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Where have we a divine institution, that any who are wolves should put on sheep's clothing, and so come to his people, that they may believe them to be sheep, and under this notion receive them into the flock, to the end that they may truly become of his sheep?
But to examine this matter, of the Lord's supper being a converting ordinance to ungodly men professing godliness, a little more exactly. If Christ has appointed the Lord's supper to be a converting ordinance to some such as these, then he has appointed it either only for such of them as are mistaken, and think themselves godly when they are not; or he has appointed it not only for such, but also for such as are sensible they are ungodly.
If it be appointed as a converting ordinance only for such as are mistaken, and think themselves converted; then here is an institution of Christ, which never can, in any one instance, be made use of to the end for which he has appointed men to use it. It cannot be used for this end by those who admit members and administer the ordinance : For they, as Mr. W.
says, must admit none but such as they are bound by the rule of Christ to look uponas godly men already, and to administer the sacrament to them under that notion, and with respect to such a character. Neither can it be used to such a purpose by any of the communicants: For by the supposition, they must be all such as think they are converted already, and also come under that notion. So that by this scheme of things, here is an institution appointed to be upheld and used in the church, which the institution itself makes void and impossible. For, as was observed before, the notion of a converting ordinance has not a reference to any secret decree of God, how he in his sovereign pleasure will sometimes use it, but to his institution given to men, appointing the end for which they should use it. Therefore, on the present supposition, the institution appoints the Lord's supper to be used in some cases for the conversion of sinners, but at the same time forbids its being either given or received under any other notion than that of the communicant's being converted already: Which is in effect to forbid its being either given or received for the conversion of the communicant, in any one instance. So that the institution effectually destroys and disannuls itself.—But God forbid that we should ascribe any such inconsistent institutions to the divine head of the church!
Or if the other part of the disjunction be taken, and it be said, the Lord's supper is appointed for the conversion of some that are sensible they are ungodly or unconverted, the consequence is no less absurd, on Mr. W.'s principles. For then the scheme is this. The institution requires some men to make a pretence of real piety, and to make a public solemn profession of gos
pel-holiness, which at the same time they are sensible they have not; and this, to the end that others may look upon them to be real saints, and receive them to the Lord's supper under that notion: Not putting on a disguise, and making a shew of what they have not, through mistake, but doing it consciously and wilfully, to the honour and glory of God: And all this strictly required of them, as the instituted means of their becoming real saints, and the children of God!
Mr. W. says, (p. 14. d.) “ Since it is God's will, that his church should admit all such visible saints, (viz. such as he had been speaking of,] it follows, that the Lord's supper is a converting ordinance to such of them as are unconverted.” But Mr. W. is mistaken as to his consequence. The Lord's supper is not instituted to be a converting ordinance to all unconverted men, whom it is God's will the church should admit. For it may be the church's duty, and so God's will, to admit those that live secretly in the grossest wickedness, as adultery, uncleanness, deism, &c. Such men as these may make a fair profession, and the church may be ignorant of their secret wickedness, and therefore may have no warrant to reject them: But yet it will not follow, that God by his institution has given such a lawful right to the Lord's supper, having appointed it to be a converting ordinance to them.
The notion of moral sincerity'sbeing the qualification, which gives
a lawful right to Christian sacraments, examined.
Though our author disdains the imputation of any such notion, as that of men's being called visible and professed saints from respect to a visibility and profession of moral sincerity: Yet it is manifest, that in his scheme, (whether consistently or no, others must judge,) moral sincerity is the qualification which entitles, and gives a lawful right, to sacraments. For he holds, that it is lawful for unsanctified men, who have this qualification, to come to sacraments; and that it is not lawful for them to come without it. Therefore I desire this notion may be thoroughly examined.
And for the greater clearness, let it be observed what sincerity in general is. Now sincerity, in the general notion of it, is an honest conformity of some profession or outward shew of some inward property or act of mind, to the truth and reality of it. If there be a shew or pretence of what is not, and has no real existence, then the pretence is altogether vain; it is only a pretence, and nothing else: And therefore is a pretence or shew without any sincerity, of any kind, either moral or gracious.
I now proceed to offer the following arguments against the notion of moral sincerity being the qualification, which gives a lawful right to sacraments.
I. There is no such thing as moral sincerity, in the covenant of grace, distinct from gracious sincerity. If any sincerity at all be requisite in order to a title to the seals of the covenant of grace, doubtless it is the sincerity which belongs to that covenant. But there is only one sort of sincerity which belongs to that covenant; and that is a gracious sincerity. There is but one sort of faith belonging to that covenant; and that is saving faith in Jesus Christ, called in scripture unfeigned faith. As for the faith of devils, it is not the faith of the covenant of grace.
Here the distinction of an internal and external covenant, will not help at all; as long as the covenant, of which the sacraments are seals, is a covenant of salvation, or a covenant proposing terms of eternal salvation. The sacraments are seals of such a covenant. They are seals of the New Testament in Christ's blood, (Matt. xxi. 28. Luke xxii. 28.) a Testament which has better promises than the Old, (Heb.viii. 6.) and which the apostle tells us, makes us heirs of the eternal inheritance. (Heb.ix. 15.)—Mr. W. himself speaks of the covenant sealed in baptism, as the covenant proposing terms of salvation. (p. 23.6.c) So he speaks of the covenant entered into by a visible people, as the covenant in which God offers everlasting happiness. (p. 24, 25.) But there is no other religion, no other sincerity, belonging to this covenant of salvation, but that which accompanies salvation, or is saving religion and sincerity. As it is written, (Psal. li. 6.) Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts.
