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gainst that Power for Cafes of Extremity, but leave it as I found it, and will keep my own Private Opinion about it, to my felf; which I am fure I have a Right to do, without any Obligation to publifh it for the Sake of fuch unreasonable and ill-grounded Challenges, as this angry Gentleman has made me; and this fhall be all the publick Notice that I will take of his unhandsome Performances; (and which indeed is more than due to them) after I have told him, that fome Great Men bold, that Bishops, by their Apoftolic Authority, can Authorize Laymen to Baptize in Cafes of Extremity, i. e. in want of a Prieft: that it is with thefe Gentlemen I have treated in my Three Books (giving them Argumentum ad hominem) upon their own Principles. That there are others who affirm, that Bishops have not fuch Power; and that 'tis my Affertion, that whether they have or have not this Power, my Principles ftand firm, that Perfons not Commiffion'd, not Authoriz'd, i. e. not really Authoriz'd, (for 'tis not Authority, if 'tis not real) do not Minifter Valid Baptifm; And this is the Cafe of our Diffenters Baptifms, let what will become of that other Queftion. For, if Bishops have not fuch a Power, then 'tis plain, that the Miniftration of Baptifm is an Incommunicable Function of the Standing Priesthood; and fo, no Lay-Miniftration whatsoever can be Valid, by being allow'd, tolerated, licens'd, approv'd of, or authoriz'd by Bifhops. This effectually ruins the Caufe of Neceffity, which our Author would plead: Becaufe, if Bishops cannot Authorize Laymen, validly to Baptize in Want of a Prieft; it must be, becaufe Lay-Chriftians (as fuch) have not a CAPACITY to Receive the Divine Commiffion for fuch an Exigence: And if they have not this
Capacity, then the Exigence it felf cannot empower or authorize them; except a Negative bas more of Potentiality than the Pofitive Power of the Bishops; which is abfurd. And therefore our Diffenters (upon this Suppofition) are utterly excluded from Miniftring Valid Baptifm; as they would alfo, if Neceffity could empower Laymen For they are under no Cafe of Neceffity, where Priefts are to be had. And again: If Bishops have fuch a Power to Authorize their own Laymen, as before fpecified; our Bishops have not fo Authoriz'd their Laymen: And if they had, our Diffenting Teachers are not THOSE LAYMEN; but Laymen Anti-Epifcopal, in Rebellion against Epifcopacy it felf; who intrude into other Men's Provinces, and wickedly attempt (Uncall'd and Unfent) to Minifter where there is not fo much as any Pretence of Neceffity for their Intrusion. And therefore, in both Cafes, our Diffenters cannot Minifter Valid Baptifm.
This, concerning their dear Friends, the Diffenters, the Adverfaries know they cannot get over, and therefore it is that they make fuch a Buftle, to raife a Duft that Men's Eyes may be blinded, and fo binder'd from seeing this great Truth. To obftruct which, they endeavour to perfuade the World, that the Priesthood it felf is in New Dangers from thofe very Doctrines, which are the only Support of it; while they themselves are fuch Enemies to the Priesthood, that they are endeavouring effectually to destroy it by their pernicious Principles, oppofing the Churches Spiritual Independency, the Chriftian Altar, and Sacrifice, Abfolution, and the Ministration of Baptifm, as Chrift himself appointed it. And this puts me in mind of a late very dangerous Step, that was going to be
made, and which if it had taken Effect, might, without an extraordinary preventing Providence, in a little time have deftroy'd the whole Sacerdotal Power and Authority with us; and this was an Attempt to eftablish a ftrange, and before to us unbeard-of Declaration, that (as thofe who indited it fay) "In Conformity with the Judgment "and Practice of the Catholick Church, and of "the Church of England, in particular. "Such Perfons as have already been Baptiz'd, "in or with Water, in the Name of the Father, "Son, and Holy Ghoft, (Altho' their Baptism ،، was IRREGULAR FOR WANT OF A PROPER "ADMINISTRATOR) ought not to be Baptiz'd a« gain.
