The nonconformists advocate, or, A farther account of their judgment in certain things in which they are misunderstood written principally in vindication of A letter from a minister to a person of quality, shewing some reasons for his nonconformity, modesty answering the exceptions of two violent opposers of the said reasons.
Baxter, Richard, 1615-1691.
Page  1

A REFUTATION, &c.

SIR,

BEfore you would confute me, you thought meet to de∣fame me, in these words; Being lately in a Book sellers Shop, I met with a Letter pretended to be writ from a Mi∣nister to a Person of Quality, shewing some Reasons of his Non-conformity. And you add,*I have often observed this humour in some mean, but vain people, who dare not look upon Persons of Qua∣lity, when they are present, to talk of them with great familiarity, and as their peculiar Intimates and Confidents. But I answer; Why should you a Minister be so censorious and uncharitable, as to charge one who is stiled a Minister, and I suppose utterly un∣known to your self, with Pride and Lying at the first dash? with Pride, in a vain humour of aspiring unto acquaintance with Per∣sons of Quality; with Lying, in pretending unto such a familia∣rity, when indeed there is no such matter. The Printer, or some other, affixed this Title, for my Copy had none at all; but yet it is altogether truth; though I have reason to blush, and crave par∣don for being no more mannerly and Courtly in my Stile and Ad∣dress to such a Person of Honour. By this, and what follows, I observe in you a strange Spirit, which I pray God convince you of, and deliver me from: a spirit haughty and scornful, bitter and re∣vengeful, and yet elsewhere too too friendly and amicable.

Sir, You stile me Gentleman, again and again, ironically and contemptuously enough; and what I have written,* you call it Stuff to impose upon the injudicious Rabble,*and parallel it with Poor Robin; and many such opprobrious reflections you fasten up∣on it. This is pride and scorning; which can never satisfie (as you would be thought to aim at) an honest impartial Inquirer,* but much rather cloud his eyes from beholding, and harden his heart from receiving, whatsoever can be offered (though with far more powerful and perswading Oratory than your own) to change his mind, or turn him into another Path.

Page  2*Sir, You alarm the Magistrates and Governours to a jealousie a∣gainst us: wherein you sufficiently signifie, not only your grief and grudging at our present Indulgency, but also your desire to have us made Examples for daring to mutter a word, and pleading on our own behalf, though purposely to shew that we are not wilful, fanatical, and obstinate in our non-conformity (which is com∣monly objected against us) but have in our own apprehensions in∣superable objections blocking up the way, and obstructing us from complying. But what is it not enough that we are removed ab Officio & Beneficio, unless also we be further persecuted and torn in pieces by the Secular Powers? What must a 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, our utter ruine and destruction be the Epilogue? This is bitter malice in ex∣tremity, far from the good Spirit of God, which was seen in the shape of a Dove, but never in the appearance of a Vulture, or Bird of Prey.

*Sir, You plead for the truth of Apocrypha, yea of the most ex∣ploded parts of it: here your fierce frowns against poor Non-con∣formists are turned into sweet and gracious smiles upon the Roman Party, as if Father Parsons, Campian, and such others, had your heart already; and you hereby intimate before-hand (if the Wind shall ever turn to that Corner, which God in his great mercy keep off) how willingly and easily you could turn about with it into their Tents.

Sir, You quarrel my Introduction, and charge it with the want of sense and Grammar,* but you shew not wherein, and I am pretty confident you cannot; both the Syntax of it, and my mind in it being plain and obvious to every School-boy; but I well perceive the very first sight of my Sheet, fronted with the mostodious word of Non-conformity (so great is your distast against us) immediately rufled your patience, and like the appearance of Purple or Scarlet before the eyes of an Elephant, put you presently in apassion; which misted your understanding, and hindered you from discern∣ing, what, to an unprejudiced person, would be most clear and in∣telligible.

Our great difference is in making a just Comment, and in find∣ing out the true sense and meaning of the words of the first De∣claration. Here by the way there is just matter of complaint, that the said words should need any Comment; for I look upon Page  3 this Declaration (thus openly to be made before the face of God, and the whole Congregation) of the same nature, and congene∣rous with an Oath; wherein things ought to be expressed perspi∣cuously and evidently, the sense of them easie and fixedly the same to every understanding; and this, if possible, beyond all scruple or hesitation; and not like Delph Oracles, with their meaning doubtful, intricate, and involved; and as occasion shall serve, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 quickly to be turned from what at the first hearing they seemingly imported and intended.

You say Assent and Consent intend no more than Ʋse and Sub∣mission, and that this is all in effect which is required of the Con∣forming Clergy: I wish it had been so worded in the Declaration,* and instead of saying, I A.B. do declare my unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing contained and prescribed in and by the Book, entituled the Book of Common Prayer; we might have said, I A.B. will submit to the use of all and everything contained in, &c. Because for peace sake I can submit, where I do not like and chuse; and in this sense (notwithstanding your scorn of a very wise and grave observation) I do yet take the words Assent and Consent,* and am not removed from my first apprehension and explanation of them.

In the words of the Declaration there is an Agent, an act, the object: The Agent is the Person or Minister declaring, and this unfeignedly and sincerely from his heart; the Act is this person his assenting and consenting: Now this act of assenting, as to the Party declaring, relates to his understanding; and as to the thing assented to, relates to the truth and rightfulness of it: So like∣wise again, the act of consenting relates to his will, and as to the thing consented to, to the goodness, expediency, and behoofful∣ness of it. This is what you deride, and hold that the interven∣tion of truth and goodness need not be supposed as a necessary in∣gredient to what we declare we assent and consent unto; but in so declaring we mean and intend only this, that we will submit to the use of all and every thing contained and prescribed, &c.* whether they be in their own nature (if strictly examin'd) most e∣ligible and behoofful to be observed and practised, yea or not.* Now this your Exposition of assent and consent, I look upon as weak and faulty, no more coming up to the full purport of the words considered in themselves, than to the purpose of the Law-makers, Page  4 who framed and injoyned them to be declared. For I take it for granted, that this Declaration was thus worded by the most Re∣verend Clergy, Archbishops, Bishops, Deans, and such other Di∣vines, and this too for Divines and Ministers of the Gospel to be declared by them, as the test of their worthiness and meetness for the Ministerial Function; accordingly therefore such persons may rationally and well be supposed to use the words in sensu Theologico, in a Divine or Scriptural sense, and not otherwise: Now in the Scripture phrase we find assent and consent, fully and altogether according to the exposition which I have given of them. As for example sake, we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of Sedition among the Jews; and the Jews as∣sented, saying,*These things were so. Assented, that is, they avouch∣ed what Tertulls had witnessed against Paul, was the very truth. Shall not their Cattel, and their substance, and every beast of theirs be ours?*Let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us. Let us consent unto them, that is, let us willingly and readily chuse and imbrace their terms, since the end obtained by them will be so good and gainful, so beneficial and profitable for us. Thus S. Paul saith,*I consent unto the Law, that it is good, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, eo quod, or therefore, because it is good. Thus generally these words are taken in the description of Faith among Divines, who tell and teach us, that Faith is made up of these three parts, Assent, Consent, and Affiance. Faith, as it is assent, acknowledgeth and avoweth the truth and certainty of Gospel-Revelation, especially concerning the Messiah, and the promise of life by and through him: Faith as it is consent, imbraceth and receiveth the blessing and goodness of this promise, as most behoofful and advantagious unto us: And from hence is excited readily, chearfully, and thankfully to close in with Christ upon his own Conditions and Proposals, as the only way to happiness: Faith, as it is affiance, resteth and relieth upon the veracity of the Speaker, and stability of the Covenant to felici∣tate our state, and save us from all the evil and misery sin hath brought upon us. By what I have spoken, we may the better perceive the genuine force and meaning of assent and consent; the Object of these acts now therefore offers it self to our considera∣tion, which I say (according to the Declaration) is all and every thing contained and prescribed in and by the Book intituled the Book Page  5 of Common Prayer; whereas you, as a general Salvo, suppose the word Use to be the next object or matter of those acts on which they terminate; as thus, I assent and consent to the use,* ordoing of all those things contained in, and prescribed by, &c. But now is this seemly or tolerable in a most solemn Protestation, oran Oath, to have the main matter of it brought in only by the blind Wicket and back-door of a supposition? why was not this word openly mentioned and expressed? why was it not enjoyned us thus to declare, I assent and consent to the use and doing of all and every thing contained, &c? How can we know the Law-makers intended, or will admit of any such a Subaudi? What you men∣tion as their Preface to the Declaration is somewhat,* but not suffi∣cient; my Reason is this; because in the Book of Common-Prayer there are Credenda, as well as Agenda; things of Faith, as well as of Practice; yea, some things only of Faith, and not of Practice: Now I cannot but think our Law-mkers in command∣ing this Declaration, did as zealously and carefully design the con∣formity of our Faith, even as of our practice, to the Frame and Model of Theology contained in the Liturgy: I am sure, in right reason, the first ought to be aimed at by them, before the last and the last only as the result of the first, unless they thought all Conformists 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 bruit Animals, rather than rational Crea∣tures; surely they would not thus reproach them of their own Coat, who bear themselves high upon their own understanding above others, and think it but Justice to be reputed the most sa∣pient and judicious amongst men. It appears by the woful event, that more than a thousand Non-conforming Ministers could not thus construe the words of the Declaration, when it was first put unto them, and required of them; which (with some other things commanded) made them to turn out, and lose all, rather than lose their Souls, in doing what was clearly against their Consciences. So that it is not perverseness and folly (what-ever you say or think) to stick at the words assent and consent, but rather from the di∣ctates of a sound mind, influenced and awed by the fear of the Lord.

