Page images
PDF
EPUB

oath to the Most High, which, it is ten thousand to one, they will break as soon as the words are out of their mouths, by . continuing still unconverted; yea, an oath which they are breaking even while they are uttering it. And what folly and wickedness is it for men to take such oaths ? And how contrary to the counsel given by the wise man, in Eccl. v. 2, 4, 5, 6 ? And to what purpose should ungodly men be encouraged to utter such promises and oaths before the church, for the church's acceptance ; which are so far from being worthy to be credited, or a fulfilment of them to be expected, that it is many thousands, and perhaps millions of times more likely to be otherwise ? That is, it is so much more likely they will · not be converted the very next moment. (2.) When an unconverted man makes such a promise, he promises what he has not to give, or that which he has not sufficiency for the performance of; no sufficiency in himself, nor any sufficiency in any other that he has a claim to, or interest in. There is indeed a sufficiency in God to enable him ; but he has no claim to it. For God's helping a man savingly to believe in Christ is a saving blessing : And Mr. Williams himself owns, that a man cannot by promise claim any saving blessings, till he has fulfilled the conditions of the covenant of grace, p. 22, 28. So that in vain it is said by Mr. Williams, p. 27, « I pray that it may be thoroughly considered what is propounded in the covenant of grace, and on what stock a man is to finish.” Meaning (as appears by the sequel) the stock of God's sufficiency. To what purpose is this said ? When the covenant of grace promises or makes over no such stock to him who has no interest in the promises of it, as having not yet complied with the condition of its promises. Nor does an unconverted man promise any thing in a humble dependance on that stock ; no such men do lay hold on God's strength, or trust in God's sufficiency : For this is a discriminating mark of a true saint ; as our author himself observes, in that forecited passage, in his sermons on Christ a king and Witness,

p. 19.

I would here take notice of it as remarkable, that though Mr. Williams had owned that a natural man can claim no say

ing blessings by God's promise, yet to help out his scheme of a natural man's engaging and promising, even with an oath, the exercises of saving grace, he, (in p. 27, 28, especially, 28) speaking of the great encouragement on which unsanctified men can promise these things, supposes God has given such encouragement to them who promise and engage themselves to God with that degree of earnestness and sincerity which he often speaks of as requisite to communion, that we have reason to determine that God never will fail of bestowing on them saving grace ; so that they shall fulfil their promises. I say, he supposes that we have reason to determine this, because he himself determines it. His words are these : « Though there be no promise of saving good, exclusive of faith, yet there being a command and encouragement, there are suitable springs of his endeavor and hope, in his engaging himself to God and casting himself upon his mercy with all the earnestness and sincerity he can. God NEVER will be worse than his encouragement, nor do less than he has encouraged, and he has said, To him that hath, shall be given."

Now, if this be so, and if this will make it out, that an unconverted man who is morally sincere may reasonably, on this encouragement, promise immediately to believe and repent, though this be not in his own power ; then it will follow that whenever an unconverted man covenants, with such moral sincerity as gives a lawful right to sacraments, God never will fail of giving him converting grace that moment, to enable him from thenceforward to believe and repent as he promises. And if this be so, and none may lawfully covenant with God without moral sincerity (as Mr. Williams also says) then it will follow, that never any one person comes, nor can come lawfully to the Lord's supper in an unconverted state ; because when they enter into covenant lawfully. (supposing them not converted before) God always converts them in the moment of their covenanting, before they come to the Lord's table. And if so, what is become of all this grand dispute about the lawfulness of persons' coming to the Lord's table, who have not converting grace ? VOL. I.

3G

VI. Mr. Williams greatly misrepresents me from time to time, in representing as though I had asserted, that “ It is impossible for an unsanctified man to enter into covenant with God;" and that those who were unsanctified among the Israclites, did not enter into covenant with God ; that the pretended covenanting of such is not covenanting, but only lying, wilful lying ; and that no natural man can own the covenant, “ But that he certainly lies, knows he lies, and designedly lies, in all these things, when he says them." P. 26, 22, 24, 31, 21. Whereas I never said nor supposed any such thing. I never doubted but that multitudes of unsanctified persons, and in all ages of the Christian church, and in this age, and here in Newengland, have entered visibly, and in profession, inte the covenant of grace, and have owned that covenant, and promised a compliance with all the duties of is, without known or wilful lying ; for this reason because they were deceived, and did not know their own hearts ; and that they (however deceived) were under the obligations of the covenant, and bound by their engagements and promises : And that in that sense, they were God's covenant people, that by their own binding act they were engaged to God in covenant ; though such an act, performed without habitual holiness, be an unlawful one. If a thing be externally devoted to God, by doing what ought not to have been done, the thing devot. ed may, by that act, be the Lord's : As it was with the censers of Korah and his company. Numb. xvi. 37, 38.

