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such, page 28. And towards the close of his book, he declares himself stedfastly of the mind, that it is requisite those be pot admitted to the Lord's Supper, who do not make a personal and public profession of their faith and repentance, to the just satisfaction of the church, page 93, 94. But how he reconciled these passages with the rest of his treatise, I would modestly say, I must confess myself at a loss. And particularly I cannot see how they consist with what this venerable and ever honored author says, page 16, in these words ; « Indeed by the rule that God has given for admissions, if it be carefully attended, more unconverted persons will be admitted than converted." I would humbly inquire, how those visible qualifications can be the ground of a rational judgment, that a person is circumcised in heart, which nevertheless at the same time, we are sensible are so far from being any probable signs of it, that they are more frequently without it. The appearance of that thing surely cannot imply an appearing probability of another thing, which at the same time we are sensible is most frequently, and so most probably, without that other thing.
Indeed I can easily see, how that may seem visible, and appear probable to God's people by reason of the imperfect and dark state they are in, and so may oblige their charity, which yet is not real, and which would not appear at all probable to angels, who stand in a clcarer light : And the different degrees of light, that God's church stands in, in different ages, may make a difference in this respect. The church under the New Testament being favored by God with a vastly greater light in divine things, than the church under the Old Testament. That might make some difference, as to the kind of profession of religion that is requisite, under these different dispensations, in order to a visibility of holiness ; also a proper visibility may fail in the greater number in some extraordinary case, and in exempt circumstances : But how those signs can be a ground of a rational judgment that a thing is, which, at that very time, and under that degree of light we then have, we are sensible do oftener fail than not, and this ordinarily, I own myself much at a loss. Surely nothing but
appearing reason is the ground of a rational judgment. And indeed it is impossible in the nature of things, to form a judge ment, which at that very time we think to be not only without, but against probability.
ll it be said, that although persóns do not profess that whercin sanctifying grace consists, yet seeing they profess to believe the doctrines of the gospel, which God is wont to make use of in order to men's sanctification, and are called the doctrine which is according to godlines8 ; and since we see nothing in their lives to make us determine, that they have not had a proper effect on their hearts, we are obliged in charity to hope, that they are real saints, or gracious persons, and to treat them accordingly, and so to receive them into the Christian charch, and to its special ordinances.
I answer, this objection does in effect suppose and grant the very thing mainly in dispute ; for it supposes, that a gracious character is the thing that ought to be looked at and aimed at in admitting persons into the communion of the church; and so that it is needful to have this charity for persons, or such a favorable notion of them, in order to our receiving them as properly qualified members of the society, and properly qualified subjects of the special privileges they are admitted to. Whereas, the doctrine taught is, that sanctifying grace is not a necessary qualification herefor, and that there is no need that the person himself, or any other, should have any imagination, that he is a person so qualified ; because we know, it is no qualification requisite in itself ; we know the ordinance of the Lord's supper is as proper for them, that are not so qualified as for those that are ; it being according to the design of the institution a converting ordinance, and so an ordinance as much intended for the good of the unconverte ed, as of the converted ; even as it is with the preaching of the gospel. Now if the case be so, why is there any talk about a charitable hoping they are converted, and so admitting them? What need of any charitable hope of such a qualification, in order to admitting them to an ordinance that is as proper for those who are without this qualification, as for those that have it? We need not have any charitable hope of áný such qualification in order to admit a person to hear the - word preached. What need have we to aim at any thing beyond the proper qualifications ? And what manner of need of any charitable opinion' or hope of any thing further ? Some sort of belief, that Jesus is the Messiah, is a qualification properly requisite to a coming to the Lord's supper ; and therefore it is necessary that we should have a charitable hope, that those have such a belief whom we admit ; though it be not necessary that we should know it, it being wlia: none can know of another. But as to grace or Christian piety, it clearly follows, on the principles which I oppose, that if there be any visibility of it, more or less, of any sort, yet no kind of visibility or appearance, whether more direct or indirect, whether to a greater or less degree, no charity or hope of it; have any thing at all to do in the affair of admission to the Lord's supper; for, according to them, it is properly a converting ordinance. What has any visibility or hope of a person's being already in health to do in admitting him into an hospital for the use of those means that are the proper ap. pointed means for the healing of the sick, and bringing them to health ? And therefore it is needless here to dispute about the nature of visibility ; and all arguing concerning a profession of Christian doctrines, and an orderly life being a sufficient ground of public charity, and an obligation on the church to treat them as saints, are wholly impertinent and nothing to the purpose. For on the principles which I oppose, there is no need of any sort of ground for treating them as saints, in order to admitting them to the Lord's supper, the very design of which is to make them saints, any more than there is need of some ground of treating a sick man as being a man in health, in order to admitting him into an hospital. Persons,' by the doctrine that I oppose, are not taught to offer themselves as candidates for church communion under any such notion, or with any such pretence, as their being gracious pero sons ; and therefore surely when those that teach them, receive them to the ordinance, they do not receive them under any such notion, nor has any notion, appearance, hope or thought of it, any thing to do in the case.
