Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

of religion ; and doubtless that is in its proper place : Nor do I fee how they can free themselves from par:icipation in your fin, till they have admonished you for it, and caused you to expuga it out of your book. .

(6.) That is a fertliog of your thresholds by God's threshold: These words you recite from Ezek. xlii. 8. which speak of the idolatrous kings of Judah and Israel building temples and altars for their idols, in or near the courts of the temple of God; as the English annotations on the text will inform you; an abomi. Dation that defiled God's -holy name, a wickedoefs not to be samed, and for which the Lord coofumed them, and calls it whoredom in the next words. Here, Gir, you have exceeded all the bounds of society and Christiao charity, and made this cir. cumstaatial difference about the proper subject of baptism the groffest heatheoish idolatry in the world, and consequently dif.' folved the bonds of Christian charity, and broken off all communion with us; for with such idolaters you ought not to have any communion.

Your more wife and moderate brethren, in the place abovecited, tell us, • They are loth hereby to alienate their affections • or conversations from any that fear the Lord, and are willing

to participate of the labours of those whom God hath endued' with abilities above themselves; qualified and called to the mic • Distry of the word; desirous of peace, and not of renewed • contests hereabout. This is a language of another air : And if they be (as I dare aor suspect but they are) fiacere in that profession, they dare not comprobate such a defperate and unchristiao ceosure as yours is : If they do, theo we may easily guess what our lor and treatment shall be, whenever Anabaptism gets the afcendani in England; we may expect as civil ufage as is due to gross idolaters, and no better : But I hope better things. . (7.) You say, that as these things are of highest concerament, so they ought to be our most serious practice and endeavour, page 243. ult. Good Lord! whither bath zeal for an opinion transported you ! Our most serious practice and endeavour! Sir, I thought the most serious practice of a minister had been to preach Christ aod salvation to the souls of men, aod not to bap.' rize : I am sure St. Paul reckoned fo; Chrift fent me nof to baptize, but to preach; that is, baptism is not my principal work, or main business. And ver. 141h, he thanks God he had baptized none of them but Crispus and Gaius. I believe he never uttered such an expression about his other work of preaching Chrift. And for all Christians, I thought the securing of their

interest in Christ, living in the duties of communion with him, watching their hearts, and mortifying their corruptions, had been the object matter of their most serious practice, and faithful endeavour; and not the litigations about baptism. But I hope these were only inconsiderate expressions, falling from your pen, wbillt you were in a paroxilm of zeal, or a traofport in the height of a conceited triumph: But whatever was the cause, I am sure you ought to revoke and repent such words.

(8.) You wilh your testimony rise not up at last as a witness egainst us. Sir, we do not apprehend any cause we have to fear your testimony agaiost us, or severelt censures of us, whilft we are satisfied, that as you neither have the faculty or commission to be our judge, fo Deither is there any coovinciag evi. dence in your reply to our arguments. But I think you have much more cause to fear, left those arguments Thould coine iu at last as a witness against you, who deny, aod contemn them; when, mean time, you are put to most lamentable shifts, even contradictions, and somewhat worse, to escape the point and edge of them.

(0) To conclude, You tell us, we must not expect the special presence of Christ to be afforded to us, without our compliance in these points with you.

Sir, we never yer deserted the judgment or practice of infants baptism, and yet have had (blessed be Jesus Christ for it) great and manifold, sweet and sigoal proofs aod evidences of his presence with us: He hath owned and blessed our ministry to the conversiou of many; and there are some, and those not mean, or few, of our spiritual children, now in your societies in England, who have acknowledged us to be the first iostruments of their conversion : The Lord lay it pot to their charge, who now desert that ministry in which they first received Christ! But as for the departure of his presence, I assure you, friend, I am more afraid of the rents and divisions you now renew so unreasonably among the churches of Christ, than of any one thing amongst us beside. It grieved my soul to see you, quieta movere, awake a sleepiug controversy, especially ia such a feason, when we are little more than half delivered from our enemies and dangers; you take us by the heel, as Jacob did his brother, whilst but yet in the birth. Sir, except you return to a more quiet and Christian temper, thao you seen here to be in, I am out of hope that ever you and I shall see those blessed days, we have fo often, with pleasure, comforted ourselves with the hopes of. However, extend

ho lhe confew, of Have ack

Föút charity (if you have any left) fo far; as to believe that I am one, notwithstanding of all this, that am Itudious of the church's peace, and inquisitive into the rules of duty; not dars ing to hold any truth of God in unrighteousness; and yet well fatisfied I am, in the path of my duty, wherein, though we cannot walk together, yet I hope to meet you at the end of our way, in our Father's house, where perfect light and peace dwells.

And here I had put an end to this debate, had I not received your return to some of these sheets, whilst the last of them was under my hand; wherein I only find four things in which I am concerned. In general, you tell me, You are not con( vinced of any error, by what I have said.' I am sorry to hear it : But considering the nature of error on one fide; and the difficulty of felf-denial on the other, you have not much deceived my expectation. More particularly,

(1.) You say, As to your hooking the Sinai coveriant into this controversy, I gave you the first occasion of it; for when · you shewed me your papers about God's covenant with Abraham, I told you, that you were best first to try if you could prove the covenant at Sinai to be a covenant of works ; forasmuch as our divines are so far from conceiting the covenaot with Abraham to be a covenant of works; that they wili noć allow the Sinai law itself to be fo ; and to convince you of it, .I lent you Mr. Roberts. and Mr. Sedgwick on the covenant, to enlighten and satisfy you about it : But little did I think you had confideuce enough to enter the lists with two such learned and eminent divines, and make them to follow your triumphant chariot, shackled with the incomparable Baxter and Allen; Sydenhạm and Burthogg, like three pair of noble prisoners of war. But whatever was the occasion (setting afide your fin) I am not sorry you have given a fit opportunity to enlighten the world in that point allo.

