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And in obeying these subordinate powers, we do not, as you aver, renounce the supreme : no, but we obey them for his sake.
We believe, it is not only innocent, but our bounden duty so to do: in all things of an indifferent nature to submit ourselves to every ordinance of man;' and that for the Lord's sake: because we think, he has not forbidden, but expressly commanded it. Therefore “as a genuine fruit of our allegiance to Christ," we submit,' both “ to the king and governors sent by hin,' so far as possibly we can, without breaking some plain command of God. And you have not yet brought any plain command, to justify that assertion that " we may not submit either to the king, or to governors sent by him, in any circumstances relating to the worship of God."
Here is a plain declaration, There is no power but of God; the powers that exist are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power,' (without an absolute necessity, which in things indifferent there is not,) 'resisteth the ordinance of God.' And here is a plain command grounded thereon : • Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.' Now by what Scripture does it appear, That we are not to be subject in any thing pertaining to the worship of God? This is an exception which we cannot possibly allow, without clear warrant from Holy Writ. And we apprehend, those of the Church of Rome alone, can decently plead for such an exception. It does not sound well in the mouth of a Protestant, to claim an exemption from the jurisdiction of the civil powers, in all matters of religion, and in the minutest circumstance relating to the church.
Another plain command is that mentioned but now: Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake.' And this we shall think ourselves hereby fully authorized to do, in things of a religious as well as a civil nature, till you can produce plain, explicit proof from Scripture, that we must submit in the latter, but not in the former. We cannot find any such distinction in the Bible; and till we find it there, we cannot receive it. But must believe our allegiance to Christ requires submission to our governors in all things indifferent.
This I speak, even on supposition, that the things in question were enjoined merely by the king and parliament. If they were, what then? Then I would submit to them for the Lord's sake. So that in all your parade, either with regard to king George or queen Anne, there may be soit, but no wisdom : no force, no argument, till you can support this distinction, from plain testimony of Scripture.
Till this is done, it can never be proved, that “a dissent from the Church of England (whether it can be justified from other topics or not) is the genuine and just consequence, of the allegiance which is due to Christ, as the only Lawgiver in the church.” As you proposed to “ bring the controversy to this short and plain issue, to let it turn on this single point:" I have done so: I have spoke to this alone ; although I could have said something on many other points, which you have advanced as points of the utmost certainty, although they are far more easily affirmed than proved. But I waive them for the present: hoping this may suffice, to show any fair and candid inquirer, That it is very possible to be united to Christ and to the Church of England at the same time : that we need not separate from the church, in order to preserve our allegiance to Christ; but may be firm members thereof, and yet · have a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man.'
I am, Sir,
John Wesler. BRISTOL, Jan. 10, 1758.
A TREATISE ON BAPTISM.
CONCERNING BAPTISM I shall inquire, What it is : What benefits we receive by it: Whether our Saviour designed it to remain always in his church : And who are the proper subjects of it?
I. 1. What it is. It is the initiatory sacrament, which enters us into covenant with God. It was instituted by Christ, who alone has power to institute a proper sacrament, a sign, seal, pledge, and means of grace, perpetually obligatory on all Christians. We know not indeed the exact time of its institution ; but we know it was long before our Lord's Ascension. And it was instituted in the room of circumcision. For as that was a sign and seal of God's covenant, so is this.
2. The matter of this sacrament is water; which as it has a natural power of cleansing, is the more fit for this symbolical use. Baptism is performed by washing, dipping, or sprinkling the person, in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, who is hereby devoted to the ever blessed Trinity. I say by washing, dipping, or sprinkling; because it is not determined in Scripture, in which of these ways it shall be done, neither by any express precept, nor by any such example as clearly proves it; nor by the force or meaning of the word baptize.
