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gainst that Power for Cafes of Extremity, but leave it as I found it, and will keep my own Private Opinion about it, to my self; which I am sure I have a Right to do, without any Obligation to publish it for the sake of such unreasonable and ill-grounded Challenges, as this angry Gentleman has made me; and this Mall be all the publick Notice that I will take of his unhandsome Performances; (and which indeed is more than due to them) after I have told him, that some Great Men hold, that Bishops, by their Apostolic Authority, can · Authorize Laymen to Baptize in Cafes of Extremity, i. e. in want of a Priest: that it is with these Gentlemen I have treated in my Three Books (giving them Argumentum ad hominem) upon their own Principles. That there are others who afirm, that Bishops have not such Power; and that 'tis my Assertion, that whether they have or have not this power, my Principles stand firm, that Perfons not Commission'd, not Authoriz’d, i.e. 'not really Authoriz’d, (for 'tis not Authority, if 'tis not real) do not - Minister Valid Baptism; And this is the Case of our Diffenters Baptisms, let what will become of that other Question. Fos, if Bishops have not such a Power, then 'tis plain, that the Ministration of Baptism is an Incommunicable Function of the Standing Priesthood; and fo, no Lay-Ministration whatsoever can be Valid, by being allow'd, tolerated, licens’d,
approv'd of, cor authoriz’d by Bishops. This effectually ruins the Cause of Necesity, which our Author would plead: Because, if Bishops cannot Authorize Laymen, validly to Baptize in Want of a Prieft; it must be, because Lay-Christians (as such) bave not a CAPACITY to Receive the Divine Commision for such an Exigence : And if they have not this
Capacity, then the Exigence. it. self cannot empower or authorize them; except a Negative has more of Potentiality than the Positive Power of the Bishops; which is absurd. And therefore our Dilsenters ( upon this Suppofition) are utterly excluded from Ministring Valid Baptism; as they would also, if Neceffity could empower Laymen: For they are under no Case of Necefity, where Priests are to be had. And again. If Bishops have such a Power to Authorize their own Laymen, as before specified; our Bishops have not so Authoriz'd their Laymen: And if they had, our Disenting Teachers are not Those LAYMEN; but Laymen Anti-Episcopal, in Rebellion against Episcopacy it self; who intrude into other Men's Provinces, and wickedly attempt (Uncallod and Unsent) to Minister where there is not so much as any Pretence of Necessity for their Intrusion. And therefore, in both Cases, our Disenters cannot Minifter. Valid Baptism.
This, concerning their dear Friends, the Diffenters, the Adversaries know they cannot get over, and therefore it is that they make such a Bustle, to raise a Dust that Men's Eyes. may be blinded, and so binder'd from seeing this great Truth. To obstruct which, they endeavour to persuade the World, that the Priesthood it self is in New Dangers from those very Doctrines, which are the only Support of it; while they themselves are such Enemies io the Priesthood, that they are endeavouring effectually to destroy it by their pernicious Principles, opposing the Churches Spiritual Independency, the Christian Altar, and Sacrifice, Absolution, and the Ministration of Baptism, as Christ himself appointed it. And this puts me in mind of a late very dangerous Step, that was going to be
made, and which if it had taken Effect, might, without an extraordinary preventing Providence, in a little time bave destroy'd the whole Sacerdotal Power and Authority with us; and this was an Attempt to establish a strange, and before to us unbeard-of Declaration, that (as those who indited it fay) In Conformity with the Judgment 6 and Practice of the Catholick Church, and of « the Church of England, in particular. « Such Persons as have already been Baptiz’d, 66 in or with Water, in the Name of the Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost, (Altho' their Baptism 66 was IRREGULAR FOR WANT OF A PROPER « ADMINISTRATOR) ought not to be Baptiz'd again.
