Further shewing, that Prayer, with Imposition of Hands upon baptized Believers, remains for ever as a standing or perpetual Administra∣tion.
BUT lest any should still object, this Ordi∣nance doth not continue, neither is the End attainable now, I am willing to add two or three Arguments, for the further evincing of these par∣ticulars.
Arg. 1. Because the Lord was pleased to bear witness to, or ratify this blessed Ordinance or Principle of Christ's Doctrine, with the like Signs, Wonders, and Gifts of the Holy Spirit, as he did any other Word, Command, or Prin∣ciple of the said Doctrine. Now what was thus established, must needs remain in full force to the end of the World as our duty: and dangerous it is to labour to make it void; for by the same Argument may an Enemy lay waste, and take a∣way another, yea, and consequently every one.
Arg. 2. Because it is a Foundation-principle of God's House, or one of the great Pillars (next to Christ) on which it is built, it must needs re∣main; and very dangerous it is for any to take away a Foundation-stone.
'Tis very absurd (saith Mr. Blackwood on Matth. p. 688.) to think that one of the six Foundation-principles, Page 76 commended to us by the Apostle, should cease, and all the other remain to the end of the World: Nay, is not Imposition of Hands placed in the midst, betwixt Faith and Repentance on the one side, and Eternal Judgment on the other? 'tis fenced in on every side, there is no coming to slight it. 'Tis absurd to think the Apostle would place one temporary Principle, that was to last but a short time, amongst five perpetual Principles, and call them all by the same name of a Foundation, &c.
Arg. 3. Because the Promise of the Spirit is very extensive; 'tis made to all believing and obedient Souls to the end of the World; Matt. 28. ult. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always to the end of the World. John 14.15, 16, 17. If you love me, keep my Command∣ments; and I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth, which the World cannot receive, &c.
Dr. Jer. Taylor, p. 53. speaks excellently con∣cerning the perpetuity of this Ordinance: And from this very ground, take his own words; The perpetuity of this holy Rite appears, 1. Because the great Gift of the Holy Ghost was promised to abide with the Church for ever: Repent, and be baptized every one of you, and ye shall receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost; not the meanest Person amongst you but shall receive this great thing; for the Pro∣mise is to you, and to your Children, and to all that are afar off, even so many as the Lord our God shall call; this Promise is made to all, and unto all for ever. And presently, speaking as to Laying on Page 77 of Hands, as God's way for the ministring of it; I say, such a Solemnity (saith he) 'tis not easie to be supposed should be appointed; that is, it is not imaginable that a solemn Rite, annex'd to a per∣petual Promise, should be transient and temporary: for by the nature of Relatives, they must be of equal abode; the Promise is of a thing for ever; the Ce∣remony or Rite was annexed to the Promise, and therefore this also must abide for ever.
Arg. 4. Because the Spirit which is promised, is the Comforter that leads us into all Truth, and helps the Saints in their Testimony and Suffer∣ings for Christ; and 'tis that by which they are sealed also to the day of Redemption, Eph. 1.13. Who after that ye believed, ye were sealed by that Spirit of Promise. He speaks it to the Ephesi∣ans, who well understood his meaning, by remem∣bring what was done to them by the Apostle; who a while before, after he had baptized them, laid his Hands upon them (saith the Doctor) so they recei∣ved, and were sealed with the Holy Spirit of Pro∣mise.
Now do not we as much need the Spirit's gui∣dance, and to be born up in our Testimony, Suf∣ferings and Temptations, as the Saints of former Ages; and to be sealed by the Spirit of Promise as they did? Why then should we not be wil∣ling to wait on God, in the same way he has prescribed, for receiving a further increase of it, even in which the primitive Saints did yield obe∣dience?
Object. But some will say, We have the Spirit in as great a measure as you, who never came under Laying on of Hands; and what greater measure Page 78 have you after your obedience thereto than before?
Ans. 1. We dare not boast of our Indowments; we are poor and needy, and therefore willing to use all Advantages, and be found in every Ordi∣nance, to meet with more of Christ and his Spi∣rit; and if you have so much, that you need not pray, nor use the means God directs to for ob∣taining more, 'tis a rare state you are arrived to.
