good conversation, 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 in the Gospel covenant that they be sincere in their profession, or at least should think themselves so.-The great thing which I have scrupled in the established method of this Church's proceeding, and which I dare no longer go on in, is their publicly assenting to the form of words, rehearsed on occasion of their admission to the communion, without pretending thereby to mean any such thing, as a hearty consent to the terms of the Gospel covenant, or to mean any such faith or repentance as belong to the covenant of grace, and are the grand conditions of that covenant; It being, at the same time that the words are used, their known and established principle, which they openly profess and proceed upon, that men may and ought to use these words, and mean no such thing, but something else of a nature 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 openly 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 a certain set of words, that it is proper, merely on the making of these sounds, to admit persons to Christian Sacraments, without any regard to any pretended meaning of those sounds: nor can I think, that any institution of Christ has established any such terms of admission into the Christian Church. It does not belong to the controversy between me and my people, how 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 contend, I should content myself with a few words, briefly expressing the cardinal virtues or acts, implied in a hearty compliance with the covenant, made (as should appear by enquiry 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, etc. And, (if his own scruples 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 of his own opinion of his good


"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 accept 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 think it 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 enquire 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 family, or from any secular views whatsoever, and to put him on serious self-examination, 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 enquire 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 to God, is not 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 circumstances of a person's first awakening, and the manner of his convictions, illuminations and comforts, should be publicly exhibited before the whole congregation, on occasion of his admission into the Church; though this be not demanded as necessary to admission. I ever declared against insisting on a relation of experiences, in this sense, (viz. a relation of the particular time and steps of the 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 holiness 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 enquiries are made, or whatever account is given, neither minister nor church are to set up themselves as searchers of hearts, but are to accept the serious solemn 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 forementioned misrepresentations.



As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.

THE Apostle, in the preceding part of the chapter, 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. v. 12. For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly 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 to whom he now wrote, and that they should approve of him at the day of judgment.

3. The hope he had of seeing the blessed fruit of his labours 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 approved himself to his Judge, who would approve and reward his faithfulness in that day.

These three last particulars are signified in my text and the preceding verse; and indeed all the four are implied in the text: It is implied, that the Corinthians had acknowledged him as their spiritual father, and as one that had been faithful among them, and as the means of their future joy and glory at the day of Judgment, and one whom they should then see, and have a joyful meeting with as such. It is implied, that the apostle expected, at that time, to have a joyful meeting with them, before the Judge, and, with joy, to behold their glory, as the fruit of his labours; and so they would be his rejoicing. It is implied also, that he then expected to be approved of the great Judge, when he and they should meet together before Him; and that he would then acknowledge his fidelity, and that this had been the means of their glory; and that thus he would, as it were, give them to him as his crown of rejoicing. But this the Apostle could not hope for, unless he had the testimony of his own conscience in his favour. And therefore the words do imply, in the strongest manner, that he had approved himself to his own conscience.

There is one thing implied in each of these particulars, and in every part of the text, which is that point I shall make the subject of my present discourse, viz:

DOCTRINE. Ministers, and the people that have been under their care, mnst meet one another, before Christ's tribunal, at the day of judgment.

Ministers, and the people that have been under their care, must be parted in this world, how well soever they have been united: If they are not separated before, they must be parted by death: And they may be separated while life is continued. We live in a world of change, where nothing is certain or stable; and where a little time, a few revolutions of the sun, brings to pass strange things, surprising alterations, in particular persons, in families, in towns and churches, in countries and nations. It often happens, that those, who seem most united, in a little time are most disunited, and at the greatest distance. Thus ministers and people, between whom there has been the greatest mutual regard and strictest union, may not only differ in their judgments, and be alienated in affection; But one may rend from the other, and all relation between them be dissolved; the minister may be removed to a distant place, and they may never have any more to do, one with another, in this world. But if it be so, there is one meeting more that they must have, and that is in the last great day of ac


Here I would shew,

I. In what manner, ministers and the people which have been under their care, shall meet one another at the day of judgment.

II. For what purposes.

III. For what reasons God has so ordered it, that ministers and their people shall then meet together in such a manner, and for such purposes.

I. I would shew, in some particulars, in what manner ministers and

the people which have been under their care, shall meet one another at the day of judgment. Concerning this, I would observe two things in general.

1. That they shall not then meet merely as all mankind must then meet, but there will be something peculiar in the manner of their meeting.

2. That their meeting together, at that time, shall be very different from what used to be in the house of God in this world.

1 They shall not meet, at that day, merely as all the world must then meet together. I would observe a difference in two things.

(1.) As to a clear actual view, and distinct knowledge and notice of each other.

Although the whole world will be then present, all mankind of all generations gathered in one vast assembly, with all of the angelic nature, both elect and fallen angels; yet we need not suppose, that every one will have a distinct and particular knowledge of each individual of the whole assembled multitude, which will undoubtedly consist of many millions of millions. Though it is probable that men's capacities will be much greater than in their present state, yet they will not be infinite Though their understanding and comprehension will be vastly extended, yet men will not be deified. There will probably be a very enlarged view, that particular persons will have of the various parts and members of that vast assembly, and so of the proceedings of that great day but yet it must needs be, that according to the nature of finite minds, some persons and some things, at that day, shall fall more under the notice of particular persons than others; and this, (as we may well suppose,) according as they shall have a nearer concern with some than others, in the transactions of the day. There will be special reason, why those who have had special concerns together, in this world, in their state of probation, and whose mutual affairs will be then to be tried and judged, should especially be set in one another's view. Thus we may suppose, that rulers and subjects, earthly judges and those whom they have judged, neighbours who have bad mutual converse, dealings and contests, heads of families and their children and servants, shall then meet, and in a peculiar distinction be set together. And especially will it be thus with ministers and their people. It is evident, by the text, that these shall be in each others' view, shall distinctly know each other, and shall have particular notice one of another at that time.

(2.) They shall meet together, as having special concern, one with another, in the great transactions of that day.

Although they shall meet the whole world at that time, yet they will not have any immediate and particular concern with all. Yea, the far greater part of those who shall then be gathered together, will be such as they have had no intercourse with in their state of probation, and so will have no mutual concerns to be judged of. But as to ministers, and the people that have been under their care, they will be such as have had much immediate concern one with another, in matters of the greatest moment, that ever mankind have to do one with another in. Therefore they especially must meet, and be brought together before

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