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Differences in Judgment about Water Baptism, no Bar to Communion; or, to Communicate with Saints, as Saints, Proved Lawful
by John Bunyan
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My last argument, you say, is this: 'The world may wonder at your carriage to these unbaptized persons, in keeping them out of communion?'

Ans. You will set up your own words, and then fight against them; but my words are these: 'What greater contempt can be thrown upon the saints, than for their brethren to cut them off from, or to debar them church communion.' And now I add, Is not this to deliver them to the devil (1 Cor 5), or to put them to shame before all that see your acts? There is but one thing can hinder this, and that is, by-standers see that these, your brethren, that you thus abuse, are as holy men as ourselves. Do you more to the openly prophane, yea, to all wizards and witches in the land?[16] For all you can do to them, I speak now as to church acts, is no other than to debar them the communion of saints.

And now I say again, the world may well wonder, when they see you deny holy men of God that liberty of the communion of saints which you monopolise to yourselves: and though they do not understand the grounds of profession, or communion, yet they can both see and say, these holy men of God, in all visible acts of holiness, are not one inch behind you. Yea, I will put it to yourselves, If those many, yea, very many, who thus severely, but with how little ground, is seen by men of God, you deny communion with; are not of as good, as holy, as unblameable in life, and as sound, if not sounder in the faith than many among ourselves: Here only they make the stop, they cannot, without light, be driven into water baptism, I mean after our notion of it: but what if they were, it would be little sign to me, that they were sincere with God.

To conclude this; when you have proved that water baptism, which you yourself have said is not a church ordinance, is essential to church communion, and that the church may, by the word of God, bolt, bar, and for ever shut out those, far better than ourselves, that have not, according to our notion, been baptized with water; then it will be time enough to talk of ground for so doing. In the mean time I must take leave to tell you, 'There is not in all the Bible one syllable for such a practice, wherefore your great cry about your order is wordless, and therefore faithless, and is a mere human invention.'

I COME NOW TO YOUR FOURTEEN ARGUMENTS, AND SHALL IMPARTIALLY CONSIDER THEM.

Your first argument to prove it lawful to reject the unbaptized saint, is, 'Because the great commission of Christ (Matt 28), from which all persons have their authority for their ministry, if any authority at all, doth clearly direct the contrary. By that commission ministers are first to disciple, and then to baptize them so made disciples, and afterwards to teach them to observe all that Christ commanded them, as to other ordinances of worship. If ministers have no other authority to teach them other parts of gospel worship, before they believe and are baptized, it may be strongly supposed they are not to admit them to other ordinances before they have passed this first enjoined in the commission.'

Ans. 1. That the ministers are to disciple and baptize, is granted. But that they are prohibited, by the commission (Matt 28), to teach the disciples other parts of gospel worship that have not light in baptism, remains for you to prove. Shall I add, this position is so absurd and void of truth, that none that have ever read the love of Christ, the nature of faith, the end of the gospel, or of the reason of instituted worship (which is edification) with understanding, should so much as once imagine.

But where are they here forbidden to teach them other truths before they be baptized? This text as fairly denieth to the unbaptized believer heaven and glory. Nay, our author, in the midst of all his flutter about this 28th of Matthew, dare venture to gather no more therefrom, but that it may be strongly supposed. Behold therefore, gentle reader, the ground on which these brethren lay the stress of their separation from their fellows, is nothing else but a supposition, without warrant, screwed out of this blessed word of God. Strongly supposed! but may it not be as strongly supposed that the presence and blessing of the Lord Jesus, with his ministers, is laid upon the same ground also? for thus he concludes the text, 'And lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world.' But would, I say, any man from these words conclude, that Christ Jesus hath here promised his presence only to them that, after discipling, baptize those that are so made; and that they that do not baptize shall neither have his presence nor his blessing? I say again, should any so conclude hence, would not all experience prove him void of truth? The words therefore must be left, by you, as you found them, they favour not at all your groundless supposition.

To conclude, these words have not laid baptism in the way to debar the saint from fellowship of his brethren, no more than to hinder his inheritance in life and glory. Mark reads it thus: 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned' (Mark 16:16). Letting baptism, which he mentioned in the promise, fall, when he came at the threatening. God also doth thus with respect to his worship in the church, he commands all and every whit of his will to be done, but beareth with our coming short in this, and that, and another duty. But let's go on.

Your second argument is, 'That the order of Christ's commission, as well as the matter therein contained to be observed, may easily be concluded, from God's severity towards them that sought him not according to due order (1 Chron 15:13). Was God so exact with his people then, that all things to a pin must be according to the pattern in the mount (Heb 8:5, 9:11), whose worship then comparatively, to the gospel, was but after the law of a carnal commandment; and can it be supposed he should be so indifferent now to leave men to their own liberty, to time and place his appointments, contrary to what he had given an express rule for in his word as before? (Eze 44:7,9,10). It was the priest's sin, formerly to bring the uncircumcised in heart and flesh into his house.'

Ans. That there is no such order in that commission as you feign, I have proved. As for your far-fetch'd instance (1 Chron 15), it is quite beside your purpose. The express word was, That the priest, not a cart, should bear the ark of God. Also they were not to touch it, and yet Uzza did (Exo 25:14; 1 Chron 15:12-16; Num 4:15; 1 Chron 13). Now, if you can make that 28th of Matthew say, Receive none that are not baptized first; or that Christ would have them of his, that are not yet baptized, kept ignorant of all other truths that respect church communion; then you say something, else you do but raise a mist before the simple reader: but whoso listeth may hang on your sleeve. As for the pins and tacks of the tabernacle, they were expressly commanded; and when you have proved by the word of God, That you ought to shut saints out of your communion for want of baptism, then you may begin more justly to make your parallel. How fitly you have urged (Eze 44) to insinuate that unbaptized believers are like the uncircumcised in heart and flesh, I leave it to all gospel-novices to consider.

Your third argument is, 'The practice of the first gospel-ministers, with them that first trusted in Christ, discovers the truth of what I assert. Certainly they that lived at the spring-head, or fountain of truth, and had the law from Christ's own mouth, knew the meaning of his commission better than we: but their constant practice in conformity to that commission, all along the Acts of the Apostles, discovers that they never arrived to such a latitude as men plead for now-a-days. They that gladly received the word were baptized, and they, yea they only, were received into the church.'

Ans. How well you have proved what you have asserted, is manifest by my answer to the two former arguments. I add, That the ministers and servants of Jesus Christ in the first churches, for that you are to prove, were commanded to forbear to preach other truths to the unbaptized believers; or that they were to keep them out of the church; or that the apostles, and first fathers, have given you to understand by their example, that you ought to keep as good out of churches as yourselves, hath not yet been shewed by the authority of the word. The second of the Acts proveth not, That the three thousand were necessitated to be baptized in order to their fellowship with the church, neither doth it say THEY, yea they only, were received into the church. But suppose all this, as much was done at the first institution of circumcision, &c., yet afterwards thousands were received without it.

Your fourth argument is, 'None of the scripture saints ever attempted this church privilege without baptism, if they did, let it be shewn. The eunuch first desired baptism before anything else; Paul was first baptized before he did essay to join with the church. Our Lord Christ, the great example of the New Testament, entered not upon his public ministry, much less any other gospel ordinance of worship, till he was baptized.'

Ans. That none of the scripture saints, if there be any unscripture ones, so much as attempted this church-privilege first, remains for you to prove. But suppose they were all baptized, because they had light therein, what then? Doth this prove that baptism is essential to church communion? Or, that Christ commanded in the 28th of Matthew, or gave his ministers by that, authority, not to make known to believers other parts of gospel-worship, if they shall want light in baptism? The eunuch, Paul, and our blessed Lord Jesus, did none of them, by their baptism, set themselves to us examples how to enter into church communion; what church was the eunuch baptized into, or made a member of; but where is it said, that the unbaptized believer, how excellent soever in faith and holiness, must, for want of water baptism, be shut out from the communion of saints, or be debarred the privilege of his Father's house? This you are to prove.

Your fifth argument is, 'If Christ himself was made manifest to be the SENT of God by baptism, as appears (Mark 1:9,10), then why may not baptism, as the first fruits of faith, and the first step of gospel-obedience, as to instituted worship, be a manifesting discovering ordinance upon others who thus follow Christ's steps.'

Ans. That Jesus Christ was manifested as the SENT of God by baptism, or that baptism is the first fruit of faith and the first step to gospel-obedience, as to instituted worship, is both without proof and truth; the text saith not, he was manifest to be the 'sent' of God by baptism; nay it saith not, that by that he was manifest to others to be anything thereby: you have therefore but wronged the text to prove your wordless practice by. Yea, John himself, though he knew him before he was baptized, to be a man of God, for, saith he, 'I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me' (Matt 3:14), and knew him after to be the 'sent' of God; yet not in, or by, but after he was baptized, to wit, by the descending of the Holy Ghost, after he was come out of the water, as he was in prayer, for the heavens were opened to John (John 1:30-34), and he saw, and bare record, because he saw the Spirit descend from heaven, and abide upon Jesus, after his baptism, as he was in prayer (Matt 3:13-17; Luke 3:21,22). Thus we find him made known before and after, but not at all by baptism, to be the 'sent' of God.

