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  32

The Second Part.

AFter a Confutation in Quarto, another is brought to my hands in Folio: I have kill'd him for a Villain, said he on the Stage, and made him an Example. What? have you kill'd him? kill him again. I was kill'd suffi∣ciently, as one would think, by my first Antagonist; notwith∣standing to make sure work, another comes in with his deadly stab, and will needs kill me the second time; and yet I find and feel a quite contrary effect, and even return into life by this renew∣ed death; while the first of these, as it were, with a strong puff of wind blows out my Candle, and the second with a sharper blows it in again, and my Candle burns still as bright as ever: For comparing one Confutation with another, I am the better in∣formed to answer them both, and continue more stedfastly the same, what I was, in my first opinion; inasmuch as in several things mine Opponents are not more contrary to me, than contra∣ry to themselves, in what they write against me: though yet in their spirit and temper they are one, full of wrath, censure, and bitterness; a man that shall touch them must be fenced with Iron, and the Staff of a Spear, else they will pierce and gore intollera∣bly. I have scuffled with the first as well as I could, and am now come to encounter the last.

Sir, Your Introduction is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, from the common place called, Reviing and Reproaching; and though it be particularly calculated for a Preface against me, yet it may indifferently serve as a general Exordium to any Philippick against the whole Tribe of the Non conformists in all Controversies whatsoever. I have heard of one beholding a great pair of Gates to a very little Ci∣ty, said facetiously to the Citizens, Pray shut your Gates, lest the City run out, and be lost; such me thinks is your large beginning a∣bove the proportion of the following matter, it being more than a sixth of the whole. O how copious and fluent are you in this Page  33 kind of Rhetorick! how is your Pen as the tongue of a ready Speaker! None, I dare say, about the Bridge can out-do you, or put you down; but I check my self, for I have a better answer prepared to my hand, in which I shall acquiesce, not rendring e∣vil for evil, or raiing for railing, but contrariwise blessing. I bless the Lord Jesus that I am accounted worthy among my Brethren to suffer shame for his Name; and I pray God to bless you, in turning your heart from your causless prejudice and wrathful in∣dignation against us. This is all I have to reply to your Premises, and now come to the work before us.

I could not declare my assent and consent, mine unfeigned as∣sent and consent to all and every thing contained in and prescribed by the Book of Common-Prayer. This, you say, may be one of my chief scruples, that I could not prevaricate with Authority;*had there been allowed a lttle Equivocation, and might I have been per∣mitted to give an assent and consent which were not unfeigned, the task had not been so intollerable; but to require such an assent and consent, searches men to the bottom, and beats the Hypocrite out of all his Subterfugies; who can bear it? I answer, The declaring of my unfeigned assent and consent is a great scruple to me, though not hereby to be kept from a little Equivocation with man, but from a down-right lying before God, and against mine own Con∣science; and the rather (as you truly observe) because such an un∣feigned assent and consent search me to the bottom, yet not because I am an Hypocrite (according to your supposition) but because I am none; my tongue and my heart being, as they ought to be, per∣fect Unisons, and going together: For if I were an Hypocrite in∣deed, I could easily find my several Subterfugies, and no such De∣claration should be ever able to bear me out of them. Herein therefore you are out: But in the interim, upon the whole matter you plainly infer, what was denied by your Fore-man, that Con∣formity is now much stricter than in former days; and this also designedly.

You say, Because of some possible Errata or faults that may escape in the printing of the Book of Common-Prayer, or otherwise, I scru∣ple to give my unfeigned assent and consent unto all and every thing contained in it; but this is a weak foundation,*and the Cavil trivial, and therefore you leave me to be noted in my folly. I an∣swer, Page  34 It is you, and not I, who make such Errata, properly so cal∣led (which may be found in the Common-Prayer Book, as well as in any other Book, wholly besides the intention of the Compo∣sers of them) to be the true, proper, and main ground of my bogling at the Declaration; for I plainly by name except against the Order appointed for reading the holy Scriptures, against the Or∣der appointed for the administration of Baptism, and so against the Order appointed for the burying of the Dead: Now the things wherein I except against these, in my apprehension, are not Erra∣ta, but Errors, not 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; however, I am sure they are not escapes by accident, and besides the intention of the Law-makers, but are both contained in, and prescribed by the Book, as some of the substance and chief matter of it; and this too confirmed by the Rubrick. By what I have now spoken, I clearly free my self from the absurdity of calling Errata the Con∣tents of any Book or Writing, as you would fasten upon me, against all apparent truth and reason: And whereas you say, My scruple cannot affect you here,*because though such Errata may be contained in, yet they are not prescribed by the Book of Common-Prayer. I have evidenced the contrary in the instances forementioned: wherefore the Coat you would put upon me is more proper for another, who lets the true Enemy alone, and fights against his own shadow, as if it were an armed man; and then triumphs like a Thraso in his wonderful Manhood for vanquishing such an Appearance.* But, say you, Do we not think we may safely assent and consent to the Contents of any Writings that pass an Estate for fear of Errata, which by frequent copying out, and transcribing the enrolled Deeds, may happen to be there? I answer, I never yet heard of any such Writings of Conveyance, or Charters of Liberties and Properties, where the Parties concerned were called to de∣clare their unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing con∣tained in them, or else should be punished with the loss of their Temporal Rights, which yet is the penalty of all those who will not assent and consent to all and every thing contained in the Book of Common-Prayer. I have sometimes seen the Accounts of Merchants adjusted, and subscribed by their names, but with this Proviso, saving all errours in them unknown to our selves. Now upon this condition you and I will quickly compromise the diffe∣rence; Page  35 let me insert these words, Saving all errours which may be found therein, (as your Fore-man was good at inserting) and I will readily declare my unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing contained in, and prescribed by the Book of Common-Prayer.

But I charge my Governours, at least by insinuation,*with a pre∣tending to an Infallibility, in their requiring an unfeigned assent and consent to all things devised and prescribed by them; but this is an odious Inference. I answer, How odious soever, yet if the Charge be true, the odiousness is not at all to be imputed to the Insinuation, but wholly to the Injunction.

But, say you, This is destructive to the reason of all Laws;*and by this Argument every Law-giver must be supposed to be Infallible; the end of all whose Injunctions are to be assented and consented to. I answer, This is nothing destructive to other Laws; because Law-makers in making those Laws, never require of the people any such unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing contain∣ed in, and prescribed by their Institutes, but only submission and obedience, Secular Laws reach only to compliance of the out∣ward man, and not meddle with our thoughts and Conscience; whereas this Declaration requires the inward approbation of the mind, will, and heart, as well as the outward observation in mat∣ter of practise, which is one great ground of our Quarrel against it. But, say you, If it be necessary there should be a Rule of Uni∣formity, 'tis necessary that men subscribe to it,*not as an absolute Rule of Conscience, but as a Rule of Peace and Ordor: and this is all the Church requires, that they so far submit their wills and under∣standings to their Governours, as for these ends to conform to what they have prescribed. I answer, We must and ought to submit our will and understanding to the prescription of our Gover∣nours, both in Conformity, and in every case, so far forth as Con∣science will allow us, and no further. Conscience will intermed∣dle, and be inquisitive into all our actions, whether we will or no; and if Truth and Right be not at the bottom, Peace and Or∣der (which otherwise in general should prevail much with us) will never be able to free and justifie us from the inward severe cen∣sure and condemnation of it.

