« PreviousContinue »
Vindiciae Legis et Foederis :
OR, A .. .
To Mr. Philip Cart's Solemn Call;
For the Right of Believers Infants to BAPTIS M.
By proving the Law at Sinai, and the Covenant of Circumcie
fion with Abraham, were the very fame with Adam's Co., venant of Works, and that because the Gospel-covenant is absolute. i .
A friendly Preface to the AUTHOR of the Solemn Call, and
the more discreet and charitable of the Party concerned with him in this Controversy.
Christian Friends, TIHEN we open our Bibles, and read that'text, 1 Cor.
W i. 10. we have cause to deal with it as Origen once did by another fcripture, even close the book and weep over it, in confideration of the weak and feeble influences such melting words, delivered with such a pathos, have upon the hearts of professors this day. “ Now, I beseech you, brethren, by the « name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same « thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that “ ye be perfectly joined together in the fame mind, and in the « fame judgment."
I beseech you] He dips the nail in oil, that it may drive the casier. I beseech you, brethren] A compellation breathing sweetness and affection, and should drop from our lips into each others ears with the same effect that word once did upon
the ears of Benhadad's servants, My brother Benhadad. Sirs, (said Moses to the striving Ifraelites) ye are brethren. O when shall the church become a true Philadelphia !
I befeech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Chrift] or as you love Jesus Christ, ut quantum ipfum amant, tantum ftudeat concordiae, faith Calvin : Be as studious of concord as you are free in professing love to Christ. " That there be no divisions] or rents among you: a Exiona, schism, or rent in the church, is much the same, and altoge. ther as dangerous as a raris, or fedition in the commonwealth, and harder to be cured. For as the Lord Verulam truly observes, Differences amongst perfecuting enemies and the church, are like the strivings of the Egyptian with the Israelite, which Mofes quickly ended, by knocking down the Egyptian ; but diffentions in the church are like the striving ofone Israelite with another; and all that Mofes can do to quiet and part these, is only by fair and gentle words, and reminding them that they are brethren.
Great is the mischief of divisions among Christians; and the less the grounds and causes are, the greater always is the fin and mischief of them. In the primitive church contentions grow fervent about meats lawful and unlawful, which did not profit, the meaning is, it greatly damnified them that were occupied therein, Heb. xiii. 9. Practical religion among them grew cold, as disputations about these trifles grew fervent.
The readiest way to cool fuch heats is, by discovering the trivial nature of the matter contended about ; as Demofthenes appeased the tumult among the people raised by a small occasion, by relating to them the story of a man that hired an ass to carry him a journey, but the sun shining fervent, he was forced to quit her back, and betake himself to her shadow ; the owner withstood him, alledging, that he had hired the body of the ass, but her fhadow, was not in the bargain ; and so the contention between them grew as hot as the sun. Many such trifles have raised great contentions in the world, witness the great contention betwixt the Eastern and Western church about keeping of Easter.
Other points there are of greater moment, about which good men contend, and yet these oftentimes are magnified much above their true intrinsical value. So I am sure it is in the controversy before us. Mr. Cary tells us, that these things will be found at length to be of highest concernment unto us, and must therefore be our most serious practice, p. 243. If fo, then the proper subject of baptisin must be one of those
that is of greatest weight, and the profeffion thereof the very Schibboleth to distinguish one person from another in matters of religion. No wonder therefore the fires of contention are blown up to such a vehement heat,, even in such an improper season; much like the contentions among the English fugitives at Frankfort, when their brethren were frying in the fames at Smithfield. Just so muft we be scuffling, whilst thousands of our brethren are bleeding in Ireland. Had we a true fenfe of the quality of the subjects, or the unseasonableness of the time, it should certainly allay these heats among us. Did we fee who stand by, and look with pleasure upon our follies, it would quickly allay our heats. Tertullian tells the Christians of his time, that they were like the Funambulones, or men that walk upon ropes, the least tread awry might be their ruin, lo narrowly did their enemies watch them.