3. That there is no express precept all calm men allow. Neither is there any conclusive example. John's baptism in some things agreed with Christ's, in others differed from it. : But it cannot be certainly proved from Scripture, that even John's was performed by dipping. It is true, he baptized in Enon, near Salim, where there was much water. But this might refer to breadth rather than depth; since a narrow place would not have been sufficient for so great a multitude. Nor can it be proved, that the baptism of our Saviour, or that administered by his disciples was by immersion. No, nor that of the eunuch baptized by Philip; though they both went down to the water :' for that going down may relate to the chariot, and implies no determinate depth of water. It might be up to their knees, it might not be above their ankles.
4. And as nothing can be determined from Scripture precept or example, so neither from the force or meaning of the word. For the words baptize and baptism do not necessarily imply dipping, but are used in other senses in several places. Thus we read, that the Jews were all baptized in the cloud and in the sea,' (1 Cor. x. 2.) but they were not plunged in either. They could, therefore, be only sprinkled by drops of the sea-water, and refreshing dews from the cloud : probably intimated in that, • Thou sentest a gracious rain upon thine inheritance, and refreshedest it when it was weary :' (Psalm lxviii
. 9.) Again, Christ said to his two disciples, Ye shall be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: (Mark x. 38.) but neither he nor they were dipt, but only sprinkled or washed with their own blood. Again we read, Mark vii
. 4. of the baptisnis, (so it is in the original,) of pots and cups, and tables or beds." Now pots and cups are not necessarily dipped when they are washed. Nay, the Pharisees washed the outsides of them only. And as for tables or beds, none will suppose they could be dipped : bere then the word baptism in its natural sense, is not taken for dipping, but for washing or cleansing And, that this is the true meaning of the word baptize, is testified by the greatest scholars and most proper judges in this matter. It is true, we read of being buried with Christ in baptism.' But nothing can be inferred from such a figurative expression. Nay, if it held exactly, it would make as much for sprinkling as for plunging: since in burying, the body is not plunged through the substance of the earth, but rather earth is poured or sprinkled upon it.
5. And as there is no clear proof of dipping in Scripture, so there is very probable proof of the contrary. It is highly probable, the apostles themselves baptized great numbers, not by dipping, but by washing, sprinkling, or pouring water. This clearly represented the cleansing from sin, which is figured by baptism. And the quantity of water
used was not material : no more than the quantity of bread and wine in the Lord's supper. The jailer, and all his house were baptized in the prison : Cornelius with his friends, (and so several households,) at home. Now is it likely, that all these bad ponds or rivers, in or near their houses, sufficient to plunge them all ? Every unprejudiced person must allow, the contrary is far more probable. Again, three thousand at one time and five thousand at another, were converted and baptized by St. Peter at Jerusalem ; where they had none but the gentle waters of Siloam, according to the observation of Mr. Fuller, « There were no water-inills in Jerusalem, because there was no stream large enough to drive them." The place, therefore, as well as the number, makes it highly probable that all these were baptized by sprinkling, or pouring, and not by immersion. To sum up all, the manner of baptizing (whether by dipping or sprinkling) is not determined in Scripture. There is no command for one rather than the other. There is no example from which we can conclude for dipping rather than sprinkling. There are probable examples of both; and both are equally contained in the natural meaning of the word.
