« AnteriorContinuar »
they that love his name shall dwell therein. (See also Prov. xiv. 26. Psal. cii. 28. Psal. ciii. 17, 18. Exod. xx, 5, 6. Deut. vii. 9.) Supposing these to be what are called indefinite promises; yet do they extend to any but the seed of the righteous? Where are any such promises made to the children of unsanctified men, the enemies of God, and slaves of the devil, (as Mr. W. owns all unsanctified men are,) whatever moral sincerity and common religion they may have ?
The baptisın of infants is the seal of these promises made to the seed of the righteous: and on these principles, some ra. tional account may be given of infant baptism; but there is no account can be given of it on Mr. W.'s scheme, no warrant can be found for it in scripture; for they are promises, that are the warrant for privileges : but there are no promises of God's word to the seed of morally sincere men, and only half Christians. Thus this argument of Mr. W.'s, let us take it which way we will, has nothing but what is as much, yea, much more, against his scheme, than against mine.
However, if this were not the case, but all the shew or pretence of strength there is in the argument, lay directly and only against me, yet the strength of it, if tried, will avail to prove nothing at all. The pretended argument, so far as I can find it out, is this: The children of visible saints are born in covenant; and being already in covenant, they must have a right to the privileges of the covenant, without any more ado: such therefore have a right to come to the Lord's supper, whether they are truly godly or not.
But the shew of argument there is here, depends on the ambiguity of the phrase, being in covenant; which signifies two distinct things : either (1.) Being under the obligation and bond of the covenant; or, (2.) Being conformed to the covenant, and complying with the terms of it. Being the subject of the obligations and engagements of the covenant, is a thing quite distinct from being conformed to these obligations, and so being the subject of the conditions of the covenant.
Now it is not being in covenant in the former, but the latter sense, that gives a right to the privileges of the covenant. The reason is plain, because compliance and conformity to the terms of a covenant, is the thing which gives right to all the benefits; and not merely being under ties to that compliance and conformity. Privileges are not annexed merely to obligations, but to compliance with obligations.
Many that do not so much as visibly comply with the con. ditions of the covenant, are some of God's covenant-people in that sense, that they are under the bonds and engagements of the covenant: .so were Korah and his company; so were many gross idolators in Israel, that lived openly in that sin; and so may heretics, deists, and atheists, be God's covenant-people. They may still be held under the bonds of their covenant engagements to God; for their great wickedness and apostacy does not free them from the obligation of the solemn promises and engagments they formerly entered into. But yet being in covenant merely in this sense, gives them no right to any privileges of the covenant. In order to that, they must be in covenant in another sense ; they must cordially consent to the covenant; which indeed Mr. W. himself owns, when he acknowledges, that in order to come to sacraments, men must profess a cordial consent to, and compliance with the conditions of the covenant of grace.* And if Mr. W. inquires, Why those children that were born in the covenant, are not cast out, when in adult age they make no such profession ; certainly, it as much concerns him to answer, as me; for it is as much his doctrine, as mine, that they must profess such consent.—But I am willing to answer nevertheless.—They are not cast out, because it is a matter held in suspense, whether they do cordially consent to the covenant, or not; or whether their making no such profession do not arise from some other cause. And none are to be excommunicated, without some positive evidence against them. And therefore they are left in the state they were in, in infancy, not admitted actually to partake of the Lord's supper, (which actual participation is a new positive privilege,) for want of a profession, or some evidence, beyond what is merely negative, to make it visible that they do consent to the covenant. For it is reasonable to expect some appearance more than what is negative, of a proper qualification, in order to being admitted to a privilege beyond what they may have hitherto actually received. A negative charity may be sufficient for a negative privilege, such as freedom from censure and punishment; but something more than a negative charity, is needful to actual admission to a new positive privilege.
* If it be said here, Those who have been born of baptized ancestors, though they do not comply with the terms of the covenant, are in covenant, in this sense, that they have a right to the promises of the covenant conditionally, in case they will hereafter comply: I answer, So are all mankind in covenant; God may be said to have bound himself to them all conditionally; and many have these promises declared to them, that still remain Jews, Mahometans, or Heathens.
1 particular examination of Mr. W.'s defence of the ninth ob
jection, or that boasted argument, that if it be not lawful for unconverted men to come to the Lord's supper, then none may come but they thut know themselves to be converted,
This argument has been greatly gloried in, as altogether invincible. Mr. W. seems to have been alarmed, and his spirits raised to no small degree of warmth at the pretence of an answer to it: and he uses many big words, and strong expressions in his reply ; such as, It is absolutely certain-It is beyond my power to comprehend, and I believe beyond the power of any man to tell me—this I assert, and stand to—as plain as the sun -a contradiction of the Bible, of the light of nature, and of the common sense of mankind, &c. &c. But let us get away from the noise of a torrent, and bring this matter to the test of calm reasoning, and examine it to the very bottom.
Here let it be considered, wherein precisely the argument consists.- If it has any strength in it, it consists in this proposition : viz. That it is not lawful for men to come to sacraments. without a known right. This is the proposition Mr. S. himself reduces the argument to, in his Appeal, p. 62, 63. And it is very evident, that the whole strength of the argument rests on the supposed truth of this proposition.
And here let it be noted, what sort of knowledge of a right Mr. S. and Mr. W. mean in this argument. It is knowledge as distinguished from such an opinion, or hope, as is founded on probability. Thus Mr. S. expressly insists, that a man must not only think he has a right, but he must know it.—(Appeal, p. 62.) And again, (p. 63.) Probable hopes will not warrant him to come.
