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nal virtue which there is in them, to confer grace, (which they illustrate by a far-fetched similitude, taken from the virtue
"this point, amidst all their other differences, as universally as can well be im"agined." One would suppose, from the peremptory manner in which this citation is expressed, that the FACT it affirms was so evidently clear, as to leave no room for the least doubt. Those, who may think it worth while to look over the testimonies brought to view, in the following pages, will perhaps, by critically observing their real and just import, be surprized, that any man of learning, who professes a regard to truth, should speak of it, and with such a degree of assurance, as the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF ALL AGES from the apostles, that episcopacy, in the impleaded sense, was the "form of government in the church in their day," and that it was by "apostolical institution;" especially, if they should not be able to find, as it is certain they will not, so much as a single wit ness, for two hundred years, whose evidence is clear, direct, express, and full, in affirming, either that this was the form of government in the church, or that it was ever instituted by Christ, or his apostles: so far is it from the truth, that this is a FACT UNANIMOUSLY and CONSTANTLY TESTIFIED TO, even from the begin ning, and through all ages.
The Bishop, for the support of whose claims antiquity is repaired to, is one with whom the SOLE POWER of ORDINATION is lodged; insomuch, that he only can convey holy orders conformably to the appointment of Jesus Christ; and should Presbyters presume to do this, they would take that upon them which they have no more a right to, than Deacons have to baptise, or administer the Lord's supper. This part of the UNANIMOUS report of ALL AGES concerning the EXCLUSIVE RIGHT of Bishops deserves most of all the special notice of the reader; and he is particularly desired, as he goes along, to point out to himself, for his own satisfaction; or to others, for their information, any one among all the testimonies he will have placed before his view, that plainly and directly affirms the RIGHT OF ORDINATION to be peculiar to Bishops as a distinct order from Presbyters, and superior to them; or that this right was ever thus exercised by them. If he should not be able to do this, as unquestionably he will not, how strange must that affirmation appear, which says in the most positive terms, not only that this is FACT, but a fact CONSTANTLY and UNANIMOUSLY witnessed to by the fathers, in ALL AGES from the days of the apostles.
The Bishop, in whose defence antiquity is pleaded, is vested with the power of CONFIRMATION, according to the mode of the church of England; and it is appropriated to him as his right in distinction from all others. But I need not assure the reader, he will in vain look to find it a FACT, within the two first ages, that Bishops were either vested with, or ever exercised this power. For he must come down below these ages, before a word is said, by any one of the fathers, relative to this superstitious practice. Tertullian is the first that mentions it; and he mentions likewise some other corruptions, which had got mingled with christianity in that day.
In short, the question in debate, so far as it relates to FACT, is, not whether there were officers in the christian church, known by the name of Bishops in the apostolic age, and down along through the two first centuries? We join with the episcopalians in affirming this to be a truth universally testified to in those times: but the proper question is, what is FACT with reference to the ORDER of these Bishops, and the POWERS PECULIAR TO THEIR OFFICE, and as EXERCISED by them in it? The name of Bishop is one thing, and the rowER claimed for, or exercised by him, is another. The dispute is, not about the name, but the POWER appropriated to it. This therefore should be heedfully attended to by all, in their examination of the evidences that will be produced; and they may, in this way, clearly and satisfactorily determine, each one for himself, whether it be at all an attested FACT, much less a coNSTANT and UNANIMOUSLY ATTESTED ONE, from the apostles days, and down along through the two first ages, as well as after ones, that Bishops were vested with, and did actually exercise, the above specified powers, which are at this day claimed for them, as the appropri ate work of their office by divine appointment?
CHAUNCT'S VIEW OF EPISCOPACY.
which there is in food, to nourish the body, which is nothing to the purpose, since no external act of religion can have a tendency to nourish the soul, without the internal efficacious grace of the Spirit accompanying it ;) and partly from the design or intention of the priest that administers them, as they are consecrated and designed, by him, for that end.
There is also an absurd notion which is maintained by some Protestants, as well as the Papists, viz. that the sacrament of baptism, administered to infants, washes away the guilt of original sin, and gives them a right and title to heaven, so that by virtue thereof they are saved, if they happen to die before they commit actual sin: But this account of the manner in which the sacraments become effectual to salvation, is absurd to the last degree; for it puts a sanctifying and saving virtue into that which is no more than an outward and ordinary means of grace. And as to what respects the efficacy of the sacraments, arising from the intention of him that administers them; that is, to lay the whole stress of our salvation on the secret design of men, in whose power it is supposed to be, to render or prevent these ordinances from being means of grace; which is in the highest degree derogatory to the glory of God.
2. Positively. The sacraments become effectual means of salvation only by the working of the Holy Ghost, and the blessing of Christ, by whom they were instituted. As, without Christ we can do nothing, John xv. 5. so without his blessing we can receive nothing. Ordinances are only the channel through which grace is conveyed; but Christ is the author and finisher of faith; and this he does by his Spirit, when he brings the heart into a good frame, and excites suitable acts of faith and love in those who are engaged in those ordinances, and maintains the lively impressions thereof, which have a tendency to promote the work of grace in the whole conduct of their lives.