And that baptism is the fruit of faith, or that faith ought to be tied to take its first step in water baptism, in the instituted worship of God; this you must prove, it is not found expressed within the whole Bible. Faith acts according to its strength and as it sees, it is not tied or bound to any outward circumstance; one believeth he may, and another believeth he may not, either do this or that.

Your sixth argument is, 'If baptism be in any sense any part of the foundation of a church, as to order (Heb 6:1,2), it must have place here or no where: why are those things called first principles, if not first to be believed and practised? Why are they rendered by the learned the A, B, C, of a Christian, and the beginning of Christianity, milk for babes, if it be no matter whether baptism be practised or no? If it be said water baptism is not there intended, let them shew me how many baptisms there are besides water baptism? Can you build and leave out a stone in the foundation? I intend not baptism a foundation any other ways but in respect of order, and it is either intended for that or nothing.'

Ans. Baptism is in no sense the foundation of a church. I find no foundation of a church but Jesus Christ himself (Matt 16:18; 1 Cor 3:11). Yea, the foundation mentioned (Heb 6:1,2) is nothing else but this very Christ. For he is the foundation, not only of the church, but of all that good that at any time is found in her. He is the foundation OF our repentance, and OF our faith towards God (vv 1,2). Further, baptisms are not here mentioned with respect to the act in water, but of the doctrine; that is, the signification thereof. 'The doctrine of baptisms.' And observe, neither faith, nor repentance, nor baptisms, are called here foundations: Another thing, for a foundation, is here by the Holy Ghost intended, even a foundation for them all: a foundation of faith, of repentance, of the doctrine of baptisms, of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this foundation is Jesus Christ himself, and these are the first principles, the milk, the A, B, C, and the beginning of Christian religion in the world. I dare not say, No matter whether water baptism be practised or no. But it is not a stone in the foundation of a church, no not respecting order; it is not, to another, a sign of my sonship with God; it is not the door into fellowship with the saints, it is no church ordinance, as you, yourself, have testified. So then as to church work, it hath no place at all therein.

Your seventh argument is, 'If Paul knew the Galatians only upon the account of charity, No other ways to be the sons of God by faith; but by this part of their obedience, as he seems to import, then the same way we judge of the truth of men's profession of faith, when it shows itself by this selfsame obedience. Baptism being an obligation to all following duties' (Gal 3:26,27).

Ans. This your argument, being builded upon no more than a SEEMING import, and having been above ten times overthrown already; I might leave still with you, till your seeming import is come to a real one, and both to a greater persuasion upon your own conscience. But verily Sir, you grossly abuse your reader; must imports, yea, must seeming imports now stand for arguments, thereby to maintain your confident separation from your brethren? Yea, must such things as these, be the basis on which you build those heavy censures and condemnations you raise against your brethren, that cannot comply with you, because you want the word? A seeming import. But are these words of faith? or do the scriptures only help you to seeming imports, and me-hap-soes[17] for your practice? No, nor yet to them neither, for I dare boldly affirm it, and demand, if you can, to prove, that there is so much as a seeming import in all the word of God, that countenanceth your shutting men, better than ourselves, from the things and privileges of our Father's house. That to the Galatians, saith not, that Paul knew them to be the sons of God by faith, no other way, but by THIS part of their obedience; but puts them upon concluding themselves the sons of God, if they were baptized into the Lord Jesus, which could not, ordinarily, be known but unto themselves alone; because, being thus baptized, respecteth a special act of faith, which only God and him that hath, and acteth it, can be privy to. It is one thing for him that administereth, to baptize in the name of Jesus, and another thing for him that is the subject, by that to be baptize INTO Jesus Christ: Baptizing into Christ, is rather the act of the faith of him that is baptized, than his going into water and coming out again. But that Paul knew this to be the state of the Galatians no other way, but by their external act of being baptized with water, is both wild and unsound, and a miserable IMPORT indeed.

Your eighth argument is, 'If being baptized into Christ, be a putting on of Christ, as Paul expressed, then they have not put on Christ, in that sense he means, that are not baptized; if this putting on of Christ, doth not respect the visibility of Christianity; assign something else as its signification; great men's servants are known by their master's liveries, so are gospel believers by this livery of water baptism, that all that first trusted in Christ submitted unto; which is in itself as much an obligation to all gospel obedience, as circumcision was to keep the whole law.'

Ans. For a reply to the first part of this argument, go back to the answer to the seventh. Now that none have put on Christ in Paul's sense; yea, in a saving, in the best sense; but them that have, as you would have them, gone into water, will be hard for you to prove, yea, is ungodly for you to assert. Your comparing water baptism to a gentleman's livery, by which his name is known to be his, is fantastical. Go you but ten doors from where men have knowledge of you, and see how many of the world, or Christians, will know you by this goodly livery, to be one that hath put on Christ. What! known by water baptism to be one that hath put on Christ, as a gentleman's man is known to be his master's servant, by the gay garment his master gave him. Away fond man, you do quite forget the text. 'By THIS shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another' (John 13:35). That baptism is in itself obliging, to speak properly, it is false, for set it by itself, and it stands without the stamp of heaven upon it, and without its signification also: and how, as such, it should be obliging, I see not. Where you insinuate, it comes in the room of, and obligeth as circumcision: you say, you know not what (Acts 15:1,2). Circumcision was the initiating ordinance, but this you have denied to baptism. Further, circumcision then bound men to the whole obedience of the law, when urged by the false apostles, and received by an erroneous conscience (Gal 5:1-4). Would you thus urge water baptism! would you have men to receive it with such consciences? Circumcision in the flesh, was a type of circumcision in the heart, and not of water baptism (Rom 2:28,29; Phil 3:3).

Your ninth argument is, 'If it were commendable in the Thessalonians, that they followed the footsteps of the church of Judea (1 Thess 2:14), who it appears followed this order of adding baptized believers unto the church; then they that have found out another way of making church members, are not by that rule praiseworthy, but rather to be blamed; it was not what was since in corrupted times, but that which was from the beginning: the first churches were the purest pattern.'

Ans. That the text saith there was a church of Judea, I find not in 1 Thessalonians 2:14. And that the Thessalonians are commended for refusing to have communion with the unbaptized believers, for that is our question, prove it by the word, and then you do something. Again, that the commendations (1 Thess 2:14) do chiefly, or at all, respect their being baptized: or, because they followed the churches of God, which in Judea were in Christ Jesus, in the example of water baptism is quite beside the word. The verse runs thus: 'For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews.' This text then commends them, not for that they were baptized with water, but, for that they stood their ground, although baptized with suffering, like them in Judea, for the name of the Lord Jesus. For suffering like things of their own countrymen, as they did of the Jews. Will you not yet leave off to abuse the word of God, and forbear turning it out of its place, to maintain your unchristian practice of rejecting the people of God, and excluding them their blessed privileges. The unbaptized believer, instead of taking shame for entering into fellowship without it, will be ready, I doubt, to put you to shame for bringing scriptures so much beside the purpose, and for stretching them so miserably to uphold you in your fancies.

Your tenth argument is, 'If so be, that any of the members at Corinth, Galatia, Colosse, Rome, or them that Peter wrote to, were not baptized, then Paul's arguments for the resurrection to them, or to press them to holiness from the ground (Rom 6; Col 2; 1 Cor 15) was out of doors, and altogether needless, yea, it bespeaks his ignorance, and throweth contempt upon the Spirit's wisdom (Heb 6; 1 Peter 3:21) by which he wrote; if that must be asserted as a ground to provoke them to such an end, which had no being: and if all the members of all those churches were baptized, why should any plead for an exemption from baptism, for any church member now?'

Ans. Suppose all, if all these churches were baptized, what then? that answereth not our question. We ask where you find it written, that those that are baptized, should keep men as holy, and as much beloved of the Lord Jesus as themselves, out of church communion, for want of light in water baptism. Why we plead for their admission, though ye see not yet, that this is their duty, is because we are not forbidden, but commanded to receive them, because God and Christ hath done it (Rom 14, 15).

Your eleventh argument is, 'If unbaptized persons must be received into churches, only because they are believers, though they deny baptism; then why may not others plead for the like privilege, that are negligent in any other gospel ordinance of worship, from the same ground of want of light, let it be what it will. So then as the consequence of this principle, churches may be made up of visible sinners, instead of visible saints.'