The apostle speaks of the members of the Christian church, as those that made a profession of godliness. 2 Cor. ix. 13. * They glorified God for your professed subjection to the gospel of Christ.” I Tim. ii. 9, 10, « In like manner also that women adorn themselves in modest apparel....not with costly array ; but, which becometh women professing godliness, with good works." The apostle is speaking of the women that were members of that great church of Ephesus, which Timothy for the present had the care of, and he speaks of them as supposing that they all professed godliness. By the allowance of all, profession is one thing belonging to the visibility of Christianity or broliness, that there is in the members of the visible church. Visible holiness is an appearance or exhibition of holiness, by those things which are external, and so fall under our notice and observation. And these are two, viz. profession and outward behavior, agreeable to that profession. That profession which belongs to visible saintship, must be a profession of godliness, or real saintship ; for a profession makes nothing visible beyond what is professed. What is it, to be a saint by profession but to be by profession a true saint ? For to be by profession a false saint, is to be by profession ng saint ; and only to profess that, which if ever so true, is nothing peculiar to a saint, is not to be a professing saint.
In order to a man's being properly a professing Christian, he must profess the religion of Jesus Christ : And he surely does not profess the religion that was taught by Jesus Christ, if he leaves out of his profession the most essential things that belong to that religion. That which is most essential in that religion itself, the profession of that is essential in a profession of that religion ; for (as I have observed elsewhere) that which is most essential in a thing, in order to its being truly denominated that thing, the same is essentially necessary to be expressed or signified in any exhibition or declaration of that thing, in order to its being truly denominated a declare ation or exhibition of that thing. If we take a more incon. siderable part of Christ's religion, and leave out the main and most essential, surely what we have cannot be properly call
od the religion of Jesus Christ : So if we profess only a less important part, and are silent about the most important and essential part, it cannot be properly said that we profess the religion of Jesus Christ. And therefore we cannot in any propriety be said to profess the Christian or Christ's religion, unless we profess those things wherein consists piety of heart, which is vastly the most important and essential part of that religion that Christ came to teach and establish in the world, and is in effect all; being that without which all the rest that belongs to it, is nothing, and wholly in vain. But they who are admitted to the Lord's supper, proceeding on the princi. ples of those who hold it to be a converting ordinance, do in no respect profess Christian plety, neither in whole nor in part, neither explicitly nor implicitly, directly or indirectly ; and therefore are not professing Christians, or saints by profession. I mean, though they may be Godly persons, yet as they come to the ordinance without professing godliness, they cannot properly be called professing saints.
Here it may be said, that although no explicit and formal profession of those things which belong to true piety, be required of them ; yet there are many things they do, that are a virtual and implicit profession of these things : Such as their owning the Christian covenant, their owning God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, to be their God; and by their visibly joining in the public prayers and singing God's praises, there is a show and implicit profession of supreme respece to God and love to him ; by joining in the public confessions, they make a shew of repentance ; by keeping sabbaths and hearing the word, they make a shew of a spirit of obedience ; by offering to come to sacraments, they make a shew of love to Christ and a dependance on his sacrifice.
To this I answer : It is a great mistake, if any one in. agines, that all these external performances are of the nature of a pofession of any thing at all that belongs to saving grace, as they are commonly used and understood: And to be sure none of them are so, according to the doctrines that are taught and embraced, and the customs that are established in such churches as proceed on the foot of the principles forør