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has no claim to it. For God's helping a man savingly to believe in Christ is a saving blessing : and Mr. Williams himself owns, that a man cannot by promise claim any saving blessings, till he has fulfilled the conditions of the covenant of grace, p. 22, 28. So that in vain it is said by Mr. Williams, p. 27," I pray that it may be thoroughly considered what is propounded in the covenant of grace, and on what stock a man is to finish.” Meaning (as appears by the sequel) the stock of God's sufficiency. To what purpose is this said ? When the covenant of grace promises or makes over no such stock to him who has no interest in the promises of it, as having not yet complied with the condition of its promises. Nor does an unconverted man promise any thing in a humble depender ce on that stock: no such men do lay hold on God's strength, or trust in God's sufficiency: for this is a discriminating mark of a true saint ; as our author himself observes, in that forecited passage, in his sermons on Christ a King and Witness, p. 19.
I would here take notice of it as remarkable, that though Mr. Williams had owned that a natural man can claim no saving blessings by God's promise, yet to help out his scheme of a natural man's engaging and promising, even with an oath, the exercises of saving grace, he (in p. 27, 28, especially 28), speaking of the great encouragement on which unsanctified men can promise these things, supposes God has given such encouragement to them who promise and engage themselves to God with that degree of earnestness and sincerity which he often speaks of as requisite to communion, that we have reason to determine that God never will fail of bestowing on them saving grace; so that they shall fulfil their promises. I say, he supposes that we have reason to determine this, because he himself determines it. His words are these : “ Though there be no promise of saving good, exclusive of faith, yet there being a command and encouragement, there are suitable springs of his endeavor and hope, in his engaging himself to God and casting himself upon his mercy with all the earnestness and sincerity he can. God never will be worse than his encouragement, nor do less than he has encouraged, and he has said, To him that hath, shall be
Now, if this be so, and if this will make it out, that an unconverted man who is morally sincere may reasonably, on this encouragement, promise immediately to believe and repent, though this be not in his own power; then it will follow that whenever an unconverted inan covenants, with such moral sincerity as gives a lawful right to sacraments, God NEVER will fail of giving him converting grace that moment, to enable him from thenceforward to believe and repent as he promises. And if this be so, and none may lawfully covenant with God without moral sincerity (as Mr. Williarns also says), then it will follow that never any one person comes, nor can come lawfully to the Lord's supper in an unconverted state; because when they enter into covenant lawfully (supposing them not converted before) God always converts them in the moment of their covenanting, before they come to the Lord's table. And if so, what is become of all this grand dispute about the lawfulness of persons' coming to the Lord's table, who have not converting grace?
VI. Mr. Williams greatly misrepresents me from time to time, in representing as though. I had asserted, that “it is impossible for an unsanctified man to enter into covenant with God;" and that those who were unsanctified among the Israelites, did not enter into covenant with God; that the pretended covenanting of such is not covenanting, but only lying, wilful lying ; and that no natural man can own the covenant,“ but that he certainly lies, knows he lies, and designedly lies, in all these things, when he says them,” p. 26, 22, 24, 31, 21.
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Whereas I never said nor supposed any such thing. I never doubted but that multitudes of unsanctified persons, and in all ages of the Christian church, and in this age, and here in New England, have entered visibly, and in profession, into the covenant of grace, and have owned that covenant, and promised a compliance with all the duties of it, without known or wilful lying ; for this reason, because they were deceived, and did not know their own hearts; and that they (however deceived) were under the obligations of the covenant, and bound by their engagements and promises : and that in that sense, they were God's covenant people, that by their own binding act they were engaged to God in covenant; though such an act, performed without habitual holiness, be an unlawful one. If a thing be externally devoted to God, by doing what ought not to have been done, the thing devoted may, by that act, be the Lord's: as it was with the censers of Korah and his company, Numb. xvi. 37, 38.
What I asserted, was, that none could“ profess a compliance with the covenant of grace, and avouch JEHOVAH to be their God, and Christ to be their Saviour, i. e., that they are so by their own act and choice, and yet love the world more than JEHOVAH, without lying or being deceived. And that be, who is wholly under the power of a carnal mind, which is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be, cannot promise to love God with all his heart and with all his soul, without either great deceit, or the most manifest and palpable absurdity : inasmuch as promising supposes the person to be conscious to himself, or persuaded of himself, that he has such a heart in him ; because his lips pretend to declare his heart, and the nature of a promise implies real intention, will and compliance of heart. And what can be inore evident than these propositions ? Surely they that reject the covenant of grace in their hearts (as Mr. Williams owns all unsanctified men do) cannot own it with their lips, without either deceiving or being deceived. Words cannot be a true signification of more than is in the mind. Inward covenanting, as Mr. Stoddard taught, is by an act of saving faith. (Safety of Ap. p. 85, 86.) And outward covenanting is an expression of inward covenanting : therefore, if it be not attended with inward covenanting, it is a false expression. And Mr. Williams, in effect, owns the same thing: for he says, p. 21, “That there is no doubt they who are wilful, obstinate sinners, deal deceitfully and falsely when they pretend to covenant with God.” But so do all unregenerate sinners under the gospel, according to Mr. Stoddard's and his own doctrine. And thus the very point, about which he contests so earnestly and so long, and with so many great words, is, in the midst of it all, given up fully by his own concession.
