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such a character :"* and yet in his discourse on the same head, he abundantly insists, that it was not real holiness, but only FEDERAL holiness, which was the qualification, which the apostles had reference to in admitting them; expressly from time to time, distinguishing federal holiness from real. In p. 56, and 57, “ It makes it evident (says he) that this manner of treating churches and bodies of men, and such expressions used to them and of them, are to be understood in no other sense, than to signify FEDERAL holiness.” So in p. 60, he affirms the same thing once and again, distinguishing federal holiness from real. He says, “ They formed no positive judgment of their Real piety. And knew nothing at all about them, but only that they were FEDERALLY holy.” And again, “ They did not make a positive judginent, that these persons were REALLY godly; and the high characters they gave them, and the hopes they expressed concerning them, could be understood in no other sense than as holding forth a FEDERAL holiness," So that by this they express no HOPES concerning any thing more than their federal holiness, as distinguished from real. And he argues earnestly through the two next pages, that they could not be looked upon, many of them, as having real holiness. How does this consist with their being treated as visible saints ; under the notion of their having real holiness, and from respect to such a character appearing on them? Or with none's being visible saints, but such as have a credible visibility of gospel holiness?
So in p. 63, he speaks of the gross scandals of many of those the apost!es wrote to, as an absolute proof, that they considered them only as federally holy; which he in the same place distinguishes from real holiness. Then how were they treated (as he insists) as those that “ had the character of Real PIETY appearing on them, and as making a credible profession of gospel holiness, and real Christianity ?” Which he abundantly allows, all must make in order to being visible saints. See also p. 64.
In p. 58, Mr. Williams insists, that it does not appear, that those who are admitted into the primitive church,“ made a declaration that they had saving faith, but only that they engaged to that faith.” But how does this consist with what he abundantly says elsewhere, that they must pretend to real piety, make a profession of gospel holiness, exhibit moral evidence that they have such holiness, &c. ? These things are something else besides engaging to saving faith and gospel holiness for the future.
The Unreasonableness and Inconsistency of Mr. Williams's Answer to my Argument
from the Man without a Wedding Garment, and concerning Brotherly Love, and from 1 Cor. xi. 28, and of what he says in support of the fifteenth objection.
Mr. Williams, in answering my argument from Matt. xxi. 11, allows that the king's house, into which the guests came is the visible church, p. 43, 44. So that the man's coming in hither, is his coming into the visible church. Nor does he at all dispute but that by the wedding garment is meant saving grace (for truly the thing is too evident to be disputed): and yet he says, p. 43, “We read nothing of Christ's condemning the man for coming into the church without saving grace.” So that Mr. Williams's answer amounts plainly to this. the king, when he comes to judgment, will say, I do not at all condemn thee for' coming in hither without a wedding garment : but, friend, how camest thou in hither without a wedding garment ? And no wonder ; the case is too plain to allow of any other than such a lamentable refuge as this is. · If the wedding garment be saving grace, which is not denied ; and if coming into the king's house be coming into the visible church, as Mr. Williams owns: then if the king condemns the man for coming into the house without a wedding garment, he condemns him for coming into the visible church without saving grace.
* So in p. 132, he exclaims against me thus : “ After all this, to repeat it again and again, that these persons have no visibility to reason of REAL saintship, &c., I think, gives better ground to retort Me Edwards's words."
It is plain, the thing the man is blamed for, is something else than simply a being without grace, or withoui a wedding garment. The king's words have respect to this as it stands in connexion with coming into the king's house. If Christ bas commanded men who are not converted, to come into the church, that they may be converted, he will never say to them, upon their obeying this command, " Friend, how camest thou in hither before thou wast converted ?” Which would be another thing than blaming him simply for not being converted. If a man, at his own cost sets up a school, in order to teach ignorant children to read; and accordingly ignorant children should go thither in order to learn to read, would he come into the school, and say in anger to an ignorant child that he found there; “ How camest thou in hither before thou hast learnt to read ?” Did the Apostle Paul ever rebuke the heathen, who came to hear him preach the gospel, saying, “How came you hither to hear me preach, not having grace?” This would have been unreasonable, because preaching is an ordinance appointed to that end, that men might obtain grace. And so in Mr. Williams's scheme is the Lord's supper. Can we suppose that Christ will say to men in indignation, at the day of Judgment, “ How came you to presume to use the means I appointed for your conversion, before you were converted ?"
It is true the servants were to invite all, both bad and good, to come to the feast, and to compel them to come in ; but this does not prove, that bad men, remaining in their badness, have a lawful right to come. The servants were to invite the vicious as well as the moral; they were to invite the heathen, who were especially meant by them that were in the highways and hedges : yer it will not follow that the heathen, while remaining heathen, have a lawful right to come to Christian sacraments. But heathen men must turn from their heathenism, and come; so likewise wicked men must turn from their wickedness,, and come.
