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the Eunuch gave it accordingly. And the Eunuch said, Scé, bere i Water, what dotb binder me to be baptized? And Philip Said, If thoi believest with all thine Heart, thou maya. And he anfwered, I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of GOD (a). And 'tis well known how plain and full the Practice of the primitive Chriftians was in this Matter.
The only plausible Obicetion then is, That our Church too much confines the Terms of Christian Communion, and encroaches upon the Liberties of the People; That all have a Right to Baptism who maintain the Fundamentals of Religion, which many do who differ from us in several Articles of Faith ; That therefore, to oblige Parents who prefent their Children to be baptized, either to profess their own Belief of all the Articles of our Confeffon, or to educate their Children in the Faith of them, is to establith other Bounds of Christian Communion than the great Author of our Religion hath done; and to exclude many from the Church who may be his fincere Followers, and ought to be received into it.
In Answer to this, we shall just mention these three Things. Firft, That, in fo far as is known to us, there is no Act of Affembly, nor even of any inferior Church-Judicature, establihing the Confession of Faith a Term of Christian-Communion, and appointing Ministers to require an Affent thereto from Christian Parents, in order to their being admitted to all the Privileges of Church-Communion, and particularly the Baptism of their Children: And therefore there does not seem to be place for the Foundation of the Objection.
It is true, thats according to the Principles laid down and maintained in this Treatife, a plain and direct Acknowledgment of the essential Doctrines of Christianity; may be justly required by any Church of all that would lay claim to Baptism; and the Fellowship of Christians. But our Church hath acted fo wise and cautious a Part, as never to have pretended to condescend upon thefe precife Articles, which should be declared fundamental and neceffary Maxims of our Religion, and to pitch upon all these Do&rines, the Belief of which is indifpenfably neceffary in a sincere Christian, and without which a Man cannot possibly be a Member of the Body of Chrift: Since that were an Attempt of great Difficulty, and might be liable to much greater İnconveniencies than the leaving it uneslayed.
2dly, It muft indeed be acknowledged, Thats according to the general Practice which hath prevailed in the Church, when the Sacrament of Baptism is adminiftred, the Parent, or the Sponsor whoever he be, is engaged to educate the Child in the Principles of the truc reformed Christian Religion, as contain’d in the Holy Scriptures; whereof, as is told them, there is an excellent Summary in our Confeffion of Faith and Catechisms. Nor shall we deny, but that this may be constructed an Obligation on the Parents to train
(and Aas 8. 36, 37
up his Child in the Doctrines of the Westminfter Confeffion, and cona fequently a Declaration that he believes these Doctrines himfelt: But, we hope, this can't be called the smallest Impofition upon a Person who heartily embraces all these Doctrines; and noe only is free from any Scruple as to the Articles of our Standard, but delires to embrace that Opportunity of publickly owning before all the Church, his firm Beliet, and cordial Acceptation of these Articles as the Truths of Jesus, and the Doctrines of that
purę Faithe which he receives with his Heart, and acknowledges with the Mouth. Surely it were a very unreasonable Hardship, to refuse that Perfon an Opportunity, every way fo fic for it, of making
a Profession of the Faith of the Gofpel, as it appears to him in its greatest Light and Purity : Now it is very juftly supposed, that all Persons who know the common Practice of the Church, and yet move no Objections, are of this Disposition, and have these inclinations.
In the third place, as there is no established Rule, nor any Ad of Affembly, confining the Benefits of Baptism to the Belief of the several Articles of our Confession, and excluding from a Participation of this Ordinance, all Persons who may in fome Things differ from us : So there was no Ground in Fact ever given to a Person, to complain of an arbitrary. Imposition upon him in this Refpex; nor can any Man, fo far as we know, alledge that he acquainted a Minister that he had Scruples as to some Articles of our Confeffion, or was of a contrary Opinion to them, and therefore that he could neither profess his own Belief of them, nor engage to educate his Child in them, and was thereupon denied Accels to this Sacrament. On the other hand, there have been several Instances of Perfons, who, upon their Delire, were gratified in this Particular; while none had ever Reason to complain of a Refufal: From which Consideration, 'tis hoped, the Groundlefness of the Clamour raised by our Enemies will evidently appear.
it is so trifling that it would merit no Regard, did not our Adversaries with a great deal of Confidence boalt of it: Namely, the flat Contradi&tion which, they alledge, there is betwixt the Principles which we now fall in with concerning Civil Government, together with the Conduct of this Church Since the Revolution; and these Words of 23 Chap. of the Confession of Faith, of the Civil Magistrate, Section 4. Infidelity or Diference in Religion
doth not make void the Magistrate's just and legal Authority, nor free the People from their due Obedience to him. This indeed hath been the Principle of our, and, I believe, of all other Churcbes : Nor could they maintain the contrary, without unhinging all Government in Heathen, Mahometan and Popish Countries, which were very absurd ; and without denying the Submission and Obedience to the Roman Cefars, which Christ and his Apostles paid them. But this can never, in the smallest Degree, be inconsistent with our having disclaimed all Allegiance, &c.
