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« the pulpit.**
land. The king, not only in his superior, but supreme ecclesiastical wisdom, told him, « The « doctrine of predestination was too big for the
people's understandings, and that he was resolved “ not to permit that controversy to be discussed in
What authority our constitution gives queens to judge in points of heresy, (the most deep and mysterious points,) and to control the proceedings of the most venerable and holy synod which the clergy of this kingdom can possibly compose, has been observed in the case of Mr. Whiston, whom Queen Anne, by her sole authority, screened from the heavy censure of her learned convocation. Her single judgment, in the balance of our apostolic and excellently constituted church, being of far greater weight ihan that of the united bishops and clergy of the whole land. This account you attempt to invalidate by calling it a misrepresentation : but the truth of it is not to be disputed: it is attested by two of your own learned and reverend historians, Burnet and Tindal, in their accounts of the year 1711.
Again, by our present constitution, the king alone, or at least by consent of parliament, can undoubtedly divide the twenty-six bishoprics, into which this kingdom is at present cantoned, into as many hundreds; and thus render them more like the bishoprics of the first ages, when every Christian bishop took the oversight of no more than he could personally know, and than could communicate at one table. He can also new frame the whole order of public worship,
Vide Fuller's Church Hist. Book IX. p. 188. The same blessed martyr, by his royal mandate only, without any trial, sequestered and suspended, from the execution of his offico, good Archbishop Abbot, for refusing his licence and approbation to a most vile and scandalous sermon of Sibthorp!
II. Defence, p. 38.
can abolish its present articles, ceremonies and forms, and substitute new ones in their stead. By the same power he may dispose of that part of the public treasure by which the clergy are maintained in a juster and more equitable man
He may reduce the shameful exorbitance by which some members of that great, and in itself venerable and useful body, wanton in vast affluence, indolence, and sloth, (which is perhaps what you call snugness,) whilst others, equally virtuous and learned, but much more laborious, wear away
their lives in obscurity and want. This, Sir, without question, is our present constitution in church and state,
Of SPONSOR$ in BAPTISM. YOUR defence of sponsors in baptism comes next to be considered. Here you affirm, "That “ I represent the use of sponsors as a very mys. “ terious point, as an unaccountable, inexplica“ble, absurd, and unlawful thing;"* an assertion which escaped from you in the ardour of your zeal, but which has really no foundation. The use of sponsors, in all cases of the parents incapacity, I entirely approve; and expressly told you, that in such cases, the dissenters also use theni.+ You could not, without extreme inattention, but see that it was “The setting aside the “ parents, the forbidding them to stand forth, and
engage solemnly for the religious education of “ the child, and the receiving the child to baptism
upon account of its own faith and its own pro
« mise expressed by its sureties," that I thus represented as unlawful and absurd. And though I have the pleasure now to find you tacitly giving up, though not honourably retracting that precipitant expression, "That godfathers are not an “ 'useful only, but even a necessary institution," yet scarcely without pain can I see you so grievously embarrassed in accounting for the answers made at the font. These, you still insist, are not the sureties, but the child's answers.
But your attempts to explain how a child who cannot believe does yet profess faith,-how the infant, who in no sense can promise or engage, does yet really and in good sense vow and engage,-how the babe, who has no thought, no purposes, nor desires, may yet express these by the mouth of its sureties; and how these expressions of what it hath not, and cannot possibly have, are accepted by the church as a proper token that it hath them, and as a solid ground of baptism :this is still to me, and I believe to all the world, as inexplicable and mysterious as it was before you undertook to unveil and explain it.
Nay, the mystery grows upon you by attempting to unfold it; for, you declare " That the
ground and foundation of infants being re“ceived to baptism, in your church, is the pro« mise of God to believers and their seed."* Observe then, it is the faith of the
parent that entitles the child to baptism; but, if the ground of its being received to this Christian sacrament be the faith of its parent only, why do you receive it as if upon account of its own faith? Why interrogate the poor babe ?-Dost thou beliece? Wilt thou be baptized? Again, if the parent's faith be that which entitles his child to baptism, why is not the parent suffered to stand forth, and to profess his faith as a qualification of the bap
II. Defence, p. 28.
tism of his child? Why is the child called upon vicariously to declare, that itself believes, that itself desires baptism, &c. when all the world sees that it neither knows, nor does, nor can, in any sense at all, do either of these things ?
You endeavour to explain the matter“ by. an « ipfant in the lord of the manor's court, who,
by his attorney, is admitted to his copyhold, " and covenants to do homage for the same, or,
by an infant king, who hath some one of the
nobility, who, in his name, and for his benefit, " is appointed to take the coronation oath, and
thereby oblige him to observe the laws and
protect his subjects."* But these instances avail you nothing. For,
]. The child, when admitted by his attorney in the lord's court, to his copyhold, does not covenant to do homage for the same. That he does not covenant, I prove by a very plain and incontestable argument, which is, that he cannot. There is no sense at all, no religious or moral sense, in which the infant can with
truth or propriety be said to covenant. No, it is the attorney, and he alone, that covenants to perform the homage. And in the case of a minor king, when one
of the nobility takes the coronation oath in his name, or stead, (if any such ceremony be ever performed,) he does not, cannot, in any sense, thereby oblige the royal infant to observe the laws and protect the subject :-not whilst an infant, because not being a moral agent, he cannot possibly be capable of moral obligation: nor when he comes of
because the promise, or oath, of one rational moral agent can never properly oblige another, if that other was not at all conscious of, nor gave his consent to it. The whole nature and extent of the obli
• Defence, page 129.
gation in that case, is unquestionably this: the nobleman, who takes the oath as personating the king, and who during the minority is vested with the regal power, swears that he himself will, in the exercise of that power, observe the laws and protect the subjects. The obligation of this oath. which is made by himself only, can extend only to himself, and it lasts only so long as he continues vested with the regal power. But, when the royal infant comes of age, and assumes the power into his own hands, he must personally take the oath, or some way or other signify his solemn assent to it, in order to his being laid under any real obligation by it. And then,
2. These cases also widely differ from that of the baptized infant, because, in both of them, there are several important services and actions to be done (which must be performed by some one) whilst the minority continues. In the first, there are suits and services in the lord's court, and quit-rents to be paid. In the other, there are acts of regal power to be continually exerted for the due government of the people, even whilst the infancy remains. These, therefore, being indispensably necessary to be done, and the infant being utterly incapable of doing them ;-hence arises a necessity of some person's undertaking to discharge these offices for him, and to act in the infant's stead. But is there any thing like this in the case of baptised infants? Is there any. service, or homage, any faith or vows, which God expects from them whilst their infancy lasts ?. You know there is not. If God 'then expects no such services from the infant, why are sponsors called forth to pretend to perform them for it; and this when the pretence is in every view ridiculous; because, in things of religion, it is. utterly absurd for one man to pretend to promise to repent, to believe, in the name of another.