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Mr. Edwards aims to establish, defended upon Calvinistic principles, than the doctrine of transubstantiation.” On which I shall only say, it might perhaps be thought very imper inent in me, to tell my readers what I do, or what I do not expect, concerning his scheme.
Every reader, that has reason enough of his own not to take the big words and confident sp eches of others for demonstration, is pow left to judge for himself, whose scheme is most akin to the doctrine of transubstantiation, for inconsistence and self contradiction.
Nevertheless, I will proceed to consider our author's reasonings a little more particularly, in the ensuing part.
Containing some remarks on Mr. Williams's excep
tionable Way of Reasoning, in support of his own Scheme, and in Opposition to the contrary principles.
General Observations upon his Way of arguing, and
answering Arguments ; with some Instances of the first Method excepted against.
MR. WILLIAMS endeavors to support his own opinion, and to confute the book he pretends to answer, by the following methods.
1. By frequently misrepresenting what I say, and then disputing or exclaiming against what he wrongfully charges as mine.
2. By misrepresenting what others say in their writings, whose opinions he pretends to espouse.
3. By seeming to oppose and confute arguments, and yet on, iy saying things which have no reference at all to them, but relate entirely to other matters, that are altogether foreign to the argument in hand.
4. By advancing new and extraordinary notions ; which are both manifestly contrary to truth, and also contrary to the common apprehensions of the Christian church in all ages.
5. By making use of peremptory and confident assertions, instead of arguments.
6. By using great exclamation, in the room of arguing; as though he would amuse and alarm his readers, and excite terror in them, instead of rational conviction.
7. By wholly overlooking arguments, and not answering at all ; pretending, that there is no argument, nothing to answer when the case is manifestly far otherwise.
8. By frequently turning off an argument with this reflection, that it is begging the question ; when there is not the least shew or pretext for it.
9. By very frequently begging the question himself, or doing that which is equivalent,
10. By often alleging and insisting on things in which he is inconsistent with himself.
As to the first of these methods used by Mr. Williams, i. e. his misrepresenting what I say, and then disputing or exclaim, ing against what he injuriously charges as mine, many instances have been already observed : I now would take notice of some other instances.
In p. 15, he charges me with " affirming vehemently, in a number of repetitions, that the doctrine taught is, that no manner of pretence to any VISIBLE holiness is made or designed to be made.” These he cites as my words, marking them with notes of quotation. Whereas I never said any such words, nor said or thought any such thing, but the contrary. I knew, that those whose doctrine I opposed, declared that visible holiness was necessary : And take particular notice of it (p. 8.) where
1 say, “ It is granted on all hands, that none ought to be admitted, as members of the visible church of Christ, but visible saints ;” and argue on this supposition for fifteen pages together, in that same part of my book where Mr. Williams charges me with asserting the contrary. What I say is, that people are taught that they come into the church without any pretence to sanctifying grace (p. 15.) I do not say without a pretence to visible holiness. Thus Mr. Williams alters my words, to make them speak something, not only diverse, but contrary to what I do say, and say very often ; and so takes occasion, or rather makes an occasion, to charge me before the world, with telling a manifest untruth, p. 15.
Again, Mr. Williams in answering my argument concerning brotherly love, (p. 70, 71) represents me as arguing, " That in the exercise of Christian love described in the gospel, there is such an union of hearts, as there cannot be of a saint to an unsanctified man.” Which is a thing I never said, and is quite contrary to the sentiments which I have abundantly declared. I indeed speak of that brotherly love, as what cannot be of a saint to one that is not apprehended and judged to be sanctified. But that notion of a peculiar love, which cannot be to an unsanctified man, or without the reality of holiness in the person beloved, is what I ever abhorred, and have borne a most loud and open and large testimony against, again and again, from the press, and did so in the preface to that very book which Mr. Williams writes against.
