« PreviousContinue »
self often allows (as has been observed that persons must. comply with the terms of the covenant of grace, in order to come to sacraments. Yet because he also in effect denies it, I shall say something further in confirmation of it.
(1.) The sacraments are covenant privileges. Mr. Williams calls them so. P. 5. Covenant privileges are covenant benefits, or benefits persons have a right to by the covenant. But persons can have no right to any of the benefits of a
a coy. cnant, without compliance with its terms. For that is the very notion of the terms of a covenant, viz. terms of an interest in the benefits of that covenant. It is so in all covenants whatsoever ; if a man refuses to comply with the conditions of , the covenant, he can claim nothing by that covenant.
(2.) If we consider the sacraments as seals of the covenant, the same thing is evident, viz, that a man can have no right to them without a compliance with the terms.
The sacraments are not only seals of the offer'on God's part, or ordinances God has appointed as confirmations of the truth of his covenant, as Mr. Williams seems to insist. P. 74, 75. For considered merely as seals and confirmations of the truth of the gospel, they are (as miracles and other evidences of the Christian religion) seals equally given to Christians, Jews, Deists, moral and vicious, and the whole world that knows of them, Whereas, it is manifest, in the nature of the thing, sacraments are scals of the covenant to be applied to the communicant, and of which he is the immediate subject, in a peculiar manner, as a party in covenant. Otherwise, what need would there, be of his being one of God's covenant people, in any sense whatsoever?
But now it is not reasonable to suppose, that the seal of the covenant belongs to any man, as a party in the covenant, who, will not accept of and comply with the covenant. He that rejects the covenant, and will not comply with it, has no interest in it: And he that has no interest in the covenant, has no right to the seals : For the covenant, and its seals go together, It is so in all covenants among mankind; after a man has come into a bargain proposed and offered by another,yielding to the terms of it, he has a right to have the bargain sealed and confirmed to him as a party in the covenant ; but not before.
And if what the communicant does, be a seal on his part also, as the nature of the thing demonstrates, seeing he is active, in the matter, and as Mr. Williams seems willing to allow p. 75, it will follow, with equal evidence, that a man cannot lawfully partake, unless he yields to, and complies with the covenant. To what purpose is a man's sealing an instrumentor contract, but to confirm it as his own act and deed,and to de. clare his compliance with his part of the contract. As when a servant seals his indenture, it is a testimony and ratification of his compliance to the proposed contract with his masters And if a covenant of friendship be proposed between two parties, and they both put their seal to it, hereby they both testify and declare their mutual friendship.
It has been already observed, that unsanctified men, while: such, cannot, with any sincerity at all, testify a present cordial compliance with the covenant of grace: And as they cannot do this, so neither can they with any sincerity promise a fu. ture compliance with that covenant. Mr. Williams often allows, that in order to Christian communion men must promise a compliance with the covenant, in its spiritual and saving duties; that they will believe and repent in the sense of the covea nant, willingly accept of Christ and his salvation, love him and live to him, and will do it.“ immediately, henceforward, from this moment.” P. 25, 26, 28 and 76. But how absurd is.this ! When at the same instant, while they are making and utter. tering these promises, they are entirely averse to any such thing; being " then enemies to Christ, willingly rejecting him, opposing his salvation, striving against it, laboring to find out all manner of difficulties and hinderances in the way of it, not, desiring it should come yet,” &c. which our author, in a place forecited, says is the case with all unsanctified men.
And when unsanctified men promise, that they will spend the rest of their lives in universal obedience to Christ, there is no sincerity in such promises ; because there is not such a heart in them. There is no man but a true disciple of Christ, that is willing thoroughly to deny himself for him, and follow him in a way of obedience to all his commands, unto the end, through all difficulties which Christ has given his followers
reason to expect, or commanded them to prepare for ; as is evident by Christ's frequent declarations. Luke, xiv. 25....33. Matth. x. 37, 38, 59. chap. xiii. 44, 45, 46. and many parallel places. If an unsanctified man thinks he is willing, he does not kpow his own heart: If he professes to be willing, he does not know what he says. The difficulty and cost of it is not in his view ; and therefore he has no proper willingness to comply with the cost and difficulty. That which he is willing for, with a moral sincerity, is something else that he conceives of, which is a great deal easier, and less cross to Nesh and blood. If a king should propose to a subject his building him such a tower, promising him a certain reward. If the subject should undertake it, not counting the cost, thinking with himself that the king meant another sort of tower, much cheaper ; and should be willing only to build that cheap one, which he imagined in his own mind ; when he would by no means have consented to build so costly a tower as the king proposed, if he had understood him right : Such a man could not be said properly to be willing to comply with his prince's proposal, with any sincerity at all. For what he consents to with a inoral sincerity, is not the thing which the king proposed.
