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of an appearance of it and pretence to it, warrant and oblige others to hinder his taking possession of that thing?
That we should be obliged to require a credible pretence and evidence of the being of a thing, in order to a certain purpose, the being of which is not requisite to that purpose ; or that some evidence of a thing should be necessary, and yet withal no necessity there should be any foundation of such evidence, in the being of the thing to be made evident ; That it should be neces. sary for us to seek evidence that something is true, and yet there be no need in order to the intended purpose, that there be any such truth to be made evident;-If these things are the dictates of common sense, I am willing all that are possessed of any degree of common sense should be judges.
If God has plainly revealed, that gospel-holiness is not necessary in itself in order to men's lawful right to sacraments, as Mr. W. greatly insists, then his churches need not believe it to be necessary; yea, it is their duty to believe that it is not neces. sary, as it is their duty to believe what God says to be true. But yet Mr. W. holds, that God forbids his churches to admit any to sacraments, unless they first have some rational evidence obliging them to believe that they have gospel-holiness. Now how palpable is the inconsistence, that we must be obliged to believc men have a qualification in order to our suffering them to come, which yet at the same time we need not believe to be necessary for them to have in order to their coming, but which God requires us to believe to be unnecessary ? Or in other words, that God has made it necessary for us to believe or suppose men are truly pious, in order to our lawfully allowing them to take the sacraments, and yet at the same time requires us to believe no such thing as their being pious is necessary in order to their law. fully taking the sacraments?
Mr. Stoddard (whose principles Mr. W.in preface, p. 3. a. declares bimself to be fully established in,) not only says, that some unsanctified men have a right before God to the Lord's supper, but strongly asserts, over and over, that they are FIT to be adınitted to the Lord's supper, that they are DULY QUALIFIED, FIT MATTER for church-membership.(Appeal, p. 15, 16.) And Mr W. argues that such qualifications as some unsanctified men have, are SUFFICIENT to bring them into the church. Now if it be so, what business have we to demand evidence or a pretence of any thing further? What case in the world can be mentioned parallel to it, in any nation or age? Are there any such kind of laws or regulations to be found in any nation, city, or family: in any society, civil, military, or academic, stated or occasional, that the society should be required to insist on some credible pretence and evidence of a
certain qualification, in order to persons being admitted to the privileges of the society; prohibiting their being admitted under any other notion than as persons possessed of that qualification, or without a respect in their admission to such a character appearing on them; and yet at the same time by the laws of that very society, that qualification is not necessary; but persons are declared, without any such qualification, to have a lawful right, to be fit matter, to be duly qualified, and to have sufficient qualifications to be admitted to these privileges without that qualification ?
If some men have a right in the sight of God to sacraments, without true piety, and are fit, and duly qualified without it, in his sight and by his institution, and yet the church must not admit them unless they are truly pious in their sight; then the eye of man must require higher terms, than the infinitely holy eye of God himself; they must look for something that the eye of God looks not for, and which he judges them duly qualified without.
Mr. W. when speaking of the evidence on which he supposes the church ought to judge persons to be real saints, from time to time adds, that on such evidence “The church is obliged, in their external carriage, to treat them as saints, and admit them to the external privileges of the church."-So, p. 9. d. p. 12. a. &c. p. 13. a. b. and p. 14. c. and in other places. But . c
p. what does he mean by treating them as saints, in admitting them to the external privileges of the church? If sinners have as much of a lawful right to these privileges, as saints, then why is giving them these privileges a treating them as saints, any more than as sinners? If it belongs to an ignorant child, to be admitted into school, as much as one that is learned, then how is it treating him as one that is learned, to admit him? Mr. W. (p. 11. d. e.) giving a reason why he that professes conviction of the truth of the gospel, &c. ought to be admitted to sacraments, says, “Though this conviction may be only by moral evidence and common illumination, yet—the church know not but it is done on a divine and gracious discovery." But how can this be a reason? What if the church did know that it was not on a gracious discovery, if the man has a right in the sight of God without, and God has made it his duty to come to sacraments without it? Surely the church have no right to forbid him to do that which God has given him a right to do, and made it his duty to do, as Mr. S. says, (Doct. of Inst. Churches, p. 20. b.) The church may not hinder any man from doing his duty.
Therefore if this be Mr. S---d's question, Whether some unsanctified men may lawfully come to the Lord's Supper, and if this be the grand point in dispute, the thing which Mr. W. VOL. IV.
undertakes to maintain, as he often declares, then it is most plainly evident, that in conceding and asserting those things forementioned, he does in effect abundantly give up that which he himself insists on as the grand point in controversy; and so makes void and vain all his own labour, and for himself effectually confutes all that he has written.
Concerning Mr. W.'s notion of a public Profession of Godliness
in terms of an indeterminate and double Signification.
According to Mr. W. the profession of godliness must be in words not of a determinate meaning, or without any discrimination in the meaning of the words, obliging us to understand them of saving religion. (p. 6. c. d.) They must make an open declaration of their sincere consent to the terms of the covenant, without any discrimination, by which it can be determined, that the consent signified by the words is a gracious consent. (p. 9. c.) And without any marks of difference, or any distinction in the words, whereby we can be enabled to judge when they mean a saving faith, and when a different one. (p. 10. c. e. p. 50. e. and 53. c.) That nothing should be expressed in the words of the profession, but what some unsanctified men may say, and speak true. (p. 47. e.) He supposes, that the primitive Christians in the profession they made of faith, did not speak only in that sense, viz. so as to signify justifying faith ; and that the persons admitted did not understand ihat their profession was understood by those that admitted them, only in that sense. (p. 58. c.)