Ans. 1. I plead not for believers simply because they are believers, but for such believers of whom we are persuaded by the word, that God hath received them. 2. There are some of the ordinances, that be they neglected, the being of a church, as to her visible gospel constitution, is taken quite away; but baptism is none of them, it being no church ordinance as such, nor any part of faith, nor of that holiness of heart, or life, that sheweth me to the church to be indeed a visible saint. The saint is a saint before, and may walk with God, and be faithful with the saints, and to his own light also though he never be baptized. Therefore to plead for his admission, makes no way at all for the admission of the open prophane, or to receive, as you profess you do, persons unprepared to the Lord's table, and other solemn appointments.

Your twelfth argument is, 'Why should professors have more light in breaking of bread, than baptism? That this must be so urged for their excuse: Hath God been more sparing in making out his mind in the one, rather than the other? Is there more precepts or precedents for the supper, than baptism? Hath God been so bountiful in making out himself about the supper, that few or none that own ordinances scruple it? And must baptism be such a rock of offence to professors, that very few will enquire after it, or submit to it? Hath not man's wisdom interposed to darken this part of God's counsel? By which professors seem willingly led, though against so many plain commands and examples, written as with a sun beam, that he that runs may read? And must an advocate be entertained to plead for so gross a piece of ignorance, that the meanest babes of the first gospel times were never guilty of?'

Ans. Many words to little purpose. 1. Must God be called to an account by you, why he giveth more light about the supper than baptism? May he not shew to, or conceal from this, or another of his servants, which of his truths he pleaseth. Some of the members of the church at Jerusalem had a greater truth than this kept from them, for ought I know, as long as they lived (Acts 11:19), yet God was not called in question about it. 2. Breaking of bread, not baptism, being a church ordinance, and that such also as must be often reiterated; yea, it being an ordinance so full of blessedness, as lively to present union and communion with Christ to all the members that worthily eat thereof: I say, the Lord's supper being such, that while the members sit at that feast, they shew to each other the death and blood of the Lord, as they ought to do, till he comes (1 Cor 10:15-17, 11:25,26). The church as a church, is much more concerned in that, than in water baptism, both as to her faith and comfort; both as to her union and communion. 3. Your supposition, that very few professors will seriously inquire after water baptism, is too rude. What, must all the children of God, that are not baptized for want of light, be still stigmatised with want of serious inquiry after God's mind in it. 4. That I am an advocate, entertained to plead for so gross a piece of ignorance, as want of light in baptism, is but like the rest of your jumbling. I plead for communion with men, godly and faithful, I plead that they may be received, that God hath shewed us he hath received, and commanded we should receive them.

Your thirteenth argument is, 'If obedience must discover the truth of a man's faith to others, why must baptism be shut out, as if it was no part of gospel obedience? Is there no precept for this practice, that it must be thus despised, as a matter of little use? Or shall one of Christ's precious commands be blotted out of a Christian's obedience, to make way for a church fellowship of man's devising.'

Ans. 1. This is but round, round, the same thing over and over. That my obedience to water, is not a discovery of my faith to others, is evident, from the body of the Bible, we find nothing that affirms it. And I will now add, That if a man cannot shew himself a Christian without water baptism; he shall never shew either saint or sinner, that he is a Christian by it. 2. Who [soever] they are that despise it, I know not but that church membership may be without it, (seeing even you yourself have concluded it is no church ordinance, nor the entering ordinance) standeth both with scripture and reason, as mine arguments make manifest. So that all your arguments prove no more but this, 'That you are so wedded to your wordless notions, that charity can have no place with you.' Have you all this while so much as given me one small piece of a text to prove it unlawful for the church, to receive those whom she, by the word, perceiveth the Lord God and her Christ hath received? No: and therefore you have said so much as amounts to nothing.

Your last argument is, 'If the baptism of John was so far honoured and dignified, that they that did submit to it, are said to justify God; and those that did it not, are said to reject his counsel against themselves: so that their receiving, or rejecting the whole doctrine of God, hath its denomination from this single practice. And is there not as much to be said of the baptism of Christ, unless you will say it is inferior to John's in worth and use.'

Ans. 1. That our denomination of believers, and of our receiving the doctrine of the Lord Jesus, is not to be reckoned from our baptism, is evident; because according to our notion of it, they only that have before received the doctrine of the gospel, and so shew it us by their confession of faith, they only ought to be baptized. This might serve for an answer for all: but, 2. The Baptism of John was 'the baptism of repentance, for the remission of sins' (Mark 1:4; Matt 3;6; Luke 3:3), of which water was but an outward signification. Now what is the baptism of repentance, but an unfeigned acknowledgment that they were sinners, and so stood in need of a Saviour, Jesus Christ. This baptism, or baptism under this notion, the Pharisees would not receive (Luke 7:29,30). For they 'trusted in themselves that they were righteous,' that they were 'not as other men,' that they had need of no repentance (Luke 18:9, 10:29, 15:7). Not but that they would have been baptized with water, might that have been without an acknowledgment that they were sinners (Matt 3:7); wherefore seeing the counsel of God respected rather the remission of sins by Jesus Christ, than the outward act of water baptism, ye ought not, as you do, by this your reasoning, to make it rather, at least in the revelation of it, to terminate in the outward act of being baptized, but in unfeigned and sound repentance, and the receiving of Jesus Christ by faith (Eph 1:7,8,11).

Further, A desire to submit to John's water baptism, or of being baptized by him in water, did not demonstrate by that single act, the receiving of the whole doctrine of God as you suggest. 'Why did John reject the Pharisees that would have been baptized (Matt 3:7), and Paul examine them that were?' (Acts 19:2,3). If your doctrine be true, why did they not rather say, Oh! seeing you desire to be baptized, seeing you have been baptized, you need not to be questioned any further; your submitting to John's water, to us is a sufficient testimony, even that single act, that you have received the whole doctrine of God. But I say, why did John call them vipers? And Paul asked them, Whether they had yet 'received the Holy Ghost?' Yea, it is evident, that a man may be desirous of water, that a man may be baptized, and neither own the doctrine of repentance, nor know on whom he should believe; evident, I say, and that by the same texts (Matt 3:7; Acts 19:2-4).

You have grounded therefore this your last argument, as also the rest, upon an utter mistake of things.

I COME NOW TO YOUR Questions; WHICH ALTHOUGH THEY BE MIXED WITH GALL, I WILL WITH PATIENCE SEE IF I CAN TURN THEM INTO FOOD.

[Quest. 1.] Your first question is, 'I ask your own heart, whether popularity and applause of variety of professors, be not in the bottom of what you have said; that hath been your snare to pervert the right ways of the Lord, and to lead others into a path wherein we can find none of the footsteps of the flock in the first ages?'

Ans. Setting aside a retaliation, like your question, I say, and God knows I speak the truth, I have been tempted to do what I have done, by a provocation of sixteen years long; tempted, I say, by the brethren of your way: who, whenever they saw their opportunity, have made it their business to seek to rend us in pieces; mine ownself they have endeavoured to persuade to forsake the church; some they have rent quite off from us, others they have attempted and attempted to divide and break off from us, but by the mercy of God, have been hitherto prevented. A more large account you may have in my next, if you think good to demand it; but I thank God that I have written what I have written.

Quest. 2. 'Have you dealt brotherly, or like a Christian, to throw so much dirt upon your brethren, in print, in the face of the world, when you had an opportunity to converse with them of reputation amongst us, before printing, being allowed the liberty by them, at the same time for you to speak among them?'

Ans. I have thrown no dirt upon them, nor laid any thing to their charge, if their practice be warrantable by the word; but you have not been offended at the dirt yourselves have thrown at all the godly in the land that are not of our persuasion, in counting them unfit to be communicated with, or to be accompanied with in the house of God. This dirt you never complained of, nor would, I doubt, to this day, might you be still let alone to throw it. As to my book, it was printed before I spake with any of you, or knew whether I might be accepted of you. As to them of reputation among you, I know others not one tittle inferior to them, and have my liberty to consult with who I like best.

Quest. 3. 'Doth your carriage answer the law of love or civility, when the brethren used means to send for you for a conference, and their letter was received by you, that you should go out again from the city after knowledge of their desires, and not vouchsafe a meeting with them, when the glory of God, and the vindication of so many churches is concerned.'

Ans. The reason why I came not amongst you, was partly because I consulted mine own weakness, and counted not myself, being a dull headed man, able to engage so many of the chief of you, as I was then informed intended to meet me. I also feared, in personal disputes, heats and bitter contentions might arise, a thing my spirit hath not pleasure in: I feared also, that both myself and words would be misrepresented; and that not without cause, for if they that answer a book will alter, and screw arguments out of their place, and make my sentences stand in their own words, not mine, when I say my words are in a book to be seen, what would you have done, had I in the least, either in matter or manner, though but seemingly miscarried among you. As for the many churches which you say are concerned, as also the glory of God, I doubt not to say they are only your wordless opinions that are concerned; the glory of God is vindicated: We receive him that God hath received, and that 'to the glory of God' (Rom 15:7).