The Composers of this Book of Common-Prayer, thought all things therein right and good in every particular: but unto this Page  36 I replied, Though this was their perswasion, yet it might not be every mans perswasion; and therefore I said, I thought it not e∣qual to compel all others▪ jurare in verba Magistri, to declare themselves to be fully of the same mind and judgment with them: my reason was, Hast thou Faith? have it to thy self; force it not upon others, compel them not to think as thou think∣est, and to declare as thou declarest. Now you would know of the scrupulous Non-conformist,*whether this rule be given to the pub∣lick Officers of the Church, or to the private Christian? I answer, This Rule is given to all Christians, whether publick or private; according to the several occurences which may befal them. You should have rather queried, About what this rule is given? I would have told you, that it was given concerning things which are not evidently and certainly true and good in their own nature, beyond all doubtful disputation:* now such are many things contained in the Liturgy, as the reading of Apocrypha, signing with the sign of the Cross, &c. these things are not of an infallible truth, nor are we sure of the goodness of them in their own nature by the Word of God: wherefore here the forementioned rule is most ap∣posite and necessary, Hast thou Faith? have it to thy self: in these uncertain doubtful matters compel not others to judge as thou judgest, nor to affirm what thou affirmest. But, say you, Why, or how then can there be any publick Sanctions in the world?* I an∣swer, There should be no publick Sanctions, especially in the mat∣ters of God, and his Worship, unto which every private Professor shall be called, and necessitated to give his unfeigned assent and consent (as we are bound to do in all things, with reference to the Liturgy) but the truth and goodness of them, in their own na∣ture, should instantly and apparently be seen by every eye, be∣yond all scruple, or doubtful hesitation; for otherwise, whoso∣ever shall so declare his unfeigned assent and consent, will either do it blindly, at all adventures, or else unfaithfully, with a wavering uncertain judgment, or else wickedly, against his own mind and thoughts. Wherefore the highest of publick Magistrates may not abuse their Power into any oppressive compulsion, but are bound for Peace sake, and for Conscience sake, not to bind the Consciences of the people to believe and imbrace their private particular Sentiments, as if they were Oracular, and beyond all Page  37 questioning; but leave them to their own liberty to judge as they please, until such time as they are better informed, and more fully convinced.

But, say you, A publick Church-Officer may reject an Heretick.* I answer, What is this to the matter before us? Because he may reject an Heretick, that is, one who denies the Fundamentals of Religion and Godliness, therefore he is above this rule, Hast thou Faith? have it to thy self; and may compel those under him to believe what he believes, and say what he saith: From such a kind of wild reasoning, libera nos! I profess I am at my wits end here, as in several other places, to find what you drive at; how then shall I fence my self against you? I wished, as to the Litur∣gy, our Law-givers had required no more than use and submissi∣on, as preceding Governours, hd done before them. You say,*And what is more required? I answer, Very much: for when I de∣clare my unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing, &c. I speak as much as can be spoken in words, to express my love, ap∣probation, and choice, concerning all and every thing contained in, and prescribed by the Book, as most true and unquestionable to be believed, as most eligible and desirable to be observed in every Office, Service, Rite, Ceremony, and Circumstance thereof; but when I only submit to the use of the Liturgy, I yield, for peace and order's sake to my Superiours, in things not simply sinful and unlawful, though in themselves far from perfection, and far from my desire in my own free choice and election. And what I have now asserted with little less than a contradiction to your self, you have acknowledged already in your foregoing discourse, Para∣graph 4. And in this very Paragraph you do it again; when you say,

'Tis our Zeal too they are offended at,* that beyond what our preceding Governours did, with reference to this Book of Common-Prayer, we thus strictly enjoyn, that Ministers do de∣clare their unfeigned assent and consent; but are not the men we have to deal with, those that are gone off from all obedience to Church and State, and is it not reason we take some pledge of them for their future integrity? Is any man found guilty of a much less hainous Indictment, and yet discharged without gi∣ving Sureties for his behaviour? Shall men who have broken through Oaths of Allegiance, shall such men be displeased, if Page  38 we cannot take the Viper into our Breast without pulling out the Sting? That we dare not admit men of these Principles and Practices to come into the Church, without giving such Caution of their being in good earnest, as may justifie those in admitting them, who have the care of the Publick?
Now what is the purport and meaning of all these words, and many more of the same nature, but plainly to tell us, that an harder Yoke is now put upon our Necks, than upon Ministers in former days? and that our Governours had all reason to make our Bonds stronger, as for the punishment of by-past miscarriages, so for the preven∣tion of future relapses? Here therefore you forget your self.

But, you say,

It is not necessary to the assent and consent here required,* that every particular person should take upon him ex∣presly to determine in all these points, 'tis sufficient that nothing is sinful; much less doth it become his humility to oppose the Opinion he hath of a thing's being good and expedient, to the sense and reason of his Governours; 'tis matter of obedience belongs unto him, &c.
I answer, Though this be your mind and judgment, I am clearly of another Opinion; I must deter∣mine, in all points, whether the things be right and good, yea or not, before I can assent and consent unto them; I must be well as∣certained what I affirm for a truth, to be a truth indeed, else I may be guilty of some degree of lying in speaking the very truth. It is not contrary to humility, but the just and due exercise of rea∣son, to search into the goodness and expediency of whatsoever I am called to assent and consent unto, by whomsoever command∣ed; yea, and to oppose my private Opinion to the sense and rea∣son of my Governours, if what they stile sense and reason, shall evidently appear to be without sense and reason, and at the widest distance in a contrary way. Every man is bound to see with his own eyes, and to judge from his own understandings, if he will act like a rational Creature; it is not the part of Gospel-humility, but of Sheepish stupidity to follow our Leaders, not at all considering or judging of the way, but by a blind Implicit Faith and submission, yielding to be turned into every path, meerly because it is their pleasure and appointment. Thus far in general, now in particular.

I excepted against the order and appointment for the reading of the holy Scriptures, because many Books of Apocrypha are com∣manded Page  39 to be read for the Lessons of the day, as the Book of To∣bit, Bell and the Dragon, &c. while some of the Sacred Canon are wholly left out, &c. Now for the removing this Exception, you say,

We desire that our Governours be not blamed,* if ac∣cording to their best discretion they have chosen out such parts of Scripture to be read in the Congregation, which are most in∣telligible; and if they have omitted others, which they thought would not be for the edification of a vulgar Auditory; and if they have mixed some of Apocrypha, as may be of wholesome instruction.
I answer, Though you would not have your Go∣vernours blamed for this mixture, yet some others will question their zeal and discretion herein, and think they have just reason so to do: For who shall presume to be wiser than Christ for the good nurture of his Church? who shall take on them to deter∣mine which is most intelligible, and most edifying to the people, ei∣ther the holy Scripture, or any other writings? I am sure he that knows it, hath said, All Scripture (and therefore that part of Scripture also, which is left out of the Kalendar) is given by in¦spiration of God, and is profitable for Doctrine, for reproof, for cor∣rection, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished to all good works. There is no such te∣stimony left on Record, concerning any of the best parts of Apo∣crypha, though some of those appointed to be read in the Con∣gregation are far from the best; to say no more: Therefore this appointment by our Governours may well be scrupled; but then the other appointment upon this appointment is most highly to be blamed, I mean in their requiring all Ministers to declare an unfeigned assent and consent to this their appointment, though in their own hearts (at least many of them) do not approve of this order, but wish it were otherwise. But is this a reason, say you,*to break Communion with a Church, let any man judge? To this I have answered already; for though I would read some Books of Apocrypha, rather than break Communion with the Church, as possibly not being in it self sinful and unlawful; yet I would ra∣ther break Communion a thousand times over with the best Church in the world, than be a wilful transgressor; and such should I be in a notorious manner, if a Lye be a transgression; and I should lye most egregiously to declare my unfeigned assent Page  40 and consent, that is, my will and desire to read the Apocrypha, ra∣ther than Scripture in the hearing of the people; for in the bot∣tom of my Soul, and in the truth of my Reins, I am utterly a∣gainst it.