The promises of unsanctified men are like the promises of the man we read of, Luke ix. 57, 58, who said “ Lord I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.” To whom Christ replied, “ The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nesis, but the son of man hath not where to lay his head.” When he made his promise, he probably quite mistook the thing, and did not imagine, that to follow Christ wherever he went, would be to follow him in such poverty and hardship. I suppose the rich young man we read of, Mark x. 17, &c. might liave what is called moral sincerity. But he had no sincerity in the covenant of grace. When he came to Christ to know what he should do to have eternal life, it is probable he ignorantly thought himself willing to yield himself to Christ's direction. Yet when it came to a trial, and Christ told him he must go and sell all that he had and give to the poor, it proved that he had no sincerity of willingness at all for any such thing. So that it is evident, however unsanctified men may be morally sincere in some things, yet they have no sincerity of any sort in that covenant, of which the sacraments are seals; and that moral sincerity, distinct from gracious, in this covenant, is a mere imagination, there being indeed no such thing.
II. Another argument against this notion of moral sincerity's giving a right to church communion, is this : A quality that is transient and vanishing, can be no qualification or fitness for a standing privilege. Unsanctified men may be
very serious, greatly affected, and much engaged in religion : But the scripture compares their religion to a lamp not supplied with oil, which will go out, and to a plant that has no root nor deepness of earth, which will soon wither; and compares such unsanctified men to the dog that will return to his vomit, and to the 80w, which, though washed ever so clean, yet, her nature not being changed, will return to her wallowing in the mire.
Mr. Williams allows, that persons in order to come to sacraments must have a deep convictions, an earnest concern to obtain salvation,” &c. Now every one who is in any degree acquainted with religious matters, knows that such convictions are not wont to last a great while, if they have no saving issue. Mr. Stoddard, in his sermon on the danger of speedy degeneracy, p. 11, says, “ unconverted men will grow weary of religious duties.”
And our author himself, p. 78, speaking of those professors in the primitive churches, that fell away to heresy and other wickedness, takes notice that the apostle observes, “IT WILL BE SO....that they which are approved, might be made manifest :” And says Mr. Williams upon it, “ Evil and unsanctified men, by such sins, will discover their hy. pocrisy.
Now seeing this is the case with moral sincerity and common religion, how can it be a qualification for a standing privilege ? Nothing can be a fitness for a durable privilege but a durable qualification. For no qualification has any fitness or adaptedness for more than it extends to ; as a short scabbard cannot be fit for a long sword. If a man, going a journey in the night, needs a lamp to light him in his way, who will pre
tend that a faming wick without oil, which will last but a few rods, is fit for this purpose? Or if a man were building an house for himself and family, should he put into the frame, pieces of timber known to be of such a nature as that they would probably be rotten in a few months; or should be take blocks of ice instead of hewn stone, because during a present cold season they appeared to be hard and firm ; and withal should for a covering put only leaves that will soon fade away, instead of tiles or shingles, that are solid and lasting ; would not every spectator ridicule his folly !
If it should be said that unsanctified men, when they lose their moral sincerity, may be cast out again : This is far from helping the case, or shewing that such men were ever fit to be admitted. To say, a piece of timber, though not of a durable nature, is fit to be put into the frame of a building; because when it begins to rot it may be pulled out again, is so far from proving that it was ever fit to be put in, that the speedy necessity of pulling it out rather proves the contrary.. If we had the power of constituting a human body, or it were left to us to add members to our own bodies, as there might be occason ; we should not think such a member was fit to be added to the frame, that had already radically seated in it a cancer or gangrene, by which it could last but a little while itself, and would endanger the other members ; though it were true, that when the disease should prevail, there were surgeons who might be procured to cut that member off.
But to consider a little further this point of moral sincerity's qualifying persons for the privileges of the church, I would lay down this proposition as a thing of clear evidence : Those persons have no fitness in themselves to come to the privileges of the church, who, if they were known, would not be fit to be admitted by cthers. For to say, they are fit to be members, and yet not fit to be allowed to be members, is apparently absurd. But they who have no better fitness than moral sincerily, if that were known, would not be fit to be admitted by others; as is allowed by Mr. Williams. For he holds, that in order to be fit to be admitted by others, they must credibly appear to them to have something more than moral sincerity,