Quest. 4. 'Is it not the spirit of Diotrephes of old, in you, who loved to have the pre-eminence, that you are so bold to keep out all the brethren, that are not of your mind in this matter, from having any entertainment in the churches or meetings to which you belong, though you yourself have not been denied the like liberty, among them that are contrary minded to you? Is this the way of your retaliation? Or are you afraid lest the truth should invade your quarters?'

Ans. I can say, I would not have the spirit you talk of; what I have of it, God take it from me. But what was the spirit of Diotrephes? Why, not to receive the brethren into the church, and to forbid them that would (3 John 9,10). This do not I; I am for communion with saints, because they are saints: I shut none of the brethren out of the churches, nor forbid them that would receive them. I say again, shew me the man that is a visible believer, and that walketh with God; and though he differ with me about baptism, the doors of the church stand open for him, and all our heaven-born privileges he shall be admitted to them. But how came Diotrephes so lately into our parts? Where was he in those days that our brethren of the baptized way, would neither receive into the church, nor pray with men as good as themselves, because they were not baptized; but would either, like Quakers, stand with their hats on their heads, or else withdraw till we had done.

As to our not suffering those you plead for to preach in our assemblies, the reason is, because we cannot yet prevail with them, to repent of their church-rending principles. As to the retaliation, mind the hand of God, and remember Adonibezek (Judg 1:7). Let the truth come into our quarters and welcome, but sowers of discord, because the Lord hates it (Prov 6:19), we also ourselves will AVOID them (Rom 16:17,18).

Quest. 5. 'Is there no contempt cast upon the brethren, who desired your satisfaction, that at the same time, when you have opportunity to speak to them, instead of that, you committed the letters to others, by way of reflection upon them?'

Ans. It is no contempt at all to consult men more wise and judicious than him that wrote, or myself either. But why not consult with others. Is wisdom to die with you? Or do you count all that yourselves have no hand in, done to your disparagement?

Quest. 6. 'Did not your presumption prompt you to provoke them to printing, in your letter to them, when they desired to be found in no such practice, lest the enemies of truth should take advantage by it?'

Ans. What provoked you to print, will be best known at the day of judgment, whether your fear of losing your wordless opinion, or my plain answer to your letter: The words in my letter are, 'As for my book never defer its answer till you speak with me, for I strive not for mastery but truth.' Though you did not desire to write, yet with us there was continual labour to rend us to pieces, and to prevent that, was my first book written. And let who will take advantage, so the truth of God, and the edification of my brother be promoted.

Quest. 7. 'Whether your principle and practice is not equally against others as well as us, viz. Episcopal, Presbyterians, and Independents, who are also of our side, for our practice, though they differ with us about the subject of baptism. Do you delight to have your hand against every man?'

Ans. I own water baptism to be God's ordinance, but I make no idol of it. Where you call now the Episcopal to side with you, and also the Presbyterian, &c. you will not find them easily persuaded to conclude with you against me. They are against your manner of dipping, as well as the subject of water baptism; neither do you, for all you flatter them, agree together in all but the subject. Do you allow their sprinkling? Do you allow their signing with the cross? Why then have you so stoutly, an hundred times over, condemned these things as antichristian. I am not against every man, though by your abusive language you would set every one against me; but am for union, concord, and communion with saints, as saints, and for that cause I wrote my book.

To conclude,—1. In all I have said, I put a difference between my brethren of the baptized way; I know some are more moderate than some. 2. When I plead for the unbaptized, I chiefly intend those that are not so baptized as my brethren judge right, according to the first pattern. 3. If any shall count my papers worth the scribbling against, let him deal with my arguments, and things immediately depending upon them, and not conclude that he hath confuted a book, when he hath only quarrelled at words. 4. I have done when I have told you, that I strive not for mastery, nor to shew myself singular; but, if it might be, for union and communion among the godly. And count me not as an enemy, because I tell you the truth. 5. And now, dissenting brethren, I commend you to God, who can pardon your sin, and give you more grace, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. Amen.

HERE FOLLOWETH MR. HENRY JESSEY'S JUDGMENT UPON THE SAME ARGUMENT.

'Him that is weak in the faith receive ye,' &c.—Romans 14:1

Whereas some suppose the receiving there mentioned, was but receiving into brotherly affection, such as were in church fellowship; but not a receiving of such as were weak into the church. For answer unto which consider,

That in the texts are two things to be inquired into. First, What weakness of faith this is, that must not hinder receiving. Secondly, by whom, and to what, he that is weak in the faith is to be received?

First, To the first, What weakness of faith this is that must not hinder receiving, whether was it weakness in the graces of faith, or in the doctrine of faith? It is conceived that the first is included, but the second principally intended.

1. That some of the Lord's people are weak in the graces of faith, will be confessed by all (Mark 9:24; Luke 24:25) and that the Lord would have his lambs fed as well as his sheep, and his children as well as grown men, and that he hath given the right to gospel privileges, not to degrees of grace, but to the truth; 'him that is weak in the faith receive ye': or unto you, as some GOOD translations read it (Rom 14:1).[18]

2. It is supposed, that this command of receiving him that is weak in the faith, doth principally intend, that is weak in the doctrine of faith, and that not so much in the doctrine of justification, as in gospel institutions, as doth appear by the second and sixth verses: which shew, that it was in matters of practice, wherein some were weak, and at which others were offended; notwithstanding the glorious Lord who bears all his Israel upon his heart receives them (v 3) and commandeth, 'him that is weak in the faith receive ye,' or unto you.

Second, Therefore, here we are to inquire of the receiving in the text, By whom, and to what he that is weak in the faith, should be received. In which inquiry there are two parts. 1. By whom. 2. To what.

1. To the first. The text makes answer, 'Him that is weak in the faith receive ye,' or unto you; which must be the church at Rome, to whom the epistle was writ; as also to all 'beloved of God, called to be saints' (Rom 1:7). And as to them, so unto all churches and saints, Beloved and called throughout the world.

Note, That epistles are as well to direct how churches are to carry things towards saints without, as to saints within; and also toward all men so as to give no offence to Jew or Gentile, nor to the church of God (1 Cor 10:32).

2. The second part of the inquiry is, to what he that is weak in the faith is to be received? whether only unto mutual affection, as some affirm, as if he were in church fellowship before, that were weak in the faith? Or whether the text doth as well, if not rather intend, the receiving such as were, and are weak in the faith, Not only unto mutual affection if in the church, but unto church fellowship also, if they were out. For clearing of which consider, to whom the epistle was written (Rom 1:7). Not only to the church there, but unto all that were beloved of God, and called to be saints in all ages. And as at Rome it is like there then were, and in other places now are, saints weak in the faith, both in and out of church fellowship; and it is probable there then were, and elsewhere now are, those that will cast such out of their mutual affection. And if they will cast such out of their mutual affection that are within, no doubt they will keep out of their church fellowship those that are without.

Arg. 1. Whereas the Lord's care extends to all his, and if it were a good argument in the third verse, for them to receive those within, because God hath received them, it would be as good an argument to receive in those without, for God hath received them also: unless it could be proved, that all that were and are weak in the faith, were and are in church fellowship, which is not likely: for if they would cast such out of their affection that are within, they would upon the same account keep them out of church fellowship that were without: therefore as it is a duty to receive those within unto mutual affection, so it is no less a duty, by the text, to receive such weak ones as are without, into church fellowship.

Arg. 2. Is urged from the words themselves, which are, 'Receive him that is weak in the faith'; wherein the Lord puts NO limitation in this text or in any other; and who is he then that can restrain it, unless he will limit the Holy One of Israel? And how would such an interpretation foolishly charge the Lord, as if he took care ONLY of those within, but not like care of those without; whereas he commandeth them to receive them, and useth this motive, he had received them, and he receiveth those that are weak in the faith, if without, as well as those within.

From the example, to wit, That God had received them; whereas had he been of the church, they would have been persuaded of that before the motive was urged: for no true church of Christ's would take in, or keep in any, whom they judged the Lord had not received; but those weak ones were such as they questioned whether the Lord had received them, else the text had not been an answer sufficient for their receiving them: There might have been objected, they hold up Jewish observations of meats and days, which by the death of Christ were abolished, and so did deny some of the effects of his death; yet the Lord who was principally wronged could pass this by, and commandeth others to receive them also. And if it be a good argument to receive such as are weak in any thing, whom the Lord hath received, then there can be no good argument to reject for any thing for which the Lord will not reject them: for else the command in the first verse, and his example in the third verse were insufficient, without some other arguments unto the church, besides his command and example.

