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“ The baptizer ought to be satisfied by a person's profession, that he really believes the Gospel, and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Saviour.
IX. Mr. W. is not contented with all these representations of
my scheme, but will have it appear more absurd and monstrous still; and therefore represents me as maintaining that it is not the visible profession of experiences, that I suppose the ground of the church's judgment; but these experiences and inward feelings themselves, by having the heart turned inside out, and viewing them immediately in the heart itself, and judg. ing upon the next and immediate actings of the heart. Here, I only desire the reader to read down Mr. W.'s 7th page, and make his own reflections.
X. Whereas, in p. 16. of my book, I observed it to be the opinion of some, that, “ Although the members of the visible church are saints in profession and visibility, and in the acceptance of others, yet this is not with reference to saving holiness, but to quite anothor sort of saintship, viz. moral sincerity; and that this is the real saintship, discipleship, and godliness, that is professed and visible in them,” &c. : Mr. W. (p.4, 5.) says, He does not remember that he ever heard of this, or that any body thought of it, before he saw it in my book; and represents it as a poor man of straw, of my own framing; and he insists upon it, that it is allowed on all hands, that the visibility must be with reference to saving holiness.
I will not say, that Mr. W. knew it to be a false representation which he here makes : But this I will say, that he ought to have been better informed, before he had thus publicly ridiculed this as a fiction of mine; especially considering the opportunities and advantages he has had to know otherwise : This being the notion that had been (as was before observed) so loudly and publicly insisted on, for more than two years, by the people of Northampton, and by the neighbouring ministers, and those of them that were Mr. W.'s near relatives; as he has had abundant opportunities to be fully informed, having withal had great inducements to inquire. Besides, that this has been the universal opinion of all that part of the country (who thought themselves Mr. Stoddard's followers,) for more than twenty years, is a fact as notorious, as that the people there generally believe Mr. Stoddard's doctrine of the necessity of a work of conversion in order to get to heaven.—And this is the opinion professedly main. tained in a pamphlet published in Boston, (anno 1741,) intitled, " A Right to the Lord's Supper considered :" A piece which has long been well known among Mr. W.'s nearest relatives, and in good repute with them; as I have had occasion to observe. This pamphlet insists expressly and abundantly, that moral sincerity is the REAL discipleship and holiness, with respect to which
visible Christians are called disciples and saints, in scripture. Particularly see pages 9, 10, 13, and 14. And which is more strange yet, Mr. Blake, the great author Mr. W. makes so much use of, and in a book which I know he has long been the possessor of, speaks much of a profession of religion that has respect only to a dogmatical, historical faith, a common faith, a faith true indeed (as he says) in its kind, but short of that which is justifying and saving, and a profession which goes no further, as that which entitles to sealing ordinances. See Blake on the Covenant, p. 241, 244, 245. The same author again and again distinguishes between justifying faith and faith of profession ; as in p. 284, 285, 286. And which is more than all this, Mr. W. (as will appear in the sequel) abundantly contends for the same thing himself
, though against himself, and although he charges me (p. 35. d.) with a great misrepresentation, in supposing that according to the scheme of my opposers, the profession required in those that are admitted, does not imply a pretence to any thing more than moral sincerity and common grace.
AN EXAMINATION OF MR. WILLIAMS'S SCHEME IN THE VARIOUS
PARTS OF IT.
Mr. W_'s Concessions.
Mr. W. allows, that, in order to a man's coming to sacra. ments, he ought solemnly to profess and declare, that he is really and heartily convinced of the divine truth of the gospel, (p.30. e. p. 36. a. p. 32.c. p. 84. a.) That he does sincerely, and with all his heart believe the gospel,* (p. 49. e.) And that they which admit him, ought to be satisfied he really believes the gospel, that Jesus is the Son of God, the Saviour. (p. 54. c.) That he should profess and declare he believes in Christ, and that the gospel is indeed the revelation of God. (p. 5.c.) He allows, that none ought to be admitted, but such as openly profess and declare an hearty consent to the covenant of grace, and compliance with the call of the gospel, and submission to the proposals of it, and satisfaction with that device for our salvation that is revealed in the gospel, and with the offer which God makes of himself to be our God in Christ Jesus, and that they fall in with the terms of salvation proposed in the gospel, and renounce all other ways. (p. 5. c. p. 8. a. p. 9. 6. c. p. 11. a. p. 18. e. p. 55. a. p. 32. c.) He plainly supposes it not to be lawful for them that are luke warm in religion, or those that serve two masters, to come to sacraments. (p. 32. b. p. 35. d. e. p. 36. c.) He supposes, that there must be a real determination of a man's judgment and affection for the word of God. (p. 55. c.) That there ought to be a profession of subjection to Christ with all the heart, (p. 10. d.)
* When I first proposed to a certain candidate for communion at Northampton, the publicly making this profession, viz. That he believed the truth of the gospel with all his heart, many of the people cried out, that I insisted on what no Saint on earth could profess, and that this amounted to a profession of absolute perfection. Hence many reports spread about the country, that I insisted on perfection as a term of communion.
