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to come to the Lord's supper. True, he may think it is his right, he may have that opinion ; but he cannot know it; and 80 must not come, according to this argument. For it is only the word of God in the Holy Scriptures, that gives a man a right to worship the Supreme Being in this sacramental manner, and to come to him in this way, or any other, as one in covenant with him. The Lord's supper being no branch of natural worship, reason without institution is no ground of duty or right in this affair. And hence it is plainly impossible for those that do not so much as know the scriplures are the word of God, to know they have any good ground of duty or right in this matter. Therefore, supposing unconverted men have á real right, yet since they have no known right, they have no warrant (according to the argument before us) to take and use their right ; and what good then can their right do them? Or how can they excuse themselves from presumption, in claiming a right, which they do not know belongs to them? It is said, a probable hope that persons are regenerate, will not warrant them to come ; if they come, they take a liberty to do that which they do not know God gives them leave to do, which is horrible presumption in them. But if this be good arguing, I may as well say, a probable opinion that unregenerate men may communicate, will not warrant such to do it. They must have certain knowledge of this ; else, their right being uncertain, they run a dreadful venture in coming.
Axsw. II. Men are liable to doubt concerning their moral sincerity, as well as saving grace. If an unconverted man, sensible of his being under the reigning power of sin, was about to appear solemnly to own the covenant (as it is commonly called) and to profess to give up himself to the service of God in an universal and persevering obedience; and at the same time knew, that if he did this, and sealed this profession at the Lord's supper, without moral sincerity (supposing him to understand the meaning of that phrase) he should eat and drink judgment to himself; and if accordingly, his conscience being awakened, he was afraid of God's judgment ; in this case, I believe the man would be every whit as liable to doubts VOL. I.
about his moral sincerity, as godly men are about their graa cious sincerity. And if it be not matter of fact, that natural men are so often exercised and troubled with doubts about their moral sincerity, as godly men are about their regeneration, I suppose it to be owing only to this cause, viz. that godly men being of more tender consciences than those under the dominion of sin, are more afraid of God's judgments, and more ready to tremble at his word. The divines on the other side of the question, suppose it to be requisite, that communicants should believe the fundamantal doctrines of religion with all their heart in the sense of Acts viii. 37.) the doctrine of Three Persons and One God, in particular : But I think there can be no reasonable doubt, that natural men, who have so weak and poor a kind of faith in these mys. teries, if they were indeed as much afraid of the terrible consequences of their being deceived in this matter, or being not morally sincere in their profession of the truth, as truly gracious men are wont to be of delusion concerning their experience of a work of grace, or whether they are evangelically sincere in choosing God for their portion ; the former would be as frequently exercised with doubts in the one case, as the latter in the other. And I very much question, whether any divine on the other side of the controversy would think it necessary, that natural men in professing those things should mean that they know they are morally sincere, or intend any more than that they trust they have that sincerity,so far as they know their own hearts. If a man should come to them, proposing to join with the church, and tell them, though indeed he was something afraid whether he believed the doctrine of the Trinity with all his heart (meaning in a moral sense) yet that he had often examined himself as to that matter with the utmost impartiality and strictness he was capable of, and on the whole he found reasons of probable hope, and his preponderating thought of himself was, that he was sincere in it; would they think such an one ought to be rejected, or would they advise him not to come to the sacrament, because he did not certainly know he had this sincerity, but only thought he had it!