Some object, 'Receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God' (Rom 15:7). And from thence supposing they were all in church fellowship before, whereas the text saith not so: for if you consider the eighth and ninth verses, you may see he speaks unto Jews and Gentiles in general, that if the Jews had the receiving, they should receive Gentiles; and if the Gentiles had the receiving, they should receive Jews, for had they not been on both sides commanded: the Jews might have said to the Gentiles, you are commanded to receive us, but we are not commanded to receive you; and if the weak had the receiving, they should receive the strong; and if the strong had the receiving, they should not keep out the weak; and the text is reinforced with the example of the Son's receiving us unto the glory of God, that as he receiveth Jews and poor Gentiles, weak and strong, in church fellowship, or out of church fellowship; so should they to the glory of God. And as the Lord Jesus received some, though they held some things more than were commanded, and some things less than were commanded, and as those that were weak and in church fellowship, so those that were weak and out of church fellowship; and that not only into mutual affection, but unto fellowship with himself; and so should they, not only receive such as were weak within into mutual affection, but such as were without, both to mutual affection and to church fellowship: or else such weak ones as were without, had been excluded by the text. Oh! how is the heart of God the Father and the Son set upon this, to have his children in his house, and in one another's hearts as they are in his, and are borne upon the shoulders and breasts of his Son their high priest? and as if all this will not do it, but the devil will divide them still, whose work it properly is; But 'the God of peace' will come in shortly, 'and bruise Satan under their feet,' as in Romans 16:20. And they will agree to be in one house, when they are more of one heart; in the mean time prays, as in chapter 15:5, 'Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus.'

I shall endeavour the answering of some objections, and leave it unto consideration.

Object. Some say this bearing or receiving, were but in things indifferent.

Ans. That eating, or forbearing upon a civil account, are things indifferent, is true: but not when done upon the account of worship, as keeping of days, and establishing Jewish observations about meats, which by the death of Christ are taken away; and it is not fairly to be imagined the same church at Rome looked so upon them as indifferent; nor that the Lord doth; that it were all alike to him to hold up Jewish observations, or to keep days or no days, right days or wrong days, as indifferent things, which is a great mistake, and no less than to make God's grace little in receiving such. For if it were but in things wherein they had not sinned, it were no great matter for the Lord to receive, and it would have been as good an argument or motive to the church, to say the things were indifferent, as to say the Lord had received them. Whereas the text is to set out the riches of grace to the vessels of mercy, as Romans 9:15. That as at first he did freely choose and accept them; so when they fail and miscarry in many things, yea about his worship also, although he be most injured thereby, yet he is first in passing it by, and persuading others to do the like. That as the good Samaritan did in the Old Testament,[19] so our good Samaritan doth in the New, when priest and Levite passed by, pastor and people pass by, yet he will not, but pours in oil, and carries them to his inn, and calls for receiving, and setting it upon his account.

Object. That this bearing with, and receiving such as are weak in the faith, must be limited to meats and days, and such like things that had been old Jewish observations, but not unto the being ignorant in, or doubting of any New Testament institution.

Ans. Where the Lord puts no limitation, men should be wary how they do it, for they must have a command or example, before they can limit this command; for although the Lord took this occasion from their difference about meats and days to give this command, yet the command is not limited there, no more than Matthew 12:1-8. That when they made use of his good law rigorously in the letter, he presently published an act of grace in the 7th verse, and tells them, Had they known what this meaneth, 'I will have mercy and not sacrifice,' they would not have condemned the guiltless; as also Matthew 9:13, 'Go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice,' which is not to be limited unto what was the present occasion of publishing the command, but observed as a general rule upon all occasions, wherein mercy and sacrifice comes in competition, to shew the Lord will rather have a duty omitted that is due to him, than mercy to his creatures omitted by them. So in the text, when some would not receive such as were weak in the faith, as to matters of practice, the Lord was pleased to publish this act of grace: 'Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.' Now unless it be proved, that no saint can be weak in the faith in any thing but meats and days, or in some Old Testament observations, and that he ought not to be judged a saint that is weak in the faith as it relates to gospel institutions, in matters of practice; you cannot limit the text, and you must also prove his weakness SUCH, as that the Lord will not receive him; else the command in the first verse, and the reason or motive in the third verse, will both be in force upon you; to wit, 'Him that is weak in the faith receive ye,' or unto you,—'for God hath received him.'

Object. But some may object from 1 Corinthians 12:13, 'For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles.' Some there are that affirm this to be meant of water baptism, and that particular churches are formed thereby, and all persons are to be admitted and jointed unto such churches by water baptism.

Ans. That the baptism intended in the text is the Spirit's baptism, and not water baptism; and that the body the text intends, is not principally the church of Corinth, but all believers, both Jews and Gentiles, being baptized into one mystical body, as Ephesians 4:4, 'There is one body and one Spirit,' wherein there is set out the uniter and the united; therefore in the third verse they are exhorted to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The united are all the faithful in one body; into whom? in the fifth verse, in one Lord Jesus Christ: by what? one faith, one baptism, which CANNOT be meant of water baptism; for water baptism doth not unite all this body, for some of them never had water baptism, and are yet of this body, and by the Spirit gathered into one Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 1:10), 'both which are in heaven and in earth,' Jew and Gentile (Eph 2:16), 'that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross.' The instrument you have in verse 18, 'by one spirit' (Eph 3:6). 'That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body' (v 15). 'Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.' And the reasons of their keeping 'the unity of the Spirit,' in Ephesians 4:3 is laid down in verses 4, 5 being 'one body,' 'one Spirit,' having 'one hope,' 'one Lord,' 'one faith,' 'one baptism,' whether they were Jews or Gentiles, such as were in heaven or in earth, which CANNOT be meant of water baptism, for in that sense they had not all one baptism, nor admitted and united thereby. So in 1 Corinthians 12:13, 'For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit'; which cannot be meant of water baptism, in regard all the body of Christ, Jews and Gentiles, bond and free, partook not thereof.

Object. But Ephesians 4:5 saith, there is but 'one baptism'; and by what hath been said, if granted, water baptism will be excluded, or else there is more baptisms than one.

Ans. It followeth not that because the Spirit will have no corrival, that therefore other things may not be in their places. That because the Spirit of God taketh the pre-eminence, therefore other things may not be subservient (1 John 2:27). The apostle tells them, That the anointing which they have received of him, abideth in them; and you need not, saith he, 'that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things.' By this some may think John excludes the ministry; no such matter, though the Holy Ghost had confirmed and instructed them so in the truth of the gospel, as that they were furnished against seducers in verse 26 yet you see John goes on still teaching them in many things: as also in Ephesians 4:11-13, 'He gave some, apostles;—some evangelists, and some pastors, and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.' So in the Spirit's baptism, though it have the pre-eminence, and appropriateth some things, as peculiar to itself, it doth not thereby destroy the use and end of water baptism, or any other ordinance in its place: for water baptism is a means to increase grace, and in it, and by it sanctification is forwarded, and remission of sins more cleared and witnessed; yet the giving grace, and regenerating and renewing, is the Holy Spirit's peculiar. Consider (Titus 3:5), 'By the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost'; Baptism being the outward sign of the inward graces wrought by the Spirit, a representation or figure, as in 1 Peter 3:21, 'The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us [not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,] by the resurrection of Jesus Christ'; not excluding water baptism; but shewing, That the spiritual part is chiefly to be looked at: though such as slight water baptism, as the Pharisees and lawyers did (Luke 7:30), reject the counsel of God against themselves, not being baptized. And such as would set water baptism in the Spirit's place, exalt a duty against the deity and dignity of the Spirit, and to give the glory due unto him, as God blessed for ever, unto a duty.

By which mistake of setting up water baptism in the Spirit's place, and assigning it a work, which was never appointed unto it; of forming the body of Christ, either in general, as in 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:5 or as to particular churches of Christ, we may see the fruit; that instead of being the means of uniting as the Spirit doth; that it hath not only rent his seamless coat, but divided his body which he hath purchased with his own blood, and opposed that great design of Father, Son, and Spirit, in uniting poor saints, thereby pulling in pieces what the Spirit hath put together. 'Him that is weak in the faith receive ye,—for God hath received him'; being such as the Spirit had baptized and admitted of the body of Christ, he would have his churches receive them also: whose baptism is the ONLY baptism, and so is called the ONE baptism. Therefore consider, whether such a practice, hath a command or an example, that persons must be joined into church fellowship by water baptism; for John baptized many, yet he did not baptize some into one church, and some into another, nor all into one church, as the church of Rome doth. And into what church did Philip baptize the eunuch, or the apostle the jailor and his house? And all the rest they baptized, were they not left free to join themselves for their convenience and edification? All which I leave to consideration. I might have named some inconveniences, if not absurdities that would follow the assertion: as to father the mistakes of the baptizers on the Spirit's act, who is not mistaken in any HE baptizeth; no false brethren creep in unawares into the mystical body by him; and also, how this manner of forming churches would suit a country, where many are converted, and willing to be baptized; but there being no church to be baptized into, how shall such a church state begin? The first must be baptized into no church, and the rest into him as the church, or the work stand still for want of a church.

