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minations against his Doctrine and Practice, having nothing of that Reafon and Solidity, which an Inquifitive Perfon might justly expect in them: And that on the contrary, St. Cyprian and his Colleagues defend their Affertion [that the Baptifms of Hereticks and Schifmaticks are Invalid] with fo much Judgment and Cogency of Argument, (founded upon the Topick of fuch Hereticks and Schifmaticks, being deftitute of Holy Orders while they were out of the Church of Christ ) that I wonder how it could poffibly have come to pass, that their Doctrine should be afterwards exploded; efpecially when I confider, that what they taught and practic'd herein, was confirmed by NUMEROUS COUNCILS in thofe earlier Days, wherein Truth was more prevalent than afterwards; and Tertullian long before affirm'd the fame thing," That Baptifm is refer'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 ❝ them.
Here Tertullian talks of a Rule to Baptize fuch Perfons; which plainly fhews, that he is not fpeaking fo 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 fuch, to be receiv'd for a Testimony of the Church's Opinion concerning the Baptifm of Hereticks, in his Days. But his ftrange odd Notions (in his Exhortation to Chastity,
Chastity, and his Book of Baptifm)" That "Laicks are Priefts,because it is written, "Chrift "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 a Church; and that Laymen may Baptize in Cafe "of Neceffity and Abfence of a Prieft"; thefe appear to be only his own particular Sentiments, and he cannot be call'd a Witnefs 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 Baptifm of Hereticks, by saying we have a Rule to re-baptize them. And 'tis certain, that no Church, till the 4th Century, can be produc'd to have any Rule for the allowance of Lay Baptifm, and then, none but the Council of Eliberis, which I have before obferv'd and remark'd on Pag. 11. On the contrary, againft Lay Baptifm we have the Teftimonies of St. Bafil, St. Chryfoftome, and the Catholicks difputing with the Luciferians in the fame Century, which is more than a Ballance againit Tertullian's private Opinion concerning fuch Baptifm, &c. But to go ftill further backward to the Days wherein fome of the Apostles might be ftill living; St. Ig natius, a Glorious Martyr, and Bishop of An tioch, Anno Dom. 71. in his Epiftle to the Smyrneans, fays, "Let that SACRAMENT be
judg'd effectual and firm, which is difpens'd "by the BISHOP or him to whom the Bishop
"has committed it. It is not LAWFUL "without the Bishop, either to Baptize or "Celebrate the Offices; but what he approves "of, according to the good pleasure of God, "that is FIRM AND SAFE, and fo we do 66 every thing SECURELY.
This is fo exactly agreeable to St. Cyprian's Doctrine, that 'tis no wonder he adher'd 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 HERESY and SCHISM afterwards, which, together with many other Caufes concurring, brought into the Church of Rome, and the reft of the Western Churches, whom he had fubjected to her Vaffalage,abundance of Damnable Doctrines and Practices, infomuch, that at laft there was but little of Solid and Substantial Religion to be found in the Churches of Her Communion. And 'tis very obfervable, that even among fome of us who have reform'd from Her Errors, there is too much of Her Leaven ftill remaining; for one of Her very Great and Peculiar Corruptions, in the Matter of Lay Baptism and Midwives Baptifm, is ftill efpous'd by too many who ought to oppofe it; and not only fo, but rather than part with it, they will fwallow another of Her Errors too, and affert the abfolute Neceffity of Baptifm to all; and what is worfe than Popery it felf, affirm, that the want of it Peoples Hell with many Millions, as the
the Author of a Book falfly Intituled, The Judgment of the Church of England, in the Cafe of Lay Baptifm, and of Diffenters Baptifm has done. And what is the most aftonishing of all is, that they who oppose the Popish Doctrine before fpoken of, are call'd Promoters of POPERY, particularly by Dr. Burnet the late Bishop of Sarum; juit as the Church's beft Friends are called her greatest Enemies: But 'tis eafie from hence to discover,who they are, that would introduce and establish · POPERY among us.
And now, after all that has been faid, I declare, that it is not my Defign to meddle with the Cyprianick Difpure in this Difcourfe; my business is not to enquire whether those who were once duly Authoriz'd, and afterwards fall into HERESY or SCHISM, and thereby separate themselves, or are excluded from the Church, can Adminifter Valid Sacraments and Ordinations during this their Separation: No, I fhall not fo 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, whe ther those who act in oppofition to the acknowledg'd and duly Authoriz'd Minifters of Christ; and who themselves were NEVER duly Au+: thoriz❜d, can Adminifter truly Valid Baptifm, and whether the Receivers of thofe Baptifms can fafely reft fatisfied with them, efpecially when they know of this want of Power and Authority in the Adminiftrator. This is my Cafe,and this is all that I concern myself about
And therefore I wrote the following ESSAY in a Mathematical Method of Definition, Axiom, and Propofition, for the Information of my own Judgment, in this great Affair: It was not at firft defign'd for Publick View, but finding others have been, and it may be still do Labour under the fame Circumftances with my felf, I thought it might not be unacceptable to them; and if they fhall reap any bene. fit thereby, or if fome abler Pen will undertake to mend my Faults, by letting the World fee 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 defire of Human Applaufe for this Undertaking.
As for Caviling and Difputing 'tis not my defign to concern my felf (and lofe my precious time) in fuch endless Impertinencies. If any one will candidly fhew me my Errors, F fhall heartily thank him for fo doing; but I declare before-hand, that no lefs than fuch De-. monftration 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 Au thority of any great Names, Separate from Scripture, and the Confentient Doctrine and PraEtice 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.