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to them that they suspect there is such a God, that they wish there was not such a one. And that they are haters of God, and are so addicted to their own interest, that they have a bitter spirit towards God, have an ill affection to him, and are adversaries to his felicity,” Ibid. p. 97, Three Serm. p. 38, 39. “ That they are governed by a spirit of self-love, and are wholly destitute of love to God; that some of them do confess that they have but little love to God; but indeed they have not one spark of love to God in their hearts, Three Serm. p. 48. That they set their interest at the right hand of God's glory—as if God's honor were not to be regarded, compared with their interest, &c. &c., Ibid. p. 62, 63.
So Mr. Williams himself (Christ a King and Witness, p. 145) plainly supposes, that before conversion, men love the world more than God. For, speaking of the nature of the change wrought in conversion, he says, “ things are quite turned about, God and Christ are got into the place the world had before.” Again (Ibid. p. 18,) he says, “ You must know that there is no man who is not either a true subject to Christ, or his enemy. That man who does not sub mit to Christ as his King and Lord, by bearing true faith and allegiance to him, is the enemy of Christ and his kingdom. Such are all they who will not depend on him, believe in him, give up themselves, and all to him." And again, P. 106, 107,“ Man, since the fall, has a natural unlikeness to God, and hates the holiness and purity of the divine nature.” “And in his sermon on Isa. xlv. 11, he says, to his hearers, “ If your nature remain unrenewed and unsanctified you are the enemies of God and Christ by wicked works, and an impure heart.” But yet now it seems, some of these may profess real friendship to Christ, and loving hiin above the world, and speak true.
And these things are no less inconsistent with what Mr. Williams says in the very book under consideration. He here says, p. 36, “ Why should any divine now tell us, that these same professions do not imply that there are any pretences of any real friendship, that they import no pretence of loving God more, yea, not so much as his enemies, no pretence to love God above the world ?" When he hiinself is the divine that tells us so, or plainly supposes so in this very book of his. For, in p. 8, 9, having mentioned the profession communicants may be required to make, he then says that " such a profession contains all that is essential to true religion in it; and if this is the fruit of the love of God, it is true godliness :" plainly supposing, that persons may have these things without the love of God; as the reader will see more evidently if he views the place. So that the profession must imply real friendship, and love to God, even above the world; and yet must contain only such things as may be with or without the love of God, indiscriminately.
Mr. Williams allows, that in order to come to sacraments men ought to profess a “subjection to Christ with all their hearts, p. 10, and to be devoted to the service of God, p. 49, and to give up themselves to Christ, to be taught, ruled and led by him in a gospel way to salvation,” p. 31, and 32. And though he and Mr. Stoddard taught, that it is lawful for some unsanctified men to come to sacraments, yet Mr. Williams supposes it to be unlawful for any to come to sacraments serving two masters ; and says, Mr. Stoddard taught that they ought to covenant with God with their whole hearts, and give up all their hearts and lives to Christ.” We are therefore to understand Mr. Williams, that some una sanctified men can profess all these things, and speak true. Strange doctrine. for a Christian divine! Let us see whether Mr. Stoddard taught such doctrine. He taught that “ faith in Christ is the first act of obedience, that any sinner does perform ; that it is by faith that a man first gives himself to be God's serrant, Safety of Ap., 228, 229. That“ all those that are not converted, are
under the dominion of sin, enemies to God,” Ibid. p. 5. That 'there is no obedience to God in what they do," who have only common grace; that “ they do not attend the will of God,” Ibid. p. 7. That “all ungodly men are servants of Satan, and live in a way of rebellion against God," İbid. 94. That “they are enemies to the authority of God; to the wisdom, power and justice of God, yea, to the very being of God; they have a preparedness of heart to all wickedness that is committed in the world, if God did not restrain them; that if they were in the circumstances that the fallen angels are in, they would be as the very devils, Ibid. p. 95. That their hearts are like the hearts of devils, as full of sin as a toad is full of poison, having no inclination to any thing that is good,” Guide to Christ, p. 68; see also Benef. of the Gosp., p. 103. That " they utterly neglect the end they were made for, and make it their business to serve themselves; they care not whether God's glory sinks or swims,” Three Serm. p. 62. That “they hate God, because God crosses them in his laws," Ibid. p. 38. These are the men, which Mr. Williams supposes must, and may (some of them) truly profess a subjection to Christ with all their hearts, and to be devoted to Christ; and the men which he would bear us in hand, that Mr. Stoddard taught, might covenant with God with their whole hearts, and give up all their hearts and lives to Christ. Mr. Stoddard taught, that “men that have but common grace, go quite in another path than that which God directs to;" that " they set themselves against the way of salvation God prescribes,” Safety, p. 10. That" man in his natural state is an enemy to the way of salvation;" that “he is an enemy to the law of God, and the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Ibid. p. 106.
