« AnteriorContinuar »
to the natural and acquired imparity of age and gifts, and the unspeakable benefit to the juniors and the churches, that it is desirable that there were such a way of their education and edification, I take to be discernible to any that are impartial and judicious. Ambrose was at once a teacher and a learner: Beda Eccl. Hist, mentioneth one in England, that was at once a pastor and a disciple. And in Scotland some that became bishops were still to be under the government of the abbot of their monasteries according to their first devotion, though the abbot was but a presbyter. 8. Whether a settled, private church-member, may not at once continue his very formal relation, to the pastor of that church, and yet be of the same order with him in another church, as their pastor, at the same time, (as he may in case of necessity continue his apprenticeship or civil service,) is a case that I will not determine. But he that denieth it, must prove his opinion, (or affirmation of its unlawfulness) by sufficient evidence from Scripture or nature; which is hard.
Quest, xxxi. Who hath the power of making church canons?This is sufficiently resolved before. 1. The magistrate only hath the power of making such canons or laws for church matters as shall be enforced by the sword. 2. Every pastor hath power to make canons for his own congregation; that is, to determine what hour or at what place they shall meet; what translation of Scripture, or version of Psalms shall be used in his church: what chapter shall be read: what psalm shall be sung, &c. Except the magistrate contradict him, and determine it otherwise, in such points as are not proper to the ministerial office. 3. Councils or assemblies of pastors have the power of making such canons for many churches, as shall be laws to the people, and agreements to themselves. 4. None have power to make church laws or canons, about any thing, save, (1.) To put God's own laws in execution. (2.) To determine to that end, of such circumstances as God hath left undetermined in his Word. 5. Canon-making under pretence of order and concord, hath done a great deal of mischief to the churches; whilst clergymen have grown up from agreements, to tyrannical usurpations and impositions, and from concord about needful accidents of worship, to frame new worship ordinances, and to force them on all others; but especially, (1.) By encroaching on the power of kings, and telling them that they are bound in conscience to put all their canons into execution by force. (2.) And by laying the union of the churches and the communion of Christians upon things needless and doubtful, yea, and at last on many sinful things; whereby the churches have been most effectually divided, and the Christian world set together by the ears; and schisms, yea, and wars have been raised: and these maladies cannot possibly be healed, till the tormenting, tearing engines be broken and cast away, and the voluminous canons of numerous councils, (which themselves also are matter of undeterminable controversy) be turned into the primitive simplicity; and a few necessary things made the terms of concord. Doubtless if every pastor were left wholly to himself for the ordering of worship circumstances and accidents in his own church, without any common canons, save the Scriptures, and the laws of the land, there would have been much less division, than that is, which these numerous canons of all the councils, obtruded on the church, have made.
Quest, Xxxii. Doth baptism as such enter the baptized into the universal church, or into a particular church, or both? And is baptism the particular church covenant as such?Answ. 1. Baptism as such doth enter us into the universal church, and into it alone; and is no particular church covenant, but the solemnizing of the great Christian covenant of grace, between God, and a believer and his seed. For, (1.) There is not essentially any mention of a particular church in it. (2.) A man may be baptized by a general unfixed minister, who is not the pastor of any particular church: and he may be baptized in solitude, where there is no particular church. The eunuch, Acts viii. was not baptized into any particular church. (3.) Baptism doth but make us Christians, but a man may be a Christian who is no member of any particular church. (4.) Otherwise baptism should oblige us necessarily to a man, and be a covenant between the baptized and the pastor and church into which he is baptized: but it is only our covenant with Christ. (5.) We may frequently change our particular church relation; without being baptized again. But we never change our relation to the church which we are baptized into, unless by apostacy. 2. Yet the same person at the same time that he is baptized may be entered into the universal church, and into a particular; and ordinarily it ought to be so where it can be had. 3. And the covenant which we make in baptism with Christ, doth oblige us to obey him, and consequently to use his instituted means, and so to hear his ministers, and hold due communion with his churches. 4. But this doth no more enter us into a particular church, than into a particular family. For we as well oblige ourselves to obey him in family relations as in church relations. 5. When the baptized therefore is at once entered into the universal and particular church, it is done by a double consent, to the double relation. By baptism he professeth his consent to be a member of Christ and his universal church; and additionally he consenteth to be guided by that particular pastor in that particular church; which is another covenant or consent.
