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which is certainly a great Sin, but yet not such a one as that which is an Esential Irregularity, or breach of the Esential Law or Institution of Baptism.
This answers what our Author says, “That a plain Distinction must needs have been made always, between the Jrregularity and the Invalidity of any Baptism; since the want of a Lawful Commision and Authority would render the Act of Administration Sinful and Irregular, but not absolute
ly Invalid, p. 10. For here he begs the Queftion, as if want of Commission for some Circumstance relating to Baptism, were exactly the same as want of Tominillion to Baptizė; or as if an Officer Commission'd to Baptize, but restrain'd from Executing his Comission by some Ecclesiastical Law respecting some particular Circumstances, were but equal in Authority and Power to Baptize, with One who never receiv'd any Commission or Authority to administer that Sacrament at all : Just as if a Man should say, that the Irregularity of a Lay-Person's Washing, who never was at all in any respect whatsoever Commission'd to Baptize, is but of the Same Nature with that Irregularity which a Priest Commission'd to Baptize commits, when he executes his Commission with some sinful Circumstance, contrary to the Injunction or particular Licence of his Bishop for that particular Occasion; thus confounding Circumstantial with Esential Irregularities : And without making this Necessary Distinction,
VII. He next tries,“ How it came to pass, " that Baptism ministred by a Presbyter Illegally and “ without Commision, [as he calls it] was never
theless esteem'd Valid, notwithstanding the Sinful. ness of the Act of minitration:
But in his stating of this Question, he is very uncorrect, nay, unintelligible ; he speaks of a Presbyter without Commission. understand this? If he is a Presbyter, then he has a Commission; for 'tis only his having a Commission that makes him a Presbyter ; and when he has no Commision, or is without a Commision, which I take to be all one, he is no Presbyter at all : So that here Mr. Bingham makes an Enquiry concerning a Person who is a Presbyter and no Presbyter, who is in Commission, and yet“ without a Commission”; " and this is enquiring about nothing at all. But however, to find his Meaning, if I can : By Baptisin, ministred by a Presbyter, illegally, and with: out Commission, he may mean, such a Baptisin as is ministred by a Presbyter who is Commiflion'd by his Bishop to Baptize ; but he does it in such a Circumstance for which Circuinstance he receiv'd no Commision ; nay, he does it, probably, in such a Circumstance as is prohibited both by the Laws of God and his Church, and it may be our Historian would enquire, how it came to pass that such Baptisms were nevertheless esteein'd Valid ?
There is another thirg which wants to be clear'd in his Wording the Question, and that is this ; What he means by the Sinfulness of the Ad of Miniftration : For a Presbyter or Priest's Act of Baptism, as such, is not a Sinful A&, when it has all the Essentials relating to Baptism. The Alt of Ministration is good in it self; all the Sin is only in the Circumstance that attends the Act: So that by “ the Sinfulness of the A& of Ministration, I believe our Author here means, the Sinfulness of that Circumstance which accompanies the Act of Ministration. With Submission, I think, these things ought to have been more clearly express'd, because
very much depends upon that Enquiry which is to be made about them; and I am sorry this learned Gentleman puts me to the Trouble of thus endeavouring to set in a clear Light a Question of so great Importance, which he has so darkly propos’d to resolve.
6 VIII. We come now to see how he refolves this Question; and first, he disapproves of doing it, by supposing an indelible Character and Power in the Priesthood, which is said by the School-men to be given to a Presbyter at bis Ordination, by which
they think all bis ministerial Acts stand good, tho'
done in an irregular Manner against the Laws and “ Canons of the Church; and that a Priest cannot be
divested of this Power after he is once legally Or“ dained to it.” Now as to this indelible Character which our Historian argues against, I find no necellity to take either Side of the Question; Whether there is an absolutely indelible Chara&ter and Power conferr'd on Priests in a valid Ordination, or whether there is not? This will not touch the Truth I am concern’d for, whether they have it, or have it not; only I must make some Observations upon Mr. Bingham's supposed Reasons, against the Antients allowing the Baptism perform’d by such disorderly Priests to be good and valid upon the Account of their indelible Character.
