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firming means, between special ordinances and common: and declaring the Lord's supper a disciple-privilege, peculiar to such as have disciple-properties, and admonishing as well the close hypocrite, as the more gross, of the sin and danger of coming to it in his unregenerate state, impenitent and unbelieving. Thus Mr. Bolton, in his discourse on the Wedding Supper and the Wedding Garment, warns the graceless not to come to the Lord's supper; affirming, that an unsanctified presence will be found as bad as a profane absence.—Mr. Baxter, in his Five Disputations, has much that runs in the same strain; so in his Reformed Liturgy, and in his Christian Concord, where we have his brethren joining their testimony with his. Likewise Mr. Charnock, in his discourse of the Subjects of the Lord's Supper-Mr. Palmer, in his Scripture-Rail to the Lord's Table-Mr. Saunders, in his Anti-Diatribe-Mr. Langley, in his Suspension Reviewed—Mr. Doolittle, Mr. Henry, Dr. Earle, and others, in their books on the Lord's Supper-Mr. Shower, in his Sacramental DiscoursesMr. Flavel, in his sermon on Gospel-Unity, and other piecesMr. Philip Henry, and Mr. Trosse, in the accounts of their Lives -Dr. Calamy, in bis discourse on Vows, and his Defence of Nonconformity—Mr. Simon Browne, in the Continuation of Henry's Exposition, on 1 Cor. xi. 28—Dr. Harris, in his discourse on SelfDedication-Dr. Jennings, in his sermons to Young People.—I could, from all these authors, cite passages much to the purpose; but it would be too tedious. Yet I will give you a few hints from some others.—Dr. Williams, in his Gospel-Truth Stated, says, Though a man had it revealed to him that he is one of the elect, yet so long as he remains unregenerate,
he has no right to partake of the Lord's supper.—Dr. Guyse, in bis late sermon at Mr. Gibbons's ordination observes, that men being church-members supposes them already to have a good work be
a gun in them, and to be partakers of Christian love, even such as proceeds from faith, in a prevailing degree; and persons (says he) that have nothing of this, ought not to be church-members. Mr. Hall, in his Exhortation on the same occasion, remarks, that the seals of the covenant are to be used as discriminating signs of the real separation of true believers from the world, and urges to have the fence kept up, which Christ has set about his church, that it may appear to be a body wholly distinct from the world: God's house being erected for the entertainment, not of hypocrites and dead sinners, but of the living in Jerusalem.But, says Dr. W'atts, in bis Humble Attempt, it is true, this cannot be practised universally and perfectly here on earth, so as to prevent some secret sinners making their way into our separate congregations, and joining with us in the most solemn ordinances ; yet he declares such not really worthy of any room or place in the house of God. And in his Holiness of Times, Places,
and People, the Doctor observes, The visible Christian church is founded on a supposition, that the members of it are, or should appear to be, members of the invisible: And none (says he) are to be admitted into the visible church, 'or esteemed complete members of it, but those who make such a declaration and profession of their faith in Christ and their avowed subjection to him, as may be supposed in a judgment of charity to manifest
a them to be real believers, true subjects of his spiritual kingdom, and members of the invisible church.-I find Dr. Doddridge in the same sentiments, by what he says in his Family-Expositor. Thus, on the case of Ananias and Sapphira, he has this note: The church is never happier, than when the sons of falsehood are deterred from intruding into it: If its members are less numerous, it is a sufficient balance, that it is more pure. And on Simon's
a case, he pronounces it to be in vain for men to profess themselves Christians, in vain to submit to baptism, &c. if their heart be not right with God. And such persons being admitted to distinguishing ordinances, he calls an evil, in the present state of things unavoidable; wishing for the happy medium between prostituting divine ordinances by a foolish credulity, and defrauding the children of the household of their bread, by a rigorous severity and mistaken caution. He every where represents the Lord's supper as the sacrament of nutrition, a reviving and nourishing ordinance; but never that I can find, as a regenerating or converting one. Upon the case of Judas, the Doctor observes, that if he had truly stated the order of the story, then Judas certainly went out before the Eucharist was instituted: And indeed one cannot reasonably suppose Christ would have commanded him to drink of this cup as the blood shed for him for the remission of sins, when he had just before been declaring in effect, that his sins should never be forgiven. By which observation, I think, Dr. Doddridge has quite demolished one of the most plausible pleas in favour of the secret and conscious hypocrite's claim to the Lord's supper.
