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in order to a being admitted into the company of his friends and followers, as the latter. It cannot be because the former is in itself is not as important, and as much to be looked at, as the latter ; seeing the very essence of religion itself consists in the former, and without it the latter is wholly vain, and makes us never the better ; neither happier in ourselves nor more acceptable to God. One end of a public profession of religion is the giving public honor to God : But surely the profession of inward esteem and a supreme respect of heart towards God is as agreeable to this design, and more directly tending to it, than the declaring of right speculative notions of him. We look upon it that our friends do the more especially and directly put honor upon us when upon proper occasions they stand ready not only to own the truth of such and such facts concerning us, but also to testify their high esteem and cordial and entire regard 10 us. When persons only manifest their doctrinal knowledge of things of religion, and express the assent of their judgments, but at the same time make no pretence to any other than a being wholly destitute of all true love to God, and a being under the dominion of enmity against him, their profession is in some respects, very greatly to God's dishonor : For they leave reason for the public greatly to suspect that they hold the truth in unrighteousness, and that they are some of those that have both seen and hated Christ and his Father, John xv. 24. Who of all persons have the greatest sin, and are most to God's dishonor.
I am at a loss, how that visibility of saintship, which the honored author of The Appeal to the Learned supposes to be all that is required in order to admission to the Lord's supper, can be much to God's honor, viz. Such a visibility as leaves reason to believe, that the greater part of those who have it, are enemies to God in their hearts, and inwardly the servants of sin. Such a visibility of religion as this, seems rather to in. crease a visibility of wickedness in the world, and so of God's dishonor, than any thing else ; i. e. it makes more wickedness visible to the eye of an human judgment, and gives men reason to think, there is more wickedness in the world, than otherwise would be visible to them : Because we have reason
to think, that those who live in a rejection of Christ, under the light of the gospel, and the knowledge and common belief of its doctrine, have vastly greater sin and guilt than other men. And that venerable divine himself did abundantly teach this.
Christ came into the world to engage in a war with God's enemies, sin and Satan ; and a great war there is maintained between them ; which war is concerning us ; and the contest is, who shall have the possession of OUR HEARTS. Now, it is reasonable under these circumstances, that we should declare on whose side we are, whether on Christ's side, or on the side of his enemies. . If we would be admitted among Christ's friends anå followers, it is reasonable that we should profess we are on the Lord's side, and that we yield OUR HEARTS (which the contest is about) to him, and not to his rivals. And this seems plainly to be the design and nature of a public profession of Christ. If this profession is not made, no profession is made that is worth regarding, or worth the making, in such a case as this is, and to any such purpose as a being admitted among his visible friends. There is no other being on Christ's side, in this case, but a being so with an undivided heart, preferring him to all his rivals, and renouncing them all for his sake. The case admits of no neutrality, or lukewarmness, or a middle sort of persons with a moral sincerity, or such a common faith as is consistent with loving sin and the world better than Christ. He that is not with me (says Christ) is against me. And therefore none do profess to be on Christ's side but they who profess to renounce his rivals. For those who would be called Christians, to profess no higher regard to Christ than what will admit of a superior regard to the world, is more absurd than if a woman pretending to marry a man, and take him for her husband, should profess to take him in some sort, but yet not pretend to take him in such a manner as is inconsistent with her allowing other men a fuller possession of her, and greater intimacy with her than she allows him. The nature of the case, as it stands between us and Jesus Christ, is such, that an open, solemn profession of being entirely for him, and giving him the possession of our hearts, renouncing all competitors,
othecur mind, land kingdong of his :
is more requisite in this case, than a like profession in any other case. The profession of an intermediate sort of state of our mind, is very disagreeable to the nature of Christ's errand, work, and kingdom in the world, and all that belongs to the designs and ends of his administrations ; and for ministers and churches openly to establish such a kind of profession of Christ as part of his public service, which does not imply a pre tence of any more than lukewarmness, is, I fear, to make a mere sham of a solemn public profession of Christianity, and seems to be wholly without warrant from the word of God, and greatly to God's dishonor.