I excepted against the order appointed for the Ministration of Baptism, because of the strict requiring of Godfathers and God∣mothers, to stand as Sureties and Undertakers for the Child brought to his Christendom, and this upon several accounts; as,

*First, Because it is unscriptural: Unto this you say,

It cannot be supposed that this order of Godfathers and Godmothers should be prescribed in Scripture, the receiving of persons by Baptism there being upon their own actual Faith, and before there was any National Church wherein this order could be observed; and it was sufficient that the Children were then ad∣mitted to Baptism, as they were in the Covenant; that is, by the Faith of the Parents.
I answer, In these words there seems to me to be a plain contradiction in themselves, but nothing of rea∣son, why Godfathers and Godmothers are not mentioned in Scrip∣ture for the baptizing of Infants. There is a contradiction in them; for you say, Persons in those times were received upon their own actual Faith; and yet you presently add further, that Children were then admitted to Baptism by the Faith of their Pa∣rents. There is nothing of reason in them for what they are pro∣pounded; for though Parents were received by their own actual Faith, and Children by the Faith of such Parents, what is this of bar and impediment to Godfathers and Godmothers at the bap∣tizing of Infants? or why they should not be mentioned and ap∣pointed in Scripture? Surely, in my weak apprehension, nothing at all: But the Adult, as you truly speak, in Scripture-times were admitted into the Church by Baptism through their own actual Faith, and their Children were invested with the same Pri∣viledge, by virtue of the Covenant, as being there declared in that Royal Charter and Patent, Fellow-Inheritors of the same Promise together with their Parents. And are not Children in our days received by Baptism in the same way, and upon the same terms and conditions, as from the beginning? Since there∣fore (according to your own Concession) their Children then had no Sureties when they were baptized, neither need ours in the Page  41 like Circumstances. You would confute me, and you confute your self. But you say, Abundans cautela should not be scrupled,* but rather commended. I answer, Let us not pretend to be more careful than God, in the receiving of those into his Family, whom he commands us to receive; but leave him wholly to his own most Sapient Providence, and admit of all such upon his own con∣ditions, and consult no better.

Secondly, I objected, that the Father of the Child is left out, not mentioned, nor at all taken notice of at the baptizing. For the vacating of this Objection, you say,

The receiving the Child, supposes the Father concerned in it,* because it is through his Faith he is in Covenant.
I answer, You speak so much in the Clouds, that I am utterly at a loss what Arrow you let fly at me, or what you intend. Every Child I know supposeth a Father, and every baptized Child a believing Parent; yet this believing Parent is left out; who notwithstanding is and ought to be the main Susceptor and Surety for his Childs good abearing: on him, I say, it is incumbent, to promise and vow to bring up his Child in the knowledge and obedience of the Christian Faith, much rather than upon Godfathers and Godmothers. But you say,*
As to the particular ingaging of the Father for the Childs Education, he must be worse than an Infidel, if he do not take care for those of his own House.
I answer, Though I will not, yet some would be ready to reply, And therefore the Minister is worse than an Infidel, if he do not mind him of his duty; especially at such a proper and peculiar season, when this Parent may well be supposed to bring his Babe to the Minister, desiring him to receive it, and make it a visible Church-Mem∣ber: But in the whole Office of Baptism, the Father is not consi∣dered, nor any thing of his duty signified unto him. But you say,
Not to admit Godfathers and Godmothers,* might in some cases be totally to debar the Child of Baptism, because it may so fall out that the Father may be dead before the Child is born; and then how shall he be offered to Baptism?
I answer, Though the Father of the Child be dead, yet some one or other at all times, either by Nature, as being next of Kin, or by Deputation from the Person deceased, or some other way, will appear as a Propater, a second Father to the Child, to offer him to Baptism: Page  42 but put the case that none should appear, yet for want of such a Sponsor, the Babe must not be debarred of its right, but ought by the care of the Church both to be baptized, and edoctrinated in the Christian Faith.

Thirdly, I objected, that Godfathers and Godmothers are ge∣nerally brought to the Font to a vouch a great untruth, and make themselves obnoxious of lying and Perjury in the Face of God, and the Church.* You say, If they be guilty of this, this is their a∣buse of what is well intended. I answer, Whatsoever is found by along Quotidian experience to be the occasion of much sin, (if it be not in it self absolutely necessary to be done and continued) in prudence and piety also it ought to be disused.

*But say you,

The Child also may not answer the intents and purposes of that solemn Vow in Baptism, neither the Father make good his promise on the behalf of him; and therefore if Godfathers and Godmothers shall be detained from ingaging, for fear and danger of falsifying their promises and ingagements,
with parity of reason the Child also upon the same account may be detained from being baptized, and the Father likewise from being a Surety for him. I answer, What God commands is one thing, and what Man commands is another: Whatsoever God commands to be observed, must be observed without regarding Consequences (and such I hope you apprehend at least the Ordi∣nance of Infant-baptism, if not also of the Father his then being chief Sponsor;) but in all humane commands and appointments consequences are much to be weighed and considered, either as a Motive for them, or a Bar against them; and therefore such hu∣mane commands should not be imposed which are never likely to be performed, much less those which (as such, and such circum∣stances may and often do arise and occur) are tantum non, next to an impossibility; now of this nature are those duties required of Godfathers and Godmothers, with reference to their God-chil∣dren, and of this kind is the task imposed upon them, which yet rashly and inconsiderately enough they undertake to make good and fulfil. You know the charge then given them by the Mini∣ster, and have given it your self, I suppose, many and many a time, in these words;
Forasmuch as this Child hath promised by you, his Sureties, to renounce the Devil, and all his works, Page  43 to believe in God, and to serve him: Ye must remember, that is your parts and duties to see that this Infant be taught, so soon as he shall be able to learn, what a solemn promise and profession he hath here made by you: And that he may know these things the better, ye shall call upon him to hear Sermons, and chiefly ye shall provide that he may learn the Creed, the Lords Prayer, and the ten Commandments in the vulgar Tongue, and all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe to his Souls health, and that this Child may be vertuously brought up, lead a godly and Christian life.
Speak now, Sir, your Consci∣science, and let not prejudice blind you, but tell me, bona fide, do you believe when you give this charge to Godfathers and Godmo∣thers, that they are ever likely to perform it? Do you think when you call them to this arduous Province, they can answer the ends of it according to the trust committed to their hands, or ac∣cording to their ingagements; and not be found lyars? Godfa∣thers and Godmothers, you know sometimes live far from their God▪ children in another Hamlet, Village, Town, City, County, Country▪ generally they are at a distance in another house, and in another Street: how therefore is it possible for them to see the said Children to be taught as soon as they are able to learn? and particularly to be instructed concerning the nature and quality of those solemn baptismal promises made on their behalf? How is it possible for them to provide that the said Children shall learn the Creed, &c. with all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe to his Souls health? Can these things be brought to pass, and effected, while God-children are down upon their knees, and ask their Godfathers blessing? or do they not require conti∣nuance of time, with a continual care and diligence?
These words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart,* and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy Children (not God-children) and talk of them, when thou sittest in thine house, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Parents who are daily and hourly conversant with their Children by often talking in their hearing concerning the matters of Religion both of Law and Gospel, and by a frequent catechising and instructing them in the Rudiments thereof, may cause the knowledge of Christianity guttatim to instill into their minds; and so train them Page  44 up in the right way for their souls health; but for others to see this diligently prosecuted, and faithfully discharged, it is scarce feasible, but rather on the contrary utterly impracticable. There∣fore although you say, this Objection cannot bear any weight with considering men,* it will be found, to be otherwise.