I endeavored to prove, that that brotherly love, which is required towards the members of the Christian church in general, is such a love as is required to those only whom we have reason to look upon as true saints. Mr. Williams disputes, through two pages (p. 66, 67), against the force of iny reasoning to prove this point; and yet when he has done, he allows the point. He allows it, p. 68, as an undisputed thing, that “it is the image of God and Christ appearing or supposed to be in others, that is the ground and reason of this love." And so again, p. 71, he grants, that “there must be some apprehension, and judgment of the mind, of the saintship of persons,” in order to this brotherly love. Indeed he pretends to differ from me in this, that he denies the need of any positive judgment : but doubtless the judgment or apprehension of the mind must be as positive as the love founded on that apprehension and judgment of the mind.
In p. 78, 79, he seems to insist that what the apostle calls unworthy communicating, is eating in a greedy, disorderly and irreverent manner : as though men might communicate without grace, and yet not communicate unworthily, in the apostle's sense. But if so, the apostle differed much in his sense of things from Mr. Williams. The latter says, in his serinon on Christ a King and Vol. I.
Witness, p. 77, 78, “ These outward acts of worship, when uot performed from faith in Christ, and love to God, are mocking God; in their own nature a lie ; the vilest wickedness ; instead of being that religion, which Christ requires, it is infinitely contrary to it. The most flagrant and abominable impiety, and threatened with the severest damnation.” Is not this a communicating unworthily enough of all reason!
In p. 132, 133, Mr. Williams strenuously opposes me in my supposition, that the way of freely allowing all that have only moral sincerity to come into the church, tends to the reproach and ruin of the church. On the contrary he seems to suppose it tends to the establishing and building up of the church. But I desire that what Mr. Stoddard says, in his sermon on the Danger of speedy Degeneracy, may be considered under this head. He there largely insists, that the prevailing of unconverted men and unholy professors among a people, is the principal thing that brings them into danger of speedy degeneracy and corrup. tion. He says, that “where this is the case, there will be many bad examples, that will corrupt others; and that unconverted men will indulge their children in evil, will be negligent in their education; and that by this means their children will be very corrupt and ungoverned ;* that by this means the godly themselves that are among them, will be tainted, as sweet liquor put into a corrupt vessel will be tainted; that thus a people will grow blird, will not much regard the warnings of the word, or the judgments of God; and that they will grow weary of religious duties after a while; and that many of their leading men will be carnal; and that this will expose a people to have carnal ministers and other leading men in the town and church.”
And I desire also that here may be considered what Mr. Williams himself says, in that passage forecited, p. 86, 87, of his sermons on Christ a King and Witness ; where in explaining what it is to promote the kingdom of Christ, he says negatively, that " it is not to do that which may prevail on men to make pretences that they are Christians, and that they own Jesus Christ as their Saviour, and to call him Lord, Lord, when really he is not so." Which he supposes is the case with all unsanctified professors; for in the same book, he abundantly declares, that they who make such pretences and have not true faith and love, make false and lying pretences; as has been several times already observed.
The impertinence of arguments, that are in like manner against the schemes of both the
controverting partics: and this exemplified in what Mr. Williams says concerning the notion of Israel's being the People of God, and his manner of arguing concerning the Members of the primitive Christian Church.
Inasmuch as in each of the remaining instances of Mr. Williams's arguing, that I shall take notice of, he insists upon and urges arguments, which are in like manner against his own scheme, as against mine, I desire that such a way of arguing may be a little particularly considered
And here I would lay down this as a maxim of undoubted verity-That an
• If we have reason to expect it will be thus with ungodly parents, with respect to their children, then certainly such cannot reasonably expect ministers and churches should admit their children to baptism, in a dependence that they do give them up to God, and will bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, if they make no profession that implies more than mora. sincerity; and none but what wicked men may as well anake as the godly, and speak true.
argument, brought to support one scheme against another, can avail nothing to the purpose it is brought for, if it is at the same time against the scheme it would support, in like manner as against that which it would destroy.
It is an old and approved maxim, " That argument which proves too much, proves nothing,"i. e., if it proves too much for him that brings it, proves against himself in like manner as against his opponent, then it is nothing to help hiscause. The reason of it is plain : the business of a dispute is to make one cause good against another, to make one scale heavier ihan the other. But when a man uses an argument which takes alike out of both scales, this does not at all serve to make his side preponderate, but leaves the balance just as it was.
Arguments brought by any man in a dispute, if they are not altogether impertinent, are against the difference between him and his opponent, or against his opponent's differing from him : for wherein there is no difference, there is no dispute. But that can be no argument against his opponent's differing from him, which is only an argument against what is common to both, and taken from soine difficulty that both sides equally share in. If I charge supposed absurdities or difficulties against him that differs from me, as an argument to show the unreasonableness of his differing; and yet the difficulty is not owing to his differing from me, inasmuch as the same would lie against him, if he agreed with me, my conduct herein, is both very impertinent and injurious.