Sir, Far beyond my desert, by the good Providence of God, I have had the favour and countenance of several great Persons of Quality, who have received me very lovingly and familiarly: Page  6 This I speak (my Witness is in Heaven) neither to vaunt my self with the glory of it, nor yet to put you under any disarray again by the vanity of my pretension, but to acquaint you with some∣thing to our purpose in the matter before us. A little before the black Bartholomew, one of the foresaid in discourse enquired of me, what mine intentions were? and whither I would conform, yea or not? I answered his Lordship, such things were required and enjoyned, as I could not swallow, and therefore should be ne∣cessitated to march off, and sound a Retreat. His Lordship seemed to be much concerned for me, using many Arguments (as good as ever I have heard or read from any) to reconcile me to a compli∣ance; but perceiving me not to be overcome by them, while I urged some of these things now mentioned as a just cause of my refusing; at last he said with a sigh, I wish it had been otherwise; but they were resolved either to reproach you, or undo you. Of which wise and weighty Apothegm I leave you to be the Interpreter. Was not Conformity contrived in such a way and manner on purpose, either to expose us to common Infamy, as Persons who would say, and swear, and do any thing, rather than lose our Li∣vings? or else to ruine and undo us, by turning us out a grazing in the woful wild of extreme poverty and want? About a year after another great Peer ordered me to wait on his Lordship, and proposed something to be done by me with reference to the Litur∣gy, which (as I thought) in my then present circumstances, having neither call nor necessity to do, I humbly craved leave of his Lordship to be excused therein; and speaking yet further, about the strict and hard terms of Conformity, his Lordship replied, I confess I should scarcely do so much for the Bible, as they require for the Common-Prayer. Both these, I assure you, are great and learned Noble-men, and as far from being Presbyterians as your self; yet you may see their Resentments, as to what was com∣manded, how little they were pleased with such high and rigo∣rous proceedings, and how in the bottom of their hearts, they were rather the Advocates, than the Accusers of the Non-con∣senters: Yea, I perswade my self, that many among your selves had scruples more than a few, or easie, and would then with all their hearts have declined the Test of assent and consent, if by any other means they could have escaped the danger: it is well for Page  7 them if they tentured not their Consciences, while they tendered their worldly interests and necessities; but to chuse to do it from any free act of their own option and will, as what was desired and delighted in by them (setting aside some high Prelatical Church∣men, who returned in anger and meditated retaliation) was not to be found in the Bosom of many; yet even these are called forth to declare their unfeigned assent and consent, &c. than which words, I know none more significant of heart and good will, of love and choice, as to all and every thing contained in and prescribed by the Book of Common-Prayer. For I pray, Sir, were you to express your judgment and affection in any matter, and how your whole soul and mind is fully pleased, satisfied, and gratified therein, and this beyond all demur and exception; how could you more clearly discover your 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, than by the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 of an unfeigned, assent and consent unto it? for mine own part, I profess I know not: Therefore it is well remarked by you, that assent and consent, and approve, are words synonymous. But you say, Cannot we approve of the use of a Book,*or approve of a Book, as lawful to be used, as well as assent and consent to the use of it? Yes surely: But you mistake me,* for I neither can assent nor consent, nor approve of the Book, or the use of the Book, so as hereby to witness mine own will or desire for the same; yet I can use it in submission to Command, if I shall judge it not simply unlawful and sinful to do it: I, can, as I have said, silently and pa∣tiently swallow down some Gnats, if my Superiours will have it so; but if I shall be required to say, I assent and consent, and ap∣prove of swallowing down Gnats, this alters the case; and now I can no more swallow them down, than if they were Camels. Wherefore, eo nomine, upon the very same account, as you inge∣nuously confess, you would be a Non-conformist to any Church in the World, I am at this present to the Church of England.* And up∣on the same score I think present Conformity harder than for∣merly, the now Declaration being much more comprehensive in its own nature, and taking in much more of our mind, will, and approbation, as to all and every thing recounted and specified therein, than any foregoing subscription; especially than that mentioned by your self in the time of Queen Elizabeth, wherein the Clergy were only required to subscribe this promise; I shall Page  8 read the Service appointed plainly, distinctly, and audibly, that all people may hear and understand. As for the Articles published by the Authority of King Edward the VI. and particularly that con∣cerning the Book of Common-Prayer, with subscription there∣unto,* I have not seen them, except in your Quotation, and there∣fore can say nothing in the case, one way or other: but I have two Books of Common-Prayer printed in his days, the first about the middle,* the second in the last year of his Reign; in neither of which is to be found any Rubrick asserting the certainty of Chil∣drens undoubted Salvation out of Gods Word, though they are bapti∣zed and die before actual sins; there is not, I say, one syllable to the said purpose in either of them. Even this very particular would have rendred Subscription more facile and passable to me, had I lived in those days. As for the subscription of the three Ar∣ticles in the time of King James, I acknowledge this was one, Quod Liber Publicae Liturgiae, &c. That the Book of Common-Prayer contains in it nothing contrary to the Word of God, &c. Unto which I had rather, and should much sooner subscribe, than declare my unfeigned assent and consent (supposing the same Book of Com∣mon-Prayer) to all and every thing contained in, and prescribed by it. For though I cannot prove such and such things to be abso∣lutely contrary to, or against Gods Word, yet I cannot therefore presently affirm them to be according to Gods Word, either as expresly revealed, or positively commanded by the Sacred Ca∣non; which yet I must be able to do, before I can declare my un∣feigned assent and consent to the said particulars; else I should strangely violate my Conscience, and blindly rush forward at all adventures, without all reason or judgment. As for example, though I cannot say concerning Children baptized, and dying be∣fore actual sin, that their undoubted Salvation is absolutely contrary to the Word of God; yet never the more can I affirm, that their undoubted Salvation is certain and express by the same. There∣fore though perhaps I might subscribe to the former, yet I could not declare my unfeigned assent and consent to the latter.

