« PreviousContinue »
demn you for; and so has God: And you will sink down deeper into hell, than other men. You are treasuring up a greater measure of wrath, than others, against the day of wrath. You will wish you had lived in the darkest corners of the earth among Scythians and Barbarians.”
And Mr. Williams must allow me to remind him of what another divine has said, and that is himself. In his sermon on Isa. xly. 11. p. 25, 26. he says, “ It is to be feared, there are great numbers here present, that are in an unconverted, unrenewed, unfardoned state ; strangers from God, and enemies to him. Yet you now look with great pity and compas. sion on that poor captive, for whom we have now been offer. ing up our earnest prayers, * who has been so long in so pitiable and sorrowful a condition, and who is now in the thick, ness of popish darkness and superstition....If you are out of Christ, and destitute of true faith in him, if your natures remain unrenewed and unsanctified, what is your state better than hers, which looks so sorrowful and distressing? Rather, is it not worse ? When you consider, that in the fulness of the means of grace which you have enjoyed all your days, you are as far from any saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, as those who have lived in the dregs and abyss of popish ignorance, and know not what to believe, but what the church, that is, Antichrist, tells them. If you die thus, your misery will be aggravated INCONCEIVABLY beyond theirs : Which Christ has plainly enough shewn us, when he upbraided the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, and tells them how much in the comparison they fall below Tyre and Sidon" (heathen cities, notorious for luxury, debauchery, and the grossest idolatry) and Sodom ; for whom it should be more tolerable, than for them.”
The same author says also, even in the book under consid. eration, p. 86. “ That the unbelief and impieties of visible saints, is what they will be punished for above all men in the world."
* Mrs. Eunice Willams, brought up in Canada, among the Caghnawagą Indians, sister to the then pastor of the church in Mansfield, where this ser. mon was preached, upon a day of prayer kept on her account; she being then in that place on a visit.
And now, I thirrk it may be proper for Mr. Williams himself to answer his 5th question, which he puts to my seri. ous consideration, viz. 66 What honor is it to our Lord Jesus Christ, to treat visible saints in such a manner, when at the same time it is his revealed will they should be outwardly treated as visible saints ?"
A View of what Mr. Williams says concerning the
public Covenanting of Professors.
I. MR. WILLIAMS often speaks with contempt, of my supposing it to be a duty required of such as come to sacra. ments, that they should explicitly own the covenant, and dis. putes largely against it. P. 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and many other places. He says concerning me, p. 22. “ It is very unhappy, that this good gentleman should use the scripture in such a manner, to prove a divine institution which never had an existence ; and after all that is said, is but a mere imagination and chimera ; it being evident, there never was any such divine institution for the church under the Old Testament, binding particular persons publicly and explicitly to own the covenant, in order to their enjoying the outward ordinances of it.” However it falls out something happily for me, that I am not quite alone in this chimera, but have Mr. Williams himself to join me in it ; who abundantly asserts the same thing p: 5, 8, 9, and many other places, who uses the scrisi. ture in the same manner, and supposes the same divine institution ; and who in p. 5, of the treatise in hand, having stat. ed the following inquiry,“ What is that evidence, which by DIVINE APPOINTMENT the church is to have, of the saintship of those who are admitted to the outward privileges of the covenant of grace?" Makes this answer to it: “ The scripTURE has determined the matter thus, that the open profession and declaration of a person's believing in Christ...And an hearty consent to the terms of the covenant of grace, and engage. ment on his part to fulfiil it," &c. is the sole and entire ground of that public judgment, which the church is to make of the real saintship of professors." It is manifest, he cannot intend merely that they should be the posterity of such as thus owned the covenant, or declared their consent to it, and so are looked upon as those that owned the covenant in their ancestors, at the beginning of the covenant line (though sometimes he seems to suppose, this is all that is necessary, as I shall take particular notice by and by :) For here he expressly speaks of a personal owning the covenant, or the open profession and declaratian of a persons's. consent to the covenant. And thus he often speaks of the same matter, in like manner, as a personal thing, or what is done by the person judged of, and received. See p. 10, 31, 32, 33, 34, 73, 84, 139. And in the 2d page of his preface, he declares himself fully established in Mr. Stoddard's doctrine concerning this affair of qualifications for the Lord's supper ; who expressly declares it to be his judgment, that “ it is requisite, that persons be not admitted unto communion in the Lord's supper, without making a PERSONAL and public profession of their faith and rem pentance." Appeal. p. 93, 94.
