Obrazy na stronie

tism was some exhibition of that repentance, and a seal of the profession of it. Baptism is a seal of some sort of religious profession, in adult persons: But the very name of John's baptism shews, that it was a seal of a profession of repentance for the remission of sins. It is said, Luke iii. 3, "John PREACHED the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." What can be understood by this, but his preaching that men should now speedily turn to God, by true repentance and faith in the promised Saviour, and come and confess their sins, and openly declare this repentance towards God, and faith in the Lamb of God, and that they should confirm and seal this their profession by baptism, as well as therein receive the seal of God's willingness to remit the sins of such as had this faith and repentance. Accordingly, we are told, the people came and were baptized of him, confessing their sins, manifesting and professing that sort of repentance and faith which he preached. They had no notion of any other sort of repentance put into their heads, that they could suppose John called them to profess in baptism, but this, accompanied with faith in the Lamb whom he called them to behold; for he preached no other to them. The people that John baptized, professed both repentance for the remission of sins, and also faith in the Messiah; as is evident by Acts xix. 4, 5. "John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him that should come after him;" i. e. on Christ Jesus: "When they heard this [John's preaching] they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."

If it be objected here, that we are told, Matth. iii. 5, 6, "There went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins ;" and that it is not to be imagined, all these made any credible profession of saving repentance and faith: I answer; No more is to be understood by these expressions, according to the phraseology of the Scripture, than that there was a very great resort of people from these places to John. Nor is any more to be understood by the like term of universality in John iii. 26. "They came to John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and ALL MEN come to him;" that is, there was a great resort to him from all quarters. It is in no wise unreasonable to suppose, there was indeed a very great number of people that came to John from the places mentioned, who being exceedingly moved by his preaching, in that time of extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit, made profession of the faith and repentance which John preached. Doubtless there were many more professors than real converts: But still in the great resort to John, there were many of the latter character; as we may infer from the prophecy: as appears by Luke i. 16, 17.

"And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lordtheir God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." And from that account of fact in Mark xi. 12. "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." And in Luke xvi. 16. "The law and the prophets were until John: Since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it." Here the expression is no less universal, than that which is objected in Matth. iii. 5, 6. As to those wicked Pharisees, that so much opposed Christ, some of them I suppose had been baptized by John, and then had a great shew of repentance and faith; but they afterwards apostatized, and were much worse than ever before: Therefore Christ speaks of them as being like a house from which the unclean spirit is visibly turned out for awhile, and is left empty, swept, and garnished, but afterward is repossessed, and has many devils instead of one, Luke xi. 24, &c. Yet as to the greater part of these Pharisees, they were not baptized by John; as appears by Luke vii. 29, 30.

If it be further objected, that John in baptizing such multitudes could not have time to be sufficiently informed of those he baptized, whether their profession of godliness was credible or no: I answer; That we are not particularly informed of the circumstances of his teaching, and of the assistance he was favoured with, and the means he had of information concerning those whom he baptized: But we may be sure of one thing, viz. He had as much opportunity to inquire into the credibility of their profession, as he had to inquire into their doctrinal knowledge and moral character; which my opponents suppose to be necessary, as well as I: And this is enough to silence the present objection.


Christ says, Matth. xx. 16, and again, chap. xxii. 14, that many are called, but few are chosen. By which it is evident, that there are many, who belong to the visible church, and yet but few real and true saints; and that it is ordinarily thus, even under the New Testament, and in days of gospel-light: And therefore that visibility of saintship, whereby persons are visible saints in a Scripture-sense, cannot imply an apparent probability of their being real saints, or truly gracious persons.

ANSW. In these texts, by those that are called, are not meant those who are visible saints, and have the requisite qualifications for Christian sacraments; but all such as have the external call of the word of God, and have its offers and invita

tions made to them. And it is undoubtedly true, and has been matter of fact, for the most part, that of those called in this sense, many have been but only called, and never truly obedient to the call, few have been true saints. So it was in the Jewish nation, to which the parable.in the twentieth of Matthew has a special respect; in general, they had the external call of God's word, and attended many religious duties, in hopes of God's favour and reward, which is called labouring in God's vineyard ; and yet but few of them eventually obtained salvation; nay, great multitudes of those who were called in this sense, were scandalous persons, and gross hypocrites. The Pharisees and Sadducees were called, and they laboured in the vineyard, in the sense of the parable; for which they expected great rewards, above the Gentile converts or proselytes; wherefore their eye was evil towards them, and they could not bear that they should be made equal to them. But still these Pharisees and Sadducees had not generally the intellectual and moral qualifications, that my opponents suppose requisite for Christian sacraments; being generally scandalous persons, denying some fundamental principles of religion, and explaining away some of its most important precepts. Thus, many in Christendom are called, by the outward call of God's word, and yet few of them are in a state of salvation: But not all who sit under the sound of the gospel, and hear its invitations, are fit to come to sacraments.

