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word. Perplexity and distress of mind, not only on occasion of the Lord's supper, but innumerable other occasions, is the natural and unavoidable consequence of true Christians doubting of their state. But shall we therefore say, that all these perplexities are owing to the word of God ? No, it is not owing to God, nor to any of his revelations, that true saints ever doubt of their state ; his revelations are plain and clear, and his rules sufficient for men to determine their own condition by : But, for the most part, it is owing to their own sloth, and giving way to their sinful dispositions. Must God's institutions and revelations be answerable for all the perplexities men bring on themselves, through their own negligence and unwatchfulness? It is wisely ordered it should be so, that the saints should escape perplexity in no other way than that of a great strictness, diligence, and maintaining the lively, laborious, and selfdenying exercises of religion.
It might as well be said, that it is unreasonable to suppose, God should order things so as to bring his own people into such perplexities, as doubting saints are wont to be exercised with in the sensible approaches of death; when their doubts tend to vastly greater perplexity, than in their approaches to the Lord's table. If Christians would more thorougly exercise themselves unto godline88, laboring always to keep a conscience void of offence both towards God and towards man, it would be the way to have the comfort, and taste the sweetness of religion. If they would 80 run, not as uncertainly ; so fight, not as they that beat the air ; it would be the way for them to escape perplexity, both in ordinances and providences, and to rejoice and enjoy God in both. Not but that doubting of their state sometimes arises from other causes, besides want of watchfulness; it may arise from melancholy, and some other peculiar disadvantages. But however, it is not owing to God's revelations nor institutions ; which, whatsoever we may suppose them to be, will not prevent the perplexities of suck persons.
ANSWER III. It appears to me reasonable to suppose, that the doctrine I maintain, if universally embraced by God's people, however it might be an accidental occasion of perplexity
in many instances, through their own infirmity and sin ; yet, on the whole, would be a happy occasion of much more comfort to the saints than trouble, as it would have a tendency, on every return of the Lord's supper, to put them on the strictest examination and trial of the state of their souls, agreeable to that rule of the apostle, 1 Cor. xi. 28. The neglect of which great duty of frequent and thorough selfexamination, seems to be one main cause of the darkness and perplexity of the saints, and the reason why they have so little comfort in ordinances, and so little comfort in general. Mr. Stoddard often taught his people, that assurance is attainable, and that those who are true saints might know it, if they would ; i. c. if they would use proper means and endeavors in order to it. And if so, then certainly it is not just, to charge those per. plexities on God's institutions, which arise through men's neg. ligence ; nor would it be just on the supposition of God's institutions being such as I suppose them to be.
YOU may as well say, that unsanctified persons may not attend any duty of divine worship whatsoever, as that they may not attend the Lord's supper ; for all duties of worship are holy and require holine88, in order to an acceptable performance of them, as well as that.
ANSWER. If this argument has any foundation at all, it has its foundation in the supposed truth of the following propositions, viz. Whosoever is qualified for admission to one duty of divine worship, is qualified for admission to all ; and he that is unqualified for one, and may be forbidden one, is unqualified for all, and ought to be allowed to attend none. But certainly these propositions are not true. There are many who are qualified for some duties of worship, and may be allowed, and are by no means to be forbidden to attend them, who yet are not qualified for some others, nor by any means to be admitted
to them. As every body grants, the unbaptized, the excommunicated, heretics, scandalous livers, &c. may be admitted to hear the word preached ; nevertheless they are not to be allowed to come to the Lord's supper. Even excommunicated persons remain still under the law of the Sabbath, and are not to be forbidden to observe the Lord's day. Ignorant persons, such as have not knowledge sufficient for an approach to the Lord's table, yet are not excused from the duty of prayer: They may pray to God to instruct them, and assist them in obtaining knowledge. They who have been educated in Arianism and Socinianism, and are not yet brought off from these fundamental error, and so are by no means to be adınitted to the Lord's supper, yet may pray to God to assist them in their studies, and guide them into the truth, and for all other mercies which they need. Socrates, that great Genuile philosopher, who worshipped the true God, as he was led by the light of nature, might pray to God, and he attended his duty when he did so ; although he knew not the revelation which God had made of himself in his word. That great philosopher that was contemporary with the Apostle Paul, I mean Seneca, who held one Supreme Being, and had, in many respects right notions of the divine perfections and providence, though he did not embrace the gospel, which at that day was preached in the world ; yet inight pray to that Supreme Being whom he acknowledged. And if his brother Gallio at Corinth, when Paul preached there, had prayed to this Supreme Being to guide bim into the truth, that he might know whether the doctrine Paul preached was true, he therein would have acted very becoming a reasonable creature, and any one would have acted unreasonally in forbidding him ; but yet surely neither of these men was qualified for the Christian sacraments. So that it is apparent, there is and ought to be a distinction made between duties of worship, with respect to qualifications for them ; and that which is a suffi. ' cient qualification for admission to one duty, is not so for all. And therefore the position is not true, which is the foundation whereon the whole weight of this argument rests. To say that although it be true there ought to be a distinction made,
in admission to duties of worship, with regard to some qualifications, yet sanctifying grace is not one of those qualifications that make the difference ; would be but a giving up the argument, and a perfect begging the question.