2. If God be better than his Word, we will not complain; he hath many ways to convey his Spirit into our hearts; yet this is the great Or∣dinance for distributing of it to baptized Be∣lievers. But may we not say with one of the Antients, By this rite of Imposition of Hands, God hath promised, and the Saints received the Holy Ghost? for tho (saith he) the Spirit of God was given extraregularly, and at all times as God plea∣sed, yet this of Imposition of Hands was 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, this was the Ministry of the Spirit; we receive Christ when we hear, and obey his Word, we eat Christ by Faith; and yet the blessed Eu∣charist is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Mini∣stry of the Body and Blood of Christ: the Lord's Supper is appointed ritually to convey Christ's Body and Blood to us; so is Laying on of Hands ordain∣ed ritually to give us the Spirit.
Now probably some who are against the Lord's Supper, may say, they feed upon Christ, and have as much Communion with him, and Faith in him, as many of us who often partake there∣of; and may be can say as much on this account, as you on the other: will you therefore neglect your Duty touching breaking of Bread?
There is a Promise of the Spirit made in Bap∣tism; Page 79 yet some may say, they have more of the Spirit than you or I, and yet never were bap∣tized. Cornelius, tho he had received a large measure of the Spirit, yet was very willing to be baptized, and to do what ever Peter, from Christ's command, enjoined him. And thus the Objection is answered.
Object. But extraordinary Effects did accom∣pany this Administration, and such do not follow now; therefore the thing you plead for is ceased.
Answ. Let Dr. Taylor speak now, for I have largely answered this Objection elsewhere, be∣fore I met with the learned Doctor: If this be all (saith he, p. 57—59.) that can be said in oppo∣sition to it, it is infinitely vain.
1. In the days of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit produced miraculous Effects, but neither always, nor at all in all Men; Are all workers of Miracles? do all speak with Tongues? &c. the Wind bloweth where it listeth; some have Gifts after this man∣ner, some after that.
2. These Gifts were not necessary at all Times, any more than to all Persons; but the Promise of the Holy Spirit did belong to all, and was performed to all, but not in the like manner. Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit, of Faith, and Power, the Holy Ghost was given to him, to fulfil his Faith principally; working Mi∣racles was but collateral, and incident: but there is also an Infusion of the Holy Spirit to all, and that for ever, The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every Man, to profit withal: And therefore if the Grace be given to all, there is no reason that the ritual Ministration of that Grace should cease, on pretence that the Spirit is not given extraordinarily.
Page 803. Those extraordinary Gifts were indeed at first necessary; (he gives several reasons thereof) one, because of them who could not receive the under∣standing of an incorporeal Nature; that if after∣wards they be not so done, they may be believed by those things which were already done: another, be∣cause of the state of the Church. But the great∣er Gifts (saith he) were to abide for ever; there∣fore 'tis observable that St. Paul says, that the Gift of Tongues is one of the least and most useless things, a meer sign, and not so much as a sign to a Believer, but to Infidels and Ʋnbelievers.
4. To every ordinary and perpetual Ministry, at first there were extraordinary Effects, and miracu∣lous Consignations: We find 3000 converted at one Sermon, 5000 at another; and Persons were mi∣raculously cured by Prayer, at the visitation of the Sick; and Devils cast out in the conversion of a Sinner: And now tho we see no such extraordinary Effects, it follows not that the Visitation of the Sick, Preaching, Sermons, &c. are not ordinary and per∣petual Ministrations; and therefore to fancy that Invocation of the Holy Spirit, and Imposition of Hands is to cease, when the extraordinary and tem∣porary Contingencies of it are gone, is too trifling a fancy to be put into the balance against so sacred an Institution, relying upon so many Scriptures.
5. He argues yet further, shewing tho the Gifts of Tongues, and outward Miracles, remain not with the Church, yet the greater, or more tran∣scendent Gifts of the Spirit do continue, viz. Sanc∣tification and Power, Fortitude and Faith, Hope and Love, &c. These are (saith he) the Miracles of Grace, to throw down the pride of Lucifer, to Page 81 tread on the great Dragon, and to triumph over our spiritual Enemies, to cure a diseased Soul, to be unharmed by the poison of Temptation, &c. This is more than to receive the Spirit, or a power of Mi∣racles, and supernatural Products in a natural Mat∣ter; for this is from a supernatural Principle, to re∣ceive supernatural Aids to a supernatural End, in the Diviner spirit of a Man; and this being more mira∣culous than the other, it ought not to be pretended that the discontinuance of extraordinary Miracles should cause the discontinuance of an ordinary Ministrati∣on; and this is that (saith he) which I was to prove.
