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"Church of Chrift ceafe to have a Being as "fuch in the World? This, at first Propoling, looks to be a very weighty Queftion; but when we juftly reflect on the Divine Veracity, which has infallibly affur'd us, That Chrift will be with his Apoftles, (i. e. them and their Succes fors, the Bishops) alway even unto THE END OF THE WORLD; and that the Gates of Hades fball never prevail against the Church; then the Impertinence and Folly of this [What if] does immediately difcover it felf: Because it fupposes what in Fact never was, nor ever will be; and therefore needs no Answering because not to be granted. But alas! Suppo fing that it were (as it is not) poffible, for the Church to be univerfally depriv'd of her Valid Spiritual Fathers, the Bishops; 'tis our Duty, as well as Safety, rather to wait and hope for fome New Revelation of his Will, for another Inftitution of Men to fucceed in the Chriftian Priesthood, than to take it upon our felves by fuch Ways and Means as he has not hitherto appointed, and which will therefore prove ineffectual for the Jupernatural Purposes of his own Divine Institution; (because MAN by his own Authority only,can never make a Human equal to a Divine Institution; but this Cafe has never happen'd yet, and therefore, no Society of Men, either paft or prefent, can be at all excus'd upon this fuppos'd Foundation. A SAND now to conclude all that I have to fay to this Objection; no Doctrine whatsoever
can be prov'd to be falfe, by the Mischiefs of those Confequences which neceffarily arise from it, when thofe Confequences them felves are not contradictory to fome previous Truths; and when Men by either their wilful Sins, or fupine Neglects, are the only Caufes of the Mifchiefs of thofe Confequences, for which Truth and its Affertors are no ways anfwerable. This I believe is a Maxim that will ftand the Test of a strict Examination, and hold good in the Cafe before us: And I pray God to touch the Hearts of those who are concern'd in it, with a due fenfe of their Deviations from his Holy Inftitutes, that they may compleat a thorough Reformation; that the Chriftian Priesthood may recover its Ancient Spiritual Glory; and that we may be all blefs'd with the Happiness of a Univerfal Communion of Saints here in the Church Militant, fo as to be intitled to an entire and eternal Union and Communion with the Church-Triumphant in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Obj. X. 'Tis further objected; That if LayBaptifm be Invalid, then all those who never receiv'd any other Baptifm are uncapable of Holy Orders, having never been Baptiz'd; and therefore the Orders of feveral Epifcopally Ordain'd Perfons among us are Null and Void, and confequently fo are all their Minifterial Acts too, because they never receiv'd any o ther than Lay-Baptifm. This will involve the Church into the utmoft Confufion; and there
fore the Invalidity of Lay-Baptifm ought not to be allow'd by any, who value the Order and Peace of the Church.
Anfw. THIS Objection raises a Confequence from an uncertain, and it may be a falfe Foundation; for it takes for granted, that the Unworthinefs of a Perfon to receive Holy Orders, or his being not duly qualified for them, by reafon of his being Unbaptiz'd, renders Holy Orders, if conferr'd on him, Null and Void; or, in fhort, that want of Baptifm Nulls Holy Orders in any Perfon Ordain'd to the Miniftry. This Affertion does not yet appear eafy, if at all to be prov'd, for these following Reasons.
Ift. Because there is a vaft difference between a Perfonal Capacity or Qualification, and an Authoritative One. For, a Perfonal Qualification for the Ministry, is, what a Man is bound to be endow'd with, IN COMMON with all other Chriftians, whether he be Ordain'd to the Ministry or no; and therefore Baptism and Holiness of Life being equally incumbent on all Chriftians, Ministers as well as Lay-men, may justly be diftinguish'd by the Name of Perfonal Qualifications.
BUT an Authoritative Qualification for the Ministry is that only, whereby a Man is feperated and diftinguifb'd from the rest of Mankind, and thereby empower'd to Perfonate and Reprefent the Divine Prefence, for the conveyance of Spiritual and Supernatural Benefits to
This is what we call the Divine Commiffion, convey'd from the Apostles in Epifcopacy, and given to the Ordain'd Perfon by Impofition of the Bishop's Hands.
2dly, A PERSONAL Qualification may be, and in fact often is wanting, when an Authori tative One remains Good and Valid; and there's abundance of Reason that it should be fo, becaufe,the Perfonal Qualification chiefly refpects, the Man himself, who is, or ought to be, poffefs'd of it, fince he only will reap the benefit of having, or find the mifery of being deftitute of it. But the Authoritative Qualification, as fuch, relates only to God, and the People; to God, as the Minifter is to be his Proxy and Reprefentative; and to the People, as they are to receive from God the Supernatural Benefits of his Proxy's Miniftrations. The People receive no more advantage from the Perfonal Qualification of God's Reprefentative, than they do mifchief from his Perfonal Immora lities; that is, none at all, (except but by their own Learning or Imitation of them,) because they are neither anfwerable for the one or the other, any farther than as they are Encouragers or Abettors of them: If he be deftitute of any fuch Qualifications, let him look to that, 'tis none of their business with refpect to the Validity of his Miniftrations: All that they are bound to take care of, upon that fingle account, is, that he be TRULY SENT; and if they are but once fecure of that, then
in all his Miniftrations they are not to fuppofe him, but Chrift himself (whom he Perfonates) to be Adminiftring to them; for, all Sacraments, on the Part of the Adminiftration, are Good and Valid, only upon this ONE FOUNDATION; without this, of Chrift the Great High Prieft's Adminiftring, either himself in Perfon, or by his Proxy, all Chriftian Sacraments must fall to the Ground, and be of no ufe or advantage to Mankind: And therefore if we can but folidly, i. e. upon good Foundation, believe, that he does thus Administer to us, we need never concern our felves with the Perfonal Qualifications of his Reprefentative,for the Validity of thofe Adminiftrations, which receive their whole Efficacy from the Authori tative Qualifications of Christ himself, who has promis'd to make good, and confirm them, when perform'd by one whom he has fent.
TO Exemplify all this in the Cafe before us: Holiness of Life is requir'd as a Perfonal Qualification, previous to Holy Orders: This is evident from St. Paul's Epiftles to Timothy and Titus; and yet 'tis well known, that our Lord himself chofe Judas Iscariot, a covetous Thief, and one whom he himself branded with the Name of a Devil; I fay, 'tis well known, that he chofe this wicked Wretch to be no lefs than an Apoftle, and fent him to Preach and Baptize, to caft out Devils, and to heal the Sick, as well as the reft of the Apostles; for which Reafon, all his Minifterial Acts were Good