Agreeable to this notion of making a profession in words of indiscriminate meaning, and professing godliness without godliness, and yet speaking true, Mr. W. (in p. 44. d. e.) allows, that men must be by profession godly persons, in order to come to the sacrament; and yet in the next sentence he de. nies, that Christian grace itself is requisite in the person who is to come to the sacrament, or that the dictate of his conscience that he has it, is the thing that gives him a right to offer himself. And agreeable to this last clause, Mr. Stoddard (of whose opinion Mr. W. professes himself fully to be,) expressly maintains, that a man may and ought to come to the Lord's supper, though he knows himself to be in a natural condition. (Doct. of Inst. Churches, p. 21. See also his sermon on this controversy, p. 13.) So that putting these things together, it must be agreeable te Mr. W.'s scheme, that a man has a right to make a profession of godliness, without having godliness, and without any dictate of his conscience that he has the thing he professes, yea, though he knows he has it not! And all this is made out by the doctrine of professing godliness in words that are ambiguous, and of two meanings.
This notion of a solemn profession of godliness words of a double meaning, without any marks of difference in their signification, is the great peculiarity of Mr. W.'s scheme; and in all his controversy with me, this appears to be the main hinge, the crisis of the whole affair. Therefore I would particularly consider it. And for the greater distinctness and clearness, I will lay down certain positions, as of most evident truth; observing some of their no less plain and evident consequences.
1. Words declare or profess nothing any otherwise than by their signification: For to declare or profess something by words, is to signify something by words. And therefore, if nothing is signified by words of a pretended profession, nothing is really professed ; and if something be professed no
l more is professed than the words of the profession signify or import.
2. If a man declare or profess any particular thing by words which have no distinguishing signification, or without any signs or discriminating marks by which men may be enabled to distinguish what he means, his words are vain to the pretended purpose, and wholly fail of answering the end of words, which is to convey the thing meant to others' understanding, or to give notice to others of the thing supposed or understood.*
Therefore to use words thus in common conversation, is to act in a vain trifling manner, more like children than men: But to use words thus in the sacred services of God's house, and solemn duties of his worship, is something much worse than children's play. But thus Mr. W. expressly declares, words are to be used in a public profession of religion, (p. 10. c.) “ And these words are so used in such cases, without any marks of difference, whereby we are enabled to judge when they mean a saving faith, and when a different one."
3. A profession made in words that are either equivocal or general, equally signifying several distinct things, without any marks of difference or distinction, by which we are enabled to judge which is meant, is not a profession or signification of any
* The apostle Paul says, 1 Cor. xiv. 7. "Even things without life, giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harpea ? - Mr Locke says, Hum. Und. Vol. 2. Edit. 7. p. 103. “He that uses words of any language without distinct ideas in his mind, to which he applies them, does so far as he uses them in discourse, only make a noise without any sense or signification.”
one of those several things; nor can they afford any rational ground of understanding or apprehending any particular thing. Thus for instance, if a man using an equivocal term, should say, that such an evening a king was in that room, without
marks of difference or discrimination whatsoever, by which others could discern whether by a king, he meant the ruler of a kingdom, or a king used in a game of chess; the words thus used would be no declaration, that the head of a kingdom was there at such a time; nor would they give any notice of any such thing to those to whom he spoke, or give them any rational ground to understand or judge any such thing.
Or if a man should use a general term, comprehending various particular sorts, without at all distinguishing or pointing forth any one particular sort, he thereby professes no one particular sort. Thus if a man professes that he has metal in his pocket, not saying what sort of metal, whether gold, silver, brass, iron, lead, or tin; his words are no profession that he has gold.
So if a man professes sincerity or religion designedly using terms of double signification, or (which comes to the same thing) of general signification, equally signifying two entirely distinct things, either moral sincerity, or real piety, his words are no profession of real piety; he makes no credible profession, and indeed no profession at all of gospel-holiness.
4. If man who knows himself to be destitute of any certain qualification, yet makes a profession or pretence, in words of double meaning, equally signifying that qualification, and something else very different, with a design to recommend himself to others' judgment and apprehension, as possessed of that qualification, he is guilty of deceitful equivocation, viz. using words of double meaning, or capable of double application, with a design to induce others to judge something to be true, which is not true. But he that would recommend himself by such terms to others' opinion or judgment, as being what he at the same time knows he is not, endeavours to induce them to believe what he knows is not true, which is to deceive them.*
But if the scheme which Mr. W. undertakes to defend were true, it would follow that such a kind of equivocation as this, (be it far from us to suppose it,) is what the infinitely wise and holy God has instituted to be publicly used in the solemn services of his house, as the very condition of persons'admission to the external privileges of his people! For Mr. W. abundantly asserts, that persons must be esteemed in the judgment and appre
*" To advance a dubious proposition, knowing it will be understood in a & wise different from what you give it in your mind, is an equivocation, in bresch of good faith and sincerity."-Chambers's Dictionary, under the word Equivocation.