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which believed, v. 45. And if it be true that baptism has succeeded to the place of circumcision, and bears the analogy to it which is commonly supposed, why should not any Christian whatever (provided he be not a mere novice, and therefore otherwise incompetent) be qualified to administer baptism, in the same manner as any Jew was qualified to perform the rite of circumcision ?
With regard to the Lord's Supper also, it has been shown in the preceding chapter that all are entitled to participate in that rite, but that the privilege of dispensing the elements is confined to no particular man, or order of men. There can be still less shadow of reason for assigning to the ministers of the church the celebration of marriages or funerals,* offices which hirelingst are wont to assume to themselves exclusively, without even the feeble semblance of prescription derived from the Levitical law.
The people of the universal church comprise all nations : Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. “go ye and teach all nations ;' whose conversion it is the duty of all men to promote to the utmost of their power. Rom. i. 14. • I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians; both to the wise and to the unwise.'
* Burials and marriages are so little to be any part of their gain, that they who consider well, may find them to be no part of their function..... As for marriages, that ministers should gieddle with them, as not sanctified or legitimate without their celebration, I find no ground in Scripture either of precept or example.' Considerations, &c. Prose Works, III. 370.
† Help us to save free conscience from the paw
of hireling wolves, whose gospel is their maw. Sonnet XVI. 13. Of which hireling crew.....Christendoin might soon rid herself and be happy, if Christians would but koow their own dignity, their liberty, their adoption.....and let it not be wondered if I say their spiritual priesthood, whereby they have all equal access to any ministerial function, whenever called by their own abilities and the church, though they never came near the university.' Considerations, &c. Prose Works, III. 391.
OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.
The writings of the prophets, apostles and evangelists, composed under divine inspiration, are called the Holy Scriptures. 2 Sam. xxiii. 2. “the Spirit of Jehovah spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.' Matt. xxii. 43. how then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying—?! 2 Cor. xi. 3. • since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me.? 2 Tim. iii. 16. all scripture is given by inspiration of God.'
With regard to the question, what books of the Old and New Testament are to be considered as canonical, that is to say, as the genuine writings of the prophets, apostles, and evangelists, there is little or no difference of opinion among the orthodox, as may be seen in the common editions of the Bible.
The books usually subjoined to these under the name of apocryphal, are by no means of equal authority with the canonical, neither can they be adduced as evidence in matters of faith.
The reasons for their rejection are, first, because, although written under the old dispensation, they are not in the Hebrew language, which they would undoubtedly be if genuine ; for as the Gentiles were not then called, and the church consisted wholly of Hebrews, Rom. iii. 2. ix. 4. it would have been preposterous to write in the language of a people who had no concern in the things discoursed of. Secondly, their authority is deservedly called in question, inasmuch as they are never quoted in the New Testament. Lastly, they contain much that is at variance with the acknowledged parts of Scripture, besides some things fabulous, low, trifling, and contrary to true religion and wisdom.
The Holy Scriptures were not written for occasional purposes only, as is the doctrine of the Papists, but for the use of the church throughout all ages, as well under the gospel as under the law. Exod. xxxiv. 27.
write thou these words; for after the tenour of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.' Deut. xxxi. 19. write ye this song for you ......that this song may be a witness for me.' Isai. viij. 20. “to the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. XXX. 8. write it......that it may be for the time to come forever and ever.' Habak. ii. 2. write.....for the vision is yet for an appointed time. Luke xvi. 29. they have Moses and the prophets ; let them hear them.' John v. 39. search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life.' Rom. xv, 4. whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 1 Cor. x. 11. “they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.'
· Almost every thing advanced in the New Testament is proved by citations from the Old. The use of the New Testament writings themselves is declared John xx. 31. these are written that ye might believe'-. Eph. ii. 20. built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Philipp. iii. 1. "to write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.' 1 Thess. v. 27. 'I charge you by the Lord, that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.' 1 Tim. iii. 15.6 --if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God.' 2 Tim. iii. 15–17. from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus: all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. It is true that the Scriptures which Timothy is here said to have known from a child, and which were of themselves able to make him wise unto salvation through faith in Christ,' were probably those of the Old Testament alone, since no part of the New Testament appears to have existed during the infancy of Timothy; the same is, however, predicated of the whole of Scripture in the succeeding verse, namely, that it is 'profitable for doctrine;' even'to such as are already wise and learned, 1 Cor. x. 15. I speak as unto wise men, judge ye what I say,' to men arrived at Christian maturity, Philipp. iii. 15. let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded, such as Timothy himself, and Titus, to whom Paul wrote ; and to the strong in faith, 1 John ii. 14. “I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word
of God abideth in you.' 2 Pet. i. 12, 15. • wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth : moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.' iii. 15, 16. 'even as our beloved brother Paul also, according unto the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you. For although the epistle of Paul here alluded to was more immediately directed to the Romans, Rom. i. 7. 15. Peter in the above passage expressly intimates that it was addressed not to that church alone, but to believers generally. 2 Pet. ii. 1, 2.
this second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you, in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance.' 1 John ii. 21. I have not written unto you, because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it. Rev. i. 19. write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.'
From all these passages it is evident, that the use of the Scriptures is prohibited to no one; but that, on the contrary, they are adapted fothe daily hearing or reading of all classes and orders of men ;* of princess, Deut. xvii. 19. of magistrates, Josh. i. 8. of men of all descriptions, Deut. xxxi. 9–11. • Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi......and unto all the elders of Israel: and
* The papal antichristian church permits not her laity to read the Bible in their own tongne ; our church on the contrary hath proposed it to all men ...... Neither let the countryman, the tradesman, the lawyer, the physician, the statesman excuse himself by his much business, from the studious reading thereof.' Of true Religion, &c. Prose Works, IV. 266.