Quest, xxxin. Whether infants should be baptized, I have answered long ago in a Treatise on that subject. Also what infants should be baptized? And who have right to sacraments? And whether hypocrites are unequivocally or equivocally Christians and church-members, I have resolved in my " Disput. of Right to Sacraments."
Quest, xxxiv. Whether an unbaptized person who yet maketh a public profession of Christianity, be a member of the visible church? And so of the infants of believers unbaptized. 3. We must distinguish of infants as baptized lawfully upon just title, or unlawfully without title. 4. And also of title before God, which maketh a lawful claim and reception at his bar; and title before the church, which maketh only the administration lawful before God, and the reception lawful only 'in foro ecclesia,' or ' externo.' 5. The word 'baptism' signifieth either the external part only, consisting in the words and outward action, or the internal covenanting of the heart also. 6. And that internal covenant is either sincere which giveth right to the benefits of God's covenant, or only partial, reserved, and unsound, such as is common to hypocrites. Conclus. 1. God hath been pleased to speak so little in Scripture of the case of infants, that modest men will use the words, 'certainly' and ' undoubtedly,' about their case with very great caution. And many great divines have maintained that their very baptism itself, cannot be certainly and undoubtedly proved by the Word of God but by tradition: though I have endeavoured to prove the contrary in a special Treatise on that point. 2. No man can tell what is objectively certain or revealed in God's Word, who hath not subjective certainty or knowledge of it. 3. A man's apprehension may be true, when it is but a wavering opinion, with the greatest doubtfulness. Therefore we do not usually by a certain apprehension, mean only a true apprehension, but a clear and quieting one. 4. It is possible to baptize infants unlawfully, or without any right, so that their reception and baptizing shall be a great sin, as is the misapplying of other ordinances. For instance: one in America where there is neither church to receive them, nor Christian parents, nor sponsors, may take up the Indians' children and baptize them against the parents' wills; or if the parents consent to have their children outwardly baptized, and not themselves, as not knowing what baptizing meaneth, or desire it only for outward advantages to their children: or if they offer them to be baptized only in open derision and scorn of Christ; such children have no right to be received. And many other instances nearer may be given.
Answ. 1. Such persons have a certain imperfect, irregular kind of profession, and so of membership; their visibility or visible Christianity is not such as Christ hath appointed. As those that are married, but not by legal celebration, and as those that in cases of necessity are ministers without ordination; so are such Christians as Constantine and many of old without baptism. 2. Such persons ordinarily are not to be admitted to the rights and communion of the visible church, because we must know Christ's sheep by his own mark; but yet they are so far visible Christians, as that we may be persuaded nevertheless of their salvation. As to visible communion, they have but a remote and incomplete 'jus ad rem,' and no 'jus in re,' or legal investiture and possession. 3. The same is the case of unbaptized infants of believers, because they are not of the church merely as they are their natural seed; but because it is supposed that a person himself devoted to God, doth also devote his children to God: therefore not nature only, but this supposition arising from the true nature of his own dedication to God, is the reason why believers' children have their right to baptism: therefore till he hath actually devoted them to God in baptism, they are not legally members of the visible church, but only in 'fieri' and imperfectly as is said. Of which more anon.
Quest, xxxv. Is it certain by the Word of God that all infants baptized, and dying before actual sin, are undoubtedly saved; or what infants may we say so of? Answ. I. 1. We must distinguish between certainty objective and subjective, or more plainly, the reality or truth of the thing, and the certain apprehension of it *.
2. And this certainty of apprehension, sometimes signifieth only the truth of that apprehension, when a man indeed is not deceived, or more usually that clearness of apprehension joined with truth, which fully quieteth the mind and excludeth doubting.
* Since the writing of this, there is come forth an excellent book for Infant Bap tuni by Mr. Joseph Whiston, in which the grounds of my present solutions are notably cleared.