Answ. IIỊ. If we suppose sanctifying grace to be requisite in order to a being properly qualified, according to God's word, for an attendance on the Lord's supper ; yet it will not follow, that a man must know he has this qualification, in order to his being capable of conscientiously attending it. If he judges that he has it, according to the best light he can obtain, on the most careful examination, with the improvement of such helps as he can get, the advice of his pastor, &c. he may be bound in conscience to attend. And the reason is this ; Christians partaking of the Lord's supper is not a matter of mere claim, or right and privilege, but a matter of duty and obligation ; being an affair wherein another (even God) has a claim and demand on us. And as we ought to be careful, on the one hand, that we proceed on good grounds in taking to ourselves a privilege, lest we take what we have no good claiin to ; so we should be equally careful, on the other hand, to proceed on good grounds in what we withhold from another, lest we do not withhold that from him which is his due, and which he justly challenges from us. Therefore in a case of this complex nature, where a thing is both a matter of right or privilege to us and also a matter of obligation to another, or a right of his from us, the danger of proceeding without right and truth is equal both ways; and consequently if we cannot be absolutely sure either way, here the best judgment we can form, after all proper endeavors to know the truth, must gov. ern and determine us ; otherwise we shall designedly do that whereby, according to our own judgment, we run the greatest risk ; which is certainly contrary to reason. If the question were only what a man has a right to, he might forbear till he were sure : But the question is, not only whether he has a right to attend the supper, but whether God also has not a right to his attendance there ? Supposing it were merely a privilege which I am allowed in a certain specified case, and there were no command to take the Lord's supper even in that case, but yet at the same time there was a command not to take unless that be the case in fact, then, supposing I am uncertin whether that be the case with me or no, it will be safest to abstain : But supposing I am not only forbidden to take it, unless that be
the case with me, but positively commanded and required to take it, if that be the case in fact, then it is equally dangerous to negleci on uncertainties, as to take on uncertainties. In such a critical situation, a man must act according to the best of his judgment on his case ; otherwise he wilfully runs into that which he thinks the greatest danger of the two.
Thus it is in innumerable cases in human life. I shall give one plain instance : A man ought not to take upon him the work of the ministry unless called to it in the providence of God ; for a man has no right to take this honor to himself; unless called of God. Now let us suppose a young man of a liberal education, and well accomplished, to be at a loss whether it is the will of God that he should follow the work of the ministry ; and he examines himself, and examines his circumstances, with great seriousness and solemn prayer, and well considers and weighs the appearances in divine providen e: And yet when he has done all, he has not come to a proper certainty that God calls him to this work ; but however it looks so to him, according to the best light he can obtain, and the most careful judgment he can form : Now such a one appears obliged in conscience to give himself to this work. He must by no means neglect it under a notion that he must not take this honor to himself, till he knows he has a right to it ; be. cause though it be indeed a privilege, yet it is not a matter of mere privilege, but a matter of duty too ; and if he neglects it under these circumstances, he neglects what, according to his own best judgment, he thinks God requires of him, and calls him to ; which is to sin against his conscience.
As to the case of the priests, that could not find their regiss ter (Ezra ii.) alleged in the Appeal to the Learned, p. 64, it appears to me of no force in this argument ; for if those priest: had had never so great assurance in themselves of their pedigree being good, or of their being descended from priesta, and should have professed such assurance, yet it would not have availed ; nor did they abstain from the priesthood, because they wanted satisfaction themselves, bụt they were sub. ject to the judgment of the Sanhedrim ; whose rule to judge of the qualification spoken of, God' had never made any pro: fession of the parties themselves, but the visibility of the thing, and evidence of the fact to their own eyes : This matter of pedigree being an external object, ordinarily within the view of man ; and not any qualification of heart. But this is not the case with regard to requisite qualifications for the Lord's supper, which being many of them internal, invisible things, seated in the mind and heart, such as the belief of a Supreme Being, &c; God has made a credible pirofession of these things the rule to direct in admission of persons to the ordinance : Who, in making this profession, are determined and governed by their own judgment of themselves, and not by any thing within the view of the church.
THE natural consequence of the doctrine which has been maintained, is the bringing multitudes of persons of a tender conscience and true piety into great perplexities ; who, being at a loss ahout the state of their souls, must needs be as much in suspence about their duty : And it is not reasonable to suppose, that God would order things so in the revelations of his will, as to bring his own people into such perplexities.
Answ. I. It it for want of the like tenderness of conscience which the godly have, that the other doctrine which insists on moral sincerity, does not naturally bring those who are received to communion on those principles, into the same perplexities, through their doubting of their moral sincerity, of their believing mysteries with all their heart, &c. as has been already observed. And a being free from perplexity, only through stupidity and hardness of heart, is worse than being in the greatest perplexity through tenderness of conscience.
Answ. II. Supposing the doctrine which I have maintained, be indeed the doctrine of God's word, yet it will not follow, that the perplexitie: true saints are in through doubting of their state, are effects owing to the revelations of God's