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must be so to a judgment of charity; a judgment of rational charity. This he expressly allows over and over ; as in pages 2, 3, 28, 33, 72, and 95: and a having reason to look upon them as such, page 28. And towards the close of his book, he declares himself steadfastly of the mind, that it is requisite those be not admitted to the Lord's supper, who do not make a personal and public profession of their faith and repentance, to the just satisfaction of the church, pages 93, 94. But how he reconciled these passages with the rest of his treatise, I would modestly say, I must confess myself at a loss. And particularly I cannot see how they consist with what this venerable and ever honored auchor says, page 16, in these words : “ Indeed by the rule that God has given for admissions, if it be carefully attended, more unconverted persons will be admitted than converted." I would humbly inquire, how those visible qualifications can be the ground of a rational judgment, that a person is circumcised in heart, which nevertheless, at the same time, we are sensible are so far from being any probable signs of it, that they are more frequently without it. The appearance of that thing surely cannot imply an appearing probability of another thing, which at the same time we are sensible is most frequently, and so most probably, without that other thing.
Indeed I can easily see, how that may seem visible, and appear probable *o God's people, by reason of the imperfect and dark state they are in, and so may oblige their charity, which yet is not real, and which would not appear at all probable to angels, who stand in a clearer light; and the different degrees of light, that God's church stands in, in different ages, may make a difference in this respect. The church under the New Testament being favored by God with a vastly greater light in divine things, than the church under the Old Testament. That might make some difference, as to the kind of profeszion of religion that is requisite, under these different dispensations, in order to
visibility of holiness; also a proper visibility may fail in the greater number in some extraordinary case, and in exempt circumstances: but how those signs can be a ground of a rational judgment that a thing is, which, at that very time, and under that degree of light we then have, we are sensible do oftener fail than not, and this ordinarily, I own myself much at loss. Surely nothing but appearing reason is the ground of a rational judgment. And indeed it is impossible in the nature of things, to form a judgment, which at that very time we think to be not only without, but against probability.
If it be said that although persons do not profess that wherein sanctifying grace consists, yet seeing they profess to believe the doctrines of the gospel, which God is wont to make use of in order to men's sanctification, and are called the loctrine which is according to godliness ; and since we see nothing in their lives to make us determine, that they have not had a proper effect on their hearts, we are obliged in charity to hope, that they are real saints, or gracious persons, and to treat them accordingly, and so to receive them into the Christian church, and to its special ordinances.
I answer, this objection does in effect suppose and grant the very thing mainly in dispute; for it supposes, that a gracious character is the thing that ought to be looked at and aimed at in admitting persons into the communion or the church; and so that it is needful to have this charity for persons, or such a favorable notion of them, in order to our receiving them as properly qualified members of the society, and properly qualified subjects of the special privileges they are admitted to. Whereas, the doctrine taught is, that sanctifying grace is not a necessary qualification herefor, and that there is no need that the person himself, or any other, should have any imagination, that he is a person so
qualified; because we know, it is no qualification requisite in itself; we know the ordinance of the Lord's supper is as proper for them, that are not so qualified as for those that are; it being according to the design of the institution a converting ordinance, and so an ordinance as much intended for the good of the unconverted, as of the converted; eren as it is with the preaching of the gospel. Now if the case be so, why is there any talk about a charitable hoping they are converted, and so admitting them? What need of any charitable hope of such a qualification, in order to admitting them to an ordinance that is as proper for those who are without this qualification, as for those that have it?' We need not have any charitable hope of any such qualification in order to admit a person to hear the word preached. What need have we to aim at any thing beyond the proper qualifications? And what manner of need of any charitable opinion or hope of any thing further ? Some sort of belief, that Jesus is the Messiah, is a qualification properly requisite to a coming to the Lord's supper; and therefore it is necessary that we should have a charitable hope, that those have such a belief whom we admit; though it be not necessary that we should know it, it being what none can know of another. But as to grace or Christian piety, it clearly follows, on the principles which I oppose, that if there be any visibility of it, more or less, of any sort, yet no kind of visibility or appearance, whether more direct or indirect, whether to a greater or less degree, no charity or hope of it, have any thing at all to do in the affair of admission to the Lord's supper; for, according to them, it is properly a converting ordinance. What has any visibility or hope of a person's being already in health to do in admitting him into a hospital for the use of those means that are the proper appointed means for the healing of the sick, and bringing them to health ? And iherefore it is needless here to dispute about the nature of visibility; and all arguing concerning a profession of Christian doctrines, and an orderly life being a sufficient ground of public charity, and an obligation on the church to treat them as saints, are wholly impertinent and nothing to the purpose. For on the principles which I oppose, there is no need of any sort of ground for treating them as saints, in order to admitting them to the Lord's supper, the very design of which is to make them saints, any more than there is need of some ground of treating a sick man as being a man in health, in order to admitting him into a hospital. Persons, by the doctrine that I oppose, are not taught to offer themselves as candidates for church communion under any such notion, or with any such pretence, as their being gracious persons; and therefore surely when those that teach them, receive them to the ordinance, they do not receive them under any such notion, nor has any notion, appearance, hope or thought of it, any thing to do in the case.