One thing I take notice of in these Subscriptions, and I wish you would also for your better information; viz. That assent and con∣sent, relate unto the acknowledgment or avouching the truth and goodness of the things assented and consented to, as well as to the use

Page  9The Great Ends generally mentioned for these Declarations and Subscriptions, are Unity and Uniformity in the matters of Religion and Worship; whereas the contrary effects of animosity and diffe∣rence have wofully followed hereupon, time after time, as we have seen by long and sad experience in continual breaches and dissentions. There is, and will be, a judicium discretionis in every person, who will be a Judge in his own concern contra Gentes; his own mind and apprehension shall and will dictate to him what is right, and what is wrong, what is good, and what evil, both to be believed and practised by him; the greatest Authority of his Superiours, and the wisest Models of their devised forms for his devotion, in any wise notwithstanding; nothing shall be able fur∣ther to subjugate his thoughts to any Idea or System of Service, than to what may be truly said to be his own, I mean according to his own understanding; and therefore much less to an oneness and sameness of opinion and judgment of it with those that are above him (though commending and commanding it to be re∣ceived and observed) meerly because they are so. Wherefore as it is the wisdome of the Church to chuse such a Creed, as all who stile themselves Christians do universally agree in; so likewise it would be the highest prudence, to pitch upon such a Declaration which all Ministers might securely and freely assent and consent un∣to, without all scruple or hesitation, as the Test of their Confor∣mity. I will not presume to mention the nature and quality of such an one; but shall leave it wholly to my Superiours and Bet∣ters: And let these, in Gods Name, enjoyn all Ministers both to declare and do whatsoever the Word of God requires of them, to capacitate them for Church-work, and no more; then should I expect Unity and Uniformity in all things of moment, with peaceable toleration and forbearance in the rest, to the glory of God, and the greatest edification of the Church, and never be∣fore: Page  10 Then also I would be among the first, who would humbly offer my self as a Candidate to that high and holy Function, though in the meanest and poorest place of preferment.

But it is high time to come to particulars: I cannot approve of the Order appointed for the reading of the Scriptures; my reason was, because many Books of Apocrypha are commanded to be read for the Lessons of the day, as the fabulous Legends of Tobit and his Dog, Bell and the Dragon, &c. while some Books of the Sa∣cred Canon are wholly left out, &c.

This I perceive touches you to the quick; this is confidence and impudence,* this is matter of exclamation against our inve∣nomed tongues and pens,* and against our persons as Pharisaical Schismaticks,* and what not? I see your zeal for Apocrypha will cause you presently to fly on the faces of those who shall dare to speak a word in any diminution or derogation of it, and this only too as it Rivals the Holy Canon: Yet say what you can in the justification of Apocrypha (how the stories therein were received by many of the Ancient Fathers for truth and reality,* and how (supposing them fiction and fancy) profitable they are for instru∣ction, comfort, reproof, as the Parables of Christ himself; (so many say,* they can profit as much at a Play, as at a Sermon) yet Apo∣crypha is Apocrypha still, and those very Books appointed ro be read, full of absurdities and impossibilities, as I could easily de∣monstrate in several notorious circumstances; but this would be actum agere, since it hath been sufficiently manifested by many Protestant Pens against the Papists; here therefore I shall leave you to be censured and chastised of all, who are not of the red Letter, or looking that way: As for mine own part, I ran over the Ka∣lender, and saw there one whole Month together: viz. October,Page  11 filled with Apocryphal Books, Forenoon and Afternoon, appointed for the Lessons of the day; the same likewise in November, unto the twenty fourth day of it, besides what went before in Septem∣ber of the same kind, while some Books Canonical are wholly left out, which I did not approve of; neither can I find any thing of better information from your self to change my mind: and the ra∣ther, because I am fully perswaded some parts of Scripture are o∣mitted and shut out, which contain in them more to the profit and edification of the Hearers, than all the Books of Apocrypha put together; yea, it were little less than a Blasphemy to say and think otherwise: Let us not presume to be wiser than God. But you say, Nothing of Apocrypha is appointed for Sundays;* whoe∣ver laid this to your charge? Yet if you speak truth, then some of your Ministers are not well skill'd in the order of reading, who, as I am told by Ear-witnesses, do sometimes on Sundays read out of Apocrypha; whether they then read according to the common Monthly Kalender, and not according to the proper Lessons ap∣pointed for Sundays, or whether they so read when an Holy-day, whose proper Lesson is out of Apocrypha, falls to be on a Sunday, when there is proper against proper, and the Minister left at dis∣cretion which of the propers he will chuse; I shall not trouble my self about it, but leave it in medio, to the wise and learned in the case. You say in our Conventicles we read little of Scripture;* indeed too little! Pudet haec opprobria nobis, and wish it were o∣therwise with all mine heart; for I am as far from assenting and consenting to any such omission and neglect, as I would be to all and every thing contained in, and commanded by the Book of Common-Prayer: Should I be required to give my approbation of this fault, or else could not be admitted into Society with them, I would rather bear their Excommunication, and like an Hermit serve God in the Wilderness by my self alone, than joyn myself to them. So vast a difference there is between being in Commu∣nion where faults are (for what Church is free from them?) and owning those faults; yea, making such an owning and approba∣tion the Lydius lapis, whether we are fit for Communion yea or not. Now this is the very case of poor Non-Conformists, with those who have outed them. But to return, Recrimination is no Self-justification: besides, in most of our Meetings, there is on Page  12 Lords-days, at least, constant reading of the Scripture, besides the Exposition, and giving of the sense of it, with much care and pains, to the edification of the Hearers.