But yet these, if we believe Mr. Williams, may truly profess a subjection to Christ with all their hearts, and give up themselves to him, to be taught, ruled, and led by him in a gospel way of salvation. Yet if we believe him, we must have the trouble of disbelieving him again; for in these things he is as inconsistent with himself, as he is with Mr. Stoddard. For in his sermon on Isa. xlv. 11, p. 26, 27, he says to those whose natures are unrenewed and unsanctified, “ If you are without Christ, you are in a state of slavery to sin, led about of divers lusts,* and under the reigning power and dominion of your corruptions, which debase your souls, and bring them down from the dignity of their nature, to the vilest, most shameful and accursed bondage. And by means of sin ye are in bondage to the devil, the most hateful and accursed enemy of God and your own souls; and are opposing all the means of your own deliverance. The offers of grace, the calls and invitations of the gospel, have 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 yet some of these are (if we believe what Mr. Williams now says) such as are subject to Christ with all their hearts, give up all their hearts and lives to Christ, and give up themselves to be taught, ruled, and led by him in a gospel way to salvation. Mr. Williams, in his sermons on Christ a King and Witness, p. 18, under a use of examination, giving marks of trial, says, “Have you unreservedly given up your souls and bodies to him (viz. Christ] ? You must be all Christ's and have no other master. You must be given to him without reserve, both in body and spirit, which are his.” But now it seems these are no discriminating evidences of true piety: he says, p. 118," A man naturally hates God should reign." And p. 119, speaking of the natural man, he says, “He hates to be controlled, and in all things subjected to God.—He really owns no God but himself.” But if so, then certainly he is not subject to God with all his heart.
And yet now it seems, some such do serve but one master, and give up themselves to Christ to be led by him.
to Mr. Wonorable ord's sup
Our author in the book more especially attended to, says, p. 31, He“ knows of nobody who has any controversy with me in what he calls my loose way of arguing,” in my saying, “ The nature of things seems to afford no good reason why the people of Christ should not openly profess a proper respect to him in their hearts, as well as a true notion of him in their heads.” And then in that and the following page, proceeds to show what respect Mr. Stoddard, and those that think with him, suppose men must profess in order to come to the Lord's supper; and in p. 33, speaks of such a profession as equally honorable to Christ with a profession of saving grace. And as according to Mr. Williams, no profession, discriminating what is. professed from common grace, can be required, so common grace must be supposed to be a proper respect to Christ in the heart. Now let us see what Mr. Stoddard says. “ There is (says he) an opposition between saving and common grace ;-they have a contrariety one to another, and are at war one with the other, and would destroy one the other. Common grace, are Lusts, and do oppose saving grace," Nat. of Sav. Conv. p. 9. “ Men that are in a natural condition—such of them as are addicted to morality and religion, are serving their LUSTS therein. The most orderly natural men do live an ungodly life ; yea, their very religion is iniquity," Ibid. p. 96, 97. “Their best works are not only sinful, but properly sins ; they are acted by a, SPIRIT OF Lust in all that they do,” Saf. of App. p. 168. “Moral virtues do not render men acceptable to God; for though they look like virtues, yet they are Lusts,” Ibid. p. 81. Now the question plainly is, whether Lust can be a proper respect to Christ in the heart? And, whether a profession which implies no more in it, be equally honorable to Christ, as a credible profession of a gracious respect to him?
