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we should have any reason to suppose every one to be truly godly; though we might have charity for each one that was admitted, taken singly and by himself. And to shew, that such a thing was possible, I endeavoured to illustrate it by a comparison, or supposed case of probability of ten to one, in the example of certain stones, with such probable marks of a diamond,
a as by experience had been found not to fail more than once in ten times. In which case, if a particular stone were found with those marks, there would be a probability of ten to one, with respect to that stone, singly taken, that it was genuine: but if ten such were taken together, there would not be the same probability that every one of them was so; but in this case it is as likely as not, that some one in the ten is spurious. Now it is so apparent, that this particular degree of probability of ten to one is mentioned only as a supposed case, for illustration, and because, in a particular example, some number or other must be mentioned, that it would have been an affront to the sense of my reader to have added any caution, that he should not understand me otherwise. However, Mr. W. has laid hold of this, as a good handle by which he might exhibit my scheme to the world in a ridiculous light; as though I had declared it my real opinion, that there must be the probability, of just ten to one, of true godliness, in order to persons' admission into the church. He might with as much appearance of sense and justice, have asserted concerning all the supposed cases in books of arithmetic, that the authors intend these cases should be understood as real facts, and that they have written their books, with all the sums and numbers in them, as books of history; and if any cases mentioned there only as examples of the several rules, are unlikely to be true accounts of fact, therefore have charged the authors with writing a false and absurd history.
IV. Another thing, yet further from what is honourable in Mr. W. is this; That, whereas I said as above, that there ought to be a prevailing opinion concerning those that are admitted, taken singly or by themselves, that they are truly godly or gracious, though when we look on the whole number in the gross, we are far from determining that every one is a true saint, and that not one of the judgments we have passed, has been mistaken; Mr. W. because I used the phrase singly taken, has laid hold on the expression, and from thence has taken occasion to insinuate to his readers, as if my scheme were so very extravagant, that according to this, when a great multitude are admitted, their admitters must be confident of EVERY ONE'S being regenerated. Hence he observes, (p. 98, c.) “There is no appearance, that John made a positive judgment that every one of these people were regenerated.” Plainly using the expression as a very strong one ; leading the reader to suppose,
that I insist the evidence shall be so clear, that when such a vast multitude as John baptized are viewed, the admitter should be peremptory in it, that his judgment has not failed so much as in a single instance; the very reverse of what I had expressed. In like manner, Mr. W. treats the matter from time to time. As in p. 55. a. “The thing to be proved from hence is, that the apostles and primitive Christians, not only thought that these persons were Christians, by reason of their external calling, and professed compliance with the call; but had formed a positive judgment concerning EVERY ONE OF THEM SINGLY, that they were real saints. Here the expression is plainly used as a very strong one: as implying much more than esteeming so great a multitude, when taken in the gross to be generally true saints, and with a manifest design to carry the same idea in the mind of the reader as was before-mentioned. See another like instance, p. 62. c.
. V. However, my opinion is not represented bad enough yet; but to make it appear worse,
Mr. W. is bold to strain his representation of it to that height, as to suggest that what I insist on, is a certainty of others' regeneration ; though this be so diverse from what I had largely explained in stating the question, and plainly expressed in other parts of my book,* and also inconsistent with his own representations in other places. For if what I insist on be a probability that may fail once in ten times, as he says it is, (p. 63, a.) then it is not a certainty that I insist on; as he suggests, p. 141 a--Speaking of the evil consequences of my opinion, he says, “The notion of men's being able and fit to determine positively the condition of other men, or the certainty of their gracious estate, has a direct tendency to deceive the souls of men.” So again in p. 69. And
" he suggests that I require more than moral evidence, in p. 6. c. and p. 139. d.
VI. Mr. W. represents me as insisting on some way of judging the state of such as are admitted to communion, by their inward and spiritual experiences, diverse from judging by their profession and behaviour. So, p. 7. b. “ If their outward profession and behaviour be the ground of this judgment, then it is not the inward experience of the heart." P. 55, b. “ Which judgment must be founded on something beyond and beside their external calling, and visible profession to comply with it, and to be separated for God: and therefore this judgment must be
* In stating the question, (p. 5. 6.) I explained the requisite visibility to be some outward manifestation, that ordinarily renders the thing probable. To the like purpose, is what I say in p. 10. e. and p. 11. a. b. e. and p. 12. a, b, c. And in p. 106. e. I say expressly “Not a certainty, but a profession and
of these things, must be the rule of the church's proceeding.
founded, either upon revelation, or a personal acquaintance with " their experiences,” &c. In like manner he is abundant, from one end of his book to the other, in representing as though I insisted on judging men by their inward and spiritual experiences, in some peculiar manner. Which is something surprising, since there is not so much as a word said about relating, or giving an account of experiences, or what is commonly so called, as a term of communion. Mr. W. (p. 6. a.) pretends to quote two passages of mine, as an evidence, that this is what I insist on. One is from the 5th page of my book. It is true, I there say thus, “ It is a visibility to the eye of the public charity, and not a private judgment, that gives a person a right to be received as a visible saint by the public." And I there say, "A public and serious profession of the great and main things wherein the essence of true religion or godliness consists, together with an honest character, an agreeable conversation, and good understanding of the doctrines of Christianity, and particularly those doctrines that teach the grand condition of salvation, and the nature of true saving religion ; this justly recommends persons to the good opinion of the public; whatever suspicions and fears any particular person, either the minister, or some other, may entertain, from what he in particular has observed; perhaps the manner of his expressing himself in giving an account of his experiences, or an obscurity in the order and method of his experiences," &c. But the words do not imply it may be demanded of the candidate, that he should give an account of his experiences to the minister, or any body else, as the term of his admission into the church: nor had 1 respect to any such thing. But I knew it was the manner in many places for those who hoped they were godly persons, to converse with their neighbours, and especially with their minister, about their experiences, whether it was required of them in order to their coming into the church, or no; and particularly, I was sensible, that this was the manner at Northampton, for whose sake especially I wrote: and I supposed it the way of many ministers, and people, to judge of others' state, openly and publicly, by the order and method of their experiences, or the manner of their relating them. But this I condemn in the very passage that Mr. W. quotes; and very much condemn, in other writings of mine which have been published; and have ever loudly condemned, and borne my testimony against.