I cannot approve of the Order appointed for the Ministration of Baptism, because of the strict requiring of Godfathers and God∣mothers to stand as bounden Sureties and Undertakers for the Child, viz. that he shall renounce the Devil, and all his Works, &c. You say,*Godfathers and Godmothers are not so strictly required as to make it essential to the nature of Baptism, as is evident in pri∣vate Baptism, which is declared valid without it. I never objected any such essential strictness; this therefore is meer impertinency: Yet reading over the Ministration of private Baptism, as it is ap∣pointed to be further and fully compleated by the Minister, there I find Godfathers and Godmothers interrogated, and fully in∣gaging on the Childs behalf, as well as in publick. But suppose Godfathers and Godmothers are not called upon in private Bap∣tism to make such a promise; this is only in a rare extraordinary case of extremity, and out of the general usual road: we know some others, in the like exigency, will grant a greater liberty; so much do they attribute to the Opus Operatum, that they will give leave to the Midwife to baptize, rather than fail: One Swallow makes no Summer. Herein also you run from the matter in hand. I say, Godfathers and Godmothers are usually brought to the Font to avouch a great untruth; for though they make such a solemn promise on the Childs behalf, they seldome perform it. This you fully acknowledge past contradiction, but charge it as a fault upon the Godfathers and Godmothers,* and not at all upon the Constitution; yea, you highly applaud the prudence and piety of the Church in taking such a care for the vertuous education of the Children baptized. But quo warranto? who hath authorized the Church to lay such a charge upon any, besides the Parents upon whom God has laid it? and if upon any, why upon those who are called Godfathers and Godmothers, rather than upon o∣thers of the Congregation, who are all eye-witnesses of the bap∣tizing of the Child, as well as they? As we may not make more sins than God has made sins, so neither more duties than God has made duties: why therefore in particular should we impose the duty on Godfathers and Godmothers, to look to the well education Page  13 of the Child baptized, when God has not imposed it? especially we may not do it, where the fulfilling this duty is an utter impos∣sibility, as sometimes it falls out in the matter before us. Some∣times persons are Sureties for Children by their Proxies, them∣selves living in another Country; how can these see the said Chil∣dren vertuously brought up, when they never see them? Sometimes Boys and Girls stand as Godfathers and Godmothers for the Infant at the Font; these are very likely to make good their promise, when they are scarce in a capacity to understand what they say; so far are they from a right apprehension of the matter they in∣gage in: Whereby it appears, that the great care of the Church for the health and safety of those she receives into her Bosom, (which is so much spoken of, and magnified) is no more than a meer pretence, and dwindles into a sorry shadow of words and names: For if there was such a true and real care as is given out, and vaunted, why will ye, the Ministers, admit of any such, as I have now mentioned, to be Godfathers and Godmothers? ye ex∣cept against none, that I hear of. And why will you lay a charge upon these, of doing what in reason ye cannot but be convinced they are not in a condition to perform? Verily, if a man should judge according to your Quotidian practice, I should be prone to believe, ye your selves scarce think it an absolute necessity, for Godfathers and Godmothers to perform their Font-promises; for setting aside only what is there barely read before them, I never met with any Book, Sermon, or Discourse, wherein the duty of Godfathers and Godmothers is pressed upon them, with reference to their God-children, not any thing to mind them of their Obli∣gation, or move them to the fulfilling of it: Who therefore can imagine ye think it much material, further than the Pomp and Ceremony of their appearing, whether such Godfathers and God∣mothers look to the good manners of the Children baptized, yea or not? If men and women were throughly convinced by the Word of God, what great Bonds they lye under by being God∣fathers and Godmothers, according to their own oral protestati∣on, and form of speech there dictated to their hands, notwith∣standing what you speak of the easiness of the performance of the promise, it would be hard to find out such voluntary Stipulators,* or collateral security in the case; but the Minister and his Clerk Page  14 should be necessitated to undertake that Province from time to time.

Again, I approve not of the Order appointed for the Mini∣stration of Baptism, because the Father of the Child is left out, not mentioned and taken notice of at all in the publick Stipulation, as if he had no concern in it, though it is his proper place to un∣dertake this charge for his own Child, according to the Law of God and Nature.*With the highest scorn you justifie this way, by the similitude of a Debtor, and Sureties bound with him for an hundred pounds: But I never yet saw such a Bond, where the Principal, and indeed the sole Debtor, is not expresly, and in the first place named; for if he be not expresly named, how can any notice at all be taken, that the Money was lent unto him, which is, as you know,*your own concession? yea, if he be not expresly na∣med as a Debtor, in point of Law, he has nothing to do with the Bond, or the Bond with him; which yet is the thing you would expose me for. Your comparison affects me not, nor makes against me, but rather on my side: For let the Father be the chief Deb∣tor to bring up his own Child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and some of his Friends (I mean Godfathers and God∣mothers) be Sureties with him, that this Debt shall faithfully be paid and discharged; shall not this Chief, and indeed sole Deb∣tor, be called upon, and that too in the first place, to pay his Debt? In right reason he should; and you your self would be of the same mind, were you in some great Bond only Collateral Se∣curity to a Friend, and this too in little more than a Comple∣ment. Now therefore that the Principal and sole Debtor is not once mentioned or called upon for the payment of the Debt, but only the Collaterals; this is my Exception, and I think not with∣out cause.* But you say, Nature and Religion call upon the Principal Debtor, viz. the Father of the Child, and that is sufficient, without any further Call from the Minister. I know what you would re∣ply in the case, but I am not so spirited. Nature and Religion call upon us to keep the Moral Law, or ten Commandments; and therefore the Ministers Call to keep them is needless, and out of doors. This is to make composita to be opposita: The more Obli∣gations are upon us from Religion and Nature to fulfill any duty, the more we are to be called upon by Arguments out of those To∣picks Page  15 to perform the same, and all little enough: If not always Nature, yet always Religion does bind Godfathers and Godmo∣thers quae tales to perform the promise made on the behalf of the Child baptized, for if it be not from Religion, there can be no tye in the case; yet the Church thinks not Religion enough to bind them, without the further help of additional Exhortation: why therefore should not the same be thought necessary to the Father himself, to bind him also to his duty, notwithstanding any preceding Obligation of Nature?

I approve not of the Sign of the Cross, nor that Sacramental mystical way of signing with this Sign, as if baptizing with Water in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Ho∣ly Ghost, were not sufficient; but moreover, the Sign of the Cross needful, to bind the Conscience, and confer the Blessing. You say, The sum of my Argument against signing with the Cross is,*be∣cause lest by a perverse interpretation it may seem to the vulgar peo∣ple what it is not, and what I my self dare not affirm it to be: but herein you are either wilfully blind, or grosly in the dark; for though I mentioned my fear, lest the action then done by the Mi∣nister (for then the Priest shall make a Cross upon the Childs Fore∣head) and the words then uttered by him, (We receive this Child in∣to the Congregation of Christs Flock, and do sign him with the sign of the Cross, in token that hereafter he shall not be ashamed to con∣fess the Faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his Banner against Sin, the World, and the Devil, and to continue Christs faithful Souldier unto his lives end) might be taken in a wrong sense, and mistaken by the generality, and do fear it still; yet the presumptuous addition of the Cross to Baptism, and this too af∣ter the manner of another Sacrament, the devised Sacrament of man to the instituted Sacrament of God was the grand cause of my exception against it: for if we may add at our pleasure the Sign of the Cross▪ why not also with some others Cream, Salt, and Spittle; yea, whatsoever else the daring invention of man shall think meet to devise and conjoyn? Who, in this case, shall set the limits, and say, Ne plus ultra? As for mine own part, I would sooner yield to have my Child baptized with Cream, Salt, and Spittle, yea, though Snow and Sope also were put into the La∣ver, than to have it signed with the Sign of the Cross in such a Page  16 mystical manner. We are neither to add nor diminish in the mat∣ter of Gods Worship; and particularly this holds good in the Sa∣craments of the Gospel, which in their own nature are Signs and Ceremonies; wherefore if we shall arrogate to our selves the li∣cense of adding Sign to Sign, and Ceremony to Ceremony, in so doing we boldly set Threshold against Threshold, and proudly u∣surp no less than the place, and Dictatorship of God himself. This likewise more than faintly and covertly speaks the Baptism of Water to be lame, and wanting of it self alone; which I have the courage to speak out in the hearing of all,*according to your com∣mand; yea, I promise you, if you will be at the charge to pro∣cure me one of Sir Samuel Moreland's Stentorean Tubes, I will take the pains to go up to the Monument, and at the top of it I will trumpet it out as a truth all over the City; and if I could, I would cause it to ring and eccho from one end of the Nation to another: Why else is this dedicating sign of the Cross, at the time of the Infants Dedication, by washing in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, thought so necessary, and constant∣ly co-applied?* But you have a Church-Canon by you, mounted and bent on purpose to discharge upon me, prim'd with the Ru∣brick, and ready to give fire, upon all occasions, with a loud con∣trary report: Well, be it so; yet after all, it is but brutum fulmen, I mean only protestatio contra factum, and therefore ipso facto void, and of none effect. As if you should vow and protest you were no Idolater, and yet at the same time worship a Crucifix, adore the Host, or bow your knee to the Image of Baal. You indeed bap∣tize the Child with Water in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and you say, the Child so baptized, is lawfully and sufficiently baptized;* yet notwithstanding, at the same time, you sign him with the sign of the Cross, in token hereafter he shall not be ashamed to confess the Faith of Christ crucified, and manfully fight under his Banner against Sin, the World, and the Devil, &c. Now this is the answer of a good Conscience, and the main End and Obligation of Baptism, as to the party baptized, which the Cross, and the signing him with that sign (and not washing a∣lone) must at least mind him of, if not spirit him in, and ingage him to with the greatest manhood and courage; else signing with the sign of the Cross is a meer insignificancy, and a ridicu∣lous Page  17 nothing. Entia non sunt multiplicanda sine necessitate. What need the Cross, if washing with water could sufficiently bring a∣bout its own ends? The Cross therefore, as it is there used, loud∣ly proclaims, washing of and by it self incompleat, and im∣perfect.