He proceeds to other Reasons, but I think he has said enough; and therefore I shall return to Mr. Danvers, p. 48. who labours against the stream, and would make us believe that the Lay∣ing on of Hands upon Timothy, 2 Tim. 1.6. and 1 Tim. 4.14. are the same; which must be re∣jected, since several Reasons have been given to the contrary, that have not in the least been re∣moved. That Timothy had Hands laid upon him twice, tis evident; i. e. soon after his Baptism, and when ordained to Office. One good reason for it is given by Mr. Blackwood: Paul (saith he) speaks of such Gifts, as were given by the Laying on of his own Hands, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; but the Imposition in Ordination was by the Hands of the Eldership, 1 Tim. 4.14. where the Greek words are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, signifying a conjunction of Persons; but 2 Tim. 1.6. is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to denote the act of one Man.
And doubtless such an Exposition as Mr. Dan∣vers gives, too much reflects on the Apostle, who hated nothing more than Pride and Arrogancy: Surely he would not have appropriated to him∣self Page 82 alone, what was done by others as well as himself.
But again, I am perswaded our Brethren are sensible of what has been said in respect of those Gifts Timothy received through Layings on of Hands, which have been shewed by several to be different, (one only relating to his Office, or Mi∣nisterial Power committed to him; the other to such Gifts as are proper to all the Saints) tho they take no notice of it.
I am loth to say, that all that Mr. Danvers has done in his small Tract, has been to darken Counsel with words without knowledg; yet one would admire to consider how confusedly he hath writ on this Subject, who seems to blame us for being so positive as to what Laying on of Hands is intended in Heb. 6.1, 2. which is, as if a Master should blame his Scholar for affirming A is A, and B is B: Surely if we have not perfectly learned our first Lesson, or Rudiments of our Profession, we shall never be good Tutors of others: The A∣postle blames the Hebrews, ch. 5.22. for being such ill Proficients, that they had gone no fur∣ther; and you seem to blame us for going so far, as to affirm positively what are the first Principles of the Doctrine of Christ. But give me leave to tell you, it is as easy to know what Laying on of Hands is intended Heb. 6. as what Baptism our Saviour refers to, Mat. 28.20.
But secondly, You may be assured were we at a loss in the case, we should never come to learn of you; for Mr. D. by his own grant, pag. 49. signifieth he had not attained to a certain knowledg of it, nor was able to be positive in the case; many Page 83 things being hard and difficult to be understood, which those that are ignorant, wrest, saith he, &c.
Answ. No marvel if ignorant Men are at a loss, and captivated in their understandings, abusing and wresting those mysterious places, or things contained in Paul's Epistles, when Men of know∣ledg shall lose themselves in such a plain and easy path, I knew a Man (may be learned too) who a while ago, knew not but that Baptism, and Laying on of hands, &c. in Heb. 6.1, 2. might intend those legal Washings, and Laying on of Hands upon the heads of Bullocks, sacrificed in the time of the Law. I am glad to find other Opposers of this Truth of another Judgment. Would Men deny themselves, and not trust their own understandings, they might soon see the way plain before them, that those first Prin∣ciples of the Oracles of God, called Milk for Babes, and not strong Meat, are none of those things spoken of by Peter, so hard to be under∣stood.
But since Mr. D. says, he will not leave us in the dark, but resolves to give us his apprehension of this Text, in which he thinks he has the mind of Christ, pag. 49, 50. we will proceed.
Yet this let me premise, that what he has laid down as his Judgment on this Text, Mr. Tom∣linson has very well answered in a Treatise lately printed, pag. 22, 23. and shewed the ridiculous∣ness of such an Exposition. I fear Mr. D. did not implore the Throne of Grace for Light and Direction before he begun to write on this Sub∣ject, he is so much beclouded as to the meaning of this Scripture. He conceives, that the six Page 84 Principles mentioned here, are very comprehensive, and may take in the ten Commandments, the Lord's Supper, and several other things: Nay he says, that Repentance and Faith may comprehend all, both the negative and positive part of Holiness.