Mr. W. uses many peremptory strong expressions, (p. 109.) to set forth the certainty of that which never was denied viz. That a man cannot know he has a right, unless he knows hé has the qualification which gives him a right. But this is not the thing in question: the point is, Whether a man may not have a lawful right, or may not lawfully come, and yet not know his right, with such a knowledge and evidence as is beyond probability? This is the thing asserted, and herein lies the argument. And the negative of this cannot be maintained, in order to maintain Mr. W.'s scheme, without the grossest absurdity: it being a position, which, according to scripture reason, Mr. S.'s doctrine, and Mr. W.'s own, effectually destroys his scheme.
To this purpose, I observed, If this proposition be true, that no man may come, save he who not only thinks, but knows he has a right, then it will follow, that no unconverted person may come, unless he knows that doctrine to be true, That unconverted men may have a right. Because an unconverted man cannot know, that he himself has a right, unless he knows that doctrine which Mr. S. maintained, to be true, viz. That men may have a right, though they are unconverted. And consequently no one unconverted man may lawfully come to the Lord's supper, unless he is so knowing in this point of controversy, as not only to think, and have probable evidence, that this opinion is right, but knows it to be so.--Mr. W. endeavours to help the matter by a distinction of different kinds of knowledge: and by the help of this distinction would make it out, that common people in general, and even boys and girls of sixteen years old, may with ease know, that his doctrine about unsanctified men's lawful coming to the Lord's supper, is true. And we must understand him, (as he is defending Mr. S.'s argument,) that they may know it with that evidence which is dis. tinguished from probability; and this according to Mr. W. himself, is certainty ; which he speaks of as above a thousand probabilities. (See p. 118. c.) but bow miserable is this ; to pretend, that his doctrine about qualifications for sacraments, is so far from a disputable point, that it is of such plain and obvious evidence to common people, and even children, that without being studied in divinity, they may not only think it to be exceeding probable, but know it to be true! When it is an un. deniable fact, that multitudes of the greatest ability and piety that have spent their lives in the study of the Holy Scriptures, have never so much as thought so.
Again, I observed, that according to Mr. S.'s doctrine, not one unconverted man in the world can know, that he has warrant to come to the Lord's supper; because, if he has any warrant, God has given him warrant in the scriptures: and therefore if any unconverted man, not only thinks, but knows, that he has warrant from God, he must of consequence not only think, but know the scriptures to be the word of God. Whereas it was the constant doctrine of Mr. S. that no unconverted man knows the scriptures to be the word of God.*-But Mr. W. would
* I did not say, that it was also a doctrine according to scripture ; for there was no occasion for this, among those with whom I had chiefly to do in this controversy; with whom I knew it was a point as much settled and uncontroverted, as any doctrine of Mr. S. whatever. And knew be the current doctrine of orthodox divines; who ever allow this doctrine to be implied in such texts as those, John xvii. 7. 1. John iv. 15, 16. chap. v. 1. 10. and many others.
make it out, that Mr. S. did hold, unconverted men might know the scriptures to be the word of God; but only not know it with a gracious knowledge, such as effectually bowed men's hearts, and influenced them to a gracious obedience. (p. 113.6.). But let us see whether it was so or not. Mr. S. in his Nature of Saving Conversion, (p. 73.) says, “ The carnal man is ignorant of the divine authority of the word of God ;-His wound is, that he does not know certainly the divine authority of these institutions ; he does not know but they are the inventions of men.”' Again, (ibid. p. 74.) he says, “ The carnal man is uncertain of those things that are the foundation of his reasonings. He thinks, there is a great probability of the truth of these things ; but he has no assurance. His principles are grounded on an uncertain proposition.". And he observes, (p. 20.) " Men when converted, do not look on it as probable, that the word is his word, as they did before; but they have assurance of the truth of it." -So elsewhere, (Guide to Christ, p. 26.) " They that have not grace, do not properly believe the word of God."-And in another book, (Safety of Ap. p. 6.) “ The gospel always works effectually where it is believed and received as the truth of God." -In another book, (Benef. of the Gosp. p. 149.) “ Common illumination does not convince men of the truth of the gospel.” -in his discourse on the virtue of Christ's blood, (p. 27.) speak. ing of such as have no interest in the blood of Christ, he
says, “They are strangers to the divine authority of the word of God." Again, (ibid. p. 16.) “ Before [i. e. before saving faith) they were at a loss whether the word was the word of God.”—To the like purpose are many other passages in his writings. (See Nat. of Sav. Conv. p.. 72. Safety of Ap. p.6,7. 99. 107. 186, 187.229. -Benef. of the Gosp. p. 89.)
So that here, if it be true, that some unconverted men have a divine warrant to come to the Lord's supper; and if the thing which is the foundation of this argument, be also true, viz. That in order to men's warrantably coming to the Lord's supper, they must not only think but know they have a right; then it must be true likewise, that they not only think but know, that the scripture, wherein this warrant is supposed to be delivered, is the word of God. And then we have the following propositions to make hang together: That unconverted men are ignorant of the scriptures being the word of God, are uncertain of it, have no assurance of it, are not convinced of it, do not properly believe it, are at a loss whether it be the word of God, or not; and yet they not only think, but know, that the scriptures are the word of God, and that the gospel, which is the charter of all Christian privileges, is divine; they have a know