It is said, there can be no reason assigned, why unsanctified persons may attend other duties of worship and not the Lord's supper. But I humbly conceive this must be an inadvertence. For there is a reason very obvious from that necessary and very notable distinction among duties of worship which follows :
1. There are some duties of worship, that imply a firofession of God's covenant ; whose very nature and design is an cxhibition of those vital active principles and inward exercises, wherein consists the condition of the covenant of grace, or that union of soul to God, which is the union between Christ and his spouse, entered into by an inward, hearty consenting to that covenant. Such are the Christian sacraments, whose very design is to make and confirm a profession of compliance with that covenant, and whose very nature is to exhibit or express the uniting acts of the soul : Those sacramental duties therefore cannot, by any whose hearts do not really consent to that covenant, and whose souls do not truly close with Christ, be attended without either their being selfdeceived, or else wilfully making a false profession, and lying in a very ag. gravated manner.
2. There are other duties, which are not in their own nature an exhibition of a covenant union with God, or of any compliance with the condition of the covenant of grace ; but are the expression of general virtues, or virtues in their larg. est extent, including both special and common. Thus, prayer or asking mercy of God, is in its own nature no profession of a compliance with the covenant of grace : It is an expression of some belief of the being of a God, an expression of some sense of our wants, some sense of our need of help, and some sense of a need of God's help, some sense of our dependance, &c. but not only such a sense of these things as is spiritual and saving. Indeed there are some prayers proper to be made by saints, and many things proper to be expressed by
them in prayer, which imply the profession of a spiritual un jon of heart to God through Christ; but such as no Heathen, no heretic, nor natural man whatever, can or ought to make. Prayer in general, and asking mercy and help from God is no more a profession of consent to the covenant of grace, than reading the Scriptures, or meditation, or performing any duty of morality and natural religion. A Mahometan may as well ask mercy as hear instruction : And any natural mad may as well express his desires to God, as hear when God declares his will to him. It is true, when an unconverted man prays, the manner of his doing it is sinful : But when a natural man, knowing himself to be so, comes to the Lord's supper, the very matter of what he does, in respect of the profession he there makes, and his pretension to lay hold of God's covenant, is a lie, and a lie told in the most solemn manner.
In a word, the venerable Mr. Stoddard himself, in his Doce trine of Instituted Churches, has taught us to distinguish between instituted and natural acts of religion : The word and prayer he places under the head of moral duty, and considers as common to all; but the sacraments, according to what he says there, being instituted, are of special administration, and must be limited agreeable to the institution.
THE Lord's supper has a proper tendency to promote men’s conversion, being an affecting representation of the greatest and most important things of God's word : It has a proper tendency to awaken and humble sinners ; here being a discovery of the terrible anger of God for sin, by the infliction of the curse upon Christ, when sin was imputed to him ; and the representation here made of the dying love of Christ has a tendency to draw the hearts of sinners from sin to God, &c.