Before I pass on to what follows, if it might not displease you, I would ask you one question more about Godfathers and God∣mothers, Whether when you give them the forementioned charge, your self hold them bound to perform the obligation of it? Did you ever in good earnest, either in the Pulpit; or out of the Pulpit, mind them of their duty? Did you ever confer with them in private about the greatness and momentousness of their Font-ingagements? One Mr. Falkner, I perceive, has written much in the high commendation of the Liturgy; has he any word of Conviction to chide with Godfathers and Godmothers for their Quotidian neglect, and to shew them the sin and danger of it? has he any word of Exhortation to stir them up to pay their Vows, and bind their Consciences to a due care and faith∣fulness herein? What, are we in earnest, or in jest? what, is all meer formality without reality? At non ludendum est in sacris; this Scene is not seemly, and I wish it might not continue.

*You say, My reasoning against the Cross is so trifling, that you wonder with what face any can urge it? I answer, Be it so; but withall, pray let us see what ponderous Reasons you can bring for it?* They follow in these words, Did the Ancient Fathers plead so much for it in any other sense than Christ commanded his Disci∣ples, to take up their Cross, and follow him? Are they to imitate their Master in doing this, in the whole course of their life, and may they not use so much as a sign of it to express it to others, or bring them in mind of their duty themselves? Davus sum non Oedipus: I neither understand the sense nor the scope of these words, much less how they are urged either against me, or for the good and ex∣pediency of the sign of the Cross in the Ministration of Bap∣tism. If the Ancient Fathers did plead so much for the Cross in no other sense, but in Christs sense, then in your sense they pleaded not for it at all; that is, for the sign of the Cross to be made in the Forehead by the finger of a Minister: For was this the Cross Christ commanded his Disciples to take up, and follow him? Page  45Are they again, say you, to imitate their Master in doing this, and may they (his Disciples) not use so much as a sign of it, to express it to others, (I suppose you mean by others, the children baptized) or to bring them (these children) in mind of their duty themselves? I answer, God never ordained the sign of the Cross, to bring us in mind or remembrance of bearing Christs Cross, that is of su∣staining 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉;* and drinking what re∣mains behind of that bitter Cup, which the Lord Jesus did pro∣pine to all his Followers: Neither can I see any aptitude in the sign of the Cross, as it is there applied in Baptism, to any such purpose. For, first, the Cross is aiery and transient upon the flesh, and not inured in the flesh; how therefore shall that that is va∣nished bring the Child hereafter in mind of his duty, as to confess the Faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his Ban∣ner? &c. Secondly, because the Child baptized is then not a Subject capable of knowing, regarding, or minding what Cros∣sing imports. Surely therefore if the sign of the Cross shall be thought at all requisite and expedient, it would be much better deferred and reserved for the time of Confirmation; for then Children may well be supposed to have attained and gained the use of Reason, to know and remark what is said and done unto them: Yet I confess if many of them be not, yet they may and ought to be confirmed (though wholly besides the true intent and end of that Church-constitution) while they are very Chil∣dren; for this is according to the order in that case, which runs in these words, Ye (Godfathers and Godmothers) are to take care that this Child be brought to the Bishop, to be confirmed by him so soon as he can say the Creed, the Lords Prayer, and ten Command∣ments in the Vulgar Tongue, &c. My Children, I thank my God, could say all these as perfectly as my self before they were four years old, and I assure you too in the Vulgar Tongue; for I pray tell me, what Protestants now teach them their children in La∣tin? what need therefore of that grave Item and Caution? only we must still go on in the old road, when the customs of things are altered and antiquated, and the reason of them utterly anni∣hilated: But in the interim, I thought not my Children then fit for Confirmation, but wish they may be found worthy ten years after.

Page  46And now, notwithstanding what has been spoken to the con∣trary, I will grant you your Plea, viz. That the sign of the Cross is to bring the children baptized in mind of their duty, to confess the Faith of Christ crucified, &c. But then will it not be too too like a Sacrament upon a Sacrament, thus to add the sign of the Cross unto Baptism; though for me to say so, you stile it frivo∣lous? For what is a Sacrament? Is it not, according to the Cate∣chism, an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace? Is not the sign of the Cross an outward and visible sign? and is not the minding of our duty, or the practical remembrance of confessing of the Faith of Christ crucified, and of manfully fighting under Christs Banner, the inward and spiritual grace? I leave it to your consideration.

Baptizing it self, I said, ipso facto, does oblige the person bap∣tized, and withall exhibits a vertue to every worthy Partaker, to confess the Faith, and to fight against Sin, the World, and the Devil.* Here you except against me, and say, The expression looks too like the Sacrament's conserring grace, ex opere operato. I an∣swer, If the expression be fairly and candidly interpreted, it signi∣fies nothing less in the true sense and meaning of those words, as they are commonly spoken, and taken among Divines. You would pick something out of the words ipso facto, which yet there imply no more than this, when the baptizing is over, or the washing of water in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is done or performed by the Minister, without any future or further signing with the sign of the Cross. And yet after all, the Sacraments are not nuda signa, sed signa exhibentia & obsig∣nantia to every worthy Partaker of them; and who are thus worthy, I will acquaint you in something which shall be spoken to by and by. But to requite you for your kindness, I pray Sir, let me know whether my saying, That baptizing in the Name of the Father, &c. obliges the person, and exhibits the power, &c. does import and imply the Sacraments conferring grace ex opere operato, and not your Rubrick much more, which saith, It is cer∣tain by Gods Word, that children which are baptized, dying before they have committed actual sin, are undoubtedly saved? Qui alte∣rum accusat probri, ipsum se intueri oportet.

