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consist with their being enemies of Christ in their hearts, and who in reality love the vilest lust better than him, be that church of Christ which in the New Testament is denominated his city, his temple, his family, his body, &c. by which pameş the visible church of Christ is there frequently called.
I acknowledge, that means, of Christ's appointment, are to be used with those who are Christ's enemies, and do not prosess themselves any other, to change their hearts, and bring them to be Christ's friends and disciples. Such means are to be used with all sorts of persons, with Jews, Mahometans, Heathens, with nominal Christians that are heretical or vicious, the profane, the intemperate, the unclean, and all other enemies of Christ ; and these means to be used constantly, and laboriously. Scandalous persons need to go to school, to learn to be Christians, as much as other men. And there are many persons that are not morally sincere, who, from selfish and sinister views,do consent ordinarily to go to church, and so be in the way of the use of means. And none ought to for. bid them thus going to Christ's school, that they may be taught by him in the ministry of the gospel, But yet it will not follow, that such a school is the church of ChrisȚ. Human laws can put persons, even those who are very vicious, into the school of Christ, in that sense ; they can oblige them constant. ly to be present at public teaching, and attend on the means of grace appointed by Christ, and dispensed in his name ; But human laws cannot join men to the church of Christ, and make them members of his body.
VISIBLE saintship in the Scripture sense cannot be the same with that which has been supposed and insisted on, viz. a being in the eye of a rational charity truly pious ; because Israel of old were from time to time called God's people, when it is certain the greater part of them were far from hav. ing any such visible holiness as this. Thus the ten tribes were called God's people, Hosea iv. 6, after they had revolted from
the true worship of God, and had obstinately continued in their idolatrous worship at Bethel and Dan for about two hundred and fifty years, and were at that time, a little before their captivity especially, in the height of their wickedness. So the Jews are called God's people, in Ezek. xxxvi. 20, and other places, at the time of their captivity in Babylon ; a time when most of them were abandoned to all kinds of the most horrid and open impieties, as the prophets frequently represent. Now it is certain that the people at that time were not called God's people, because of any visibility of true piety to the eye of reason or of a rational charity, because most of them were grossly wicked, and declared their sin as Sodom. And in the same manner wherein the Jews of old were God's people, are the members of the visible Christian Gentile church God's people ; for they are spoken of as grafted into the same olive tree, from whence the former were broken off by unbelief.
ANSWER. The argument proves too much, and therefore nothing at all. If those whom I oppose in this controversy, bring this objection, they will in effect as much oppose themselves in it as me. The objection, if it have any force, equally militates against their and my notion of visible saintship. For those Jews which it is alleged weré called God's people, and yet were so notoriously, openly, and obstinately wicked, had neither any visibility of true piety, nor yet of that moral sin. cerity in the profession and duties of the true religion, which the opponents themselves suppose to be requisite in order to a proper visible holiness, and a due admission to the privi. leges and ordinances of the church of God. None will pretend that these obstinate idolaters and impious wretches had those qualifications which are now requisite in order to an admission to the Christian sacraments. And therefore to what purpose can they bring this objection ? Which, if it proves any thing, overthrows my scheme and their own both together, and both in an equally effectual manner ; and not only so, but will thoroughly destroy the schemes of all Protestant; through the world, concerning the qualifications of the subjects of Christian ordinances. And therefore the support of what I have laid down against those whom I oppose in this
controversy, requires no further answer to this objection Nevertheless for the greater satisfaction, I would here ob• serve further :
That such appellations as God's people, God's Israel, and some other like phrases, are used and applied in Scripture with considerable diversity of intention. Thus, we have a plain distinction between the house of Israel, and the house of Israel, in Ezek. xx. 38, 39, 40. By the house of Israel, in the 39th verse, is meant literally the nation or family of Israel : But by the house of Israel in the 40th verse, seems to be intended the spiritual house, the body of God's visible saints, that should attend the ordinances of his public worship in gospel times. So likewise there is a distinction made between the house of Israel, and God's disciples, who should profess and visibly adhere to his law and testimony, in Isa. viii. 14.... 17. And though the whole nation of the Jews are often called God's people in those degenerate times wherein the prophets were sent to reprove them, yet at the same time they are charged as falsely calling themselves of the holy city. Isa. xlviii. 2. And God often tells them, they are rather to be reckoned among aliens, and to be looked upon as children of the Ethiopians, or posterity of the ancient Canaanites, on account of their grossly wicked and scandalous behavior. See Amos ix. 7, 8, &c. Ezek. xvi. 2, 3, &c. verses 45, 46, &c. Isa. i. 10.
