Page images
PDF
EPUB

question, or supposing the thing to be proved. And if I had said so concerning Mr. Stoddard's arguments,speaking of them as his, I do not know why it should be represented as any personal reflection, or unhandsome, dishonorable treatment of him. Every inconclusive argument is weak ; and the business of a disputant is to shew wherein the weakness lies : But to speak of arguments as weak, is not to call men weak. All the ground Mr. Williams has to speak of me as saying, that Mr. Stoddard ridiculously contradicted his own arguments, is, that in p. 11, citing some passages out of Mr. Stoddard's Appeal, I use these words ; “ 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 observed, that I could not see how they consist with what he says, p. 16, and so proceed to mention one thing which appears to me not well to consist with them. But certainly this is not indecently to reflect on Mr. Stoddard any more than Mr. Williams indecently reflects on the FIRST REFORMERS, in his answer to Mr. Croswell, p. 74, 75, where speaking of their doctrine of a particular persuasion as of the essence of saving faith, he says, " they are found inconsistent with themselves, and their doctrine lighter than vanity." And again p. 82, “ if ever says Mr. Williams) any men were confuted from their own concessions, these divines are.” And more to the like purpose. Which gives me a fair occasion to express the like wonder at him, as he does at me p. 131, but I forbear personal reflections.

Mr. Williams in the same page, has these words ; “. And to say, that all, unsanctified men do profess and seal their consent to the covenant of grace in the Lord's supper, when they KNOW at the same time they do not consent to it, nor have their heart at all in the affair, is something worse than begging the question.” That is, as I suppose, (the same that he charged me with before) telling a manifest untruth. By which he plainly suggests, that I have said thus. Whereas I no where say, nor in any respect signify that I suppose, all unsanctified communicants do know that they do not consent to the covenant of grace. I never made any doubt, but that multitudes of unsanctified communicants are deceived, and think they do consent to it.

In p. 132, he says of me, “ the author endeavors to show, that the admitting unsanctified persons tends to the ruin and and reproach of the Christian church ; and to the ruin of the persons admitted.” But how widely different is this from what I express in the place he refers to ? Ing. p. 121. That which I say there, is, that “ by express liberty given, to open the door to as many as please, of those who have no visibility of real saintship, and make no profession of it, nor pretension to it, is a method which tends to the ruin and great reproach of the Christian church, and also to the ruin of the persons admitted.” I freely grant, and shew abundantly in my book, it is never to be expected, that all unsanctified men can be kept out, by the most exact attendance on the rules of Christ, by those that admit members.

In p. 136, Mr. Williams, wholly without grounds, speaks of me as representing, that “ unconverted men make pretension to nothing but what God's enemies have, remaining in open and avowed rebellion against him.” Whereas, I suppose that some natural men do profess, and profess truly, many things, which those bave not, who are open and avowed enemies of God. They may truly profess that sort of moral sincerity in many things belonging to morality and religion, which avowed enemies have not : Nor is there any sentence or word in my book, which implies or intimates the contrary.

In p. 141, Mr. Williams evidently insinuates, that I am one of those who, “if men live never so strictly conformable to the laws of the gospel, and never so diligently seek their own salvation, to outward appearance, yet do not stick to speak of them, and act openly towards them, as persons giving no more public evidence, that they are not the enemies of God and haters of Jesus Christ, than the very worst of the heathen." But surely every one that has read my book, every one that knows my constant conduct, and manner of preaching, as well as writing, and how much I have written, said and done

against judging and censuring persons of an externally morai and religious behavior, must know how injurious this representation of me is.

SECTION II.

Instances of the second thing mentioned as excep

tionable in Mr. Williams's Method of managing this controversy, viz. His misrepresenting what is said in the writings of others, that he supposes favors his opinion.

PERHAPS instances enough of this have already been taken notice of; yet I would now mention some others.

