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One point is proved by another until at length the matter is reduced to a point that is supposed to need no proof ; either because it is selfevident, or is a thing wherein both parties are agreed, or so clear that it is supposed it will not be denied.
2. Nor is begging the question the same thing as offering a weak argument, to prove the point in question. It is not all weak arguing, but one particular way of weak arguing, that is called begging the question.
3. Nor is it the same thing as missing the true question, and bringing an argument that is impertinent, or beside the question.
But the thing which is called begging the question, is the making use of the very point, that is the thing in debate, or the thing to be proved, as an argument to prove itself. Thus, if we were endeavoring to prove that none but godly persons might come to sacraments, and should take this for an arguinent to prove it, that none might come but such as have saying faith, taking this for granted; I should then beg the ques. tion ; for this is the very point in question, whether a man must have saving faith or no ? It is called begging the question, because it is a depending as it were on the courtesy of the other side, to grant me the point in question, without offering any argument as the price of it.
And whether the point I thus take for granted, be the main point in question, in the general dispute, or some subordinate point, something under consideration, under a particular argument ; yet if I take this particular point for granted, and ihen make use of it to prove itself, it is begging the question,
Thus if I were endeavoring, under this general controversy between Mr. Williams and me, to prove that particular point, that we ought to love all the members of the Church as true saints ; and should bring this as a proof of the point, that we ought to love all the members of the church as true Chris tians, taking this for granted ; this is only the same thing, under another term, as the thing to be proved ; and therefore is no arguinent at all, but only begging the question.
Or if the point I thus take for granted, and make use of as an argument, be neither the general point is controversy, nor
yet the thing nextly to be proved under a particular argument ; yet if it be some known controverted point between the parties, it is begging the question, or equivalent to it : For it is begging a thing known to be in question in the dispute, and using it as if it were a thing allowed.
I would now consider the instances, wherein Mr. Williams, asserts or suggests that I have begged the question.
In p. 30 and 31, he represents the force of my reasoning as built on a supposition, that there is no unsanctified man, but what knows he has no desire of salvation by Christ, no design to fulfil the covenant of grace, but designs to live in stealing, lying, adultery ; or some other known sin : And then says, “ Is it not manifest that such sort of reasoning is a mere quibbling with words, and begging the question ?” And so insinuates, that I have thus begged the question. Whereas I no where say, or suppose this which he speaks of, nor any thing like it. But on the contrary, often say, what supposes an unsanctified man may think he is truly godly, and that he has truly upright and gracious designs and desires. Nor does any argument of mine depend on any such supposition. Nay, under the argument he speaks of, I expressly suppose the contrary, viz. That unsanctified men who visibly enter into covenant, may be deceived.
In p. 38, Mr. Williams makes a certain representation of my arguing from Isa. Ivi. And then says upon it, “ It is no ar. guing, but only begging the question." But as has been already shown, that which he represents as my argument from abat scripture, has no relation to my argument.
In p. 59, in opposition to my arguing from the epistles, that the apostles treated those members of churches which they wrote to, as those who had been received on a positive judgment, i. e. (as I explain myself) a proper and affirmative opinion, that they were real saints ; Mr. Williams argues, that the apostles could make no such judgment of them, without either personal converse, or revelation ; unless it be supposed to be founded on a presumption, that ministers who baptized them, would not have done it, unless they had them. selves made such a positive judgment concerning their state :
And then adds these words, “ This may do for this scheme, but only it is a begging the question.” Whereas it is a point that never has been in question in this controversy, as ever I know, Whether some ministers or churches might reasona: bly, and affirmatively suppose, the members of other churches, they are united with, were admitted on evidence of proper qualifications, (whatever they be, whether common or saving) trusting to the faithfulness of other ministers and churches. Besides, this can be no point in question between me and Mr. Williams, unless it be a point in question between him and himself. For he holds, as well as I, persons ought not to be received as visible Christians, without moral evidence (which is something positive, and not a mere negation of evidence of the contrary) of gospel holiness.