Answ. 1. If the whole of Religion, or Doctrine of Godliness is comprehended in these six Princi∣ples, why should the Apostle call them first Prin∣ciples? 'tis improper to call those the first that comprehend all: by this Argument, when the Foundation is laid, the whole Building is finished.
2. And if the whole of Piety, or Holiness, be included in the two first Principles, Repen∣tance, and Faith, there was no need to enumerate any more: Nay, by this Argument, obedience to Christ in Baptism, and Laying on of Hands, together with the belief of the Resurrection and Eternal Judgment, are not comprehended in the negative or positive part of Holiness: to what purpose then have we spent our time in writing about either of these Principles?
3. But again, as Mr. Tomlinson minds, How could it be the weakness of these Hebrews, that they had need to be taught them again? or how could the Apostle say, he would leave them to go on to per∣fection? &c, Surely if in these first Principles all Religion be comprehended, he would not do well to leave them; it might rather have been their perfec∣tion ever to remain there, viz. in preaching, studying and practising of them, and go no further; or if we must needs leave them, we must leave all Religion and Holiness, and so turn Ranters, Atheists, or Quakers.
4. But, if the whole Body of Religion and Page 85 Holiness is comprehended in these six Principles, then no Christian had gone further; nay, nor perfectly learned the A B C of his Profession, and we must always be learning them▪ and so ever be but Babes in Christ: and no reason had the Apostle to blame the Hebrews that they had gone no further, since in those beginning Principles were comprehended the whole of their Duty.
5. And since these Principles are in the Apo∣stle's sense to be looked upon as Milk, and for Babes; what then is the Meat? and who are the strong Men? Surely when we have done with our Milk, the Feast is ended; and there is no after-Dish, to speak according to the nature of this Metaphor.
Again, P. 45. as Mr. Danvers would have Re∣pentance and Faith to comprehend both the negative and positive part of Holiness; so he pro∣ceeds to tell us how comprehensive Laying on of hands is; That it takes in all sorts that are spoken of, viz. Miracles, Healings, and Gifts, that were for the Confirmation of the Gospel, and the Investi∣ture of Church-Officers, &c.
Answ. This is as true as the former, and as good Divinity every whit; and when he has an∣swered our Arguments against this strange Ex∣position, we will argue that Point further. But doth he not hereby make Laying on of hands for miraculous Healing a perpetual Administration, it being a part (in his sense) of the Foundation of God's House? We have shewed why it cannot intend that on Sick Persons, nor on Officers of the Church; and as to extraordinary Gifts for Page 86 Confirmation of the Gospel, if he mean that spo∣ken of Acts 8.17. and 19.6. we utterly deny it, and clearly prove the contrary, that it was not the end of that Service, &c. no more than of Assembling together, Prayer, Preaching, &c. since such Miraculous Effects followed more or less every one of those, and other Gospel-mini∣strations, as well as Laying on of hands on bap∣tized Believers. This considered, 'tis strange he should reason after this manner.
But we further say, there is but one Laying on of hands intended in Heb. 6.1, 2. because 'tis exprest in the singular number, Laying on of hands, and not Layings, &c.
Mr. Danvers saith This is a meer Criticism, and hath nothing of truth in it. He affirms that Laying on of hands, is as plural as Baptism. This is all the Answer he gives; see page 51.
Answ. If a bare Affirmation may be taken for a Proof in this, we are answered, and Mr. Dan∣vers has done his business; what is here more? I desire to know how he would write were he to distinguish between one Hand and several, since Hands are in the Plural Number? The Admini∣strator is not to lay one only, but both his Hands: there can be no distinguishing (if this Man is not mistaken) between one and divers kinds; for wherever the Scripture speaks but of one sort (in our Opponents judgment) 'tis express, as it is here, viz. Laying on of hands, and so as plural: see 1 Tim. 4.14. I need not say more, only cite a Passage of a Learned Writer upon this very Place, and Objection; 'Tis most palpably apparent (saith he) to such as are not asleep in their reading Page 87 of that Text, Heb. 6.1, 2. that it speaks in the singular Number, of one Laying on of hands alone, and not of Laying on of hands, as it must have been exprest, had he meant more kinds of Imposition of hands than one: for tho Hands be the Plural Num∣ber, 'yet [note] Laying, which is the Phrase you speak to, or else you speak nihil ad Rhombum, is a Substantive of the Singular Number, both in the English and the Greek.