Object. 'But God is a God of order, and hath ordained order in all the churches of Christ; and for to receive one that holds the baptism he had in his infancy, there is no command nor example for, and by the same rule children will be brought in to be church members.'

Ans. That God is a God of order, and hath ordained orders in all the churches of Christ is true; and that this is one of the orders to receive him that is weak in the faith, is as true. And though there be no example or command, in so many words, receive such an one that holds the baptism he had in his infancy, nor to reject such a one: but there is a command to receive him that is weak in the faith, without limitation, and it is like this might not be a doubt in those days, and so not spoken of in particular.

But the Lord provides a remedy for all times in the text, 'Him that is weak in the faith receive ye'; for else receiving would not be upon the account of saintship; but upon knowing, and doing all things according to rule and order, and that must be perfectly, else for to deny any thing, or to affirm too much is disorderly, and would hinder receiving: but the Lord seals not so with his people, but accounts 'LOVE the fulfilling of the law,' though they be ignorant in many things both as to knowing and doing; and receives them into communion and fellowship with himself, and would have others do the same also. And if he would have so much bearing in the apostle's days, when they had infallible helps to expound truths unto them, much more now, the church hath been so long in the wilderness and in captivity, and not that his people should be driven away in the dark day, though they are sick and weak (Eze 34:16,21). And that it should be supposed such tenderness would bring in children in age to be church members, yea and welcome, if any body could prove them in the faith, though never so weak; for the text is, 'Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye': It is not He, and his wife and children, unless it can be proved they are IN THE FAITH.

Object. 'By this, some ordinances may be lost or omitted, and is it to be supposed the Lord would suffer any of his ordinances to be lost or omitted in the Old or New Testament, or the right use of them, and yet own such for true churches, and what reason can there be for it.?'

Ans. The Lord hath suffered some ordinances to be omitted and lost in the Old Testament, and yet owned the church. Though circumcision were omitted in the wilderness, yet he owned them to be his church (Acts 7:38); and many of the ordinances were lost in the captivity: see Ainsworth upon Exodus 28, 30 &c. which shewed what the high-priest was to put on, and were not to be omitted upon pain of death, as the Urim and Thummim, yet being lost, and several other ordinances, the ark, with the mercy-seat and cherubims, the fire from heaven, the majesty and divine presence, &c. yet, he owns the second temple, though short of the first, and filled it with his glory, and honoured it with his Son, being a member and a minister therein (Mal 3:1), 'The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple': So in the New Testament, since their wilderness condition, and great and long captivity, there is some darkness and doubts, and want of light in the best of the Lord's people, in many of his ordinances, and that for several ages, and yet how hath the Lord owned them for his churches, wherein he is to have glory and praise 'throughout all ages' (Eph 3:21). And so should we own them, unless we will condemn the generation of the just. It must be confessed, That if exact practice be required, and clearness in gospel institutions before communion; who dare be so bold as to say his hands are clean, and that he hath done all the Lord's commands, as to institutions in his worship? and must not confess the change of times doth necessitate some variation, if not alteration, either in the matter or manner of things according to primitive practice; yet owned for true churches, and received as visible saints, though ignorant either wholly, or in great measure, in laying on of hands, singing, washing of feet, and anointing with oil, in the gifts of the Spirit, which is the Urim and Thummim of the gospel. And it cannot be proved, that the churches were so ignorant in the primitive times, nor yet that such were received into fellowship; yet now herein it is thought meet their should be bearing, and why not in baptism, especially in such as own it for an ordinance, though in some things miss it, and do yet shew their love unto it, and unto the Lord, and unto his law therein, that they could be willing to die for it rather than to deny it; and to be baptized in their blood; which sheweth, they hold it in conscience their duty, while they have further light from above, and are willing to hear and obey as far as they know, though weak in the faith, as to clearness in gospel institutions: surely the text is on their side, or else it will exclude all the former, 'Him that is weak in the faith receive ye,—but not to doubtful disputations' (Rom 14:5). Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind, and such the Lord hath received.

As to the query, What reason is there, why the Lord should suffer any of his ordinances to be lost?

Ans. If there were no reason to be shewn, it should teach us silence, for he doth nothing without the highest reason; and there doth appear some reasons in the Old Testament, why those ordinances of Urim and Thummim, &c. were suffered to be lost in the captivity, that they might long and look for the Lord Jesus, the priest, that was to stand up with Urim and Thummim (Ezra 2:63; Neh 7:65), which the Lord by this puts them upon the hoping for, and to be in the expectation of so great a mercy, which was the promise of the Old Testament, and all the churches losses in the New Testament. By all the dark night of ignorance she hath been in, and long captivity she hath been under, and in her wandering wilderness state, wherein she hath rather been fed with manna from heaven, than by men upon earth; and after all her crosses and losses, the Lord lets light break in by degrees, and deliverance by little and little; and she is 'coming out of the wilderness leaning upon her beloved'; and the Lord hath given the valley of Achor for a door of hope, that ere long she may receive the promise of the gospel richly, by the Spirit, to be poured upon us from on high (Isa 32:15), and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field become a forest, and then the Lord will take away the covering cast over all people (Isa 25:7), and the vail that is spread over all nations (Isa 11:9); 'For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea' (v 13). Then 'Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.' Thus will the God of peace bruise Satan under foot shortly; and one reason why the Lord may suffer all this darkness and differences that have been, and yet are, is, that we might long and look for this blessed promise of the gospel, the pourings out of the Spirit.

Object. But many authors do judge, that the weak and strong were all in church fellowship before, and that the receiving (Rom 14:1) was but into mutual affection.

Ans. It ought to be seriously weighed how any differ from so many worthy authors, is confessed; to whom the world is so much beholden for their help in many things; but it would be of dangerous consequence to take all for granted they say, and unlike the noble Bereans (Acts 17:11). Though they had some infallible teachers, yet they took not their words or doctrine upon trust; and there may be more ground to question expositors on this text, in regard their principles necessitate them to judge that the sense; for if it be in their judgments a duty to compel all to come in, and to receive all, and their children, they must needs judge by that text, they were all of the church, and in fellowship, before their scrupling meats and days, because that is an act of grown persons at years of discretion; and therefore the receiving is judged by them to be only into mutual affection, for it is impossible for them to hold their opinion, and judge otherwise of the text; for in baptism, they judge infants should be received into church fellowship; and then scrupling meats and days must needs be after joining. Their judgments might as well be taken, that it is a duty to baptize infants, as that they can judge of this text rightly, and hold their practice.

Object. But no uncircumcised person was to eat the passover (Exo 12). And doth not the Lord as well require the sign of baptism now, as of circumcision then? and is there not like reason for it?

Ans. The Lord, in the Old Testament, expressly commanded no uncircumcised person should eat the passover (Exo 12:48; Eze 44:9), that no stranger, uncircumcised in heart, or uncircumcised in flesh, should enter into his sanctuary.[20] And had the Lord commanded, that no unbaptized person should enter into his churches, it had been clear. And no doubt, Christ was as faithful as a son in all his house, as Moses was as a servant; and although there had been little reason, if the Lord had commanded it so to be, yet in God's worship we must not make the likeness of any thing in our reason, but the will of God, the ground of duty; for upon such a foundation some would build the baptizing of infants, because it would be like unto circumcision, and so break the second commandment, in making the likeness of things of their own contrivance, of force with institutions in the worship of God.

The most that I think can be said is, That we have no gospel example for receiving without baptism, or rejecting any for want of it. Therefore it is desired, what hath been said, may be considered; lest while we look for an example, we do not overlook a command upon a mistake, supposing that they were all in church fellowship before; whereas the text saith not so, but 'Him that is weak in the faith receive ye,' or unto you.

We may see also how the Lord proceeds under the law, though he accounts those things that were done contrary to his law, sinful, though done ignorantly; yet never required the offender to offer sacrifice till he knew thereof (Lev 5:5 compared with vv 15,16). And that may be a man's own sin through his ignorance; that though it may be another's duty to endeavour to inform him in, yet not thereupon to keep him out of his Father's house; for surely the Lord would not have any of his children kept out, without we have a word for it. And though they scruple some meats in their Father's house, yet it may be dangerous for the stronger children to deny them all the rest of the dainties therein, till the weak and sick can eat strong meat; whereas Peter had meat for one, and milk for another; and Peter must feed the poor lambs as well as the sheep; and if others will not do it, the great shepherd will come ere long and look up what hath been driven away (Eze 34:4,11; Isa 40:11). He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs into his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.



