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and the Cunning Craftiness of Deceivers, if 98 Lay - Baptism so long and be visible among us? And that the Continuance of sucli Valid Ministers who have Commission for the effecting of these Noble ends in the Church, is to be fo plain and pero Spicuous, as that it Thall be easie to discover and distinguish them fitom Non-Commillion'd new Upstarts, is evident by another Design, for which our Lord appointed them, viz. That we henceforth should be no more Children toss’d to and fro, and carried about with every Wind of Dottrine by the light of Men, and cunning Craft tiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive, (Eph. 4. 14.) For how can Valid Ministers of Chrift defend us against every Wind of Doctrine, they are not to be visible and known to us? So that ás súre as God is true; fo füre we are, that his Validly Commission Ministers, i. é. Apostles and Prophets, &c. fhall continue; and be known in the Church to the Confummation of all things; and therefore we shall never Want fuch as havé Capacity to Administer his Holy Sacraments, and confequently need never be in Suspense about the Validity of our Baptism Administer'd by their Ha’nds; so that my affirming Baptism to be Invalid for want of fuch Divine Authority or Commission in the Administrator, do's not put this Divine Institution upon an uncertain, but a sure and lasting Foundation.
BUT here I expect that it will be askod, In whom do I füppole this Divine Authority to
be fix'd ? I answer, that I do not only suppose, but firmly and undoubtedly Believe, after a strict and impartial Enquiry which I have deliberately made into this Matter; that 'twas settled by Christ himself at first, and continually convey'd down to this Day, in EPISCOPACY ONLY ; and of this I am as certain, as that our first Day of the Week was appointed by Christ and his Apostles, to be the Christian Sabbath : Nay, tho' I am very well fatisfy'd that this our Christian Sabbath is of Divine Appointment; yet I can safely affirm, that the Arguments by which it is to be prov'd, are not so numerous as those for the Divine Right of Episcopacy; as may easily be demonstrated whensoever it shall be put to the Trial. As for those who are of another Opinion, I wish they had either more Knowledge, or more Humility ; it is none of my Businefs here, to endeavour their Conviction : But if they would use their utmost Diligence, to do the Will of God in all other Instances of their Duty, and seek to him for that Wisdom which is from above, enquiring without Prejudice, by attentively reading the Sacred Oracles ; and comparing therewith what has Subject; I hope they would then know of this Doctrine whether it be of God; which that they may, I heartily recommend these few Modern Books to their serious Perusal, vizi
A Modest Proof of the Order and Government settled by Christ and his Apostles in the Church. Printed for John Wyat, at the Rose in St. Paul's Charch-Tard, 1705.
A Discourse shewing who they are that are now qualify'd to Administer Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Printed for C. Brome, at the Gun at the Weft-End of St. Paul's, 1698.
Dr. Potter of Church Government. Printed for Tim. Child, at the White-Hart in St. Paul's Church-Pard, 1707
Dr. Hickes's Two Treatises, one of the ChriAtian Priesthood, the other of the Dignity of the Episcopal Order. Printed for Richard Šare, at Grays-Inn-Gate in Holborn, 1707.
And a little Book call'd, The Plain Man's Guide to the True Church. Printed for R. Clavel, at the Peacock in St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1708.
IV. But fome it's likely will charge me with Uncharitableness, in denying the Validity, of the Baptisms of Foreign Churches, where there is no Episcopal Ordination; and of many Good and Pious Men who are with out such Ordination among our felves.
Anf. The Main Drift of my Essay is against the Validity of that Baptism which Men know themselves to have received from Persons who were never Divinely Commissi. oned, and yet presume to usurp this Authority in Opposition to the Divine Right of Episcopacy; which being duly consider'd, frees me from Answering to this Charge, with respect to such Foreigners, some of which have told you that they do not Act in Opposition to Epifcopacy; and have pleaded, that they lie under a Necessity not to have Bishops among them; but that they highly value and reverence that Order in our English Church. Whether this Plea of Necessity be good; or whether it affects them so far, as to hinder their Receiving Episcopal Ordination from other Protestant Churches, tho' they cannot have Bishops residing among themselves, is not my Business (here ) to'enquire : But this I'm sure of, That there is not the least Reason, (nay, 'tis impious ) to compliment away the Great Truths of God, to please any, tho never sa great à Party of Men.
THE Divine Right of Episcopacy is plain from Scripture, and was never call'd in Question by any considerable Number of Men, till within these last Two Hundred Years; and must we now lay it aside, for fear of Oppofing new upstart Notions and Opinions ? God forbid ! Must our holding fast the found Doctrine of Chrilt and his Apostles, be call'd
uncharitable and unkind, because it does not suit with the Temper and Disposition of other People? Cannot we still keep our Charity for them, by Believing that God may dispense with the very want of the Christian Sacraments, and bestow even the Supernatural Graces of them, to those who labour either under an' Invincible Ignorance, or else an Impoffibility of Receiving those Sacraments, when they do all that lies in their power to fulfil his Blessed Will ? we ; for God can dilpense with his own Institutes, and give the Spiritual Graces annex'd to them, to whom he pleafes (by Axiom 2.)
BUTás for some among our selyes, I fear their Cafe is very dangerous; because, Abundance of them seem to want so fair an Ex cuse, living under that Episcopal Government which they refuse to acknowledge and submit to: But God only knows their several Cir. cumstances of Knowledge and Capacity, and the Strength of those Prejudices which some of them may have contracted by their Education. He is Infinite Goodness it self, and will never punish any for what they never could help. But as for the Slothful and Neg. ligent, the Obstinate and Perverse, we have no Authority from Divine Revelation to hope any thing for their Advantage. But to sum up my whole Answer to this Objection, in the Words of an Excellent Modern Author.