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You tell us in your Letter to Mr. Venn. (p. 41.) ** It is easy to gather from the writings of the A" postles, that many persons, even in their times, « made profession of Christianity, and even preachso ed Chrift, who, in the moral sense of the word, 5 were not Christians.” This does not sufficiently appear, if there be no stronger proof of it than that pallage affords, which you have quoted from the Apostle Paul, viz. I keep' under my body, and bring
it into subjection, lest that, by any means, when I $ have preached to others, I myself should be a caft,
away. If this text be at all to the purpose, it proves that Paul at that time was not, in the moral sense of the word, a Chriftian. However admitting there might be fome such professors, and that' what you add be also true, " That we do not find that so these merely nominal Christians were excluded $6 from the Lord's Supper,” it does not follow from hence that mere nominal Christians, have a right to this ordinance, unless you can prove that those whom you speak of in the primitive times were known to be only nominal Christians when they were admitted to it ; the contrary to which is, I think, sufficiently evident from what I shall have occasion to mention in speaking to i
The Tbird argument from fcripture to prove that only real Christians have a right to the Lord's Supper, which is, What the sacred writers say concerning the characters of the members of the primitive churches as such. One thing must here be premised, which you have entirely forgot, but which is, very obvioufly, of considerable importance in the present controversy, that being members of a church and receiving the Lord's Supper are expressions of the same import, and only different ways of characterizing the same persons. It will, I think, be universally acknowledged, that all those who were called Christians in the primitive times, and considered by Christian pastors
wherches to whomlight the Adinance. Iquisite to
as members of their respective churches, did attend the Lord's Supper, and that all who attended the Lord's Supper were considered as church-members. How else were the members of christian churches distinguished from other persons ? Now if this were the cale, whatsoever is said of the members of churches as such, is said of them as communicants, or receivers of the Lord's Supper ; and we may thence judge concerning the qualifications requisite to a worthy attendance on this ordinance. Let us then enquire in what light the Apostles considered those churches to whom they wrote their respective epiftles, whether only as consisting of persons who professed a belief that Jesus was a divine teacher, or as those who appeared to be, and by being admitted to the Lord's table were esteemed, real Christians in the highest sense, righteous and pious persons.
The Apostle Paul, in his epistle to the church at Rome, not only speaks of the members of it as be
loved of God and called to be faints,' a but thanks God on account of their conversion from sin to holiness ; God be thanked that ye were the servants of < sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form
of doctrine which was delivered unto you. Being " then made free from sin, ye becaine the servants of
righteousness.' Unto the church which was « at Corinth,' he writes as “ unto them that were
fanctified in Christ Jesus, and that called upon the " name of the Lord, of which persons it is elsewhere said they shall be saved.'. He speaks of them as having been formerly in the number of the chief of finners ; thieves, covetous, drunkards,' &c. and then adds, But ye are washed, but ye are fanctifired, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord • Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.'
In his second epiftle to the fame church, he says Our hope of you is stedfast ;' and speaks of them as
* Rom. i. 7.
•vi, 17, 18.
el Cor. i. 2. vi. 11.
§ the epistles of Christ known and read of all men, s written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living ? God.'. In writing to the churches of Galatia, tho' he had occasion to reprove them for an undue attachment to the law of Moses, he speaks of them as the children of God by. faith in Chrift, as having
put on Christ (i. e. a Christian temper) by baptifm, ? as being Abraham's seed, and heirs according to § the promise ;' and as the fons of God, into whose ? hearts God had sent the spirit of his Son, crying ! Abba Father's
In his epistle to the church at Ephesus, he stiles them the saints which are at Ephesus, chofen, in
Chrift, made accepted in the beloved ; ; and speaks ? of them as having trusted in Chrift, as having been
quickened when dead in trespasses and sins. " The Philippians he calls the saints which are at · Philippi,' and tells them he was confident of this ? very thing, that he which had begun a good work
in them' (which necessarily implies that they had been truly converted to God) “would perform it ? until the day of Christ.' i He adds, even as it is ( meet to think thus of you all.' - The Coloans he files " the saints and faithful brethren in Christ 6. Jesus, and gives thanks for their faith and love,
and for the hope which was laid up for them in « heaven.' He represents the gospel as having brought ç forth fruit in them, since the day they heard it, and
received the grace of God in truth; and speaks of them as delivered from the power of darkness and made meet to be partakers of the glorious inheri,
tance of the saints in light. k Unto the church of the Thessalonians, he declares he gave thanks to ! God always on their behalf, remembering their
work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of Ş hope in the sight of God, and that the gospel had
d. Ch. iii. 2, 3.
Gal. iii. 26, 29.
* Col. i. 12, 13.
Eph. i. come unto them not in word only, but also in s power and in the Holy Ghost." - The author of the epistle to the Christian Hebrews, tho' he speaks of some that once belonged to their churches as having apoftatized, yet says concerning the rest," I am per•suaded better things of you, and things that accom• pany falvation.'!
It 'were easy to multiply quotations from these epistles, and to produce passages from the remaining ones of James and Peter, of John and fude, to the same effect with those already quoted; but I forbear lest I should be thought too prolix, and will only just remark, that from what Christ ordered John to write in the book of the Revelation to the churches of Sardis and Laodicea, tho' more severe complaints are brought against them than against any church mentioned in the whole New Testament, yet it appears that the members of both, not only looked upon themselves as real Christians, but were esteemed such by others. They thought they were s rich and needed nothing, though they were poor
and miserable ; and had a name that they lived,
tho' they were really dead.'m This remark may ferve to obviate an objection which might be urged against the argument drawn from the foregoing paf fages, “ that many of these churches had wicked 5 members belonging to them, or hypocritical pro$6 feffors, tho' it be allowed that the majority of " them were truly pious.” It does not appear that any of them were known to be bad, or even confiderçd as dubious characters, when they were admitted as members of the church ; but, on the contrary, as having the appearance of saints. And those who afterwards discovered, by an unchristian temper, or conduct, that they were not real Christians, are spoken
ki Theff. i, 2-5. and 2 Theff. 1, 3, 7. po Rev. ii. 23. iii, 17.
1 Heb. vi. 9.
of as having crept in unawares,'" and as false breo thren unawares brought in.'* - Besides the arguments already produced from sctipture to prove that nominal Christians ought not to attend the Lord's Supper; this point I apprehend will receive further confirmation, from a due attention to that part of Paul's epiftle to the Corinthians, which immediately relates to this ordinance. But the illustration of this will be so large, that I shall make it the subject of another letter.
I am, SIR,
Jude 4. Gal. č. 4: .! . The reader may see this argument further pursued, and the
objections against the force of it removed, in a work entitled, An humble Enquiry into the Qualifications requisite to a full Communion, &c. by the late judicious and learned Mr. Jonathan EDWARDS, M. A. President of the College in New Jersey, p. 66, &c.