FOOTNOTES:

1. Who is there that reads these revilings of Bunyan for his poverty and mean descent, but must be struck with the unsearchable wisdom of the Almighty. The salvation of the church requires that 'GOD should be manifest in the flesh.' Does he appear in his glory? Does he honour riches, and power, and wisdom, by descending in one of these classes? No; the poor, the despised in this world, claim kindred with him—'Is not this the carpenter's son?' 'Have any of the rulers or pharisees believed on him?' Even with these examples before them, his Baptist ministerial brethren, who sat at his feet when he came to London, and listened to his eloquence, now, in their hot dispute, revile and taunt him with his imprisonment—his poverty—his want of book learning. Refused the communion of some eminent earthly saints, it drove him to closer communion with his God, and the prison, became a Bethel—none other than the house of God, and the very gate of heaven; and in a holy, happy frame of soul, he breathes forgiveness: 'What Mr. Kiffin hath done in the matter I forgive, and love him never the worse'!!—Ed.

2. How do these verses cut down all the carnal pride of man. Who is THE BLESSED? not the rich, or powerful, or worldly wise, but those that delight in the word of God.—Ed.

3. Nearly all the Baptist churches of that day limited communion to them who had been baptized in water on a profession of their faith. It is very different now; Bunyan's principles have spread, are spreading, and must soon become universal.—Ed.

4. Mr. H. D'Anvers: 'A seventh end of baptism is, that the baptized person may orderly thereby have an entrance into the visible church. None were esteemed members, or did partake of its ordinances, before they were baptized, being so God's hedge or boundary.'—Treatise of Baptism, p. 20, ed. 1674.

5. A modern writer, in a critique on Bunyan, says that he did as much justice to grace as his Calvinism would allow him!! May all the world be such Calvinists.—Ed.

6. 'Without the church,' previous to having entered into the church, a personal obedience to the divine command; having repented, then be baptized: neither of these are duties to be performed by the church, as such, but individually.—Ed.

7. 'To themselves,' to the particular churches only to which they were written. Contrary to the word, 'All scripture is given—to be profitable to the man of God' in every church (2 Tim 3:16).—Ed.

8. To these ten commandments must be added that new command given by the Saviour, 'That ye love one another' (John 12:34); or rather the evangelical sum of the whole law, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself.' This happy state of mind can only be attained by the baptism of the Holy Ghost. How awful the thought that multitudes of professing Christians rely upon outward ceremonies, a fleshly carnal confidence in ordinances, while they are dead as to union with God and to spiritual communion with his saints. Reader, how is it with your own soul.—Ed.

9. Bunyan's adversaries were wrong in stating that all the expositors agreed in referring this 'one baptism' to be that in or with water. John Caime, 1662, refers to 1 Corinthians 12:13, as an illustration of Ephesians 4:5, 'One baptism,' 'by one SPIRIT are we all baptized.' The Assembly's Annotations, 1657, infers that 'one' means 'once,' and refers to the Nicene creed, which says, 'one baptism for the remission of sins'; this surely cannot mean that the application of water remits sins. Diodati, 1648, is silent on this subject. Dr. Hammond, 1653, says, 'the same vow to be administered to all.' Very similar to this is the Dutch annotations of Theodore Haak.—Ed.

10. Heaven forbid that we should be afraid or ashamed of saying that Christ is better than water baptism. Christ is the heavenly manna, the sweet, pleasant, nourishing food of the soul. Baptism is only once for life, but Christ is our essential food all through the wilderness—every hour of life until we enter the gates of the celestial and eternal city.—Ed.

11. While we acknowledge the importance of water baptism, to which Christ submitted, yet we do well to consider that it was not intended as a means of purifying his infinite purity; no more does it purify the believer who follows his Redeemer in this ordinance. He was as much a believer before as he is after the ceremony. He submits to it as an act of obedience to the divine command, in the humble hope that his faith may be strengthened and his soul refreshed.—Ed.

12. 'The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God' (James 1:20). The angry passions of man work evil. Such fiery zeal is contrary to the spirit of Christ. The ignorant must be won by meekness to embrace the truth.—Ed.

13. It becomes all prayerfully to follow divine commands in ALL THINGS. Nothing is indifferent or non-essential that God hath ordained for the believer. But if disciples differ about days, or meats, or water, ought such differences to prevent their communion and fellowship more than differences in personal stature, or beauty, or in mental powers. Uniformity in anything but love to God and to each other is a fool's paradise, contrary to the experience of the apostolic and all ages, and opposed to every law of nature.—Ed.

14. This typographical error in 'The Reasons of my Practice' is corrected in this edition for the first time.—Ed.

15. The doctrine of the real presence, called transubstantiation, was the test of adherence to the Romish church, which unless all persons pretended to believe they were sacrificed with brutal ferocity.—Ed.

16. In Bunyan's days, both the laws of the land, the judges, and the commonalty, gave credence to the wicked gambols of wizards and witches. Many a poor iniquitous old woman, from some mysterious hints of her power to tell fortunes, or to gratify the revengeful feelings of her neighbours, was put to a cruel death. More enlightened times have dissipated this illusion, and driven these imaginary imps of darkness into benighted countries.—Ed.

17. 'Me-hap-soes,' a contraction of 'it may so happen.'—Ed.

18. Tyndale, and all the early English translations, rend it 'unto you,' until the Elisabethan State Bible, called the Bishop's, in 1568. Do not the words mean that Christians are to receive such as are weak in the faith into their hearts by love, without troubling their heads with perplexing disputes?—Ed.

19. Under the Old Testament dispensation; the parable or history is recorded in Luke 10.—Ed.

20. We cannot offer to God any acceptable sacrifice until spiritually baptized. First joined to God by a living faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and then bringing forth the fruits of this internal and purifying baptism, we must give ourselves to his church in the bonds of the gospel.—Ed.

***

PEACEABLE PRINCIPLES AND TRUE: OR, A BRIEF ANSWER TO MR. D'ANVER'S AND MR. PAUL'S BOOKS AGAINST MY CONFESSION OF FAITH, AND DIFFERENCES IN JUDGMENT ABOUT BAPTISM NO BAR TO COMMUNION.

WHEREIN THEIR SCRIPTURELESS NOTIONS ARE OVERTHROWN, AND MY PEACEABLE PRINCIPLES STILL MAINTAINED.

'Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men?'—Psalm 58:1

SIR,

I have received and considered your short reply to my differences in judgment about water baptism no bar to communion; and observe, that you touch not the argument at all: but rather labour what you can, and beyond what you ought, to throw odiums upon your brother for reproving you for your error, viz. 'That those believers that have been baptized after confession of faith made by themselves, ought and are in duty bound to exclude from their church fellowship, and communion at the table of the Lord, those of their holy brethren that have not been so baptized.' This is your error. Error, I call it, because it is not founded upon the word, but a mere human device; for although I do not deny, but acknowledge, that baptism is God's ordinance; yet I have denied, that baptism was ever ordained of God to be a wall of division between the holy and the holy; the holy that are, and the holy that are not, so baptized with water as we. You, on the contrary, both by doctrine and practice, assert that it is; and therefore do separate yourselves from all your brethren that in that matter differ from you; accounting them, notwithstanding their saving faith and holy lives, not fitly qualified for church communion, and all because they have not been, as you, baptized. Further, you count their communion among themselves unlawful, and therefore unwarrantable; and have concluded, 'they are joined to idols, and that they ought not to be shewed the pattern of the house of God, until they be ashamed of their sprinkling in their infancy, and accept of and receive baptism as you.' Yea, you count them as they stand, not the churches of God; saying, 'We have no such custom, nor the churches of God.' At this I have called for your proofs, the which you have attempted to produce; but in conclusion have shewed none other, but 'That the primitive churches had those they received, baptized before so received.'

I have told you, that this, though it were granted, cometh not up to the question; for we ask not, 'whether they were so baptized? But whether you find a word in the Bible that justifieth your concluding that it is your duty to exclude those of your holy brethren that have not been so baptized?' From this you cry out, that I take up the arguments of them that plead for infant baptism: I answer, I take up no other argument but your own, viz. 'That there being no precept, precedent, nor example in all the scripture, for our excluding our holy brethren that differ in this point from us, therefore we ought not to dare to do it,' but contrariwise to receive them;[1] because God hath given us sufficient proof that himself hath received them, whose example in this case he hath commanded us to follow (Rom 14:3,15). This might serve for an answer to your reply. But because, perhaps, should I thus conclude, some might make an ill use of my brevity; I shall therefore briefly step after you, and examine your short reply; at least, where shew of argument is.

Your first five pages are spent to prove me either proud or a liar; for inserting in the title-page of my 'Differences,' &c. that your book was written by the Baptist, or brethren of your way.

