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dion, and competent measure of Christian knowledge, is what gives a gospel right to all sacred ordinances : But that it is necessary to those that come to these ordinances, and in those that profess a consent to the gospel covenant, that they be sincere in their profession, or at least should think themselves so. The great thing which I have scrupied in the established method of this church's proceeding, and which I dare no longer go on in; is their frublicly assenting to the form of words rehearsed on océ casion of their admission to the communion, without firetending thereby to mean any such thing as any hearty consent to the terms of the gospel coverant, or to mean any such faith or red pentance as belong to the covenant of grace, and are the grand conditions of that covenant : It being, at the same time that the evords are used, their knoqun and established firinciple, which they openly profess and proceed upon, that men may and ought to use these words, and mean no such thing, brii something else of a na. ture far inferior ; which I think they have no distinct, determinate notion of ; but something consistent with their knowing that they do not choose God as their chief good, but love the world more than him, and that they do not give themselves up entirely to God, but make reserves ; and in short, knowing that they do not heartily consent to the gospel covenant, but live still under the reigning power of the love of the world, and enmity to God and Christ. So that the words of their public profession, according to their ófrenly established use, cease to be of the nature of any profession of gospel faith and repentance, or any proper compliance with the covenant : For it is their profession, that the words, as used, mean no such thing. The words used under these circumstances, do at least fail of being a credible profession of these things. I can conceive of no such virtue in à certain set of words, that it is proper, merely on the making these sounds, to admit persons to Christian sacraments, without any regard to aný pretended meaning of these sounds : Nor can I think, that any institution of Christ has established any such terms of admission into the Christian charch. It does not belong to the controversy between me and my people, hor particular or large the · profession should be, that is required. I should not choose to be confined to exact limits as to that matter : But rather than con" VOL. I.
dend, I should content myself with a few words, briefly expressió ing the cardinal virtues or acts implied in a hearty compliance with the covenant, made (as should appear by inquiry into the person's doctrinal knowledge ) understandingly ; if there were an external conversation agreeable thereto : Yea, I should think, that such a person, solemnly making such a profession, had a right to be received as the object of a public charity, however he himself might scruple his own conversion, on account of his not remembering the time, not knowing the method of his conversion, or finding so much remaining sin, &c. And (if his own scrufiles did not hinder his coming to the Lord's table) I should think the minister or church had no right to debar such a professor, though he should say he did not think himself converted..... For I call that a profession of godliness, which is a profession of the great things wherein godliness consists, and not a profession af his own opinion of his good estate,"
NORTHAMPTON, May 7, 1750.
Thus far my Letter to Mr. Clark,
The council having heard that I had made certain draughts of the covenant, or forms of a public profession of religion which I stood ready to accept of from the candidates for church communion, they, for their further information, sent for them. Accordingly I sent them four distinct draughts or forms, which I had drawn up about a twelvemonth before, as what I stood ready to accefit of (any one of them) rather than contend, and break with my people.
The two shortest of these forms are here inserted for the satisfaction of the reader. They are as follows.
" I hope I do truly find a heart to give up myself wholly to God, according to the tenor of that covenant of grace which was sealed in my baptism ; and to walk in a way of that obedience to all the commandments of God, which the covenant of grace requires, as long as I live.” Another,
* I hope I truly find in my heart a willingness to comply with all the commandments of God, which require me to give up myself wholly to him, and to serve him with my body and my spirit. And do accordingly now promise to walk in a way of obedience to all the commandments of God, as long as I live."
Such kind of professions as these I stood ready to accept, rather than contend and break with my people. Not but that I thinkis much more convenient, that ordinarily the public profession of religion that is made by Christians, should be much fuller and more particular. And that (as I hinted in my letter to Mr. Clark) I should not choose to be tied up to any certain form of words, but to have liberty to vary the expressions of a public profession the more exactly to suit the sentiments and experience of the professor, that it might be a more just and free expression of what each one finds in his heart.
And moreover it must be noted, that I ever insisted on it, that it belonged to me as a pastor, before a profession was accepted, to have full liberty to instruct the candidate in the meaning of the terms of it, and in the nature of the things proposed to be professed; and to inquire into his doctrinal understanding of these things, according to my best discretion ; and to caution the person, as I should think needful, against rashness in making such a profession, or doing it mainly for the credit of himself or his fam. ily, or from any secular views whatsoever, and to put him on see rious selfexamination, and searching his own heart, and prayer to God to search and enlighten him that he may not be hypocritical and deceived in the profession he makes ; withal pointing forth to him the many ways in which professors are liable to be deceived.
Nor do I think it improper for a minister in such a case, to inquire and know of the candidate what can be remembered of the circumstances of his Christian experience ; as this may tend much to illustrate his profession, and give a minister great advantage for proper instructions : Though a particular knowledge and remembrance of the time and method of the first conversion 10 God, is not to be made the test of a person's sincerity, nor insisted on as necessary in order to his being received into full charity. Not that I think it at all improper or unprofitable, that in some special cases a declaration of the particular circumstancer
of a person's first awakening and the manner of his convictione, illuminations, and comforts, should be frublicly çxhibited before the whole congregation, on occasion of his admission into the church ; though this be not demanded as necessary to ada mission. I ever declared against insisting on a relation of ex, periences, in this sense, (viz. a relation of the farticular time and steps of tre operation of the Spirit, in first conversion) as the term of communion : Yet, if by a relation of experiences, be meant a declaration of experience of the great things wrought, wherein true grace and the essential acts and habits of holinese consist in this
sense, I think an account of a person's experiences necessary in order to his admission into full communion in the church. But that in whatever inquiries are made, and whatever accounts are given, neither minister nor church are to set up themselves as searchers of hearts, but are to accept the ecrious, solcmn profession of the well instructed professor, of a good life, as best able to determine what he finds in his own heart
These things may serve in some measure to set right those of my readers who have been misled in their apprehensions of the state of the controversy between me and my people, by the forex mentioned misrepresentatione.
A FAREWELL SERMON.
2 COR. I. 14.
AS ALSO YOU HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED US IN PAIT, THAT W
ARE YOUR REJOICING, EVEN AS YE ALSO ARE OURS IN THE DAY OF THE LORD JESUS.
The apostle, in the preceding part of the chap,
, ter, declares what great troubles he met with in the course of his ministry. In the text and two foregoing verses he declares what were his comforts and supports under the troubles he met with. There are four things in particular.
1. That he had approved himself to his own conscience, ver. 12. “ For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with feshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you wards."
2. Another thing he speaks of as matter of comfort, is that, as he had approved himself to his own conscience, so he had also to the consciences of his hearers, the Corinthians, whom he now wrote to, and that they should approve of him at the day of judgment.
3. The hope he had of seeing the blessed fruit of his labors and sufferings in the ministry, in their happiness and glory, in that great day of accounts.
4. That, in his ministry among the Corinthians, he had epproved himself to his Judge, who would approve and reward his faithfulness in that day.
These three last particulars are signifled in my text, and the preceding verse ; and indeed all the four are implied in the text: It is implied, that the Corinthians bad acknowledg. od him as their spiritual Father, and as one that had been