+ Mr. W. cites Mr. Guthrie (pref. p. 4. c. e.) as on his side, when he speaks of such a profession, as that which is to be made.
and of a devotedness to the service of God. (p. 49. d.) And a professed giving up themselves to Christ, to be taught, ruled, and led by him in the gospel-way to salvation ;(p.31.e. and 32. a.) And that communicants ought to declare, that they do, with all their hearts, cast themselves upon the mercy of God, to help them to keep covenant; (p. 125. b.) That they ougnt to profess a proper respect to Christ in their hearts, as well as a true no. tion of him in their heads; (p. 31. d.) That they must make a profession that imparts a pretence of real friendship to Christ, and love to God above the world. (p. 36. c.) That none ought to be admitted but visible Saints, and that this visibility must be such as to a judgment of rational charity makes them appear real Saints wise virgins, and endowed with gospel holiness : (p. 5. a. b. p. 41. e. p. 42. b. p. 139. a. d. p. 14. a.) That there should be a charitable presumption, that the spirit of God has taken hold of them, and turned their hearts to God. (p. 52. c.) That they should be such persons as are in the eye of a Christian judgment truly gracious persons, supposed and believed in charity to be those to whom God has given saving repentance, and an heart-purifying faith ; (p. 65. e. and p. 47. b.c.) Such as have the moral image of Christ appearing in them, or supposed to be in them, and are to be loved on that account. (p. 68. c.) He allows, that there ought to be some apprehension, some judg. ment of the mind, that they are Christians and Saints, and have the moral image of God in them.* (p. 68. c. d. e. p. 69. a. and 71. d.) He allows that they must be taken into the church under a notion of their being godly, and with respect to such a char. acter appearing on them : And very often insists, that they themselves must make such a pretence. (p. 55. c. d. e. p. 132. a.c. d. e. p. 136. d. p. 143. c.) So he allows, that they must not
By this it appears, when Mr. W. speaks of the Church's rational judgment, that persons have real holiness, and the like, he does not mean merely treating them as such, in public administrations, and external conduct : For here he speaks not of the external conduct, but of the apprehension of the understanding, and judgment of the mind; and this as the foundation of the affection of the heart.
+ Mr. W.'s words (p. 55. d. e.) are pretty remarkable: “The reader (says he) will judge, whether the manner of Mr. Edwards treating the question, and representing the opinion of Mr. Stoddard and others, in the words I have quoted above, be not unaccountable ; though this is neither the first nor the last time of his treating the matter in such a manner; As if Mr. Stoddard and his adherents supposed persons were to be admitted without any notion of their being godly, or any respect to such a character appearing on them, and that they themselves are without such a pretence."—Whereas, Mr. Stoddard expressly maintains, that men may be duly qualified, and fit matter for Church-menibership, without saving grace. (Appeal p: 15, 16.) And that they may and ought to come, though they know themselves to be in a natural condition. (Doct. of instituted Churches, p, 21. See also his Sermon on the subject, p. 13.) And according to Mr. Stoddard, communicants are not so much as supposed godly persons. This (Appeal p. 43.) he says expressly, that by the institution communicants at the Lord's Supper are not sufposed to be real Saints. And also asserts (Appeal, p. 76.) that we are not oblig
only be endowed with Christian piety in appearance; but that they must be so in profession. (p. 3. a. p. 41. e. p. 44. d.) That they make a shew of being wise virgins by the nature and purport of their profession. (p. 42. b.) And he insists with strenuous. ness, over and over, upon its being their scheme, that they ought to make a profession of real saintship. (p. 132. a. c. d.) Yea, he holds, that there must be not only some visibility and profession of real piety, but moral evidence of it. (p. 139. d.) He often uses notes of distinction, distinguishing between moral sincerity, and real piety; and insists much upon it as belonging to their scheme; that ihere must be a visibility of the latter, as thus distinguished from the former. So, he rejects with great contempt any suggestion of its being the scheme of my opposers, that moral sincerity is that saintship, which is to be professed and made visible; and in distinction from this, he asserts, that it is real holiness. (p. 4. d. e. and p. 5. a. b.) And again, (p. 35 c.) he uses a note of distinction, and insists that the opposers of my opinion hold, that communicants must make a profession of something more than common grace and moral sincerity. And again, (p. 139. a. d.) he uses notes of discrimination, and says that they must exhibit a credible profession of gospel-holiness, and not merely of moral sincerity; and says it is not the visibility of moral sincerity, but the moral evidence of gospel-sincerity, which God's word makes the rule of judging, -Ănd as he holds, that communicants must prosess gospel-holiness, so he seems to suppose that these professors must judge this of themselves; several things, he says, seem plainly to imply it. This appears evidently implied in that interrogation put by Mr. W.(p. 35. e.) "Mr. S. rightly supposes all visible saints who are not truly pious, to be hypocrites; and the scripture supposes and calls ed to believe visible Saints to be real Saints. And it seems by what he says in his Appeal, (p. 17.) the Church may admit persons to communion, when at the same time they are aware that they are hypocrites. For there, in answer to Dr. Mather, who had cited certain texts to prove, that when hypocrites do come into the Church, they come in unawares : he says, but neither of the places he cites proves that all hypocrites come in unawares. And in the next page, he says, The discovery of men's hypocrisy is not the reason of their being cast out. Still eridently on the same foundation, that some known hypocrites are fit to be admitted: for he says, (p. 15. d.) Such as being admitted may not be cast out, are fit to be admitted. And these things are agreeable to what I know Mr. Stoddard's church and congregation have universally supposed to be his constant doctrine and practice among them. Thus it was, without one dissenting voice among them, during the twenty-four years that I lived with them. And now the reader is desired to judge, as Mr. W. would have him, whether my representing it to be the opinion of Mr. S. and his adherents, that persons might be admitted into the Church without any notion of their being godly, or any respect to such a character appearing on them, bo nnaccountable. — By these things it is evident, Mr. S-d's scheme was far from being what Mr. W. represents it to be, and pretends to maintain as his. And if the question he had to controvert with me, were Mr. S-d's question, as he asserts; yet he greatly mistakes the true state of the question, though that be given as the tiile of his book.