Page images

benefit only on such diseased people as were hypocrites, and made a profession and pretence of being in health ; will any man presume to say, that such a conduct is agreeable to the dictates of the understanding of rational beings? And to suppose, that such should be the conduct of the infinitely wise God, is as unscriptural, as it is unreasonable. We often read in God's word, of men's being convinced of their wickedness and confessing their sins, as a way to be healed and cleansed from sin : But where do we read of men's pretending to more goodness than they have, and making an hypocritical profession and show of goodness, in order to their becoming good men ?* Where have we a divine institution, that any who are wolves should put on sheep's clothing, and so come to his people, that they may believe them to be sheep, and under this notion receive them into the fock, to the end that they may truly become of his sheep?

But to examine this matter, of the Lord's supper being a converting ordinance to ungodly men professing godliness, a little more exactly. If Christ has appointed the Lord's supper to be a converting ordinance to some such as these, then he has appointed it either only for such of them as are mistaken, and think themselves godly when they are not; or he has appointed it not only for such, but also for such as are sensible they are ungodly.

If the former, if it be appointed as a converting ordinance only for such as are mistaken, and think themselves godly, or

* Mr. Williams (P. 42.) owns, that persons must make a “profession wherein they make a shew of being wise virgins,” in order to come into the visible Church. And (p. 35) He owns, that “all visible saints who are not truly pious, are Hypocrites.” Again, it may be observed, he abundantly insists, that men who have no more than common grace and moral sincerity, may lawfully come to sacraments ; and yet by what he says (p. 35.) they must profess more. So that men who have no more must profess more; and this it seems, according to divine institution! Again he says (P-35.) That one end God designed by appointing men to be brought into the Church, is, that through divine grace, they might effectually be brought to Christ, " to give him the whole possession of their hearts; and yet in the very next paragraph (p. 35. &. 36. ) he speaks of it as unlawful for meg to come to sacraments till they "give up all their hearts to Christ.

converted; then here is an institution of Christ, which nevet can, in any one instance, be made use of to the end for which he has appointed men to use it. It cannot be made use of for this end by those who admit members, and administer the ordinance : For they, as Mr. Williams says, must admit none but such as they are bound by the rule of Christ to look upon as godly men already, and to administer the sacrament to them under that notion, and with respect to such a character. Neither can it be made use of to such a purpose by any of the communicants : For by the supposition, they must be all such as think they are converted already, and also come under that notion. So that by this scheme of things, here is an institution appointed to be upheld and used in the church, which the institution itself makes void and impossible. For, as was observed before, the notion of a converting ordinance has not a reference to any secret decree of God, how he in his sovereign pleasure will sometimes use it : But to his institution given to men, appointing the end for which they should use it. Therefore, on the present supposition, the institution appoins the Lord's supper to be used in some cases for the conversion of sinners, but at the same time forbids its being either given or received under any other notion than that of the communicant's being converted already : Which is in effect to forbid its being either given or received for the conversion of the communicant, in any one instance. So that the institution effectually destroys and disannuls itself. But God forbid, that we should ascribe any such inconsistent institutions to the divine head of the church!

Or if the other part of the disjunction be taken, and it be said, the Lord's supper is appointed for the conversion of some that are sensible that they are ungodly or unconverted, the consequence is no less absurd, on Mr. Wiliams's principles. For then the scheme is this. The institution requires some men to make a pretence of real piety, and to make a public, solemn profession of gospel holiness, which at the same time they are sensible they have none of; and this, to the end that others may look upon them to be real saints and receive them to the Lord's supper under that notion : Not putting on a dis•

guise, and making a shew of what they have not, through Thistake, but doing it consciously and wilfully, to the honor and glory of God : And all this strictly required of them, as the instituted means of their becoming real saints, and the children of God!

Mr. Williams says, P. 14. “ Since it is God's' will, that his church should admit all such visible saints (viz. such as he had been speaking of) it follows that the Lord's supper is a converting ordinance to such of them as are unconverted.But Mr. Williams is mistaken as to his consequence. The Lord's supper is not instituted to be a converting ordinance to all unconverted men, whom it is God's will the church should admit. For it may be the church's duty, and so God's will, to admit those that live secretly in the grossest wickedness, as adultery, buggery, deism, &c. Such men as these may make à fair profession, and the church may be ignorant of their secret wickedness, and therefore may have no warrant to reject them : But yet it will not follow, that God by his institution has given such a lawful right to the Lord's supper, having appointed it to be a converting ordinance to them.