The plain English of which is, that such Perfons as have already been, contrary to the Law of Christ, Washid or Sprinkled with Water, by any One whatsoever, whether Un-authoriz'd Man, Woman, or Child, Christian, Jew, or Heathen, nay, whether they wash'd themselves, or let one of those others do it, provided it was but done with these Words, [In the Name of the Father, &c.] ought not to be Baptiz'd by a Proper Administrator whom Christ has appointed. For in all these Cafes, the Washing is Irregular for want of a proper Administrator, and therefore not, what deserves the Name of CHRISTIAN BAPTISM; tho? the Declaration begs the Question that it is so, by saying [such Persons as have already been Baptiz'd, &c.] For this Irregularity, is an Essential Irregularity, because contrary to the Positive In ftitution of Christian Baptism; and 'tis Irregular for no other Reason, but its being without, or contrary to that Rule; as this Book is design'd to prove. An Endeavour to make the World believe,
that such Washings as are Irrregular for want of a Proper: Administrator, are Valid Baptisms, and this without any Limitations, either for Cases of Necesity, or for the excluding of Women, Heathens, or Stage-Players, &c. is such a Latitude, that it does not fall Mort of even the worst Core, ruptions of the Church of Rome. Nay, the Decrees of some of their Popes, &c. concerning Midwife-Baptism, and that given by Pagans, limit them to Cafes of Necessity; but this design'd Declaration makes not even this Provision, to secure the Authority of the Christian Priesthood for the Administration of Baptism, but opens a Door for all Intruders, even where there is no Pretence of Necesity. It advises indeed, that “Men take « heed that they usurp not an Office whereun
to they be not call’d, for God will call them
to account for so Doing:" But alas, what Effect can this Advice have, when the Declaration before pronounces their Ministrations Valid; Valid without any Exception of Time, Person, place, or Circumstance. "Will God call Men to account for their Valid Ministrations? For their effecting that which he has appointed to be effected? For their doing of that, which he concurs with, and from the Valid Performance whereof, he has by no Law excluded them? For, if he has by any of his Laws excluded them from the Valid Ministration of Christian Baptism, then their Attempt to Minifter it, is an Invalid Act. If he has by no Law excluded them from the Valid Ministration thereof, then their Attempt to Minister it, is no Breach of any Law of his; for, where there is no Law, there is no Transgression, and consequently they will not be calld to account for it; which plainBy Shews the great Inconsistency of such a Declara
tion. Besides, this Declaration was design'd, it says, “To teach a Truth, to take a Yoke of 6. Doubtfulness from Men's Consciences, and " to resist an Error not MUCH differing from CC DONATISM and ANABAPTISM.
The supposed Truth it would teach, has been seen already. It's Latitude, its Contrariety to the Scripture, to the Judgment of the Universal Church, and of the Church of England in particular, which never made a Law or Canon of so universal and unlimited a Nature, are evident to all serious and knowing Enquirers into this Matter. Tertullian Himfeif, who by degrees fell into this singular La titude of allowing Laymen to be Priests, in Cases of Neceffity, contrary to the Doctrine and Praftice of the Catholick Cburch; exprefly and absolutely Excludes Women's Power to Baptize. De Baptismo Cap. 17-The Constitutions of the Apostles, Book III. Chap. 6, , & 10. repudiate all LayMinistrations, and particularly Lay-Baptism, and Baptism by Women..So does St. Epiphanius against the Collyridians utterly disallow of Baptism by Women. See his Works, Book III. Tom. 2. Which Testimonies I thought proper to add bere (to those of my Preliminary Discourse) upon this Occasion, that Men may see what a pretended Truth some would Establish, and how Conformable it is to the Judgment and Practice of the C:xtholick Church..
The “ Yoke of Doubtfulness,” &c. would be laid heavier on, rather than taken from, Men's Consciences by such a Declaration ; which says, That God will call Men to account for usurp“ ing an Office [of Baptizing] whereunto they " be not CALL'D.” For, will not the scrupulous Person, who was pretendedly Baptiz'd by one