The apostle speaks of the members of the Christian church, as those that made a profession of godliness. 2 Cor. ix. 13, “ They glorified God for your professed subjection to the gospel of Christ.” 1 Tim. ii. 9, 10, “ In like manner also that women adorn themselves in modest apparel-not with costly array ; but, which becometh women professing godliness, with good works.” The apostle is speaking of the women that were members of that great church of Ephesus, which Timothy for the present had the care of; and he speaks of them as supposing that they all professed godliness. By the allowance of all, profession is one thing belonging to the visibility of Christianity or holiness, that there is in the members of the visible church. Visible holiness is an appearance or exhibition of holiness, by those things which are external, and so fall under our notice and observation. And these are two, viz., profession and outward behavior, agreeable to that profession. That profession which belongs to visible saintship, must be a profession of godliness, or real saintship; for a profession makes nothing visible beyond what is professed. What is it, to be a saint by profession but to be by profession a true saint ? For to be by profession a false saint, is to be by profession no saint; and only to profess that, which if ever so true, is nothing peculiar to a saint, is not to be a professing saint.
In order to a man's being properly a professing Christian, he must profess the religion of Jesus Christ : and he surely does not profess the religion that was taught by Jesus Christ, if he leaves out of his profession the most essential things that belong to that religion. That which is most essential in that religion itself, the profession of that is essential in a profession of that religion ; for (as I have observed elsewhere) that which is most essential in a thing, in order to its being truly denominated that thing, the same is essentially necessary to be expressed or signified in any exhibition or declaration of that thing, in order to its being truly denominated a declaration or exhibition of that thing. If we take a more inconsiderable part of Christ's religion, and leave out the main and most essential, surely what we have cannot be properly called the religion of Jesus Christ : so if we profess only a less important part, and are silent about the most important and essential part, it cannot be properly said that we profess the religion of Jesus Christ. And therefore we cannot in any propriety be said to profess the Christian or Christ's religion, unless we profess those things wherein consists piety of heart, which is vastly the most important and essential part of that religion that Christ came to teach and establish in the world, and is in effect all; being that without which all the rest that belongs to it, is nothing, and wholly in vain. But they who are admitted to the Lord's supper, proceeding on the principles of those who hold it to be a converting ordinance, do in no respect profess Christian piety, neither in whole nor in part, neither explicitly nor implicitly, directly nor indirectly; and therefore are not professing Christians, or saints by profession. I mean, though they may be godly persons, yet as they come to the ordinance without professing godliness, they cannot properly be called professing saints.
Here it may be said, that although no explicit and formal profession of those things which belong to true piety, be required of them ; yet there are many things they do, that are a virtual and implicit profession of these things : such as their owning the Christian covenant, their owning God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to be their God; and by their visibly joining in the public prayers and singing God's praises, there is a show and implicit profession of supreme respect to God and love to him; by joining in the public confessions, they make a show of repentance; by keeping Sabbaths and hearing the word, they make a show of a spirit of obedienoe; by offering to come to sacraments, they make a show of love to Christ and a dependence on his sacrifice.
To this I answer : It is a great mistake, if any one imagines, that all these external performances are of a nature of a profession of any thing at all that belongs to saving grace, as they are commonly used and understood : and to be sure none of them are so, according to the doctrines that are taught and embraced, and the customs that are established in such churches as proceed on the foot of the principles forementioned. For what is professing, but exhibiting, uttering, or declaring, either by intelligible words, or by other established signs that are equivalent ? But in such churches, neither their publicly saying, that they avouch God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to be their God, and that they give themselves up to him, and promise to obey all his commands, nor their coming to the Lord's supper, or to any other ordinances, are taken for expressions or signs of any thing belonging to the essence of Christian piety. But on the contrary, the public doctrine, principle, and custom in such churches es. tablishes a diverse use of these words and signs. People are taught that they may use them all, and not so much as make any pretence to the least degree of sanctifying grace; and this is the established custom: so they are used, and so they are understood. And therefore whatever some of these words and signs may in themselves most properly and naturally import or signify, they entirely cease to be significations of any such thing among people accustomed to understand and use them otherwise ; and so cease to be of the nature of a profession of Christian piety. There can be no such thing among such a people, as either an explicit or implicit profession of godliness by any thing which (by their established doctrine and custom) an unregenerate man may and ought to say and perform, knowing himself to be so. For let the words and actions otherwise signify what they will, yet that people have in effect agreed among themselves, that persons who use them, need not intend them so, and that others need not understand them so. And hence they cease to be of the nature of any pretension to grace. And surely it is an absurdity to say, that men openly and solemnly profess grace, and yet do not so much as pretend to it. If a certain people should agree, and it should be an established principle among them, that men might and ought to use such and such words to their neighbors, which according to their proper signification were a profession of entire love and devoted friendship towards the man they speak to, and yet not think that he has any love in his heart to him, yea, and know at the same time that he had a reigning enmity against him; and it was known that this was the established principle of the people; would not these words, whatever their proper signification was, entirely cease to be any profession or testimony of friendship to his neighbor ? To be sure, there could be no visibility of it to the eye of reason.