There is one passage more, which Mr. W. adds to the preceding, and fathers on me, to prove that I require an account of experiences in order to admission ; pretending to rehearse my words, with marks of quotation, saying as follows, (p. 6. a.) and as he further explains himself elsewhere; “ The proper visibility which the public is to have of a man's being a saint, must be on some account of his experience of those doctrines which teach
the nature of true saving religion.”—I have made long and diligent search for such a passage in my writings, but cannot find it. Mr. W. says, I thus explain myself elsewhere: but I wish he had mentioned in what place.
If there be such a sentence in some of my writings, (as I suppose there is not,) it will serve little to Mr. W.'s purpose. If we take the word experience according to the common ac. ceptation of it in the English language, viz. a person's perceiving or knowing any thing by trial or experiment, or by immediate sensation or consciousness within himself; in this sense, I own, it may from what I say in my book be inferred, that a man's profession of his experience should be required as a term of communion. And so it may be as justly and as plainly inferred that Mr. W.himself insists on a profession of experience as a term of communion; experience of a deep conviction of a man's undone state without Christ ; experience of a persuasion of his judg. ment and conscience, that there is no other way of salvation; experience of unfeigned desires to be brought to the terms of the covenant. For such things as these, he says, must be professed. So, p. 75. d. e. and in innumerable other places. There is no such thing possible as a man's professing any thing within himself or belonging to his own mind, either good or bad, either common or saving, unless it be something that he finds, or (which is the same thing) experiences, within himself.
I know the word experience is used by many in a sort of peculiar sense, for the particular order and method of what passes within the mind and heart in conversion. And in this sense, Mr. W. knows, I disclaim the notion of making experiences a term of communion. I say, he knows it, because (in p. 6. a.) he quotes and rehearses the very words wherein I do expressly disclaim it. And I am very large and particular in testifying against it in my book on Religious Affections : (a book I have good reasons to think Mr. W. has seen and read, having been thus informed by a man of his own principles, that had it from his mouth.) There, in p. 300. e. & 301. a. I say as follows : " In order to persons making a proper profession of Christianity, such as the scripture directs to, and such as the followers of Christ should require, in order to the acceptance of the professors with full charity, as of their society, it is not necessary they should give an account of the particular steps and method, by which the Holy Spirit, sensibly to them, wrought, and brought about those great essential things of Christianity in their hearts. There is no footstep in the Scripture of any such way of the apostles, or primitive ministers and Christians, requiring any such relation in order to their receiving and treating others as their Christian brethren, to all intents and purposes : or of their first examining them concerning the particular method and order of their experiences.--They required of them a profession of the
things wrought; but no account of the manner of working was required of them. Nor is there the least shadow in the Scripture of any such custom in the Church of God, from Adam to the death of the apostle John.” To the same purpose again I express myself in p. 302. d. And in the Preface to the book that Mr. W. writes against, I make particular mention of this book on Religious Affections, wherein these things are said; and there declare expressly, that when I wrote that book, I was of the same mind concerning the qualifications of communicants that I of now.-But,
VII. To make my scheme still more obnoxious and odious, Mr. W. once and again insinuates, that I insist on an account of such inward FEELINGS, as are by men supposed to be the certain discriminating marks of grace, (so p. 7.b. and 141. e.) though I never once used the phrase any where in my book. -I said not a word about inward feelings, from one end of it to the other. Nor is any inward feeling at all more implied in my scheme, than in his. But however, Mr. W. knew that these phrases, experiences and inward feelings, were become odious of late to a great part of the country; and especially the latter of them, since Mr. Whitfield used it so much. And he well knew, that to tack these phrases to my scheme, and to suggest to his readers that these were the things I professed to insist on, would tend to render me and my scheme contemptible. If he says, Though I use not that phrase, yet the things I insist on, are such as are inwardly felt; such as saving repentance, faith, &c. I answer, these things are no more inward feelings, than the things he himself insists on ; such as a deep conviction of a man's un. done state, unfeigned fervent desires after Christ, a fixed resolution for Christ, engagedness for heaven, &c.
VIII. Mr. W. abundantly, in almost all parts of his book, represents my principles to be such as suppose men to be the SEARCHERS of others' hearts. For which I have given no other ground than only supposing that some such qualifications are necessary in order to communion, which have their seat in the heart, and so not to be intuitively seen by others; and that such qualifications must, by profession and practice, be made so visible or credible to others, that others may rationally judge they are there. And Mr. W. supposes the same thing as much as I. In p. 111. c. he expressly speaks of the qualifications necessary to communion, as being in the heart, and not possible to be known any other way than by their being seen there ; and also often allows, that these qualifications must be exhibited, and made visible, by a credible profession, and answerable practice. Yea, he goes further, he even supposes that those who admit them to sacraments, ought to be satisfied by their profession, that they really have these qualifications. Thus he says, p. 54. cVOL. IV.