A brief Reply to a Book called, A Treatise concerning Laying on of Hands.
Written by a nameless Author, and published in the Year 1691.
THE first Reason (he says) why they can∣not own Laying on of Hands on all Be∣lievers, is, because there must be a Com∣mand, or at least some Example for it, pag. 3.
Answ. We have proved in the preceding Treatise, that we have both a Command and Example for it, if a Command of God, and an Oracle of God, is all one: See Heb. 5.12. That which is an Oracle of God, is a Command of God; but Laying on of Hands, &c. is an Ora∣cle of God, Ergo. And as to Examples, we have them also: see Acts 8. and Acts 19.
2ly. Because (they say) they believe nei∣ther our Lord nor his Disciples were under it, pag. 4.
Answ. Our Lord, we have shewed, was un∣der it; the Father laid his Hands upon him when he came out of the Water, and thereby sealed him; the Holy Ghost in the likeness of a Page 106 Dove rested upon him: And no doubt but our Lord laid his Hands upon his Disciples, since he taught this Precept as a Principle of his Doc∣trine, Heb. 6. 1, 2. True, we read not of their Baptism, nor of this neither; therefore from thence they may as well say they were not bap∣tized, as that they had not Hands laid upon them.
3ly. Because (say they) if the Apostles were under it, they must have an Administrator; and who, say they, should that be? p. 4. But there is nothing said of it, &c.
Answ. 1. Our Lord Christ might be the Ad∣ministrator, who is the great Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls, as I said afore.
2. And it no more follows that they were not baptized, than that they were not under Lay∣ing on of Hands; i. e. because there is nothing said of either.
4ly. Their fourth Reason is the same with their first.
5ly. Their fifth Reason is, because, they say, the Church at Jerusalem was not under it, pag. 5.
Answ. Was not the Hebrew Church the Church at Jerusalem? Now they, 'tis evident, were under it, or had laid it: Not laying again presupposeth they had once laid it, or were un∣der it, as well as Baptized.
6ly. Their sixth Reason is, because an Ordi∣nance necessary to Church-Communion ought very plainly to be expressed, p. 6.
Page 107Answ. So is this of Imposition of Hands, Heb. 5.12. Heb. 6. 1, 2. Acts 8. and Acts 19.6.
7ly. Because, they say, our Lord did leave no Ordinance as absolutely necessary to Church-Communion, but such as holds forth his Death and Resurrection, p. 9. as Baptism and the Lord's Supper, &c.
Answ. Who told them so? or doth it follow that because Baptism and the Supper are Figures of our Lord's Death, &c. therefore this must be a figure of the same, or no Ordinance? This is not argumentative nor demonstrative.
8ly. Because Salvation is promised on the Terms of Faith, Repentance, and Baptism; and from hence they argue there is no need of any such Ordinance as this of Laying on of Hands, p. 7.
Answ. Salvation is promised particularly to Faith; He that believeth hath the Son, —hath Life, and shall be saved, Mark 16.16. therefore need not I be baptized? Moreover, I deny that any Ordinance gives a right to Salvation, any other ways than as it is an evidence of that Right or Title to our Consciences. Our Right or Title is Christ's Righteousness, or his active and pas∣sive Obedience only. But should a Man be con∣vinced that Laying on of Hands, Church-Com∣munion, Order, and Discipline, or giving to the Poor, &c. were Duties which he omitted, would his pretended Faith, Repentance, and Baptism, render him a sincere Christian? No, he must do all things Christ commanded, or taught to be Page 108 done, which he is convinced of, as well as those three things.
9ly. Their ninth Reason against Laying on of Hands, is taken from those Effects that followed this Ordinance, viz. the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit.
Answ. The same Effects followed all other Gospel-Ordinances: this we have also answered in the precedent Treatise.
10ly. Their tenth Reason is, because the Holy Spirit was sometimes given without Laying on of Hands, pag. 8.
Answ. The Holy Spirit is promised to them that are baptized; but because some received the Spirit before baptized, needed they not be baptized? In Acts 10.44. Cornelius received the Spirit, to confirm the Ministration of the Word to the Gentiles before baptized, yet was comman∣ded to be baptized; nor had he so much of the Spirit as to need no more; and therefore came un∣der this Ordinance also. Besides, because God may step out of his usual way, must we do so too? No sure.
11ly. Their eleventh Reason is, because none but such Persons as were eminently gifted did impose Hands, &c.
Ans. The Apostles did all they did as eminent∣ly gifted: but if they are not to be followed by all regular Pastors, or Elders (only ordinarily gifted) in Laying on of hands, then not in Preach∣ing, Baptizing, nor in the Administration of any Page 109 other Gospel-Ordinance: but this is also fully answered in the preceding Treatise.
In pag. 17, 18, &c. they would make the Rea∣der conclude that the Hebrews being said to be dull of Hearing, and so needed to be taught again the first Principles of the Doctrine of Christ, doth not refer to these six Principles, but to Matters relating to the Priestly Office of Christ, &c.
Answ. 'Tis true, the Apostle was about to in∣struct them into higher Mysteries, viz. about Christ's Priesthood; but he found them to have need of Milk, and not strong Meat: And most evident it is, that by strong Meat he re∣fers to the things which he proceeds to instruct them in; but the Milk he speaks of are these things, viz. Repentance, Faith, Baptism, and Laying on of Hands, &c.
They hardly understood the first Rudiments or A B C of the Christian Faith: but to suppose that Milk, or those first Principles he speaks of, is the strong Meat, is preposterous. True, Christ is properly the Foundation; but by the Foun∣dation here is meant those first Principles which every Babe in Christ was to be instructed in, and to practise, and then to go on to per∣fection.
Doth it follow, because 'tis said, not laying again the Foundation of Repentance, &c. that the Apostle only refers to Christ, who is the Foun∣dation of our Salvation, and of every Principle of the Christian Religion? Evident it is that the first Principles of the Doctrine of Christ are here Page 110 called the Foundation-principles, not that they are all Fundamentals of Salvation, but of Church-constitution: for we will not say (nor any else we hope) that none can be saved who are not baptized, and come not under Laying on of Hands; yet every true regular Church, and regular Member, ought to be under the practice of both those Principles.
But I see no need to add any thing further in answer to this Treatise, it seeming to me to have the least of Argument in it of any Book I have seen writ against this Ordinance.