For the justification of this Rubrick I called for Scripture, and Page  47 you say to that purpose, What think we of S. Peter's telling us,* 1 Epist. 3.20, 21. Where speaking of those who were saved in Noah's Ark by water, he subjoyns, the like Figure whereunto even Baptism doth also now save us? I answer, I think S.Peter speaks nothing to the justification of the Rubrick; but only thus far in general, That as Noah and his Family in the Ark were saved from the Deluge, so people by Baptism are saved from the wor∣ser Deep; and these not only Children before actual sin, but even the Adult also after the perpetration of the same; for such were all they who were housed and saved in the Ark. If therefore you will frame an argument from hence for the salvation of Infants baptized before actual sin, the argument is of like force for men and women baptized, though actually guilty: And then from hence it will follow, that all persons baptized are undoubtedly sa∣ved. Here is opus operatum, conferring grace with a witness, and without all failure: Though it is far otherwise, as we may see even in that Type of Baptism; for notwithstanding Cham was saved in the Ark with an Ark salvation, yet we think him a Cast∣away; so thousands may be saved with a Baptism-salvation, and yet perish eternally. But you add further,*Christ saith of such (i. e. of little children that come unto him, and it is by Baptism only that thy can come) is the Kingdom of Heaven. I answer, Granting this coming to Christ is intended of Baptism (as I am wholly of your mind, and glad to find another of mine in this particular) yet this is spoken indefinitely of all little Children, as well as of the baptized, and before their baptizing, and not after; for Christ saith, Because they are of the Kingdom of God, let them come unto me; and not, that they may be so; let them come and be signed and sealed, because they are of such a number and order, who shall inherit the Kingdom. Again, though Christ saith, Of such is the Kingdom of God; yet of such, does not necessarily include all Children in general, though coming unto Christ, but may well be understood of some particulars among them. Your strongest Ar∣gument I have reserved to the last, taken out of S. Mark, Chap. 1.4. Is not Baptism said to be for remission of sins, such it is in it self, such it cannot cut be to those who rightly partake of it;*and if Children do this, if by this they are actually brought into the Cove∣nant of Grace, whilst they break no Law, as 'tis only by actual trans∣gression Page  48 they can do this; is it any question that they are undoubtedly saved, that is put at least in a salvable condition? He has better learned Aristotle's Organon than ever I can do, who knows to re∣duce this confused heap of both of words and matter into any just Syllogism. I see indeed you are a very cunning Sophister, if in nothing else, yet in this, that you quote Scripture by halves (I will not tell you like unto whom) leaving out that part of it which would destroy your argument, as he those words which would have overthrown his temptation. You say, Is not Baptism said to be for remission of sins? whereas the Text is thus; John did baptize in the Wilderness,*and preach the Baptism of Repen∣tance for the remission of sins. The Baptism therefore here spoken of belongs not properly to Infants; for, first, it is a Baptism of Repentance, of which Infants are not capable: Secondly, it is for remission of sins, which therefore imply actual sins, whereas In∣fants are only guilty of Original sin, and that is but one. And besides all this, remission of sins, there spoken of, relates not so much unto Baptism, as unto Repentance; for John Baptist his great work was to call people to Repentance, In those days came the Baptist preaching, and saying, Repent ye, for the Kingdom of God is at hand; upon this account his baptism is stiled, The Baptism of Repentance; and he himself saith, Matth. 3.11. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: And as a testimony of their true repentance, he called them to his baptism, and not other∣wise; and accordingly if their repentance were unfeigned and sincere, answerable to the outward sign of it in Baptism, their sins should be remitted unto them, else abide upon them, notwith∣standing that washing. This is the true intent of the place, as we have it explained from the mouth of Peter, Act. 2.38. Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins. But notwithstanding what I have now an∣swered, I will yet acknowledge, that true and real Gospel-baptism is for remission of sins: but then we must well understand and find out, what this true and real Gospel-baptism is, and wherein it consists; for John Baptist himself saith, I indeed baptize with wa∣ter unto repentance, but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with Fire. There is Baptisma flui•••, & B••tisma flaminis, an outward and in∣ward Page  49 Baptism, the one of Water, and the other of the Spirit; the one to purge away the filth of the body, the other to purge away the filth of the soul. Now there is a wide and vast difference be∣tween these two, which are not only distinguishable, but separa∣ble, and often separated the one from the other. The Baptism of Water is often without the Baptism of the Spirit, and the Bap∣tism of the Spirit without the Baptism of Water. Where these two happily meet together in the same person, there the blessed result and consequence hereof is sure pardon, and remission of sins, and the final issue, undoubted salvation; otherwise not. But now who shall presume to tell, as to hic & nunc (when this and ano∣ther Child is baptized) concerning the certain concurrence of both these? who hath known the mind of God herein? who can discover this inscrutable secret? But yet let me not be mista∣ken when I said, otherwise not; for it is to be restrained only to the first Baptism: for though this cannot seal unto us the pardon of sins without the last, yet the last can do it by it self alone with∣out the first. All the Ancient Patriarchs, and Prophets, and holy Confessors, and Saints before Christ's Incarnation, had only the last Baptism; and since that time, all those Infant-Martyrs under the butchery of Herod, had only this last Baptism; thousands of the Seed of believing Parents, some of them dying before they were born, and some of them immediately after, have had only this last Baptism: that blessed Babe which brake out of the Womb, while the Mother of it was now sacrificing her Body in the Flames, for a testimony to the Truth against cursed Papists, (who most cruelly and unnaturally forthwith condemned this young Heretick to be burnt, together with the old one) had only this last baptism; notwithstanding the sins of all these (and of all others in the same circumstances) were undoubtedly remitted, and their souls undoubtedly saved. Though they were not made partakers of the outward washing, yet the inward washing was graciously vouchsafed to them unto life everlasting: this there∣fore is that which I would call the true and real Gospel-baptism, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, by way of Eminency; whereas the outward Baptism of Water, which is only in the power of man to administer, can never do away sin, neither can it assure us of the remission of the same. He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that Page  50 Circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and Circumcision is that of the heart, and in the spi∣rit, Rom. 2.28. In like manner, he is not a Christian who is one outwardly, neither is that baptism which is outward on the flesh, but he is a Christian who is one inwardly, and baptism is that of the heart, and in the spirit: this, this only is the unerring infallible sign and seal unto us of our interest in the Covenant of Grace, and the great blessing annexed to it: I will be merciful un∣to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities I will remem∣ber no more, Heb. 7.12. But now who knows, whether all and every one among the multitude of young children that have the baptism of the flesh, have also the baptism of the heart, and in the spirit? This is thick darkness, and we cannot pierce through it. Since therefore here we are left at uncertainty, though the said children be baptized, and though they die before they have commit∣ted actual sin, yet never the more can we be certain by Gods Word, that they are undoubtedly saved.

Yet for all this, the baptism on the flesh, or washing with wa∣ter, is not an insignificant Ceremony, but has its weighty and momentous ends, according to the wise counsel of him that or∣dained it, handing forth many general, blessings to all that are baptized; and besides these, more special favours to every wor∣thy partaker of it; and this signal one among others,Remission of sins. And now why tarriest thou? arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the Name of the Lord. But then we must carefully single out who are the worthy partakers; there is therefore a double worthiness, the one external, and the other in∣ternal: now these special blessings are imparted not to those who are only worthy with an external worthiness, but with an internal also. All they may be said to be externally worthy, who have an outward call, and are duly qualified, according to the rules of the Gospel, to participate of that Ordinance; and among others, the children of Professors, or the children of believing Parents: All they, and only they have an inward worthiness, who are the called of God according to his purpose, and chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world: now unto all these, and only unto these, the Sacrament does sign, seal, exhibit, and convey the grace of the Gospel. When I say, exhibit and convey, I mean only in suo genere,Page  51 according to the nature of the Ordinance, as an Instrument in the hand of Omnipotency, who worketh in, and by, and with what∣soever means he will, and effecteth all his counsels and stupendi∣ous works, in this way and manner, with never failing success; as when with the blast of Rams horns he tumbled down the Walls of Jerico, or to come nearer to the matter in hand, when with the waters of Jordan he healed the Syrian of his Leprosie. You see therefore, that it is not the Sacrament it self, as it is opus operatum in the administration of it, but the Omnipotency and faithfulness of God in the application of it, conferring grace; and yet not unto all, but only unto the worthy Partakers, and these also with an inward worthiness. To conclude therefore, as Bap∣tism is for remission of sins, so likewise the Lords Supper, This Cup is the New Testament in my Blood, shed for many for the remission of sins. It was indeed for remission of sins unto the Eleven, but not unto Judas, though he drank of that Cup as well as his Col∣leagues, yea and had a worthiness for it, that is an outward wor∣thiness, and was rightly admitted unto it, but wanted the inward: To the inwardly worthy the blessing is communicated, but from all others the blessing is suspended.

Among other things you say,*Children by Baptism are actually brought into the Covenant of Grace. Here again I might fasten upon you the opus operatum conferring grace, as well as you up∣on me from a lesser cause: but I pass it by to tell you of another errour; for children of believers were actually, i.e. really and truly in the Covenant of Grace before their Baptism, because it is by vertue of their interest in that Covenant, that they are admit∣ted to that Ordinance: Baptism is but an open Declaration of that which before was more latent and implicit; it strengthens our Claim to the Covenant, but our Title was good and sure be∣fore. In a word, Baptism is as the mutual sealing, when both sides are agreed; the Articles are drawn up, all things are concluded, and now only to be consummated, by setting their Hands and Seals.