If one in a dispute insists on an argument, that lies equally against his own scheme as the other, and yet will stand to it that his argument is good, he in effect stands to it that his own scheme is not good; he supplants himself, and gives up his own cause, in opposing his adversary; in holding fast his argument, he holds fast what is his own overthrow; and in insisting that his argument is solid and strong, he in effect insists that his own scheme is weak and vain. If my antagonist will insist upon it that his argument is good, that he brings against me, which is in like manner against himself ; then I may take the same argument, in my turn, and use it against him, and he can have nothing to answer; but has stopped his own mouth, having owned the argument to be conclusive.
Now such sort of arguments as these, Mr. Williams abundantly makes
For instance, the argument taken from the whole nation of Israel's being called God's people, and eyery thing that Mr. Williams alleges, pertaining to this matter, is in like manner against his own scheme as against mine : and that, let the question be what it will ; whether it be about the qualifications which make it lawful for the church to admit, or about the lawfulness of persons' coming to sacraments; whether it be about the profession they should make before men, or the internal qualification they must have in the sight of God. And what Mr. Williams says to the contrary, does not relieve the argument from this embarrassment and absurdity. After all he has said, in turning and twisting it, to save the force of it, the argument, if any thing related to the controversy, is plainly this, “ That because the whole nation of Israel were God's visible people (which is the same as visible saints], therefore the Scripture notion of visible saintship is of larger extent than mine; and the Scripture supposes those to be visible saints, which my scheme does not suppose to be so.
But if this be Mr. Williams's argument, then let us see whether it agrees any better with his own scheme. Mr. Blake (Mr. Williams's great author) in his book on the Covenant, p. 190, insists that “Israel at the very worst is owned as God's covenant people, and were called God's people ;” and p. 149, that “ all the congregation of Israel, and every one of them, are called hcly, and God's own people, even Korah and his company.” And p. 253, 254, he urges that every one who is descended from Jacob, even the WORST of Israel, in their LOWEST state and condition, were God's people in covenant, called by the name of God's people.” And Mr. Williams herein follows Mr. Blake and urges the same thing; that this nation was God's covenant people, and were called God's people, at the time that they were carried captive into Babylon, p. 24, when they were undoubtedly at their worst, more corrupt than at any other time we read of in the Old Testament; being represented by the prophets, as overrun with abominable idolatries, and other kinds of the most gross, heaven-daring impieties, most obstinate, abandoned, pertinacious and irreclaimable in their rebellion against God, and against his word by his prophets. But yet these, it is urged, are called the people of God ; not agreeable to my notion of visible saintship, but agreeable to Mr. Williams's. What his notion of visible saints is, he tells us in p. 139. He there says expressly that he“ does not suppose persons to be visible saints, unless they exhibit a credible profession and visibility of gospel holiness.” Now do those things said about those vile wretches in Israel agree with this? Did they exhibit moral evidence of gospel hcliness? But if we bring the matter lower still, and say, the true notion of visible saintship is a credible appearance and moral evidence of moral sincerity ; does this flagrant, open, abandoned, obstinate impiety, consist with moral evidence of such sincerity as that? It is as apparent therefore, in Mr. Williams's scheme as mine, that when these are called God's people, it is in some other sense than that wherein the members of the Christian church are called visible saints. And indeed the body of the nation of Israel, in those corrupt times, were so far from heing God's church of visibly pious persons, visibly endowed with gospel holiness, that that people, as to the body of them, were visibly and openly declared by God, to be a whore and a witch, and her children bastards, or children of adultery. Isa. lvii. 3, “ Draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore.” We have the like in other places. And so the body of the same people in Christ's time (which Mr. Williams supposes even then to be branches of the true olive, in the same manner as the members of the Christian church were in the apostles' times), are visibly declared not to be God's children, or children of the true church, but bastards, or an adulterous brood. Matt. xii. 39, “ An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign." Ver. 45, “ Even so shall it be with this wicked generation.” And certainly the people were then, visibly and in the eyes of men, such as Christ had visibly and openly and in the sight of men declared them to be.
If the question be not concerning the visibility which makes it lawful for others to admit persons, but concerning the qualifications which render it lawfui
for them to come, still the objection is no more against my scheme, than against Mr. Williams's. He, in p. 84, 85 and 86, says, that “such openly scandalous persons ought not to be admitted into the church ;" insinuating, that these scandalous people among the Jews were otherwise when they were admitted at first : but that being taken in, and not cast out again, it was lawful for them to be there, and they had a lawful right to the privileges of the church. But this supposition, that all that are lawfully admitted by others, may lawfully come into the church, and lawfully continue to partake of its privileges till cast out, is utterly inconsistent with Mr. Williams's own scheme. For according to his scheme, it is not lawful for men that are not morally sincere, to partake of the privileges of the church; but yet such may, in some cases, be lawfully admitted by others; for he maintains, that in admitting them, they are not to act as search.