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which if we add, (as we truly may) the Requeft made by her and others, in hopes of extending the like Good to fuch as are in a like Cafe; these I say may be pleaded as the Motives for communicating the fame to the Publick. As therefore Zeal for Truth, and fincere Love of Souls is the fole Inducement to its Publication, it is to be hoped fo Difinterested a View will not prove an Occafion of reviving any unhappy Controverfy which may gender Strife amongst the Members of our own Communion; much less. give Offence to any of our fpiritual Guides, in Defence of whofe lawful Authority the fame is avowedly calculated and defign'd. This Precaution were needlefs, did we not live in an Age, when fome, even among themfelves, are fo far from grafping at more Power, as is falfely and invidioufly laid to their Charge by the Enemy, that many are too forward to give up their Fuft Rights. Had not this mistaken Indulgence too long and too often prevail'd, and too large Conceffions been made to the Adverfary, in Points deem'd lefs Effential to Chriftianity, it is more than probable, that we should not now be Reduced to ftruggle for the very Effence of our Religion. But what else can we expect, if the Outworks be given up, and the Foundations caft down? of which Baptifm doubtlefs is a principal Part, if an Apoftle may be believ'd; Heb. vi.
IT feems Neceffary, on this Occafion, to premife fomething concerning the feveral Kinds of Perfons and Sects, who differ from our Church, either in Opinion, or Practice, in Relation to Baptifm, and whofe Benefit is more especially aimed at in the enfuing Letter.
1. AS for those who look upon Baptism, as a thing in it felf Indifferent, a matter of meer Ceremony, a civil Compliance only with the Cuftom of the Country, attended with fome little Temporal Benefit, but, for any fpiritual Efficacy or Advantage, as an imaginary Pretence, rather to be laughed at than believ'd; It is not expected that fuch Men will read, or regard what is faid on this Subject; and to attempt a Conviction of thefe, would only expofe the preciou Pearls of our holy Religion to be trampled under their Feet. They must therefore be left to fport themfelves with their own Deceivings, as an Apostle speaks, (2 Pet. xii. 18.) till the Terror of the Almighty fhall rebuke their Iniquity, and correct their Mistake.
BUT as to thofe, who, thro' Ignorance or Inconfideration, are fallen into the fame low and falfe Notions of the Ufe and Neceffity of Baptifm; if this proceed from an Indolence of [b2]
Spirit, rather than any profeffed Contempt of this holy Ordinance, and from that prevailing Indifference for all things Sacred, which is the Genius and Character of this prophane Age, it is hoped and to be wifhed, that fuch Gallios in Religion may be perfwaded to have fo much Regard and Concern for themfelves, as to confider, to what End, they have been Baptized, and HOW. And, if they have not quite caft of all Hopes or Belief of a better World than this, the lightest Reflection will remind them, that Baptifm is the firft Entrance that leads thereto; that it is the Seal of our Charter, the facred Inftrument, by which Our Inheritance in Heaven is fettled upon, and convey'd to us; that it muft therefore be worth their while, once in their Lives, to weigh well this Argument; that fo, if they discover a Flaw in their Baptifm, they may in Time retrieve the Defect; or if in their Lives, they may reform the Default; left in either Cafe they fall fhort of the Promised Inheritance.
A third Sort are they, who judge rightly enough of the Nature and Use of Baptism, but not of the Authority of the Perfon, who is to Officiate, or Administer the fame; To fuch more immediately the following Letter is address'd and recommended. And herein the Low-Church Proteftant, and rigid Papist, however opposite in
other Things, are equally concern'd, as agreeing in the fame Doctrine, altho' not altogether on the fame Principles; the fuppofed abfolute Neceffity of Baptifm, mifleading the one to admit of it from Any Hand, and the suppos'd Indifference of the Adminiftrator mifguiding the other. The Papift indeed has the Sanction of his Church to confirm his Error, and fo may be the more Excufable, as following, in the Simplicity of his Heart, a Blind, tho' pretendedly Infallible Guide; but the other feems to act inconfiftently with the very Rule and Principles of his own Church, as well as contrary to the Truth. How far the Baptifm among Papifts, which has been Adminiftred by a Lay-Hand, is to be deem'd valid, on the Warrant of fuch their Church's illgrounded Sanction and Permission, is a Point worthy the Confideration of fuch as have been fo baptized, and happen to become Profelytes to our Church. It the Principles laid down in the following Letter be true, it seems neceffary that they should be baptized according to the Form appointed by our Church, when they apply to be received into her Communion.
IT cannot be faid,That the Diffenters themfelves do in Strictntfs maintain the Validity of Lay-Baptifm; because they do not permit the Power of Baptizing to any, but to their Minifter [b 3]
or preaching Elders. * Convince them that their Ministers are no better than Laymen, as not being rightly ordained, and that their Separation is a real Schifm; 'tis to be prefumed that, on their own Principles, they would readily and freely confent to be baptized by our Clergy; as their Minifters do, to be ordained again by our Bifhops.
BUT it is an Unhappiness, not only to the Church, but to themfelves, to be irregularly brought
*See John Quick (a Diffenting Teacher's) Synodicon in Gallia Reformata; under the Title of Baptifm, there is this remarkable Canon:
Canon I. Baptifm adminifter'd by an unordained Perfon, is wholly void and null.
See alfo John Calvin's Anfwer for the Brethren of Geneva, to a Letter concerning Lay-Baptifm.
"We Minifters and Doctors in the Church of Ge"neva, accompanied with our Brethren come from the National Synod of Lyons, being met together "in the Name of God, after that we had heard that "Cafe of Confcience propounded to us, Whether Baptifm administered by private Perfons, without Office in the Church of God, ought to be reiterated, or not; did unanimously declare this our Judgment, "That fuch a Baptifm did not in any wife agree "with the Inftitution of our Lord Jefus Chrift, and therefore confequently is of no Force, Power, Validity, or Effect; and that the Child ought to be "brought