Differences in judgment about water baptism, no bar to communion



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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.



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