Something was spoken further by me, about laying aside the use and custom of signing with the sign of the Cross, to distinguish our selves from the Idolatrous Papists, who superstitiously adore the Cross, foolishly, fondly, and wickedly signing themselves with it, upon every occasion, putting no little confidence in it, to free them from evil, and to furnish them with all good. But upon this score, to leave off Crossing, you call it vanity and affectation,*which is peculiar to the Pharisees, and some other people who are very like them. I understand your Elegant Periphrasis, and the biting Sarcasme in it: Oh how sweet are your lips! Honey and Milk are under your tongue; yet what is the reason of all this rancour and bitterness? what is the cause ye cannot speak peaceably of us, or to us? what is our desert? what our provocation? are we not abased sufficiently? have ye not all in possession? do ye envy our being and breathing amongst you? Death hath eased you of ma∣ny of us already; and cannot you quietly expect a little longer, and we shall all retire, and trouble you no more? I grieve, and am sad to see you of this spirit, but rejoyce and am glad my Soul is not under your power; for if it were, I might fear unplacable wrath, never to be appeased, would never forgive me, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.* But to come to our busi∣ness; you say, I am much mistaken in the temper of the Church of England, (verily I am not at all mistaken, for I see it evidently in her Children, the Sons of the Church, especially if all be of your temper) for the Church of England neither does any thing,*nor leaves any thing undone, meerly for a note of distinction and sepa∣ration. I know not what weight and stress you put upon the word meerly, or else as good a Church, and better than ever the Church of England was, notwithstanding its Grandeur and Glo∣ry with the Pomp of that name, has (and that too by the counsel and command of infinite wisdom and reason) upon the account of distinction and separation from others, not more idolatrous and sin∣ful than the Papists in their worship, left off several Rites and Cu∣stoms, Page  18 not only sinful and unlawful, (so some will dare to say of signing with the Cross) but in themselves otherwise innocent and harmless. I have a most unhappy memory, and cannot recover the name of the Author, a Christian Jew, who apodictically, and most elaborately discovers, that many things were directed in their Law by God, both to be done and left undone by the Nation of the Jews, chiefly to difuse and take them off from the ways and practices of the Gentiles that were round about them. But let in∣fallible truth be the judge in this matter, Levit. 18.3. After the doings of the Land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, ye shall not do; and after the doings of the Land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do, neithet shall ye walk in their Ordinances. Then Moses, all along the Chapter, enumerates many of those Heathenish do∣ings, from which the people of God were most religiously to ab∣stain: but in the next Chapter following some other things are mentioned; which in themselves absolutely considered, were nei∣ther sinful nor unlawful, yet upon the score of Non conformity, were forbidden them, ver. 27. Ye shall not round the corners of your Heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy Beard. But why? what evil in it? Ainsworth gives us the true reason of this Inhibition; This, saith he, is likely to be the manner of the Hea∣thens, especially in their mourning, as these Laws compared with, Chap. 21. v. 5. seem to imply; and he brings in the Authority of Maimonides, in these words, It was the manner of Idolatrous Priests to mar their Beards; therefore the Law forbiddeth to mar the Beard. So again, v. 28. Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the Dead, nor print any marks upon you. The aforesaid most Learned Expositor here again, out of the same Maimonides, informs us, what these prints or marks were; viz. When one did cut open his flesh, and filled the cut place with Stibium, or with Ink, or some other colour; and this was the custom at the Heathens; and particularly this they were wont to do in sorrow, and mourning for a Sul departed, as it is in Thargum Jonathan: Now from these, and other like Heathenish Rites, God will keep his people; and therefore it is said, Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the Dead. I could easily produce much more to the same purpose, but I think it needless.

