« PreviousContinue »
Answ. Unless it be an evident truth, that what the Lord's rupper may have tendency to promote, the same it was appointed to promote, nothing follows from this argument. If the argument affords any consequence, the consequence is built on the tendency of the Lord's supper. And if the consequence be good and strong on this foundation, as drawn from such premises, then wherever the premises hold, the consequence holds ; otherwise it must appear, that the premises and consequence are not connected. And now let us see how it is in fact. Do not scandalous persons need to have these very efsects wrought in their hearts, which have been mentioned ? Yes, surely ; they need them in a special manner : They need to be awakened ; they need to have an affecting discovery of that terrible wrath of God against sin, which was manifested in a peculiar manner by the terrible effects of God's wrath in the sufferings of his own incarnate Son : Gross sinners need this in some respect more than others : They need to have their hearts broken by an affecting view of the great and important things of God's word : They need especially to fly to Christ for refuge, and therefore need to have their hearts drawn. And seeing the Lord's supper has so great a tendency to promote these things, if the consequence from the tendency of the Lord's supper, as inferring the end of its appointment be good, then it must be a consequence also well inferred, that the Lord's supper was appointed for the reclaiming and bringing to repentance scandalous persons.
Here, for any to go to turn this off, by saying, Scandalous persons are expressly forbid, is but a giving up the argument, and a begging the question. It is a giving up the argument ; since it allows the consequence not to be good. For it allows, that notwithstanding the proper tendency of the Lord's supper to promote a design, yet it may be so that the Lord's supper was not appointed with a view to promote that end. And it is a begging the question ; since it supposes, that unconvert. ed men are not evidently forbidden, as well as scandalous persons; which is the thing in controversy. If they be evidently forbid, that is as much to reasonable creatures (who need nothing but good evidence) as if they were expressly forbidden, To say here, that the Lord's supper is a converting ordinance only to orderly members and that there is another ordinance appointed for bringing scandalous persons to repentance, this is no solution of the difficulty ; but it is only another instance of yielding up the argument and begging the question : For it plainly concedes, that the tendency of an ordinance does not prove it appointed to all the ends, which it seems to have a tendency to promote : And also supposes, that there is not any other ordinance, appointed for the converting of sinners that are moral and orderly in their lives, exclusive of this, which is the thing in question.
It is at best but very precarious arguing, from the seeming tendency of things, to the divine appointment, or God's will and disposition with respect to the use of those things. It looks as though it would have had a great tendency to con: vince the Scribes and Pharisees, and to promote their conversion if they had been admitted into the Mount when Christ was transfigured : But yet it was not the will of Christ, that they should be admitted there, or any other but Peter, James and John. It seems as though it would have had a very great tendency to convince and bring to repentance the unbelieving Jews, if they had been allowed to see and converse freely with Christ after his resurrection, and see him ascend into heaven : But yet it was the will of God, that none but disciples should be admitted to these privileges. So it seems as though it might have had a good tendency, if all that were sincere followers of Christ, women as well as men, had been allowed to be present at the institution of the Lord's supper : But yet it is commonly thought none were admitted beside the Apostles.
Indeed the ever honored author of the Appeal to the Learn. ed has supplied me with the trae and proper answer to this objection, in the following words, p. 27, 28. “The efficacy of the Lord's supper does depend upon the blessing of God. Whatever TENDENCY ordinances have in their own NATURE to be serviceable to men, yet they will not prevail any further than God doth bless them. The weapons of our warfare are mighty through God, 2 Cor. x. 4. It is God that teaches mer to profit, and makes them profitable and serviceable to men's souls. There is reason to hope for a divine blessing on the Lord's supper, when it is administered to those that it ought to be administered to : God's blessing is to be expected in God's way. If men act according to their own humors and fancies, and do not keep in the way of obedience, it is presumption to expect God's blessing, Matth. xv. 9. In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. But when they are admitted to the Lord's supper that God would hive to be admitted, there is ground to hope that he will make it profitable.”
ALL that are members of the visible church and in the ex. ternal covenant, and neither ignorant nor scandalous, arc commanded to perform all external covenant duties ; and particularly they are commanded to attend the Lord's supper, in those words of Christ, This do in remembrance of me.