Thus it is evident, that those who are admitted into the church on the principles that I oppose, are not professing saints, nor visible saints; because that thing which alone is truly saintship, is not what they profess, or make any pretence to, or have any visibility of, to the eye of a Christian judgment. Or if they in fact be visible and professing saints, yet, they are not admitted as such ; no profession of true saintship, nor any manner of visibility of it, has any thing to do in the affair.
There is one way to evade these things, which has been taken by some. They plead, although it be true, that the Scripture represents the members of the visible church of Christ as professors of godliness; and they are abundantly called by the name of saints in Scripture, undoubtedly because they were saints by profession, and in visibility, and the acceptance of others; yet this is not with any reference to saving holiness, but to quite another sort of saintship, viz., moral sincerity; and that this is the real saintship, discipleship, and godliness, which is professed, and visible in them, and with regard to which, as having an appearance of it to the eye of reason, they have the name of saints, disciples, &c., in Scripture.
It must be noted, that in this objection the visibility is supposed to be of real saintship, discipleship, and godliness, but only another sort of real godliness, than that which belongs to those who shall finally be owned by Christ as his people, at the day of judgment.
To which I answer, This is a mere evasion; the only one, that ever I saw or heard of; and I think the only one possible. For it is certain, they are not professors of sanctifying grace, or true saintship: the principle proceeded on, being, that they need make no pretence to that; nor has any visibility of saving holiness any thing to do in the affair. If then they have any holiness at all, it must be of another sort. And if this evasion fails, all fails, and the whole matter in debate must be given up. Therefore, I desire that this matter may be impartially considered and examined to the very bottom; and that it may be thoroughly inquired, whether this distinction of these two sorts of real Christianity, godliness, and holiness, is a distinction, that Christ in his word is the author of; or whether it be a human invention of something which the New Testament knows nothing of, devised to serve and maintain an hypothesis. And here I desire that the following things may be observed.
1. According to this hypothesis, the words saints, disciples, and Christians, are used four ways in the New Testament, as applied to four sorts of persons. (1.) To those that in truth and reality are the heirs of eternal life, and that shall judge the world, or have indeed that saintship which is saving. (2.) To those who profess this, and pretend to and make a fair show of a supreme regard to Christ, and to renounce the world for his sake, but have not real ground for these pretences and appearances. (3.) To those who, although they have not saving grace, yet have that other sort of real godliness or saintship, viz., moral sincerity in religion; and so are properly a sort of real saints, true Christians, sincerely godly persons, and disciples indeed, though they have no saving grace. And (4,) to those who make a profession and have a visibility of this latter sort of sincere Christianity, and are nominally such kind of saints, but are not so indeed. So that here are two sorts of real Christians, and two sorts of visible Christians; two sorts of invisible and real churches of Christ, and two sorts of visible churches. Now will any one that is well acquainted with the New Testament say, there is in that the least appearance or shadow of such a fourfold use of the words, saints, disciples, &c. ? It is manifest by what was observed before, that these words are there used but two ways; and that those of mankind to whom these names are applied, are there distinguished into but two sorts, viz., those who have really a saving interest in Christ, spiritual conformity and union to him, and those who have a name for it, as having a profession and appearance of it. And this is further evident by various representations, which we there find of the visible church; as in the company of virgins that went forth to meet the bridegroom, we find a distinction of them into but two sorts, viz., the wise that had both lamps and oil; and those who had lamps indeed like the wise virgins, (therein having an external show of the same thing, viz., oil), but really had no oil; signifying that they had the same profession and outward show of the same sort of religion, and entertained the same hopes with the wise virgins. So when the visible church is represented by the husbandman's floor, we find a distinction but of two sorts, viz., the wheat and the chaff. So again, when the church is compared to the husbandman's field, we find a distinction but of two sorts, the wheat and the tares, which (naturalists observe) show or appear exactly like the wheat, until it comes to bring forth its fruit; representing, that those who are only visible Christians, have a visibility or appearance of the nature of that wheat, which shall be gathered into Christ's barn; and that nature is saving grace.
2. It is evident, that those who had the name of disciples in the times of the New Testament, bore that name with reference to a visibility and pretence of the same relation to Christ, which they had who should be finally owned as his. This is manifest by John viii. 30,31: - As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” (Compare Luke xiv. 25, 26, 27, and John xv. 8.) The phrase, disciples indeed, is relative; and has reference to a visibility, pretence or name, only, which it is set in opposition !, and has a