The Notion of moral Sincerity's being the Qualifica

tion which gives à lawful Right to Christian Sacraments, examined.

THOUGH our author disdains the imputation of any such notion, as that of men's being called visible and professed saints from respect to a visibility and profession of moral sincerity: Yet it is manifest, that in his scheme (whether con-, sistently or no, others must judge) moral sincerity is the qualification which entitles, and gives a lawful right, to sacraments. For he holds, that it is lawful for unsanctified men who have VOL. I.

3 D

of it.

this qualification, to come to sacraments; and that it is not lawful for them to come without it. Therefore I desire this notion may be thoroughly examined.

And for the greater clearness, let it be observed what sincerity in general is. Now sincerity, in the general notion of it, is an honest conformity of some profession or outward shew of some inward property or act of mind, to the truth and reality

If there be shew or pretence of what is not, and has no real existence, then the pretence is altogether vain ; it is only a pretence, and nothing else : And therefore is a pretence or shew without any sincerity, of any kind, either moral or gracious.

I now proceed to offer the following arguments against the notion of moral sincerity's being the qualification, which gives a lawful right to sacraments.

I. There is no such thing as moral sincerity, in the covenant of grace, distinct from gracious sincerity. If any sincerity at all be requisite in order to a title to the seals of the covenant of grace, doubtless it is the sincerity which belongs to that covenant. But there is only one sort of sincerity which belongs to that covenant ; and that is a gracious sincerity : The covenant of grace has nothing to do with any other sincerity. There is but one sort of faith belonging to that cov. enant; and this is saving faith in Jesus Christ, called in scripture unfeigned faith. As for the faith of devils, it is not the faith of the covenant of grace.

Here the distinction of an internal, and external covenant, will not help at all ; as long as the covenant, of which the sacraments are seals, is a covenant of salvation, or a covenant proposing terms of eternal salvation. The sacraments are seals of such a covenant : They are seals of the New Testament in Christ's blood, Matth. xxvi. 28. Luke, xxii 28, a testament which has better promises than the old, Heb. vii. 6, and which the apostle tells us, “ makes us heirs of the eternal inheritance,” Heb. ix. 15. Mr. Williams himself speaks of the covenant sealed in baptism, as “ the covenant proposing terms of salvation.” P. 23. So he speaks of the covenant entered into by a visible people, as the covenant « in which God

offers everlasting happiness.” P. 24, 25. But there is no other religion, no other sincerity, belonging to this cove enant of salvation, but that which accompanies salvation, or is saving religion and sincerity. As it is written, Psal. li. 6. « Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts."

There is such a thing, as what may be called a moral sincerity, in distinction from saving, in many moral things; as in love ing our friends and neiglibors, in loving our country, in choosing the Protestant religion before the Popish, in a conscientious care to do many duties, in being willing to take a great deal of pains in religion, in being sorry for the commission of such and such acts of wickedness, &c. But there are some duties, which, unless they are done with a gracious sincerity, they cannot be done at all. As Mr. Stoddard observes, Safety of Ap. p. 216. « There are some duties which cannot be done but from a gracious respect to God.” Thus there is but one sort of sincerity in loving God as God, and setting our hearts on him as our highest happiness, loving him above the world, and loving holiness above all the objects of our lusts. He that does not do these things with a gracious sincerity, never really doth them at all : He that truly does them, is certainly a godly man; as we are abundantly assured by the word of God. So, there is but one sort of sincere and cordial consent to the covenant of grace, but one sort of giving all our hearts to Jesus Christ; which things Mr. Williams allows to be necessary, to come to sacraments. That which a man's heart is full of reigning enmity to, he cannot with any reality at all, cordially consent to and comply with : But the hearts of unsanctified men are full of reigning enmity to the covenant of grace, according to the doctrine of scripture, and according to the doctrine of Mr. Stoddard and Mr. Williams too, as we have seen before.

However, if there were any such thing, as a being heartily willing to accept Christ, and a giving all our hearts to Christ, without a saving sincerity, this would not be a complying with the terms of a covenant of salvation. For it is selfevident, that it is only something which is saving, that is a compliance with the terms of salvation. Now Mr. Williams hims

« PreviousContinue »