Children, say you, baptized, and dying before actual sin,*are un∣doubtedly saved, that is, put at least in a salvable condition. I an∣swer, After all your strong Proofs and Arguments, you faint in your great Assertion and very tamely are contented to come down Page  52 to lower Terms. Ʋndoubtedly saved, that is, to be in a Salva∣ble condition. You are like the wise Steward, who instead of an Hundred Talents willed the Debtor to write down Fifty. Ʋndoubtedly saved, and to be put into a Salvable condition, are no Synonyma's; for the last is far short from an Equipolency to the first. There is a vast difference between a Non posse non vivere, and a posse non mori, between a necessary enjoyment of life with the utmost security from death, and the most pos∣sible yea probable attainment of life, cum formidine contrarij, with the hazzard of the contrary. Of these two, Undoubtedly saved is the first, and a Salvable condition is the last. You know the Proverb, A bird in the hand. Undoubtedly saved is a Ship arrived, put in and safely come to shore, past all danger; a Salvable condition is a ship far off on the main; Though she be a stout and strong built Vessel, with all her Tacklings firme and compleat, and in a good and likely way to make a prosperous Voyage yet she may miscar∣ry and perish in the deep. Your paraphrase therefore is pa∣radox to the Text, though sound and Orthodox in it self; Chil∣dren Baptized are indeed in a Salvable condition, not only be∣fore, but also after they have committed actual sin: yea (ac∣cording to the Doctrine of the Liturgy, in the order appoin∣ted for the burial of the dead) not only Children, but grown up men, committing actual sins (sins of the deepest die, most gross immoralities, not to be named among Christians, Hea∣ven-daring and Hell-deserving sins, all the days of their lives, unto their last Exit) are still in a Salvable condition: Or else how can they be thought to be in an hope-able condition? You know what is read over all such, when they are brought to the Grave. That when we shall depart this life we may rest in him (in Christ) as our hope is this our Brother doth. There is a Gospel without an hope to relie upon the promise of it, and there is an hope, I see, without a Gospel to justifie the reason of it. But that remains yet to be discussed: I therefore re∣turn to the matter before us. Children Baptized are in a Sal∣vable condition, that is in a right, hopeful, and probable way of salvation, according to the Gospel. For though Christ hath said it, many are called, and few are Chosen; and though from hence, even because of the multitude who are called into Gods Family continually by Baptisme, as from other Objections, Page  53 some Scruples may arise in our minds, powerful enough to take off, and hinder the full Assurance, and certain belief of the undoubted Salvation of all such; yet because the secret things of Election belong wholly to God, and the revealed things of the outward call only unto us, we according to what is revealed unto us in that outward call, may and ought to judge Charitably concerning all Infants Baptized, and hope well of their Eternal State. In the general, we have good reason to believe, that God will own and bless his own Ordinances, and grant Salvation to his people in his own ways and In∣stitutions appointed for such an end. Truth hath said it, He that believeth and his Baptized shall be saved. Children, I con∣fess cannot actually believe, and so perhaps this promise is not properly theirs: yet they cannot wholly be debarred of it; for even in their infancy, the seed of Grace, and the seed of Faith, may be sown and Rooted in their Hearts; but how∣ever they are actually Baptized, which leads on directly to the Blessing there mentioned, and has such a full and fair Aspect upon the same, that I would not be wanting of the Ordi∣nance of Baptisme my self, nor deprive my Children of it for Thousands of Gold and Silver; and the rather because Wis∣dom hath said again, Except a man be born of Water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

You have therefore my vote and suffrage, for the Salvable condition Children Baptized: I leave them in the way of life, while yet they are living: in via Salutis, dum viatores, but how they can be thought or said to be so in termino, af∣ter they are gone to their long, lasting, Everlasting home; or how you can apply this for the vindication of the Rubrick, is beyond my understanding. It is certain by Gods Word, that Children which are Baptized, dying before they commit actual sin, are undoubtedly saved; that is, say you, in your explanation, they are put at least in a Salvable condition, what are they still but in a Salvable condition after dying? I shall make no remark upon this remarkable—but am ready to Trespass another way, even volens nolens. Quis tale legendo Temperet a risu? Ne∣vertheless this shall be spoken for your Honour, that you are a more generous Opponent than the former; for you intre∣pedly Page  54 and Heroickly own justifie the Truth of the Rubrick; when as he most basely and sneakingly would have shuffled it off by the slight of evasion: not allowing it any place in his assent and consent, though it hath evidently a place in the Liturgy and is a part of the whole.

But then on the other side, I think him more sober than your self, though he call a certain query of mine, A raving questi∣on: which was this, since Baptizing gives such an unquestio∣nable Title unto heaven, may a Minister deny the Ordinance to any infant whatsoever, if he might be permitted to Administer it? In particular I brought down the question to a True be∣liever, whose Child had an unquestionable right unto Gospel Baptisme according to the Terms and conditions of the Gospel; Whether, if such a believer should bring his Child to the Font, and desire the Minister to have it Baptized, but yet either out of weakness or tenderness of Conscience, Scruples God-Fathers and God-Mothers, and the sign of the Cross, and dares not admit of them, the Minister may and ought upon that score deny his Babe Christendom? He saith in such a Case the answer is plain, that he ought not.* Though here he speaks without Book, I mean the Common-prayer Book, and against the Order of it in the Bap∣tizing of Infants. Whereas you say on the contrary in these words, That odium he (meaning me) would load the Minister with, that shall deny to Administer Baptism to them, who come not according to the Rule of the Church—are (surely it should be, is, re∣ferring to odium) besides our Argument,*'tis sufficient he (the Mi∣nister) hath no Title (I think you mean hath no right, for I am often at a loss to unriddle you) so to do it, that he is more serious in his function, than to be knowingly unjust, either to the trust the Church or God himself, as I may say, hath reposed in him. If a Fa∣ther come to have his Child Baptized, but not according to the Rules of the Church: The Minister has no Title so to do it, and therefore in such Circumstances will be more just to the trust re∣posed in him than to Baptize the said Child. If this be not the purport and intention of your words, you speak unintelligib∣ly: but if they be, you fight against your fellow Souldier, yea and against Truth it self. Shall we obey God or Man? Christ hath said, Go and disciple all Naions, Baptizing them in the name Page  55 of the Father, &c. and among others, the Children of believing professing Parents, simply because they are so: This is the True Gospel trust put into the hands of Gospel Ministers; well, but the Church or man commands, to Baptize them with God-Fa∣thers and God Mothers, and the sign of the Cross, meer accidents and accessories, forreign from the Nature and Essence of Bap∣tism, but only invented and imposed from Humane Tradition; which therefore some weak and Scrupelous believers, question and fear as a profanation of that Holy Ordinance, and accor∣dingly dare not so address themselves with their Children un∣to Baptism. But now shall their Babes upon this account be denyed their birth-right? Shall they be denyed a priviledge so excellent and so desirable? Shall a pitiful order of the Church in Comparison over-rule and obtain? Shall it be heeded and observed by the Minister more than the Regia placita of heaven it self? God forbid.

