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the Eunuch gave it accordingly. Anid the Exmub said, Sce, there Water, wbat doth binder me to be baptized? And Philip faid, If those believest with all thine Heart, thou mayht. And he answered, I believe that
Jefus Cbrift is the son of GOD (a). And 'tis well known how plain and full the Practice of the primitive Christians was in this Matter:
The only plausible Objection then is, That our Church too much confines the Terms of Christian Communion; and encroaches upon the Liberties of the People; That all have a Right to Baptism who maintain the Fundamentals of Religion, which many do who differ from us in severa) Articles of Faith ; That therefore, to oblige Parents who present their Children to be baptized, either to profess their own Beliéf of all the Articles of our Confeffion, or to educate their Children in the Faith of them, is to establish other Bounds of Christian Communion than the great Author of our Religion hath done, and to exclude many from the Church who may be his fincere Followers, and ought to be received into it.
In Answer to this, we shall just mention these three Things. Hirft, That in so far as is known to us, there is no Act of Allembly, nor even of any inferior Church-Judicature, establishing the Confeffion of Faith a Term of Christian-Communion, and appointing Ministers to require an Alfent thereco from Christian Parents
, in order to their being admitted to all the Privileges of Church-Communion, and particularly the Baptifm of their children: And there fore there does not seem to be place for the Foundation of the Objection
It is true, that, according to the Principles laid down and maintained in this Treatise, a plain and direa Acknowledgment of the effential Doctrines of Christianity, may be juftly required by any Church of all that would
lay claim to Baptism, and the Fellowlup of Christians. But our Church hath acted fo wife and cautious Part, as never to have prétended to condescend upon these precise Articles, which should be declared fundamental and necellary Maxims of our Religion, and to pitch upon all these Do&rines, the Belief of which is indispenfably neceflary in a fincere Christian Body of Chrift: Since that were an Attempt of great Difficulty, and might be liable to much greater Inconveniencies
than the lea ving it unellayed.
2dly, It mult indeed be acknowledged, That, according to the general Practice which hath prevailed in the Church, when the Sacrament of Baptism is adminiftred, the Parent, or the Sponsor whoever he be, is engaged to educate the Child in the Principles Scriptures; whereof, as is told them, there is an excellent Summary in our Confefion of Faith and Catecbifms. Nor thall we deny, but that this may be conftruded an Obligation on the Parent, to train
(a) Ads 8. 36, 37
up his Childhin the Doctrines of the Westminster Comfefion and com; fequently a Declaration that he believes thefe Doctrines him felt: But, we hope, this can't be called the smallest Imposicion upon a Perfon who heartily embraces all chefe Doctrines, and not paly is free from any Scruple as to the Articles of our Standard, but defires to embrace that Opportunity of publickly owning before al the Church, his firm Beliet, and cordial Acceptation of these Articles as the Truths of Jesus, and the Dogrines of that pure Faith which he receives with his Heart, and acknowledges with the Mouth. Surely it were a very unreasonable Hardship, to retuse that Person an Opportunity every way to fic for it, of making a Profeflion of the Faith of the Gospel, as it appears to him in its greateft Light and Purity : Now it is very juftly supposed, that all Persons who know the common Practice of the Church, and yec move no Objections, are of this Dispolition, and have these Inchi Aations.
In the third place, as there is no established Rule, nor any Ad of Affembly, confining the Benefits of Baptism to the Belief of the several Articles of our Confeffion, and excluding trom a Participation of this Ordinance, all Persons who may in some Things differ from us: So there was no Ground in Fact ever given to a Person, to complain of an arbitrary Impolition upon him in this Refpeänor can any Man, fo far as we know, alledge that he age quainted a Minister that he had Scruples as to fome Articles of our Confeflion, or was of a contrary Opinion to them, and therefore that he could neither profess his own Belief of them, nor engag? to educate his Child in them, and was thereupon denied Accels to this Sacrament. On the other hand, there have been several Instances of Perfons, who, upon their Delire, were gratified in this Particular; while none had ever Reason to complain of a Refusal: From which Confideration, 'tis hoped, the Groundlesness of the Camour raifed by our Enemies will evidently appear.
HERE is only one Thing farther to be noticed ; and truly
it is la trifling that it would merit no Regard, did not qur Adverfaries with a great deal of Confidence boalt of it: Namely. the Alat Contradi&ion which, they alledge, there is betwixt the Principles which we now fall in with concerning Civil Govern ment, together with the Conduct of this Church Since the Revolution, and these Words of 23 Chap. of the Confeffion of Faith, of the Ciail Magiftrete, Section 4. Infidelity or Difference in Religion doch not make yoid the
Magistrate's just and legal Authority, nor free the People from their due Obedience to him.
