Imágenes de páginas

were, that unless men are actually loved, as true saints, they have no right to communion! Whereas, the argument was very diverse, viz., That unless men have a right to be so loved, they have no right to communion. If men have an appearance, to reason, of being true saints, they may have a right to be loved as true saints, and to be admitted as such; however corrupt and void of love other men are: but without such an appearance to reason, it is no corruption, not to love them as true saints; unless it be corrupt, not to act without reason.*

As to Mr. Williams's third answer, and the misrepresentations it is built upon, it has already been taken notice of.

In Mr. Williams's reply to my answer to the first objection, p. 81, &c., he wholly leaves the argument, and writes in support and defence of other matters, quite different from those which I mentioned, or had any concern with. The objection which I mentioned, and which had been much insisted on by some against my opinion, was, that church members are called disciples, or scholars; a name that gives us a notion of the visible church as a school; and leads us to suppose, that all who profess that sort of faith and sincerity, which implies a disposition to seek Christian learning and spiritual attainments, are qualified for admission. But Mr. Williams says nothing at all in support of this objection. In answer to it, I endeavored to show, that the name disciples given to church members, does not argue that unsanctified persons are fit to be members. He says nothing to show that it does. He says, if it will not follow from Christ's visible church's being represented as Christ's school, that it is in order to all good attainments; yet it is in order to all that they have not yet attained. Which is nothing to the purpose, but foreign to the thing in debate, viz., Whether sanctifying grace is one of those things which are not yet attained by those that are lawfully in the church. He there says nothing to prove that it is; and especially to prove it from the meaning of the word disciples, which was the argument in hand. He insists, that men may be sufficiently subject to Christ as their master and teacher, in order to be in his school or church, without grace: but then the thing to be proved, was, that church members being called disciples makes this evident, in order to support the argument or objection I was upon : which argument is entirely neglected throughout all his discourse under this head.

So in his reply to my answer to the 11th objection, p. 123, &c., he wholly neglects the argument, and labors to support a different one. I endeavored, without concerning myself about the words of any argument in Mr. Stoddard's Appeal, to answer an argument abundantly used at Northampton against my doctrine, of unsanctified men's not having a right to come to the Lord's supper ; which was this, “ You may as well say, that unsanctified men may not attend any other duty of worship;" and particularly, “ you may as well forbid them to pray.As for Mr. Stoddard's objection, in these words, “ If unsanctified men may attend all other ordinances or duties of worship, then they may lawfully attend the Lord's supper;" it was an argument I was not obliged to attend to in the words in which he delivered it, because it was not an argument brought against my scheme of things, but one very diverse: since it is not my opinion, that unsanctified men may attend “ all other ordinances or duties of worship,

* A good argument might also be drawn from the corruption of unsanctified men ; for that they are all so under the power of corruption, that they are not able to love saints, or any one else, with truly Christian love. Agreeable to what Mr. Stoddard says in his Three Sermons, p. 40, "Men are obliged to love their neighbors as themselves. But no natural men do in any measure live up to that rule · but men pre great enemies to one another, hateful and hating one another. They do but little good one to another. They do a great deal of hurt one to another." Now is it reasonable to suppose, that such men have the proper qualifications, by divine institution, for a lawful right to be mernbers of the visible family of God! Voi. I.


besides the Lord's supper;" for I do not suppose, such may offer themselves to baptism; which Mr. Stoddard takes for granted, in his argument. And therefore, what Mr. Williams says in support of it, is quite beside the business. As to the argument I was concerned with, taken especially from the lawfulness of unsanctified men's praying, to prove, that therefore it must be lawful for them to come to the Lord's supper, certainly if there be any consequence in it, the consequence depends on the truth of this supposition, That the same thing which makes it lawful for a man to pray, also makes it lawful for him to come to the Lord's supper. And seeing this position is proved to be not true, the argument falls to the ground. And Mr. Williams's nice observations and distinctions, of a non obstante, and a simply and per se, are nothing to the purpose.

This good reason (with several others) may be given why the same that makes it lawful for a man to pray and hear the word, will not make it lawful for him to partake of sacraments, viz., that the sacraments are not only duties, but covenant 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 respect 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. Sec. S.


The fourth thing observed in Mr. Williams'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 men, 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 of this, viz., that Mr. Williams, in his reply to my argument, from the epithets and characters given by the apostles to the members of the visible Christian churches, in their epistles, represents, p. 56, that there “is no difference in all the epithets and characters, which I have 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, until the nation was rejected and cast off by God from being any longer his people; as I shall have occasion particularly to ob serve afterwards.

That it may be the easier judged, how manifestly this is contrary to truth, I sball here repeat some of those epithets and characters I before mentioned, which Mr. Williams has reference to. 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 unto 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 5 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 the 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 partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;" being “dead, and having their life hid with Christ in God;” and being those that“ 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 thein ; 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, cven in times of their greatest corruption and apostasy, till the nation was rejected of God! One would think, there is no need of arguing the matter with any that have read the Bible.

This representation of Mr. Williams'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. Williams, but only Mr. Taylor of Norwich, in England, the author that 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 he makes use of 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 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, pre destinated 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 Keaven,” &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 as it does about the several parts of the public worship, or about the sanctification of the Christian Sabbath.


Instances of the fifth and sixth particulars, in Mr. Williams'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 law, fully carry themselves externally like the 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. Williams makes no reply; but to prove the point says, “ Mr. Stoddard 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 behavior.” And this peremptory, confident assertion, is all the argument he brings to prove the thing asserted.

Again, I observe, that sometimes Mr. Williams uses great exclamation, as though he intended to alarm, and excite terror in his readers, and raise their indignation : though they are perhaps never like 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 23d 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 partition wall, as formerly was between Jews and Gentiles : and so 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. Williams 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 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. Williams knows, that through the whole of the 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. Williams'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 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 endeavored 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. Williams says, p. 74, “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. Williams 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 signify any thing spiritual, they doubtless signify those spiritual things which they represent. But what inward thing does the

« AnteriorContinuar »