But to proceed: Mr. D. p. 51, 52. gives us the ground of his Offence concerning the nature or manner of our maintaining this Principle of Im∣position of Hands.
1. Negatively, he tells us wherein his offence lies not, viz. Not because we pray for a blessing on our Brethren and Sisters, or for the practice or ges∣ture of Lifting up, or Laying on of hands; pro∣vided it be not urged as of absolute necessity, &c. But,
2. When imposed as an Institution of Christ, a beginning Doctrine, or Oracle of God, a Foun∣dation of Christian Religion, to which every Disciple of Christ ought to submit on penalty of Non∣communion, for rejecting a Fundamental Princi∣ple, tho not one word of Institution, Command, Precept, or Example for the same; and that un∣der pretence of receiving more of the Spirit of Christ thereby, which is a Spirit of Love, Meekness, &c. There appears the Spirit of uncharitableness, judg∣ing. rending, and dividing the Body of Christ, and for asserting for Doctrine and Practice, the Customs and Commands of Men: it is for these things our Offences lie so well founded upon Deut. 4.2. and 12.23. Rev. 22.18. Prov. 30.6.
Page 88Answ. 1. Could we have such a liberty as to make a holy Institution of Christ only a formal or civil Ceremony or Gesture, or a thing indif∣ferent, to do, or not do; our Brethren, it seems, would not be offended.
2. Were it a true Charge he brings, he would have cause to be offended with us; but whether it be a Principle of the Doctrine of Christ, and an Oracle of God, or a Tradition of Men, which we contend for, let the impartial Reader judg. Here is nothing offered by our Opponent to de∣serve any further Answer; it calls more for Re∣prehension than Confutation. Who seemed more censorious than Mr. Danvers, who charged his Brethren with what they most abominated, viz. tearing and dividing the Body of Christ, Will-worship, nay being under the dreadful Curse of Adding to the Word of God?
3. Whether we are guilty of Schism, rending and tearing the Body of Christ, or those who neglect his Words, or Foundation-Principle of his Doctrine (I might say reject it) is fully mani∣fested in a late Book Intituled, The Searchers for Schism searched, that has not yet been answered.
4. May not the Independents and others charge you on the account of Baptism, with rending and tearing the Body of Christ, since you deny Break∣ing of Bread with them, on that Consideration as some do with you about Laying on of hands, a Principle of the same nature? Doth not Mr. Wills in his Answer to your former Book of Baptism, charge you in much like words, as you do us here? And truly, if I mistake not, Mr. D. has cleared us from Schism, and well answered him∣self Page 89 in his late Reply, Page 169, 170, 171. as he says of Baptism:*Suffer me to speak of Laying on of hands; There is nothing in the Principle it self but what inclines to Piety and Ʋnity: It being designed by Christ not only to pro∣mote Sanctification, but to further Love and Peace, in the way of Righteousness and Truth.
Why should Baptism be esteemed the whole and only Inlet into the visible Church, when 'tis but one of the Six Fundamental Principles of Church-Constitution? Why should he have a greater esteem for one than for another Institu∣tion? Did our Brethren see Laying on of hands to be an Ordinance of the same nature with Bap∣tism, I might hope they would not be of the mind some are of: 'tis sad when a Fundamental Principle of Christian Religion shall be made in∣different. I have a tender respect to all that love Christ, yet dare not violate that Holy Order left in his Word, knowing how severely he has manifested his displeasure against such as have been negligent therein.
5. Now tho we grant Baptism an Initiating Ordinance, yet not that alone. There are two Doors to be passed through, (saith a Learned Writer) before we can come ad adyta & intima Ecclesiae penetralia, viz. Baptism, and Laying on of hands: whereof the latter properly and immediately gives admittance.
Mr. Hanmer, p. 22. cites some antient Christians speaking thus: Confirmatione protinus data plena authoritas, & jus Corpori Christi & sanguini cum omnibus Fid•libus communicandi: that is, Con∣firmation Page 90 (or Imposition of hands) forthwith gives full authority and right of Communion in the Body and Blood of Christ. And in another place saith the same Person; He that was not confirmed, was not admitted to the Eucharist.