In fine, even those who appear advocates for a latitude in admissions to the communion, I observe generally in the course of the argument offer such distinctions, or make such concessions, as seem by fair consequence a giving up of the point, at least as stated in the present question. For they usually distinguish between a right in foro Dei and in foro ecclesie ; accordingly treat these as two different questions, Who ought to come ? and, Who ought to be admitted ? considering the latter as an ecclesiastical case, and here they assert a latitude; but the former, as a case of conscience, of private reference only, and here they grant a limitation. How large soever their principles, while taking the case in its ecclesiastical view, yet I have met with very few divines, that, taking it as a private case of conscience, have gone
Mr. Stoddard's length, in asserting, that some unsanctified men have right before God to the Lord's supper, and may come with a good conscience, yea, ought to come, notwithstanding they know themselves at the same time to be in a natural condition. This he declares in his “ Doctrine of Instituted Churches," and confirms in his “Sermon and Appeal.” But then he has made some concessions, which seem to be subversive of his opinion. For he expressly allows, that the sacrament by institution supposes communicants to be visible saints; and this title of visible saints he assigns to “such as have a visible union to Christ, such as are in the judgment of rational charity believers, such as carry themselves so that there is reason to look upon them to be saints." Now, taking the case as a private case of conscience, (in which light only Mr. Stoddard professes to have designed to consider it in his sermon, and not at all as an ecclesiastical case,) I think, this visibility of saintship immediately respects the proponant for the Lord's table, and must be referred to his own private judg. ment of himself. But then, how can there be a visibility of saintship in the eye of the man's own conscience, when at the same time he knows himself to be in a natural condition ! Or how can a man come to the Lord's table with a good conscience, as having right before God, while he cannot form so much as a judgment of rational charity for himself; seeing he carries so, in the view of his own conscience, that he has no reason to look on himself to be a saint, nay, even knows he is still in a natural state, and therefore in the eye of his own impartial judgment is not such a one as the sacrament by institution supposes the communicant to be! Moreover, Mr. Stoddard, in describing visible saints, inserts into their character a serious profession of the true religion, which he sometimes calls a profession of faith and repentance, morally sincere: And in his " Doctrine of Instituted Churches,” (p. 19, he lays down a remarkable position, in these words-SUCH A PROFESSION AS BEING SINCERE MAKES A MAN A REAL SAINT, BEING MORALLY SINCERE MAKES A MAN A VISIBLE SAINT. Now according to this, it seems to me, the profession itself, whether evangelically or morally sincere, is always of a uniform tenor ; having one and the same thing for the matter of it; and not respecting, in the different cases, a religion specifically different, or a faith and repentance of a higher and a lower kind. But then it is quite beyond me to comprehend, how a man who knows himself to be in a natural condition, can be so much as morally sincere in his profession, while it is in its matter and tenor such a profession as being (evangelically) sincere makes a man a real saint. For if he knows himself to be in a natural condition, he
then as certainly knows he hath not in the principle or exercise) that faith and repentance, which is the just matter of such a profession : and how therefore can he be reasonably supposed, with any degree of moral sincerity, to make such a profession, when for the matter of it, it is the very same profession he would make, if he knew himself to be a real saint! Can a person in any sound gospel sense profess himself a saint or believing penitent, and herein speak the truth with a common moral honesty, wbile yet he knows himself to be destitute of all such characters in the sight of God and conscience, being still in a natural condition, and under the dominion of unbelief and impenitence! For my own part, I must confess this a difficulty in Mr. Stoddard's scheme, that I am not capable of solving. His favourite hypothesis, I think, must fall, if his position stands, and his conces. sions be abode by; which serve clearly to determine the present question in the negative, agreeable to the general sense of Protestant churches and divines.