It cannot be justly here pretended, as a reason why the opinion concerning doctrines should be professed, and not friendship or respect of heart, that the former is more easily discerned and known by us than the latter. For though it be. true, that men may be at a loss concerning the latter, yet it is as true that they may be so concerning the former too. They may be at a loss in many cases concerning the fulness of the determination of their own inclination and choice ; and so they may concerning the fulness of the determination of their judgment. I know of nothing in human nature that hinders the acts of men's wills being properly subject to their own consciousness, any more than the acts of their judgment; nor of any reason to suppose that men may not discern their own consent as well as their assent. The Scripture plainly supposes gracious dispositions and acts to be things properly under the eye of conscience. 2 Cor. xiii. 5. “ Know ye not your own selves ?" John xxi. 15. “ Simon son of Jonas, lovest thou me ?" And many other places. Nor is the nature of godliness less made known, than the true doctrines of religion. Piety of heart, in the more essential things belonging to it, is as clearly revealed, as the doctrines concerning the nature of God, the person of the Messiah, and the method of his redemption.
IV. We find in the Scripture, that all those of God's professing people, or visible saints who are not rruly pious, are represented as counterfeita, as having guile, disguise, and a false appearance, as making false pretences, and as being de. Yol. I.
ceitful and hypocrites..... Thus Christ says of Nathaniel, John i. 47. “ Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile ;' that is, a truly gracious person ; implying, that those of God's professing people, who are not gracious, are guileful, and deceitful in their profession. So sinners in Zion, or in God's visible church, are called hypocrites. Isa. xxxiii. 14. “ The sinners in Zion are afraid,, fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites.” Isa. xi. 17.“ Every one is an hypocrite and an evil doer.” So they are called lying children, Isa. xxx. 9. and chap. lix. 13. and are represented as lying, in pretending to be of the temple or church of God. Jer. vii. 2, 4...... “ Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord..... Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.” They are spoken of as falsely calling themselves of the holy city, Isa. xlviii. 1, 2. They are called silver dross, and reprobate or refuse silver..... (Ezek. xxxii. 18. Jer. vi. 30.) which glisters and shows like true silver, but has not its inward worth. So they are compared to adulterated wine, Isa. i. 22. and to trees full of leaves bidding fair for fruitfulness, Matth. xxi. 19. Clouds that look as if they were full of rain, yet bring nothing but wind, Jude, 12. Wells without water, that do but cheat the thirsty traveller, 2 Pet. ii. 13. A deceitful bow, that appears good, but fails the archer, Psal, lxxviii. 57. Hos. vii. 16....Mr. Stoddard, in his Appeal to the Learned, from time to time supposes all visible saints, who are not truly pious, to be hypocrites, as in pages 15, 17, 18.
Now what ground or reason can there be thus to represent those as visible saints or members of God's visible church,who are not truly pious, if the profession of such does not imply any pretence to true piety ; and when they never made a pretence to any thing more than common grace, or moral sincerity, which many of them truly have, and therefore are not at all hypocritical or deceitful in their pretences, and are as much without guile, in what they make a profession of, as Nathaniel was? The Psalmist speaking of sincere piety, calls it the truth in the inward parts. Psal. li. « Behold,
thou desirest the truth in the inward parts.” It is called truth with reference to some declaration or profession made by God's visible people ; but on the hypothesis which I oppose, common grace is as properly the truth in the inward parts, in this respect, as saving grace. God says, concerning Israel, Deut. xxxii. 5. 6 Their spot is not the spot of his children.” God here speaks of himself as it were disappointed : The words have reference to some profession they had made : For why should this remark be made after this manner, that there were spots upon them, shrewd marks that they were not his children, if they never pretended to be his children, and never were accepted under any such notion to any of the privileges of his people ?
God is pleased to represent himself in his word as though he trusted the profession of his visible people, and as disappointed when they did not approve themselves as his faithful, stedfast, and thorough friends. Isa. Ixiii. 8, 9, 10. « For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie. So he was their Saviour: In all their affliction he was afflicted. But they rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit ; therefore he was turned to be their enemy.” The same is represented in many other places. I suppose that God speaks after this manner, because he, in his present, external dealings with his visible people, does not act in the capacity of the Searcher of Hearts, but accommodates himself to their nature, and the present state and circumstances of his church, and speaks to them and treats them after the manner of men, and deals with them in their own way. But, supposing the case to be even thus, there would be no ground for such representations, if there were no profession of true godliness. When God is represented as trusting that men will be his faithful friends, we must understand that he trusts to their pretences. But how improperly would the matter be so represented if there were no pretences to trust to, no pretences of any real, thorough friendship? However there may be a profession of some common affection that is morally sincere, yet there is no pretence of loving him more than, yea not so much as his enemies. What reason to trust that they will be faithful