Doubtless if the Church of Judea, first planted in the order of the Gospel, is to be followed, or if that which was the practice of some of the Churches, was also of every Church, then both these Ordinances, as well as the other beginning Principles, must precede, or are prerequisite to Church-Communion and Fellowship.
Object. But doth not this straiten and narrow the Interest of Jesus Christ?
Answ. Mr. Danvers's Reply to Mr. Wills about Baptism, is a very good answer: viz. This (saith he) is no other than Reformation in all Ages (since the Antichristian defection) hath been charged with, and particularly that Reformation that has been en∣deavoured in that other Ordinance of the Lord's Supper; therefore the Presbyterians cry out against the Independents for sinful Schism, Fomentèrs of Faction, and narrowing of Christ's Interest, in their respective Separations, and Church-Communi∣ons. The same do the Prelats say to the Presby∣terians; and the very same do the Papists say to the Episcoparians.
If Mr. D. in the work of Reformation excels, or has more light than such he speaks of, in re∣spect of Church-Constitution and Communion, and resolves to pursue his work, tho he is re∣proach'd on this account; why should he blame us, who, according to our light, labour after a pure and perfect Reformation? or doth he judg Page 91 he has got to such a degree of knowledg, that he is perfect, and needs no more light nor instructi∣on, and that the last Stone of Reformation and Restoration here is laid, because Baptism shines forth in its primitive purity? Remember him who said (such was his Humility) What I know not, teach thou me. and Apollos, tho mighty in the Scriptures, could stoop to the Counsel and Instruction of Aquila and Priscilla, tho much in∣ferior to him, who taught him the way of God more perfectly, Act. 18.26.
6. Ought not we to stand fast, and hold the Traditions we have been taught? and is not this worthy of Commendation? what saith the Apo∣stle, 1 Cor. 11.2. Now I praise you Brethren, that you remember me in all things, and keep the Ordi∣nances as they were delivered unto you. And are we not commanded to withdraw from every Bro∣ther that walks disorderly, and not after the Tra∣ditions we have received? Besides, can we com∣fortably have Communion with such as oppose a Command of God, nay, that make it but a Tra∣dition of Men, and an Antichristian Innovation? And as in all Fundamentals of Salvation, so in those of Church-Constitution, we ought to be a∣greed, before we can orderly sit down toge∣ther.
7. But to say no more, I would caution all our Brethren to take heed what they affirm on this account, I mean concerning us, and this sa∣cred Institution, since they seem so cloudy in their understanding about those Scriptures urged as the great Warranty for our Practice: If God has hid (for reasons best known to himself) this Page 92 Truth of Imposition of hands from their eyes, as he hath the holy Ordinance of Baptism from the Independents, &c. it will be their wisdom to for∣bear Reflections; let them not be angry, lest it be found to be a Truth of God▪ and they conse∣quently prove offended at Christ himself, who left this as well as Baptism amongst the beginning-principles of his Doctrine. Why should they be offended at us for having an equal love to all the Commandments of Christ? I would hope they have reason to judg, 'tis from hence we so ear∣nestly contend with them on this account.
8. I cannot but marvel, that our Brethren should call Laying on of hands, a Doctrine, or Tradition of Men, and render those who plead for it, guilty of adding to the Word of God; and yet receive such into Communion at the Lord's Table, as are in the practice of it. What uncharitable thoughts do they retain of their Brethren? and what guilt, on this Consideration, do they bring on their own Souls?
But let me close with one Caution more; since they know 'tis as sinful every way to dimi∣nish from God's Word as to alter or add to it, let them take heed lest they be found guilty therein.
We have now traced Mr. D. quite through, and have little more to do: In page 53. he la∣bours to remove an Objection brought against him from Antiquity; and since he has fairly sta∣ted it, take it in his own words.
As to the point of Antiquity, tho 'tis granted the Antients, and their Followers ever since, have er∣red not only in the Subject, but in divers Circum∣stances Page 93 about this Rite of Imposition of hands, yet in-as-much as there has been all along such a witness born to the thing it self, it makes for its Apostoli∣calness, and confirms our Practice therein. Now take his Answer to it: It doth not appear (saith he) that such a Witness hath been born all along there∣to for Mr. Baxter ingenuously acknowledges that Justin Martyr, Ireneus, and others in those times are silent about it, &c. And those Authorities that are pretended to assert the same in the first Centuries, have been proved to be spurious and supposititious. 2ly. That pretence of antient Prescription, with∣out the Word of God to warrant it, can never justify the Divine Authority of any Practice.