Quest. III. Whether it be not the general opinion, that persons admitted to the Lord's table ought to PROFESS saving faith and repentance ; meaning that faith and repentance, which are the terms of the covenant of grace.
ANSW. I believe, after what has been already offered, we need be at no loss to know the mind of the generality respecting the subject of this inquiry. Were there occasion for it, I could casily produce a cloud of witnesses, to evidence that the general opinion is on the affirmative side, in this question. Repeated searches have been made by diligent and impartial inquirers, who though of varying judgment and practice in church-discipline, yet agree in their reports: and from them I will give you the following attestations.
Mr. Lob (in his “ True Dissenter”) tells us, It is the judgment of all the Nonconformists, that nothing less than the profession of saving faith, credibly significant of the thing professed, gives right to church-communion. And this he declares to be the rule of all Protestants in general. He brings even Mr. Humphrey (though opposite in judgment) for his voucher: who acknowledges, That the visible church is defined by a profession of true regenerate faith, and of no less than that, according to the most general opinion of Protestant divines. He speaks of it as the common opinion, that a profession of no less than true grace or justifying faith is the rule of admission to the church-sacra. ments. And though Mr. Humphrey went off from the received opinion, yet could he not come into Mr. Blake's notions in this matter, who also had gone off from it, nor hope for their vindication: hence he makes that challenge, What man is there, that
dares revive Mr. Blake's cause, and defend it against Mr. Baxter's RIGHT to sacraments !
Mr. Baxter, in this his book, very copiously argues for a profession of saving faith, as the rule of admission to the sacraments, and much insists on its being so by the unanimous consent of judicious divines. He tells us, Mr. Gataker in his books has largely proved this by a multitude of quotations from Protestant writers. And he adds his own testimony, repeatedly saying, It is indeed their most common doctrine—it is the common Protestant doctrine. And again, certain I am, this is the common doctrine of reformed divines. He subjoins, I must profess, that I do not know of any one Protestani divine, reputed orthodox, of the contrary judgment, before Dr. Ward and Mr. Blake, though some Papists and Arminians I knew of that mind. And again, (beside Sir Henry Vane,) he says, All
, that I know of, since Dr. Ward, is Mr. Blake, Mr. Humphrey, and one John Timson; and John Timson, Mr. Humphrey, and Mr. Blake. He alleges Mr. Vines, as thus witnessing in the case on his side. To this purpose all our learned divines have given their suffrage: I need not number authors or churches. It is so plain a case, that I wonder those [of the contrary opinion] have not taken notice of it, there is an army to a man against them.
Mr. Langley, in his Suspension Reviewed, observes, The concurrent judgment of divines, English and Foreign, Episcopal and Presbyterian, that a man of vast and digested reading, the learned Mr. Baxter, hath demonstrated at large in sixTY testimonies; sundry of which have many in them, being the judgment of many churches, and many learned men therein; and more might easily be brought. In short, he calls it the old Protestant doctrine asserted against the Papists; and wonders at the confidence of the men, who tell us against our own eyes, that it is a novelism.
To these attestations I subjoin that of our Mr. Mitchel. (in his Introduction before the Defence of the Synod, 1662,) who while asserting a different latitude of the two sacraments, yet pleads for strictness in admissions to the Lord's table; and testified, It is most evident, that godly reforming divines have in their doctrine unanimously taught, and in their practice (many of them) endeavoured, a strict selection of those who should be admitted to the Lord's supper. I think it may be not improperly observed here, that in a manuscript, drawn up by this eminent person for his own satisfaction, and inserted in the account of his life, he has left his solemn testimony against a lax mode of profession, (exclusive of all examinations and confessions, of a practical and experimental nature,) as having