Concerning visibility, without apparent probabihty.
ted than convece of in my book, wher cround of a rational lume
ose visible qualificati heart, which nevertheles that they are more
Mr. Stoddard (Appeal p. 16) says thus : “ Such persons as the apostles did admit into gospel churches, are fit to be admitted into them; but they admitted many that had not a thorough work of regeneration. Indeed by the rule that God has given for admissions, if carefully attended, more unconverted persons will be admitted than converted."
This passage I took notice of in my book, where I say, “ I would humbly inquire, how those visible qualifications can be the ground of a rational judga ment, that a person is circumcised in heart, which nevertheless at the same time, we are sensible, are so far from being probable signs of it, that they are more frequently without it than with it,” &c. This seems to be a terrible thing in Mr. Williams's way, which he strikes at from time to time; and is an impediment he boggles at exceedingly. One while he pretends, he can give a sufficient answer, p. 7,8. At another time he pretends, that I remove the diffi. culty myself, p. 12. Then again, in the same page he pretends to solve the difficulty; and then in the next page pretends, that if the case be as I say, “ That we cannot form a rational judgment that a thing is, which at the same time, and under that degree of light we then stand in, it is more probable is a mistaken one, than not,” yet it can argue nothing to the case ; seeing the judgment we do form, is directed by a rule which is appointed for us. But still, as if not satisfied with these answers and remarks, he seems afterwards to suggest
that Mr. Stoddard did not express this as his own sentiment, but as Mr. Cotton's, as a gentleman of the same principles with Mr. Mather, using it as argumene 'um ad hominem. See p. 33.
In p. 34, he expressly says, “ Mr. Stoddard does not say, that when the rule which God has given for admissions is carefully attended, it leaves reason to believe, that the greater part of those who are admitted, are enemies to God, &c.” [True, he does not say this in terms; but he says, “ More unconverted persons will be admitted than converted;" which is equivalent.] And in p. 133, Mr. Williams presumes confidently to affirm, that “Mr. Stoddard says this 'the thing forementioned not with peculiar relation to his own scheme, but only as an application of a saying of Mr. Cotton's, who was of a different opinion, and said upon a different scheme; to show that upon their own principles, The matter will not be mended.” But this is contrary to the most plain fact. For Mr. Stoddard having said, “ The apostles admitted many unconverted,” he immediately adds the passage in dispute, “Indeed by the rule," &c., plainly expressing his own sentiment; though he backs it with a saying of Mr. Cotton. So Mr. Cotton's words come in as a confirmation of Mr. Stoddard's; and not Mr. Stoddard's as an application of Mr. Cotton's. However, Mr. Williams delivers the same sentiments as his own, once and again in his book : he delivers it as his own sentiment, p, 34, “ That probably many more hypocrites, than real saints, do make such a profession, as that which must be accepted." He delivers it as his own sentiment, p. 61, That “the apostles judged it likely, that of the Christians taken into the church under their direction, as many were hypocrites in proportion to their number, as of those that were taken into the Jewish church.” And as to the latter, he delivers it as his sentiment, p. 24, That “ the body of the people were not regenerate.” So that, according to his own sentiments, when the Apostolic rule of taking in is observed, the body of those who are admitted will be hypocrites.
Now therefore I desire that this matter may be examined to the very bottom. And here let it be considered, whether the truth of the following things are not incontestable.
1. If indeed by the rule God has given for admissions, when it is carefully attended, more unconverted persons will be admitted than converted; then it will foilow, that just such a visibility, or visible appearance of saintship as the rule requires, is more frequently without real saintship than with it.