What I asserted, was, that none could « Profess a compli. ance with the covenant of grace, and avouch JEHOVAH to be their God, and Christ to be their Saviour, i. e. that they are so by their own act and choice, and yet love the world more than JEHOVAH, without lying or being deceived. And that he, who is wholly under the power of a carnal mind, which is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be, cannot promise to love God with all his heart and with all his soul, without either great deceit, or lhe most manifest and palpable absurdity : Inasmuch as promising supposes the person to be conscious to himself, or persuaded of himself, that he

has such a heart in him ; because his lips pretend to declare his heart, and the nature of a promise implies real intention, will and compliance of heart. And what can be more evident than these propositions ? Surely they that reject the covenant of grace in their hearts (as Mr. Williams owns, all unsanctified men do) cannot own it with their lips, without either deceiving or being deceived. Words cannot be a true signification of more than is in the mind. Inward covenanting, as Mr. Stoddard taught, is by an act of saving faith. (Safety of Ap. p. 85, 86.) And outward covenanting is an expression of inward covenanting : Therefore, if it be not attended with inward covenanting, it is a false expression. And Mr. Williams, in effect, owns the same thing : For he says, p. 21, “ That there is no doubt they who are wilful, obstinate sinners, deal deceitfully and falsely when they pretend to covenant with God.” But so do all unregenerate sinners under the gospel, according to Mr. Stoddard's and his own doctrine. And thus the very point, about which he contests so earnestly and so long, and with so many great words, is in the midst of it all, given up fully by his own concession.

VII. Mr. Williams is greatly displeased with my saying (as above) that none who are under the power of a carnal mind can visibly own the covenant, without lying, or being de. ceived, &c. And he finds great fault with my gloss on Psal. Ixxviii. 36, 37. “ They did flatter him with their mouth, and lied to him with their tongue :" Which I interpret as though they lied in pretending that respect to God, whịch indees they had not, p. 35 of my Inquiry. But he insists, that what is meant is only their « Lying in breaking their promise," p. 24. And he insists upon it (as has been observed already) that Datural men may covenant with God and speak true. But it şeems he has wonderfully changed his mind of late : For a little while ago he declared elsewhere for the very same things which be here inveighs against, and spoke of natural men's profession and pretence of respect to God, as being actually a LIE IN ITS OWN NATURE ; and not only becoming so by their breaking covenant afterwards. Particularly, it is

remarkable, he has thus interpreted this very text now in dis. pute. In his sermons on Christ a King and Witness, speake ing of the outward acts of worship done by those that do not love God nor believe in Christ, he expressly says, p. 77. « They are in their own nature a lie; a false pretence of something within, that is not there. See (says Mr. Williams) this interp:etation of it, in Psal. Ixxviii. 34....37. They did flatter him with their mouths ; they lied to him with their tongues," &c. (Ibid. p. 74. “ Christ's visible church are such as visibly and outwardly profess to be his subjects, and act outwardly as if they believed on him. But these outward acts in themselves are not that religion and obedience, which Christ requires ; nay of themselves, they have no religion in them ; and Christ has nothing to do with them, but as they are the fruits and expressions of the heart, as they are the language and index of the mind and conscience, and outward declarations of the inward frame, temper and actings of the soul. If they are not 80, they are so far from having any religion in them that they are hateful to him, being only the visible resemblance, the pretence and feigning of religion ; i. e. they are mockery, hypocrisy, FALSEHOOD and LIES ; and belong not to the kingdom of Christ, but of the Devil.Let the reader now compare this with my gloss on the text.

CONCLUSION OF THIS SECOND PART.

Thus I have considered the various parts and principles of Mr. Williams's scheme, which are the foundations on which he builds all his superstructure, and the ground on which he proceeds in all his reasonings, through his book ; and many par. ticulars in his answers and arguments have been already considered. Mr. Williams says thus, p. 135, “ I own, that at present I have no more expectation to see the scheme which

« PreviousContinue »