I excepted against what is annexed at the end of the Sacra∣ment; Page  19It is certain by Gods Word, that Children which are bapti∣zed, dying before they commit actual sin, are undoubtedly saved. You say, Had you a mind, you might wave the dispute:* Surely it would be your prudence so to do; for though you affirm it evi∣dently to be the Doctrine of your Church, as appears from the Homi∣lies, and several passages in the Office of Baptism it self;* yet I ap∣prehend it beyond the wisdom and learning of all the Fathers and Sons of the Church together, to make good the Enunciation, e∣specially it being so indefinite and unlimited, concerning the Chil∣dren baptized, without all restriction, and yet so positive and pe∣remptory in the Predicate. I called for the Ui out of Gods Word, viz. wherein I might be satisfied, beyond all doubt, of Christened Childrens Salvation before actual sin: You should have designed the Holy Page; this had been a direct and easie way of Confutation, by which I must have been convinced and silenced, and there had been an end of the Contest: But I see you cannot bring your proof, nor indeed offer any thing like un∣to it out of Scripture; wherefore my Objection is just, and I sup∣pose unanswerable. Secret things belong unto the Lord; and surely the Salvation of Infants, even as of the Adult, is inter ar∣cana, one of Gods Secrets: Why therefore should any presume to intermeddle with it, and confidently pronounce concerning the whole Genus of such a sort of Infants. that they are all undoubted∣ly saved? Though they are young, do they not make a num∣ber in computation? which if they do, certainly their number is great, very great, especially if that Observation be true, that well nigh half of all born and Christned among us, depart this life before they have committed actual sin. These are a swarming multitude; and yet shall all these undoubtedly be sa∣ved? Far be it from me to limit the grace and mercy of God; yet methinks, even from this consideration, we have some ground of a contrary suspition out of Gods Word, at least of suspending our judgment in the matter before us. For though the number of the Children of Israel be as the sand of the Sea, a Remnant shall be saved, Rom. 9.27. There are few that are saved; only a Remnant, a little end of the whole Piece; some few choice ones only among those who are stiled the Israel of God▪ shall be thought worthy of eternal life. But I forbear to bring in any new Ob∣jections, Page  20 only give me leave to ask you this question, How you can fairly wave this dispute? how can you think it not incumbent upon you to make good the Assertion, and justifie what you have assented and consented unto?* You tell me upon what account, Because though it be contained in, yet it is not prescribed by the Book of Common-Prayer; that is, it is never to be used; and we assent and consent only to the use of those things which are both contained in, and prescribed by that Book. This word both, thrust in by your self, as you imagine, gives you your quietus est. Hitherto I have taken you for a Divine, but now one would think you some cun∣ning subtil Lawyer with your Tricks and Quirks; you have found out an unexpected Loop-hole to escape, and baffle your Bond, which hath lost all force and vertue of Obligation in sensu diviso, because it only binds in sensu composito. Yet pardon me, Sir, for I must assume the liberty to keep this Yoke still upon your Neck, shake it off how you can. But how? Thus; You dare not but acknowledge that the great and learned Sages of the Church, who composed and worded this Declaration, were compotes mentis, and understood what they did better than your self, or any such Expositor; and therefore had, as it hath been shewn already, when they put in these words, assent and consent, into the said Declaration, credenda as well as agenda in their thoughts and intentions, they had equally an eye to both these in the time of the composing it. Besides what is there spoken for the clearing of this truth, I am now further confirmed in my Opinion by the two following Participles, contained in, and pre∣scribed by, which very naturally, and almost necessarily, answer the foregoing Substantives Assent and Consent, to such an end and purpose; as thus, I declare my unfeigned assent to all and every thing (as truth and right to be believed) which is contained in the Book of Common-Prayer: and I declare my unfeigned consent to all and every thing (as good and eligible to be practised and observed) which is prescribed by the Book of Common-Prayer. Here is Gram∣mar and sense, and I suppose the very sense intended by the Law-makers. Surely they well weighed every several and distinct word in such a set and solemn Protestation; and therefore every several distinct word in it, hath its several distinct weight and purpose; for far be it from me to charge such considerate Com∣posers Page  21 as guilty of any Tautology, much less of Battology; unto which you will cause them to approach too near, if assent and consent unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing con∣tained and prescribed in and by the Book, &c. do refer to, and ter∣minate upon use and practice only, without any further aim; then it had been fully enough to say, I declare my unfeigned consent to all and every thing prescribed by the Book of Common-Prayer, and no need at all either of the word assent, or of the word contained in, to be once mentioned or thought upon. You therefore deserve a rebuke from your Superiours for your presumptuous intrusion; who made you of their counsel? why should you leave out, or put in any thing without their Commission? why should you in∣sert the word use, which they never inserted? But then you go further; for having inserted the word use, you say confidently enough, that assent and consent to all and every thing contained in, and prescribed by, centre wholly upon the word use, and have no other matter to respect; and then again from hence you think you have gained another point (concesso uno absurdo, &c.) of freeing your self from the difficulty and pressing force of the Exception a∣gainst Christned Infants, their certain and undoubted Salvation, dying without actual sin, by saying, You are not bound to give as∣sent and consent to this Rubrick; because though it be contained in,*yet it is not prescribed by the Book of Common-Prayer, that is, it is never to be used; and we assent and consent only to the use of those things which are both contained in, and prescribed by that Book. But this is a deep fetch, and a fine subtilty of your own, never to be allowed: What think you of the Church Catechism, where∣in we have a Compendium of the Churches Faith? what does not the Declaration bind you to believe it your self, as well as to teach it the Children? what think you of the Creed? does the Declaration only bind you to rehearse the Articles of it before the Congregation, and not believe them your self? Surely to the latter, as well as the former: Every Collect, every Prayer has in it a Credendum, as well as an Orandum; and without the first the last cannot be performed, since Faith is of the very essence of Prayer, properly so called? But what do you imagine, the Decla∣ration binds the Minister only to say over those Prayers, and not to pray them, or pray in them? that is, not to believe what he Page  22 prays for to be right, and according to Gods holy will and plea∣sure? This seems to me highly Paradox, and of a most dange∣rous consequence. Grant you this Postulate, and you spoil the whole Declaration, as to the great intents and purposes of it; for who may not declare in these words, I assent and consent to all and every thing, &c. if nothing of belief, but only use and sub∣mission be intended by them? I have heard of some Jews, conti∣nuing such, without any change of their Religion, officiating as Priests among the Papists, and Celebrating Mass; now why may not such Jews, yea Turks also, thrust in among our Clergy, if by declaring their unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing contained and prescribed in and by the Book of Common Prayer, they signifie no more, than that they will read over those Prayers, perform those Offices and Ceremonies, and submit to the use and do∣ing of every thing enjoyned; but in the interim, without being obliged at all to believe the things so contained in, and prescribed by the Book, and so said and done by them, to be right, good, and justifiable? They may act as upon a Stage for a livelihood, and have no concern about the thing acted, or whom they personate: Therefore Sir, I tell you again, you cannot wave the dispute, but are bound to believe, as well as to do all and every thing contain∣ed in, and prescribed by the Book of Common-Prayer, and to be∣lieve this in particular, concerning the undoubted Salvation of Children baptized, and dying before actual sin; and this too as a truth asserted plainly and evidently out of Gods Word, past all cavil, or gain saying. Wherefore I humbly and earnestly entreat you, as a most learned Textuary, to quote the place, and satisfie my scru∣ple; for until then, I dare not declare my unfeigned assent and consent unto such a doubtful and questioned Proposition contained in the Book. But you would know of me, whether nothing be undoubtedly certain by Scripture,*but what we have an express Text for? Yes▪ many things are undoubtedly certain by Scripture, not only in terminis expresss but also by an undeniable consequence: wherefore let what is asserted concerning the undoubted Salva∣tion of such Infants, be confirmed and demonstrated out of Gods Word, in the true sense and meaning of it, or by any certain and necessary Inerence and Reason from it, and our business is at an end. This therefore you attempt as it were Syllogistically.

Page  23If those who are regularly admitted into the Church of Christ▪*have a right to the blessings of the Covenant,then they have a Ti∣tle to Salvation.

I answer, There is no such word in the Rubrick as regularly ad∣mitted; which makes me wonder at your confidence, to add what you please, from time to time, to serve your turn. 'Tis an hard question, whether all Children in England be regularly admit∣ted (as you may expound the words) by Baptism into the Church, yea or not? I cannot divine what are your thoughts in the case, nor what an Avenue and Start-hole you would find from regularly admitted, rather than be set up, and Mated. There is a great ambiguity in the word regularly admitted, which must be ascertained: wherefore we must suppose all Infants baptized in the Church of England, according to the Liturgy, are regular∣ly admitted into the Church of Christ, for the Rubrick intends at least all of them; yea, it speaks of Children indefinitely: wherefore if these being regularly admitted (as we suppose they are) into the Church of Christ, have a right unto the blessings of the Covenant, then they have a Title to Salvation. I answer, If by having a right to the blessings of the Covenant, you mean all the blessings of the Covenant, even to the ultimate and great blessing of all, viz. Salvation, then there is Petitio Principii not to be granted, until it be proved, as being the Bone of Conten∣tion: But if by having a right to the blessings of the Covenant, you mean some blessings of the Covenant, I shall readily concede; for even their admission into the Church, as visible Church-Mem∣bers, is a great Covenant-blessing, immediately investing them with the actual priviledge of having God for their God, in a more peculiar manner, than those without the Pale; besides, with a foundation right of enjoying the Oracles, Ordinances, Commu∣nion of Saints, &c. Their admission into the Church by Baptism, gives them from that time forward jus in re, though not jus ad rem, by reason of their present incapacity.

But you further argue;*If they have not a right to the blessings of the Covenant, through a regular admission into the Church by Baptism, then Baptism is an insignificant Ceremony, and not the Seal of the Covenant. I answer, They have many blessings of the Covenant (as I have now shown) though yet they may fall short Page  24 of the greatest of all; and therefore Baptism notwithstanding is not an insignificant Ceremony, but a Seal of the Covenant. Shortly, Baptism supplied the room of Circumcision, which was a Seal of the Righteousness of Faith; yet we cannot avouch, that all who were regularly circumcised, should have been un∣doubtedly saved, had they died in their Infancy; for Esau was Circumcised as well as Jacob, concerning whom, without all re∣spect either of their doing good or evil, that the Purpose of God might stand according to Election, it is written, Jacob have I lo∣ved, and Esau have I hated: Esau was hated both before and af∣ter Circumcision; which therefore could never have been his sure Convoy to happiness, had he immediately expired upon the receiving of this Seal: Salvation depends upon Election, and not at all upon our sooner or later dying after we are baptized. These are your Arguments,* unto which I will not say with a just return in your own Dialect, The man is mad, and raving, but his Lo∣gick is weak, and will not do the work: Yet it may be from your civility and good nature thus to mollifie and lenefie your hard speeches with soft arguments: In the interim, we are now still under the same doubt, about the undoubted Salvation of Christned Infants dying before actual sin, as we were in the beginning, and so shall continue, until we see better reasons to the contrary; and therefore cannot assent and consent.