Sirs, the peace, safety and honour of the diffenting interest are things of too greaç value to be hazarded amongst the hands of our common enemies. You may fancy they will neglect the advantage you give them; but if they do, the devil will call them fools for it. Mr. Herle tells us of a king's fool, who wrote down the king himself in his table among his brotherfools, because he had trusted an African stranger with four thousand pounds to buy Barbary horses. The king asked him how he would make him amends, if the stranger should come again? Why then (faid he) I'll blot your name out of my table of fools, and write down the African in your stead. Think not our enemies are such fools to neglect the advantage we cast into their hands. It is a weighty note of Livy, Confilia non dant homines rebus, fed res hominibus ; Men do not counfel things, but time and things counsel men. Methinks the postures of times and affairs give us better counsels than we seem to be governed by in such work as this. Divisions of forty years standing and more, about infants baptisin, have eaten up the time, wasted the spirits, and alienated the hearts of Ena glish profeffors, divided them both in society and love ; by reason whereof God's pleasant plant in this resembles the bramble, which taking root at both ends, by reason of the ren. counters of the fap, commonly withers in the middle. Your brethren, in their Narrative from their General-Affembly, make a sad and fensible complaint of withering in the power of godliness. And truly we as well as they may complain with the church, Ie do all fade as a leaf : The Lord help us to discern the true cause, whether it be not the misplacing of our Zeal, our bcing cold where we should be fervent, and fervent
hot where it should be cold, and whether the eating up of
lo much time and study about baptizing of infants, have not terkte kept us these forty years in the infancy of our graces ? an ime? I well remember that bleffed time, when ours and yours
were terms almost anknown amongst profeffors in England. When their affections and prayers melted and mingled together fweetly in days of humiliation, and other duties of edify
ing and heavenly communion; and then churches began to weils de flourish, and the graces of Christians every where flourilhed,
and became fruitful : but no sooner did the saints divide in ut faib fociety and affection, but these pleasant blossoms were nipt by
it, as by à frosty morning the church formed itself as it were, into two armies, set in battalia against each other. It was now with us much like as it is said of the umphisbena, that hath an head at either end; of which neither can well move without the consent of both; but, if each movea contrary way, the body tears in the middle. I doubt not but many that dif
fered from us belonged to Christ, the same head with us į and dent yet it is past doubt, that many who seemed to be of us were fociti headed by Satan; and quickly discovered themselves to be fo, is beliet by running farther than we first, or you next, imagined, eveji "Wibe into Quakerism, Socinianism, Ranterisin; and the fouleft pudbikes: dle and fink of complicated errors , of which an impartial stran
ger, under the name of Honorius Reggius, avainpalapa Tirasi Georgius Hörniüs having heard the report in his own country, came over on purpose into England for his particular and per, fect information, and hath given the foreign churches a full and fad account thereof in a Latin narrative, which I have by me; whereby I find, that, if the Lord in mërcy to us had not let in a third party with the common calamity upon us all, we ourfelves muft in all probability have mutually ruined each other. But God saw other hands fitter for such dirty work than ours, and now it was time to reflect upon former follies, and tenew our ancient acquaintance in the common goals. And, through the goodtiefs of God; this did fomewhat allay the hears of good men, and gave us fresh hopes of an hearty and lasting jedintegration. We hoped the furnace might have purged our dross, and melted our hearts into unity, both by discovering the évils for which the Lord afflicted us, and the fincerity of the suffeters hearts under those trials: Christians, (faith Mr. Jen
kins) if we must die, let us die like meni, by an unanimous The holy contention against the common enemy; not like Egols
buld. of d. THE
** by giving him our sword, and destroying one another by 1.6.fchisins in our own bowels..
But alas! alas! no sooner is the rod off our backs, and a respite from sufferings given us, but we are presently founding , an alarm to the battle again, and, to my sorrow, myself unz
'voidably engaged therein..
to give ground.
Mad difputants to reason seldom yield.' . (5.) My head, heart, and hands have been filled with better employments, from which I am extremely loth to be diverted. If Bellarmine turned with loathing from school-divinity, becaufe it wanted the sweet juice of piety, much more may I turn from such perverse disputes as these: Sure I may find as fair expositions of scripture, and as accurate and legitimate distinctions among the school-men, as in Mr. Tombes's Examen and Apology; or (which for the most part is but a transcript of both) in Mr. Cary's Solemn Call. But I see I muft not be my own chufer ; I cannot now be both filent and innocent; fer in this Solemn Call I find the great doctrines of - God's covenants abused by my neighbonr; the books dispersed
into many families related to me in this place, one of them delivered to me by the Author's own hands, with a pressing desire to give my judgment upon it: Several objections which I pri. vately and seasonably sent him, to prevent the fin and folly of his attempt, pretended to be answered from p. 164. ad p. 183. Thus am I neceffarily brought into the field of controversy: whither I come not a volunteer, but a presled man; not out of choice; but necessity.” And now I am here, I resolve to be.onJy Adversarius litis, non perfone, an adversary in the contro.