And as Mr. Williams holds that there must be a public, personal owning the covenant ; so he also maintains, that this profession must be explicit, or express. He says p. 20. “ Since we have no direction in the bible, at what time, nor in what manner any personal, explicit covenanting should be performed.... It appears plain to a demonstration, that the people knew nothing of any such institution ; as I suppose, the Christian church did until Mr. Edwards discovered it.” But if I was the first discoverer he should have owned, that since I have have discovered it, he himself and all my opposers have seen cause to follow me and receive my dicovery. For so the case seems to be, if he gives us a true account (in p. 132) where he rejects, with indignation, the inputation of any other opinion. “ How often (says he) has Mr. Edwards said none but visible saints are to be admitted ? Do not ALL Mr.
Edwards's OPPOSERS say, that no man is to be admitted, who does not profess his hearty belief of the gospel, and the earnest and sincere purpose of his heart, so far as he knows it, to obey all God's commands, and keep his covenaNT ? None, who do not make as full and EXPRESS a profession as the Israelites did, or was ever required by Christ or his apostles, in any instances that can be produced in the bible, of bodies of men or particular persons'admission into visible covenant with God?” He had before spoken of the words which the Israelites used in their entering into covenant with God, p. 5, which must refer to their entering into covenant in the wilderness ; for we have no account of any words at all, used by that nation, at their entering into covenant, if not there. And this he sometimes speaks of as the covenant they made, when God took them into covenant, p. 8, 36, 37. And p. 20, he a'lows that to be an instance of explicit covenanting : But ridicules my pretending to shew, that explicit covenanting was a divine institution for all ; when, he says, we have an account of but four instances of any explicit covenanting with God by the Jews, and those on most extraordinary occasions, and by the body of the people. But what matter is it, whether there were four, or but two, or only that one instance in the wilderness? When he himself with such earnestness declares, that all my opposers hold, every man must make as full and express a profession of the covenant as ever the Israelites did, or was ever required, in any instance that can be produced in the bible, whether of bodies of men or particular persons' admission, &c. If this be so, and what he said before be also true, then all Israel, even every individual person among them, that ever was admitted to the privileges of the church, thoughout all their generations, by his own confession and assertion, did personally make as explicit a profession of the covenant, as the body of the people did in that instance in the wilderness. And not only so, but the same must every individual person do, that ever comes to sacraments, through all ages, to the end of the world. Thus Mr. Williams fights hard to beat down himself. But I will not say in his own language, that in so doing he fights hard to beat down a poor man of straw. Vol. I.
If any should say, that Mr. Williams, when speaking of ani express profession, does not mean a profession in words, but only in actions ; such as an outward attendance on ordinances and duties of worship : I answer, if such actions are a profession, yet certainly they are not an express profession ; they are no more than an implicit profession. And besides, it is very plain, thc profession he speaks of is a verbal profession, or a profession in words. Thus p. 36, when describing the profession which ought to be made, he says, “ It is in as strong words, as were used by any whom the apostles admitted.” And elsewhere (as was before noted) he often ina sists, that a profession should be made in words without any discrimination as to their meaning. Which shews, it is a profession in words that he designs. And although p. 104, he speaks of a performance of the outward duties of morality and worship, as the only way that God ever appointed of making real saintship visible : Yet this is only another instance of his great inconsistence with himself ; as appears by what has already been observed,and appears further by this, that when he speaks of a profession of consent to the terms of the covenant, &c. he often speaks of it as a profession which ought to be made in order to admission to these ordinances. (P. 5, 10, 35, 36, 132, and other places.) If so, then how can the attendance itself, on these ordinances of worship, be all the profession which is to be made ? Must men first come to ordinances, in order to admission to ordinances ! And moreover, Mr. Wil. liams himself distinguishes between engaging and swearing to keep covenant in the public profession, and attending on the ordinances and duties of worship, which he speaks of as belonging to the fulfilment of the engagement and oath. P. 130. And lastly I would observe, though it could be consistently made out (which it can never be) that Mr. Williams does not mean a prosessing in words, it would be nothing to the pure pose. If it be in words, or in other signs which are equivalent to words and which are a full and express profession (as Mr. Williams says) it is exactly the same thing as to my purpose, and the consequence of the argument, which was, that real godliness must be prosessed. And indeed this very thing