In answer to which; whoso readeth your second, your fifth and sixth questions to me, may not perhaps be easily persuaded to the contrary; but the two last in your reply, are omitted by you; whether for verity's sake, or because you were conscious to yourself, that the sight of them would overthrow your insinuations, I leave to the sober to judge. But put the case I had failed herein, Doth this warrant your unlawful practice?

You ask me next, 'How long is it since I was a Baptist?' and then add, 'It is an ill bird that bewrays his own nest.'

Ans. I must tell you, avoiding your slovenly language, I know none to whom that title is so proper as to the disciples of John. And since you would know by what name I would be distinguished from others; I tell you, I would be, and hope I am, A CHRISTIAN; and choose, if God should count me worthy, to be called a Christian, a Believer, or other such name which is approved by the Holy Ghost (Acts 11:26). And as for those factious titles of Anabaptists, Independents, Presbyterians, or the like, I conclude, that they came neither from Jerusalem, nor Antioch, but rather from hell and Babylon; for they naturally tend to divisions, 'you may know them by their fruits.'

Next, you tell us of your goodly harmony in London; or of the 'amicable christian correspondency betwixt those of divers persuasions there, until my turbulent and mutineering spirit got up.'

Ans. The cause of my writing, I told you, which you have neither disapproved in whole, nor in part. And now I ask what kind of christian correspondency you have with them? Is it such as relateth to church communion; or such only as you are commanded to have with every brother that walketh disorderly, that they may be ashamed of their church communion, which you condemn? if so, your great flourish will add no praise to them; and why they should glory in a correspondency with them as Christians, who yet count them under such deadly sin, which will not by any means, as they now stand, suffer you to admit them to their Father's table, to me is not easy to believe.

Farther, Your christian correspondency, as you call it, will not keep you now and then, from fingering some of their members from them; nor from teaching them that you so take away, to judge and condemn them that are left behind: Now who boasteth in this besides yourself, I know not.

Touching Mr. Jesse's judgment in the case in hand, you know it condemneth your practice; and since in your first, you have called for an author's testimony, I have presented you with one, whose arguments you have not condemned.

For your insinuating my abusive and unworthy behaviour, as the cause of the brethren's attempting to break our Christian communion; it is not only false but ridiculous. False; for they have attempted to make me also one of their disciples, and sent to me, and for me for that purpose. Besides, it is ridiculous; surely their pretended order, and as they call it, our disorder, was the cause; or they must render themselves very malicious, to seek the overthrow of a whole congregation, for, if it had been so, the unworthy behaviour of one.

Now, since you tell me 'That Mr. Kiffin hath no need of my forgiveness for the wrong he hath done me in his epistle.'

I ask, did he tell you so? But let it lie as it doth; I will at this time turn his argument upon him, and desire his direct answer: There being no precept, precedent or example for Mr. Kiffin to exclude his holy brethren from Christian communion that differ with him about baptism, he ought not to do it; but there is neither precept, precedent, nor example; therefore, &c.

You blame me for writing his name at length: but I know he is not ashamed of his name: and for you, though at the remotest rate, to insinuate it, must needs be damage to him.

Your artificial squibbling[2] suggestions to the world about myself, imprisonment, and the like I freely bind unto me as an ornament among the rest of my reproaches, till the Lord shall wipe them off at his coming. But they are no argument that you have a word that binds you to exclude the holy brethren communion.

Now what if, as you suggest, the sober Dr. Owen, though he told me and others at first he would write an epistle to my book, yet waved it afterwards; this is also to my advantage; because it was through the earnest solicitations of several of you that at that time stopped his hand; And perhaps it was more for the glory of God that truth should go naked into the world, than as seconded by so mighty an armour-bearer as he.

You tell me also, that some of the sober Independents have shewed dislike to my writing on this subject: What then? If I should also say, as I can without lying, that several of the Baptists have wished yours burnt before it had come to light; is your book ever the worse for that?

You tell us, you meddle not with Presbyterians, Independents, mixed Communionists (a new name), but are for liberty for all according to their light.

Ans. I ask then, suppose an holy man of God, that differeth from you, as those above-named do, in the manner of water baptism; I say, suppose such an one should desire communion with you, yet abiding by his own light, as to the thing in question, Would you receive him to fellowship? If no, do you not dissemble?

But you add, 'If unbaptized believers do not walk with us, they may walk with them with whom they are better agreed.'

Ans. Then it seems you do but flatter them. You are not, for all you pretend to give them their liberty, agreed they should have it with you. Thus do the Papists give the Protestants their liberty, because they can neither will nor choose.

Again, But do you not follow them with clamours and out-cries, that their communion, even amongst themselves, is unwarrantable? Now, how then do you give them their liberty? Nay, do not even these things declare that you would take it away if you could?

'For the time that I have been a Baptist (say you ) I do not remember that ever I knew that one unbaptized person did so much as offer themselves to us for church fellowship.'

Ans. This is no proof of your love to your brethren; but rather an argument that your rigidness was from that day to this so apparent, that those good souls despaired to make such attempts; we know they have done it elsewhere, where they hoped to meet with encouragement.

You seem to retract your denial of baptism to be the initiating ordinance. And indeed Mr. D'Anvers told me, that you must retract that opinion, and that he had, or would speak to you to do it; yet by some it is still so acknowledged to be; and in particular, by your great helper, Mr. Denne, who strives to maintain it by several arguments; but your denial may be a sufficient confutation to him; so I leave you together to agree about it, and conclude you have overthrown him.

But it seems though you do not now own it to be the inlet into a particular church; yet, as you tell us of your last, 'you never denied that baptism doth not make a believer a member of the universal, orderly, church visible. And in this Mr. D'Anvers and you agree.' 'Persons enter into the visible church thereby,' saith he.

Ans. Universal, that is, the whole church: This word now comprehendeth all the parts of it, even from Adam to the very world's end, whether in heaven or earth, &c. Now that [water] baptism makes a man a member of this church, I do not yet believe, nor can you shew me why I should. 2. The universal, orderly church. What church this should be, if by orderly you mean harmony or agreement in the outward parts of worship, I do not understand neither.

And yet thus you should mean, because you add the word visible to all at the last; 'The universal, orderly, visible church.' Now I would yet learn of this brother where this church is; for if it be visible, he can tell and also shew it. But, to be short, there is no such church: the universal church cannot be visible; a great part of that vast body being already in heaven, and a great part as yet, perhaps, unborn.

But if he should mean by universal, the whole of that part of this church that is on earth, then neither is it 'visible' nor 'orderly.' 1. Not visible; for the part remains always to the best man's eye utterly invisible. 2. This church is not orderly; that is, hath not harmony in its outward and visible parts of worship; some parts opposing and contradicting the other most severely. Yea, would it be uncharitable to believe that some of the members of this body could willingly die in opposing that which others of the members hold to be a truth of Christ? As for instance at home; could not some of those called Baptists die in opposing infant baptism? And again, some of them that are for infant baptism die for that as a truth? Here therefore is no order, but an evident contradiction: and that too in such parts of worship, as both count visible parts of worship indeed.

So then by 'universal, orderly, visible church,' this brother must mean those of the saints only that have been, or are baptized as we; this is clear, because baptism, saith he, maketh a believer a member of this church; his meaning then is, that there is an universal, orderly, visible church, and they alone are the Baptists; and that every one that is baptized is by that made a member of the universal, orderly, visible church of Baptists, and that the whole number of the rest of saints are utterly excluded.

But now if other men should do as this man, how many universal churches should we have? An 'universal, orderly, visible church of Independents'; an 'universal, orderly, visible church of Presbyterians,' and the like. And who of them, if as much confused in their notions as this brother, might not, they judging by their own light, contend for their universal church, as he for his? But they have more wit.

But suppose that this unheard of fictitious church were the only true universal church; yet whoever they baptize must be a visible saint first, and if a visible saint, then a visible member of Christ; and if so, then a visible member of his body, which is the church, before they be baptized; now he which is a visible member of the church already, that which hath so made him, hath prevented all those claims that by any may be made or imputed to this or that ordinance to make him so (Acts 8:37, 19:17, 16:33). His visibility is already; he is already a visible member of the body of Christ, and after that baptized. His baptism then neither makes him a member nor a visible member of the body of Jesus Christ.

You go on, 'That I said it was consent that makes persons members of particular churches is true.'

Ans. But that it is consent and nothing else, consent without faith, &c., is false. Your after-endeavour to heal your unsound saying will do you no good: 'Faith gives being to, as well as probation for membership.'

What you say now of the epistles, that they were written to particular saints, and those too out of churches as well as in, I always believed: but in your first you were pleased to say, 'You were one of them that objected against our proofs out of the epistles, because they were written to particular churches, [intending these baptized] and that they were written to other saints, would be hard for me to prove': but you do well to give way to the truth.

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