I Objected against the order for the burial of the dead; be∣cause what is there spoken to God and man, though often at the interment of the worst of sinners, is spoken of them as if they had been Saints. and most devout Holy persons, and their Souls then in a safe and happy State. For first the Con∣gregation by the mouth of the Minister speaks as it were to themselves one to another, concerning the party deceased, For∣asmuch as it hath pleased God of his great mercy to take unto himself the Soul of our dear brother. He is a Brother, a dear Brother, his Soul is now taken by God, taken in mercy, in great mercy, and it is taken to himself. And then when Corps is put into the Grave, he continues his speech in these words, we therefore commit his body to the ground, in a sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to Eternal life. Then Secondly the Congre∣gation, in the close of the Office, by the mouth of the Minister, speaks unanimously to God, we meekly beseech the O Father, to raise us from the death of sin to the life of righteousness; that when we shall depart this life we may rest in him, Christ Jesus, as our hope is this our Brother doth. What can be said more, if the most Holy Martyr, or confessour, if Stephen again were carried to his Burial? Let him be a Nabal, a Cain, a Judas, yet here is (if I might use the Word) his Apotheosis, his enthronization Page  56 among the Crowned in Celestial glory. You say I have only this to say,*That it is in the judgment of Charity we prenounce this of all. I answer, Charity with judgment, is a gracious Excellency, but without judgment, it is the greatest absurdity, and nothing else but the vain opinion of an over-pittiful simplicity. But if Cha∣rity be with judgment, then it must have some Rule of judg∣ing: and if the right Golden Rule, then this Rule is the Word, for I know no other; Now if Charity hath this Golden Rule of the Word to judge by, then Charity can have no hope for some (many) flagitious abominable sinners, so living and so dying, when they are brought to be buried; as suppose two Hectors falling out, and fighting for a Miss, and both killing one another in the place; or let it be one of them: which happens too too often: suppose some High-way Gentlemen in the very Act of Robbery, shot down stark dead the same mo∣ment by the Honest Traveller, and thus I might instance in many like Cases. Here, if we will speak soberly and accord∣ing to Truth, we can have no hope: nothing being written in the whole Bible, from end to end, to ground the least of any such hope upon. Here to mention, what happened to the Thief upon the Cross, and what may be the dealings of God with the most profane wretch at the last Minute, as you do; and what may befall the most profligate persons, inter pontem & fontem, as some others; is a vain execuse, and cannot afford the least shew or shadow of a just Apology. As for the Thief upon the Cross, a wonderful Act of mercy was exten∣ded to him at the last, by an extraordinary priviledge, at an extraordinary occasion; but withal we know what a wonder∣ful extraordinary Testimony he gave of his Faith, and of the Change of his heart before expiration. The order for the bu∣rial of the dead, might have been proper enough at his in∣terment: but would it also have been as proper at the inter∣ment of the other his Copartner in sin? Had he suffered in England (supposing all things then as now) he might have then been buried according to Liturgy. For I see none else exclu∣ded, but the unbaptized, Excommunicate, and laying violent hands upon themselves; and yet even these also upon your grounds may equally be admitted to Christian burial; I am sure the first of Page  57 them, the unbaptized, may upon far better; and as for the worst of the other, who knows how gracious God may be in his deal∣ings with them in the last Minute? Who knows? None can know: and because none can know, therefore none can hope: for hope without knowledge is a meer Nullity. As for what we know con∣cerning such abominable wicked workers (if we believe the Holy Scripture, which saith, Neither Fornicators, nor Idolaters, nor Adulterers, nor Thieves, nor Covetous, nor Drunkards, nor revilers, nor Extortioners shall ever inherit the Kingdome of God; which saith, without regeneration and holiness no man shall see the Lord, and every where to the like purpose) it speaks their conditi∣on desperate and damned; and therefore with silence, but with∣out hope, we must leave them wholly to the disposition and determination of God their judge. And this also you seem to to acknowledge and concede: for in making good those words, since it hath pleased God of his great mercy to take unto him∣self—you say, That it is not necessary the Words in great mer∣cy should refer to the Persons taken away, for it may be mercy,*and a great mercy, to them who suffered by their injury, or ill Examples, supposing them to be such in whom no shew of goodness did appear. I answer, I thank you heartily for this new No∣tion, which never before came upon the imagination of my thoughts, nor perhaps of any other: so that you may say in a boast as Zabbarel (if I hit right upon his name)Ego primus hoc inveni. Verily the Gens Togata, I mean all of the Clergy, are much your Debtors, and I hope in gratitude will highly extoll the acumen of your wit, and the pregnancy of your in∣vention. For a recompence, I think my self bound to tell you a story, which this rare piece of Fancy of yours brought fresh into my remembrance. In those days (when the Book of sports and pastimes, as Lawful and expedient to be indulged to youth, and fit to be exercised on the Lords day) was commanded to be published, and accordingly was read in most Congregati∣ons; Deus bone! What are the best of men, the Tribe of Le∣vi, the Sons of the Church themselves, when they come to be Tryed! Yet there were some of them Non-conformists to the rest, who neither could nor would do what was then re∣quired, what ever they suffered. One of them a most wor∣thy Preacher, was desired by some of his Chief Parishoners to Page  58 visit his friends in another County, and to absent himself from them three weeks or a month together: and in the interim they procured an Old certain Saint John (a very obscure per∣son, who neglected his dress, but cherished the Hair of his face and beard at a strange rate) to do this good turn for him: who by the like Crotchet of an extraordinary fancy was ready at their service, and made no bones of it. He comes therefore, and appears in the Desk, after the manner of some Wild Satyr out of a Wood, and for the better grace of the matter, what he spake was with a Twanging Tone out of his Nose. Well; he sets upon the performance of the work, and reads over the Book of Sports distinctly and audibly: but when he had done, he added as followeth; Beloved Brethren! Here the King gives you liberty to play on Sundays, and to exercise youth in vain sports and pastimes, which to do is apro∣fanation of the Sabbath, and a breach of Gods Holy command∣ment: but now, brethren! do you understand the Kings mind, and his true intent and meaning herein? Why, I will tell you, my brethren! a Father has a stubborn rebellious Child, and he sees his Temper, and spirit from time to time, aukward and cross to do any thing he is bidden, but rather more resolved and forward to do the contrary; wherefore the Father, when he would have anything done by this perverse and froward boy, forbids him the doing of it: but what indeed he would not have done, he charges him to do it. Thus in like manner, my bre∣thren! Our good and gracious King has commanded us to ob∣serve the Sabbath in coming to Church, and in a Religious ser∣ving and Worshipping of God, by many good preceeding Laws, and Orders for that end and purpose: but still such is our con∣tumacy and wickedness, that we drink and play, and have our Dances and Revels on that blessed day, in a shameful manner: wherefore he seeing our perverse Rebellious carriage, against his former good Precepts, he speaks unto us by contraries, He bids now play on Sundays, but his true meaning is, that we should no longer play, as formerly we have done, but keep God's Sabbath better, and more Religiously; this is all our good and gracious King (judging of us according to our wonted crosseness) in∣tended in publishing this book of liberty, and I hope will follow Page  59 upon the reading of it. Here was a strange unexpected, and unlooked for enucleation of the mind of the King, as now yours is of the words of the Liturgy. When I heard this relation first, I was hugely pleased with it: and said, it was pity some Courtier had not not acquainted the King with it; who certain∣ly would have rewarded this rare interpreter with a Dean's or Prebend's place, for his eminent understanding and service here∣in: I wish you the same success in your parallel Atchievement. But in the interim we must consider, whether those words in great mercy can admit of any such avulsion from the words following, which relate unto the dead, to be an Apostrophe to them that are living? Let us read them and weigh them, For as much as it hath pleased God of his great mercy, to take to himself the Soul of our dear brother here departed, &c. Therefore the person here spoken of cannot be (as you would suppose him) a man of an ill example, an injurious person,*and in whom no shew of good∣ness did ever appear, for he is a brother, a dear brother, and his Soul now taken to God and accordingly these words, in great mer∣cy, must refer unto himself the person taken away, and not un∣to others; unto whom this his being taken away, was rather in judgment, and for Correction, by the loss of such a dear bro∣ther. Notwithstanding procure a Rubrick to confirm your in∣terpretation, for until then (according to your own look) I may not believe it: but when I shall see that once affixed,* let the turning of these words, in great mercy, from the dead to the liv∣ing, be proper or improper, it shall be all one in the Case; for your sense of them shall be most authentick with me.