That by those who are called, in this saying of our Saviour, is meant those that have the gospel-offer, and not those who belong to the society of visible saints, is evident beyond all dispute, in Matth. xxii. 14. By the many that are called, are plainly intended the many that are invited to the wedding. In the foregoing parable, we have an account of those who from time to time were bidden, or CALLED, (for the word is the same in the original), ver. 3. "And sent forth his servants to CALL them that were CALLED [xaλsa T xexes, and they would not come." This has respect to the Jews, who refused not only savingly to come to Christ, but refused so much as to come into the visible church of Christ. Ver. 4. "Again he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, [or CALLED,] Behold I have prepared my dinner," &c. Ver. 8. "They which were bidden [or CALLED] were not worthy." Ver. 9. "Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid [or CALL, xaλdars] to the marriage," or nuptial banquet; representing the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles; who upon it came into the king's house, i. e. the visible church, and among them one that had not a wedding-garment, who was bound hand and foot, and cast out when the king came: And then, at the conclusion, Christ adds this remark, ver. 14. "For many are CALLED or bidden [xλ,] but few are chosen ;" which must have reference, not only to the man last mentioned, who came

into the wedding-house, the Christian visible church, without a wedding-garment, but to those also mentioned before, who were called, but would not so much as come into the king's house, or join to the visible Christian church. To suppose this saying to have reference only to that one man who came without a wedding-garment, (representing one that comes into the visible church, but is not a true saint,) would be to make the introduction of this aphorism, and its connection with what went before very strange and unintelligible, thus,—" Multitudes came into the king's house, who were called, and the house was full of guests; but among them was found one man who was not chosen; for many are called, but few are chosen."


When the servants of the householder, in the parable of the wheat and tares, (Matth. xiii.) unexpectedly found tares among the wheat, they said to their master," Wilt thou that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay, lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them; let both Which shews the mind of grow together until the harvest." Christ, that we ought not to make a distinction between true saints and others in this world, or aim at admitting true saints only into the visible church, but ought to let both be together in the church till the day of judgment.

ANSW. 1. These things have no reference to introduction into the field, or admission into the visible church, as though no care nor measures should be taken to prevent tares being sown; or as though the servants who had the charge of the field, would have done well to have taken tares, appearing to be such, and planted them in the field amongst the wheat: No, instead of this the parable plainly implies the contrary. But the words cited have wholly respect to a CASTING OUT and purging the field, after the tares had been introduced unawares, and contrary to design, through men's infirmity and Satan's procurement.Concerning purging the tares out of the field, or casting men out of the church, there is no difference between me and those whom I oppose in the present controversy: And therefore it is impossible there should be any objection from that which Christ says here concerning this matter against me, but what is as much of an objection against them; for we both hold the same thing. It is agreed on all hands, that adult persons, actually admitted to communion in the visible church, however they may behave themselves so as to bring their spiritual state into suspicion, yet ought not to be cast out, unless they are obstinate in heresy or

scandal; lest, while we go about to root out the tares, we should root out the wheat also. And it is also agreed on all hands, that when those represented under the name of tares bring forth such evil fruit, such scandalous and obstinate wickedness, as is plainly and visibly inconsistent with the being of true grace, they ought to be cast out. And therefore it is impossible that this objection should be any thing to the purpose.

ANSWER 2. I think this parable, instead of being a just objection against the doctrine I maintain, is on the contrary a clear evidence for it.

For, (1.) The parable shews plainly, that if any are introduced into the field of the householder, or church of Christ, who proves to be not wheat (i. c. not true saints,) they are brought in unawares, or contrary to design. If tares are as properly to be sown in the field as is the wheat, which must be the case if the Lord's supper be a converting ordinance; then surely no care ought to be taken to introduce wheat only, and no respect ought to be had more to the qualities of wheat in sowing the field, than the qualities of tares; nor is there any more impropriety in the tares having a place there, than the wheat.But this surely is altogether inconsistent with the scope of the parable.

(2.) This parable plainly shews, that those who are in the visible church, have at first a visibility, or appearance to human sight of true grace, or of the nature of true saints. For it is observed, tares have this property, that when they first appear, and till the products of the field arrive to some maturity, they have such a resemblance of wheat, that it is next to impossible to distinguish them.


Christ himself administered the Lord's supper to Judas, whom he knew at the same time to be graceless; which is a full evidence, that grace is not in itself a requisite qualification in order to coming to the Lord's supper; and if it be not requisite in itself, a profession of it cannot be requisite.

ANSWER 1. It is to me apparent, that Judas was not present at the administration of the Lord's supper. It is true, he was present at the passover, and dipped with Christ in the paschal dish. The three former Evangelists do differ in the order of the account they give of this dipping in the dish.-Luke gives an account of it after his account of the Lord's supper, Luke xxii. 21. But Matthew and Mark both give an account of it before. (Matt. xxvi. 23, Mark xiv. 20.) And the like might be

« PoprzedniaDalej »