II. 1. What are the Benefits we receive by Baptism is the next point to be considered. And the first of these is, the washing away the guilt of original sin, by the application of the merits of Christ's death. That we are all born under the guilt of Adam's sin, and that all sin deserves eternal misery, was the unanimous sense of the ancient church, as it is expressed in the ninth article of our own And the Scripture plainly asserts, that we were shapen in iniquity, and in sin did our mother conceive us. That we were all by nature children of wrath, and dead in trespasses and sins :' that in Adam all died:' that by one man's disobedience all were made sinners :' that by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin : which came upon all men; because all had sinned.' This plainly includes infants; for they too die : therefore, they have sinned. But not by actual sin: therefore, by original: else what need have they of the death of Christ? Yea, Death reigned from Adam to Moses even over those who had not sinned' (actually) according to the simili. tude of Adam's transgression. This, which can relate to infants only, is a clear proof that the whole race of mankind are obnoxious both to the guilt and punishment of Adam's transgression. But as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, so by the righteousness of one, the free-gift came upon all men, to justification of life. And in virtue of this free-gift, the merits of Christ's life and death, are applied to us in baptism. He gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water, by the word:' (Eph. v. 25, 26.) namely, in baptism, the ordinary instrument of our justification. Agreeably to this our church prays in the baptismal office, that the person to be baptized may be washed and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, and being delivered from God's wrath, receive remission of sins, and enjoy the everlasting benediction of his heavenly washing :' and declares in the rubric at the end of the office, It is certain, by God's word, that children who are baptized, dying before they commit actual sin, are saved.' And this is agreeable to the unanimous judgment of all the ancient fathers.
2. By baptism' we enter into covenant with God; into that everlasting covenant, which he hath commanded for ever. (Psal. cix. 11.) That new covenant, which he promised to make with the spiritual Israel ; even to give them a new heart and a new spirit, to sprinkle clean water upon them,' (of which the baptismal is only a figure) "and to remember their sins and iniquities no more: in a word, 'to be their God,' as he promised to Abraham, in the evangelical covenant, which he made with him, and all his spiritual offspring. (Gen. xvii. 7, 8.) And as circumcision was then the way of entering into
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this covenant, so baptism is now: which is therefore styled by the apostle, (so many good interpreters render his words,) The stipulation, contract, or covenant of a good conscience with God.
3. By baptism we are admitted into the church, and consequently made members of Christ, its head. The Jews were admitted into the church by circumcision, so are the Christians by baptism. For as many as are baptized into Christ,' in his name, have' thereby put on Christ.' (Gal. iii. 27.) That is, are mystically united to Christ, and made one with him. For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body.' (1 Cor. xii. 13.) Namely, the church, the body of Christ.' (Eph. iv. 12.) From which spiritual, vital union with him, proceeds the influence of his grace on those that are baptized; as from our union with the church, a share in all its privileges, and in all the promises Christ has made to it.
4. By baptism we who were • by nature children of wrath,' are made the children of God. And this regeneration, which our church in so many places ascribes to baptism, is more than barely being admitted into the church, though commonly connected therewith; being 'grafted into the body of Christ's church, we are made the children of God by adoption and grace.' This is grounded on the plain words of our Lord, John iii. 5, • Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' By water, then, as a mean, the water of baptism, we are regenerated or born again; whence it is also called by the apostle, The washing of regeneration. Our church, therefore, ascribes no greater virtue to baptism, than Christ himself has done. Nor does she ascribe it to the outward washing, but to the inward grace, which added thereto, makes it a sacrament. Herein a principle of grace is infused, which will not be wholly taken away, unless we quench the Holy Spirit of God, by long-continued wickedness.
5. In consequence of our being made children of God, we are heirs of the kingdom of heaven. "If children,’ (as the apostle observes) then heirs, heirs with God, and joint-heirs with Christ.' Herein we receive a title to, and an earnest of, “a kingdom which cannot be moved.' • Baptism doth now save us,' if we live answerable thereto, if we repent, believe, and obey the gospel. Supposing this, as it admits us into the church here, so into glory hereafter.
III. 1. But did our Saviour design this should remain always in his church? This is the third thing we are to consider. And this may be despatched in few words, since there can be no reasonable doubt but it was intended to last as long as the church into which it is the appointed means of entering. In the ordinary way, there is no other means of entering into the church or into heaven.
2. In all ages the outward baptism is a means of the inward ; as outward circumcision was, of the circumcision of the heart. Nor would it have availed a Jew to say, I have the inward circumcision, and therefore do not need the outward too : that soul was to be cut off from his people. He had despised, he had broken God's everlasting covenant, by despising the seal of it. (Gen. xvii. 14.) Now