You have yet another Salve for the sore place, to justifieth is last Office for the dead, in these words,*Nor have I ever thought the person Officiating, obliged to use this form of burials intirely in all Cases—something I conceive may be left to the discretion of the Priest, especially with the advice of his Ordinary, &c. Your meaning plainly is this, that you may leave out some part of what is appointed to be read for the burial of the dead, if the persons buried be not subjects proper for it, but utterly the con∣trary. As for Example, if the person to be buried, has been a notorious flagitious offender from first to last, then after your own discretion, especially with the advice of your Ordinanry, you may Page  60 leave out the words, in great mercy, and to himself dear, and the like, and read only thus, For asmuch as it hath pleased God to take the Soul of our brother, we therefore commit his body, &c. Thus likewise in the close, you may omit those words, as our hope is this our brother doth, and read it thus, That when we shall depart this life, we may rest in him, and at the general Resurrection be found acceptable in his sight, &c.

I Answer, It would be well, if the Minister might thus be left to his own discretion, supposing all parties agreed, and that there would be no scandal in the Case; which I look upon as an impossibility. For put the Case, after you have declared your unfeigned Assent and Consent to all and every thing contained in the book of Common-prayers, before the face of God, and the Congregation, one of them should immediately step forth and say, Sir do you like and approve of all, and every thing contained in, and prescribed by the order for the burial of the dead? E're long your Office will call you to bury as cursed, Reprobate wretches as ever breathed; for too too many such are among us. Do you think it lawful and expedient to stile e∣very one of that sort, dear brother? can you then with a good Conscience say, God in great mercy hath taken his Soul to him∣self? Or can you express your hope before God, even sure and certain hope, of his resting in Christ, and eternal happiness? What now will you answer to his Questions? will you bring in your last mentioned plea, and think to help and justifie your self by it? Will you replie thus, Friend, I have indeed in your hearing, as in the hearing of the whole Congregation, de∣clared my unfeigned assent and consent to all, and every thing contained in, and prescribed by the book of Common-prayer, and by consequence, as you justly infer, to all and every thing ap∣pointed for the burial of the dead; but yet you must know, I have a mental reservation according to my own discretion; and besides, my Ordinary, though I have avouched I will do this and that, has given me a secret Licence, to leave it undone insuch and such Cases; and in this very Case in particular about burying the dead; and therefore when I shall judge it meet and necessary, I will omit several Expressions, when they shall not be proper nor applicable to the persons to be buried, or at least I will Page  61 take the words in a contrary sense, according to what they are usally taken? should this be your answer? but with what forehead could you utter it? How quickly might the said person re∣ply upon you, to your shame and confusion, in this or the like manner? Belike, Sir, though you have declared your un∣feigned assent and consent to all, and every thing contained in and prescribed by the book of Common-prayer, you have but jugled in all you have declared; you have your private reservations and exceptions, and your Ordinary has given you a Licence to profess one thing, and do another; I see your heart and mouth have not gone together, but you speak and think two several ways. I took you for a good Protestant Minister, but I perceive you are a meer Jesuite: an Ireland, a Gavan can do no more. What way you could devise, to free your self from this impeach∣ment, is altogether beyond my thoughts.

Sir, You well observed a certain sort of Ministers among your selves, pitied in their Non conformity, as doing, good men,*what they would not do, if they were not forced to it, and therefore they huddle up and curtail the prayers, and shew industriously by the manner of performance how little they like and approve of what they do. This what you say, I have heard my self spoken in their praise, and themselves much commended for it; but I have al∣ways thought them so far from being worthy of praise, that I have esteem'd them most worthy of censure and condemnation; and my heart has risen against them beyond all others. This is wretched simulation, and a base pitiful disguise. Surely af∣ter I had declared my unfeigned assent and consent to all and eve∣ry thing contained in the Liturgy, before the whole Congregati∣on, I would be faithful to mine own word, and justifie my pro∣fession by a consonant practice: I would not curtail the prayers, but have the Courage before all the world to read them distinct∣ly and reverently, and do all in a most ample manner, as the matter did require, scorning aucupare famam, to get the good opinion of any, by shewing my self an Hypocrite. And thus, Sir, it should be with you in your own concern; after your decla∣ration, it behoves you to be True unto it in every Iota and Tittle, frankly, roundly, and entirely coming up to the full perfor∣mance of it, and of all and every thing required by it, yea even Page  62 in the order for the burial of the dead, any word, phrase, expres∣sion, or passage therein in any wise notwithstanding.

Moreover, besides this Scandal (arising from your last contri∣vance of ••earing your self) a worse yet might follow in the e∣vent and issue: even sometimes to the peril and danger of your life, should you indeed do, as you say you have liberty; that is, should you leave out those words, phrases, and expressions, where∣in the piety and felicity of the party deceased is signified and declared, it would never be endured: Suppose the person interred, some Lord, Knight, or Gentleman; a Person, of worth I can∣not say, but of wealth and quality, though in the time of his life, he was never so wicked and ungodly, yet now that he is dead, he must be reputed a worthy good man in all kinds, and nothing thought or said amiss of him: a pompous Funeral is pre∣pared for him, and his friends with much solemnity, follow the Bier, expecting for him the due and accustomed Honour of Christian burial, and that every word be there spoken over him by the Minister in the very form and manner as it is prescri∣bed; if therefore you shall presume to take your liberty, and use your discretion to skip over any thing in the Sepulture of him, which of others you do not; it will be taken as an af∣front, and an unpardonable Trespass by his then present Rela∣tions; and so perhaps some Son, brother, or fellow Hector, shall be ready to tumble you into the Grave after him, or offer some other abuse, to your great mischief and evil. Yea the meanest will not endure such a Reproachful Reflection upon their Rela∣tions, but will hate you for it in their hearts. You see there∣fore this stratagem of leaving out at discretion will Challenge your discretion, but never do your work. And consequently as things are now ordered in the Liturgy, and as you have unfeign∣edly assented and consented to them in the declaration, you must be again and again a Transgressour either to God or man, in the burials of the dead. But,

*You say, The Church must frame her Offices to suit those, who are her real Members. I answer, Here is the wisdom of the Church to frame all her Offices and Services in such a manner as may be furthest from all Scandal in one kind or other; and count that most sutable, that is most conducible to such an Page  63 end. To speak therefore about the Office for the burial of the dead, It is known upon matter of fact, that all men have not Faith, 'Tis known that most, who are named Pro∣fessors, and live in Church-Communion, are yet Graceless, Christless persons; and in this wretched woful condition go commonly out of the World. Shall it now notwith∣standing be thought suitable and seemly, in the burying of all these, to speak of them, as if they were Saints, and true sincere approved Disciples of Christ? Surely, Sir, if you would freely declare your mind from the unprejudiced sen∣timents of an unforestalled judgment, you must needs bring in your Negative, and say, It is far from being suitable, but rather insufferable. What therefore of help and reme∣dy shall be found in the Case? Surely methinks some forme of words in general, concerning death, and judgment, and the other World, with good and wholsome prayers corresponding, and to the same purpose, might be so con∣trived (for the edification of the hearers, without intermed∣ling at all with the particular condition of the party deceased, either to his praise or dispraise) that no just offence might be either given or taken by any. This is the sudden and extempore effusion of my Pen in this mat∣ter. Until some such Course be taken, I am well pleased that I have no call to bury the dead, nor can I,*rebus sic stantibus, ever declare my unfeigned assent and consent un∣to them.