There is what may be called a moral sincerity, in distinction from saving, in many moral things; as in loving our friends and neighbours, in loving our country, in choosing the Protestant religion before the Popish, in a conscientious care to do many duties, in being willing to take a great deal of pains in religion, in being sorry for the commission of such and such acts of wickedness, &c. But there are some duties, which, unless they are done with a gracious sincerity, they cannot be done at all. As Mr. Stoddard observes, (Safety of Ap. p. 216.) “There are some duties which cannot be done but from a gracious respect to God.” Thus, there is but one sort of sincerity in loving God as God, and setting our hearts on him as our highest happiness, loving him above the world, and loving holiness above all the objects of our lusts. He that does not these things with a gracious sincerity, never really doth them at all. He that truly does them, is certainly a godly man; as we are abundantly assured by the word of God. So, there is but one sort of sincere and cordial consent to the covenant of grace, but one sort of giving all our hearts to Jesus Christ; which things Mr. W. allows to be necessary, to come to sacraments. That to which a man's heart is full of reigning enmity, he cannot with any reality at all cordially consent to and comply with: but the hearts of unsanctified men are full of reigning enmity to the covenant of grace, according to the doctrine of scripture, and according to the doctrine of Mr. S. and Mr. W. too, as we have seen before.
However, if there were any such thing, as being heartily willing to accept of Christ, and a giving all our hearts to Christ, without a saving sincerity, this would not be a complying with the terms of a covenant of salvation. For it is self-evident, that only something which is saving, is a compliance with the terms of salvation. Now Mr. W. himself often allows (as has been observed) that persons must comply with the terms of the covenant of grace, in order to come to sacraments. Yet because he also in effect denies it, I shall say something further in confirmation of it.
I. The sacraments are covenant privileges. Mr. W. himself calls them so. (p. 5. a. b.) Covenant privileges are covenant benefits, or benefits to which persons have a right by the covenant. But persons can have no right to any of the benefits of a covenant, without compliance with its terms. For that is the very notion of the terms of a covenant, viz. Terms of an interest in the benefits of that covenant. It is so in all covenants whatsoever; if a man refuses to comply with its conditions, he can claim nothing by that covenant.
2. If we consider the sacraments as seals of the covenant, the same thing is evident, viz. That a man can have no right to them without a compliance with the terms. The sacraments are not only seals of the offer on God's part, or ordinances God has appointed as confirmations of the truth of his covenant, as Mr. W. seems to insist. (p. 74, 75.) For considered merely as seals and confirmations of the truth of the gospel, they are (as miracles and other evidences of the Christian religion) seals equally given to Christians, Jews, Deists, moral and vicious and the whole world that knows of them. Whereas, it is manifest, in the nature of the thing, sacraments are seals of the covenant to be applied to the communicant, and of which he is the immediate subject, in a peculiar manner, as a party in covenant Otherwise, what need would there be of his being one of God's covenant people, in any sense whatsoever?
But now it is not reasonable to suppose, that the seal of the covenant belongs to any man, as a party in the covenant, who will not accept of and comply with the covenant. He that re
jects the covenant, and will not comply with it, has no interest in it. And he that has no interest in the covenant, has no right to the seals ; for the covenant and its seals go together. It is so in all covenants among mankind; after a man has come into a bargain proposed and offered by another, yielding to the terms of it, he has a right to have the bargain sealed, and confirmed to him, as a party in the covenant; but not before.
And if whai the communicant does be a seal on his part also, as the nature of the thing demonstrates, seeing he is active in the matter, and as Mr. W. seems willing to allow, (p: 75.) it will follow, with equal evidence, that a man cannot lawfully partake, unless he yields to, and complies with the covenant. To what purpose is a man's sealing an instrument or contract, but to confirm it as his own act and deed, and to declare his compliance with his part of the contract. As when a servant seals his indenture, it is a testimony and ratification of his compliance as to the proposed contract with his master. And if a covenant of friendship be proposed between two parties, and they both put their seal to it, hereby they both testify and declare their mutual friendship.
It has been already observed, that unsanctified men, while such, cannot with any sincerity at all testify a present cordial compliance with the covenant of grace: and as they cannot do this, so neither can they with any sincerity promise a future compliance with that covenant. Mr. W. often allows, that in order io Christian communion men must promise a compliance with the covenant, in its spiritual and saving duties; that they will believe and repent in the sense of the covenant, willingly accept of Christ and his salvation, love him and live to him, and will do it immediately, henceforward, from this moment.(p. 25. c. e. p. 26. a. p. 28. a. c. and p. 76. a. b.) But how absurd is this, when at the same instant, while they are making and uttering these promises, they are entirely averse to any such thing; being then enemies to Christ, willingly rejecting him, opposing his salvation, striving against it, labouring to find out all manner of difficulties and hindrances in the way of it, not desiring it should come yet, &c.; which our author, in a place fore-cited, says is the case with all unsanctified men.
And when unsanctified men promise that they will spend the rest of their lives in universal obedience to Christ, there is no sincerity in such promises; because there is not such a heart in them. There is no man but a true disciple of Christ, that is willing thoroughly to deny himself for him, and follow him in a way of obedience to all his commands, unto the end, through all difficulties which Christ has given his followers reason to expect, or commanded them to prepare for ; as is evident by Christ's frequent declarations. (Luke xiv. 25–33. Matth. x 37, 38, 39,