Answ. This argument is of no force, without first taking for granted the very thing in question. For this is plainly supposed in it, that however these commands are given to such as are in the external covenant, yet they are not given indefinitely, but with exceptions and reserves, and do not immediately reach all such ; they do not reach those who are unqualified, though they be in the external covenant. Now the question is, Who are these that are unqualified ? The objection supposes, that only ignorant and scandalous persons are so. But why are they only supposed unqualified ; and not unconverted persons too? Because it is taken for granted, that these are not unqualified. And thus the grand point in question is supposed, instead of being proved. Why are these limitations only singled out, neither ignorant nor scandalous ; and not others as well ? The answer must be, because these are all the limitations which the scripture makes : But this now is the very thing in question. Whereas the business of an argu: ment is to prove, and not to suppose, or take for granted, the very thing which is to be proved.
If it be here said, it is with good reason that those who are ignorant or scandaloys alone are supposed to be excepted in God's command, and obligations of the covenant ; for the cov. enant spoken of in the objection, is the external covenant, and this requires only external duties ; which alone are what lie within the reach of man's natural power, and so in the reach of his legal power : God does not command or require what men have no natural power to perform, and which cannot be performed before something else, some antecedent duty, is performed,which antecedent duty is not in their natural power.
I reply, Still things are but supposed, which should be prove ed, and which want confirmation.
(1.) It is supposed that those who have externally (i. e. by oral profession and promise) entered into God's covenant, are thereby obliged to no more than the external duties of that covenant : Which is not proved, and I bumbly conceive, is certainly not the true state of the case. They who have ex. fernally entered into God's covenant, are by external profession and engagements entered into that one only covenant of grace, which the scripture informs us of ; and therefore are obliged to fulfil the duties of that covenant, which are chiefly internal. The children of Israel, when they externally enter. ed into covenant with God at Mount Sinai, promised to per, form all the duties of the covenant, to obey all the ten commandments spoken by God in their hearing, and written in tables of stone, which were therefore called The Tables of the covenant ; the sum of which ten commandments was, to LOVE the Lord their God with all their HEART, and with all their, SOUL, and to LOVE their neighbor as themselves ; which, princi. pally at least, are internal duties. In particular, they promised not to covet ; which is an internal duty. They promised to have no other God before the Lord ; which implied that they would in their hearts regard no other being or object whatey. er above God, or in equality with him, but would give him their supreme respect.
(2.) It is supposed, that God does not require impossibilities of men, in this sense, that he does not require those things of them which are out of their natural power and particularly that he does not require them to be converted. But this is not proved ; nor can I reconcile it with the tenor of the scripture revelation : And the chief advocates for the doctrine I oppose have themselves abundantly asserted the contrary. The venerable author forementioned, as every body knows, that knew him, always taught, that God justly requires men to be con. verted, to repent of their sins, and turn to the Lord, to close with Christ, and savingly to believe in him ; and that in refusing to accept of Christ and turn to God, they disobeyed the divine commands, and were guilty of the most heinous sin ; and that their moral inability was no excuse.
(3.) It is supposed, that God does not command men to do those things which are not io be done till something else is done, that is not within the reach of men's natural ability. This also is not proved ; nor do I see how it can be true, even according to the principles of those who insist on this ob, jection. The forementioned memorable divine ever taught, that God commandeth natural men without delay to believe in Christ : And yet he always beld, that it was impossible for them to believe till they had by a preceding act submitted to the sovereignty of God; which yet he held, men never could do of themselves, nor till humbled and bowed by powerful convictions of God's Spirit. Again, he taught, that God commandeth natural men to love him with all their heart : And yet he held, that this could not be till men had first believed in Christ ; the exercise of love being a fruit of faith ; and be lieving in Christ, he supposed not to be within the reach of man's natural ability. Further, he held, that God requireth of all men holy, spiritual, and acceptable obedience ; and yet that such obedience is not within the reach of their natural ability ; and not only so, but that there must first be love to God, before there could be new obedience, and that this love to God is not within the reach of men's natural ability: Nor yet only so, but that before this love there must be faith, which faith is not within the reach of man's natural power : And still