(2.) You seem to fáncy in your letter, that I once was of your opinion about the moral law, because you find these pafe sages in a sermon of mine; upon John viii. 36. “ If the Son 5 therefore shall make you free; than are you free indeed ;" viz.,

That the law required perfect working, 'under pain of that curse; accepted no short endeavours, admitted no repentrance, and gave no strength. But finding me here pleading for the law, you think you find ine in a contradiction to that doctrine. VOL. VIII.


The words I own; the contradiction I positively deny ; for I speak not there, and here, ud idenı ; for in that sermon, and in those very words you cite, I speak against the law, not as God intended it, when he added it to the promise ; but as the ignoranceand infidelity of unregenerate men, make it to themselves a covenant of works, by looking upon it as the very rule and reason of their justification before God: This was the ftumbling-stone at which all legal jufticiaries then did, and still do ftumble, Rom. ix. 31, 32, 33. In this sense the apostle, in his. epiftles to the Romans and Galatians, argues against the law, and fo do I in the words you cite; but vindicate the law in

the very fame fermon you mention, as consistent with, and · subservient to Christ, in the former fenfe ; and there tell you,

"The law sends us to Christ to be justified, and Chrift sends ás .. back to the law to be regulated.' The very same double sense of the law you will find in this discourse; and from the mistaken end and abuse of the law, which the apoftle so vehemently opposeth, I here prove against you, that the law in this sense cannot consist with, or be added to the promise; and therefore make it my medium to prove against you, that the true nature and denomination of the Sinai law, can never be found in this sense of it, but it must be estimated and de* nominated from the purpose and intention of God, which I have proved to be evangelical. Try your skill to faften a contradiction betwixt my words in that sermon and this difcourse. :I know you would be glad to find the shadow of one, to make some imall excuse, or atonement for the many faults of that nature you have here committed.

(3.). Your letter also informs me, that you hear you are art fwered by one hand already; and, for ought you know, many more may be employed against you, and I for one ; and for we shall compass you about like bees.

Reply. I have only seen Mr. Whiston's little book against your brother Grantham, wherein he hath baffled two of your principal arguments; but you only come in collaterally there, and must not look upon it as a full answer to your book, but only as a lash for your folly, en pasant. And for our compalling you about like bees, methinks you seem to be elated in your own fancy, by the supposition, or expectation, of a multitude of opponents. You know as well as I, who it is that glories in this motto, Unus contra omnes. Sir, I think your mind may be much at rest in that matter. Of all the fix famous adversaries mentioned in your title page, there are but

[ocr errors]

Swo living: and you know, Mortui non mordent ; and of the remaining two, one of them, viz. Mr. Baxter, is almost in heaven, living in the daily views, and chearful expectationis of the saints ever.lifting rest with GOD; and is left for a lit

tle while among us, as a great example of the life of faith. · And it is questionable with me, whether such a great and hea

venly foul can find any leisure or difpofition to attend such a weak and trivial discourse as this.'

And as for myself, you need not much fear me; I have not, neither do I intend to vibrate my fting against you, unless I find you infecting or disturbing that hive to which I belong, and to which I am daily gathering and carrying honey; and then who but a drone would not sting ..(4.) To conclude: in the close of your letter you fall into the former strain of love, assuring me,' That the ancient friend

fhip of so many years, shall still continue on your part.' · Reply. All that I shall return to this, is only to relate a short story out of Plutarch, in the life of Alexander; where he tells ús, That whilft he was warring in the Indies, one Taxiles an Indian king, came with his company to meet him; and sa- luting Alexander, said, “What need you and I to fight and .. war. one upon another? If thou.comest not to take away our 4 water, and the necessaries of life from us, for which we ( must needs fight : As for other goods, if I am richer than & thee, I am ready to give thee of mine; and if I have less, I, I will not think scorn to thank thee for thine.' Alexander, highly pleafed with his words, made him this reply; - Think

eft thou, that this meeting of ours can be without fighting ? “No, no; thou halt won nothing by all thy fair words; for I I will fight and contend with thee in honesty and courtesy, ,' and thou shalt not exceed me in bounty and liberality. I

I fay with Taxiles, I had never armed against you, had you not come to take away our water, and the necessaries of life; I mean, the covenant of God with Abraham, which contains the rich charter of the Gentile believers children, and make it an abolished Adam's cevenant, and told us, that we must tome up to the primitive purity in these things; that is, in renouncing it as a covenant of grace, and relinquishing infants baptism, as grounded thereon.. · Sir, were my own father alive, I must and would oppose him, should he attempt what here you do. Infant-baptism, with you is not; fingimg of psalms, that plain and 'heavenly gospel ordinance, with you, is not; and will you take away our ,

« PreviousContinue »