VII. Mr. Williams is greatly displeased with my saying (as above) that none who are under the power of a carnal mind can visibly own the covenant, without lying, or being deceived, &c. And he finds great fault with my gloss on Psal. lxxviii. 36, 37, “ They did flatter him with their mouth, and lie to
him with their tongue :” which I interpret as though they lied in pretending • that respect to God, which indeed they had not, p. 35 of my Inquiry. But he
insists, that what is meant is only their“ lying in breaking their promise," p. 24. And he insists upon it (as has been observed already) that natural men may covenant with God and speak true. But it seems he has wonderfully changed his mind of late: for a little while ago he declared elsewhere for the very same things which he here inveighs against, and spoke of natural men's profession and pretence of respect to God, as being actually a LIE IN ITS OWN NATURE ; and not only becoming so by their breaking covenant afterwards. Particularly, it is remarkable, he has thus interpreted this very text now in dispute. In his sermons on Christ a King and Witness, speaking of the outward acts of wor. ship done by those that do not love God nor believe in Christ, he expressly says, p. 77,“ They are in their own nature a lie; a false pretence of something within, that is not there. See (says Mr. Williams) this interpretation of it, in Psal. lxxviii. 34—37, They did flatter him with their mouths ; they lied to him with their tongues," &c. Ibid. p. 74, “ Christ's visible church are such as visibly and outwardly profess to be his subjects, and act outwardly as if they believed on him. But these outward acts in themselves are not that religion and obedience, which Christ requires; nay, of themselves they have no religion in them; and Christ has nothing to do with them, but as they are the fruits and expressions of the heart, as they are the language and index of the mind and conscience, and outward declarations of the inward frame, temper and actings of the soul. If they are not so, they are so far from having any religion in them that are hateful to him, being only the visible resemblance, the pretence and feigning of religion; i. e., they are mockery, hypocrisy, FALSEHOOD and Lies; and belong not to the kingdom of Christ, but of the Devil.” Let the reader now compare this with my gloss on the text.
CONCLUSION OF THIS SECOND PART. ' Thus I have considered the various parts and principles of Mr. Williams's scheme, which are the foundations on which he builds all his superstructure, and the ground on which he proceeds in all his reasonings, through his book ; and many particulars in his answers and arguments have been already considered. Mr. Williams says thus, p. 135, “I own, that at present I have no more expectation to see the scheme which Mr. Edwards aims to establish, défended upon Calvinistic principles, than the doctrine of transubstantiation.” On which I shall only say, it might perhaps be thought very impertinent in me, to tell my readers what I do, or what I do not expect, concerning his scheme. Every reader, that has reason enough of his own not to take the big words and confident speeches of others for demonstration, is now left to judge for himself, whose scheme is most akin to the doctrine of transubstantiation, for inconsist. ence and self-contradiction.
Nevertheless, I will proceed to consider our author's reasonings a little more particularly, in the ensuing part.
CONTAINING SOME REMARKS ON MR. WILLIAMS'S EXCEPTIONABLE WAY OF REASONING, IN SUPPORT OF HIS OWN SCHEME, AND IN OPPOSITION TO THE CONTRARY PRINCIPT.ES
SECTION I. General Observations upon his Way of arguing, and answerng Arguments ; with
some Instances of the first Method excepted against. MR. WILLIAMS endeavors to support his own opinion, and to confute the book he pretends to answer, by the following methods.
1. By frequently misrepresenting what 1 say, and then disputing or exclaiming against what he wrongfully charges as mine.
2. By misrepresenting what others say in their writings, whose opinions he pretends to espouse. VOL. I
3. By seeming to oppose and confute arguments, and yet only saying things which have no reference at all to them, but relate entirely to other matters, that are altogether foreign to the argument in hand.
4. By advancing new and extraordinary notions ; which are both manifestly contrary to truth, and also contrary to the common apprehensions of the Christian church in all ages.
5. By making use of peremptory and confident assertions, instead of arguments.
6. By using great exclamation, in the room of arguing; as though he would amuse and alarm his readers, and excite terror in them, instead of rational conviction.
7. By wholly overlooking arguments, and not answering at all; pretending, that there is no argument, nothing to answer, when the case is manifestly far otherwise.
8. By frequently turning off an argument with this reflection, that it is begging the question ; when there is not the least show or pretext of it.
9. By very frequently begging the question himself, or doing that which is equivalent.
10. By often alleging and insisting on things in which he is inconsistent with himself.
As the first of these methods used by Mr. Williams, i. e., his misrepresenting chat I say, and then disputing or exclaiming against what he injuriously charges as mine, many instances have been already observed : I now would take notice of some other instances.