2. If Mr. Stoddard and Mr. Williams had just reason from the holy Scripture, and divine Providence to think thus, and to publish such a sentiment, and the Christian church has good reason to believe them; then God has given the Christian church in its present state (dark and imperfect as it is) good reason to think so too
3. If Christ, by the rule he has given for admissions, requires his churches to receive such a visibility or appearance, which he has given the same churches, at the same time, reason to judge to be an appearance, that for the most part is without godliness, or more frequently connected with ungodliness ; then he requires them to receive such an appearance, as he at the same time has given them reason to think does not imply a probability of godliness, but is attended rather with a probability of ungodliness. For that is the notion of probability: an appearance, which, so far as we have means to judge, is for the most part connected with the thing.* Therefore the sign or appearance, let it be what it
Mr. Locke thus defines probability (Hum. Und. 7th edit. 8vo. vul. 2, p. 273): “Probability is nothing but the appearance of such an agreement or disagreement, by the intervention of proofs, whose con. nection is not constant and immutable, or at least is not perceived to be so; but is, or appears FOR THE MOST PART to be so; and is enough to induce the mind to judge the proposition to be true, or false, rather than the contrary.”
will, implies a probability of that, which we have reason to think it is for the most part connected or attended with. Where there is only probability without certainty, there is a peradventure in the case on both sides; or in vulgar language, the supposition on each side stands a chance to be true. But that side which most commonly prores true in such a case, stands the best chance; and therefore properly on that side lies the probability.
4. That cannot be a credible visibility or appearance, which is not a probuble appearance. To say a thing is credible and not probable, is a contradiction.
And it is impossible rationally to judge a thing true, and at the same time rationally to judge a thing most probably not true. Therefore it is absurd (not to say worse to talk of any divine institution thus to judge. It would be to suppose, that God by his institution has made that judgment rational, which he at the same time makes improbable, and therefore irrational.
This notion of admitting members into the church of Christ without and against probability of true piety, is not only very inconsistent with itself, but very inconsistent with what the common light of mankind teaches in their dealings one with another. Common sense teaches all mankind, in admission of members into societies, at least societies formed for very great and important purposes, to admit none but those concerning whom there is an apparent probability, that they are the hearty friends of the society, and of the main designs and interests of it; and especially not to admit such, concerning whom there is a greater probability of their being habitual, fixed enemies. But thus it is according to Mr. Stoddard's and Mr. Williams 's doctrine, as well as the doctrine of the Scripture, with all unsanctified men in regard to the church of Christ: they are enemies to the head of the society, enemies to his honor and authority, and the work of salvation in the way of the gospel ; the upholding and promoting of which is the main design of the society. The church is represented in Scripture as the household of God, that are in a peculiar manner intrusted with the care of his name and honor in the world, the interests of his kingdom, the care of his jewels and most precious things: and would not common sense teach an earthly prince not to admit into his household, such as he had no reason to look upon so much as probable friends and loyal subjects in their hearts ; but rather friends and slaves in their hearts to his enemies, and competitors for his crown and dignity? The visible church of Christ is often represented as his city and his army. Now would not common sense teach the inhabitants of a besieged city to open the gates to none, but those concerning whom there is at least an apparent probability of their not being enemies? And would any imagine, that in a militant state of things it is a likely way to promote the interest of the war, to fill up the army with such as are more likely to be on the enemy's side in their hearts, than on the side of their lawful and rightful prince, as his faithful soldiers and subjects?
SECTION VII. Concerning the Lord's Supper being a converting ordinance. Though Mr. Williams holds, that none are to be admitted to the Lord's supper, but such as make a credible pretence or profession of real godliness,
And Mr. Williams himselt, p 139, says, “ 'Tis moral evidence of gospel sincerity, which God's word makes the church's rule," &c. Now, does such an appearance, as we have reason at the same time to think is more frequently without gospel holiness than with it, amount to moral evidence of gospel sincerity ?