In p. 74, Mr. Williams represents me as supposing, that in the sacrament of the Lord's supper, both the covenant. ing parties, viz. Christ and the communicant, seal to the truth of the communicant's faith ; or that both seal to this as true, that the communicant does receive Christ. Whereas, by me, no such thing was ever thought ; nor is any thing said that has such an aspect. What I say, is very plain and express, (p. 75.) That Christ by his minister professes his part of the covenant, presents himself, and professes the willingness of his heart to be theirs who receive him. That on the other hand, the communicant, in receiving the offered symbols, professes hie part in the covenant, and the willingness of his heart lo reeeive Christ who is offered. How different is this from both parties sealing to the truth of the communicant's faith?
In p. 76, 77 and 80. He greatly misrepresents my argument from I Cor. xi. 28. “ Let a man examine himself," &c. as though I supposed the Greek word translated examine, must necessarily imply an examination to approbation ; that it signifies to approve ; and that a man's examination must mean his approving himself to himself to be sanctified. This representation he makes over and over, and builds his answer to the argument, upon it; and in opposition to this, he says, (p. 77) « Wherever the word means to examine to approbation, it is not used in its natural sense, but metonv mically.” Whereas, there is not the least foundation for such a representation : No such thing is said or suggested by me, as if I supposed that the meaning of the word is to approve, or to examine to approbation. What I say is, that it properly signifies proving or trying a thing, whether it be true and of the right sort, (p. 77.) And I there, in the same place, expressly speak of the word (in the manner Mr. Williams does) as not used in its natural sense, but metonymically, when it is used to signify approve. So that Mr. Williams's representation is not only diverse from, but contrary to what I say. Indeed I suppose (as well I may) that when the apostle directs persons to try themselves with respect to their qualifications for the Lord's supper, he would not have them come, if
trial they find themselves not qualified. But it would be ridiculous to say, that I therefore suppose the meaning of the word, try or examine, is to approve, when it is evident that the trying is only in order to knowing whether a thing is to be approved, or disapproved.
In p. 98, on the argument from John's baptism, Mr. Williams alters my words, bringing them the better to comport with the odious representation he had made of my opinion, viz. that I required a giving an account of experiences, as a term of communion ; he puts in words as mine, which are not mine, and distinguishes them with marks of quotation ; charging me with representing it as “ probable that John had as much time to inquire into their experiences as into their
doctrinal knowledge.” Whereas, my words are these, p. 101. “ He had as much opportunity to inquire into the credibility of their profession, as he had to inquire into their doctrinal knowledge and moral character."
In p. 118, and to the like purpose, p. 134, our author represents me, and others of my principles, as holding, that the gospel does peremptorily sentence men to damnation for eating and drinking without sanctifying grace. But surely Mr. Williams would have done well to have referred to the place in my Inquiry, where any thing is said that has such a look. For, I find nothing that I have said in that book, or any other writing of mine,about the gospel's peremptorily sentencing such men to damnation, or signifying how far I thought they were exposed to damnation, or expressing my sentiments more or less about the matter.
In p. 130 and 131, Mr. Williams says, “ when one sees with what epithets of honor Mr. Edwards in some parts of his book has complimented Mr. Stoddard, it must look like a strange medley to tack to them.... That he was a weak beggar of his question ; a supposer of what was to be proved ; taking for granted the point in controversy ; inconsistent with himself; ridiculously contradicting his own arguments." These expressions, which Mr. Williams speaks of as tacked to those honorable epithets, he represents as expressions which I had used concerning Mr. Stoddard : And his readers that have not consulted my book, would doubtless take it so from his manner of representation. Whereas, the truth is, no one of these expressions is used concerning Mr. Stoddard any where in my book ; nor is there one disrespectful word spoken of him there. All the ground Mr. Williams had to make such a representation, was, that in answering arguments against my opinion I endeavored to shew them to be weak (though I do not find that I used that epithet) and certainly for one to pretend to answer arguments, and yet allow them to be strong, would be to shew himself to be very weak. In answering some of these arguments, and endeavoring to shew wherein the inconclusiveness of them lay, I have sometimes taken notice that the defect lay in what is called begging the VOL. I.