And first he says, That the Antients “ did not Suppose Baptism
founded wholly upon Sacerdotal “ Powers, nor tied so absolutely to the Office of a
Priest, but that it might in ordinary Cafés alsó be “ administer'd by Deacons, if they had the Bishop's
Commisjon; and by Lay-men in extraordinary Cases of pressing Necessity, if they had the Bishop's License and Authority 10 do it, as we shall see
hereafter, Says our Author," p. 10. In giving this his suppos'd Reason, he has committed several Mistakes; for first, his Affertion, that the Antients did not suppofe Baptism
to be founded wholly upon Sacerdotal Powers is inconsistent with what he had said before, viz. That“ the Commission and Power [given " the Apostles] to Baptize, was to continue to " the End of the Wiorld;” That " whom they " authoriz'd to Baptize, and to whom they gave Com« mission to authorize oihers to Baptize,' were both " of them“ necessary to preler ve the Church according to the Dider of Christ in future Ages,"
" That no one can have a Power of Baptizing, but he that receives some way or other
a Commillion from them," i. e. the Apostles, p. 4:
“ That the Original Power of administring Baptism,"— is, “Zodg’d solely and entirely in the “ Hands of Bishops, p.5.- That " when it was « done by others, it was still done by his, the Bishop's, Authority, and reputed as his A&,
p. 8. All which was plainly founding Baptism wholly upon Sacerdotal Powers, if the Apostolick Commiflon, Episcopal Authority, and the Bishop's A&, can be called Sacerdotal, and if no one can have a Power of Baptizing without it. But now, indeed, 'tis otherwise with our Historian, because he likes not the indelible Character of the Priesthood. “ The An“ tients did not suppose Baptism wholly founded upon “ Sacerdotal Powers,” they did, and they did not; I am sorry for the Occasion of this Remark. 2dly, His here reckoning Deacons among such as have not Sacerdotal Powers, by making their Baptizing an instance that Baptism was not by the Antients wholly founded upon Sacerdotal Powers, is another Inconsistence with himself; for in his Origines, Vol. I. p. 250, 251. he fhews, That “ Op
tatus gives all the Three Orders of Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons, the Title of Puett
hood: ”—That, “according to him, every Dauer “had its Share tho' in different Degrees in the Chri
stian Priesthood: That “ Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons had each their respective Share in the Priesthood : " That it was one Act of the Paieft's Dffice to offer up the Sacrifices of the Peoples Prayers, ” &c. And that “ another A& of the Office [i.e. the Priest's Office] was in
God's Name to bless the People, particularly by “ admitting them to the Benefit of Remission of Sins,
by Spiritual Regeneration or Baptilin: thus far Deacons were anciently allowed to minister in Holy Things, as Mediators between
God and the People." And Lastly, in his ad Vol. Chap. 1. where he is shewing, how the inferior Orders of the Clergy, in the Primitive Church,
differ'd from the superiod Orders of Bishops, Presa
byters and Deacons.” He says of these superior Orders, p. 9, 10. That they are by the Antients call d "Holy and Sacred, the hierarchy: That “ they were always ordaind at the Altar, with the Solemn Rite of “ Imposition of Hands,
to minister before God as Piiests,” in which respects, "'Deacons are said by Optatus and others,
to have their Share and Degree in the Christian
Prietthood: ” And Mr. Bingham quotes the Reverend and Learned Dr. Hicks's Opinion to the same Purpose, without gain-saying it, Vol
. 1. p:251. But notwithstanding all this, our Historian fo far forgets his Origines, as now, to make Deacons Baptizing, an Instance of Persons Baptizing, without Sacerdotal Powers : Nay, Thirdly, even his introducingBaptism by " Lay-men in extraordinary Cafes, if they had the Bithop's
Authority; ” as another