My following Queries are neither captious nor impertinent, but natural and apposite, if we look upon the words of the Ru∣brick, as considered in themselves; viz. It is certain by Gods Word, that Children which are baptized, dying before they commit actual sin, are undoubtedly saved; for here is the Opus Operatum, Children baptized, and dying before actual sin; here is the effect, at least, the sure consequent of it, such are undoubtedly saved; here is nothing mentioned concerning the Modus, how and in what manner the work is or ought to be done to produce such an effect or fore-signifie such a Consequent. Now therefore, if such a Consequent do necessarily follow after such a Cause; then if it be in the power of Man to be such a Cause (as to kill a poor In∣fant presently after Baptism) it will be in his power also to bring about such an effect, viz. the Salvation of such an Infant. But you say,*Regularly admitted by Baptism, which the Church of Eng∣land Page  25supposes, answers most of my captious Queries. I answer, Let me have liberty to put in and out, and suppose what I please in all cases, (as you do from time to time) and I will, nullo negotio, untye every Gordion Knot; I will affirm or deny any Proposition, be it in it self true or false, right or wrong, without any scruple or hesitation; no Priest or Jesuite shall be able to out-do me. How know you that the Church supposeth these words, Regularly ad∣mitted by Baptism? Why should you presume to set such limits, to put such a close Hedge about the Rubrick, when it lies open, and in common? But if you will thus incroach presumptuously from your own head and heart, why am I bound to give credit unto you? or govern my Faith and Practice by your private Senti∣ments? Yet I wish these words, Regularly admitted by Baptism, had been expressed in the Rubrick; which perhaps might have saved me the trouble of objecting, and so you of confuting. But granting the truth of the Rubrick in its latitude; I said,

That a Minister would be very cruel and unmerciful, to deny a∣ny Children their Christendom, though their Parents out of weakness or tenderness of Conscience scrupled Godfathers and Godmothers, and the Sign of the Cross, and durst not upon that score bring their Children to be baptized; yet, as I added, if he were a true Son of the Church, and punctually observed his prescribed Rule, he must not baptize any Infant without Godfathers and Godmothers, without signing of it with the Sign of the Cross, whether it be saved or damned.
Here you say, I am a man of Conscience, that is of no Conscience at all,* of a tender Conscience, that is cauteriz'd: But why? for bringing in such a false and unjust Charge against the practice of the Church of England; which,* as
plainly appeareth in the form of private Baptism, has expresly ordered her Ministers to baptize Children without Godfathers and Godmothers, or the Sign of the Cross: You know not what remark to make on this,* but leave it to my self, and every impartial Reader, to think on it.
Though you do not know what Remark to make on my Objecti∣on, yet I know what Remarks to make on your Confutation; for plainly, I observe in it falseness, and weakness: First, there is a great untruth in it; for though you say,
The Church of England has expresly ordered (in that private form Page  26 of baptizing) to baptize Children without Godfathers and Godmothers, or the Sign of the Cross; yet there is no such thing expressed or mentioned in the Order,
but at the uttermost it is only supposed by a Mute; and will you call silence expression? Here I leave you to your self, and serious thoughts; so likewise to the thoughts of the impartial Reader, how far you can stretch to bring in an Accusation. If the Minister in private Baptism should sign the Infant baptized with the Sign of the Cross, would he cross the intent of that silent (which you call express) Order, yea or not? I believe nothing at all; which to do, had it been an expressed or declared Order, would have been a manifest violati∣on of the same: And then as to Godfathers and Godmothers, they are both mentioned, and interrogated, and as clearly brought in for the Consummation of private Baptism, as in publick. Se∣condly, There is a great weakness in our Confutation; for my Objection lies against the manner of baptizing in ordinary, and you answer me from the manner of baptizing in extraordinary, as in case of any apparent danger of death.* What? can only Pa∣rents (whose Children are in danger of death) have these scru∣ples, mentioned by me, against Godfathers and Godmothers, and against the Sign of the Cross, and not multitudes besides them? How shall the Children of these,*how scrupulous soever they be, (as you avouch they may) come to their Christendom? What shall these, whether these Children be in imminent peril of death, yea or not, come with a lye in their mouths to the Minister, and say,
Pray, Sir, baptize our Children according to the private or∣der of Baptism, for they are ready to die, though they are not?
Well, he comes, and on the contrary sees their Children strong and well; ought he now to baptize them according to the private or publick form? Surely according to the publick, because the pretended necessity of the private is found a falsity: Here ergo the scrupulous Parents are at the same Bar as at the beginning, and their Children as far from being baptized as ever; and this too because the Minister will not, and, according to order, ought not to baptize their Children without Godfathers and Godmothers, and the Sign of the Cross.

Now what I have here spoken is not an idle Supposition, and meer Imagination, but I have reason to believe it a real truth, iPage  27 matter of fact; for I know the Person very well, who has again and again been desired by Parents to baptize their Children, and being unwilling and averse to intermeddle in that affair, hath sin∣cerely counselled the said Parents to have a recourse to their own Parish-Minister to do it for them, whose proper office it was: but they have replied,

He will not baptize our Children without Godfathers and Godmothers, and we know not where to get them.

My last scruple was against the Order and Office for the Burial of the Dead; wherein we have as much said, as can well be sig∣nified and expressed by word or tongue, concerning the most cer∣tain salvation and happiness of every one buried by the Minister, though of the worst of men, though of the most flagitious and facinorous persons, so living, and so dying. What think you of S. Coleman the Traytor? I am assured from an Eye and Ear-wit∣ness, that he was buried in S. Giles's Church-yard by one of the Readers, and by the Common-Prayer Book; and so perhaps were the rest, not of the Loyal, but Liolan and lying Saints after him: At every such Interment, the Minister saith,

