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of a lawful right to these privileges, as saints, then why is giv. ing them these privileges a treating them as scints, any more than as sinners ? If it belongs to an ignorant child, to be admitted into school, as much as one that is learned, then how is it treating him as one that is learned, to admit him? Mr. Williams (p. 11) giving a reason why he that prosesses con. viction of the truth of the gospel, &c. oughi to be admitted to sacraments, says, “ though this conviction may be only by moral evidence and common illumination, yet the church know not but it is done on a divine and gracious discovery." But how can this be a reason? What if the church did know that it was not on a gracious discovery, if the man has a right in the sight of God without, and God has made it his duty to come to sacraments without ? Surely the church have no right to forbid him to do that which God has given him a right to do, and made it his duty to do ; as Mr. Stoddard says, (Doct. of Inst. Churches, p. 20) “ The church may got hinder any man from doing his duty.”
Therefore if this be Mr. Stoddard's question," whether some unsanctified men may lawfully come to the Lord's supper," and if this be the grand point in dispute, the thing which Mr. Williams undertakes to maintain, as he often declares, then it is most plainly evident, that in conceding and asserting those things forementioned, he does in effect abundantly give up that which he himself insists on as the grand point in controversy; and so makes void and vain all his own labor, and for himself effectually confutes all that he has written.
Concerning Mr. Williams's Notion of a public Pro
fession of Godliness in terms of an indeterminate and double Signification.
ACCORDING to Mr. Williams the profession of godliness must be in words not of a determinate meaning, or “ without any discrimination in the meaning of the words, obliging us to understand them of saving religion.” P. 6, They must makean
open declaration of their sincere consent to the terms of the covenant, without any discrimination, by which it can be determined, that the consent signified by the words is a gracious consent." "P.9, And “without any marks of difference, or any distinction in the words, whereby we can be enabled to judge when they mean a saving faith, and when a different one." P. 10, 50' and 53, That « nothing should be expressed in the words of the profession, but what some unsanctified men may say, and speak true.” P. 47, he supposes, that the primitive Christians in the profession they made of faith, did not speak only in that sense, viz. so as to signify justifying faith ; and that the persons admitted did not understand that their profession was understood by those that admitted them, only in that sense.” P. 58.
Agreeably to this notion of making a profession in words of indiscriminate meaning, and professing godliness, without godliness, and yet speaking true, Mr. Williams, (in p. 44) allows, “ that men must be by profession godly persons, in order to come to the sacrament ;” and yet in the next sentence he denies, “ that Christian grace itself is requisite in the person who is to come to the sacrament, or that the dictate of his conscience that he has it, is the thing that gives him a right to offer himself.” And agreeably to this last clause, Mr. Stod. dard (of whose opinion Mr. Williams professes himself fully to be) expressly maintains, that a man “ may and ought to come to the Lord's supper, though he knows himself to be
in a natural condition.” (Doct. of Inst. Churches, p. 21, see also his sermon on this controversy, p. 13.) So that putting these things together, it must be agreeable to Mr. Williams's scheme, that a man has a right to make a profession of godliness, without having godliness, and without any dictate of his conscience that he has the thing he professes, yea though he knows he has it not! And all this is made out by the doctrine of professing godliness in words that are ambiguous, and of two meanings.
This notion of a solemn profession of godliness, in words of a double meaning, without any marks of difference in their signification, is the great peculiarity of Mr. Williams's scheme; and in all his controversy with me, this appears to be the main hinge of the whole affair. Therefore I would particularly consider it.
And for the greater distinctness and clearness, I will lay down certain positions, as of most evident truth ; observing some of their no less plain and evident consequences.
Position I. Words declare or profess nothing any otherwise than by their signification: For to declare or profess something by words, is to signify something by words.... And therefore if nothing is signified by words of a pretended profession, nothing is really professed ; and if something be professed, no more is prosessed than the words of the profession signify or import.