In what he says in reply to my answer to the eighth objection, he says, p. 108. “ Mr. Stoddard does not say, if sanctifying grace be necessary to a person's lawful partaking of the Lord's supper, then God would have given some certain rule, whereby those who ARE TO ADMIT THEM, may know whether they have such grace, or not.” Mr. Williams there intimates (as the reader may see) as if Mr. Stoddard spake so, that it is to be understood disjunctively, meaning he would either have given some certain rule to the church who admit them, or else to the persons themselves : So that by one means or other, the Lord's supper might be restrained to converted men. And he exclaims against me for representing as though Mr. Stoddard's argument were concerning a certain rule, whereby those who are to admit them, may know whether they have grace, (see the foregoing page) and speaks of it as nothing akin to Mr. Stoddard's argument. Now let the reader take notice of Mr. Stoddard's words, and see whether his argument be not soinething akin to this. He says expressly, Appeal, p. 75. “ God does not bind his church to impossibilities. If he had made such an ordinance, he would give

gifts to his church, to distinguish sincere men from hypo. crites, whereby the ordinance might have been attended. The minor is also evident : He has given no such rule to his CHURCH, whereby it may be restrained to converted men. This appears, because by the rule that they are to go by, they are allowed TO GIVE the Lord's supper to many unconverted men. For all visible signs are common to men converted, and unconverted.” So that Mr. Stoddard in fact does say, “ If sanctifying grace be necessary to a person's lawful partaking of the Lord's supper, then God would have given some certain rule, whereby the church (those who are to admit them) may know, whether they have grace, or not.” Though Mr. Williams denies it, and says, this is nothing akin to Mr. Stoddard's argument ; contrary to the plainest fact.

In p. 99, Mr. Williams, replying to my answer to the sixth objection, misrepresents Mr. Hudson, in the following passage. “ This [i. e. baptism] says Mr. Hudson, makes them members of the body of Christ. And as for a particular, explicit covenant, besides the general, imposed on churches, I find no mention of it, no example nor warrant for it in all the scripture.” Here Mr. Williams is still manifestly endeavoring to discredit my doctrine of an explicit owning the covenant of grace ; and he so manages and alters Mr. Hudson's words, as naturally leads the reader to suppose that Mr. Hudson speaks against this : Whcreas, he says not a word about it. What Mr. Hudson speaks of, is not an explicit owning the cove enant of grace or baptismal covenant ; but a particular church covenant, by which a particular society binds themselves explicitly, one to another, jointly to carry on the public worship. Mr. Hudson's words are, p. 19, “I dare not make a particular, explicit, holy covenant to be the FORM of a PARTICULAR church, as this description seemeth to do ; because I find no mention of any such covenant, besides the general imposed on churches, nor example nor warrant for it in all the scripture.” And then afterwards Mr. Hudson says, “ But it is the general covenant sealed by baptism, and not this, that makes them members of the body of Christ.” Mr. Williams, by citing distant passages in Mr. Hudson, and joining them, in his own way, by particles and conjunctions, which Mr. Hud, son does not usc, and leaving out these words....To be the form of a particular church, as this description seemeth to do....quite blinds the mind of his reader, as to Mr. Hudson's true sense, which is nothing to Mr. Williams's purpose. Mr. Hudson says not a word here against, or about an express or explicit covenanting, or owning the covenant, in my sense : But in other places, in the same book, he speaks of it, and for it, as necessary for all Christians. Thus, in p. 69, “ There is one individual, EXPRESS, external covenant; not only on God's part, but also it is one external, visible covenant, on men's part ; which all Christians, as Christians, enter into, by their PROFESSED acceptance, and EXPRESS restipulation, and promised subjection and obedience ; though not altogether in one place, or at one time." He speaks again to the same purpose, p. 100.

SECTION III.

Instances of the third thing observed in Mr. Wil.

liams's manner of arguing, viz. His pretending to oppose and answer arguments, by saying things which have no reference to them, but relate to other matters perfectly foreign to the subject of the argument.

SUCH is his answer, (p. 37) to my argument from Isa. lvi. Particularly from those words, v. 6, 7, “ Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, 1o be his servants....even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer,” &c. For I say nothing under that argument (as Mr. Williams in his answer presumes) which supposcs any antithesis or opposition here between the

« PreviousContinue »