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rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth," &c. 2 Thess. i. 10. When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe.” So Rev. v. 8. Chap viii. 4. and xi. 18. and xiii. 10, and xiv. 12. and xix. 8. In other places the word is used so as to have respect not only to real saints, but to such as were saints in visibility, appearance, and profession; and so were outwardly, as to what concerns their acceptance among men and their outward treatment and privileges, of the company of saints. So the word is used in very many places, which it is needless to mention, as every one acknowledges it.
In like manner we find the word Christian used two ways : The word is used to express the same thing as “a righteous man that shall be saved," 1 Pet. iv. 16–18. Elsewhere it is so used as to take in all that were Christians by profession and outward appearance; Acts xi. 26. So there is a twofold use of the word disciples in the New Testament. There were disciples in name, profession, and appearance; and there were those whom Christ calls disciples indeed, John viii. 30, 31.—The word is aangūs, truly. The expression plainly supposes this distinction of true or real disciples, and those who were the same in pretence and appearance. See also Luke xiv. 25–27. and John xv. 8. The same distinction is signified, in the New Testament, by those that live, being alive from the dead, and risen with Christ, 2 Cor. iv. 11. Rom. vi. 11. and elsewhere; and those who have a name to live, having only a pretence and appearance of life. And a distinction of the visible church of Christ into these two, is plainly signified of the growth of the good ground, and that in the stony and thorny ground, which had the same appearance and show with the other, till it came to wither away ; and also by the two sorts of virgins, (Matt. xxv.) who both had a show, profession, and visibility of the same thing. By these things and many others which might be observed, it appears, that the distinction of real and visible or professing saints is scriptural, and that the visible church was made up of these two, and that none are according to Scripture admitted into the visible church of Christ, but those who are visible and professing saints or Christians. And it is the more needless to insist longer upon it, because it is not a thing in controversy ; so far as my small reading will inform me, it is owned by all Protestants. To be sure, the most eminent divine in New Erigland who has appeared to maintain the Lord's supper to be properly a converting ordinance, was very full in it. In his Appeal to the Learned, in the title-page, and through the treatise, he supposes that all who come to the Lord's supper, must be visible saints, and sometimes speak of them as professing saints, page 85, 86: And supposes that it is requisite in order to their being admitted to
the communion of the Lord's table, that they make a personal public profession of their faith and repentance to the just satisfaction of the church, page 93, 94. În these things the whole of the position that I would prove is in effect granted. If it be allowed (as it is allowed on all sides) that none ought to be admitted to the communion of the Christian visible church, but visible and professing saints or Christians; if these words are used in any propriety of speech, or in any agreement with Scripture representations, the whole of that which I have laid down is either implied or will certainly follow.
As real saints are the same with real converts, or really gracious persons, so visible saints are the same with visible converts, or those that are visibly converted and gracious persons. Visibility is the same with manifestation or appearance to our view and apprehension. And therefore to be visibly a gracious person, is the same thing as to be a truly gracious person to our view, apprehension, or esteem. The distinction of real and visible does not only take place with regard to saintship or holiness, but with regard to innumerable other things. There is visible and real truth, visible and real honesty, visible and real money, visible and real gold, visible and real diamonds, &c. &c. Visible and real are words that stand related one to another, as the words real and seeming, or true and apparent. Some seem to speak of visibility with regard to saintship or holiness, as though it had no reference to the reality, or as though it were a distinct reality by itself; as though by visible saints were not meant those who to appearance are real saints or disciples indeed, but properly a distinct sort of saints, which is an absurdity. There is a distinction between real money and visible money, because all that is esteemed money and passes for money is not real money, but some is false and counterfeit
. By visible money, is not meant that which is taken and passes for a different sort from true money, but that which is esteemed and taken as real money, or which has that appearance that recommends it to men's judgment and acceptance as true money ; though men may be deceived, and some of it may finally prove not to be so.