có the abdicated, or, in the Stile of our Acts of Parliament, the før feited King James; and, since his Death, to the Pretender unto the British Crown ; except it can be proved, that we acknowledge that the Pretender hath a juft and legal Anthority of the supreme Magiftrate, which, because of his Infidelity, we make void : This were indeed to contradict the alledged Articles of the Westminfter Confeffion. But since we are perswaded that he hath no Right or
Title whatsomever, that he is not a Magistrate, and hath no manner of Authority in these Ilands, the People whereof owe him not the least Obedience ; it may be alledged that we injure him : But there is not the smallest Colour for charging us with contradicting the Principles of our own Confession, when we utterly renounce and disclaim his imaginary Kingship.
It is not simply because he is a Papist, that we pay no Alegiance to that pretended King; but because he hath now no Right to the British Throne, whatever be his Religion; any Title which otherwife he might have had being vacated and anulled, by those, who, according to outr Principles, had an undoubted Power to limit the Succession of the Crown, as appeared neceffary for the publick Good: As all the Plea which the late King fames could have made for himself and his Pofterity, was entirely destroyed by his tyrannical Invasion of the fundamental Laws and Constitutions of Government, whereby he was expofed to a just and necessary Forfei
Wherefore, though, no doubt, his embracing that abominable Idolatry, and being to deeply impreffed with the cruel and impious Maxims of that falfe and bloody Religion, gives us a higher Relish of the infinite Goodness of a mercitul God, in establithing upon the Throne our present excellent Sovereign KING GEORGE; and inspires, with a greater Ardour, our sincere Wishes for the Stability and Glory of his Reign; shows us; in a more shining Light, the Blessings of the Protestant Succession in his illustrious Family; and increaseş our Horror at the dismal Prospect of Things, if ever an avenging God should send the Pretender to be a Scourge unto thefe Nations : Yet we do not change our Principles, by pretending that his Infidelity makes void his just and legal Authority ; for to us there does not appear fo much as the least Shadow of any Authority, which that person can lay claim to in Britain, but very plain Demonstrations of the contrary.
We have now given an Account of all the different Uses and Purposes of Confeßions of Faith, which we thought of any Importance; have endeavoured to illustrate, explain and vindicate them and to consider all the material Objections, which, we could imagine, might be brought against them: And fo we have finifred alt that was at first proposed in this Essay. What particularly relates to this Edition of our Confeffions, &c. will be accounted for in a few parate Advertisement,
Addenda Page xci. I. 47. Yea fo extremely absurd is this Scheme, that according there. to it would be impossible to frame a Confeffion, or an Acknowledgment of a Minister's or a private Christian's Faith, which the Church might expe& an Affent to, even in the Original Greek and Hebrew Texts of Scriptore, fuppofing that the Persons fully understood thefe Langliages. For if a Minister should, for Instance, doubt whether the Text of Scripture, that speaks most plainly of the DiWinity of our Saviour, ought to be understood of him; and thinks it rather should be applied otherwise, he cannot possibly fubfcribe the original Words of that Text; so as they may be a Test of his Orthodoxy in this Particular; and the Church which should determine their Application to Jesus Chrift,and require a Minister or ChriAtian, in order to his Admission among them, to give his Assent to thefé Scriptiral Phrases so understood, would, cqually with us, exRose it self to all the clamorous Objections which are made against Dumane Creeds.
This will appear further, if we consider the several various Readings which are to be found in the Sacred Writings, one of which alone is genuine,.and must have the fole Claim to the Dignity and Authority of inspired Words. Now it seems according to the Principles of our Adversaries, that no Church could fix upon this genuine Reading, and require an Aflent to it from their publick Teachers, Gince that were indeed to determine what were Scripture, what not, and the demanding an Assent to such a Determination, would be exclaimed against as an arbitrary Imposition; as a native Confequence of which, no publick Confeffion of Faith, could be compored in the Words of such Texts of Scripture as admit of various Readings whereby a great many passages of the Holy Oracles will be necellarily excluded.
This Difficulty will prove of greater. Extent and Importance, with respect to these who deny the divine Authority, of some of these Books of the New Testament, which have been generally received by Christians: As on the other Hand, were this novel Scheme of Confeffions allowed, fuch People as Mr. Whiston, who would obtrude upon the Church a new Set of pretended inspired Writings, might alledge, That a Profession of their Faith, in the Phrases of these Books adopted by them, and embraced as the Word of God, were fufficient to all the Privileges of Christian or ministerial Communion; and that it were a manifest Invasion of their religious Freedom, to require any other Tests of Orthodoxy from them ; and surely it seems to argue every way as great an Authority in Marrers of Faith, for a Church to determine what Books she thinks divinely inspired, and which must accordingly be owned as such by her Members, as it is for the fame Church, to declare what Do&rines the judges to be the fundamental Principles of Christianity, unto which all ought to give their Aflent, who lay claim to Church Privilezes, or at least pretend to the Office of a publick Teacher.