The plain English of which is, that fuch Perfons as have already been, contrary to the Law of Chrift, Wash'd or Sprinkled with Water, by any One whatsoever, whether Un-authoriz'd Man, Woman, or Child, Chriftian, Few, or Heathen, nay, whether they wash'd themselves, or let one of thofe others do it, provided it was but done with thefe Words, [In the Name of the Father, &c.] ought not to be Baptiz'd by a Proper Adminiftrator whom Chrift has appointed. For in all thefe Cafes, the Washing is Irregular for want of a proper Adminiftrator, and therefore not, what deferves the Name of CHRISTIAN BAPTISM; tho the Declaration begs the Question that it is fo, by faying [fuch Perfons as have already been Baptiz'd, &c.] For this Irregularity is an Effential Irregularity, because contrary to the Pofitive Inftitution of Chriftian Baptifm; and 'tis Irregular for no other Reafon, but its being without, or contrary to that Rule; as this Book is defign'd to prove. An Endeavour to make the World believe, that
that fuch Wafhings as are Irrregular for want of a PROPER Adminiftrator, are Valid Baptifms, and this without any Limitations, either for Cafes of Necefity, or for the excluding of Women, Heathens, or Stage-Players, &c. is fuch a Latitude, that it does not fall short of even the worft Corruptions of the Church of Rome. Nay, the Decrees of fome of their Popes, &c. concerning Midwife-Baptifm, and that given by Pagans, limit them to Cafes of Neceffity; but this defign'd Declaration makes not even this Provifion, to fecure the Authority of the Chriftian Priesthood for the Adminiftration of Baptifm, but opens a Door for all Intruders, even where there is no Pretence of Necefity. It advises indeed, that "Men take "heed that they ufurp not an Office whereun"to they be not call'd, for God will call them "to account for fo Doing:" But alas, what Effect can this Advice have, when the Declaration before pronounces their Miniftrations Valid; Valid without any Exception of Time, Perfon, Place, or Circumftance. Will God call Men to account for their Valid Miniftrations? For their effecting that which he has appointed to be effected? For their doing of that, which he concurs with, and from the Valid Performance whereof, he has by no Law excluded them? For, if he has by any of his Laws excluded them from the Valid Ministration of Chriftian Baptifm, then their Attempt to Minifter it, is an Invalid Act. If he has by no Law excluded them from the Valid Ministration thereof, then their Attempt to Minister it, is no Breach of any Law of his; for, where there is no Law, there is no Tranfgreffion, and confequently they will not be call'd to account for it; which plainly fhews the great Inconfiftency of fuch a Declara
tion. Befides, this Declaration was defign'd, it Jays, "To teach a Truth, to take a Yoke of "Doubtfulness from Men's Consciences, and "to refift an Error NOT MUCH differing from
DONATISM and ANABAPTISM.
The fuppofed Truth it would teach, has been seen already. Its Latitude, its Contrariety to the Scripture, to the Judgment of the Univerfal Church, and of the Church of England in particular, which never made a Law or Canon of fo univerfal and unlimited a Nature, are evident to all ferious and knowing Enquirers into this Matter. Tertullian Himfeif, who by degrees fell into this fingular Latitude of allowing Laymen to be Priefts, in Cafes of Neceffity, contrary to the Doctrine and Practice of the Catholick Church; exprefly and abfolutely Excludes Women's Power to Baptize. De Baptifmo Cap. 17-The Conftitutions of the Apoftles, Book III. Chap. 6, 9, & 10. repudiate all LayMiniftrations, and particularly Lay-Baptifm, and Baptifm by Women. So does St. Epiphanius against the Collyridians utterly difallow of Baptifm by Women. See his Works, Book III. Tom. 2. Which Teftimonies I thought proper to add here (to thofe of my Preliminary Difcourfe) upon this Occafion, that Men may fee what a pretended Truth fome would Eftablish, and how Conformable it is to the Judgment and Practice of the Catholick Church.
The "Yoke of Doubtfulness," &c. would be laid heavier on, rather than taken from, Men's Confciences by fuch a Declaration; which fays, That "God will call Men to account for ufurp"ing an Office [of Baptizing] whereunto they "be NOT CALL'D." For, will not the fcrupulous Perfon, who was pretendedly Baptiz'd by one