In p. 15, he charges me with " affirming vehemently, in a number of repetitions, that the doctrine taught is, that no manner of pretence to any VISIBLE holiness is made or designed to be made.” These he cites as my words, marking them with notes of quotation. Whereas I never said any such words, nor said or thought any such thing, but the contrary. I knew, that those whose doctrine I opposed, declared that visible holiness was necessary: and take particular notice of it, p. 8, where I say, “ It is granted on all hands, that none ought to be admitted, as members of the visible church of Christ, but visible · saints ;” and argue on this supposition for fifteen pages together, in that same part of my book where Mr. Williams charges me with asserting the contrary. What I say is, that people are taught that they come into the church without any pretence to sanctifying grace (p. 15), I do not say without a pretence to visible holiness. Thus Mr. Williams alters my words, to make them speak something, not only diverse, but contrary to what I do say, and say very often; and so takes occasion, or rather makes an occasion, to charge me before the world, with telling a manifest untruth, p. 15.
Again, Mr. Williams in answering my argument concerning brotherly love (p. 70, 71), represents me as arguing, “That in the exercise of Christian love described in the gospel, there is such a union of hearts, as there cannot be of a saint to an unsanctified man.” Which is a thing I never said, and is quite contrary to the sentiments which I have abundantly declared. I indeed speak of ihat brotherly love, as what cannot be of a saint to one that is not apprehended and judged to be sanctified. But that notion of a peculiar love, which cannot be to an unsanctified man, or without the reality of holiness in the person beloved, is what I ever abhorred, and have borne a most loud and open and large testimony against, again and again, from the press, and did so in the preface to that very book which Mr. Williams writes against
In p. 74, Mr. Williams represents me as supposing, that in the sacrament
of sun p, he alberine taught is peace no These he
of the Lord's supper, both the covenanting parties, viz., Christ and the commumcant, seal to the truth of the communicant's faith; or that both seal to this as true, that the communicant does receive Christ. Whereas, by me, no such thing was ever thought; nor is any thing said that has such an aspect. What I say, is very plain, and express (p. 75.), That Christ by his minister professes his part of the covenant, presents himself, and professes the willingness of his heart to be theirs who receive him. That on the other hand, the communicant, in receiving the offered symbols, professes his part in the covenant, and the willingness of his heart to receive Christ who is offered. How different is this from both parties sealing to the truth of the communicant's faith!
In p. 76, 77 and 80, he greatly misrepresents my argument from 1 Cor. xi. 28,“ Let a man examine himself,” &c., as though I supposed the Greek word translated examine, must necessarily imply an examination to approbation ; that it signifies to approve ; and that a man's examination must mean his approring himself to himself to be sanctified. This representation he makes over and over, and builds his answer to the argument, upon it, and in opposition to this, he says, (p 77),“ Wherever the word means to examine to approbation, it is not used in its natural sense, but metonymically.” Whereas, there is not the least foundation for such a representation: no such thing is said or suggested by me, as if I supposed that the meaning of the word is to approve or to examine to approbation. What I say is, that it properly signifies proving or trying a thing, whether it be true and of the right sort (p. 77). And I there, in the same place, expressly speak of the word (in the manner Mr. Williams does) as not used in its natural sense, but metonymically, when it is used to signify approve. So that Mr. Williams's representation is not only diverse from, but contrary to what I say. Indeed I suppose (as well I may) that when the apostle directs persons to try themselves with respect to their qualifications for the Lord's supper, he would not have them come, if upon trial they find themselves not qualified. But it would be ridiculous to say, that I therefore suppose the meaning of the word, try or examine, is to approve, when it is evident that the trying is only in order to knowing whether a thing is to be approved, or disapproved.
In p. 98, on the argument from John's baptism, Mr. Williams alters my words, bringing them the better to comport with the odious representation he had made of my opinion, viz., that I required a giving an account of experiences, as a term of communion; he puts in words as mine, which are not mine, and distinguishes them with marks of quotation; charging me with representing it as " probable that John had as much time to inquire into their experiences as into their doctrinal knowledge.” Whereas, my words are these, p. 101, “ He had as much opportunity to inquire into the credibility of their profession, as he had to inquire into their doctrinal knowledge and moral character."
In p. 118, and to the like purpose, p. 134, our author represents me, and others of my principles, as holding, that the gospel does peremptorily sentence men to damnation for eating and drinking without sanctifying grace. But surely Mr. Williams would have done well to have referred to the place in my Inquiry, where any thing is said that has such a look. For, I find nothing that I have said in that book, or any other writing of mine, about the gospel's peremplorily sentencing such men to damnation, or signifying how far I thought they were exposed to damnation, or expressing my sentiments more or less about the matter.
In p. 130 and 131, Mr. Williams says, when one sees with what epithets of honor Mr Edwards in some parts of his book has complimented Mr. Stod