It is evident that God sometimes, according to the metho ods of his marvellous mercy, and long suffering towards mankind, has a merciful respect to a degenerate church, that is become exceeding corrupt in regard that it is constituted of members who have not those qualifications which ought to be insisted on : God continues still to have respect to them so far as not utterly to forsake them, or wholly to deny his confirmation of, and blessing on their administrations. And not being utterly renounced of God, their administrations are to be looked upon as in some respect valid, and the society as in some sort a people or church of God: Which was the case with the church of Rome, at least till the Reformation and Council of Trent ; for till then we must own their baptisms and ordinations to be valid.... The church that the pope sits in, is called, The Temple of God. 2. Thess. ii. 4.
And with regard to the people of Israel, it is very manifest, that something diverse is oftentimes intended by that nation's being God's people, from their being visible saints, or visibly holy, or having those qualifications which are requisite in order to a due admission to the ecclesiastical privileges of such. That nation, that family of Israel, according to the flesh, and with regard to that external and carnal qualification, were in some sense adopted by God to be his peculiar people, and his covenant people. This is not only evident by what has been already observed, but also indisputably manifest from Rom. ix. 3, 4, 5. “ I have great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart ; for I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen, ACCORDING TO THE FLESH, who are Ísraelites, to whom pertaineth the ADOPTION, and the glory and the COVENANTS, and the giving of the law and the service of God, and the PROMISES ; whose are the fathers ; and of whom concerning the flesh Christ came.” It is to be noted, that the privileges here men. tioned are spoken of as belonging to the Jews, not now as visible saints, not as professors of the true religion, not as members of the visible church of Christ ; but only as people of such a nation, such a blood, such an external and carnal relation to the patriarchs, their ancestors, Israelites ACCORDING TO THE FLESH. For the apostle is speaking here of the unbelieving Jews, professed unbelievers, that were cut of the Christian church, and open visible enemies to it, and such as had no right to the external privileges of Christ's people. So, in Rom. xi. 28, 29, this apostle speaks of the same unbelieving Jews, as in some respect an elect people, and interested in the calling, promises, and covenants God formerly gave to their forefathers, and as still beloved for their sakes. “ As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sake ; but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” These things are in these places spoken of, not as privileges belonging to the Jews now as a people of the right Vol. I.
religion, or in the true church of visible worshippers of God ; but as a people of such a pedigree or blood ; and that even after the ceasing of the Mosaic adininistration. But these were privileges more especially belonging to them under the Old Testament: They were a family that God had chosen in distinction from all others, to shew special favor to, above all other nations. It was manifestly agreeable to God's design to constitute things so under the Old Testament, that the means of grace and spiritual privileges and blessings should be, though not wholly, yet in a great measure confined to a particular family, much more than those privileges and blessings are confined to any posterity or blood now under the gospel. God did purposely so order things that that na. tion should by these favors be distinguished, not only from those who were not professors of the worship of the true God, but also in a great measure from other nations, by a wall of separation that he made. This was not merely a wall of separation, between professors and nonprofessors (such a wall of separation as this remains still in the days of the gospel) but between NATION and NATIONS. God, if he pleases, may by his sovereignty annex his blessing, and in some measure fix it, for his own reasons, to a particular blood, as well as to a particular place or spot of ground, to a certain building, to a particular heap of stones, or altar of brass, to particular garments, and other external things. And it is evident, that he actually did affix his blessing to that particular external family of Jacob, very much as he did to the city Jerusalem, that he chose to place his name there, and to Mount Zion, where he commanded the blessing. God did not so affix his blessing to Jerusalem or Mount Zion, as to limit himself, either by confining the blessing wholly to that place, never to bestow it elsewhere ; nor by obliging himself always to bestow it on those that sought him there ; nor yet obliging himself never to withdraw his blessing from thence, by forsaking his dwelling place there, and leaving it to be a common or profane place ; but he was pleased so to annex his blessing to that place, as to make it the seat of his blessing in a peculiar manner, in great distinction from other