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even gospel holiness. And it is evident in itself, as well as allowed by Mr. Williams that if such were known, they would not be fit to be admitted, only on their moral sincerity, and the profession and promises they make from such a principle : And that for this reason, because such a principle alone would not be fit to be trusted. God himself has taught his church, that the religion of unsanctified men is not fit to be trusted ; as a lamp without oil, and a plant without root, áre things not to be trusted. God has directly taught his church to expect, that such a religion will fail; and that such men, having no higher principle, will return to their wickedness. Job xxvii. 8, 9, 10. - The hypocrite....Will he delight himself in the Almighty? Will he always call upon God ?” Dan. xii. 10. * The wicked will do wickedly." And there. fore God does not require his church to accept their profese sion and promises. If he has taught us not to credit their profession and promises, then certainly he has taught us not to accept them.
III. Another argument against this supposed rule of allowing and requiring unsanctified men with moral sincerity, to come to sacraments, is this. That rule, which if fully at tended, would naturally bring it to pass, that the greater part of communicants would be unfit, even according to that very rule, cannot be a divine rule : But this supposed rule of moral sincerity is such a rule. For if this rule be universal ly attended, then all' unsanctified men, who have present convictions of conscience sufficient to make them morally sincere, must come into the communion of the church. But this conviction and common religion, if it does not issue in conversion (as has been observed) commonly vanishes away in a short time : And yet still these persons, not convicted of open scandal, are left in the communion of the church, and remain there, without even moral sincerity. Experience gives us abundant reason to think, that of those who some time of other have considerable convictions of conscience, soʻas to make them for the present to be what is called morally sincetes Vol. I.
but few are savingly converted. And if all these must be admitted, (as they must, if this rule be fully attended) then their convictions going away and their sincerity vanishing with it, it will hereby be brought about, that the Lord's table is chiefly surrounded with the worst sort of morally insincere persons, viz. stupid backsliders, that are in themselves far worse than they were before, according to the scripture account, Matth. xii. 45, and 2 Pet. ii. 20. And this as the natural consequence of the forementioned rule, appointing moral sincerity to be the qualification for communion. Thus this supposed rule supplants its own design.
IV. Another argument that moral sincerity is not the qualification to which God has annexed a lawful right to sacraments, is, that this qualification is not at all inconsistent with a man's living at the same time in the most heinous wickedness, in a superlative degree contrary to the Christian religion.
It was before observed to be a thing evident in itself, and allowed by Mr. Williams, That there are some sins, which, while wilfully continued and lived in, though secretly, do wholly disqualify persons for Christian sacraments, and make it unlawful for men to partake of them.
Now if it be thus with some sins, doubtless it is because of the heinousness of those sins, the high degree of wickedness which is in them. And hence it will follow, that those sins which are in themselves most heinous, and most contrary to the Christian religion, do especially disqualify persons for Christian sacraments, when wilfully lived in.
Let it therefore now be considered, whether it will not follow from these premises, That for men to live in enmity against God and Christ, and in wilful unbelief and rejection of Christ (as the scriptures teach, and as Mr. Stoddard and Mr Williams too assert, is the case with all unsanctified men
* How small a proportion are there of the vast multitudes, that in the time of the late religious commotion through the land had their conscience es awakened, who give hopeful abiding evidences of a saving conversion to God!
under the gospel) wholly disqualifies men for Christian sacraments. For it is very manifest by scripture and reason, that to live in these things is to live in some of the most heinous kinds of wickedness ; as is allowed by Calvinistic divines in general, and by Mr. Stoddard in particular, who says, Saf. of Ap. p. 224. “ You cannot anger God more by any thing, than by continuing in the neglect of Christ. This is the great controversy God has with sinners; not that they have been guilty of these and those particular transgressions, but that they abide in the rejection of the gospel.” Again he says, Ibid. p. 249. “ The great sin, that God is angry
for is your unbelief. Despising the gospel is the great provoking sin."
