« PreviousContinue »
they may fave themselves the trouble of demanding them from me.
IF they fhall oppofe my Affertion of the Neceffity of a Divine Commiffion to Admini fter Baptism, they will thereby Confound themfelves when they affirm that they Baptize by Virtue of fuch a Cominiffion: And then I fhall not think them worth my Anfwering.
I conclude all with my hearty Prayers to Almighty God, that this my weak Endeavour may be for his Glory, and that he would keep us from all FALSE DOCTRINE, HERESY AND SCHISM; that all who profefs and call themselves Chriftians may be led into the WAY OF TRUTH, and hold the Faith in Unity of Spirit, in the Bond of Peace, and in Righteoufnefs of Life; and that he would be pleas'd to Illuminate ALL BISHOPS, PRIESTS AND DEACONS, with true Knowledge and Understanding of his Word, that both by their Preaching and Living they may fet it forth and fhew it accordingly; and rightly and duly Adminifter HIS HOLY SACRAMENTS, that fo JEROBOAM'S PRIESTS may not PROPHANE HIS SERVICE, but that THE SEED OF AARON may fill MINISTER before him; 10 whom, with his Eternal Son, and Holy Spirit, Three Perfons, but One God, be afcrib'd, as is most due, All Honour, Praife, and Glory, Might, Majefty and Dominion, by every Creature that is in Heaven and Earth, and under the Earth, For. ever and ever Amen.
INCE the Publication of the First Edi tion of this Book, I am inform'd, that fome Gentlemen of no mean Character, have made further Objections against the Subject thereof, which (because they look very plaufible at firft fight, and may therefore preju dice too many against what I have propos'd) I fhall endeavour here to answer, as briefly and plainly as I can.
Obj. IX. A ND Firft 'tis faid, that if Lay Baptifm be Invalid, and the Divine Commiffi on to Baptize be convey'd from the Aqoftles in Epifcopacy only, then all thofe Foreign Reform'd Churches which have no Epifcopal Ordination are effectually Unchurch'd, as be ing (by the Principles afferted by me) deftitute of a Christian Miniftry, and confequently of Chriftian Baptifm; which is a confe quence to dreadful, and even contrary to the Conceffions of many Epifcopal Divines of the Church of England, that none ought to admit of that Doctrine, from which (if granted) fo great a mischief muft neceffarily arife.
Anf. That Lay-Baptifm is Null and Void, I humbly conceive, I have prov'd; if not, let the Authors of this Objection fhew, either the Infufficiency, or Fallacy of the Arguments I have produc'd for that purpofe; otherwife
I fhall take it for granted, that they acknowledge fuch Baptifms to be Invalid; or elfe, that at best they can give no folid Reasons for their Validity. And therefore, till I hear further from them upon this fingle Topick, I fhall give my felf no more trouble about it, but proceed to the conveyance of the Divine Commiffion to Baptize, and this (fuppofing Lay-Baptifm to be Invalid) can be convey'd from the Apostles in the Chriftian Ministry only; fo that all our Business here, is to know how the Christian Miniftry was handed down, and fucceffively continued from the Apostles to our Days, and this will determine who can Administer Valid Baptifm,
THAT the Christian Miniftry was con yeyed from the Apoftles in Epifcopacy only, we have a Cloud of Witnelles; First, The Inftitution of our Saviour himself; Secondly, The Practice of the Apostles, both recorded in the Sacred Oracles of infallible Truth, the Holy Scriptures; Thirdly, all Ecclefiaftical Hiftory; and Fourthly, the conftant and uninterrupted Practice of the Universal Church of Chrift in all Ages and Places, for One Thousand Five Hundred Years together from the Apoftles Days. These all bear teftimony to this great Truth, as has been fufficiently demonftrated by a vast number of the beft Chriftian Writers, particularly fome of our own Nation, and that very lately, (vid. Thofe I have mention'd in Answer to the Third Obje
Etion, and another Entitled, The Divine Right of Epifcopacy, Printed for Richard Sare, at Grays Inn-Gate in Holborn, 1708,) who have obviated and anfwer'd the Objections of all Enemies so excellently well, that it would be no less than Prefumption in me, to attempt to fay any thing more upon that Subject, after fuch Learned Authors; to whom therefore I refer the Reader for his fatisfaction in this Point, and pass on to confider the Objection it felf.
IF then the Premifes above-mention'd be true; If Lay-Baptifm be Invalid, &c. then (fays the Objector) "All thofe Foreign Re"form'd Churches, &c. are effectually Unchurch'd, "being deftitute of a Chriftian Ministry, and "confequently of Chriftian Baptifm. Why truly, if thofe Foreign Reform'd are Unchurch'd, upon the truth of thofe Premises, I cannot help that, 'tis the Objector himself that tells me they are fo; and I know of no way for him to help them out of that Difficulty at prefent, but either to prove the Premises falfe; or elfe to perfwade them to receive Epifcopal Ordination. But 'tis faid, "this " is a dreadful confequence. It may be fo, and very dreadful too, if they are so far Un church'd as to be reduc'd to a state of absolute Infidels, which I hope the Objector does not mean when he fays they are Unchurched, if he does, I must tell him, that ( tho' I am no Latitudinarian) I have more charitable
Thoughts concerning Thousands of them than he has, upon the Suppofition of their being deftitute of Chriftian Baptifm: For I believe Abundance of them may be included in the Number of those whom I have fpoke of in the Words of a moft Excellent Modern Author; (towards the End of my Answer to the Fourth Objection) and that therefore they may very fairly be efteem'd AS MUCH IN THE CHURCH as the Catechumeni, or Candidates for Chriftian Baptifm, were us'd to be in the Primitive Times. This, I think, abates much of the Dreadfulnefs of the Confequence to the Honeft and Sincere; but it cannot be hence inferr'd, that their Miniftry and Miniftrations are Good and Valid; or that they who know their Defects, fhould concur and communicate with 'em in fuch their Deviati ons from the Divine Inftitutes.
BUT (to proceed) this, fays the Objector, is even contrary to the Conceffions of many "Epifcopal Divines of the Church of England. I fuppofe he means fome of the Writers fince the Reformation, who have endeavour'd to make Excufes and Salvo's for the Presbyterian and Lay-Ordinations Abroad: In reference to whom, I muft needs fay, that 'tis juftly to be fear'd they have done more Hurt by fuch their Conceffions, than at the Time of their Writing them they were aware of For 'tis not to be doubted, that many put a great Value upon the Judgment of fuch