Forasmuch as it hath pleased God of his great mercy, to take unto himself the Soul of our dear Brother here departed,&c.
What can more plainly signifie the safety and bliss of such a Soul? what can more fully declare the love and favour of God towards it, and place it in Heaven? You say,*
It is no more than that of Solo∣mon in the Ecclesiastes, Chap. 12.7. Then shall the dust return to the Earth as it was, and the Spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
But surely, in my judgment, God his taking to himself (and this too in mercy, in great mercy) every such particular soul, (whose body is committed to the ground) sounds and imports much more than Solomon intended, by his returning, of the Spirit unto God after death; for the whole verse is but a general descrip∣tion of death, and to give us to understand, that after death the Body goes one way, and the Soul another; the Body to the Ground, and the Soul unto God; that is, ad Deum Judicem, unto God as unto a Judge, before whose dreadful Tribunal the Soul immediately after death shall be brought to appear, and there shall be sentenced according to desert, either to weal or woe, for ever and ever. This is quite another thing from God his receiving Page  28 of every Soul departed in great mercy to himself; which implies the happy and setled state and abode of such a Soul, in the place of Gods abode to all Eternity. You say,
To return to God, and to be taken to him,* signifies to be put in the immediate disposal of God;
and for your Authority and Vouch, you quote one Mr. Falkner: I see by your often quotations of him, you securely rely upon him, as if he were an unerring Oracle, and an 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, an unanswerable demonstration; nevertheless I know not the man, nor ever yet set eye upon any of his learned Lucubrations; and therefore how truly or how falsly you have quoed, or perhaps tran∣scribed him, I can neither affirm, or deny. I freely grant him to be a Reverend Person, of great Abilities, according as you have re∣ported him;* notwithstanding my Faith and Perswasion depend not upon his sense and judgment, nor indeed of any mans else, though otherwise the most Renowned for Learning in the Age, but only upon the Infallible Truth of Gods Word; and therefore will follow him, and you also, as far as ye follow that, but no fur∣ther. He saith, according to your quotation,
Our Church ac∣knowledgeth to be an act of mercy in God,* through the Grace of Christ, who hath the Keys of Hell and Death, that dying persons do not forthwith go into the power of the Devil, who had the power of Death, but do immediately go into the hands of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, to be disposed of by him, according to the promises and conditions of the Gospel-Covenant, &c.
These are his words: but can these be verified of every wicked and profligate Wretch buried by the Li∣turgy? Truth saith concerning such persons, 2 Tim. 2.16. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that while they were alive (as the word imports) they were taken captive by the Devil: Who therefore can believe, that they made an escape from him, and got out of his Clutches by death, and not rather then fell under his power in a more fearful manner? The Devil had, and has still, the power of Death, in respect of all impenitent sinners, as the Carnifex, or Executioner, has power over those who are condemned to die; and accordingly put into his hands, that the Sentence may be a∣ctually fulfilled. But now are the Condemned ever known to e∣scape from the Hangman, after he has Noosed them in the Hal∣ter, and actually trussed them up? I think not. So again, who Page  29 can believe that abominable wicked workers (against whom I make the objection) go immediately after death into the hands of the great God, to be disposed of by him according to the pro∣mises of the Gospel-Covenant; when the said persons had never the least qualification of Grace and Holiness to entitle them to the Covenant of Grace, or the promise of the Gospel, but utter∣ly the contrary? What therefore is this Harangue and flourish of words (were they not only uttered by Mr. Falkner, but also by an Angel) to satisfie my scruple, or give me a Licence when I am to bury the worst and most vile amongst men, to say,
For∣asmuch as it hath pleased God of his great mercy, to take unto himself the Soul of our dear Brother?
Neither is there then place or season to mention any thing of a sure and certain hope of the Re∣surrection unto eternal life, unless to imbolden wicked livers to continue stil in their sins? much less to use any such expression in prayer,
That when we shall depart this life, we may rest in him (Christ) as our hope is this our Brother doth.
Alas! what well-grounded hopes can either Minister or people have and hrbour of Drunkards, Whoremongers, Adulterers, cursed Swearers, and the like, their resting in Christ, who every day are brought unto the ground, and buried by the Liturgy? You say,*
There are va∣rious degrees of hopes, and some of them so little, that we can hardly deny them to any person, though never so wicked.
I confess, in this particular, your Charity and Hope is much be∣yond mine, and yet I think mine is regulated according to the Gospel.

But your fullest justification of your Church in this matter, is by supposing this Office of Burial to be performed only to persons dying in Communion with the Church. I look upon it as the best Apology, and I have heard it again and again, yet it is not equal nor satisfactory; because it supposeth, if not an impossibility, yet the greatest improbability: For it is known upon matter of fact, that Excommunication was never duly exercised, nor Church-Discipline ever duly administred, nor indeed likely to be for the future; while in the interim multitudes, multitudes of ungodly men are brought to the ground, and there the last Office done un∣to them, as if they were the most Godly, and approved by the Church. The Church supposeth or maketh a Foundation which Page  30 is not, and then buildeth her practice upon it, against all right and seemliness: It is as if I certainly knowing such and such per∣sons to be really mad, and out of their wits by a long Quotidian experience, and yet from time to time would treat and converse with them, as persons most sober and discreet, because being men, it must be supposed that they have exercise of reason and understanding.

But rather than not justifie the Office for the Dead, and not to help out the defect of due Excommunication, you say,

I doubt not but whosoever shall leave out that sentence,*as our hope is this our Brother doth, at the burial of some notorious profligate sinners, complies with the intention of the Church, and may justifie himself to his Superiours for doing so.
I answer, Anti∣quum obtines, you are semper idem, beginning and ending with the same mind, and in the same way. You can put in, and leave out, to serve a turn, according to your pleasure, and yet not be a Transgressor, but comply with the intention of the Church. Sure∣ly there is no such matter; for the Church hath expresly ordered concerning the last prayers for the Office, whereof these words, as our hope is this our Brother doth, are a part, in this manner, Then the Priest shall say, shall say, that is, he must and ought to say them, and never omit them. Here the Minister is expresly com∣manded, and much more, than to baptize without the Sign of the Cross, as you could urge in the case of private Baptism, though most illogically, and most remotely from true reason, as far as a privative is from a positive, and a Non-entity from a Being. To conclude, if you do not when you bury the dead (though known beyond all peradventure to die in their sins) use these ve∣ry words, as our hope is this our Brother doth, you are a Transgres∣sor against the Church, inasmuch as you directly disobey her ex∣press order and rule, and you contradict your own Declaration, and little less than give the Lye to your own solemn Oath and Asseveration; for then and there you declared your unfeigned as∣sent and consent to all and every thing contained and prescribed in and by the Book, entituled, the Book of Common-Prayer; and there∣fore to all and every thing contained in and prescribed by the said Book for the Burial of the Dead; which yet you like not, nor ap∣prove in such and such cases that too often occur, as to such and Page  31 such persons, which are every day upon the Biere; but rather you think it right and meet to omit and skip them over, as not proper to be applied, not good to be mentioned. On the other side, if you use these words, as our hope is this our Brother doth, viz. rest in Christ, at the Sepultures of the Sons of Belial, while you obey the Churches order, you are a transgressor against your own Conscience, in uttering what you believe not; and a trans∣gressor against God, in mentioning this your hope before him in your prayers, as if you had good ground and authority for it out of his holy Word, concerning the persons deceased; when as in reality there is nothing in the Scriptures of Truth to intimate or countenance such an hope, but altogether, on the contrary, to strike a fear in our hearts of their most miserable restless state un∣der eternal death and damnation.

Sir, What in your Conclusion you are pleased to stile the only piece of ingenuity in me, is still my mind and judgment,* and I do not retract from it in the least, let it displease whom it shall dis∣please, as I believe it will do many. And what you say, I acknow∣ledge to be a great truth (whether properly and directly inferred from my Concession, yea or not) viz. That there is a real diffe∣rence between that conformity which is requir'd of a Clergy man, and that which is required of a Lay-man. You add further, The use I would make of this acknowlodgment is this, that whatever ob∣jections there may be against conforming as a Minister, there are none against conforming as a private Christian; and therefore that nothing he hath said ought to disswade private Christians from con∣forming to the Church of England, by his own confession. I answer, Let the persons concerned judge, and do according as God and a good Conscience shall dictate unto them; but as for mine own part, were I one of them, I should not cordially chuse and ap∣prove of him to be my Shepherd, nor easily assent and consent to sit under his Pastoral charge (if good Pasture might be found and had elsewhere) who entreth not by the door into the Sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way; especially if this other way ap∣peared to me to be too too like the way which David most de∣voutly prayed against, Psal. 119.29. Remove from me the way of lying. Amen.