In p. 82 of my book I suppose, that none at all do truly subject themselves to Christ as their master, but those who graciously subject themselves to him, and are delivered from the reigning power of sin. Mr. Williams suggests, p. 83, that herein I beg the question. For which there is no pretext, not only as this is no known point in controversy be. tween the parties in this debate ; but also as it is a point I do not take for granted, but offer this argument to prove it, That they who have no grace, are under the reigning power of sin, and no man can truly subject himself to two such contrary masters, at the same time, as Christ and sin. I think this argument sufficient to obtain the point, without begging it. And besides, this doctrine, That they who have no grace do not truly subject themselves to Christ, was no point in question between me and Mr. Williams. But a point wherein we were fully agreed, and werein he had before expressed himself as fully, and more fully than I. In his sermons on Christ a King and Witne88, p. 18, he speaks of « all such as do not depend on Christ, believe in him, and give up themselves, and all to him, as not true subjects to Christ ; but enemies to him and his kingdom.” We have expressions to the same purpose àgain, in p. 74 and 91, and in p. 94, of the same book, he says, “ It is utterly inconsistent with the nature of the obedience of the gospel, that it should be a forced subjection. No
wan is a subject of Christ, who does not make the laws and will of Christ his choice, and desire to be governed by him, and to live in subjection to the will of Christ, as good, and fit, and best to be the rule of his living, and way to his happiness. A forced obedience to Christ is no obedience. It is in terms a contradiction. Christ draws men with the cords of love, and the bands of a man. Our Lord has himself expressly determined this point." There are other passages in the same book, to the same purpose. So that I had no need to beg this point of Mr. Williams, since he had given it largely, and that in full measure, and over and over again, without begging.
In p. 120, he observes, “ That to say such a profession of internal, invisible things is the rule to direct the church in admission....is to hide the parallel, and beg the question. For the question here is about the person's right to come, and not about the church's admitting them.” Here Mr. Williams would make us believe that he does not know what begging the question is : For it is evident his meaning is, that my saying so is beside the question. But to say something beside the question is a different thing from begging the question, as has been observed. My saying that a profession of invisible things is the church's rule in admission, is not begging the question ; because it is not, nor ever was any thing in question. For Mr. Stoddard and Mr. Williams himself are full in it, that a profession of invisible things, such as a believing that Christ is the Son of God, &c. is the church's rule. Yea, Mr. Williams is express in it, that a credible profession and visibility of gospel holiness is the church's rule, p. 139. Nor is my saying as above, beside the question then in hand, relating to the church of Israel's admitting to the priesthood, those that could not find their register. For that wholly relates to the rule of admission to the priesthood, and not to the priests' assurance of their own right. For, as I observed, is the priests bad been never so fully assured of their pedigree, yet if they could not demonstrate it to others, by a public register, it would not have availed for their admission.
Again in p. 124, Mr. Williams charges me with begging the question, in supposing that sacraments are duties of wor: Vol. I.
ship, whose very nature and design is an exhibition of those vital and active principles and inward exercises, wherein consists the condition of the covenant of grace. He charges the same thing as a begging the question, p. 131. But this is no begging the question, for two reasons ; (1.) Because I had before proved this point, by proofs which Mr. Williams has not seen cause to attempt to answer, as has been just now observed, in the last section. (2.) This, when I wrote was no point in question, wherein Mr. Williams and I differed; but wherein we were agreed, and in which he had declared himself as fully as I, in his sermons on Christ a King and Witness, p. 76. “ When we attend sacraments (says he) we are therein visi. bly to profess our receiving Christ, and the graces of his Spirit, and the benefits of his redemption, on his own terms and offer, and giving up the all of our souls to him, on his call, covenant and engagement." And in the next preceding page but one, in a place forecited, he speaks of these acts as mockery, hypocrisy, falsehood and lies, if they are not the expressions of faith and hope, and spiritual acts of obedience." So that I had no manner of need to come to Mr. Williams as a beggar for these things, which he had so plentifully given me, and all the world that would accept them, years before.
Shewing how Mr. Williams often begs the Ques
THE question is certainly begged in that argument, which Mr. Williams espouses and defends, viz. “ That the Lord's supper has a proper tendency to promote men's conversion." . In the prosecution of the argument Mr. Williams implicitly yields, that it is not the apparent natural tendency alone, that is of any force to prove the point ; but the apparent tendency