Position. II. If a man goes about, to declare or profess any particular thing by words which have no distinguishing sig. nification, or without any signs or discriminating marks by which men may be enabled to distinguish what he means, his words are vain to the pretended purpose, and wholly fail of answering the end of words, which is to convey the thing meant, to others' understanding, or to give notice to others of the thing that is to be supposed or understood. *
* The Apostle Paul says, 1 Cor. xiv. 7, " Even things without life, giv. ing sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped p"--Mr. Locke says, Hume Und. Vol 2. Edit. 7 p, 103. “ He that uses words of any language without DISTINCT ideas in his mind, to which he applies them, does so far as he uses them in discourse, only make a noise without any sense or signification."
Therefore to use words thus in common conversation, is to act in a vain trifing manner, more like children than men : But to use words thus in the sacred services of God's house, and solemn duties of his worship, is something much worse than children's play. But thus Mr. Williams expressly declares, words are to be used in a public profession of religion. He says (p. 10.) “ And these words are so used in such cases, without
any marks of difference, whereby we are enabled to judge when they mean a saving faith, and when a different one.”
Position III. A profession made in words that are either equivocal, or general, equally signifying several distinct things, without any marks of difference or distinction, by which we are enabled to judge which is meant, is not a profession or signification of any one of those several things; nor can they afford any rational ground of understanding or apprehending any particular thing. Thus, for instance, if a man, using an equivocal term, should say, that such an evening a king was in that room, without any marks of difference or discrimination whatsoever, by which others could discern whether by a king, he meant the ruler of a kingdom, or a king used in a game of chess : The word thus used would be no declaration that the head of a kingdom was there at such a time ; nor would they give any notice of any such thing to those to whom he spoke, or give them any rational ground to understand or judge any such thing.
Or if a man should use a general term, comprehending various particular sorts, without at all distinguishing or pointing forth any one particular sort, he thereby professes no one particular sort. Thus if a man professes that he has metal in his pocket, not saying what sort of metal, whether gold, silver, brass, iron, lead, or tin; his words are no profession that he has gold.
So if a man professes sincerity or religion, designedly using terms of double signification, or (which comes to the same thing) of general signification, equally signifying two entirely
distinct things, either moral sincerity, or real piety, his words are no profession of real piety; he makes no credible profession, and indeed no profession at all of gospel holiness.
Position IV. If a man who knows himself to be destitute of any certain qualification, yet makes a profession or pretence, in words of double meaning, equally signifying that qualification, and something else very different with a design to recommend himself to others' judgment, as possessed of that qualification, he is guilty of deceitful equivocation. This is the notion of deceitful equivocation, viz. the using words of double meaning, or capable of double application, with a design to induce others to judge something to be true, which is not true. But he that goes about to recommend himself by such terms to others' opinion or judgment as being what he at the same time knows he is not, endeavors to induce them to believe what he knows is not true, which is to deceive, them.*
But if the scheme which Mr. Williams undertakes to de. fend, were true, it would follow that such a kind of equivocation as this (be it far from us to suppose it) is what the infinitely wise and holy God has instituted to be publicly made use of in the solemn services of his house, as the very condi., tion of persons' admission to the external privileges of his people! For Mr. Williams abundantly asserts, that persons must be esteemed in the judgment and apprehension of others to have true piety ; and that one thing that must be done in order to it, one thing pertaining to the moral evidence that recommends them to this judgment, is the profession they make of religion. (P. 5, 139, 47, 132, 44.) In p. 42, speaking of the profession of visible Christians, he has these words, “ And it is from the nature and purport of this profession, we say, the church is to judge the members to be wise virgins or what they make a show of.” And Mr. Williams insists upon it that according to Christ's institution, this must be in
" To advance a dubious proposition, knowing it will be understood in a sense different from what you give it in your mind, is an equivocation, in breach of good faith and sincerity." Chambers's Dictionary, under the word equivocation.