A man's continuing in hatred of his brother, especially a fellow communicant, is generally allowed to be a thing that disqualifies for communion : The apostle compares it to leaven in the passover, ! Cor. v. 6, 7, 8. But now certainly it is as bad, and as contrary to the nature and design of Christi an sacraments, for a man to live in hatred of Christ, and to remain a hateful and accursed enemy (if I may use Mr. Williams's own language) to the glorious Redeemer and head of the Christian church,
None will deny that lying and perjury are very gross and heinous sins, and (if known) very scandalous ; and therefore it follows from what was observed before, that such sins, if lived in, though secretly, do disqualify persons for Christian sacraments in God's sight. But by our author's own account, all unsanctified men that partake of the Lord's supper, live in lying and perjury, and go on to renew these crimes continually ; inasmuch as while they continue ungodly men, they live in a constant violation of their promise and oath, For Mr. Williams often lays it down, that all who enter into covenant with God, do promise spiritual duties, such as repentance, faith, love, &c. And that they promise to perform these henceforward, even from the present moment, unto the end of life ; see p. 25, 26, 28, 76. And that they do not only promise, but swear to do this. P. 18, 100, 101, 129, 130, 140. But for a map to violate the promises he makes in covenanting
with God, Mr. Williams once and again speaks of it as lying. P. 24, 130. And if so, doubtless their breaking the oath they swear to God, is perjury. Now lying to men is bad ; but ly. ing to God is worse. Acts v. 4. And, without doubt, perjury towards God is the worst sort of perjury. But if unsanctified men, when they entered into covenant with God, promised and swore, that they would immediately and henceforward ac, cept of Christ as their Saviour, and love him, and live to him ; then wbile they continue in a wilful rejection of him (which according to Mr. Williams all unregenerate men do) they live continually in the violation of their promise and oath.*
* Here I would observe, that not only in the general do unsanctified men, notwithstanding their moral sincerity, thus live in the most heinous wickedness ; but particularly, according to Mr Williams's own doctrine, their very attendance on the outward ordinances and duties of worship, is the vilest, most flagrant, and abominable impiety In his sermons on Christ a King and Witness, Po 77, 78, he says, “ If a man could perform all the outward acts of wor. ship and obedience, which the Bible requires, from the beginning to the end of it, and not do them from faith in Christ, and love to God, and not express by them the thoughts, desires, and actings of bis soul ; they would be so far from being that obedience which Christ requires, that they would be a mocking of God, and hateful to him. These outward acts ought to be no other, and in religion are designed to stand for nothing else but to be representations of a man's soul, and the acts of that : And when they are not so they are in their own nature a LIE, and false pretence of something within, which is not there : Therefore the Lord abhors them, and reckons these false pretences the vilest wickedness. Now when a man performs, all outward obedience and worship, but it does not come from his heart, he practically denies the omniscience of Christ, while he puts before him a shew and pretence of something for the reality; and so he belies his own profession. And all this, be it more or less, whatever it pretends to be of religion, instead of being that which Christ requires, is entirely different from it, yea, infinitely contrary ta is. And those same actions, which when they are in the language of the heart, and flow from it, are pleasing and acceptable to God and Jesus Christ, are true obedience to bim ! when they do not, are reckoned the most FLAGRANT AND ABOMINABLE IMPIRTY, and threatened with the SEVEREST DAMNATION OF BELL.” Now, who can believe, that God has, by his own holy institu, tion, made that sort of sincerity, which is nothing better than what is consistent with such a lying, vile, abominable, flagrantly wicked pretence and shew of religion as this, the very thing that gives a sight, even in bis sight, to Christian sacraments!
I would observe one thing further under this head, viz. that ungodly men who live under the gospel, notwithstanding any moral sincerity they may have, are worse, and more provoking enemies of God, than the very heathen, who never sina ned against gospel light and mercy. This is very manifest by the scriptures, particularly Matth. X. 13, 14. Amos iji. 2. Rom. ii. 9.2 Pet. ii. 21, Rev, iii. 15, 16.
I having suggested concerning Mr. Stoddard's doctrine of admitting more unconverted than converted, by attending Christ's rule, that this supposes it to be the case of the members of the visible church, that the greater part of them are more provoking enemies to God than most of the heathen ; Mr. Williams represents himself as greatly alarmed at this : He calls it an extraordinary passage, and puts five questions about it to my serious consideration. P. 72, 73. The first and chief question is this ;.“ did Mr. Stoddard ever say in the An. peal, or any where else, of most of our fellow worshippers at the sacrament, that we have no reason to think concerning ihem, but that they are more provoking enemies to the Lord, whom Christians love and adore, than most of the very heath
His three next questions are to represent the heinousness of such supposed ill treatment of Mr. Stoddard.... And I think will be sufficiently answered, by what I shall offer in reply to the first.
I will tell him what Mr. Stoddard said. Speaking to such as do not come to Christ, living under the gospel, he said, Safety of Ap. p. 234, 235. “ You may not think to escape as the heathen do : Your load will be heavier and your fire will be botter, and your judgment sorer, than the judgment of other men. God will proportion every man's misery to his iniquity. And as you have enjoyed greater light and love, so you must expect more amazing and exquisite wrath, than other men : Conscience has more to accuse you of and con
I might here also observe, that if moral sincerity or common grace gives a right to sacraments in the sight of God, then that which (according to Mr. Stoddard's doctrine before observed) is a spirit of lust, i hat which is contrary to, and at war with, and would destroy saving grace, is the thing which gives a right, in the sight of God, to Christian sacraments.