There are not properly two sorts of saints spoken of in Scripture. Though the word saints may be said indeed to be used two ways in Scripture, or used so as to reach two sorts of persons; yet the word has not properly two significations in the New Testament, any more than the word gold has two significa. tions among us: the word gold among us is so used as to extend to several sorts of substances; it is true, it extends to true gold, and also to that which only appears to be gold, and is reputed such, and by that appearance or visibility some things that are not real obtain the name of gold ; but this is not pro
perly through a diversity in the signification of the word, but by a diversity of the application of it, through the imperfection of our discerning. It does not follow that there are properly two sorts of saints, because some who are not real saints, do by the show and appearance they make obtain the name of saints, and are reputed such, and whom by the rules of Scripture (which are accommodated to our imperfect state) we are directed to receive and treat as saints; any more than it follows that there are two sorts of honest men, because some who are not truly honest men, yet being so seemingly or visibly, do obtain the name of honest men, and ought to be treated by us as such. So there are not properly two distinct churches of Christ, one the real, and another the visible; though they that are visibly or seemingly of the one only church of Christ, are many more than they who are really of his church; and so the visible or seeming church is of larger extent than the real.
Visibility is a relative thing, and has relation to an eye that views or beholds. Visibility is the same as appearance or exhibition to the eye; and to be a visible saint is the same as to appear to be a real saint in the eye that beholds; not the eye of God, but the eye of man. Real saints or converts are those that are so in the eye of God; visible saints or converts are those who are so in the eye of man; not his bodily eye, for thus no man is a saint any more in the eye of a man than he is in the eye of a beast; but the eye of his mind, which is his judgment or esteem. There is no more visibility of holiness in the brightest professor to the eye of our bodies, without the exercise of the reason and judgment of our minds, than may be in a machine. But nothing short of an apparent probability, or a probable exhibition, can amount to a visibility to the eye of man's reason or judgment. The eye which God has given to man is the eye of reason; and the
Christian is reason sanctified, regulated, and enlightened, by a principle of Christian love. But it implies a contradiction to say, that that is visible to the eye of reason, which does not appear probable to reason. And if there be a man that is in this sense a visible saint, he is in the eye of a rational judgment a real saint. To say a man is visibly a saint, but not visibly a real saint, but only visibly a visible saint, is a very absurd way of speaking ; it is as much as to say, he is to appearance an appearing saint; which is in effect to say nothing, and to use words without signification. The thing which must be visible and probable, in order to visible saintship, must be saintship itself, or real grace and true holiness; not visibility of saintship, not unregenerate morality, not mere moral sincerity. To pretend, or in any respect to exhibit, moral sineerity, makes nothing visible beyond what is pretended to or exhibited. For a man to have that visibly, which if he had it
really, and have nothing more, would not make him a real saint, is not to be visibly a saint.
Mr. STODDARD, in his Appeal to the Learned, seems to express the very same notion of visibility, and that visibility of saintship which is requisite to persons coming to the Lord's supper, that I have here expressed. In page 10, he makes a distinction between being visibly circumcised in heart, and being really so; evidently ineaning by the latter saving conversion; and he allows the former, viz. a visibility of heart-circumcision, to be necessary to a coming to the Lord's supper. So that according to him, it is not a visibility of moral sincerity only, but a visibility of circumcision of heart, or saving conversion, that is a necessary requisite to a person's coming to the Lord's table. And in what manner this must be visible, he signifies elsewhere, when he allows, that it must be so to a judgment of charity; a judgment of rational charity. This he expressly allows over and over ; as in page 2, 3, 28, 33, 73, and 95: And 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, page 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-honoured author 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, than with 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 to 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, in which God's church stands, in different ages, may make a difference in this respect. The church under the New Testament being favoured 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 profession
of religion that is requisite, under these different dispensations, in order to a 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 a 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 sanctification, and are called the doctrine 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 aimed at in admitting persons into the communion of the church ; and so that it is needful to have this charity for persons, or such a favourable notion of them, in order to our receiving them as properly qua. lified members of the society, and properly qualified subjects of the special privileges to which they are admitted. Whereas, the doctrine taught is, that sanctifying grace is not a necessary qualification, and that there is no need that the person bimself
, or any other, should imagine he is a person so qualified. The assigned reason is, because it is no qualification requisite in itself; 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; even 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 need of any charitable opinion or