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« Church of Christ cease to have a Being as « such in the World? This, at firft Propoting, looks to be a very weighty Question; but when we juftly reflect on the Divine Veraciry, which has infallibly assurd us, That Christ will be with his Apostles, (i. e. them and their Succes fors, the Bishops) aliway even unto THE END OF THE WORLD; and that the Gates of Hadesfball never prevail against the Church; then the Impertinence and Polly of this [ What if ] does immediately discover it self: 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 universally deprivid of her Valid Spiritual Fathers, the Bishops; 'tis our Dury, as well as Safety, rather to wait and hope for fome New Revelation of his Will, for another Institution of Men to succeed in the Chriftian Priesthood, than to take it upon our selves by such Ways and Means as he has not hitherto appointed, and which will therefore prove inefectual for the fupernatural Purposes of his own Divine Institution:'(because MAN by his own:Authority only can never make a Humani equal to a Divine Institution 3) but this Cafe has never happen'd yet ; andíthereforel no Som ciety of Men, either past or present, can be ac all excus'd upon this suppos'd Foundation. LA
A N D now to conclude all that I have to fay to this Objection ;- no Doctrine whatsoever
can be prov'd to be false, by the Mischiefs of those Consequences which necessarily arise from it, when those Consequences themfelves are not contradictory to some previous Truths; and when Men by either their wilful Sins, or supine Neglects, are the only Causes of the Mif chiefs of those Consequences, for which Truth and its Assertors are no ways answerable. This I believe is a Maxim that will stand the Test of a strict Examination, and hold good in the Case before us : And I pray God to touch the Hearts of those who are concern'd in it, with a due sense of their Deviations from his Holy Institutes, that they may compleat a thorough Reformation ; that the Christian Priesthood may recover its Ancient Spiritual Glory; and that we may be all blefs’d with the Happiness of a Universal Communion of Saints here in the Church Militant, so 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 Lay. Baptism be Invalid, then all those who never receiv'd any other Baptism are uncapable of Holy Orders, having never been Baptiz'd; and therefore the Orders of several Episcopally. Ordain'd Persons among us are Null and void, and consequently, so are all their Ministerial A&ts too, because they never receiv'd any os ther than Lay-Baptism. This will involve the Church into che utmost Confusion; and there
fore the Invalidity of Lay-Baptism ought not to be allow'd by any, who value the Order and Peace of the Church.
Answ. THIS Objection raises a Consequence from an uncertain, and it may be a falfe Foundation ; for it takes for granted, that
the Unworthiness of a Person to receive Holy - Orders, or his being not duly qualified for
them, by reason of his being Unbaptiz’d, renders Holy Orders, if conferr'd on him, Null and Void; or, in short, that want of Baptism Nulls Holy Orders in any Perfon Ordaind to the Ministry. This Assertion does not yet appear easy, if at all to be prov’d, for these following
Reasons. d Ist. Because there is a vast difference befs tween a Personal Capacity or Qualification,
and an Authoritative One. For, a Personal Qualification for the Ministry, is, what a Man is bound to be endow'd with, IN COMMON with all other Christians, whether he be Ordain'd to the Ministry or no; and therefore Baptism and Holiness of Life being equally incumbent on all Christians, Ministers as well as Lay-men, may justly be distinguish'd by the Name of Personal Qualifications.
BUT an Authoritative Qualification for the Ministry is that only, whereby a Man is seperated and distinguish'd from the rest of Mankind, and thereby empower’d to Personate and Represent the Divine Presence, for the convey. ance of Spiritual and Supernatural Benefits to
This is what we call the Divine Commission, convey'd from the Apostles in Episcopacy, and given to the Ordaind Person by Imposition of the Bishop's Hands.
2dly, A PERSONAL Qualification may be, and in fact often is wanting, when an Authoritative One remains Good and Valid; and there's abundance of Reason that it should be so, because,the Personal Qualification chiefly respects, the Man himself, who is; or ought to be, poffess’d of it, since he only will reap the benefit of having, or find the misery of being destitute of it. But the Authoritative Qualification, as fuch, relates only to God, and the People; to God, as the Minister is to be his Proxy and Representative ; and to the People, as they are to receive from God the Supernatural Benefits of his Proxy's Ministrations. The People receive no more advantage from the Personal Qualification of God's Representative, than they do mischief from his Personal Immordlities ; tliat is, none at all, (except but by their own Learning or Imitation of them, because they are neither answerable for the one or the other, any farther than as they are Encouragers or Abertors of them: If he be destitute of any such Qualifications, let him look to that, 'tis none of their business with respect to the Validity of his Ministrations : 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 secure of that, then
in all his Ministrations they are not to suppose him, but Christ himself (whom he Personates ) to be Administring to them ; for, all Sacraments, on the Part of the Administration, are Good and Valid, only upon this ONE FOUN
DATION ; without this, of Christ the Great € High Priest's Administring, either himself in
Person, or by his Proxy, all Chriltian Sacraments must fall to the Ground, and be of no use 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 selves with the Perforal Qualifications of his Reprefentative for the Validity of those Administrations, which receive their whole Efficacy from
the Authoritative Qualifications of Christ himself, who has promis’à to make good, and confirm them, when perform’d by one whom he has sent.
TO Exemplify all this in the Cafe before us: Holiness of Life is requir'd as a Personal Qualification, previous to Holy Orders : This is evident from St. Paul's Epistles 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 say, 'tis well known, that he chofe this wicked Wretch to be no lefs than an Apoftle, and sent him to Preach and Baptize, to cast out Devils, and to heal the Sick, as well as the reft of the Apostles; for which Reason, all his Ministerial Acts were K 2