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follow the same words of the institution, as the only rule we can be directed by in all things else relating to this ordinance: and then all other parts of baptism, especially the true subject and mode of administration, are as necessary as the true form of words; and if only that form is true which is there prescribed, then those only are the lawful subjects, and that the right mode which is there likewise specified; and these are therefore of the foundation, as well as the form of words, and without either of these the baptism is invalid.
In short, we refuse to communicate with the Church of England, for the same reason that she refuses to communicate with persons she cannot esteem baptized; and therefore it must look very strange now, that any of her members should press us to act contrary to her rules and determinations, and join with such as we conclude are without baptism and we should still be guilty of a worse prevarication, if they prevailed on us to grant theirs to be a sufficient baptism, and at the same time keep our present opinion of our own. This would be acknowledging two baptisms, against the express declaration of the apostle, whose judgment we more willingly depend on, that there is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism 5. And if CHRIST, as we are well assured, (and our author, you are to remember, supposes,) commanded only to baptize such as actually believed in him, according to the preaching of the disciples, then the baptism so given is alone the true one baptism, which is certainly necessary; and we are obliged and warranted by Divine authority to own that and no other.
g Eph. iv. 5.
This is what I judged needful to say, in order to justify our separation, and demonstrate how very frivolous Mr. Wall's reasoning about it is. But after he has laboured to prove our separation schismatical and sinful, (as if he believed the business was effectually done,) he is pleased to propose the terms of an union; which are in sum, that the Church of England shall kindly condescend to remain in all particulars just as she is, and the antipædobaptists shall humbly submit themselves and their consciences to the power and persecutions of the angry party in the church: or if they retain their opinions concerning baptism, they shall be indulged in that, provided they will be careful to keep them to themselves.
How impartial and feasible a proposal is here! Could he, think you, forbear smiling at it himself, or in earnest expect it should be embraced? confesses the church may present antipædobaptists, and has done it, while they were reputed her members, and were consequently in her power: and I can tell him, however he may smooth over the matter, they have taken the warning, and will not put it to the venture again; and they think themselves highly obliged to the government for the protection it gives them. They will never be persuaded, on our author's terms especially, to rely on the favour of the ecclesiastics, and strip themselves of the inviolable security of that toleration our most gracious and pious Queen has so often and so solemnly declared she will maintain.'
Though it should be granted the Church of England, like all other societies, has power over her own body; yet she has certainly none over
those who withdraw from her communion.
a home reflection therefore on the wisdom and authority of the Queen and parliament, for our author to insinuate, that the Act of toleration h cannot tie up the church's hands from any pro'ceedings against dissenters;' who besides, by being out of her body, are merely, on that account, out of her power. It is notorious that this does tie up the hands of the angry party; and we are so extremely sensible of her Majesty's goodness in taking this method, that we beg her Majesty graciously to give us leave still to rely solely on herself and parliament, under God, for security; for all other we disown. As for the general forbearance which is now used i;' there are some who practise it only out of necessity, and because they cannot help it. But should the Toleration be once repealed, I fear this good temper would vanish like a vapour. For Mr. Wall cannot but remember the prosecution and excommunication he pronounced against Mrs. Hall of his parish.
And doubtless he has not wholly forgot that he presented Mr. Joseph Brown his neighbour, for not bringing his children to be christened. I confess, he sometime afterwards asked that gentleman's pardon for what he had done; who very readily forgave him and I should, therefore, never have mentioned the thing, but that I have observed Mr. Wall is troubled with moderation and forbearance but very rarely, by sudden fits and starts, which are no sooner over than he finds himself as violent and inveterate as ever: or if he be now indeed changed, (as I should be heartily glad to be assured he is,)
h Part ii. p. 410, 411. [564.]
Part ii. p. 411. [564, 565.]
he may however very well think there are some of that same disposition still, who would never suffer us to be quiet.
But had Mr. Wall been serious, he should have made a proposal more fair and equal on both sides, and proper to establish unity and concord on the principles of the first churches of Christians. In order to this, it would be requisite, and I think none can except against it, that some fit persons were chosen on both sides, to examine the Scriptures impartially, and the Fathers of the first three centuries, who followed their great Master through sufferings, and whose writings are undoubtedly by far the best commentary on the sacred books; and with these helps to collect from the word of God the true doctrine and discipline of the primitive catholic church: and to what should be thus sincerely deduced, every one should resolve to conform, without reserve. And I doubt not, if an union were endeavoured on this expedient, it would be accomplished much more easily than is imagined.
I just hint at this, to shew Mr. Wall might have chosen a more reasonable method than he did. But it is not likely he should come into it, because he seems of an imperious temper, and positive in his opinions, which he would force upon others, and not bend himself. And for this I appeal, among other things, to the several places where he complains of the mischiefs of the magistrates granting tolerations. Why did not he embellish his paragraphs with the famous examples of Judas, and Pilate, and the high priest, who as wisely cut off the ringleader of that sect which endeavoured to abolish the traditions of the elders? For these things will
be found to be of just the same kind, if the words of the king in the parable be true, Matt. xxv. 40. that what is done to his brethren he accounts as done to himself. But had not our author forgot that it is as indecent as it is unjust to talk thus? For this is to reflect on the wisdom and lenity of the British government, and in effect to magnify the French fashion of dragooning people, only for endeavouring to preserve a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man. But sure our poor protestant brethren in France deserve rather to be pitied and relieved, than thus slily insulted and condemned: and God be thanked, they are, and will be kindly entertained with us, to the immortal honour of our gracious Queen, by whose pious liberality so many afflicted families are comfortably subsisted. And she has most kindly endeavoured to have the like toleration settled by other princes, her allies, abroad, which she has confirmed at home. So extensive is her goodness! But it touches me very close, to see a man, whose function is to serve at the altar, and minister in the holy things of the gospel, of a complexion so repugnant to the meekness, love, and charitable forbearance which Christ so often, so strictly enjoined; and I am concerned that some of the leaders of the church do not know what manner of spirit they are of.
Now, to conclude; I hope I have made out, sir, what I took upon me to prove; which was, that Mr. Wall is not a writer to repose a full confidence in; but has committed several mistakes, and must be read warily, and with suspicion.
I am, &c.