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minations against his Doctrine and Practice, having nothing of that Reason and Solidity, which an Inquisitive Person might justly expect in them: And that on the contrary, St. Cyprian and his Colleagues defend their Aflertion (that the Baptisms of Hereticks and Schifmaticks are Invalid] with so much Judgment and Cogency of Argument, (founded upon the Topick of such Hereticks and Schismaticks, being destitute of Holy Orders while they were out of the Church of Christ ) that I wonder how it could possibly have come to pass, that their Doctrine should be afterwards exploded; especially when I consider, that what they taught and practic'd herein, was confirmed by NUMEROUS COUNCILS in those earlier Days, wherein Truth was more prevalent than afterwards; and Tertullian long before affirm'd the fame thing, “ That Baptism is referri'd to the
Bishop: Hereticks are not able to give it, " because they have it not;
and therefore it " is that we have a RULE to Re-baptize
Here Tertullian talks of a Rule to Baptize such Persons; which plainly shews, that he is not speaking so much of his own Private Opinion as of the Law and Practice of the Church This is his relation of Matter of Fact; and as such, to be receiv'd for a Testimony of the Church's Opinion concerning the Baptism of Hereticks, in his Days. But his Itrange odd Notions ( in his Exhortation to
Chastity, and his Book of. Baptism) “ That “ Laicks are Priests,because it is written,“Christ “ hath made us Kings and Priests unto God « and his Father: That when Three are ga" ther'd together altho’they be Laicks they make 4 Church; and that Laymen may Baptize in Case “ of Neceflity and Absence of a Priest"; these appear to be only his own particular Sentiments, and he cannot be call'd a Witness of the Churches Custom and Allowance in these things ; for he talks of no Rule, no Law of the Church relating to them, as he does when he speaks of the Baptism of Hereticks, by saying we have a Rule to re-baptize them. And 'cis certain, that no Church, till the 4th Century, can be produc'd to have any Rule for the allowance of Lay Baptism, and then, none but the Council of Eliberis, which I have before observ'd and remark'd on Pag. 11. On the contrary, against Lay Baptism we have the Testimonies of St. Basil, St. Chryfoftome, and the Catholicks disputing with thie Luciferians in the fame Century, which is more than a Ballance againit Tertullian's private Opinion concerning such Baptism, &c. Bus to go still further backward to the Days wherein some of the Apostles might be still living; St. IgHatius, a Glorious Martyr, and Bishop of Antioch, Anno Dom. 71. in his Epistle to the Smyra neans, says, “Let that SACRAMENT be
judgʻd effe&tual and firm, which is dispens'd by the BISHOP or him to whom the Bishop
“ has committed it. It is not LAWFUL 6 without the Bishop, either to Baptize, or 6 Celebrate the Offices; but what he approves
of, according to the good pleasure of God, that is FIRM AND SAFE, and so we do every thing SECURELY.
This is fo exactly agreeable to St. Cyprian's Doctrine, that 'tis no wonder he adherd to it all the Days of his Life; and it seems to me, that nothing could have given Credit and Reputation to the contrary Opinion, but the monstrous increafe of HERÉSY and SCHISM afterwards, which, together with many other Causes concurring, brought into the Church of Rome, and the rest of the Western Churches whom she had subjected to her Vaffalage,abundance of Damnable Doctrines and Practices, insomuch, that at last there was but little of Solid and Substantial Religion to be found in the Churches of Her Communion. And ’tis very observable, that even among some of us who have reform'd from Her Errors, there is too much of Her Leaven still remaining; for one of Her very Great and Peculiar Corruptions, in the Matter of Lay Baptism and Midwives Baptism, is ftill elpous'd by too many who ought to oppose it, and not only fo, but rather than part with it, they will fwallow another of Her Errors too, and assert the absolute Necessity of Baptism to all, and what is worse than Popery it self, affirm, that the want of it Peoples Hell with many Millions, as
the Author of a Book falfly Intituled, The Judgment of the Church of England, in the Case of Lay Baptism, and of Dissenters Baptism lias done. And what is the most astonishing of all is, that they who oppose the Popish Doctrine before spoken of, are calld Promoters of POPERY, particularly by Dr. Burnet the late Bishop of Sarum ; juit as the Church's belt Friends are called her greatest Enemies : But 'tis easie from hence to discover, who they are, that would introduce and establish POPERY among us.
And now, after all that has been said, I declare, that it is not my Design to meddle with the Cyprianick Dispure in this Discourse; my business is not to enquire wliether thole who were once duly Authoriz'd, and afterwards fall into HERESY or SCHISM, and thereby separate themselves, or are excluded from the Church, can Administer Valid Sacraments and Ordinations during this their Separation: No, I shall not so much as touch upon this at all, because I don't think my Cafe affected by it ; all that I need concern my self about, is, whether those who act in opposition to the acknowledg’dand duly Autboriz’d. Ministers of Christ, and who themselves wrre NEVER duly Aur thorizd, can Adminifter truly Valid Baptism, and whether the Receivers of those Baptisms can safely reft fatisfied with them, especially when they know of this want of Power and Authority in the Administrator. This is my Cafe,and this is all that I concern myself
And therefore I wrote the following ESSAY in a Mathematical Method of Definition, Axiom, and Proposition, for the Information of my own Judgment, in this great Affair : It was not at first design'd for Publick View, but finding others have been, and it may be still do Labour under the same Circumstances with my self, I thought it might not be unacceptable to them; and if they shall reap any benes fit thereby, or if soine abler Pen will undertake to mend my Faults, by letting the World see fomething more Correct and Exact for that purpose, (the only Motive of my Writing) I fhall obtain my end, which God be praised is not mixt with any Alloy of Worldly Gain, or desire of Human Applause for this Undertaking
As for Caviling and Disputing, 'tis not my design to concern my self (and lose my precious time) in 'such endless Impertinencies. If any one will candidly shew me my Errors, I shall heartily thank him for so doing; but I declare before hand, that no less than fuch Demonstration as the Nature of the Thing will bear, can ever go down with me for Conviction; I am not to be put off with the Authority of any great Names, Separate from Scripture, and the
Consentient Doctrine and Prae Etice of the Primitive Church, for, this has caused too much Error in the World already, and 'tis high time now to reform from it.
London, 22d of October, 1722.