between the 17th and 23rd lines; if it be rightly printed."-He does not quote my words: This mighty exclamation would have become too flat, and appeared ridiculous, if he had. The passage referred to is in these words-" Indeed such a tendency, (i. e. a tendency to irreligion and profaneness,) it would have, to shut men out from having any part in the Lord, in the sense of the two tribes and half, (Josh. xxii. 25.) or to fence them out by such a partitionwall, as formerly was between Jews and Gentiles; and so to shut them out as to tell them, if they were never so much disposed to serve God, he was not ready to accept them: According to the notion the Jews seem to have had of the uncircumcised Gentiles." That is, plainly to shut them out so as to tell them that let them have hearts never so well and piously disposed to love and serve God, their love and service could not be accepted. This doubtless would have a tendency to discourage religion in men. And how the owning of it, is an owning my scheme to have such a tendency, I do not know. Mr. W. might as well have picked out any other sentence through all the 136 pages of the book,
and called it an extraordinary passage, and stood astonished over it, and told how he was ready to doubt whether it was rightly printed, and what great diligence he had used to find out the meaning of it!
The other extraordinary passage he stands thunderstruck with, is in these words; "May it not be suspected, that this way of baptizing the children of such as never make any proper profession of godliness, is an expedient originally invented for that very end, to give ease to ancestors with respect to their posterity, in times of great declension and degeneracy." Mr. W. knows, that through the whole of my book I suppose, this practice of baptizing the children of such as are here spoken of, is wrong; and so does he too; for he abundantly allows, that persons in order to be admitted to the privileges of visible saints, must make a profession of real piety, or gospel-holiness. And if it be wrong, as we are both agreed, then surely it is nothing akin to blasphemy, to suspect that it arose from some bad cause.
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 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