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the Author of a Book falfly Intituled, The Judgment of the Church of England, in the Cafe of Lay Baptifm, and of Diffenters Baptifm has done. And what is the most astonishing of all is, that they who oppose the Popish Doctrine before fpoken of, are call'd Promoters of POPERY, particularly by Dr. Burnet the late Bishop of Sarum; just as the Church's best Friends are called her greatest Enemies: But 'tis eafie from hence to difcover,who they are, that would introduce and establish POPERY among us.
And now, after all that has been said, I declare, that it is not my Design to meddle with the Cyprianick Difpute in this Difcourfe; my bufinefs is not to enquire whether those who were once duly Authoriz'd, and afterwards fall into HERESY or SCHISM, and thereby separate themselves, or are excluded from the Church, can Administer Valid Sacraments and Ordinations during this their Separation: No, I fhall not fo much as touch upon this at all, because I don't think my Cafe affected by it; all that I need concern my felf about, is, whether thofe who act in oppofition to the acknowledg'd and duly Authorized Minifters of Christ; and who themselves were NEVER duly Au thoriz❜d, can Administer truly Valid Baptifm, and whether the Receivers of thofe Baptifms, can fafely reft fatisfied with them, especially when they know of this want of Power and Authority in the Adminiftrator. This is my Cafe,and this is all that I concern myself about And
And therefore I wrote the following ESSAY in a Mathematical Method of Definition, Axiom, and Propofition, for the Information of my own Judgment, in this great Affair: It was not at firft defign'd for Publick View, but finding others have been, and it may be ftill do Labour under the fame Circumftances with my felf, I thought it might not be unaccepta ble to them; and if they fhall reap any bene fit thereby, or if fome abler Pen will undertake to mend my Faults, by letting the World fee fomething more Correct and Exact for that purpose, (the only Motive of my Writing) I fhall obtain my end, which God be praised is not mixt with any Alloy of Worldly Gain, or defire of Human Applaufe for this Undertaking.
As for Caviling and Difputing 'tis not my defign to concern my felf (and lofe my precious time) in fuch endless Impertinencies. If any one will candidly fhew me my Errors, F fhall heartily thank him for fo doing; but I declare before-hand, that no less than fuch Demonstration as the Nature of the Thing will bear, can ever go down with me for Conviction; I am not to be put off with the Authority of any great Names, Separate from Scripture, and the Confentient Doctrine and PraEtice of the Primitive Church, for, this has caused too much Error in the World already, and 'tis high time now to reform from it.
London, 22d of October, 1722.
Of the Nature and Obligation of Divine Pofitive Institutions
Divine Pofitive Inftitution of Religion is, that which God himself requires and commands to be done, and which (having no intrinsick or moral Excellency in it felf) without his Command and Appointment,we could never have been bound to the Obfervance of; nor ever have convey'd to us by the Obferva tion thereof, any SUPERNATURAL Bea nefit or Advantage whatsoever.
II. The Effential Parts of a Divine Pofitive Inftitution, are thofe which we are oblig'd conftantly to observe, as long as the utmost du
ration, of the Force and Obligation of the Inftitution it self.
III. I call an Act Invalid for the purposes of fuch an Inftitution, when we have no juft Reafon or Motive from Divine Revelation to expect, that God fhould fo far concur with that Act, as to convey by MEANS THEREOF, thofe Supernatural Advantages he has annex'd to the Inftitution.
IV. By the Supernatural Advantages Annex'd to an Inftitution, I mean all thofe Spiritual Privileges and Benefits which by Nature we cannot have, and which God has promis'd to bestow, upon Condition of our duly Performing that Inftitution, which he has made to be the Ordinary means of Conveying those Benefits to us.
V. By the Divine Authority of the Adminiftrator, I mean that Commiffion which God at firft gave to Men, and which they have ever fince handed down to others, by his Order and Appointment, to Adminifter in his Holy Ordinances...
VI. By a Lay Administration I mean, That which is perform'd by One who never was commiffion'd or Impower'd for that Act, by those whom God has appointed to be the Convey-I ers of his Authority and Commiffion to Men, for that purpofe. AXIOMS
I. The Effential Parts of any thing, are of the fame Nature as the whole.
II. God himself may dispense with any of his own Positive Inftitutions, either in whole or in Part; and beftow the Benefits annex'd to them, when, to whom, and how he pleases.
III. No Ecclefiaftcal or Civil Authority can Difpenfe with any Divine Pofitive Inftitution, either in whole, or in any Effential Part, fo long as it is binding and obliging to us.
IV. The only way to determine whether an Act is Valid or Invalid, for the Purposes of a Divine Pofitive Inftitution, is, to know whether that Act be Lawful or Unlawful, Agreeable, or Contrary to the Will of God; which is to be found no where, but either in the Inftitution it felf, or in fome other Part or Parts of his Written Word,relating to the fame Inftitution,
V. No Power or Authority on Earth, can by any after-Act (not appointed by God for that purpose