III. We proceed to consider, what sacraments Christ has instituted under the New Testament-dispensation. It hath pleased God, in every age of the world, to instruct his people by sacramental signs, as an addition to those other ways, in which he communicates his mind and will to them. Even our first parents, in their state of innocency, had the tree of life; which was a sacrament or ordinance for their faith, that if they retained their integrity, and performed the conditions of the covenant which they were under, they might hereby be led into a farther conviction that they should certainly attain the blessings promised therein: And, some think, that the tree of knowledge, of good and evil, was another sacramental sign, whereby they were given to understand, that if they sinned, they should die. And paradise, in which they were placed, was a sacra
ment, or a kind of type of the heavenly state; inasmuch as there is an allusion to it in that promise, to him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the tree of life, that is in the midst of the paradise of God, Rev. ii. 7. and heaven is, in another place called paradise, Luke xxiii. 43. Others think the Sabbath was a sacramental sign to our first parents, of that eternal sabbatism which they should celebrate in a better world, in case they yielded perfect obedience as being the condition of the covenant they were under. However, I desire not to be too peremptory as to this matter; it is enough to my present purpose, to consider the tree of life as a sacrament; whereby it appears, that God instituted such signs from the beginning of the world : But this having been insisted on elsewhere *, we pass it over, and proceed to consider,
That, after the fall of man, there were sacramental signs, instituted as ordinances for the faith of the church in the promised Messiah; especially sacrifices, which signified their expectation that he would make atonement for sin, by the shedding of his blood. Under the ceremonial law there was a large body of sacramental ordinances, or institutions, otherwise called, types of Christ, and the way of salvation by him; some of which were occasional; as manna, the water of the rock, and the brazen serpent in the wilderness, &c. others were standing ordinances in the church, as long as the ceremonial law continued; as circumcision, the passover, and many things contained in the temple-service. These were the sacraments under the Old Testament: But, having taken occasion to speak something concerning them elsewhere †, I shall confine myself to those sacraments which Christ has instituted under the New Testament; which are only two, baptism, and the Lord's
The Papists, indeed, have added five more to them, though without a divine warrant; to give countenance to which, they pervert the sense of some scriptures, occasionally brought for that purpose. One of the sacraments which they have added, is, what they call holy orders; whereby they authorize persons to perform the office of priests, or deacons: This they do by the imposition of hands, and at the same time pretend to confer the Holy Ghost: The former, they suppose to be the sign, the latter the thing signified; but this was not designed to be a sacrament given to the church; for the sacraments are ordinances that belong to all believers, and not only ministers. And, as for the imposition of hands, whether it be considered as an ancient form of praying for a blessing on persons, or as used in setting others apart to an office; it seems principally to
See vol. II. page 85. See vol. III. page 424–426, and vol. II. page 205.
have respect to these extraordinary gifts, which they expected to qualify them for the discharge thereof; which gifts being now ceased, the imposition of hands cannot be reckoned a sacramental sign; and the blessing conferred, to wit, the Holy Ghost, from whom they received those extraordinary gifts, is no longer to be signified thereby.
Another sacrament which the Papists add, is that of confirmation; by which they pretend, that children, who, in baptism, were made members of Christ, are strengthened and confirmed in the faith; and receive the Holy Ghost, in order to their performing their baptismal vow: But, whatever engagement they are laid under, by this ordinance, it is God alone that can confirm or strengthen, and enable them to walk answerable thereunto; which is a grace not in the power of man to bestow, nor can it be by any ordinance.
Another sacrament they speak of, is pennance; in which, after auricular confession made to the priest, and some external marks of sorrow expressed by the penitent, he is to perform some difficult service enjoined, which they call pennance; whereby he makes satisfaction for his sins, upon which, he is absolved from them. But this is an abominable practice, by which persons are rather hardened in sin, than delivered from it. It is derogatory to Christ's satisfaction, and has not the least appearance of a sacrament, or ordinance of God's appointment.
Another sacrament that they have added, is extreme unction ; taken from James v. 14, 15. where the apostle speaks of sick persons being anointed with oil in the name of the Lord; and it is said, the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and, if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. But to this it may be replied, that though this practice of anointing the sick with oil, was observed in the first age of the church, while the miraculous gift of healing was continued; yet it is now ceased; therefore no such significant sign is to be used. And, as for forgiveness of sins, mentioned by the apostle that seems not to have been conferred by the use of that sign; but it was humbly expected and hoped for, as an answer of prayer: It is therefore a very preposterous thing to reckon this among the sacraments, under the gospel dispensation.
Another Sacrament that the Papists add, is that of matrimony; for which, they have very little shadow of reason; but, because, they suppose, the apostle calls it a great mystery, Eph. v. 32. which word, the Greek church used to sig nify a sacrament: But he does not intend hereby, that marriage is a mystery; but the union between Christ and his church, which is illustrated by the conjugal union, is sa
called *; and, indeed, it is not an ordinance given to the church, but to mankind in general, heathens as well as Christians. Therefore nothing can be more absurd than to suppose, that it is one of the sacraments Christ hath instituted in the gospel-church; and, according to their opinion, the priests are excluded from this sacrament, inasmuch as they are forbidden to marry, as the laity are excluded from the sacrament of holy orders; so that when they pretend to add to those institutions, which Christ hath given to the church, or invent sacraments, which he hath not ordained, they betray not only their own folly, but bold presumption; therefore we must conclude, that there are only two sacraments that Christ hath given to his church, to wit, baptism, and the Lord's supper; which are particularly considered in some following answers.
QUEST. CLXV. What is baptism?
ANSW. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ hath ordained the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into himself, of remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit; of adoption and resurrection unto everlasting life; and whereby the parties baptized are solemnly admitted into the visible church, and enter into an open and professed engagement, to be wholly and only the Lord's.
HE method in which we shall endeavour to explain this answer shall be,
I. To prove that baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, instituted by Christ, in which there is to be, some way or other, the application of water.
II. That this is to be performed in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And,
III. What is signified therein, and what engagements are laid upon the person baptized.
I. To prove that baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, instituted by Christ, in which there is to be, some way or other, the application of water. Here let it be considered,
1. That there must be the application of water; and that either by dipping the person that is to be baptized into the water, or by pouring or sprinkling water upon him; otherwise it doth not answer the proper and literal sense of the word
* See Fol. III. p. 12.