This indeed hath been the Principle of ous, and, I believe, of all other Churches : Nor could they maintain the contrary, without unhinging all Government in Heathen, Mahometan and Popish Countries, which
were very abfurd and without denying the Submission and Obedience to the Roman Cesars, which Christ and his Apostles paid them. But this can never, in the smallest Degrec, be inconliftent with our teaving disclaimed all Allegiance, Sac
to the abdicated, or, in the Stile of our Aes of Parliament, the forma feited King James; and, since his Death, to the Pretender unto the Britifh Crown ; except it can be proved, that we acknowledge that the Pretender hath a juft and legal Authority of the fupreme Ma giftrate, which; because of his Infidelity, we make void This were indeed to contradict the alledged Articles of the Westminfter Confeffion. But fince we are perfuaded that he hath no Right or Title whatsomever, that he is not a Magiftrare; and hath no manner of Authority in these IHands; the People whereof owe him not the leaft Obedience ; it may be alledged that we injure him : But there is not the fmallest Colour for charging us with contradi&ting the Principles of our own Confeflion; when we utterly renounce and disclaim his imaginary Kingship.
It is not simply becaufe he is a Papist that we pay iro Allegiance to that pretended King; but because he hath now no Right to the British Throne, whatever be his Religion; any Title which otherwife he might have had being vacated and anulled, by those, who, according to onr Principles, had an undoubted Power to limit the Succession of the Crown, as appeared necessary for the publick Good: As all the Plea which the late King James could have made for himself and his Pofterity, was entirely destroyed by his tyrannical Invasion of the fundamental Laws and Constitutions of Go vernment, whereby he was expofed to a just and necessary Forfeiture.
Wherefore, -hough, to doubt, his embracing that abominable dolatry, and being to deeply impressed with the cruel and impious Maxims of that falte and bloody Religion, gives us a higher Relich of the infinite Goodness of a merciful God, in eftabitihing tipon the Throne our prefent excellent Sovereign KING GEORGE; and inspires, with a greater Ardour, our sincere Wishes for the Stability and Glory of his Reign; shows us, in a more thining Light, the Bleflings of the Protestant Succession in his illustrious Family; and increases our Horror at the disma! Prospect of Things, if ever an avenging God should send the Pretender to be a Scourge unto these Nations: Yet we do not change our Principles, by pretending that his Infidelity makes void his juft and legal Authori ty; for to us there does not appear so much as the lealt Shadow of any Authority, which that Person can lay claim to irr Britain, but very plain Demonstrations of the contrary.
We have now given an Account of all the different Uses and Parpofes of Confefhons of Faith, which we thought of any Importance; have endeavoured to illustrate, explain and vindicate them; and to conlider all the material Objeétions, which, we could imagine, might be brought against them: And fo we have faished all that was at first proposed in this Elfay. What particularly relates to this Edition of our Comfefioms, &c. will be accounted for in a leparate Advertisement,
Addenda Page xci. I. 47.
Yea fo extremely abfurd is this Scheme, that according thereto it would be impossible to frame a Confeffion, or an Acknowledgment of a Minister's or a privare Christian's Faith, which the Cherib inight expect an Affent to, even in the Original Greek and Hebrew Texts of Scripture, fupposing that the Persons fully understood thele Languages. For it a Minister should, for Instance, doubt whether the Text of Scripture, that speaks inost plainly of the Divinity of our Saviour, ought to be understood of him; and thinks it. rather should be applied otherwise, he cannot possibly fubfcribe the original Words of that Text, so as they may be a Test of his Ort, doxy in this Particular ; and the Church which should derer-, mine their Application to Jesus Christ, and require a Minister or Chriftian, in order to his Admission among them, to give his Aflent to thefe Scriptural Phrafes fo understood, would, equally with us, expose it felf to all the clamorous Objections which are made against bumaril Creeds.
This will appear further, if we consider the several various Readings which are to be found in the Sacred Writings, one of which alone is genuine, and must have fole Claim to the Dignity and Authority of inspired Words. Now it seems according to the Principles of our Adversaries, that no Church could fix upon this genuine Reading, and require an Affent to it from their publick Teachers, lunce that were indeed to determine what were Scripture, what pot, and the demanding an Aflent to such a Determination, would be exclaimed against as an arbitrary Imposition; as a native Confequence of which, no publick Confelion of Faith, could be compo- : fed in the Words of such Texts of Scripture as admit of various Readings, whereby a great many Pallages
of the Holy Oracles will be neceffarily excluded.
This Difficulty will prove of greater Extent and Importance, with respect to these who deny the divine Authority, of some of these Books of the New Testament, which have been generally, received by Christians: As on the other Hand, were this novel Scheme of Confessions allowed, fuch People as Mr. Whifton, who would obtrude upon the Church a new Set of pretended inspired Writings, might alledge, That a Profession of their Faith, in the Phrases of these Books adopted by them, and embraced as the Word of God, were fufficient to all the Privileges of Christian or minifterial Communion, and that it were a manifest Invasion of their religious Freedom, to require any other Tests of Orthodoxy from them; and furely it seems to argue every way as great an Authoricy in Matters of Faith, for a Church to determine what Books the thinks divinely inspired, and which must accordingly be owned as such by her Members, as it is for the same Church, to declare what Do. Etries she judges to be the fundamental Principles of Christianity, unto which all ought to give their Aflent, who lay claim to Church Privilegcs, or at least iretend to the Office of a publick Teacher.