Answ. 1. We fully agree with him, viz. what∣ever is found in antient Prescriptions concerning this, or any Practice, signifies nothing, if God's Word doth not witness to it: But having such evident proof from God's Word to warrant this Precept, we never judged it worth while to search into▪ Authors concerning it; neither should we have cited any now, had we not been forc'd by our Opposers. And as to what he says concern∣ing Mr. Baxter's ingenuous Confession, that Justin Martyr and Ireneus are both silent about it, it signifies very little; for first, we have nothing but Mr. Baxter's say-so for it, who may be has overlook'd some places of these Authors, or pro∣bably not met with all their Works. But,
2. Since their Silence only is pretended, it car∣ries no great force with it; must we of necessity produce all the Antients expresly witnessing there∣to, or else is all nothing that is brought from Antiquity in the Case? We have mentioned se∣veral Page 94 antient Witnesses, and some of the 2d and 3d Centuries, which are neither spurious, suppo∣sititious, suborn'd Witnesses, nor Knights of the Post, tho Mr. D. is pleased so to call them.
And now to conclude, we must say again, a∣gainst what is mention'd, p. 54. that there is a clearer Precept for Imposition of hands on baptized Believers as such, than can be urged for that on Church-Officers, or the observation of the first Day of the Week, &c.
I have ground to conclude Mr. D. thinks it his duty to keep holy the first Day of the Week, as the Christian Sabbath.
We gave Mr. D. no ground to say that which he did of us, viz. Reproach the Wisdom of Christ, and slight the Authority of the Holy Scriptures, as tho we had not a sufficient Direction therein in all parts of God's Worship. God forbid we should be guilty of such things! Rome and others may here∣in justly be charged; but our Souls witness a∣gainst it as an abominable Assertion.
And that remarkable Expression of Dr. Owen's, as Mr. D. calls it, we can with all readiness and simplicity close in with; and judg it necessary once more to recite it, viz. This then they who hold Communion with Christ, are careful of, they will admit nothing, practise nothing in the Worship of God, private or publick, but what they have his Warrant for: for unless it comes in his Name, with Thus saith the Lord Jesus, they will not hear an Angel from Heaven; they know the Apostles them∣selves were to teach the Saints only what Christ com∣manded them. Communion with God, p. 171.
The Doctor's Rule is ever to be followed, the Page 95 Lord open his eyes; for how doth this clearly overthrow all his Arguments for Infant-Baptism? &c. But what injury doth it do us, who can say, Thus saith the Lord Jesus? 'tis left on record a∣mongst the first Principles of his Doctrine, Heb. 6. 1, 2. 'tis a Command of God, if the Oracles of God be his Command, Heb. 5.12. which sure none will deny; since the Apostle Paul, and Ste∣phen (a Man full of the Holy Spirit) affirm them so to be. We believe what the Doctor saith, viz. that the Apostles were to teach nothing but what Christ commanded them, to whom they were obedient therein: and surely then all may see a Divine Institution for this Practice; for was it not taught to the Hebrew Church? Heb. 5.12. And did not Peter and John teach it to the Saints at Samaria? and Paul to the Disciples at Ephesus, and to Timothy? yea, and made them obedient thereto? Acts 8.17. & 19.6. 2 Tim. 1.6.
If Laying on of hands were not an Ordinance of God, and of Divine Institution (saith Mr. Black∣wood Annot. on Matth. p. 690.) then the Apostles in the administration thereof had practised Will-worship; nay, which is more, had left a Rule of Will-worship unto us, Heb. 6.1. But 'tis absurd to think that the Apostle would do either of these; therefore Laying on of hands upon baptized Persons is an Apostolical Institution.
Far be it from us, or any Christian, to har∣bour so uncharitable thoughts of the blessed Apo∣stles, viz. that they would do any thing in Christ's Name without his Warrant. If any Man, saith Paul, think himself to be a Prophet, or Spiritual, let him acknowledg that the things I write unto you, Page 96 are the Commandments of the Lord, 1 Cor. 14.37. Compare this with Rom. 15.18. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things, which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obe∣dient, by word or deed.